I had always been told by my family that there was some Welsh DNA in my family background, and this would make sense for obvious genealogical reasons. After all, my official great-grandfather on one of my paternal lines is one William Albert Filer. And his father, one Thomas Filer, had been born in 1857 in Wales. There are some obvious genetic consequences of this, namely that one would expect that the grandfather of my paternal grandmother would provide roughly 6% of the DNA for the three members of my generation of my father’s family that have taken Ancestry.com DNA tests. It is true that there could be some variation in this, but one would expect that three people taking independent tests would at least show some Welsh DNA with such a proportion of having one great-great-grandfather who was fully Welsh, and even if he had only been half Welsh, one would expect 3% or so Welsh to DNA to show up, and yet in looking at the ethnic blends of myself, my brother, and our lone paternal first-cousin, we find that none of us have any Welsh DNA recognized whatsoever. This is a mystery, and would lead to some obvious questions.
The first mystery is who was William Albert Filer, the putative father of my late paternal grandmother? Information about William is not difficult to obtain, but it only deepens the mystery. After all, William Albert Filer was born in 1893 in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, a small town that is full of coal mining, the perfect place for a Welsh immigrant like William’s father to go in search of honest and steady work. I have looked at a scan of William’s draft card to World War I and he shows up as a bachelor who still lived in his hometown, and I have also seen that he departed for World War I in France in June of 1918 as a private on the troop ship Susquehanna as part of Company B in the 148th National Guard regiment, having given his father as a contact, indicating that he joined the military on good terms with his family. Sadly, at this time his younger sister had recently died at the age of 19. We next see the paper trail of William Filer, at least as I have seen so far, when the Sunday, November 27, 1921 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette provided a short blurb about his upcoming nuptuals to one Edna Miller, my great-grandmother.
It is here where the mystery deepens considerably. At least according to what I can see, William A. Filer was buried in his hometown in the Oddfellows Cemetery in October of 1923, when my grandmother was but a few months old. Moreover, the find-a-grave lists his place of death as his hometown of Shamokin, Pennsylvania. In addition to this, although very close relatives are not very common from this line of the family, there are certainly quite a few Filer relatives who could be expected to be DNA matches, but none of them are. Indeed, I do not know if a single DNA match from this particular line of the family. Given that my paternal grandmother was an only child and that none of her children are alive at present (nor, to my knowledge, ever took a genetic genealogy test), uncovering this mystery is a bit of a challenge, not least because I have yet to find a single Filer among the large amount of family members who have a background in Pennsylvania with whom I share DNA. This has the makings of a classic game of Hoosier daddy.
How would one go about solving a mystery like this? The most straightforward way would be to engage in a triangulation using the DNA of the three people who share the background in question and to test genetic overlap of the three of us that does not also include the more common lines that the three of us have with both the maternal line of my paternal grandfather, those endogamous Lindermans, as well as the numerous connections we have with the Shearer line of my paternal grandmother’s mother. We would then have to distinguish between that line and the similarly obscure Albright line, but at least it would give possibilities that could be investigated in coordination with looking at the family trees of others. Sadly, it looks like someone played a game of Hoosier Daddy, and the result is a genuine but also intriguing family mystery to uncover.
That Filer line is intriguing. I wish I had more stories to tell you, but Grandma Albright had very little knowledge of her father and she told me all she knew. She was only six months old when he died and her parents, it seems, had only been married a little over two years. What a shame.
It is indeed a shame, and that line is interesting but also very obscure.
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