Ancient DNA Matches – What Do They Mean?

The good news is that my three articles about the Anzick and other ancient DNA of the past few days have generated a lot of interest.

The bad news is that it has generated hundreds of e-mails every day – and I can’t possibly answer them all personally.  So, if you’ve written me and I don’t reply, I apologize and  I hope you’ll understand.  Many of the questions I’ve received are similar in nature and I’m going to answer them in this article.  In essence, people who have matches want to know what they mean.

Q – I had a match at GedMatch to <fill in the blank ancient DNA sample name> and I want to know if this is valid.

A – Generally, when someone asks if an autosomal match is “valid,” what they really mean is whether or not this is a genealogically relevant match or if it’s what is typically referred to as IBS, or identical by state.  Genealogically relevant samples are referred to as IBD, or identical by descent.  I wrote about that in this article with a full explanation and examples, but let me do a brief recap here.

In genealogy terms, IBD is typically used to mean matches over a particular threshold that can be or are GENEALOGICALLY RELEVANT.  Those last two words are the clue here.  In other words, we can match them with an ancestor with some genealogy work and triangulation.  If the segment is large, and by that I mean significantly over the threshold of 700 SNPs and 7cM, even if we can’t identify the common ancestor with another person, the segment is presumed to be IBD simply because of the math involved with the breakdown of segment into pieces.  In other words, a large segment match generally means a relatively recent ancestor and a smaller segment means a more distant ancestor.  You can readily see this breakdown on this ISOGG page detailing autosomal DNA transmission and breakdown.

Unfortunately, often smaller segments, or ones determined to be IBS are considered to be useless, but they aren’t, as I’ve demonstrated several times when utilizing them for matching to distant ancestors.  That aside, there are two kinds of IBS segments.

One kind of IBS segment is where you do indeed share a common ancestor, but the segment is small and you can’t necessarily connect it to the ancestor.  These are known as population matches and are interpreted to mean your common ancestor comes from a common population with the other person, back in time, but you can’t find the common ancestor.  By population, we could mean something like Amish, Jewish or Native American, or a country like Germany or the Netherlands.

In the cases where I’ve utilized segments significantly under 7cM to triangulate ancestors, those segments would have been considered IBS until I mapped them to an ancestor, and then they suddenly fell into the IBD category.

As you can see, the definitions are a bit fluid and are really defined by the genealogy involved.

The second kind of IBS is where you really DON’T share an ancestor, but your DNA and your matches DNA has managed to mutate to a common state by convergence, or, where your Mom’s and Dad’s DNA combined form a pseudo match, where you match someone on a segment run long enough to be considered a match at a low level.  I discussed how this works, with examples, in this article.  Look at example four, “a false match.”

So, in a nutshell, if you know who your common ancestor is on a segment match with someone, you are IBD, identical by descent.  If you don’t know who your common ancestor is, and the segment is below the normal threshold, then you are generally considered to be IBS – although that may or may not always be true.  There is no way to know if you are truly IBS by population or IBS by convergence, with the possible exception of phased data.

Data phasing is when you can compare your autosomal DNA with one or both parents to determine which half you obtained from whom.  If you are a match by convergence where your DNA run matches that of someone else because the combination of your parents DNA happens to match their segment, phasing will show that clearly.  Here’s an example for only one location utilizing only my mother’s data phased with mine.  My father is deceased and we have to infer his results based on my mother’s and my own.  In other words, mine minus the part I inherited from my mother = my father’s DNA.

My Result My Result Mother’s Result Mother’s Result Father’s Inferred Result Father’s Inferred Result
T A T G A

In this example of just one location, you can see that I carry a T and an A in that location.  My mother carries a T and a G, so I obviously inherited the T from her because I don’t have a G.  Therefore, my father had to have carried at least an A, but we can’t discern his second value.

This example utilized only one location.  Your autosomal data file will hold between 500,000 and 700,000 location, depending on the vendor you tested with and the version level.

