Our Genealogy – Members Only


The Clan Irwin Genealogy Initiative

Overview & Understanding Genealogy

Most people who join Clan Irwin Association are looking for some manner of assistance in tracing their personal genealogy. To that end, in April 2023 Clan Irwin Association embarked on a journey we call our Genealogy Initiative. The Genealogy Initiative is an eight-point plan to assist our members along their path of personal research.

  • Continue to support and promote our existing Genealogy Committee.
  • Continue to promote Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN.
  • Continue to promote and financially support Clan Irwin Surname Y-DNA Study.
  • Continue to promote Clan Irvine Autosomal DNA Project.
  • Promote gathering of Family Trees utilizing WikiTree.
  • Gather and publish Family Stories from members.
  • Provide training via Zoom meetings.
  • Reach out to Irwins, Erwins, Irvines et al who match our members DNA to encourage them to join Clan Irwin Association.

Members are encouraged to participate and share in executing this plan. Through the active participation of our members, we will be able to keep this endeavor fresh, and always moving forward.


DAVID McCORMICK | [email protected]
BEN IRVIN | [email protected]
REV. PETER B. IRVINE | [email protected] | Administrator Clan Irvine Autosomal DNA Project
JAMES M. IRVINE | [email protected] | Administrator Clan Irwin Surname yDNA Study


BRIAN F. IRWIN, Coordinator | [email protected]
TERRY MOORE, Assistant Coordinator | [email protected]
JAMES M. IRVINE | [email protected]
PETER B. IRVINE | [email protected]
KYLE ERWIN | [email protected]
CHERYL GARNER | [email protected]
MARY ERWIN, Chairman | [email protected]

If anyone else wishes to join either the Genealogy Committee or the Task Force, please reach out to the chairman. As stated elsewhere, for the Genealogy Initiative to be a success, members must participate in multiple ways. Joining the Committee or Task Force is just one way to participate.


Updated 09/01/2023

• We will continue to support and promote our existing Genealogy Committee. (Those men are too valuable not to have them available to answer questions.)
• We will promote the Allen County Library, Fort Wayne, IN as the designated repository for any Clan Irwin member who wishes to donate their work. Also, they can provide assistance to our members.
• We will gather Family Stories from members to be published in Google Workspace and in the Members Only Section of our website.
(This is not family trees. It can be what a member knows about how their ancestors came to the US or Canada, or how they happened to join CIA, or whatever happens to be their family story, but their story in their words.)
• We will promote the gathering of Family Trees utilizing WikiTree. (Lots to discuss about this topic.)
• We will financially support the yDNA Study. Refer to outline for details.
• We will promote the Autosomal DNA Study.
• We will provide training via Zoom meetings that will be recorded and then made available to all members, at multiple levels of researching.
(The number of these are yet to be determined. Estimated time is 30 minutes each, with actual Zoom attendance limited to no more than 15 people, on a first come first served basis. Success of this endeavor may dictate more actual Zoom meetings rather than recorded sessions.)
• We will reach out to people who match Cheryl Garner’s DNA on her Erwin family side, introducing them to Clan Irwin Association and the 2 DNA studies we support. This will be a marketing tool and could be used with various DNA testing companies.
• We will index past editions of the Holly Leaf Chronicle to enable searching by members.

Delving In

An Understanding of Genealogy and your Scottish Heritage

Embarking on the journey of exploring Scottish genealogy can be a profoundly rewarding experience, offering not only a window into your personal heritage but also a rich tapestry of Scotland’s vibrant history and culture. This exploration involves diving into ancient records, understanding traditional Scottish naming patterns, and navigating the complexities of regional variations in data preservation. Whether you’re a beginner trying to trace your Scottish lineage for the first time, or an experienced researcher looking to delve deeper into lesser-known sources, learning about Scottish genealogy promises a fascinating adventure into the past, where every name and date has a story waiting to be uncovered.

Below are common words or phrases used in ancestral research that are basic to most discussions within genealogy. Further definitions will be provided within other sections as needed for understanding that particular topic. Please advise of other words or phrases you need to be defined. Note: The number following the word or phrase being defined refers to the source of the definition.

