I’m Hot On The Trail And Using #DNA To Solve A Mystery (Part 1)

(permission was given  by John M to use photo) 

I have a mystery in my genealogy.  I call it the Beaton/Batten mystery.

The whole mystery is based on family stories, so let’s see if any are true?

  • The family story was that my great-grandfather; William (Willie) Beaton (1874-1954) was adopted by his father but that the person who raised him wasn’t his mother.
  • Willie was adopted by his father. As this would have happened in the late 1800’s this may not have been documented. I spent a month in Kingston, Ontario looking for a document, or will, or any kind of legal document referencing Willie with regard to the family. I found nothing. Willie was not mentioned in the will and that was a clue to me that he might not be a part of the family.
  •  In the 1881 census, Willie is listed age 7, born in Ontario and as the son of William Beaton and he’s living with his father and mother; Mary and siblings; Frederick, Cealie, Maggie, Georgean and Leneia.
  • In the 1891 census; Willie is 16 and William Beaton Sr. has died and so Willie is living with Frederick, Maggie, Georgina, Mary J Beaton (mother?) and a boarder named; Robert Bell. But this time Willie is listed as a dom (domestic) of Frederick’s. We are given some clues; Willie is born in Canada and his parents are both from England.  This is another instance that you would think that perhaps the story isn’t true. Otherwise, why would his brother Frederick call him a domestic? And why would none of the parent’s birthplaces match? 
  • I can find no birth registry for William (Willie) Beaton. But is that his name? 
  • When Willie died his obituary listed that he was survived by his sister; Mrs. W.L. Davis.  It took a bit of time to discover that Mrs. W.L. Davis was Mrs. Wellington Davis or Annie Davis.  I researched Annie Davis to find out her maiden name was Annie Batten, not Beaton. I can find no relationship between the Beaton’s and the Batten’s
  • In the 1881 census, there is a Sarah Batten 9 years old born in England and living in the Batten family. The Batten family consists of George (Sr), Isabella, George, Thomas, and Sarah. As the real Sarah Batten is married and living with her husband (Henry Esford) you wonder if Sarah listed is actually Annie Batten.  Is Annie’s real name Sarah Ann too?
  • Annie Batten is listed in the 1891 census as born in England with both parents born in England and as the adopted daughter of Isabella Batten.
  • When Annie Batten gets married she lists Isabella and George Batten as her parents. When Willie marries he lists William Beaton and Annie Rooth as his parents. Who is Annie Rooth? I can find no record of her in Ontario. At least not someone who fits. 

So what does DNA tell me?

  • When two descendants of different members of the Beaton family tested their DNA neither shows up as a match to my mom’s DNA or any of my mom’s siblings.  William was adopted by his father William Beaton.  Strike one.  
  • When I found a descendant of Annie Batten (let’s call her Margaret O). Margaret O was a match to my mom and all of her siblings.
  • I’ve tested my mom and all of her siblings at Family Tree DNA. If a sibling is no longer alive I’ve tested one of their children.  I’ve also tested 1 cousin of my mom’s. A direct male line of William Beaton is still alive but will not test. (Working on trying to change his mind). Below are the comparisons to Margaret O.

William H – 219 cM,  (mom’s cousin), Violet 163 cM (mom’s sister), Richard 120 cM (mom’s brother), Eleanor 69 cM (my mom), Ken 68 cM (mom’s brother). Only my mom is an X match to Margaret O.

When I do what I call triangulate with Margaret and anyone of my family to see who they have in common I’ve had several possibilities. Note that Violet is my mom’s half-sister through my grandmother and therefore any connection to her with Margaret would be probably through the Beaton line. Similarly, for William H.  My best match was Cliff S. at 28.9 cM that is until a few weeks ago.

Several weeks ago I got a new close match to the triangulation group on Ancestry. You see I’ve tested my family at Family Tree DNA and some I’ve tested at Ancestry. (I would have tested all at Ancestry but I’m from Canada and you couldn’t get DNA kits until a few years ago).

Then about 1 month ago, enter Anita H. 95 cM across 6 segments to Margaret O. That’s the best match yet except for members of my family.  But Anita H. has no tree and hasn’t answered either of my two inquiries (I’ve since sent a 3rd) <sigh>

Then about 2 weeks ago; enter David B. at 137 cM across 9 segments to Margaret O. and guess who he matches? Anita H.  So now I’m getting excited.  David B has a huge tree and when you do a search of incommon matches there are two people who have names that connect. Those surnames are Grantham, Harris, and Bayliss.

So begins the work of building and expanding their tree to see if I can find a connection between those names and a little boy and little girl living in Kingston, Ontario





  • Elena says:

    Hello, Annie Batton would be my great, great grandmother I believe, my last name is Davis. Wellington and Annie had a son named Clare James Davis and he then had a son named Ronald Davis and I would be his granddaughter.

  • honumac says:

    How wonderful that you have a photo. My father has Beatons on his mother’s side. They are from Montrose, Scotland. One or two ended up in Utah and Montana. Dad tested at Family Tree DNA. So far he hasn’t matched up with anyone with Beatons. None of your other names mentioned are familiar. Be happy to show you my tree if you see any connection.

  • Treena says:

    So glad you got those closer matches, and have a few new surnames to search for! You are getting closer and closer to solving this mystery. I really wish you could get that male y-dna test. Any progress getting him to test yet? I assume he doesn’t read your blog. Maybe you can print this one out and mail it to him.

  • Valerie Davies says:

    Is there a difference between the ‘numbers’ presented with the DNA Cm of your results from FamilyTree DNA compared to Ancestry DNA Cm. Reason I’m asking is you mentioned a two digit Cm number for a “half-sister” match to one of your names – my half sister is on Ancestry and we match at nearly 1500 CM and 55 DNA segments? Just curious me. Also, I get replies to perhaps 1 out of 40 messages I send. No one seems interested. I have also recently had one who did reply and then after giving me limited information shut down but saying “I am not keen to carrying this investigation on any further”. I went to send another reply of “thank you very much I appreciate what you have help me with” but could not as she is “no longer receiving messages”. Game Over. Done.

    • My mom’s half-sister is the same as yours. She’s a match at 1527 cM to my mom. The numbers I quoted in my blog are in relation to the 2 cousin or Margaret may be a 1/2 2nd cousin.

  • Enjoyed your challenge to sort out the DNA matches to solve your mystery. Good luck