Monday 31 December 2018

Big Y results for Lineage III (West Clare Gleeson's)

Big Y results recently came back for project member 191141, a member of Lineage III - the Gleeson's from West Clare (specifically the area around Coore & Connolly). This is a very close-knit group with few mutations, which suggests that they all share a common ancestor shortly before 1800. The origins of this group were first discussed in a blog post from July 2016, and a subsequent blog post (June 2018) detailed the genealogical information gathered for this group thanks to the sterling efforts of Bill Gleeson.

The 5 members of Lineage III

The new Big Y results indicate that his "terminal SNP marker" is indeed DC127 as previously predicted. This characterises a sub-branch below the SNP marker L226 which is the hallmark of the O'Brien clan from Clare and thus Brian Boru.

A SNP Progression is the sequence of SNPs that characterise each branching point on the Tree of Mankind from the major Haplogroup SNP (R-P312 in this case) down to the most downstream branch of the Tree of Mankind (i.e. the branch on which you currently sit). The SNP Progression for Lineage III is as follows:
  • R-P312/S116 > Z290 > L21/S145 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > Z2534 > BY25450 > FGC5618 > FGC5625 > L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > A10950 > DC127
So what does this new information tell us?

Additional analysis of this member's results was undertaken by the team at The Big Tree. You can see this branch and it's nearby genetic neighbours here and in the diagram below.

The Lineage III member sits on the branch on the far left
(click to enlarge)

What stands out is the genetic connection to several surnames with a strong presence in county Clare, including McNamara, O'Malley, Curry, Hehir, McInerney & Slattery:
  • McNamara - this is an important sept of the Dál gCais, connected with the O'Briens and thus related to Brian Boru.
  • O'Malley - there was an important O'Malley clan in the old kingdom of Thomond, near Limerick city (just south of county Clare).
  • Curry - a sept bearing this surname was prominent in Thomond (and is reflected in the surname distribution map below).
  • Hehir - concentrated in the Clare/Limerick area. MacLysaght states that they were a sept of Clare which originated with the Uí Fidhgheinte of Limerick.
  • McInerney - these were a major sept of county Clare and remain concentrated there to this day.
  • Slattery - these were a sept of East Clare. The name is numerous in northern part of the province of Munster.
The strong genetic association with surnames from Clare suggests that the DNA origins of the Lineage III Gleeson's is indeed in county Clare, where many of them still live today.

Surname Distribution Maps based on Griffith's Valuation (mid-1800s)

We can attempt to date the various branching points in the SNP Progression for Lineage III members. Here is a reminder of the SNP Progression and we will be looking at the dates for just the last few branches:
  • R-P312/S116 > Z290 > L21/S145 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > Z2534 > BY25450 > FGC5618 > FGC5625 > L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > A10950 > DC127
Some dates have been calculated by the Big Tree. Here are the crude dates for the following branching points:
  • P312 ...      <4620 ybp (years before present) = sometime around 2670 BC
  • L226 …     <1900 ybp (years before present) = before 50 AD
  • Z17669 ...  <1810 ybp = pre-140 AD approximately
  • A10950 … <1350 ybp = pre-600 AD approx.
  • DC29 …    <1090 ybp = pre-900 AD approx.
  • DC31 …    <840 ybp   = pre-1100 AD approx.
  • DC30 …    <740 ybp   = pre-1200 AD approx.

Dates for the more downstream branches can be crudely estimated using similar methodology (i.e. crudely, 150 years per SNP, average birth year of participants assumed to be about 1950). The 3 people on the DC127 branch have 23 unique SNPs between them (Smith 8, Johnson 9, & Gleeson 6). This suggests that the common ancestor for Smith, Johnson & Gleeson is about 750-1250 years ago.

Incorporating all these dates into the Big Tree diagram gives us the following branching structure with crude dates (allow several hundred years on either side of the estimate).

Crude dates for each of the branching points in the Lineage III portion of the Tree of Mankind

Although these dates are crude, it seems pretty clear that the connection between the Lineage III Gleeson's and their genetic neighbours (McNamara, O'Malley, etc) is before the time of surnames (i.e. pre-1000 AD or thereabouts). However, the connection with the Smith and Johnson individuals is much less clear. Neither of these names is an Irish surname and this suggests that there may have been an SDS (Surname or DNA Switch / NPE) somewhere along their direct male line.

The Lineage III member has Y-STR matches with a Maloney (GD 8/111) and a Smith (Genetic Distance 6/111), both of whom have tested positive for DC127 (so presumably this Smith is the same one in the Big Tree diagram above). The Maloney individual has not yet uploaded his results to the Big Tree so I have sent him an email with instructions. This may add a lot of additional detail to the current picture.

The Maloney individual belongs to Group 2 of the Maloney DNA Project (of which I also happen to be the Administrator). This Maloney Group 2 (11 members in total) is more genetically diverse than Gleeson Lineage III ... i.e. they are an older group and the common ancestor for these Maloney's is likely to be 400-600 years ago. It would be useful to have a second person from this group do the Big Y test as this would help clarify a Maloney-specific DNA marker and could also indicate when the Maloney Group 2 and Gleeson Lineage III split away from each other. In other words, it might help answer the question: which came first - the Maloney chicken or the Gleeson egg?

Group 2 of the Maloney DNA Project, showing the genetic diversity within the group

Maloney is also a Dalcassian name (i.e. it is associated with the clan known as the Dal gCais, of which Brian Boru is the most well-known member). These Maloney's were chiefs of the district around Kiltanon, in the barony of Tulla, in east county Clare. This further reinforces the likely Clare origins of Lineage III.

The distribution of Maloney surname variants in the mid-1800s

The connection with the Maloney's is interesting for another reason too. Some of the historical texts dealing with the origins of the Gleeson surname in Ireland (in particular those of Dermot F Gleeson) report that there is an association with the surname Moloughney (supposedly originating in Muskerry, an area around northern Cork and extending toward south Tipperary). This particular surname variant is said to be an old Tipperary surname, and Tipperary is the ancestral homeland for the Gleeson's of Lineage II. So does this provide evidence of a connection between the two Gleeson Lineages (II & III)? or does it indicate some confusion in the historically reported origins of the two different lineages? or is this merely a coincidence? Something to be borne in mind as our research into the wider Gleeson"clan" continues.

DC127+ individuals in the L226 Haplogroup Project
(click to enlarge)

Lastly, the L226 project lists several people as testing positive for DC127, and a new name appears among this group, namely Cusack. There are at least two origins for this latter name (according to MacLysaght):
  • it is of Anglo-Norman origin (from de Cussac) arising in the 13th century
  • it is a naive sept originating in county Clare (from the Irish Mac Iosóg)
It seems likely that the Cusack listed in the L226 project belongs to the latter of these groups. And this further emphasises a strong Clare connection for the Gleeson's of Lineage III.