Brick Wall – 3. In genealogy, the term “brick wall” is often used to refer to tough research problems, apparent dead-ends that after many hours of searching still yield no answers.
DNA – 5. Genetic genealogy is the use of DNA [Deoxyribonucleic acid] testing to determine relationships between individuals, find genetic matches and discover one’s ancestry. The field of genetic genealogy has grown exponentially over the past few years as testing has become more accessible, popular and affordable.
Autosomal DNA (atDNA) – 2. Autosomal DNA is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe DNA which is inherited from the autosomal chromosomes.
An autosome is any of the numbered chromosomes, as opposed to the sex chromosomes. Humans have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes (the X chromosome and the Y chromosome).
cM/Centimorgan – 4. In genetics, a centimorgan (abbreviated cM) or map unit (m.u.) is a unit for measuring genetic linkage. It is defined as the distance between chromosome positions (also termed loci or markers) for which the expected average number of intervening chromosomal crossovers in a single generation is 0.01. It is often used to infer distance along a chromosome. However, it is not a true physical distance.
DNA Match – 6. DNA Matching is the process of sequencing your DNA and comparing it to the DNA of other people in a database. When a person with a significant amount of DNA that is identical to yours is found, that can indicate that you have a common ancestor.
mtDNA – 10. “Mitochondrial DNA, otherwise known as mtDNA, is a special type of DNA found exclusively in the mitochondria of our cells. This DNA is passed down from the maternal line, which means that your mtDNA is the same as your mother’s and her mother’s before her.”
Y-DNA – 10. As the name suggests, Y-DNA deals with the male YChromosome.  Like mtDNA, Y-DNA is separate from the parts of your DNA created through the recombination of your parents’ DNA. Y-DNA can only be found in genetic males. A Y-DNA test can be used to trace a patrilineal line back thousands of years to find your ancient haplogroup, or your deep paternal-line branch on the human family tree.
Genealogical Data – CIA. Facts gathered from genealogical research.
Genealogical Relationship – CIA. The description used to describe the relationship between two individuals, such as father, mother, son, daughter, 3rd cousin, 3rd cousin once removed, etc,
Genealogy – 1. An account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor; the study of family ancestral lines.
Genealogy / Family Tree – CIA. A “Tree” is the result of connecting individuals that have been researched – children to parents to grandparents to great grandparents, etc. The result from connecting individuals takes on the shape of a tree.
Genealogy Software – CIA. There are three important software categories, some of which are involved in one or more of the categories.
1 – Research oriented, such as Ancestry.com, Fold3.com, FamilySearch.org, and AmericanAncesters.org, findagrave.com, billiongraves.com, findmypast.com, Newspapers.com, genealogy.com, among others.
2 – DNA oriented where one can obtain a DNA test. Examples: FamilyTreeDNA.com, MyHeritage.com, Legacytree.com, Ancestry.com
3 – Tree oriented where one records individuals and the facts gathered about the individuals; especially individual relationships which grow into a genealogical tree. Examples include: RootsMagic.com, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, WikiTree.com, and others.
Photographs – CIA. Photos are a real benefit as personal photos can bring to life the person being described in one’s story. Further, copies of census reports, certificates, and much more provide a visual image of the facts and verify what is being described. Simply, photographs add significance to one’s genealogical database and tree. By the way, it is not unusual when gathering facts from a source for one to skip over or record incorrectly something that a later look at a photo will catch.
Research – CIA. Time spent searching for and collecting applicable facts about the individual being focused on. For example, if a tombstone has been found about your great grandfather, you would want to first describe the source [a tombstone for Mark Smith; in the Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama; located in Section A, plot 15; and take a photo of the tombstone]. Second, record what is on the tombstone [names, dates, locations, inscription, etc.].
Source – 8 & CIA. The actual paper or document or physical item that provides information about your family. For example, a source might be a census report, birth/death/marriage certificate, a book, digital or a tombstone. When a source is found and entered into your database, you will enter information about the source, like a description, title, author, publisher, publication date, etc.
Surname [Or Family Name] – 7. the name borne in common by members of a family.

