Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Kilted McCains

Barry R McCain circa 1975

Monday, September 3, 2012

McCain Art Work

McCain Family Icons, by Chris and John McCain of California
Above is a very nice creation by Chris and John McCain of California.  It has several of the icons associated with our family. It has the coat of arms of both Scotland and Ireland in the upper corners. In the lower corners are the Argyll and County Donegal coat of arms and the background is the County Donegal Tartan.  The flags are the national flags of Scotland and Ireland.

Chris is a participant in the McCain DNA Project.  From the results we know he descends from the Marsh Creek Settlement group and his closest matches are with McCains that descend from John McCain of Blount County Tennessee. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

McCain Autosomal DNA

I have had several inquires into the Family Finder test that we are now using.  Below is an overview of the autosomal DNA testing with the McCain DNA Project. 

We have several members of the McCain DNA project that have done or are having done the Family Finder test which uses autosmal DNA.  One member has already had a cousin match appear with someone that lists Hance Hamilton as an ancestor.  This is very encouraging and bodes well for when we get more of the autosomal tests completed. 

Autosomal DNA tests are used to locate relative connections along any branch of a family tree.  Any autosomal match between two individuals indicates a possible genetic connection, however in some cases the connection is so far back that the shared DNA has essentially been eliminated through too many generations of recombination . There is nothing in this test that will tell you which branch of your family the match is on so some old fashioned paper genealogy is still needed to sort out the connection.  Obviously, if a match lists Hance Hamilton or a Hugh McKean as an ancestor, then that tells much. One can also have parents, grandparents, cousins, and other family members tested and this will help narrow down potential matches.

The chance that an autosomal DNA test will accurately detect a relative decreases with the distance of the relationship. For example, most autosomal DNA ancestry tests predict an accuracy rate of 90–98 percent when detecting a match with a 3rd cousin, but around a 45–50 percent chance of detecting a match with a fourth cousin. However there is a remarkable aspect of autosomal testing... depending on the DNA recombination an autosomal test will sometimes accurately detect more distant cousins (fifth cousins and beyond).  Also of great utility is double descent from a common distant ancestor (e.g. marriage of second cousins) may potentially increase the chance of a match.  And I have observed that marriage of cousins was common within our McCain clan (as it was with many families in times past).  Given the nature of settlement on the frontier, one almost had to marry a cousin, albeit, second or third, etc.,

Both male and female McCain descendant can participate in the autosmal DNA testing. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

McCain DNA Results

Here is the link to the McCain DNA results:   McCain DNA Results

'Our' McCain family is listed as the 01 McCain family.  On the Ulster Heritage project we are listed by our surname in Gaelic, Mac Eáin.   This is done because of the lack of a standardised anglicised form.  Our family has used many anglicised forms, McKane, McKean, McKeen, McKaine, McCane, McCain, McAne, etc. but there is only one Gaelic spelling, Mac Eáin.  

We did have several McCains sign up of the Family Finder autosomal DNA test.  This is the testing that uses both male and female DNA.  We have at least one Marsh Creek McCain that signed up and one from the Tyrone/east Donegal group.  The 'summer sale' is over, but I do encourage all McCains to participate in the Family Finder test.  With this test both women and men of McCain ancestry and participate.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Laggans Redshanks

 For those McCains interested in the why and how we migrated to Ulster from the Scottish Highlands, there is a new title available from the Ulster Heritage website.  It is a short, 70 page, account of the Argyll Redshank migration to east Donegal in the sixteenth century.  The book has illustrations and a complete list of the Portlough precinct (in the Laggan district) muster rolls for 1630, which includes the man known as William McKean the Soldier.  

A description of the book:

A Short History of the Laggan Redshanks, 1569-1630, is the story of the Highland Scots, called Redshanks, which settled in east Donegal in the sixteenth century.  The story has many interesting elements which include Clan Campbell and their dynamic leader, Gaelic sexual intrigues, English Machiavellian manoeuvres, Iníon Dubh, and the Redshanks themselves. 

The Redshank settlement in the Laggan took place in the tumultuous years that were dominated by Elizabethan English attempts to bring Ulster firmly under the control of the Crown.  The initial wave of Redshanks came to the Laggan with Iníon Dubh (Fionnuala Nic Dhónaill) after she married Aodh Mac Manus Ó Dónaill in 1569.  The Redshanks were vital players in the affairs of those times and indeed it was their military skills that delayed the conquest of Ulster until the beginning of the next century.  They remained in service of the O'Donnell clan until the Gaelic military collapse after the Battle of Kinsale in 1602.