You can phase your DNA with that of your parent(s) at GedMatch.  However, if both of your parents are living, an easier test would be to see if either of your parents match the individual in question.  If neither of your parents match them, then your match is a result of convergence or a data read error.

So, this long conversation about IBD and IBS is to reach this conclusion.

All of the ancient specimens are just that, ancient, so by definition, you cannot find a genealogy match to them, so they are not IBD.  Best case, they are IBS by population.  Worse case, IBS by convergence.  You may or may not be able to tell the difference.  The reason, in my example earlier this week, that I utilized my mother’s DNA and only looked at locations where we both matched the ancient specimens was because I knew those matches were not by convergence – they were in fact IBS by population because my mother and I both matched Anzick.

ancient compare5

Q – What does this ancient match mean to me?

A – Doggone if I know.  No, I’m serious.  Let’s look at a couple possibilities, but they all have to do with the research you have, or have not, done.

If you’ve done what I’ve done, and you’ve mapped your DNA segments to specific ancestors, then you can compare your ancient matching segments to your ancestral spreadsheet map, especially if you can tell unquestionably which side the ancestral DNA matches.  In my case, shown above, the Clovis Anzik matched my mother and me on the same segment and we both matched Cousin Herbie.  We know unquestionably who our common ancestor is with cousin Herbie – so we know, in our family line, which line this segment of DNA shared with Anzick descends through.

ancient compare6

If you’re not doing ancestor mapping, then I guess the Anzick match would come in the category of, “well, isn’t that interesting.”  For some, this is a spiritual connection to the past, a genetic epiphany.  For other, it’s “so what.”

Maybe this is a good reason to start ancestor mapping!  This article tells you how to get started.

Q – Does my match to Anzick mean he is my ancestor?

A – No, it means that you and Anzick share common ancestry someplace back in time, perhaps tens of thousands of years ago.

Q – I match the Anzick sample.  Does this prove that I have Native American heritage? 

A – No, and it depends.  Don’t you just hate answers like this?

No, this match alone does not prove Native American heritage, especially not at IBS levels.  In fact, many people who don’t have Native heritage match small segments?  How can this be?  Well, refer to the IBS by convergence discussion above.  In addition, Anzick child came from an Asian population when his ancestors migrated, crossing from Asia via Beringia.  That Eurasian population also settled part of Europe – so you could be matching on very small segments from a common population in Eurasia long ago.  In a paper just last year, this was discussed when Siberian ancient DNA was shown to be related to both Native Americans and Europeans.

In some cases, a match to Anzick on a segment already attributed to a Native line can confirm or help to confirm that attribution.  In my case, I found the Anzick match on segments in the Lore family who descend from the Acadians who were admixed with the Micmac.  I have several Anzick match segments that fit that criteria.

A match to Anzick alone doesn’t prove anything, except that you match Anzick, which in and of itself is pretty cool.

Q – I’m European with no ancestors from America, and I match Anzick too.  How can that be?

A – That’s really quite amazing isn’t it.  Just this week in Nature, a new article was published discussing the three “tribes” that settled or founded the European populations.  This, combined with the Siberian ancient DNA results that connect the dots between an ancient population that contributed to both Europeans and Native Americans explains a lot.

3 European Tribes

If you think about it, this isn’t a lot different than the discovery that all Europeans carry some small amount of Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA.

Well, guess what….so does Anzick.

Here are his matches to the Altai Neanderthal.

Chr Start Location End Location Centimorgans (cM) SNPs
2 241484216 242399416 1.1 138
3 19333171 21041833 2.6 132
6 31655771 32889754 1.1 133

He does not match the Caucasus Neanderthal.  He does, however, match the Denisovan individual on one location.

Chr Start Location End Location Centimorgans (cM) SNPs
3 19333171 20792925 2.1 107

Q – Maybe the scientists are just wrong and the burial is not 12,500 years old,  maybe just 100 years old and that’s why the results are matching contemporary people.

