Genealogy Research Tip: Using Autosomal DNA to Connect Families

[This article is written by Regina Negrycz for Research, Write, Connect]

Autosomal DNA has helped me to connect two Dalton families together when records do not exist.

The Daltons on my maternal side have lived in Mitchelstown, County Cork, Ireland for over 150 years. We can trace them back to William Dalton born circa 1810. Civil registration in Ireland for non-Roman Catholic marriages began in 1845 but registration of all marriages, deaths and births began in 1864. Parish records, depending upon the parish, began earlier. To date, we have not yet found William’s baptism and we do not know his parents’ names.


In August 2008 my mother and I visited Ireland and I introduced my mother to her second cousin, Bob Dalton, whom I had met in 1997. Bob is the 2nd great-grandson of William. Bob took the Y-DNA 37 marker test, which we upgraded in 2009 to the 67 marker test and became part of the Dalton Surname Family Tree DNA project.


In 2011, Bill (William F.) Dalton of the U.S. learned of the Y-DNA project and took the 67 marker test. Bill knew of his ancestor's origins in Tankerstown, Co. Tipperary and of the emigration of William Dalton, born 1850, to the U.S, Bill’s great-grandfather. Bill and Bob matched with a genetic distance of 2, which Family Tree DNA's tip calculator stated was a 72% chance of a shared common ancestor within four generations.

Bill took an atDNA test in March 2014. During our August 2016 trip, Bob took an atDNA test as well. During that same trip, we met a relative of Bill’s in Bansha, Mike Dalton, and he also took an atDNA test. Bill and Mike matched at 44.9 centimorgans (cMs) for a 4.2 Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA.) Bill and Bob matched at 147.2 cM & Bob and Mike matched at 167.6 cM. Both measurements suggest 1st cousin 3 times removed or 2nd cousin once removed relationships.

One of the Mitchelstown Daltons, Maurice, immigrated to St Louis, Missouri, married and had eight children. In 2014, my mother & I attended a Dalton Reunion where we met the descendants of Maurice. In 2018 I asked Dan Dalton to take an atDNA test and he agreed. Dan matches Bill at 4.4cM and matches Mike at 13.9cM. Dan matches Bob at 39.1cM. Dan doesn’t match with Bill.

Bill's DNA also connected these Daltons with a Rob Connelly in Australia. Rob is the 2nd great-grandson of James Dalton who died the 6th of May 1844 and is buried in Killadriffe Cemetery, Bansha, Tipperary. James was buried by his wife Winifred nee Noonan. Winifred remarried a Thomas Carey (aka Carew). In January 1854, the whole family immigrated to Melbourne, Australia.

DNA tells us the fathers of William Francis (born 1796) & James (1798-1844) are more than likely brothers. Their father and the father of William (born 1810) are more than likely cousins.

Mike Dalton of Bansha matches Kate M. as an estimated 4th cousin for 21cM across 1 segment. In reviewing Blaine Bettinger’s Shared cM chart , 22 cM suggests 3rd cousin 3 times removed. Mike is the 2nd great-grandson of James born 1798 and Kate is the 4th great-grandchild of that same James. Their actual relationship is 3rd cousin 2 times removed.

Kate is also a DNA match to Nancy E., the granddaughter of Rose Dalton, the 2x great granddaughter of William Dalton (1796-1889), Bill’s great-grandfather. The fact that Nancy and Kate are descended from the two Daltons we suspect are brothers is strengthened by the DNA evidence that Nancy descends from William born 1789 while Kate descends from James born 1798.

It was known that there was a James and a William and a prevailing thought was that they were brothers. DNA has now proven that. The two descendants of the brothers matched at 55.9 cMs for a MRCA of 4.0, which is 2C3R (2nd cousin 3 times removed). There are other DNA matches in Australia between the descendants of these two brothers.
In the Dalton section of Killadriffe Cemetery, there is another tombstone with the surname Dalton. When photographed in 2013, it was not known how this Dalton was related to the Tankerstown Daltons. Recent DNA matches and correspondence with the various Tankerstown Dalton descendants indicate that there was another brother living in the Tankerstown area in addition to William and James, a John Dalton.

When Joseph Dalton married in 1873, he stated he was a farmer, his father's name was John Dalton and his residence was Tankerstown. Descendants of this Joseph Dalton, and of his brother Daniel, connect DNA-wise, especially with Bill's cousins. They live in the U.S. in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. It is interesting that one of Bill Dalton's relatives had a letter dated 1974 telling her nephew to check on his cousin "down the road" from the Tankerstown Daltons. One of James Dalton's descendants visited the Dalton family living there at the time and was told that he had repaired James' headstone "because he had to be some kind of relative."


DNA has been the link between cousins who may never have been able to connect with each other. Each person can have a piece of the puzzle. Those pieces can be joined together to create a better picture of those who have gone before us.

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