My own adventure began when I revisited a family tree after my father died in 2007. A professional genealogist had researched my great grandmother Sarah Robertson's family in Nova Scotia and the Scottish Highlands long before the internet existed. I was able to verify that his research was correct up to a certain point but sadly, it fell apart at what seemed a grand conclusion: The genealogist's ancestral chart tied us to the Scottish progenitor of the name Robertson - but it was wrong. Yet something about this mistake sparked a determination to find the truth. It was the beginning of a journey I never would have imagined.
I began subscribing to all the major genealogy databases and slowly but surely expanded my knowledge of my own family and the larger community and trade as well. I found the look and detail of old records enchanting and connecting one generation to the next was somehow thrilling. It was as though I was traveling through history with my own long passed-on relatives.
My grandmother's family took me from the turn of the century shoe industry in New England back 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 name was the hardest to trace of all. Finally in 2014 I turned to DNA testing.
My brother's male Y-DNA results brought us from ancient Brittany to medieval Renfrewshire, Scotland, and ultimately to the Isle of Bute where our family branch was discovered. We confirmed 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. It was thrilling to say the least. This led 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.