A – I’m not an archaeologist, nor do I play one…but I have been closely involved with numerous archaeological excavations over the past decade with The Lost Colony Research Group, several of which recovered human remains.  The photo below is me with Anne Poole, my co-director, sifting at one of the digs.

anne and me on dig

There are very specific protocols that are followed during and following excavation and an error of this magnitude would be almost impossible to fathom.  It would require  kindergarten level incompetence on the part of not one, but all professionals involved.

In the Montana Anzick case, in the paper itself, the findings and protocols are both discussed.  First, the burial was discovered directly beneath the Clovis layer where more than 100 tools were found, and the Clovis layer was undisturbed, meaning that this is not a contemporary burial that was buried through the Clovis layer.  Second, the DNA fragmentation that occurs as DNA degrades correlated closely to what would be expected in that type of environment at the expected age based on the Clovis layer.  Third, the bones themselves were directly dated using XAD-collagen to 12,707-12,556 calendar years ago.  Lastly, if the remains were younger, the skeletal remains would match most closely with Native Americans of that region, and that isn’t the case.  This graphic from the paper shows that the closest matches are to South Americans, not North Americans.

anzick matches

This match pattern is also confirmed independently by the recent closest GedMatch matches to South Americans.

Q – How can this match from so long ago possibly be real?

A – That’s a great question and one that was terribly perplexing to Dr. Svante Paabo, the man who is responsible for producing the full genome sequence of the first, and now several more, Neanderthals.  The expectation was, understanding autosomal DNA gets watered down by 50% in every generation though recombination, that ancient genomes would be long gone and not present in modern populations.  Imagine Svante’s surprise when he discovered that not only isn’t true, but those ancient DNA segmetns are present in all Europeans and many Asians as well.  He too agonized over the question about how this is possible, which he discussed in this great video.  In fact he repeated these tests over and over in different ways because he was convinced that modern individuals could not carry Neanderthal DNA – but all those repeated tests did was to prove him right.  (Paabo’s book, Neanderthal Man, In Search of Lost Genomes is an incredible read that I would highly recommend.)

What this means is that the population at one time, and probably at several different times, had to be very small.  In fact, it’s very likely that many times different pockets of the human race was in great jeopardy of dying out.  We know about the ones that survived.  Probably many did perish leaving no descendants today.  For example, no Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA has been found in any living or recent human.

In a small population, let’s say 5 males and 5 females who some how got separated from their family group and founded a new group, by necessity.  In fact, this could well be a description of how the Native Americans crossed Beringia.  Those 5 males and 5 females are the founding population of the new group.  If they survive, all of the males will carry the men’s haplogroups – let’s say they are Q and C, and all of the descendants will carry the mitochondrial haplogroups of the females – let’s say A, B, C, D and X.

There is a very limited amount of autosomal DNA to pass around.  If all of those 10 people are entirely unrelated, which is virtually impossible, there will be only 10 possible combinations of DNA to be selected from.  Within a few generations, everyone will carry part of those 10 ancestor’s DNA.  We all have 8 ancestors at the great-grandparent level.  By the time those original settlers’ descendants had great-great-grandparents – of which each one had 16, at least 6 of those original people would be repeated twice in their tree.

There was only so much DNA to be passed around.  In time, some of the segments would no longer be able to be recombined because when you look at phasing, the parents DNA was exactly the same, example below.  This is what happens in endogamous populations.

My Result My Result Mother’s Result Mother’s Result Father’s Result Father’s  Result
T T T T T T

Let’s say this group’s descendants lived without contact with other groups, for maybe 15,000 years in their new country.  That same DNA is still being passed around and around because there was no source for new DNA.  Mutations did occur from time to time, and those were also passed on, of course, but that was the only source of changed DNA – until they had contact with a new population.

When they had contact with a new population and admixture occurred, the normal 50% recombination/washout in every generation began – but for the previous 15,000 years, there had been no 50% shift because the DNA of the population was, in essence, all the same.  A study about the Ashkenazi Jews that suggests they had only a founding population of about 350 people 700 years ago was released this week – explaining why Ashkenazi Jewish descendants have thousands of autosomal matches and match almost everyone else who is Ashkenazi.  I hope that eventually scientists will do this same kind of study with Anzick and Native Americans.