The Cusack surname (mid-1800s)

Maurice Gleeson
Dec 2018

Tuesday 13 November 2018

FTDNA Thanksgiving Sale

There are some incredible discounts in the current FTDNA Sale which lasts from now until Nov 22nd. And there will probably be a Christmas Sale after that. So now is the time to start thinking about getting that upgrade or that extra kit.

Below are the sale prices and they are the lowest I have ever seen.
Y37 for just $99 ...
Family Finder for just $49 ...
and $100-140 off Big Y upgrades.

This feels more like Crazy Eddie's Second Hand Car Deals!

If you have any questions about your own particular situation, just drop me an email.

Maurice Gleeson
Nov 2018

Sunday 8 July 2018

A Closer Look at Branch B - new Y-DNA results

Since the last version of the "family tree" for the Lineage II Gleeson's of North Tipperary, there have been some additional results. For Branch B, these include two new members (G123 & G127), new STR results, and new Z255 SNP Pack results. This post assesses these new results, explores how they impact on the overall structure of Branch B, and draws conclusions about what the DNA and genealogical data in combination tell us about the members of this branch and how they are related to each other.

Below is the previous configuration of Branch B (from Aug 2017). There are 5 members. All share the SNP marker Y16880. And below that, their STR mutations (on the right side of each line) suggest a "best fit" branching structure that attempts to explain how the various people are related to each other. There is also a TMRCA estimate in red underneath each branching point. TMRCA stands for Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor and is expressed as the number of generations back to the most recent common ancestor. Thus the common ancestor for G107 (MPG) and G55 (HLG) is estimated to be about 3 generations ago.

The previous structure of Branch B from version 3
of the Mutation History Tree (Aug 2017)
(click to enlarge)

What do we know from each family's genealogy?

Let's first take a look at the direct male line pedigrees for each of the individuals in Branch B, including the two new members (G123 & G127). A big thank you to the project members for supplying this essential information (most of which you will find on the Post Your Pedigree page).

The direct male line pedigrees of the members of Branch B
(click to enlarge)

There are 4 lines within Branch B and what is particularly important is the birth location of the MDKA (Most Distant Known Ancestor) of each line:
  • Line 1 ... Massachussetts, USA
  • Line 2 ... probably Tipperary, Ireland
  • Line 3 ... Ireland
  • Line 4 ... Tipperary, Ireland

We assume that the MDKA information in these pedigrees is correct, but it may not be. When records are scant (as happens beyond 1830 with Irish records), oftentimes the best we can do is make an educated guess regarding the approximate year of birth and (most importantly) birth location of the MDKA. Nevertheless, it would appear that the Irish immigrant ancestor for Line 1 would have been born no later than 1 generation prior to the MDKA for line 1 (i.e. no later than about 1750 in Ireland).

Now let's take a look at the DNA.

What do the new DNA results tell us?

I have previously used a visualisation method for delineating the branching structure within the overall "family tree" for Lineage II, supplemented with insights from Dave Vance's SAPP Programme (which automates the process of generating Mutation History Trees (MHT) based on mutations in the Y-DNA SNP & STR markers). On this occasion, I started with the SAPP Programme and refined the inputs with each version of the MHT it produced. You can read a detailed account together with a sequence of diagrams later in this post, but below I merely include the top-line results.

The Z255 SNP Pack results of new member G123 (EMG) indicate that he shares 2 SNPs which until now have only been present in my Dad (G21, MHG). So this has now characterised a new branch within Branch B (indicated by the blue line in the diagram). This illustrates how the Z255 SNP Pack can (in certain circumstances) be a useful substitute for the Big Y test. However, it won't reveal any private/unique SNPs possessed by the tester.

This new sub-branch makes the connection between G123/G127 and G21 quite a way back (about 10 generations, which is about 300 years, which suggests a common ancestor born about 1700). And this also means that G123/G127 are connected to Line 1 (G57, G64 ,G55) a few generations further back than that (maybe 11, 12 or 13 generations, or 1600) … more than likely. You can read a more detailed account of the TMRCA estimates in the more technical section below.

A subsequent post will explore the use of autosomal DNA (e.g. Family Finder results) to help clarify the suggested relationships between the various members of Branch B. We would expect no atDNA matches between any of the 4 lines, but we would expect some matches among the members of each line in turn.

Figure 8: the final figure - Version 4 of the MHT for Branch B. This may be refined when Version 4 of the Mutation History tree for the entire group is generated.

A Detailed Account of the Technical Bits

For those willing to brave a more detailed account of the technical aspects of how the Mutation History Tree for Branch B was generated, please knock yourself out below.

(click to enlarge)

Figure 1: this first version of a SAPP-generated Mutation History tree is based on STR values only, anchored by the group Modal Haplotype as a starting point. Note that known relatives are separated - G64 (LTL) belongs with G57 (RL) & G55 (HLG), and G123 (EMG) belongs with G127 (JG). This artificial separation of known family members may be due to the different number of STR markers compared (i.e. 37 vs 111).

(click to enlarge)
Figure 2: SNPs have been added to "anchor" the overall group. But this makes no difference at all because all the members of Branch B share the same SNP marker (Y16880). Note that the TMRCA estimates (Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor) suggest that the group has a MRCA born about 1800, but within the range of 1700 to 1950. These TMRCA estimates will always be inexact and unreliable, despite being statistically accurate.

(click to enlarge)
Figure 3: genealogical information is added, specifically the MRCAs (Most Recent Common Ancestors) - two of them for Line 1 (James1795 & Ben1889), and one for Line 3 (John 1887). And now the diagram begins to approximate what we know from the genealogy. The known relatives are correctly grouped together, and Line 2 (G107, MPG) and Line 4 (G21, MHG) are clearly identified as outliers.

But there are still potential shortcomings. The diagram suggests that Line 4 (G21, MHG) is more closely related to Line 1 (G55, G57, G64 = HLG, RL, LTL) than to Line 2 or 3, and this seems counterintuitive given the huge number of mutations Line 4 (G21, MHG) has compared to the other lines.

Part of the problem may be that I have generated these diagrams for Branch B in isolation from the rest of the branches within Lineage II. A different configuration might result if all Lineage II members were included in this exercise.

(click to enlarge)
Figure 4: having now included all Lineage II members in the analysis, a new diagram is generated which looks essentially the same as the one above in Figure 3 ... except that member G107 has been moved to a completely separate branch of the tree (far left), beyond Y16880. This is probably due to the fact that G107 (MPG) has only tested to 37 marker level whereas most others in Branch B have tested to 111 markers.

So are we happy with G107 (MPG) being so far removed? How certain are we that he is correctly placed in Branch B? Is there any evidence to suggest he is better placed where SAPP has placed him? There are no easy answers to these questions. The new SAPP diagram suggests he is more closely related to G113 (GD 5/37), G70 (GD 7/37) and G05 (GD 7/37) than he is to the other members of Branch B (GD 1-2/37). This is counterintuitive and could only be explained by a significant number of parallel and back mutation being present ... which may be the case - we simply don't know.

