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Welcome to Tenacious Genealogy! This is another post for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge that I’m participating in this year. It is a challenge hosted by Amy Johnson Crow every year and I figured I’d get in on the fun.
This is the week 15 prompt (which you can already tell I’m lagging behind on) and it is: ‘DNA’.
DNA (an initialism for deoxyribonucleic acid) has become more and more popular (and at times controversial) in the genealogy community. It’s been less than 20 years since DNA tests became commercially available and in that time, it has changed A LOT about how we do genealogy and perceive our heritage. So much so, that I could write blog post upon blog post about the subject. I did a *basic* posts back in 2017 on AncestryDNA which you can find here, but if you want to know more, there are plenty of genealogy bloggers and writers who know more about the subject than I do. I’ll post a few of their websites down below.
Instead, today’s post will be about a new DNA discovery that was recently unearthed in my family, essentially solving a mystery than spans back over 150 years and proving the paternity of one of my ancestors (Amos Hyrum Fielding) – through the DNA of his paternal grandmother – a woman named Mary Cooper.
Mary Cooper’s Son
For anyone who has been following Tenacious Genealogy for the past few years, you’ve likely seen a few posts that I’ve done on Amos Fielding. In fact, he was the first ancestor that I wrote about during this challenge because it was the stories about him that made me more curious about genealogy. And yet this post is about his mother – Mary Cooper and how her DNA solved one of the first family mysteries I remember hearing as a kid.
While there are still quite a few mysteries that surround Amos Fielding, we do know some things about him – like who his parents were. Matthew (sometimes spelled Mathew) Fielding and Mary Cooper lived in Lancashire, England in the late 18th century and more specifically, the Bolton area east of Liverpool. We have records of the Fielding and Cooper families living in that area for a few generations prior as well. While Matthew and Mary had several children, it is Amos that we (obviously) know the most about. Still…
One of the biggest mysteries involving Amos was whether or not he was the father of Amos Hyrum Fielding – my 2x great grandfather. Most of that stems from the fact that Amos Hyrum’s birth certificate does not name a father and when he was born, Amos Fielding was still married to his first wife. I won’t rehash the story – if you are interested, click here or here.
But a few weeks ago, I got a call from one of my paternal cousins who is also an avid family historian. She told me that her Thru Lines on AncestryDNA connected her with a man who is the direct descendant of a man named William Cooper. William Cooper was Mary Cooper’s brother (or half brother according to some stories) and thus a maternal uncle of Amos Fielding.
After double-checking other possible connections to this man, my cousin also checked her father’s matches (my paternal uncle). If Amos Fielding was indeed Amos Hyrum’s father, then my uncle would have to have a certain amount of centiMorgans in common with the Cooper descendant. Lo and behold, my uncle did in fact match with this descendant (and at the correct amount for what his genetic relationship should be).
Amos Hyrum’s Father
Upon hearing this news, I checked my DNA matches and while I haven’t found William Cooper’s descendant on my list, I wasn’t actually surprised. (The amount of centiMorgans that my cousin had was fairly small, so there is a high chance that I just didn’t inherit any centiMorgans from that specific line.) But that fact that two relatives (and possibly three, if my dad also has matching centiMorgans with this Cooper descendant) have connections confirms one thing –
In the case of Amos Fielding being the biological father of Amos Hyrum Fielding:
Questions or comments about this post? Have you taken a DNA test yet? If so, what company did you use? Curious about the 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge? Let me know in the comments! And if you like what you’ve been seeing on Tenacious Genealogy – please subscribe to our email list. Not only will you stay up to date with the latest blog posts, but you’ll also get freebies such as ‘10 Tips For Starting your Genealogy’ and other fun ‘subscriber-only’ items.