If the “new population” we’ve been discussing was Native Americans, their males 15,000 year later would still carry haplogroups Q and C and the mitochondrial DNA would still be A, B, C, D and X.  Those haplogroups, and subgroups formed from mutations that occurred in their descendants, would come to define their population group.

In some cases, today, Anzick matches people who have virtually no non-Native admixture at the same level as if they were just a few generations removed, shown on the chart below.

anzick gedmatch one to all

Since, in essence, these people still haven’t admixed with a new population group, those same ancient DNA segments are being passed around intact, which tells us how incredibly inbred this original small population must have been.  This is known as a genetic bottleneck.

The admixture report below is for the first individual on the Anzick one to all Gedmatch compare at 700 SNPs and 7cM, above.  In essence, this currently living non-admixed individual still hasn’t met that new population group.

anzick1

If this “new population” group was Neanderthal, perhaps they lived in small groups for tens of thousands of years, until they met people exiting Africa, or Denisovans, and admixed with them.

There weren’t a lot of people anyplace on the globe, so by virtue of necessity, everyone lived in small population groups.  Looking at the odds of survival, it’s amazing that any of us are here today.

But, we are, and we carry the remains, the remnants of those precious ancestors, the Denisovans, the Neanderthals and Anzick.  Through their DNA, and ours, we reach back tens of thousands of years on the human migration path.  Their journey is also our journey.  It’s absolutely amazing and it’s no wonder people have so many questions and such a sense of enchantment.  But it’s true – and only you can determine exactly what this means to you.

Analyzing the Native American Clovis Anzick Ancient Results

This ancient DNA truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

Today, Felix Chandrakamur e-mailed me and told me that the Anzick results were not yet fully processed at Gedmatch when I performed a “compare to all.”  He knows this because he knows when he uploaded the results, and after they were finished, he ran the same compare and obtained vastly different results.  I am updating my original article to point to this one, so the data will be accurately reflected.

In fact, the results are utterly fascinating, take your breath away kind of fascinating.  Felix wrote an article about his findings, Clovis-Anzick-1 ancient DNA have matches with living people!

While finding what appear to be contemporary matches for the Anzick child may sound ho-hum, it’s not, and when you look at the results and the message they hold for us, it’s absolutely astounding.

Felix ran his comparison with default values of 7cM.  This is the threshold that is typically utilized as the line in the sand between “real” and IBS, matches – real meaning the results are and could be, if you could find your common ancestor, genealogically relevant.  In this case, that clearly isn’t true.

The exception to this rule is heavily admixed groups, such as Ashkenazi Jewish people who are related to every other Askhenazi Jewish person autosomally.  It seems, looking at these results, that this is the same situation we find with the 12,500 year old Anzick child and currently living people.  This population had to be painfully small for a very long time and the DNA had to exist in every person within that population group for it to be passed in segments this large to people living today.

After receiving Felix’s e-mail, of course, I had to go back and run the compares again.  In particular, I wanted to run the one to many, as he had.

I began at the 1cM level and noticed that I received exactly 1500 results, which seemed to me like a cutoff – not an actual number of matches.  So, I upped that threshold to 2, then 3, then 4, then 5, then 6, then finally to the default of 7.  It was only at 7, the IBS/IBD default, that the results were under the 1500 threshold, at 1466.

1466 current matches?????

This is absolutely amazing.  The Anzick child lived about 12,500 years ago in Montana.  How are 1466 matches to currently living people possible?

Many of these matches are to people from the southwest and Mexico today.  They are not, for the most part, from eastern Canada.

Let’s take a look at what we found.

In the 1466 results, as Felix mentioned, the closest matches match at current “cousin” levels to Anzick.  The highest 7 matches that show haplogroups are haplogroup Q1a3a.  Unfortunately, with the constant renaming of the haplogroups recently, it’s difficult to interpret the haplogroup exactly, which is why we’ve gone to SNP names.  Looking at some of the names and e-mails, several appear to carry Spanish surnames or be from Mexico or South America.