So for now, I am going to assume that G107 is in fact more closely related to Branch B members and I will force a stronger likeness to Branch B members by assuming that his 38-111 STR marker panel is exactly the same as other members of Branch B. So having copied and pasted the values for these missing markers into the programme, this is the next diagram we get ...

(click to enlarge)
Figure 5: And now G107 (MPG) has been placed back in Branch B (where he probably belongs). But we have had to "fool" the SAPP Programme by forcing him onto a branch that it didn't want to put him on. We could confirm that we have placed him correctly if G107 (MPG) was to do the Big Y, the Z255 SNP Pack, or the Y16880 single SNP test.

The diagram still does not look quite right - G21 (Line 4) is still placed uncomfortably close to Line 1 members (G55, G57, G64) and this remains counterintuitive, given that G21 (MHG) has 5 STR mutations below "Node #45", suggesting that it is quite distant from Line 1 members (the Genetic Distance to members G55, G57, & G64 is 8/111, 6/111, and 2/37 respectively). This becomes even more clear when we add in the private/unique SNPs that Branch B members possess (based on the three Big Y results from this branch). G21 (MHG) has 5 unique/private SNPs whereas G57 (RL) has 2 and G55 (HLG) has 1. This is illustrated in the diagram below.

(click to enlarge)
Figure 6: this is the final "best fit" diagram from SAPP. Or at least it was until I noticed that FTDNA have made a mistake with the "current terminal SNP" of new member G123 (EMG, stated to be Y16880 on the Results Page). Looking at the results of his Z255 SNP Pack, he is not only positive for Y16880 (the overarching SNP for Branch B), but he also tests positive for 2 of the private/unique SNPs of member G21 (MHG, my Dad)! And now we have a whole new configuration ...

(click to enlarge)
Figure 7: And this latest version of the SAPP-generated Mutation History Tree seems to be much more aligned to my gut feel. My Dad G21 (Line 4) has been clearly separated from Line 1 (G55, G57, G64), and has been realigned to be closer to Line 3 (G123, G127). G107 (MPG, Line 2) is now more closely aligned with Line 1 (which makes more sense based on their small values for Genetic Distance i.e. 1-2/37).

Furthermore, compared to the STR mutations in Version 3 of the Mutation History Tree (Aug 2017), the Figure 7 diagram above is an improvement.

Further minor amendments were made when this final SAPP version was compared to Version 3 of the MHT for Lineage II - see Figure 8 (above & below). I think the refinements make logical sense but I will review this again when we come to creating Version 4 of the Mutation History Tree for Lineage II.

Figure 8: the final figure - Version 4 of the MHT for Branch B. The branching structure generated in Figure 7 is retained and there are only minor differences in the placement of STR mutations.

The take home messages from this exercise are as follows:
  • SAPP is only as good as the data you put in
  • it works best with a mixture of SNP data, STR data, and known genealogical data
  • TMRCA estimates for the branching points in the tree are crude, and will always be crude no matter how advanced DNA technology becomes. Nevertheless, they can be a useful guide when interpreted with caution.
  • The "best fit" family tree that results from building a Mutation History Tree is only one of several different configurations. It may not be a true representation of reality. But it is a starting point for discussion and further investigation. It is likely to change as more people join this branch and more data (STR & SNP) is generated.

Dating the Branching Points

TMRCA estimates can be calculated in several ways:
  • using genealogical information
  • using FTDNA's TiP Report tool (the orange icon beside each of your matches)
  • other STR-based methodology (such as the one employed by the SAPP Programme, namely Ken Nordvedt's Interclade Ageing methodology)
  • SNP-based calculations (such as that used by YFULL, which works out as about 150 years per SNP)
As a genealogist, none of them will give you what you want, namely: exactly how many generations back is the common ancestor? The best you will get is a midpoint estimate surrounded by an unhelpfully large range. But that is all we will ever be able to do. Increasing the number of STRs used to 500 will help reduce the range, but it may still be several hundred years on either side of the midpoint estimate. And from a genealogical perspective, that is not what we want.

There is also the danger that a crude timescale will fit in with our preconceived ideas and we will "make the data fit the story we want to hear". So there are loads of caveats around TMRCA estimates. Don't trust them.

Having said that, they can be a useful guide.

So for calculating the TMRCA estimates for the new Branch B family tree, I have used genealogical information in the first instance (in green) coupled with the STR-based SAPP-generated TMRCAs (in red). This may be refined further when Version 4 of the Mutation History Tree is generated for the entire membership of Lineage II.

Note that the TMRCA estimates generated by SAPP are very different to the TMRCAs based on known genealogy:

  • SAPP estimates the TMRCA between G123 (EMG) and G127 (JG) as 6 (5-7) gens = 1800 (1750-1800). In fact, they are uncle & nephew and the TMRCA is actually 1.5 generations.
  • SAPP estimates the TMRCA for G55 (HLG) and the known uncle/nephew pair G57/G64 to be 0 generations (range 0-0) = 1950 (range 1950-1950). The known number of generations between them is 4 generations.

Dating the A13103/BY14188 branch

The TMRCA estimate of 10 generations for both the Y16880 branch and the downstream A13103/BY14188 branch is derived from the SAPP-generated tree (see Figure 7 above and extract below). This gives the estimated TMRCA as 10 generations within a range of 5-10 generations (about 1700, with a range of 1550-1800). 

TMRCA estimates generated by SAPP

This TMRCA estimate for the A13103/BY14188 branch is also supported by the fact that G21 (MHG) has 3 private SNPs remaining that are still unique to him and no one else in the database (as yet). Allowing 150 years per SNP suggests that there is a 450 year period back to the MRCA for G21 & G123/G127. That takes us back to 1550. But caution is advised - the calculation is only based on 3 data points and could be out by several hundred years each way.

Using FTDNA's TiP Report tool, the TMRCA between G21 (MHG) and G127 (JG) at the 111-marker level gives a midpoint estimate of 9 generations (90% range 4-16 generations). Assuming the tester was born about 1950, and assuming 30 years per generation, this translates to a MRCA born about [1950-(30x9)] = 1680 (90% range  1470-1830). This estimate remains the same when adjusted for the minimum number of generations back to the common ancestor (based on known genealogies). This is a similar value to that generated by the SAPP Programme.

Dating the Y16880 branch

The various TMRCA estimates for the overarching Branch B-defining SNP (Y16880) are as follows:
  • 10 gens (range 5-14) based on SAPP
    • SAPP translates this as 1700 (1550-1800 AD)
  • 8 gens (90% range 4-15) based on TiP Report for G21 (MHG) & G57 (RL)
    • equates to 1710 (1500-1830)
  • 9 gens (90% range 5-15) based on revised TiP Report for G21 (MHG) & G57 (RL)
    • equates to 1680 (1500-1800)
  • 11 gens (90% range 6-19)  based on TiP Report (original & revised) for G21 (MHG) & G55 (HLG)
    • equates to 1620 (1380-1770)
  • 400 years ago (1600) based on SNPs and the average of the following:
    • 750 years ago based on SNPs for G21 (MHG)
    • 300 years ago based on SNPs for G57 (RL)
    • 150 years ago based on the single SNP for G55 (HLG)

Based on the TMRCA estimate of 1700 for the downstream A13103/BY14188 branch, it seems likely that the TMRCA estimate for the upstream Y16880 branch is likely to be several generations before this ... and this is supported by the SNP-based TMRCA estimate and 2 of the 3 TiP-based TMRCA estimates (which are all 111 marker comparisons).