Many Definitions and Genealogical Terms may be found at www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/gennealogical_terms

Contact for more information:
Mary Erwin, [email protected]
Terry Moore, [email protected]

Sources for definitions:
CIA – Written by the Clan Irwin Association
1 – Merriam Webster online dictionary
2 – International Society of Genetic Genealogy
3 – Legacy Tree Genealogists

As with all our Genealogy Initiative Information and Help, this page is subject to change based upon changes as we move forward. Check back from time to time.
Your input is also invited.

> Ask questions of your most senior relatives [parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, siblings, and even cousins]. Most genealogists have stated they or their clients wish they had asked more questions of their relatives before they had become unavailable.

> Gather facts and document their sources religiously.

> If a speculative fact is discovered, collect it, state its source, and use the fact as a hint to find a verifying source.

> Gather family stories and record them if possible; and state their source. Be descriptive even to the point of being verbose. Yes, look for and record reliable facts to substantiate and provide the context for the story.

> Photographs are a real benefit as personal photos can bring to life the person being described in one’s story. Further, photos of census reports, certificates,
and much more provide a visual image of the facts and verify what is being described. Simply, photographs add significance to one’s genealogical database and tree. By the way, it is not unusual when gathering facts from a source for one to skip over or record incorrectly something in the document that a later look at the photo will catch.

> United States Census Reports – These surveys of our population in the United States began in 1790 and are taken every 10 years. There is a 72-year restriction on releasing a survey’s results, essentially to protect “private” information. Thus, the latest report to have been released is the 1950 survey. The reports are a valuable tool in genealogy research and are considered a valid source. Even with this said, the surveys before the 1850 report are more difficult to use than those from 1850 and later. This comes about because the earlier reports named only the head of the household and provided the number of household members by gender & age grouping. From 1850 on, the reports provide the names of all household members and their ages and birth locations. These reports provide a wealth of individual information beyond the residence of the household. Ancestry.com is a good source for finding census reports; and it’s a good idea to save a copy for your family tree records.

> Getting Started is not difficult and should first include finding software to record the facts you find. RootsMagic.com, Ancestry.com, Wikitree.com, Myheritage.com and Mackiev.com (Family Tree Maker) are but a few of the more well-known examples. Comments by Ruth Gaukrodger from the TopTenReviews website can be visited for her rationale in using these programs and others: Link = https://www.toptenreviews.com/best-family-tree-maker These programs can also provide “hints” for finding ancestors and their facts.

> The second Getting Started step is to begin entering family members into the software you have selected. This step is the easiest one to take, as it should begin with you; followed by your own immediate family, parents, siblings, and grandparents. The initial facts, for every individual you enter, should include full names [given, middle, & surname], birth, marriage, and death dates with locations for each. The program will guide you in the data entry and their connections. These initial entries will allow you to become familiar with the software and be the foundation for “hints” on ancestral generations. You’ll be surprised with the amount of information on the internet, and remember, everything you find on the internet may not be accurate. Important: Record your sourcing for every entry you make. Yes, it’s work and takes time, BUT the dividends will come about later in your research.

> A third Getting Started step is to pick an ancestral line you wish to pursue, say your own Surname; and go back as far as the “hints” lead you. Also include the children of everyone you enter into your database. Clearly, as with all lines, this gets more and more difficult as one goes back. Don’t be discouraged if you hit a “brick wall” where you can’t find any further connections. As one enters surrounding data of the “brick wall” person, you may break through for further generations. Generally, one can find lots of
internet online sources for 6 to 8 generations back, such as census reports, vital records [birth/marriage/death certificates], church records, tombstones, etc. That will take you back to about the mid-1700’s. Researching further back moves you into published books, historical church records, family Bibles, and other older locations. It’s possible to get to the year 1000, but clearly solid sourcing becomes more and more difficult [reliable]. Earlier than 1000 becomes very difficult and much more speculative. There’s nothing wrong with speculation as long as it is noted as such.

