Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ancestral clues from DNA studies

I still have not had my DNA tests done to determine my Y-DNA and mtDNA markers. Nor have I asked my wife, my brother-in-law, my female Seaver cousins, or more distant cousins to be tested. I should ...

I wrote a post about what I might determine from my own mitochondrial DNA in the post My mtDNA matrilineal lines. I also wrote a post about my Y-DNA patrilineal line in My Lonely Y-DNA strand.

I discussed my moral dilemma about a possible step-sibling in my post A Challenging Moral Dilemma. If the step-sibling was male, then a Y-DNA test would prove our common paternity.

Here is what I think could be done if all those other people were tested:

1) If my wife, daughters, or brother-in-law was tested, their mitochondrial DNA might be matched with other tested persons in the line of:

* Edna May (Schaffner) Leland (1913 CA - 1979 CA, married Leo Leland)
* Edna Catherine (McKnew) Schaffner (1884 CA - 1974 CA, married Paul Schaffner)
* Jane (Whittle) McKnew (1847 Australia - 1921 CA, married Elijah McKnew)
* Rachel (Moore) Whittle (wife of Joseph Whittle, probably born in England, resided in Australia in the 1840's, emigrated to San Francisco in late 1840's(?))

2) If my brother-in-law was tested, his Y-DNA might be matched to other Leland descendants from Norway. The line from his father is:

* Leo Severt Leland (1911 MT -2002 CA, married Edna Schaffner)
* Severt Oliver Leland (1878 WI - 1940 CA, married Amelia Brocke)
* Torger Sjursen Leland (1850 Norway - 1933 CA, married Anna Ellingsdtr Natvig)
* Sjur Torgersen (1804 Norway - 1889 WI, married Brita Olsdtr)
* Torgeir Olsen (1753 Norway - 1827 Norway, married Anna Sjursdtr)
* Ole Torgeirsen (1700 Norway - 1772 Norway, married Barbra Magnesdtr)
* Torgeir Pedersen (1648 Norway - 1730 Norway, married Agate Olsdtr)

As an aside, look at the years between births in that line in Norway. These guys married relatively late in life!

3) If one of my wife's female cousins was tested, her mtDNA results might lead to further identification down this line:

* Amelia Anna (Brocke) Leland (1884 ID - 1975 CA, wife of Severt Oliver Leland)
* Anna (Grieser) Brocke (1859 MO - 1936 ID, wife of Nicholas Brocke)
* Katherine (Guddy) Grieser (1840 Bavaria - 1920 ID, wife of Ignatius Grieser).

4) There may be living male and female cousins of the Brocke family living in Idaho who could be tested for the Brocke line, which leads back to Germany.

5) On my mother's Kemp line, I have male third cousins living in the Los Angeles area who might provide some clues for my Kemp line. My cousin's Kemp line goes like this:

* Leroy James Kemp
* Leroy Gordon Kemp (1896 - 1933 CA, married Laura Ehlers)
* James Alexander Kemp (1872 Ontario - 1934 CA, married Bertha Fuller)
* James Abram Kemp (1831 Ontario - 1902 Ontario, married Mary Jane Sovereen)
* Abraham James Kemp (1795 Ontario - 1881 Ontario, married Sarah Sephrona Fletcher)
* John Kemp (1768 NY - 1861 Ontario, married Mary Dafoe)
* John Kemp (1723 ?? - 1793 Ontario, married Anna Van Vorst).

This last John Kemp is a brick wall ancestor. He may have been an English soldier in the French and Indian War in NY. A Y-DNA test might connect him to another Kemp family line in North America or England.

6) On my mother's Carringer line, I would need to find a living male Carringer descended from Henry Carringer (1800 PA - 1881 IA, married Sarah Feather). The male line from his son David Jackson Carringer has petered out (literally).

7) My mother's Smith line has also petered out, I fear. Devier J. Smith (1839 NY - 1894 NE) had a son, David, but he had two daughters. Devier's father, Ranslow Smith had only one son.

8) My mother's Vaux line may have some potential, but I would need to find some living female third cousins.

9) On my father's side, there are living male third cousins with the Richmond surname. They could provide some link to other Richman/Richmond males in England and the USA. The Richman/Richmond line is:

* Thomas Richmond (1848 Wiltshire - 1917 MA, married Julia White)
* James Richman (1821 Wiltshire - 1912 CT, married Hannah Rich)
* John Richman (ca 1788 Wiltshire - 1867 Wiltshire, married Ann Marshman).

Both John Richman and Ann Marshman are brick wall ancestors for me.

10) There may be female living distant cousins in England who were descended from John Richman and Ann Marshman and might lead to mtDNA connections to a Marshman line.

11) Likewise, there may be distant female living cousins for the Rich surname line in England.

12) There are probably some male Hildreth distant cousins that could be tested to get the Y-DNA markers for that line on my father's side.

13) I'm sure there are a lot more possibilities!!

Unfortunately, many of the above possible DNA connections would require extensive 20th century genealogy research, contacts with the cousins, their agreement to be tested, and somebody to pay for it.

My purpose in writing all of the above down was to try to figure out if DNA test could help define more than my own patrilineal and matrilineal markers. Once you start thinking about the possibilities, and actually identifying potential cousins that could be tested, there are many more than just two lines.

It seems to me that there is the probability that most people could define a line for all four grandparents and perhaps most of the 8 great-grandparents, but you need to know the family structure, identifying all-male lines and all-female lines. The reduction in size of 20th century families due to birth control and family planning makes the probability of big families, and therefore more candidates, lower.

It makes a great case for identifying cousins from common ancestors, doesn't it? The easiest way to identify possible DNA matches would be on a descendants chart for each potential family line. I'm going to work on that! The challenge is to populate it with all family members that lead to living 21st century persons.

The application of the Y-DNA tests to genealogy is pretty straightforward and understandable. The application of the mtDNA tests to genealogy is not as straightforward - I really don't understand just how exact the results are and how they can be effectively used.

That was fun! I wonder what Blaine Bettinger will do with it? We'll see!


Steven C Perkins said...

I have been doing the same with my 32 GGG Grandparents. I have been developing descendant narratives taking those lines into the 20th century to identify possible living descendants to test. See,

One thing to remember is that you should test at least two descendants from different siblings to have a higher probability that you have the correct Y DNA or mtDNA signature for that line.

In my case I have identified 13 of the Y DNA lines of my 15 GGG Grandfathers (1 appears twice), but only two of my 15 GGG grandmothers (again, 1 appears twice). I have yet to get a sample from my paternal grandmother's line, even though she had 2 sisters and 1 daughter who all left living mtDNA descendants. This is despite my offering to pay for the tests.

I recommend that you go forward with the tests. If money is a problem, consider doing the free testing available from Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, which tests Y DNA, mtDNA and autosomal DNA, and has linked pedigrees, or do the testing through The Genographic Project, for Y DNA or mtDNA at $99 each.

Results from the Genographic Project can be transferred into the various surname and geographic DNA projects at Family Tree DNA for no charge. Once in the FTDNA projects, the participant will be able to compare their results to over 100,000 others and to order extended tests at a discount.

Good luck with your search.


Steven C. Perkins
Online Journal of Genetics and Genealogy

Anonymous said...

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Janice said...


You pose some great questions. I've pretty well documented my immediate lines, both maternal and paternal, and wondered about whether I should be interested in DNA testing while a few of the older male members of my family are alive and willing. Thanks for the great article.