Also, we need to bear in mind that there are 2 SNPs (A13103 & BY14188) between the A13103/BY14188 branch and the upstream Y16880 branch. And allowing for 150 years per SNP, this suggests that the Y16880 branch could be 300 years older (i.e. about 1400). Again, we need to be cautious about over-interpreting a result based on 2 datapoints.

In summary, the preponderance of the evidence suggests a date of about 1700 for the birth of the common ancestor of the A13103/BY14188 branch and a date of about 1600 for the common ancestor of the Y16880 branch.

Maurice Gleeson
July 2018

Friday 29 June 2018

The Gleeson's of West Clare (Lineage III)

This is a guest post by project member Bill Gleeson. Bill has done a lot of work on the Gleeson's of Lineage III over the years and here he shares his main genealogical findings. This posts complements an earlier post on the Lineage III Gleeson's from 2016.

Since then, Bill did the L226 SNP Pack test and his results indicate that Lineage III currently has the following SNP Progression (i.e. the SNP markers that characterise each branching point on the Tree of Mankind down to where Bill currently sits):
  • R-P312/S116 > Z290 > L21/S145 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > Z2534 > BY25450 > FGC5618 > FGC5625 > L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > A10950 / DC63 
The last SNP (Bill's so-called "terminal SNP") is currently DC63 but this will change with further testing (i.e. Big Y). DC63 is approximately 1500 years old, so this is before the advent of surnames and further testing would help clarify which downstream branches the West Clare Gleeson's sit on. Below is the DC63 portion of the Tree of Mankind (click to enlarge).

The DC63 branch of the Tree of Mankind
(from The Big Tree)

Interestingly, Bill's closest matches at the 67-marker level of comparison are Maloney (Genetic Distance 2/67, terminal SNP DC127), Smith (3/67, DC127) and Palmer (3/67). Two of these matches sit on the DC127 branch of the Tree (one branch lower than where Bill currently sits - see the far left of the diagram above). Other surnames possibly associated with the DC127 branch include Johnson, Farrell, Hart, Costello, Lynch, Kelly, and Phyffe (this information comes from the L226 Haplogroup Project). Further testing (Big Y) may reveal that the West Clare Gleeson's also sit on this DC127 branch (and indeed several branches below this).

DC127 is approximately 1200 years old (still "pre-surnames") and thus still relatively "upstream" on the Tree of Mankind. Ideally we want to move further "downstream" on the Tree in order to identify which branch is "Gleeson-specific". We have managed to achieve this with the North Tipperary Gleeson's (Lineage II) and in time we should be able to achieve this for the West Clare Gleeson's of Lineage III.

Ideally two people within the group (as distantly related to each other as possible) should do the Big Y test. This will help move the group downstream from DC63, probably to DC127, and then further down below this to an as yet unidentified branch of the Tree of Mankind.

(revised May 2018)

Some of the following is speculation based on solid findings in fact.  I have tried several scenarios to make things fit and I am aware that not all of it is perfect nor should it be taken as such. Please advise me of anything you can support to the contrary and I will make adjustments.  Bill Gleeson (

Recent DNA analysis confirms that the Gleesons of West Clare arose independently from the Gleesons in Northern Tipperary.  This would be due to either a Non-Paternal Event (NPE) or a separate group of people who chose the surname Gleeson.  There is a Dalcassian genetic signature with this group and they have been assigned the name Lineage III in the Gleeson/Gleason DNA project.  Gleeson is not a surname normally associated with the Dal gCais (Dalcassian) line, lending credence to the NPE possibility. One member of the group participated in advanced Y-DNA testing and shows a terminal Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) of DC63.  This marker was unexpected and suggests that the name could have been adopted rather than the Non-Paternal Event.  Surname advent occurred between 1000 AD and 1300 AD in Ireland. The earliest appearance of the Gleeson name, in West Clare records, appears to be in the late 1700's. 


The Gleesons of West Clare in the early 1800's are found primarily in two locations: Coore and several townlands just south of Connolly. These two groups which are very closely related are colloquially known as the Gleesons of Coore and the Connolly Gleesons.  Coore and Connolly are just 7 miles apart. There is no genetic doubt that this is the same family with a common ancestor.

It should be noted here that the region (several townlands and Connolly) around Reanagisha, Furroor,  Aildavour and Boolyneaska is often referred to in the civil records as "Boulinagleragh" which should not be confused with the southernmost townland of Kilmaley Parish, Boolynagleragh just 3 miles to the SE of this location. There is no record to date of Gleesons in this townland.

The earliest names associated with West Clare Gleesons are Matthew Gleeson in Coore (1815 Freeholder records) and John Gleeson in Furroor (Tithe Applotments of 1826). The relationship between Matthew and John may be brothers but father and son is more likely and if so, then Matthew would be the father. There is confirmed movement between families of Coore and of Connolly throughout the years.     

Around 1850, Michael Gleeson, presumably son of Matthew, who lived in Coore and was the probable heir to the farm, disappeared from the records in Clare. Michael was married to Margaret McCarthy.  If we conclude that he died at an early age, then his children would have been too young to take over the family homestead as they were born in the 1840s.    The 1855 Griffith's Valuation shows Cornelius Gleeson, who lived on the Connolly farm, associated with property in Coore, Reanagisha, Killernan, and a "Connor" Gleeson in Corbally (Kilkee).  Research of the civil records is pointing to the probability that all these Cornelius' (and Connor) may be the same person and would be Michael's brother.  By the 1857 Griffiths Revision lists, Cornelius' name is crossed off the Coore property and replaced with Matthew (married to Sarah Walsh), who we know by DNA (from his descendants) is the son of Cornelius Gleeson and Mary Killeen, supporting another move between Connolly and Coore. 


Matthew Gleeson of Coore was listed as a freeholder in 1815,  Likely birth date would be  around 1770 as predicted by the yDNA analysis of five descendants done by Maurice Gleeson (no relation), genetic genealogist.   If in fact Matthew is the patriarch, then his children would have been John, Cornelius, Catherine, Honora, Mary, and Michael.  DNA testing has been done on descendants of Cornelius, Catherine, and Michael so far and results support this relationship. 

            Branches of the Gleeson Family per the children of Matthew :

                        John   -          Eustace, Clohessy, Moran branches

                        Cornelius -     Coore Gleesons, Sullivans,  Kilkee Gleesons, 
                                                Marrinans, and John Gleeson/Sextons of Connolly.