> Use of family trees beyond your personal family tree: Do not take it for granted that other family trees are well sourced. Before using any data from another tree, check the sourcing within that tree. If, and only if, the sourcing is solid and really applies to your individual should you use the other tree’s individual information. Even if not sourced well, the information may be useful as a real “hint”, allowing you to research the direction this “hint” takes.

> Cost of Genealogy. Yes, there is a cost to getting into your genealogy. The software for recording your data is the initial cost. Check it out online as you visit the software websites. Some data searching will also have a cost associated with it, BUT there are some free research opportunities, for example the Mormon LDS site in Utah has extensive records. See: www.genealogybank.com

> US Census Report content – What information can be found on a census report? Let’s see. Take the 1880 US Federal Census for W B Irwin and his household members [typically his family]. Below are examples of what can be found in the report’s information: Location: Lawrence County, Alabama; Date of the Census: June 1, 1880; W B Irwin’s specific data: Name W B Irwin, Age 60, Birth date ca 1820, Birthplace Alabama; Home in 1880 [Residence] Hillsboro, Lawrence, Alabama; Dwelling No. 20; Race White; Gender Male; Relationship [to the Head of the household] Self; Marital Status Married; Spouse’s Name H B Irwin [note this is her married surname]; Occupation Physician; Household Members 9. The report also provides similar information for each household member. In this census it has 8 members beyond W B Irwin: H B [wife], Dee [son], Tandy [son], Robt [son], Greek [son], Sam [son], Jessie [daughter], & Hatti [daughter] each with their set of facts. This data can then be coupled with other reports and sources to verify exactly other data already collected for each person.

> Find “How To” information at many websites, such as www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/begin_your_genealogy_quest or www.cyndislist.com.

As with all our Genealogy Initiative Information and Help, this page is subject to change based upon changes as we move forward. Check back from time to time.

Cost of Genealogy. Yes, there is a cost to getting into your genealogy. The software for recording your data is the initial cost. Check it out online as you visit the software websites. Data searching will also have a cost associated with it, BUT there are some free research opportunities, for example the Morman LDS site in Utah has extensive records. See: www.familysearch.org

  • Ancestry.com – This website is a vehicle that can be used for free research, although you must be a member to view the full website, which includes family trees. They are also a DNA provider. link = www.ancestry.com
  • RootsMagic link = https://www.rootsmagic.com/
    MyHeritage link = www.myheritage.com
  • Family Tree Maker link = https://www.mackiev.com/ftm/
  • Legacy link = www.legacytree.com
  • Find My Past link = www.findmypast.co.uk
  • Find a Grave link = https://www.findagrave.com/
  • Billion Graves link = https://billiongraves.com/
  • National Archives [Ref Census Reports link = https://www.archives.gov/research/census
  • International Society of Genetic Genealogy link = www.isogg.org

DNA Software

  • Genetics Digest – Comments on DNA testing link = www.geneticsdigest.com
  • 23andMe = www.23andme.com
  • Ancestry DNA = www.ancestry.com
  • FTDNA = www.familytreedna.com

We realize there are many more companies that offer DNA testing. Choose wisely as you want to get the most for your money. As you explore, learn what each company offers and how they differ before investing in a specific company’s test.

There are many reasons for choosing a particular company as specifics within that company distinguish it from other companies. Having said that, Ancestry.com has a larger database than all other companies combined.

1 – Why should one choose to get into genealogy?
Answer: It’s personal. Most everyone has questions about where and from whom they descend. It’s your history. And, it can solve some real personal questions – for example, you may be adopted, so who are your parents? Generic medical questions may be of help. Have you any siblings who were adopted or dropped out of sight?

2 – How much time is involved with genealogy research?
Answer: It’s up to the individual. If one only wants to go back 6 or less generations, then one can spend 2 to 3 hours a week and finish in 6 months to a year, depending on how complicated the research. Genealogy can be addictive, and one can spend several hours a week and “never” finish. Because the research is personal to the researcher, it is fun, interesting, and a topic for discussion at family gatherings.

3 – Why are sources important when researching in genealogy?
Answer: Sources are plentiful, as the interest in genealogy is expanding. Entry into some family tree software REQUIRES sources. See the CIA member tab on software.

