After many years of searching for the elusive Paul Thomas, DNA testing is telling me that I am not a Thomas after all. It is also telling me that although Leonard Cummings was not my father, one of his four brothers was.
Looking back, I think I probably know which one it could have been but I am not going to pursue this direction further at the moment as I see no point in opening up yet another can of worms.
I appreciate and understand those who always thought that Paul Thomas was a smokescreen, and that my mother felt that she needed to tell me that Leonard wasn’t my father but was too ashamed to tell me who and therefore concocted an elaborate story to put me off the scent.
I also appreciate the thoughts sent to me by the genealogist Angie Bush who has been very kindly assisting me in my search:
Given the elaborate story your mother told and other evidence, I (like you) also believe that there was probably another person that your mom had a relationship with and really cared about. There are too many things that point to this being the case. Whether that person was Paul Thomas or one of Leonard’s brothers, I don’t know. Like I mentioned, becoming pregnant directly after a miscarriage is really common. I would bet money that your mother always believed that you were Paul’s/one of Leonard’s brother’s. I would even believe that you were actually born in March, too. I know for myself (even being well-educated and older) when I had my first child that there were things I didn’t calculate correctly as far as dates went. I can only imagine that being young, in the middle of a war, etc. made things difficult for your mother, and that being embarrassed about the pregnancy may have caused some miscalculations, etc. Maybe it was easiest for her to believe that you were Paul’s child, as it sounds like he was an important person in her life. Maybe it made getting through the war a bit easier to believe that she had a piece of him with her? Our minds do strange things in order to protect us from difficult realities. The comment about your mother “picking” the wrong person says to me that she must have been seeing Paul and Leonard relatively close to the same time.
But – I still have so much reliable evidence that suggests there was another person, whether he was Paul Thomas or someone else. And I am not being unkind to my mother when I say that I don’t think she was capable of dreaming up such a farfetched story.
But for now I have achieved one of my goals which was to have a name or names above my own name on my paternal family tree. I am happy to leave a question mark in my father’s box because I can put Leonard and his siblings’ parents in my paternal grandparent’s box and work that family tree back from there.
These past several years have not been a waste of my time. I have learned so much about myself and my family although not all was welcome news. I have also enjoyed learning about the mysterious world of DNA and accept that many experts say that DNA doesn’t lie. But it is still in my humble opinion a science that is in its infancy and DNA testing has a long way to go before it can seriously claim to be 100% accurate.
I have also enjoyed the many friendships I have made with several extended Thomas families and regret that none of them delivered for me! I was moved to tears when I received an email from a particular Thomas family member informing me of a meeting that had taken place between several extended family members, people who were not aware of each other’s existence until I started searching their extended family looking for my elusive father, and they finished the supper meeting by raising their glasses and making a toast to me.
So I am not going to consign Paul Thomas to the waste paper basket just yet nor am I going to actively continue looking for him but something is nagging me to suggest that there may just be a connection between Thomas and Cummings but I can’t quite put my finger on it.
One of my better Y-DNA matches is a John Bartels whose grandfather was John Cummins but he never married John Bartels’ grandmother. John Bartels and I have both done the FTDNA Y-DNA and Family Finder (FF) test.
I match John Bartels 36/37 on the Y-DNA test. On the FF test, I have 264 matches and John Bartels has 232 matches. There is only one name that appears on both lists and that is a guy in America by the name of Paul Thomas. Now this Paul Thomas is younger than me so clearly couldn’t be my father. But unfortunately he does not know very much of interest about his paternal grandfather.
I put this conundrum to Angie Bush and of course she had an answer!
I think the cosmos is playing tricks on you throwing Paul Thomas into the mix of all of this! There is no other reason for that name to show up other than pure coincidence. This is crazy.
A yDNA test and an autosomal DNA test are very different types of tests. Most of the time if you have a connection through yDNA, unless you are a 3rd or 4th cousin (or closer) to that yDNA match, the yDNA match will not show up in a Family Finder/autosomal DNA test. Once you are at a 5th cousin level with another person there is less than a 10% chance of that match showing up in an autosomal test. However. yDNA tests do allow you to look at ancestors who are further back in your family tree – say 8-20 generations – we can determine these relationships on a direct paternal line with a fair degree of accuracy. Autosomal tests are better/best for proving and disproving closer relationships, such as siblings, 1st or 2nd cousins, aunts/uncles, etc.
It is a pretty distant relationship that is predicted for both you and John Bartels to Paul Thomas – so he is not your father. This Paul Thomas likely has a common ancestor on the Cummings side of your tree, as this is where you and John Bartels connect. That is all we can conclude from these results – that and that the cosmos likes to play tricks on you.
So where do I go from here? I am naturally inquisitive and like to know the answers to questions that interest me. My hobbies include code breaking, codewords and cryptic crosswords. I have sufficient SOLID evidence collected over the years that tell me a lot about where I came from but not everything.
Clearly I share common ancestry with the following families:
Cummings, O’Gara, O’Hara, O’May, May, McAllister, McKeon, Bartels (Cummins) plus a number of others.
I am confident that my genetic origins are in Sligo and/or Antrim in Ireland. I have strong support for this from the Head of Clan O’Gara who believes I have the O’Gara O’Hara genetic marker but it has come down through the McAllister line. The O’Gara O’Hara marker is from Sligo but some O’Haras went to Antrim which is where McAllister came from.
I have information from a May family member in England who has traced his family back to Knocknageeha which is not far from Sligo.
I have new information from a McKeon in America who has a possible link to Sligo and Leitrim.
At the moment I have a new Cummings family tree that goes back to a Thomas (there’s that name again!) Cummings born circa 1719 in Dublin possibly married to a Mary Dwyer.
So I think I will focus on trying to see if I can fill in some of the blanks between Thomas Cummings (circa 1719) and the O’Gara O’Hara families way back when and in doing that I want to assist John Bartels in finding out more about his grandfather – I do think if we can extend his line back, it could prove fruitful for both of us.