After Kinsale they remained in the Laggan, but as the Plantation scheme was implemented, they had new lords, the Lennox Stewarts, and the Cunninghams of Ayrshire.  The Laggan Redshanks were unique within the Gaelic world, because they were drawn from clan Campbell and their allies.  The Campbell clan under the leadership of the fifth Earl of Argyll were early converts to the Reformed Faith.  While part of the traditional Gaelic world, the Laggan Redshanks' Protestant faith allowed them to fit into the post Plantation Ulster Scots community in the Laggan.

Many of the Ulster settlers to Colonial America that became the Scots-Irish, were the descendants of the Redshanks from the Laggan.  The Highland Scottish element in the Scots-Irish is a commonly overlooked aspect of the Ulster Migration.  Even more descendants of the Laggan Redshanks migrated to New Brunswick and Ontario Canada in the nineteenth century. 

The Highland Scottish settlement in the Laggan is an integral part of the shared traditions and links between Ulster and Scotland and an important, though little known, aspect of Ulster's long history.

The book is in a Pdf download format, which I believe will also work on the Ipad.  There will be a Kindle version coming out later in the summer.    

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thomas McKean The Signer

Thomas McKean
 Next on the agenda is Thomas McKean The Signer of the Declaration of Independence.   He is often linked to our McCain family, but this is in error, as we are not related to his family.  Again, this data came out way back in 2004 when several of his descendants participated in the McCain DNA Project.  The results proved that there is no paternal connections to his family.  So, many books that report this are just wrong. 

His line is interesting however.  From the DNA matches they have they seem to be native Irish and certainly a distant link to the area south of Dublin, in the Wicklow Mountains.  Another fascinating fact was discovered in the DNA testing, the family of Thomas McKean the Signer is the same as Alexander McCaine, the Southern antebellum Methodist minister and writer.  That McCaine family we know is from County Cavan, near the village of Virginia.  A fascinating McCain family, but no relationship to our McCains. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Clan Donald and the McCains

I have been absent from posting and other duties of late due to my mother being in hospice and passing away; slowly things are returning to normal and I will take a moment to answer a persistent question that shows up in my email weekly.  

The question...  Are The McCains Connected to Clan Donald?

Well, this is an easy one to answer as Joe McKane and I discovered the facts the first few months of the McCain DNA Project.  The answer is No.  That is a different McCain family, the DNA results were very conclusive.  The Clan Donald McCains are in no way related to us.  The Clan Donald McCains are in fact Norse in origin and we are typical Gaels.  One can tell this by the DNA Haplogroup which shows up in the test.

Our McCains are connected to a Mac Lachlainn family of Dunadd in mid Argyll.  They are a historical family that began using the surname Mac Eáin circa 1450 AD.  Mac Eáin is anglicised phonetically as McCain, McKane, McKean, McKeen, McKane, etc. 

We did find the Clan Donald McCains in the test.  Their are two branches, one from Ardnamurchan and one from Glencoe were both were located and both participated in our DNA test.  They match each other (as they should), but do not match our mid Argyll McCains.  Our mid Argyll McCains are the Mac Eáin family of Kilmichael Glassary and were a  very distinguished group, but lessor known than the Clan Donald McCains. 

That is the bare naked science of it.  It is there in our paternal DNA and the results can be views on several website which have posted the results. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

1607 McCain

Redshank circa 1607

Photo is of Irish archaeologist and actor, Dave Swift, in a recent BBC production portraying a Scottish Redshank in Ulster.  There are eye witness accounts of the Redshanks in west Ulster dressed in the iconic kilt, or féileadh mór.  This is how one of our McCains would have looked at this time. The sword is the Highland style two handed sword called a claíomh mór.  The coat of mail was still in wide use with Redshanks and the helmet is a morion, usually of German or Spanish manufacture. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

William McCain the Soldier 1630

Mongavlin Castle;  copyright 2012 James McKane
Above is a recent photo of Mongavlin Castle, near Porthall, Donegal.  It is here that the first McCain appears in the written records in Ireland.  His name in English was William McCain the Soldier.  His name is in the 1630 muster roll and is written in a phonetic rendering of his name in Gaelic which was Illime mcKaine.   He is unique in that memory of him was kept alive by our McKeen branches in New England and Nova Scotia.  For the record, he was a swordsman.  Mongavlin Castle was the residence of Fionnuala Ní Dhónaill, better known in Irish history as Iníon Dubh, until 1610.  Many of the families that Iníon Dubh brought to Mongavlin were from mid Argyll.  Photo courtesy of Jim McKane of Wiarton, Ontario, Canada.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Joe McKane and Jim McKane In Kilmichael Glassary

