Happy Father’s (Y-DNA) Day


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.

blank chart

With this construction, your direct paternal line will ride all the way to the top.  Here’s the direct paternal line for my father.

dad direct line


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.

dads numbers

Uncle Dusty’s y-DNA markers:  Dusty’s haplogroup is I-M253, a Scandinavian ancestry.

dustys numbers


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. Dusty ydna matches

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.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.)


mcatee dna

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!

Familysearch.org Unindexed, Image-only Records

Genealogy is not supposed to be an internet activity.  With the advent of Ancestry.com and Familysearch.org, it seems that all you have to do is type in your great-grandpa’s name, and “voila!”—Your family tree back to Charlemagne is right before your eyes.  But don’t believe everything you read on the internet.  You really need to verify that information to see how correct it is.  Family trees are only as good as the person who uploaded the information.

Sites like Ancestry.com and Familysearch.org collect records from various sources, index them, and make them available online.  Sometimes you get a look at the actual record, sometimes you see a transcription of that record, and sometimes all you get is the index information.  In the last situation, the actual record may be available in the county and state, but you would have to write for a copy.

Familysearch.org has many records indexed and available for searching.  But Familysearch.org also has unindexed records that are available to view.  You can find the state, county, and record set of interest, then search it for yourself.  If you are lucky, the book will have an index at the front or back.  Most of the time, I’m not lucky, and I have to click through page after page of the book.  This is the actual record book, though, so it’s the next best thing to actually visiting the county courthouse and doing the search in person.  Let me take you through the steps to view unindexed records.

First, go to familysearch.org.  You can make a free account, and you will need to do this to see some record sets.  Go to SEARCH, then RECORDS, and look for the words, “Research by Location.”


Hover over the country you would like to search, and click.  We will search in the United States.

FS Research by Location

Click the USA, and a list of states will appear.  Choose the state of choice.  In our example, Maryland has been selected.  Click the state name.

FS Research States

The next page will list “Maryland Indexed Historical Records.”


These are records that you could search for from the opening search page.  If your ancestor’s name was recorded in a record set that has already been catalogued and indexed, then you will find him or her easily.

But scroll down a little more.  Find the “Maryland Image Only Historical Records.”

FS MD Image only

These are the records that have been digitized but not yet indexed.  They are searchable, but you must do it the old-fashioned way—one page at a time!  For this example, we will choose the Probate and Court records (seen above) and “Maryland Register of Wills Records, 1629-1999.”


Browse through 1,933,787 images.  That says almost two million images, some with multiple pages.

Next screen will be a county selection page.



My research takes me to Charles County.  After you click on the county, the available records are listed.


Choose your book and browse.

Hopefully, you know the book and page for the record you want, or you know the date of the record.  I have searched these records by first finding the record address at the Maryland State Archives, then matching that to the Familysearch sources.  Other times, I have actually started at page one and flipped through each image until I find the name I am looking for.  It is tedious, but quite rewarding when that record appears before you in the almost illegible handwriting of our colonial ancestors.

I chose the “General Index of Probates 1665-1962.  I am searching for the McAtees.  I want to go to M.  I look at the first few images to get a feel for the book: is there an index?  This book is a large index, so I need to jump to M.  To do this, I search for a random image number, then see if I am close to M or not.  I add or subtract the image number until I find the page I want.  Again it’s tedious, but this type of search may reveal a record others have missed simply because they did not take the time to look.  I have already searched and  know that M starts on image 343.

FS image 343

Now, browse through the names.  Take notes on the date, but also the book (or liber) and page (or folio) numbers.  After you find the book and page number, go back to the records list and find the book. Repeat your search until You have found the record.

Image 344 shows that Benjamin McAtee has a record in book W.D.M.15 page 336.

FS image 344

Back out to the Charles County list of records and choose Wills 1825-1833 vol WDM15.  This particular volume is almost image to page.  On image 337, we find the will of one Benjamin McAtee.


Options to print or download are available in the upper right corner.

Familysearch has unindexed, image-only records for most counties in all states.  Maybe you’ll be lucky to find the record you’ve been waiting for…right at your fingertips…for free!


All images were from Familysearch.org. “Maryland Register of Wills Records, 1629-1999.” Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Prerogative Court. Hall of Records, Annapolis.