4 – Where can one research their genealogy?
Answer: Libraries, the internet, public records, published books and research, etc., etc. See the CIA member tab on software.

5 – How far back can one explore their genealogy?
Answer: With reasonably good sourcing to the 1700’s. As one goes back further, good source locations become more and more difficult to find – no internet was around in the early years. Realistically, with speculation, one can go back to about the year 1000. Note: speculation is not bad as long as it is recorded as to where the information is found.

6 – What facts are important in one’s research?
Answer: Clearly, full names, dates, & locations, which lead to connecting generations. It’s good to record children even though they are not “direct” line ancestors. They can help confirm facts with limited or speculative sourcing.

7 – What might be found when researching?
Answer: See the answer to questions 1 and 6, above

8 – Is genealogy research embarrassing?
Answer: Not really, but some personal discoveries can be very personal – parental relationships, for example. You may find “unexpected relatives.”

9 – How private is DNA research?
Answer: It’s interesting as the more facts one records the easier it is to discover information on an individual. But remember, the internet has volumes of data and with enough looking, not much is “private.” DNA discoveries might provide “surprise” relatives.

10 – Is the use of Genealogy software secure?
Answer: Essential information on living individuals is not released, so from that standpoint, yes. One generally has the option to allow their family tree to be private or public, so it can be up to you. It’s a good question to ask when considering software purchasing.

11 – What does one do when they hit a “brick wall” in their research?
Answer: Keep looking and trying to go “outside the box” to find the information needed. Adding relationships to the “brick wall” person can lead to solving issues.

12 – Where are vital records found?
Answer: City and state court houses; the National Archives; churches; and online at sites like Ancestry.com and other software. Remember the originals may be difficult to find; and one must rely on the sources to have good copies from various websites.

13 – Where can one get research help to develop an ancestral tree?
Answer: All sorts of videos, webinars, and such are available. Just do a search on the internet. Libraries, friends, genealogical internet blogs, the tree & research software you use, the “hints” provided by the software you use. Remember, if you don’t ask, you will not get an answer. Those in genealogy are very helpful for they all have the same issues; just different individuals being researched. RootsTech has a meeting in Idaho each year that has a wealth of information, webinars, and sources. A lot of vendors attend. It’s now online so one can interact for free. Another source is www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/begin_your_genealogy.quest or www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/research_resources

The Allen County Public Library [ACPL] – Genealogy Center’s web site is at https://genealogycenter.org

The ACPL’s Irwin search response is at https://genealogycenter.info/search_clanirwin.php

“The ACPL Genealogy Center is a unique and valuable resource for the Northeastern Indiana community and the entire genealogical community at large. We have one of the largest research collections available, incorporating records from around the world. Our staff specializes in genealogy and is always available to help.” Their brochure can be found at: https://www.genealogy.acpl.lib.in.us/_files/ugd/24967f_7e7a88ba1d394265b666630f0da3ab5c.pdf (Hint: copy and paste)

Source: ACPL website
The Genealogy Center
Allen County Public Library
P. O. Box 2270
Fort Wayne, IN 46801
Contact Information
[email protected]

On August 6, 2010, Clan Irwin Association formalized an accord with North America’s second largest genealogical library who is also a cooperating partner with Salt Lake’s Family History Library.

The Allen County Public Library’s genealogical center contains over 513,000 microfilm and 350,000 printed volumes. They have a website at this address http://www.genealogycenter.org/Contact.aspx. Check it out. It only gives you a glimpse into the more than 30,000 square feet reference material they have.

Guy lrvin, former Chairman of CIA, worked for years to find a safe haven for the Association’s family histories due to losing so much data on two occasions. An “Irvine Society” grew large and each member had to prove his family tree. All these records disappeared during WWll. Our Clan Irwin Association genealogy, collected by three historians, was lost to the Association due to death. Allen County Public Library has affirmed and pledged to keep our Association material, with all its spellings, safe and available as long as genealogy is sought after.

