Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fawkner DNA -- From the Top

It's time to blog again. Mostly for myself, as a way to get my otherwise jumbled thoughts better organized. But, if you're interested enough in Fawkners or the application of DNA to genealogy, you're more than welcome to tag along. I can't guarantee you'll learn a lot, but I'll be pleased if you do.

Here's the deal.  My wife is descended from John C. Fawkner, who, best as we know, was born in 1777. He was my wife's 3rd great-grandfather.  About this there is no doubt. I can prove it with documentary evidence, but I'm not going to do that here. For the moment, the question is: who were the parents of John C. Fawkner?

John C. Fawkner had children from four marriages before he died in 1839 in Hendricks County, Indiana. The research that discovered and documented these marriages was reported in my article in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (September 2011, pp. 165-84). Though a good deal is known about his life, no record directly identifies John C. Fawkner's parents.

However, several pieces of contemporary evidence place him in close proximity -- both geographically and socially -- with a Faulconer family in Fayette County, Kentucky, from the mid-1790s into the 1820s.  Several variations of John C. Fawkner's name appear in the records -- Faulkner, Falconer, Forkner, etc. Might John C. Fawkner have been a member of the Fayette County Faulconer family?

The idea that DNA might shed light on the problem resulted from an accidental encounter. While attending a Low Dutch Cousins reunion in Mercer County, Kentucky, in 2009, I met a Faulconer about my age who traced his ancestry back to John Faulconer, who came to Fayette County from Virginia in 1799. Again, the ancestry checks out, but I am not going to document Mr. Faulconer's descent here. The important thing at this point is that "KY-Faulconer" is a direct-line male descendant of the John Faulconer who settled in Kentucky. That is, barring any intervening mis-attributed paternity events, he should carry the Y-DNA of John Faulconer.  Perhaps, slightly modified by a few mutations over several generations.

This was good, but there was a problem.  My wife can not have any Faulconer Y-DNA. In fact, she has no Y-DNA. Her father was a Tidball (deceased), so her two brothers also have no Faulconer Y-DNA. But, her father's second cousin -- "MN-Fawkner," a 2nd great-grandson of John C. Fawkner -- is still living. If  John Fawkner was really a Faulconer, MN-Fawkner should still carry the Faulconer Y-DNA.

This was good.  I had two possibly related straight-line Faulconer/Fawkner descendants to test. Now, remember, Y-DNA was all the rage in 2011. Consumer-market autosomal DNA tests were in their infancy. The key for now was that, by going up my wife's family tree a few generations and then back done, I had found a living Fawkner male to test.

The scene is set. The curtain goes up next week when I will unveil the first set of results.


  1. Jay will it reveal that your Fawkners and my Faulconers are one and the same family???????

    1. Time (and posts) will tell. Did you know that portrait of Mary "Polly" Hawkins, mother of Joyce Craig, hangs in the historic Duncan Tavern in Paris, Kentucky?