current thinking

Although my mother and Leonard (the man I grew up believing to be my father) both told me that Leonard was not my father, and although they both told my younger brother Robert that Leonard was not his father either, DNA testing is telling me clearly that Leonard was in fact the father of both of us.

When my mother first told me, I was secretly pleased as I had no respect at all for Leonard and I had hopes that perhaps my biological father was a better person than Leonard.

Experts tell me that DNA doesn’t lie and I accept that but I have tested with all 3 of the popular testing companies and as a retired IT professional, I am not convinced that their output is 100 percent accurate so for me there is still a tiny doubt. But I am proceeding to build my paternal family tree based on the belief that Leonard was my father.

Clearly there were two men in my mother’s life around 1940 when WW2 was in full swing. In some ways that was hardly surprising as she was quite an attractive young lady and was no fool. Plus she worked in a photographer’s shop (Jerome’s of Reading) which at the time was recognised as the number one place to go to in those days if you wanted your photo taken. And of course, many men in the armed services liked to get their photo taken in uniform for a variety of reasons – to send home to their parents, or to their loved ones they were leaving behind, and so on. An attractive young lady taking photos that made these young men look good would be a candidate to be asked to go out on a date by men who were uncertain as to what their future had in store for them.

I am certain that there were two men in my mother’s life at that time. I have sufficient evidence that confirms that. One was obviously Leonard and the other one was Paul Thomas or someone claiming to be Paul Thomas or someone that my mother didn’t want me to know who he really was so she made up the name Paul Thomas. But let’s call him Paul Thomas.

I have long believed that this Paul Thomas became a POW which is why he disappeared from my mother’s life in 1940 and he re-appeared after the war was over only to find that my mother had married Leonard. And I suspect they had a farewell fling before Paul Thomas said goodbye. The dates fit in perfectly. Whether it was a case of ghost pregnancy, or missed periods, or miscarriages, it matters not. Paul Thomas was involved with my mother both in 1940 and after the war ended, but Leonard was our father.

So I am now trying to extend my paternal family tree back in time. I have got to a Thomas Cummins born circa 1779 in Dublin and married to a Mary Dwyer. I am stuck here because I have hit the infamous Irish Brick Wall, so called because of the lack of readily available records due to the fire that destroyed the Irish National Archives building in 1922.

One of my better paternal DNA matches is with a John Bartels who lives in Oregon in the USA. John’s grandfather was Cornelius Joseph Cummins but he never married John’s grandmother, Mary Ann Bartels. So John Bartels is really John Cummins. I have traced John Bartels’ tree for him back to a Denis and Mary (Kehoe) Cummins from Wexford in Ireland, born around 1800. Once again I have hit the Irish Brick Wall which is a pity as I believe I am only two or three generations from finding the common ancestor that I share with John Bartels.

To trace my line and John Bartels line further back really means I need to make a trip to Ireland and visit Records Offices, churches, local shire offices, newspaper archives, etc. and that isn’t an option for me at this point in time. So I am working laboriously through all of my DNA matches looking for possible connections.

As well as undertaking DNA testing, I also engaged a consultant to analyse my Y-DNA (paternal line) test results which favour the surnames McAlister, O’Gara, O’Hara, O’May, May, McKeon and he has come up with the finding that my Cummings line originated in County Sligo, somewhere near Tobercurry. His findings are in line with other comments I have received from other experts.

So I am confident that I have the O’Gara/O’Hara genetic marker but it has come down through the McAlister line. The O’Gara/O’Hara marker is from Sligo but some O’Haras went to Antrim which is where McAlister came from. Somewhere along the way there was a marriage, or liaison, or non-paternity event with a Cummings or a variant of that name. Once again I would need to visit Ireland to progress this research – maybe at some stage in the future if I can resolve a health issue that is stopping me at the moment.