                        Catherine-     O'Brien and Looney branches

                        Honora -         Kelly branch

                        Mary -            Meade branch

                        Michael -       "Gleason" branch of Coore  

GENERATION  II.   Born between 1790 and 1820

II. JOHN (SON OF MATTHEW) b. circa 1790
It appears from the civil records that John was the oldest son in Coore but lived on the farm in Furroor (Connolly) by the time of the Applotment Tithes in 1826.  He had at least two children, Patrick and Catherine.  Catherine married Michael Eustace and gave rise to the Eustace branch of the family. They lived on the farm in Furroor (Connolly).   Patrick married Bridget Kinnane and farmed with the Lynch family in Booleyneaska townland (Connolly).  We have followed some of his line to the Clohessy family near Kilkee but no current descendants have been located as yet.  One of Patrick's daughters married into the Moran family and took over his Booleyneaska (Connolly) farm.  

From the early applotment tithes , Matthew(father) and Cornelius(son) had farmed together around Coore, including properties in Coore, Mt Scot with the Meade family, and in Killernan with the Burke family.  By the time of Griffiths Valuations in 1850, Cornelius had married Mary Killeen of Coore and relocated to Reanagisha (Connolly) near his brother, John.  This is now the Sullivan property today.  Tommy Sullivan is a descendant of Cornelius Gleeson and Mary Killeen and he lives on the family farm in Reanagisha (Connolly). This is the Cornelius Gleeson that many male descendants were named after.  

Catherine married James O'Brien of  Mt Scot (Knockanalban) and gave rise to many of the Ireland O'Briens, New Zealand O'Briens, and the Looney branch of the family.  Some of the O'Briens and Looneys ended up in the U.S as well.  There is documentation that Looneys and Gleesons from Mt Scot were in the saloon business together in Kansas City, MO in the U.S.  The 1900 US census shows the James Gleeson family and the John Looney family living in the same house in Kansas City.   

There is not very much information about Honora except that she married a Kelly from Quartermire.  One account says there were no children and when it came time to pass along the farm, it was taken over by a nephew, Johnny Marrinan.

Mary married James Meade and lived on the farm in Mt Scot.  Although they had three children, Mary's name appears on the property in the 1855 Griffiths.  By 1858, her brother, Cornelius Gleeson's name is on the revision list for a very short time before Michael Gleeson's name shows on it by the 1862 revision. Cornelius would once again presumably be the same Cornelius married to Mary Killeen in Reanagisha (Connolly). Michael would be his son and he married Bridget Moloney of Reanagisha(Connolly) before moving to Mt Scot.  

Michael lived on the Coore farm during the time he and his spouse Margaret McCarthy had 4 recorded children between 1840 and 1849.  It is thought that he passed sometime in the early 1850s because the Griffiths Valuation of 1855,  once again, Cornelius Gleeson's name appears on the property for a very short time. This is presumably the same Cornelius married to Mary Killeen of Reanagisha (Connolly).  In the 1856 Griffiths revision, Matthew Gleeson, Cornelius' son appears on the Coore property.  Matthew is married to Sarah "Sally" Walsh.  Michael Gleeson and Margaret McCarthy had 4 children, at least two of which traveled to the U.S. , Patrick and Bridget both of whom changed the spelling of Gleeson to Gleason and lived in Middletown Connecticut. 

GENERATION III.  Born between 1813 and 1849

A. Children of John Gleeson b. c1790 and unknown spouse

Catherine married Michael Eustace in 1841(church of Kilmaley) and according to the Eustace family records lived on her father's farm in Furroor (Connolly). John Mayer's Kilmaley Parish History book says they had 4 children, Michael, John, and two daughters. The Eustace family has an extensive genealogy available on the internet. They report 4 children, Michael, John, Patrick, and Bridget.    

III.  PATRICK GLEESON (SON OF JOHN) b. circa 1815  d. circa 1880
Patrick was married to Bridget Kinnane and he farmed with the Lynch family in the townland of Booleyneaska (Connolly).  They had eight children,  Michael, Martin, Mary, Bridget,Catherine, Margaret, Anne, and Ellen.  Of these, only Catherine and Margaret's line have been followed so far.  Catherine married James Moran and they lived on the farm in Booleyneaska (Connolly). The Griffiths Revaluation of 1881 shows the name change on the property from Patrick Gleeson to James Moran.  
Margaret married John Clohessy and when she applied for her pension in 1921, she was living in Carrowbloughmore, Farrihy, Kilkee, just across the road from the Gleeson farm in Corbally. 
The 1911 census of Glendine South shows a Michael Gleeson living with the Talty family and is listed as a "Relative".  It is not known whether or not this is Patrick Gleeson's son but the age is right and we know that there was a marriage of the Marrinan family and the Talty's early on in the family history.  

B. Children of Cornelius Gleeson b. 1794 and Mary Killeen

Michael married Bridget Moloney of Reanagisha (Connolly) and moved to the Meade farm in Mt. Scot.  The 1858 Griffith's Revaluation shows Cornelius Gleeson's name crossed off and replaced by Michael Gleeson.  They had 11 children:  Cornelius, Patrick, Bridget, Mary, James, Anne, Michael, Timothy, Margaret, Matthew and John. In 1890's they moved to the Corbally farm.  Applotment Tithes and Griffiths show the Corbally farm first in the name of Patrick Killeen (Mary's father), then following Patrick's death in the name of "Connor" Gleeson.  The Griffith's Revaluation in 1872, the same year that Cornelius died, Connor's name is replaced with Michael Gleeson.  Michael's son,  Michael remained on the Meade farm in Mt Scot until 1913 when he also moved to Corbally. 

Patrick was never married and lived in Knockanalban at the time of his death. This is probably the same place that was described as a "hut" where two uncles in the Gleeson family lived. The other was probably Cornelius and Mary's son, Connor, who moved to knockanalban from the Reanagisha (Connolly) farm following the death of his second wife, Ellen Looney of Coore. 

Matthew's name appears on the Griffith's Valuation in Coore in 1856, just one year after his father's name shows on it in 1855. Prior to this time, during the 1840's, Michael Gleeson, Matthew's uncle, lived here as the church and civil records support.   It is thought that Matthew's father, Cornelius, who lived in Reanagisha (Connolly) at the time of his brother's death  had Matthew take over the Coore farm. Matthew was married to Sarah "Sally" Walsh and they had eight children Connor, James, Connor, Mary, John, Cornelius, Honoria, and Matthew, two of whom died at an early age.  Both these young boys were named Cornelius(Connor) and they died at age 4 and 6.  Later following the second death, the next male child was named Cornelius again. Matthew and his wife are buried in Killernan graveyard next to Cornelius Gleeson and Mary Killeen.  

