The Smoking Gun


The reason this website was originally created was to track my genealogy research while trying to uncover the identity of my maternal grandfather's parents. Today, I'm elated to say I have finally found the closest thing to a smoking gun that I may ever find for these two elusive individuals.

Here's a quick recap of what I already knew when I started this journey:

  1. When Angela McKinnon, adoptive mother of my grandfather, filed for adoption, she named the birth mother as Mary J. McInnis, a domestic, and the birth father as "not publicly stated".
  2. Ralph McKinnon, Angela's husband, brought my grandfather home with him from the east coast, supposedly Boston, to Oakland, CA.
  3. My grandfather's birth name was Joseph A. McInnis and he was supposedly born in January of 1929, although no one was quite sure about the date.

Here's a recap of what I learned through genealogy research:

  1. DNA testing revealed that my mother was blood-related to Angela McKinnon, the adoptive mother of Joseph A. McInnis. Due to the degrees of relation (shared DNA and verified family trees of other tested Ancestry members), I deduced one of Angela's siblings was a birth parent of Joseph A. McInnis.
  2. Jack McKinnon, the eldest brother of Angela, lived on the west coast, had five children, and ultimately didn't have a timeline that made sense to be the birth father.
  3. William McKinnon, the youngest brother of Angela, never married but was known to other family members as "not preferring the company of women", so to speak.
  4. Paul McKinnon, the middle brother of Angela, married but censuses and city directories place him all over Boston as a lodger. Additionally, I discovered family letters noting his marriage issues.
  5. I inadvertently solved a stranger's adoption mystery- a stranger who has turned out to be my great (half) uncle. He had documentation from his adoption agency as well as his mother's military records that I was able to combine with census records to prove Paul McKinnon had lived with his birth mother and was his birth father.
  6. There was a Mary Jane McInnis living in the same area as Paul McKinnon during his youth.
  7. A descendant of the aforementioned Mary Jane McInnis's sister took a DNA test and showed to be of close relation to my mother and I.

I suspected Paul was my great grandfather, but never had any real proof outside of DNA. Mary Jane McInnis of Ashton (St. Peter's Bay), PEI also seemed to be the right birth mother, but again, I had no real proof.

With the addition of new Naturalization records to Ancestry, I stumbled onto this over the weekend. AT LAST! I present to you...

Here we see Mary Jane McInnis, formerly of St. Peter's Bay, PEI, a domestic in Dover, MA, petitioning for naturalization with Angela's brother, Paul D. McKinnon of Roxbury (Boston), Massachusetts, as her witness. It states that since 1925, to his knowledge, through 1931, he can vouch for her moral character. My grandfather was born in 1929.

While this blog entry is by no means the kind of proof argument one might see on the front page of National Genealogical Society Quarterly, I intend to compile this evidence into such an argument. I'm incredibly proud I was able to come this far-- I started this journey with no genealogy experience at all, no DNA background, and practically nothing to go on (not even a living grandparent to ask questions to). I can't imagine anyone else is as excited about this as I am, but I hope it can at least serve as motivation for others to know that passion and perseverance can overcome an 88 year old mystery.

Onto the next one!