|Mac Eáin family icon|
Before we started the McCain DNA Project our family history was a mess. We had dozens of cousins, that we knew were related, but we did not know how. The precise details were only partially known. We had clues, naming patterns, oral histories, etc., from New Brunswick, Canada, to New England, then a small army of McCains across the South. But, really we could not confirm anything. It all was too vague, yet, we knew something real was there.
Our McCain origin myth was also mixed up. Some accounts had us down as members of the famous Clann Dhónaill, through the line of the tragic Glencoe McCain family. Others, said we were a native Irish family, part of the also famous Ó Cathain family in County Derry.
Before the DNA project, there we were, just lost in the dim fog of the past, trying to make some sense of little family stories we all had. Then came our McCain DNA Project and with it reality, brutal reality, produced by genetic genealogy, via the test tube. Forensics came to our rescue.
Our first two participants were myself and a native born Irish McCain from north Antrim, Joe McKane, of Ballywatt, County Antrim. Jim and I both submitted our DNA samples and waited patiently for the results. They came in an email from the Family Tree DNA, Ltd, company with whom we tested. The emails to Jim and I read, 'You have a match.' And, that was the start of finding out our family's true history.
From that initial DNA match we were able to methodically progress and learn our history. There were many surprises. First, we learned we were not related to the McCains of Clann Dhónaill. All those stories about us being Highland chiefs, alas, were not true. Then we found out we were not related to the Ó Catháin family of Ireland. We did however, confirm the many branches of our family, such as the New England and Nova Scotia, McKeens, who arrived in the New World way back in 1718. Then we discovered the New Brunswick and Ontario McKanes, were also our cousins. We had as many Canadians in our family as we did Americans.
Our last wave of McCain DNA matches connected us to the numerous McCain families in Texas. In our oral history among the McCains in the South, we often heard the expression GTT. This is the abbreviation for Gone To Texas. Starting in the 1830s and especially after the WBTS circa 1865 into the 1880s, many McCain families from the South migrated to Texas.
|Our McCain, McKean, McKane cousins in Ireland|
As the DNA matches came in over the months and years, we learned that the McCains were connected to east Donegal. And using the DNA match data we followed the family back to Porthall, Donegal. The next piece of the McCain history puzzle to fall into place was our DNA connection to a McCain family that originated in the parish of Kilmichael Glassary, in mid Argyll, Scotland. Thanks to the protective care of the earls of Argyll of Clann Chaimbeul, we located enough primary source data on the McCains in Kilmichael Glassary to fill in a decent history of our McCain family from the early AD 1300s until we migrated to Donegal in the 1500s.
|location of McCain DNA connections in Argyll|
By 2017 new DNA techniques have opened up methods of DNA research. The use of higher level SNP test (single nucleotide polymorphism) allows much more data to be extracted from our Y chromosome DNA tests. The mutation rates for SNPs are more stable and happen at a predictable rate. The geneticists are finding new SNPs that allow to research with great precision the time frame of each McCain branch of the McCain shared paternal ancestor and date that connection.
|Magh Gaibhlin castle Porthall, Donegal, where we located William McKean the Soldier|
2018 will see even more progress in our McCain DNA Project. Not only are we working on our McCains circa 1600 to 1850 using new SNP tests, we are also able to look into the distant past with accuracy now. We have know we are related to the Mac Ailpín families also from Kilmichael Glassary, and we will be able to date the time to the shared paternal ancestor as the SNP results come in and are analysed.
A few members of our McCain family...
|Jim McKane, Ontario, Canada|
|Frank McKane, Scotland (and California)|
|Donovan McCain, North Carolina|
|Joe McKane of County Antrim|
|Letitia and Ivan Knox, with Bruce McCain and his wife|
|Joe and Julie McKane of Belfast|
|Michael McCain of Italy|
|Henry McCain and John McCain of Arizona|
|Conar McCain of Oxford Mississippi|
|Mervyn and Jean McKean of Porthall, Donegal|
|Chris McCain of California|
|Jack and Dot MacKeen of Massachusetts|
© 2018 Barry R McCain