A little DNA, time, and luck uncovered a new Sweeney connection

It took almost two years from the first DNA match email I received to reach a definitive connection between our Sweeney families.  Alex O’Brien Feldman first emailed me in January of 2015 with an Ancestry.com autosomal DNA match.  We quickly determined our Sweeneys lived in the same Providence neighborhood in the early 1900’s and went to the same church.  Surely, they must have known each other,  But were they related?

Alex sent me copies of hand drawn family tree information from his grandmother, Esther Sweeney O’Brien.  My ancestors and even my siblings were listed on the paper.  Sure seemed like we were related, but there was nothing to confirm it.  Was that just research information or did she know the families were connected?  There we sat for about a year.

I created a summary of four Sweeney lines in Leitrim in the late 1800’s.  Two families in town and two up on the mountain.  I assumed at least two of these lines were probably connected.  But which ones?  My Sweeneys were from Gubnaveagh on the mountain and Alex’s family was from Ballinamore.

In April of 2016, things got more interesting when Alex contacted his Sweeney relative in Virginia in hopes of something more concrete.  Then in October, we cracked the code!  Alex’s relative had a letter from Alex’s grandmother about a Sweeney cousin in Narragansett.  The letter named the cousin, Patrick Sweeney, and his son, Robert Sweeney.  I knew they were also cousins of my family!  At this point, the flood gates opened.

I had photos from a Sweeney family party in Narragansett in 1976.  Turns out the photos included Alex’s grandmother and her sister, Ethel Sweeney Moffit.  My parents moved away from Providence just before I was born, so I asked a Providence cousin if they remembered either of these people at our grandparents when we were growing up.  They didn’t, but they did know Joseph Sweeney and his wife, Peggy.  They lived behind my grandparents.  This was Esther’s brother!  My cousins used to walk through the backyard to visit them.  My cousins were young and unaware of the relationship.

Alex and I plan to meet in Providence sometime soon.  I doubt we ever met as children, but with all these connections anything is possible.

With two of the four Sweeney lines now connected, I wonder if we’ll find out about the other two families at some point.  There is always another mystery to tackle.

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8 Responses to A little DNA, time, and luck uncovered a new Sweeney connection

  1. Patty Sweeney Beckerman says:

    I read your blog. I am a Sweeney from Providence ri. My dad side and they grew up on Wood st in Providence ri. Would be interested in seeing if we are related

  2. Patrick Sweeney says:

    I am Patrick Sweeney. I am 70/yo. My Father, Fred Sweeney was born in 1923 to Fred Sweeney Sr and Sadie Walker in Wisconsin, USA. Fred sr’s Father was named Joseph Sweeney. My father passed away recently at 97/yo. He related to me that his grandmother told him that Choinere (sp?)was their surname at one time. I have been casually trying to find unknown family connections. Perhaps there is a link somewhere.

  3. Bill says:

    Hi Patty,

    I just saw this. My grandparents lived on Firglade Ave off Hope St. Pretty far north of you. All the Sweeney siblings lived around there. Have you done a DNA test? Or, feel free to email me at bill@sweeney.net if you want to share you Sweeney ancestor names.

    Thanks, Bill

  4. Bill says:

    Hi Patrick,

    I don’t recognize and Fred in my tree. Or, any other names you mentioned. Have you done a DNA test?

    Bill

  5. Rhonda Kennedy says:

    Hello Bill… Great blog! I enjoyed reading your breakthroughs and hope I will get some soon myself! I keep coming against Irish brick walls regarding the Sweeney and McGrannichan families in Ireland. I was so excited when I saw the FB group page for the Sweeney genealogy… new hope with new connections!

    Rhonda Kennedy

  6. Bill says:

    Hi Rhonda,
    A little serendipity never hurts!
    Bill

  7. Patrick Sweeney says:

    Bill, I have learned a lot about my Sweeney family since 2021. My DNA test helped a lot. We are from Quebec starting from the 1600’s. Our French name was Choiniere dit Sabourin. My Great Grandfather, Joseph Choiniere from the Montreal and east area of Quebec, married Genevive Bricault of the same area. They married in Highgate VT and moved to the same area in Wisconsin where I was raised. My Great Great Grandfather, Joseph Choiniere had lots of children that I have not yet researched. Perhaps there are some of them that stayed in New England.

  8. Bill says:

    Hi Patrick,
    Congrats! It can be so interesting/fun to make the next leap in genealogy research. Can’t wait for my next discovery. I’ve been counting on DNA, but not much new in that arena for the past couple of years.
    Bill

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