Table of Contents
By Mary Harrell-Sesniak
When analyzing DNA for genealogical purposes, it’s important to look at all of your ancestral names.
As discussed a few months ago by columnist Joan Young, in DNA and Genealogy – Beyond the Paper Trail (RootsWeb Review 9 Dec. 2009, Vol. 12, No. 12), DNA tests reports on direct pedigree lines, e.g., from father to son to son, or from mother to daughter to daughter, etc.
If you are looking for other ancestry – say, for example, your deceased father’s father’s mother's markers, you can still determine them. Find someone who meets a direct descendancy criteria; this would be through a mother to son (grandfather) or mother to daughter to daughter(great aunt’s daughter) relationship.
The reason for this is that men test their direct male lineage through Y-DNA, as they share a Y chromosome with their fathers (contained in the nucleus of the cell, as opposed to the egg that supplies the mtDNA). In the case of the paternal test, a haplotype is determined, based upon Y chromosome patterns which are distinctive and easily identifiable. Men also inherit mtDNA from their mothers, which is why they are logical test subjects for extended DNA testing.
Another advantage for testing men, is that unless there were an adoption or legal name change, a son would share a surname with his father, unlike women, who unless they had not married (or coincidentally a father-son combination had married women with the same surname), the family name would change at every generation.
Who should get tested?
Follow these charts to see whose DNA test would be the most beneficial for your purposes.
Follow along the colored lines to see the direct mtDNA connections. (Other mtDNA connections are noted by different colored lines and circles.) The Y DNA connections are noted by the color of the male’s box.
Services which test and gather DNA results for genealogical purposes are:
RootsWeb articles of interest:
FamilyHart DNA Projects (Pennsylvania Dutch Families) by Don & Jeanine Hartman
Lost Colony Research Group (Successfully Using Autosomal Testing in Conjunction with Mitochondrial and Y-Line) by Roberta Estes
Mayflower DNA Projects (Canadian Society of Mayflower Descendants) by Susan E. Roser
By Joan Young
In my article, DNA Beyond the Paper Trail, I introduced the benefits of adding DNA testing to your arsenal of research tools. Mary's article, included above, expands upon various aspects of DNA testing.
The feedback I received from my article indicates that genealogists often hit a stumbling block when attempting to comprehend scientific jargon. Understanding the terms can help you determine the best test(s) to meet your needs: Y-DNA, mtDNA, and/or the whole genome. Below is a quick reference guide to some of the terms you will encounter.
Chromosome: The structure by which information is physically transmitted from generation to generation. There are twenty three chromosomes made up of pairs of genes (alleles).
Alleles: Alleles are genes that are members of a pair located at a specific location on a specific chromosome. The pair of alleles may be homozygous or heterozygous.
Homozygous and Heterozygous: The root homo means "the same" and hetero means "different." Two alleles that are the same at a specific position on a specific chromosome are said to be homozygous, and two alleles that differ are heterozygous.
The twenty three chromosomes are broken down as follows:
Mutations: Mutations lead to finding relationships through DNA testing because they are what make you and your cousins "different" from everyone else.
Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP): SNPs determine our Haplogroup. (Y Haplogroup and mtDNA Haplogroup.) They represent successful mutations that stuck and spread within a segment of the population. For a mutation to be considered a SNP it must be found in at least 1% of the population. SNPs mutate infrequently once established.
Short tandem repeats (STR): Short sequences of DNA, normally of length 2-5 base pairs, that are repeated numerous times in a head-tail manner. STRs are polymorphisms represented by the different number of copies of the repeat element that can occur in a population of individuals. STRs mutate slowly at a relatively predictable rate. STRs are used for Y-DNA testing and the greater number of markers tested the greater degree of reliability of the results. A marker is a gene of known location on a chromosome used for comparison purposes.
mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA): Genetic material not inherited in the chromosomes. mtDNA is inherited from the mother via the egg and passed along intact to all offspring regardless of sex. Only female offspring pass the mtDNA to their children. mtDNA testing tests only the very bottom line of the pedigree.
Haplogroups: broad groupings of people who share an ancient ancestral relationship (thousands of years ago) through Y-DNA (paternal) or mtDNA (maternal) lines. SNPs determine our Haplogroups but STRs are also used to predict the Y Haplogroup. When Haplogroups are tested down to a deeper level (called Deep Clade Testing) where there is a branching off of sub groups, the results are referred to as Subclades.
You can find more definitions of commonly used words in DNA research here:
In May of 2010 I wanted to complete an application for the Daughters of the American Revolution. I still needed to locate a marriage record for Genevieve Tyler and Elliott Dresser in Mechanicsville, Cedar Co., Iowa in 1881. Years ago I had written to the Mechanicsville Town Clerk and the State of Iowa, Vital records department for a copy of the marriage license. Both had replied that they did not keep marriage licenses for that period of time. I reviewed a copy of Genevieve's memoirs that I had inherited for additional clues that I might have missed. She noted that they “were married…November 22, 1881…in the beautiful Manse owned by…Edgar F. Wells…, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Mechanicsville”. Ah!! Ah!!! There was the clue. Perhaps Pastor Wells had recorded the marriage in the church books? Was there a Presbyterian Church still in operation in Mechanicsville?
Looking on the Internet, I found there was still a First Presbyterian Church in Mechanicsville established in 1855. The bad news was there had been a fire in 1917 that had gutted the church. My chances of obtaining a marriage record were slim, but just maybe they had saved the church records from the fire or perhaps the records had been kept in the Manse at the time of the fire.