Connor was married to Margaret Burke and lived on the Reanagisha (Connolly) farm. They had six children: Bridget, Mary, Patrick, Michael, Margaret, and John.  In the first Griffith's Revaluation after the death of his father in 1872, it shows that the farm was in his name shared equally with his brother, John Gleeson.  His daughter, Bridget "Bid", married Thomas Sullivan and in the 1889 Griffth's Revaluation, the  farm was in the names of John Gleeson and Thomas Sullivan.  Margaret Burke died in 1894 and Connor while still living in one of the four houses on the Reanagisha (Connolly) property, married a second time to Ellen "Nelly" Looney of Coore.  She died sometime after the 1901 census and Connor moved to Mt Scot by the 1911 census. 

Mary married John Marrinan and lived on the farm in Cloonanaha.  There is a question about her birth date as the census in 1901 lists her age as 60 but the death record says she was 74 in 1908.  Mary and John had 8 children:  Patrick, James, John, Conor,  Mary, Bridget, Honor, and Timothy.  Her son James married Norah Talty and the 1901 census in Cloonanaha shows Mary living with James' family at that time. 

John married Catherine "Kate" Sexton of Bonavilla and they lived on the farm in Reanagisha (Connolly) shared with his brother, Cornelius (Connor) in separate dwellings.  John and Kate had 13 children :  Mary, Bridget, Anne, Cornelius, Catherine, Ellen, Ellen, John, Michael, Mary, James, Patrick, and Daniel.  Two of the children died early, Mary at age 14 and Ellen at age 1.  The names were re-used for later children.  Following the death of John,  the 115 acre farm was listed in the 1903 Griffith's Revaluation as 49 acres with Kate Gleeson's name and 66 acres with Thomas Sullivan's name. 

C. Children of Catherine Gleeson b. c1801  and James O'Brien

John married Bridget Moloney and lived on their farm in Mt Scot.  They had five children: Catherine, Thomas, John, Mary, and Catherine.  The first Catherine is thought to be an infant death.  They are buried in the Killernan Graveyard.  

Margaret married Michael Looney of Mt Scot and lived on his farm.  They had 11 children : Patrick, Catherine, Bridget, Mary, Michael, James, Joseph, William, John, Mary, and Honor.  One of the children, John, immigrated to Kansas City and records show him in the saloon business there in 1912 with Matthew Gleeson, son of Michael Gleeson and Bridget Moloney of Mt Scot.  Margaret and John are buried in Killernan Graveyard.  

Suspect an infant death with Patrick as there is a second boy named Patrick born in 1845. 

Matthew immigrated to New Zealand where he met and married Julia Higgins of Taum, Co. Galway, Ireland. Matthew and Julia were wed in Killinchy, NZ in 1867.    They had 13 children: James, Catherine, Mary, Julia, Bridget, Margaret, Daniel, John, Rose, Matthew, Ellen, Charles, and Ann.

Patrick left Ireland for the U.S. in 1866 as a single man.  He arrived in Colorado living in Jefferson, Co in the 1880 census. He married Sara Feehan also of Ireland in 1881 at the Golden Catholic Church and they lived in several communities around Golden while having six children:  John, Mary, Patrick, William. Richard, and Catherine.  Patrick died in Golden, CO in 1916 at the age of 70.  

The only record to date of Catherine is her birth in Mt Scot. 

D.  Children of Honora Gleeson b. unk and Unknown Kelly
It is thought that they had no children. 

E.  Children of Mary Gleeson b. c1810  and James Meade

The only record to date of Margaret is her birth in Mt Scot.

The only record to date of John is his birth in Mt Scot.

The only record to date of Ellen is her birth in Mt. Scot.

F. Children of Michael Gleeson b. c1811  and Margaret McCarthy

Bridget was born in Coore but like her brother, Patrick, immigrated to the U.S. 
The destination was East Haddam, Middlesex, CT which is where she died in 1882 at the age of 42.  Like her brother,  she changed the spelling of her name.  

The only record to date of Mary is her birth in Coore.

The only record to date of Martin is his birth in Coore.

Patrick was born in Coore and came to the U.S. in 1870. One record shows immigration in 1868 and traveling with John Gleeson, relation unknown.  Patrick also changed the spelling of his name.  His destination was East Haddam, Middlesex, CT where he met and married Hannah Donovan in 1880 according to the US census of 1900. He listed his occupation in that census as "Burnisher of spoons". They had four children: Robert, James, Gertrude, and Urban.  Patrick died in East Haddam in 1914.  

Bill Gleeson
June 2018

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Please Grant Us Access

FamilyTreeDNA have changed a few things on their website (due to the introduction of GDPR - the new European data protection law) and this includes how much access Project Administrators (like myself and Judy) have to your data. You can read all about it on this FTDNA Learning Centre page here.

In order to run the project efficiently, Judy and I need "Limited Access" to your data. This will allow us to see your matches and offer you advice. Most of you will already have "Limited Access" assigned automatically but here is how you can double-check.

First, sign in to FTDNA, hover over your name in the top right, and click on Privacy & Sharing ...

Next, click on the Project Preferences tab ...

Next, scroll down to the Gleason/Gleeson project and click on the orange Edit button ...

From the drop-down menu beside our names, select Grant Limited Access for both myself and Judy ...

Once you have done this, click on the green Accept button ...

Then click on the green Confirm button ...

And that's it - your project preferences will have been saved. You can go back in and change these at any time.

A complete list of what is and what is not viewable by Project Administrators for each of the three different access levels can be found on a separate FTDNA Learning Centre page here. In relation to the Gleason/Gleeson DNA Project, we need to look at your Y-DNA data primarily, but also your autosomal DNA data (i.e. Family Finder). If you do not grant us "Limited Access", we won't be able to do the following:

  • we won't be able to see what tests you have done
  • we won't be able to see any of your personal pages (the ones you see when you sign in)
  • we won't be able to see your Y-DNA matches
  • we won't be able to see your SNP marker results
  • we won't be able to see your Family Finder matches
  • we won't be able to assist you with product upgrades
  • we won't be able to assist you with some of the technical aspects of the website
  • we won't be able to assist you in managing your results or webpage

So to help us run the project efficiently, and give you the level of help we would like to, please change your Project Preferences access settings to "Limited Access".

As always, please email either Judy or I if you have any questions or need any help.

Maurice Gleeson
June 2018

Friday 23 February 2018

Male Line Ancestry of John Streator Gleason, Mormon Pioneer

Aim: To verify that John Streator Gleason, born 1819, was a descendant of Thomas Gleason, born 1609 in Suffolk, England, and to correct erroneous information often found in family histories online. This requires showing that John’s father Ezekiel was the grandson of Joseph Gleason of Oxford, Massachusetts, a known descendant of Thomas. The discussion begins with Joseph.

