My own adventure began when I revisited a family tree after my father died in 2007. Following information from an inherited family study, I was able to both confirm and correct my family history but more importantly, discover how my family came to be. It was the beginning of a journey I never would have imagined.
My grandmother's family brought me back in time from the turn of the century shoe industry in New England to the rugged forests of Nova Scotia and then across the Atlantic to the shires of Sutherland and Inverness, deep in the Scottish Highlands. Humble crofters who were probably forced to leave their homeland, I discovered ancestral names that contributed to my history that I'd never heard of before: MacCara, MacDonald, MacKay, MacMillan, Sutherland, and many more.
However, I particularly longed to know more about my paternal ancestors who provided my surname "Stewart". Years of record research and sorting through duplicate names brought some success but ultimately led to the proverbial documentation “brick wall” around the year 1800. My own surname was the hardest to trace of all. Finally in 2014 I turned to DNA testing.
My brother's male Y-DNA results proved our paternal migration from ancient Brittany to medieval Renfrewshire, Scotland, and ultimately to the Isle of Bute where our family branch was discovered. At some point a paternal ancestor left Scotland and crossed the Irish Sea to settle in Ulster where my own documentation confirmed three generations that included our great grandfather Sam Stewart, who bravely boarded a ship bound for New York in 1881. This led to travel abroad to visit the places of our ancestors as well as discoveries of both close and ancient genetic cousins near and far.
DNA testing also led to associations with various organizations including the University of Strathclyde’s Genealogy Department in Glasgow where my hobby expanded to a formal education. First, I completed their six-week course in Genetic Genealogy as a pre-requisite for admission to their two-year Post Graduate Certificate program in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies which I have now completed. I am hoping to continue my post graduate education to the next level in this discipline next year.
An article I have written on my genealogic and genetic journey was published in the Stewart Society Magazine in Edinburgh and I have participated in ancestral/genetic related studies and events. I am a member of several social media groups regarding specific families and genealogy/genetics in general.
Last year I was able to tie a genetic match to my documentation which was then included as a case study in a newly published guide on using genetics to enhance genealogy written by a respected researcher and tutor.
Glenmurray Genealogy was named as a nod to my love of the Glens of Scotland and my Grandmother's maiden name, "Murray" who seems to have at least in part contributed to my own large percentage of Scottish "Highlands and Islands" DNA. A male Murray cousin was kind enough to test his paternal Y-DNA confirming our ancient branch in this line as well.