I received an email back from my anticipated Waller/Warren cousin within a day. He was friendly, but felt that any possible connection was too tenuous to work with. That was it.
Tenuous? A 3rd-5th cousin who shares a total of 40.5 cM with me, with biggest segment 16.4? He’s on my first page! It made me wonder what kind of matches other people were getting if this was too tenuous to follow up. I guess 3rd-5th cousin means our common ancestor would be about 5-9 generations back and I don’t have that sort of data in my tree anyway for some branches. But there are some which I have back to the 1600s with reasonable confidence, barring non-parental events.
Then I received an email from the other one, the lady managing three kits with whom I have a roughly similar connection but no names in common. After the previous email, I had a feeling I knew what was coming.
But no! This was the beginning of better times.
This delightful lady had pulled up her three connected kits and deduced which branch I was matching with. She sent me a pdf of their family tree and although we had no common names, she felt I probably connected to a branch of Scottish settlers from a place called Cape Breton. She suggested I look at the surnames Morrison, Campbell and McEachern which in her tree come from a place called Benbecula in the Hebrides in Scotland. I noticed how close this was geographically to Isle of Harris and felt she may be correct. It was definitely worth considering. I pored over the tree she sent me with the greatest pleasure and noticed that the name McIsaac featured in the tree also, on the same branch as Morrison, McEachern and Campbell. Since I was still pondering on a McIsaac connection with my other cousin, this seemed even more promising. I just had to find the parents of my Annie McLeod and I had a feeling it would all fall in place.
Over the next few hours I received six emails from this lady, giving me some history of Benbecula and the Scottish emigrants to Nova Scotia. She also CC’d someone else researching the same line and I felt very welcomed.
I knew something of Scottish emigration already, through researching the exodus of the McLeods en masse to South Australia in the 1850s. They’d been doing it tough in their native land and the landowner arranged for their emigration so he could run sheep which was a more suitable use of the land. The Highland and Island Emigration Society handled the removal of emigrants from Scotland and sent most of them to South Australia.
What I hadn’t realised till now was that the removal to South Australia was just the last stage of a series of Clearances which had begun around 1800, and that the earlier emigrants went to Prince Edward Island and I think Newfoundland. The chances of our emigrants having kin over on Prince Edward Island was very great, since they were of the same status, the same clan groups, the same occupations.
This new information explained so much! An Australian descendant of Scottish emigrants from the Hebrides, Uist and Benbecula was going to have cousins in Nova Scotia. Many settlers in Nova Scotia eventually emigrated to the United States so I could expect to have some cousins there. To find this link, I should be looking at anyone in their tree who came from Nova Scotia or at least Canada. At least one of my adoptee cousins was descended from one of these Scottish people.
My confidence was growing at last.