Of the 1466 results:

  • 2 were Y haplogroup C
  • 79 were Y haplogroup Q
  • 520 carried a mitochondrial DNA haplogroup of A, B, C, D, M or X
  • Of the 79 haplogroup Q carriers, 52 also carried a Native mitochondrial haplogroup.
  • A total 549 individuals out of 1466 carried at least one Native American haplogroup, or about 37.5%.  That’s amazingly high.

Of these closest matches who are Y haplogroup Q, they also all carry variant Native American mitochondrial DNA haplogroups as well, so these people may not be heavily admixed.  In other words, they may be almost “pure” Native American.

In order to test this theory, I entered the number of the kit that rated the highest in terms of total cM at 160.1 with the largest segment at 14.8.  You can click on the images to enlarge.

anzick1

As you can see, this individual is very nearly 100% Native American.

The second individual on the list, who may be from Guatemala, also carries almost no admixture.

anzick2

Of the highest 21 matches that listed any haplogroup information, all have either or both Native Y or mitochondrial DNA haplogroups.

Out of curiosity, I ran the first person on the list who had neither a Native American Y or mitochondrial haplogroup – both being European.

As you can see, below, they are still clearly heavily Native American, but clearly admixed.

anzick3

I moved to the last person of the 1466 on this list whose DNA matched at a total of 7cM, who did not carry a Native haplogroup.  This individual, below, is more heavily admixed.

anzick 3.5

Lastly, I ran the same admixture tool on the last person, who had a total of 7cM matching that did have a Native American mitochondrial haplogroup.

anzick4

Not surprisingly, the individual with almost no non-Native admixture is much more likely to carry the ancient segments in higher percentages than the individuals who are admixed.   This again strongly suggests that at one point, these segments were present in an entire group of Native people and may still be present in very high numbers in people who carry no admixture.

Out of curiosity, and assuming that these first two individuals are not known to be related to each other, I ran them against each other in a one to one comparison.

There were no matches at the default values, but by dropping them just a little, to 5cM and 500 SNPs, they match on 6 segments.

anzick5

It looks like they should match on chromosome 17 at the 700 SNP/7 cM default threshold.

At 200 SNPs and 2cM, there were 67 segments.  These are clearly ancient in nature and size, but matching just the same.  By lowering the threshold to 100 SNPs and 1cM, they share a whopping 990 segments.

Indeed, these two men very clearly share a lot of population specific DNA from the ancient people of the New World, including that of Anzick male child who lived in Montana 12,500 years ago.

Utilizing Ancient DNA at GedMatch

Mummy of 6 month old boy found in Greenland

It has been a wonderful week for those of us following ancient DNA full genome sequencing, because now we can compare our own results to those of the ancient people found whose DNA has been fully sequenced, including one Native American.

Felix Chandrakumar has uploaded the autosomal files of five ancient DNA specimens that have been fully sequenced to GedMatch.  Thanks Felix.

When news of these sequences first hit the academic presses, I was wishing for a way to compare our genomes – and now my wish has come true.

Utilizing GedMatch’s compare one to all function, I ran all of the sequences individually and found, surprisingly, that there are, in some cases, matches to contemporary people today.  I dropped the cM measure to 1 for both autosomal and X.

Please note that because these are ancient DNA sequences, they will all have some segments missing and none can be expected to be entirely complete.  Still, these sequences are far better than nothing.

1.  Montana Anzick at GedMatch

This is the only clearly Native American sample.

http://www.y-str.org/2014/09/clovis-anzick-dna.html

F999912

9-27-2014 – Please note that kit F999912 has been replaced by kit F999913.

10-23-2014 – Please note that kit F999913 has been replaced by kit F999919.

No matches at 1cM in the compare to all.  This must be because the SNP count is still at default thresholds, in light of information discovered later in this article.