            Joseph Gleason (Thomas,3  Thomas,2  Thomas,1  ThomasA) of Oxford, Massachusetts, was born 1722 in Framingham, Massachusetts, and is designated #61 in the Gleason genealogy by John Barber White.[1] He and wife Lydia Tarbox had only two sons on record, both born in Oxford: Joseph [Jr.], born 22 Aug 1744, who married Mercy Streeter; and Abner, born 6 Dec 1745, who married Abigail Rich. These facts are verified in the vital records of Massachusetts.[2]

However, another son was born to Joseph and Lydia whose birth record has not survived. This child was Ezekiel Gleason, born about 1750. (The birth year is approximated from his age on a death notice to be presented later.) Evidence that Joseph had a son Ezekiel is found in the document Non-Resident School Tax Rates of Auburn, Massachusetts, 1797 (Figure 1), where the three brothers are listed with one-third equal shares as heirs of Joseph.[3] Oxford originally included territory that later became part of the town of Auburn. No record of the death of their father Joseph has been found, but clearly he had died by 1797.

Ezekiel Gleason, son of Joseph, married Esther Streeter on 5 October 1773 in Oxford. She was born 21 April 1754 in Oxford, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Gleason) Streeter and was the sister of Mercy Streeter, wife of Ezekiel’s brother Joseph. (The Streeter sisters were first cousins once removed of their husbands.) Four children of Ezekiel and Esther are listed on the vital records of Auburn: Ruth and Elizabeth, twins, born 2 March 1774; Ezekiel [Jr.], born 8 November 1776; and Lydia, born 13 November 1779.[4]

Sometime later, Ezekiel’s family moved west to the frontier county of Berkshire, Massachusetts, where they appear on the census of Becket in 1790 with three additional children—a total of three boys and four girls. (Census records at that time only enumerated children by gender.) Listed adjacent to Ezekiel on the 1790 census of Becket are his father and brother: Joseph Gleason and Joseph Gleason Jr. Ten years later, the 1800 census of Becket indicates that three male children were still living with Ezekiel’s family. The family of his brother Joseph Gleason is found listed adjacent to Ezekiel, and there is no record of his deceased father.[5]

In 1810 Ezekiel and unnamed wife are shown on the census of Tyringham, Berkshire County, and no children remain with them. Tyringham is adjacent to Becket, so this change may not indicate a move from one town to another since town boundaries were quite fluid at the time. In 1820 and 1830 the old couple are still in Tyringham; a daughter and her children live with them in 1830. [6]

Joseph, brother of Ezekiel, died in Tyringham, Berkshire County, on 18 September 1811, six days after the death of his wife Mercy Gleason on 12 September 1811 and three days after his son, also named Joseph.[7] These three deaths within a week suggest that the family died from a common illness. Erroneously, there are those who claim that this Joseph, who died intestate in 1811, was Ezekiel’s father; but his father had died by 1797 as shown by the Non-Resident School Tax Rates of Auburn. Furthermore, probate records of Berkshire County in 1812 show that the modest estate of the deceased was divided among his seven living children: Nathaniel, John, Joel, Mercy Kilborn, Anna Heath, Sally, and a married daughter whose name is not clear on the record.[8]

Figure 1. Auburn Non-Resident School Tax Rates, 1797

A death notice in The Pittsfield Sun, published in Pittsfield, Berkshire County, recorded the death of Ezekiel Gleason on 23 Aug 1837 in Tyringham, age 88. He was buried in the Tyringham Cemetery.[9] Ezekiel’s will was written in 1830 and probated in 1837. His third wife, Hannah, and all of his seven children are mentioned in the will: Ezekiel [Jr.], Elijah, Stephen “deceased,” Elizabeth, Ruth, Lydia Kilbourn, and Hannah Kilbourn. His daughter Lydia Kilbourn was executrix; William Cheney and Thomas Stedman were appointed to assist her. Lydia and Elijah were to receive the bulk of the estate upon the death of wife Hannah. Ezekiel [Jr.] was granted ten dollars, as were Elizabeth, Ruth, and the heirs of Stephen. Hannah Kilbourn received eighty dollars.[10]

Additional information about this family has been found. Hannah (Gleason) Kilbourn, daughter of Ezekiel and Mary A. Gleason, died in Tyringham 10 November 1854 at age sixty-nine.[11] Thus Ezekiel had a second wife named Mary. Lydia (Gleason) Kilbourn appears on the 1855 census of Tyringham, age 76, residing with the family of William and Elizabeth Cheney—perhaps her daughter. Lydia’s death, recorded on 7 November 1856, gave her age as seventy-eight.[12]

It has now been shown that Ezekiel Gleason, born about 1750, was the son of Joseph Gleason of Oxford, Massachusetts. It has also been shown that he removed to Berkshire County and died there in 1837 and that he had a son named Ezekiel, born 1776 in Auburn, Massachusetts. Ezekiel, the son, last appeared on the census records of Berkshire County in 1800 when he would have been twenty-four years of age. His whereabouts after 1800 are unknown, but he was still living in 1830 when his father wrote his will. It remains to be shown that this Ezekiel Gleason Jr. was the father of John Streator Gleason.

            The death certificate of John Streator Gleason says he was born 13 January 1819 in Livingston County, New York, to Ezekiel Gleason, born New York, and Polly Howard, born New York. John’s death is given as 21 December 1904 in Pleasant Grove, Utah. (Figure 2) The informant on the death record is Thomas H. Gleason.[13] Of course a death record is a reliable source for specifics of the death; but the information about a parent of the deceased could be, and often is, only hearsay. Thus these records must be used with caution. Furthermore, the information about John’s parents is written in a different hand from that on the rest of the document. If John’s father was actually born in New York State, then his father was not Ezekiel Gleason Jr., born Auburn, Massachusetts. Possibly, this place of birth was a guess on the part of the informant. Since no birth record for John has been found, it will be assumed for now that the names of his parents and John’s birthplace are correct. What facts about his father, the Ezekiel Gleason of Livingston County, New York, can be found?

An Ezekiel Gleason is found on the 1810 census of Brutus Township, Cayuga County, New York. A map of New York Counties from 1800 shows that Cayuga County bordered the large Ontario County lying to the west. The census states that in the household of this Ezekiel are the following: one male of age under 10, one male 26-44, one female under 10, and one female 26-44; thus the couple has one boy and one girl under ten years of age.[14]

The building of the Erie Canal began in 1808 and was completed in 1825, and the path of the canal went directly through the heart of Brutus Township. Perhaps the upheaval of the construction caused Ezekiel to relocate elsewhere. In 1820 an Ezekiel Gleason is found on the census of Livonia Township, Ontario County, New York, which lies about 65 miles west of Brutus. One year later Livingston County was created from that part of Ontario County that included Livonia. The census shows the following members of the family: four males under 10 years of age, one male 16-25, one male 26-44, one female under 10, one female 10-15, and one female 26-44. Thus there are five boys and two girls.[15] If this is the same family as the family in Brutus, then the couple produced five children (four males and one female) in ten years—certainly not unheard of for that period.

Figure 2. Death Certificate of John Streator Gleason

In 1830 Ezekiel Gleason appears on the census of Groveland, then a part of Sparta Township in Livingston County.[16]. This seemingly new location of the family within the county since 1820 does not necessarily imply that the family moved. As the population grew, counties and towns of New York were evolving rapidly, and townships that were originally quite large were divided up into smaller towns and villages. Rural residents may not have been aware of the latest boundary.