You are encouraged to send a copy of all your family tree material in either printed form or on a CD, or thumb drive directly to:

Allen County Public Library
900 Library Plaza
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Attention: Aaron Smith
Phone: 260.421.1225
Fax: 260.421.1386

Aaron Smith, Genealogy Center Assistant Manager/Materials Handling Unit Aaron Smith, cataloger for The Genealogy Center collection, has served both public and academic libraries in the Midwest, and brings a love of human geography to his work. His undergraduate and graduate work in music and theology has led to a desire to provide access to the songs and stories of all peoples through librarianship, and he knows that providing extensive and quality access to such stories inspires more search and discovery. To this end, he understands the importance of keeping up with rapid technological change and is closely involved in local efforts to make important genealogical resources available via the Internet.

He received his Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Kentucky and has made presentations at meetings of the Ohio Library Council and the Indiana Library Federation. He led the Catalogers’ Interest Group of SWON (Southwest Ohio and Neighboring Libraries) from 2004 until 2007, when he joined The Genealogy Center staff in Fort Wayne.

DNA Testing

Clan Irwin Surname yDNA Study

Many of you may be curious about how DNA testing can help with your genealogy. Several companies market a bewildering array of tests. We recommend you take one of three tests marketed by FamilyTreeDNA, a well-established company based in Houston.

• The cheapest is their “Family Finder” Autosomal DNA test, at $79 (subject to change). Over 400 Irwins have taken this test. The results of this test can be compared with those of other Family Finder testers to identify cousins sharing a common ancestor who lived in about 1800 or later.

• Next up is their 37-marker Y-DNA test, at $119 (subject to change). Over 600 Irwins have taken this test. The results of this test can identify paternal cousins further back and, more importantly, from which branch of our surname you are descended and from where in Scotland or Ireland each branch originated. About 50 such branches of the Irwin surname have now been identified, of which over 40 have descendants living in North America.

• The most expensive recommended test is their BigY700 test, at $449 (subject to change) if (as recommended) you have first taken the 37-marker test. Over 100 Irwins have taken this relatively new test. The results of this test place you on the male haplotree of mankind, a genetic family tree which stretches from the genetic Adam down to the present day and shows how the different branches, subgroups and lineages of our surname descended, dates when these lines diverged, and to which Irwin testers you are most closely related.

All Irwins (however they may spell their name) who have taken a Y-DNA test automatically become a member of the Clan Irwin Surname DNA Study, an on-line facility independent of both FamilyTreeDNA and the Clan Irwin Association. This Study is closely aligned with our goal to develop relationships and expand our communal experiences. Since its foundation in 2005 it has been administered by James Irvine who personally welcomes new members, explains their results, answers queries, and every six months updates the Study’s website (www.clanirwin-dna.org) where you can find a vast amount of background information on both Y-DNA testing and our surname.

FINANCIAL INCENTIVE: The Clan Irwin Association offers a $50 (subject to change) supplement towards the cost of a 37-marker or BigY700 test, to up to 10 members per annum. Note that these two tests can only be taken by males, but females are welcome to join the Study if they can sponsor a male Irwin tester.

Prospective DNA testers should also be aware that while the vast majority of tests produce intriguing and illuminating results, a small minority can be disappointing, just as in conventional genealogical research. FTDNA and the Study Administrators observe strict privacy protocols concerning the sharing of testers’ names and email addresses.
If you are interested in learning more click this link: www.clanirwin-dna.org.

DNA Testing

Clan Irvine Autosomal DNA Study

Autosomal DNA is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe DNA which is inherited from the autosomal chromosomes. An autosome is any of the numbered  hromosomes, as opposed to the sex chromosomes. Humans have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes (the X chromosome and the Y chromosome)

Autosomal DNA is the mixture of DNA you received from both parents (about 50% from your mother and about 50% from your father). Because autosomal DNA is a mixture of your mother’s and father’s DNA, it is unique to each person.  Autosomal DNA cannot currently reach back farther than five or six generations. Autosomal DNA testing is the most common kind of DNA testing. That’s what is sold by AncestryDNA*, 23andMe, MyHeritage, Living DNA and Family Tree DNA (the Family Finder test).

For information about the Clan Irwin Autosomal project, contact the following:

Peter B. Irvine – [email protected]