Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Cynthia Wells - Reconstructing Irish-Caribbean Ancestry

Name - Cynthia Wells

Member - ISOGG, GOONS, Hampshire Genealogical Society, Somerset and Dorset Family History Society

Day Job - Administrative Manager overseeing the accounting, human resources, and administrative departments at Hart & Hickman located in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Night Job - Administrator/Co-Administrator of four Surname DNA Projects, ISOGG Regional Speaker for North Carolina, USA, Assistant Director of the Reedy Creek Family History Centre

How did you get into genealogy?
As a young child my family would entertain me with stories about my ancestors. I love history, like to research, and love my family so genealogy research was the perfect hobby for me. My marriage brought new genealogical research for my in-laws and when my children got married I had a whole new set of in-law genealogy to start. The last decade has seen a treasure trove of new genealogical tools. I never tire of finding new ancestors and learning their histories.

What about your involvement with genetic genealogy?
I learned of genetic genealogy back in 2004. A sceptic at first, I realized how helpful using DNA for genealogy could be after seeing test results and learning how they could supply clues to further research, prove or disprove the paper trail, and advance the understanding of my surnames of interest.

My first dna surname project started in 2005 and I have gone on to co-admin three more. I’ve sponsored the testing of family/extended family members to expand my personal genealogical research and helped others choose the right DNA test for what they want to find out and what to make of their results. These tests include Y-DNA, mtDNA, and atDNA. I’ve also been lucky enough to travel to WDYTYA in London multiple times and volunteer at the FTDNA booth. FTDNA sponsors the annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy. Since 2005 I have attended each conference to listen and learn from the experts in the field.

So what will you be talking about?
The middle decades of the 17th century witnessed countless Irish men and women shipped off to an island life of indentured servitude and forced labor never to return to their homeland. While many died quickly working under the harsh conditions of the sugar plantation others melted into a diverse culture that included AmerIndians and Africans. Historian Maurice Ashley wrote “The Caribbean was an area where Europe’s frontiers met”. The West Indies were also part of lucrative trade routes that brought many Caribbean Irish to the British colonies of Rhode Island, Virginia, and the Carolinas. Their descendants are now scattered throughout the United States. Reconstructing Irish Caribbean ancestry through the use of genetic genealogy combined with historical records is the long-term goal of iCARA. My presentation will discuss where the historical records are, what they reveal, and where DNA can lead us.

What DNA tests will be discussed?
Mainly Y-DNA and autosomal DNA

Where can people get more information about you or your topic?

The iCARA website (a work in progress) -

The Irish Caribbean DNA Project -

These lectures are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

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