A photo taken just a few days ago of Dr Joe McKane of Glasgow and Jim McKane of Wiarton, Ontario, at the original homeland of the McCains in Kilmichael Glassary, mid Argyll, Scotland.  The are by the burial stone of Donnchadh Mór Mac Eáin, who was the first one of our family to take the surname Mac Eáin, which is anglicised as McCain, McKane, McKean, McKeen, etc.

With luck Jim will give us a full account of his trip over.  Both Joe and Jim are participants in the McCain DNA Project.  

Sadly  the burial stone has weathered greatly in the last 130 years. Many think that it is acid rain that has caused the rapid deterioration in the stone.  Fortunately, the stone was surveyed in 1875 and we have the notes and line drawing of it taken during the survey.  The text of the stone was completely legible in 1875, but parts of the writing and ornamentation are now faded.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Thomas McKane

Thomas McKane, County Antrim, circa 1940s
The McCain Project has gathered some very interesting photos of our folk from around the world.  It is always interesting to come upon old photographs.  The one above supplied by Joe McKane of Tennessee.  Joe was born is from Ballywatt, County Antrim.  He was, along with myself, the first two DNA matches that 'located' the some of our family in Ireland.  This first DNA match started the process that eventually led to finding many McCains in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Donations Needed

The McCain clan blog and the McCain family DNA project are seeking donations.  There is a lot, an awful lot, of volunteer work that goes on to collect, organise, and make available our history.  We have several projects running now which include book publishing and coordinating the DNA results in a way to better assist our McCain genealogist and family historians.  The book titles in the cue are A Short History of the Laggans Redshanks, 1569-1630, Finding the McCains, A Short History of the McCain Family, and The Mid Argyll Kinship Group. 

The DNA project is gearing up for a phase two.  There have been great advances in mitochondrial DNA research in the last ten years.  It is now possible for us to use mtDNA to confirm which particular McCain line one descends from.  This will be a great asset to a family's genealogy.  The mtDNA is maternal line DNA.  We can use it to see if two McCains share the same 'mother' in generations past.  This has the potential of radically improving our understanding of the various McCain lines.    

Funding is needed to help purchase computers, software, books, etc., that we use in the projects.  Donations would really help all the projects greatly.   Just use the Donations link on the right hand side column of this page.  It leads to the Ulster Heritage Website and donations made there will go to the McCain projects. Or use the link below. 

Donations to the McCains Projects

Many thanks agus go raibh maith agaibh.

Chris McCain of California

Chris McCain
 The McCain Family DNA Project continues to locate members of our particular McCain clan.  This is the nature of genetic genealogy.  As more and more men participate in DNA testing we are able to place them in the correct McCain family.  A short summary:  there are at least 6 separate McCain families.  There are McCain families that originate in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man.  Our McCain is the Mac Eáin family that originates in Kilmichael Glassary in mid Argyll, Scotland.  They were, and are, what is known in popular history as Highlanders.  They migrated to Donegal, Ireland, in the mid 1500s.  So we have both Irish and Scottish ancestry.  Donegal has many families that originated in the Scottish Gaeltacht.

Chris lives in San Diego, California.  He is a navy veteran (a lot of military veterans among our clan, and within this group a lot of those are navy).   Chris runs a numismatics firm there. Contact data below for anyone in need of gold and silver coins.  He is also a board member of The Friendly Sons of St Patrick.

From the DNA results we know Chris descends from Alexander McKean who was the immigrant ancestor.  Alexander McKean and his brother Hugh McKean appear in tax records in Donegal township, PA Colony in 1722.  Their exact arrival date is not known.  But, given the ships leaving from Ulster we suspect they either came in the 1718 fleet that landed in Boston in late summer of that year, or were on a ship that came into Boston the next year.  Alexander McKean and Hugh McKean are the progenitors of the Marsh Creek Settlement McCains.
·          McCain Numismatics
·         The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick (FSOSP)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The McCain Surname

McCain, McCane, McKane, McKean, McKeen, and McKain are just various anglicised forms of the Gaelic surname Mac Eáin. Most of our families have used several anglicised spellings over there years.  Most anglicised spellings did not become 'fixed' until the early 1800s.  The Marsh Creek McCains used, or the clerks that wrote their name down, used McKeen and McKean in the 1700s.  Most families that remained north of the Mason Dixon line retained those two spellings.  In the South (of the USA) the McCain spelling became dominate.