I wrote to see if they had the illusive marriage record. One week later I received my self-addressed envelope stamped “Mechanicsville, Iowa”. It was a response from the Clerk of Session, Dorothy Russell. It contained a nice letter with a copy of the marriage record including names of witnesses, a photograph of Reverend Wells, a photo of the church organist who was a witness at the wedding and a photo of the Manse as it was circ. 1880 and a second photo of the house as it looks now (it was moved from West of town to another location). I was very grateful to have these photos and documents, so I sent a check for $20.00 as a donation to the church along with a “thank you” letter.
To my surprise we received a visit from a member of that church during the following month. They were passing through Texas on the way to Tennessee. During the 30 minutes we spent together, we learned more about Mechanicsville and the church and they took pictures a picture of me next to a painting by Genevieve to share with the congregation. What a pleasant surprise.
Thanks to Andrea Blodgett in Spring, Texas
I am currently in the process of interviewing some of the older residents of our community. Most of these folks are the eldest of families who have lived here for five or more generations. There is a wealth of information that I know I can glean from these folks. I would really love to hear how others have approached/attempted this kind of interview. We are fortunate enough to be able to have the sessions professionally recorded (audio), and I think that I would like to mesh the audio with photos of the community.
Thanks to Elisabeth Tissiere
My father attended a boarding school in the United States during the 1930s. The school had a series of English exchange students. The student in my father's class had the first name of Richard. However, the first exchange student had the first name of Gus and, as a result, each English exchange student was known as Gus. To my siblings and I, he was known as Uncle Gus.
This went on for many years with no consequences. But in 1961, my family went to Europe and went to London among many places. As it happened, Uncle Gus was home visiting his parents (he lived in California at the time). At one point, something was said that one of us children (aged 10 to 19) did not understand, so we said, "Uncle Gus, what do you mean?" His parents looked at their son and then at us. He had apparently never told his parents what his name had been in the U.S. or at least for those who had known him at the school and after.
Thanks to Howland Davis
Names in my family have always been changeable, mine included. In first grade, some kid in school did something wrong, so all the Michaels were called in to the principals' office. That was enough for me, so when I got home that afternoon, I announced that I was going to go by my middle name, Jordan. I used that, shortened to Jordi, until I went into the Air Force, and have used Michael, mostly, ever since. My dad used Robert, Bob, Delmar, Del at various times throughout his life. His mom called him Delmer, with her Woodland, California accent. My aunt went by Dorothy, Lucky, Irene, Lee, Bunky and maybe others that I'm not sure of. My mother did the same. Her mother was not married when each of her children were born of at least three different fathers, so her name came from her grandfather. She was Lily Evenda Soper, but on her different marriage licenses she listed her maiden name as Lily Andrews or Lily Soper, getting the Andrews from her grandfather's first name Andrew.
The main reason for this note is the name of my grandfather, Robert Vernet Lee. He was born in 1898 in Alameda, CA, the third youngest of 21 children. Some family members had been in California since the gold rush. His grandfather, Abner Lee, had died during the war in Andersonville. As a northern family with a number of civil war veterans, names were important.
When Robert was born, his mother named him ROBERT LEE. That was not acceptable to the family and one of his uncles declared that no nephew of his would carry that name, so he stated that the name would be VERNET, after one of his old friends. Therefore, my grandfather was not ever called Robert. Vernet was his name. He worked as an engineer for Southern Pacific all his life, and only when he retired and had to provide his birth certificate did he find out that his real name was not Vernet. It was never in his records, including Social Security. He always had gone by R.V. Lee, using Vernet.
As you can see, it has been quite difficult keeping track of all these names.
Thanks to Mike Lee (really)
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Editor’s note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the editor or of RootsWeb.com.
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US Cemetery Records: Cemetery Listings, 122 records; Kristie Linn
KENTUCKY, Logan County. Emancipations in Logan Co., KY, court records, 408 records; Judy Lyne
US Death Records: Death Records, 236 records; Kristie Linn
ALABAMA, Madison County. Deaths of Madison County, Alabama, 45650 records; Stephen W. Scott
NORTH CAROLINA, Alexander County County. Alexander County Deaths, 23 records; Anthony L.
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TEXAS, Fannin County. Death Index Fanin County Texas, 48763 records; Stephen W. Scott
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This is my father, Clifford W. Buck, in 1918 prior to his sailing to France as part of the Signal Corps, Rainbow Division. He was born in Succasunna, Morris Co., NJ on Jan. 14, 1891 and died in Winter Park, FL on April 18, 1978. He found his wartime experiences so horrific that he would not allow my brother and I to have even a toy gun.
Thanks to Ruth Clark in Bristol, Tennessee
For a chance to see your ancestor’s photo in the RootsWeb Review, send it to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com. Make sure to include your name and a brief description of the photograph.
My father was the manager of F.W.Woolworth stores during WWII and there were a number of employees through the years with funny names but the one which stuck in my memory was a lady named Ima Rose Busch.
Thanks to Margaret
While working in the health care field, I saw many funny names. But the one which always comes to mind first was an elderly lady who wore seven skirts that day and did not speak one word through her entire visit to the office. Her name was Elvira Hairychin.
Thanks to Jean Sietsema
When I was quite young, I remember my parents chuckling about the name of a man they knew. His name was "Otto Gears'. Not sure of the spelling.
Thanks to John Smith
My mother, born in 1922, listed one fellow classmates at grade school as Ben Dover,
Thanks to Becky Burns Chappelle in Addison, Alabama
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