Ezekiel Gleason may have continued to move westward, for that name is listed on the census of 1840 in Brandt, Erie County, New York, age between 60 and 70. If this is the same Ezekiel, then his wife has died and is no longer with the family, but the household includes several adult males and females of marriageable age.[17]

One more census record for Ezekiel Gleason has been found: the 1860 census record of Monroe, Green County, Wisconsin. Significantly, this record states that Ezekiel is 83 years of age and born in Massachusetts. He is living with the family of Oliver Perry Gleason, a mason, age 37, born in the state of New York.[18] The 27 August 1854 marriage record of this Oliver P. Gleason in Monroe, Green County, Wisconsin, lists his parents as Ezekiel and Polly Gleason.[19] Recalling that John Streator Gleason was born in 1819 to Ezekiel and Polly of Livingston County, New York, it is apparent that Oliver Perry Gleason is the brother of John Streator Gleason; and the Ezekiel Gleason living with him in Monroe, Wisconsin, in 1860 at age 83 is John Streator Gleason’s father who formerly resided in Livingston County, New York.


            Conclusion: Since it has been shown that the father of John Streator Gleason was the Ezekiel Gleason of Livingston County, New York, it only remains to show that this Ezekiel is the same person as Ezekiel Gleason Jr., who was born in Auburn, Massachusetts, in 1776 and whose father died in Tyringham in 1837. At this point, only circumstantial evidence can be cited for proof:

1) The middle name of John Streator Gleason could be an alternate form of Streeter, the birth name of Esther Streeter, mother of Ezekiel Gleason Jr.

2) Ezekiel Gleason Jr. is not found in Massachusetts after the census of 1800 when he is still unmarried. Ezekiel, father of John Streator Gleason, is first recorded in the state of New York in 1810 as a married man, with children less than ten years of age. The chronology fits.

3) The 1860 census of Green County, Wisconsin, states that Ezekiel Gleason, age 83—father of Oliver Perry and John Streator—was born in Massachusetts. This closely agrees with the birth of Ezekiel Gleason Jr., who was born in Auburn, Massachusetts on 8 November 1776.

Based on these observations, this researcher has no reservation in accepting the conclusion that John Streator Gleason is the son of Ezekiel Gleason Jr., born 1776 in Auburn, Massachusetts, and is a descendant of Thomas Gleason born Suffolk, England, with male lineage written thus:

John Streator Gleason7 (Ezekiel,6  Ezekiel,5  Joseph,4  Thomas,3  Thomas,2  Thomas,1  ThomasA)

This study provides an excellent illustration of how DNA testing can be a complement to genealogy. No matter how thorough and well intended the paper trail search may be, there is always the possibility that some critical piece of information was overlooked, that an assumption was made based on circumstance, or that the identity of a father is not as believed. A Y-chromosome DNA test of living male line descendants of John Streator Gleason could support—or refute—the conclusion drawn here.


            Note on Polly Howard: Only two statements in reference to the identity of the wife of Ezekiel Gleason Jr. have been found in period records by this researcher: 1) a statement that her name was Polly Howard on the Utah death certificate of John Streator Gleason and 2) a statement that her name was Polly Gleason on the marriage record of Oliver Perry Gleason. While a number of family tree postings on the Internet give a birth date for Polly, with her father’s name as John Howard, no primary source for that information is provided.

Polly is a name often used as an alternate for Mary. An exhaustive search of women named Polly or Mary Howard in the birth records of New York and Massachusetts between 1770 and 1790 has not yielded any obvious candidates. Nevertheless, one record of interest should be mentioned. There is a baptismal record of a Polly Howard of Worthington, Hampshire County Massachusetts. Worthington is a ten-mile horseback ride through the hills from Becket, Berkshire County, where Ezekiel Gleason Jr. lived in his youth. (A 1775 hand-drawn map of the area sketches the trails linking these neighboring towns.) Polly’s date of birth is not given, but she was baptized on the same day as the baptism of two of her sisters—27 September 1780. Her father’s name is John Howard.[20] However, Howard families were numerous in New England during this era and included many males named John. No doubt a number of those had daughters named Polly. An investigation into the identity of Polly is continuing.

John Streator Gleason

Judith Gleason Claassen
Feb 2018


[1] White, Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Gleason of Watertown, Massachusetts (Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, 1992), 51. The designation “ThomasA” has been added to the lineage list to designate the father of Thomas of Watertown who died in Cockfield, Suffolk, in 1610. His identity was unknown when White wrote his book in 1909. The updated origin of Thomas appears in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 168 (January 2014).  

[2] Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850, online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016.   

[3] “Auburn Tax Rates, 1786-1800,” Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, online database: Operations, Inc., 2011.

[4] Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850, online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016.

[5] U.S. Census: 1790, Becket, Berkshire, Massachusetts; Series: M637; Roll: 4; Page: 117; Image: 138; Family History Library Film: 056814; U.S. Census: 1800, Becket, Berkshire, Massachusetts; Series: M32; Roll: 13; Page: 267; Image: 267; Family History Library Film: 205611.

[6] U.S. Census: 1810, Tyringham, Berkshire, Massachusetts; Roll: 17; Page: 200; Image: 00176.  
     U.S. Census: 1820, Tyringham, Page: 39; NARA Roll: M33_48; Image: 33.  
     U.S. Census: 1830, Tyringham, Series: M19; Roll: 62; Page: 417. (The transcription for 1830 at does not agree with the original record.)

[7] “Births, Marriages and Deaths,” Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, online database: Operations, Inc., 2011.

[8] Berkshire County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1761-1900, online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2017. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)

[9] The Pittsfield Sun, Pittsfield, Massachusetts: 16 November 1837, p 3; Find A Grave Memorial #97881873,

[10] Probate Records, Massachusetts Probate Court (Berkshire County), Vol. 42-43, 1836-1839; Massachusetts Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

[11] Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1841-1910. (From original records held by the Massachusetts Archives. Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2004.)

[12] Massachusetts: 1855 State Census (online database: /DB533/i/14363/245/260981843; Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1841-1910

[13] Utah, Death and Military Death Certificates, 1904-1961 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

[14] U.S. Census: 1810, Brutus, Cayuga, New York; Roll: 31; Page: 1127; Image: 00021; FHL Film: 0181385.

[15] U.S. Census: 1820, Livonia, Ontario, New York; Page: 64; NARA Roll: M33_62; Image: 43 Online Database: Operations, Inc., 2010.

[16] U.S. Census: 1830, Groveland, Livingston, New York; M19; Roll 93; Page: 43; FHL Film 0017153.

[17] U.S. Census: 1840, Brandt, Erie, New York; Roll: 280; Page: 162; FHL Film: 0017186.

[18] U.S. Census: 1860, Monroe, Green, Wisconsin; Roll: M653_1411; Page: 312; Family History Library Film: 805411.

[19] “Wisconsin County Marriages, 1836-1911,” online database: 3 June 2016; FHL microfilm 1,266,666.

[20] Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850, online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016.