Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Faunt,Fant and Font in Ireland~ A Family

DNA is the short cut to the reconstruction of this family.I personally have "found" a genetic cousin and tracked him down, much to his surprise I believe.He told his family that he was "found", they little knowing they were lost very likely.

My Grandfather Edward Faunt ( born Edmund a Faunt family name) was the first generation of our immigrant family, or so we thought.Pop-pop told us that we were "Norman French" and that his mother was born in Donegal.He told us little else and what we now know has been pieced together in a retrospective perusal of records.

Grandpop's own mother, Mary Dugan Faunt apparently died when he was very young and left 6 young children to his immigrant father Patrick's tender mercies. No pictures or paper records except for one of him and his brothers. He told me that they often came home from school to find their belongings at the curb and that one of them would stand guard while the others were summoned. He sang a song "Me Mither came from Donegal..she eats potatoes skins and all" which presumably was something that he, as a member of "Sons of Donegal" sang in their meetings.

So this small oral tale of Normans and "Black Irish" and Donegal was passed down to us.
Grandpop married very young and was left a widower very young with 4 young children.
My mother the youngest and only girl was 3. No information about our Grandmother or her tragic death or her family were passed down until we ourselves were adults.

"We" is my Cousin Francis Faunt Jr. and I. Each of us had a few scraps of information which we pooled in very recent years.Some of it was inaccurate and led us on a few wild goose chases.
Except for our first cousins we knew of no other Faunt families.

Francis did a DNA test for the Genographic Project and I (in early retirement and a little bored) was doing paper records. We found cousins of our grandmother's family and discovered her resting place, which I marked with a stone.We had a small Memorial and there was a writeup in a newspaper from Beverly NJ where it seems both sides of our families came to as immigrants.

Franny's DNA matched a man who was part of a family named Fant. This family had been in the US ( Virginia) since between 1674-1708 and was firmly established.Our William Faunt had come from Ireland to this very tiny town on the Delaware River in 1869. When contacted, this family had similar origin tales and both knew of the French spelling of L'enfante.

What did this mean? I contacted a first rate Irish researcher while we furiously tried to get more men to test their DNA. I found my Faunt family living in a Norman walled town called Fethard Tipperary with at least one other family nearby. Church records spelled it Fant. Our William Fant and his brother Patrick were in the British Army and received military pensions.

William Faunt retires at 10 years from the Army with a shoulder injury.Patrick Faunt has malaria after years in India. William comes to America in 1869 with wife Ellen Lynch and two sons Pat and Will.Patrick Faunt has two children in Fethard where he marries and the last 3 baptized in Mitchelstown Cork.

My Irish researcher indicates that he believes that a Patrick Fant who lives very near to Mitchelstown Cork in Kilbehenny Limerick is the father/grandfather to the men in Fethard.They are Nailers by occupation all of them and with that hereditary occupation they live in a certain area, Cashel Road near Fethard. This is a few miles from Mitchelstown Cork.

In the meantime we had some men test.One man with a clear paper trail to a Faunt family in Westmeath did not match. Another man who also descends from that family indicated that the men of that family who did not immigrate move in the mid 1800s to Cork. We now find them in Mitchelstown Cork. They are also a Military family.

Just before the holidays last year I started a group at Ancestry.com for both the Faunt family and my Carrow family as DNA was now being added to pedigrees. What did I find but two men who had done DNA.They matched the majority with the unusual pattern of markers that is called Sardinian I2a. One of them was a Fant of the Colonial Virginia line and one was a Font who lived "Down under".

I rooted around in Cyberspace until I contacted him and announced that he was "Found" and surely shocked him out of his shoes.He had taken a "free test" that produced a few markers finally after a lot of years and he had quite forgotten that. He thought I had mistaken him for another, after all his family was spelled Font and were not from Ireland.

We persevered, he and I, and discovered he had doubts about his family's whereabouts prior to 1802.Ireland was likely he thought. He decided to test the rest of his markers and I tried to get a special deal at Family Tree DNA the company of my choice which many researchers use. After Christmas he sent in his Dad's test kit and it got in on New Years Eve.

His test came back last week and he matches 25 out of 25 markers with Francis Faunt. indicating a closer relationship even than those of Francis and the Virginia Fants. I was absolutely over the moon and so I suspect was he.

So here were are~! 9 men have tested ( one is from Finland so likely is not "us") and all but 2 match each other. A family of Faunt/Fant/Font men who came from the same area nearby to Mitchelstown Cork and Kilmallock Limerick.

The Glen of Aherlow is a valley on the Limerick/Tipperary/Cork border bordered by a mountain range. My researcher tells me that current information in Galway is that the Fontt family there is "of the Kilmallock family". William de Braose founded the town of Fethard and Sir Walter L'enfant, Justiciar of Ireland,is possibly in his entourage and associated with that small walled town.

We have some mysteries to unravel and my new Font cousin needs to be linked to a place in Ireland. Check out our DNA website and consider testing but ask me first! I am trying to get some special pricing. and in the interest of the family a Faunt from Cork gets special treatment from James,Joe and me.


Mary said...

Fascinating story! I am always envious of folks who can make the DNA work for them! The closest I have come is a 2-off match which someone with the same last name.

kathlingram said...

Depending on the Haplotype that could be a match, Cousin Franny was 2 off from the first testee James Fant.He is one away from some other men in that family and now is an exact match to the 1802 era Font.
It is exciting ~!