Jim McKane Our Webmaster

Jim McKane of Wiarton, Ontario, Canada
Our webmaster for both the McCain DNA Project and the Ulster Heritage Project is Jim McKane.  Here is a recent photo of him at a function in his 'snow bird' second home in Arizona.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

McCain Family DNA Research Update March 1012

Mongavlin Castle from an old newspaper photo
The research on our family is now focusing on the McCains in east Donegal from the late 1500s through the 1650s.  We continue to have more McCains join and match our family from that area.  The first appearance of the McCains in papers records are also from that area. William McKean the Soldier is in the 1630 muster roll for Mongavlin.  He was missed by early researchers, perhaps because his forename in written in a phonetic version of the name William in Gaelic.  For those of you with maps, look about 2 and 1/2 miles south of StJohnston, that is the epicenter of the early McCains in Ireland. We also now know that a branch of our family moved very early to the Stranorlar area, which is in the Finn Valley.  There are still many McCains in our family living in the Finn Valley and just south of StJohnston, in Porthall and Carrickmore.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hance Hamilton

For all those McCains with Hamilton connections;  there is some very good research on going about Hance Hamilton who was the de facto leader of the Marsh Creek Settlement in the 1700s.  There are several McCain Hamilton marriages, both in the Colonies and in Ireland, and there was a very consistent and strong bond between these two families.

The new research as peeled away some pseudo history concerning Hance Hamilton.  For example, it is often stated his father was a Hance Hamilton Sr who led 140 families to the Colonies in 1729, yet there are no known records that support this.  To date, no records have been located that even suggest Hance Hamilton's father was named Hance.  A group of 140 families would have needed several large ships at the very least and there is no records in the Colonies nor Ireland of this event.  On the other hand, there are records of Hamiltons coming over in 1729 on a smaller ship and landing at New Castle, Delaware.  Hance could have been aboard this smaller ship, we do not know for certain, but we do know just a few years later he shows up in the Marsh Creek Settlement, fully grown, very active, and a leader of men.

The early life and parents of Hance Hamilton are for the time being a mystery.  There is now some DNA results that connect Hance to the Abercorn Hamiltons in east Donegal and northwest Tyrone.  Of interest, some of our McCains were living on the Abercorn Hamilton lands prior to coming the Colonies and the McCain Hamilton marriages in Ireland are with the Abercorn line.   Given this information, it does look like Hance Hamilton is connected to that particular Hamilton line.  If so, it is very likely that eventually records of his family will turn up in Ireland.

Part of the confusion with Hance comes from the birth year listed on his stone in Gettysburg, which is 1721.  The stone that exist today is not the original one.  It was replaced in the late 1800s as the original stone was badly weathered and broken.  Given the age of his oldest son it is very probable that the 1721 date is an error.  He would be older, so perhaps the original stone read 1711 or some other date that was illegible by the late 1800s.

McCain Family DNA Research Update

A short update for all our McCain families.  First, thank you to all the McCain gents that upgraded their DNA kits to the 111 markers.   This has been a great help in getting a much better idea of the chronology of our shared common ancestor.  We use the geneticists DNA logarithms to do the analysis.  Additionally, as the geneticists make progress in their research these logarithms are more precise.  

All the McCains that have tested go back to one family living circa mid 1600s.  This includes the New England and Nova Scotian McKeens, the Marsh Creek McCains, the north Antrim McKanes, and the east Donegal McKeans.  We now have a much better idea of where we were living from 1400s to the 1650s.  This came via a lot of reading of the primary sources in Argyll and east Donegal.  The DNA and traditional research go hand in hand.

As some people might have heard, I did finally 'find' the elusive Willam McKean the soldier that is part of the oral history of the New England McKeens.  He is the earliest McCain I can find paper records on, and he was indeed a soldier.  He was an adult male in 1630, so his birth date would be around 1595 to 1605, give or take a few years.   Whether or not he was born in Donegal or moved there I do not know, I suspect he was born in Donegal and his family came to Donegal from Argyll in one of the groups of men sent there by Giolla Easpuig Caimbeul, the 5th Earl of Argyll, or by the 6th Earl of Argyll.  All that will be explained in the book Finding the McCains. 

Hope every one has a prosperous New Year, and I will post updates as news comes in.