Father’s Day! Happy day to all fathers.
You know that half of your family tree is fathers—the other half are mothers. You might not know the name of all those fathers on your family tree. When you draw out a pedigree, you always put the father to the top and the mother to the bottom.
With this construction, your direct paternal line will ride all the way to the top. Here’s the direct paternal line for my father.
Except…y-DNA tests of my father and his brother show that they do not have the same father. They are supposed to—and this is kind of shocking. No one knows when Grandma would’ve had the chance to have a fling—if that’s what happened. She never told anyone—at least no one who’s still living today. (I am waiting on results from one more DNA test, then I’ll blog more about the mystery of my dad’s REAL dad.)
What is a y-DNA test?
This kind of DNA test is only offered by FamilytreeDNA. https://www.familytreedna.com/ It can be expensive, but there are usually sales. In fact there is a sale right now—for Father’s Day! What the y-DNA test shows is your direct paternal line—remember the chart above? It’s your father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father…and so on hundreds and thousands of years ago. You might not know the name of those grandfathers back so far, but the y-DNA—which a father passes down to his sons—stays the same. Unless, there are mutations. Every so many generations, a mutation or change might occur—but there will still be enough of the original y-DNA to verify relation.
Here are my dad’s y-DNA markers: Dad’s haplogroup is E-M78, a North African/Middle Eastern ancestry.
Uncle Dusty’s y-DNA markers: Dusty’s haplogroup is I-M253, a Scandinavian ancestry.
Dad has no other y-dna matches, except for my brother and me. My uncle has several matches, including two men who have the exact set of numbers or markers, and by DNA research, we now know that the common Norton/Norden ancestor lived in England and was named Robert Norden. He was a Baptist missionary to the colonies and died in 1726 in Virginia.
For more information on the Norton/Norden line, visit nortonfamily.net.
My mother’s uncle, Eldon Beghtol, tested almost a decade ago. He matched one man with 65 of 67 markers. This confirmed that they have a common male ancestor, probably 5-8 generations ago. And indeed they do. We are not completely sure if their great-great-grandfathers were brothers or first cousins—but certainly there is a common male ancestor within the next two generations.
Why is this kind of testing important?
It proves which branch of the family tree you come from. IF you even come from that family tree. Take for instance the descendants of Pocahontas. Now, she is not a father, but she was married to John Rolfe. They had a son Thomas Rolfe who had one daughter, Jane Rolfe. Jane married Col. Robert Bolling. The descendants of Pocahontas, then, must be Bollings. There are actually three groups of Bollings—Red Bollings (descendants of Jane Rolfe and Robert Bolling), White Bollings (the descendants of Robert Bolling and second wife, Ann Stith—sort of Pocahontas’s step-descendants, but no blood relation), and Blue Bollings (those who claim descent, but cannot prove it.) If you are a Bolling male, Y-DNA will confirm if you descend or not—but there’s always those who cling to myth. (I had to chop off my lineage to Pocahontas years ago—the paper research did not match up with what other “researchers” had “proven.” It was not proven, it was just a story!)
I used my maternal grandmother’s cousin’s y-DNA on the Phillips line to break through a brick wall that had confounded genealogists for over 50 years…maybe as long as 100 years. Asahel Phillips was born in 1777 in Virginia. He had a possible brother, Samuel. Both men died in Schuyler County, Illinois, came from Harrison Co, VA (now WV) via Hardin Co, KY. No clue as to their father’s name. Eight years after my grandma’s cousin tested, another man tested and matched our line. The brick wall came down fast—the brothers were named in the will of Benjamin Philips of Loudon Co, VA. That could only be achieved by y-DNA testing.
One of the best sites using y-DNA is the Culpepper family and Culpepper Connections.
With their extensive information on the mutations of their y-DNA, a Culpepper male can test, and from his test, prove which branch of the family holds his ancestor.
A new-found friend and researcher is starting a similar site for the McAtee family. As more McAtee men test, we will get a better understanding of the families bearing that name. Were they all related? Are they related to any McAfees or McAdoos? Y-DNA tests can answer these questions. (We need McAtee men to y-DNA test.)
Happy y-DNA! Yes, you should get the males in your family to test y-DNA. If you have a common name, like Smith, it will help weed out the unrelated Smiths to the related ones. If you have an uncommon name, like Mewshaw, it might match you to others with similar names and lead to new discoveries. (PS—I would love to see some Mewshaws test–no one knows the origin of that name!) Plus, it will tell you the haplogroup—the racial/geographical group—to which your ancestor belonged on the human family tree.
Happy Father’s Day!