Limits of Paper Genealogy
From doing paper genealogy, I know that my female line (mother to daughter) goes back to Margaret, wife of John Frame. Margaret’s maiden name is unknown. She was probably born about 1725, but there is no record of her until 1742, when she and her husband were living in Augusta County, Virginia. She died sometime after 1797, probably at Birch River in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. She might have been Margaret Hogshead, daughter of John Hogshead and Nancy Wallace, of Augusta County, but the identification is controversial.
That’s about all I will ever know about Margaret. The records that might link her to earlier generations don’t exist. I can make a few educated guesses, however. For the sake of simplicity, I omit some of the variables about what could have happened and focus on the most likely scenario.
Margaret belonged to a well-defined ethnic group, the so-called Scotch-Irish. The different ethnic groups in colonial America rarely married outside the group, so I can guess that her parents and grandparents were also Scotch-Irish and probably came to Pennsylvania from northern Ireland sometime between 1680 and 1740, the period of heaviest Scotch-Irish immigration.
Knowing the history of the Scotch-Irish, I can guess that Margaret’s ancestors came to Ireland from the lowlands of Scotland sometime after 1608 as part of the Ulster Plantation. The Ulster Plantation was an English project to subdue the rebellious Catholics in northern Ireland by taking their land and giving it to Protestant Scots. A generation later the English raised the taxes. When the Scots couldn’t pay, the English took the Scot’s farms, forcing thousands of them to go to America, where they became the Scotch-Irish. Northern Ireland is still suffering from these short-sighted policies of 300 years ago.
So, Margaret’s female-line ancestors were probably living in the Scottish lowlands in the late 1500s. Using paper genealogy, the trail ends there. Margaret’s ancestors could have been Picts, Scots, Norse, Saxons or any of a half-dozen other ethnic groups that combined to create modern Britain. However, using genetics, I know a quite a bit more about Margaret Frame’s very distant ancestry.
If I find someone with the same variations from the reference series, I will know that we share the same deep female-line ancestry — say, within the last 12,000 years. I haven’t yet discovered any specific information about my haplotype, but it seems clear it must lie in Ireland or Scotland, perhaps in the Hebrides — that is, somewhere in the islands off the western coast of Scotland. I also haven’t yet found anyone else with the same mtDNA test result. When I do, the match could be genealogically useful. If, for example, another female line descendant of Nancy Wallace had the same mtDNA result, that fact would tend to prove that Mrs. Margaret Frame was the daughter of Nancy (Wallace) Hogshead, resolving an old question.
Genealogists can enter and compare mtDNA test results at Mitosearch.org. (Note: Family Tree DNA shut down both Mitosearch and Ysearch in May 2018.)
I find the following near matches:
- (Mrs.) Margaret Frame (1725-1797) Scotland (ABY52). 16270T 16292A 16298C HVR2 Not Tested. Confirmed Haplogroup V.
- Phoebe Hendricks (1809-1854) Virginia (FNCX4). 16270T 16298C 072C 195C 263G 309.1C 309.2C 315.1C. Haplogroup Unknown.
- Nancy Norris (1817-1876) Ireland (WWY5A). 16270T 16298C HVR2 Not Tested. Haplogroup Unknown.
- Annie Gordon Fox (1825-?) Ireland (MU34H). 16270T 16298C. HVR2 Not Tested. Confirmed Haplogroup V.
- Mary Kenney (1826-1872) Ireland (55RJT). 16270T 16298C HVR2 Not Tested. Confirmed Haplogroup V. She was not one of the Kenney descendants of Mrs. Margaret Frame.
- Unknown (KP6U7). 16270T 16298C HVR2 Not Tested. Confirmed Haplogroup V.
Revised to remove broken link.