Update – as it turns out, this kit was not finished processing when I did the one to one compare.  After it finished, the results were vastly different.  See this article for results.

2.  Paleo Eskimo from Greenland at GedMatch

http://www.y-str.org/2013/12/palaeo-eskimo-2000-bc-dna.html

F999906

Thirty-nine matches with segments as large at 3.8.  One group of matches appears to be a family.  One of these matches is my cousin’s wife.  That should lead to some interesting conversation around the table this holiday season!  All of these matches, except 1, are on the X chromosome.  This must be a function of these segments being passed intact for many generations.

I wrote about some unusual properties of X chromosomal inheritance and this seems to confirm that tendency in the X chromosome, or the matching thresholds are different at GedMatch for the X.

3.  Altai Neanderthal at GedMatch

http://www.y-str.org/2013/08/neanderthal-dna.html

F999902

One match to what is obviously another Neaderthal entry.

4.  Russian Causasus Neanderthal at GedMatch

Another contribution from the Neanderthal Genome Project.

http://www.y-str.org/2014/09/mezmaiskaya-neanderthal-dna.html

F999909

No matches.

5.  Denisova at GedMatch

http://www.y-str.org/2013/08/denisova-dna.html

F999903

Two matches, one to yet another ancient entry and one to a contemporary individual on the X chromosome.

But now, for the fun part.

My Comparison

Before I start this section, I want to take a moment to remind everyone just how old these ancient segments are.

  • Anzick – about 12,500 years old
  • Paleo-Eskimo – about 4,000 years old
  • Altai Neanderthal – about 50,000 years old
  • Russian Caucasus Neanderthal – about 29,000 years old
  • Denisova – about 30,000 years old

In essence, the only way for these segments to survive intact to today would have been for them to enter the population of certain groups, as a whole, to be present in all of the members of that group, so that segment would no longer be divided and would be passed intact for many generation, until that group interbred with another group who did not carry that segment.  This is exactly what we see in endogamous populations today, such as the Askenazi Jewish population who is believed, based on their common shared DNA, to have descended from about 350 ancestors about 700 years ago.  Their descendants today number in the millions.

So, let’s see what we find.

I compared by own kit at GedMatch utilizing the one to one comparison feature, beginning with 500 SNPs and 1cM, dropping the SNP values to 400, then 300, then 200, until I obtained a match of some sort, if I obtained a match at all.

Typically in genetic genealogy, we’re looking for genealogy matches, so the default matching thresholds are set relatively high.  In this case, I’m looking for deep ancestral connections, if they exist, so I was intentionally forcing the thresholds low.  I’m particularly interested in the Anzick comparison, in light of my Native American and First Nations heritage.

The definition of IBS, identical by state, vs IBD, identical by descent segments varies by who is talking and in what context, but in essence, IBD means that there is a genealogy connection in the past several generations.

IBS means that the genealogy connection cannot be found and the IBS match can be a function of coming from a common population at some time in the past, or it can be a match by convergence, meaning that your DNA just happened to mutate to the same state as someone else’s.  If this is the case, then you wouldn’t expect to see multiple segments matching the same person and you would expect the matching segments to be quite short.  The chances of hundreds of SNPs just happening to align becomes increasingly unlikely the longer the matching SNP run.

So, having said that, here are my match results.

Anzick

I had 2 matches at 400 SNPs, several at 300 and an entire list at 200, shown below.

Chr Start Location End Location Centimorgans (cM) SNPs
1 6769350 7734985 1.7 232
1 26552555 29390880 1.9 264
1 31145273 33730360 2.7 300
1 55655110 57069976 1.9 204
1 71908934 76517614 2.8 265
1 164064635 165878596 2.8 264
1 167817718 171330902 3.3 466
1 186083870 192208998 4.2 250
2 98606363 100815734 1.4 256
2 171132725 173388331 2.0 229
2 218855489 220373983 2.5 261
3 128892631 131141396 1.7 263
3 141794591 143848459 2.5 207
4 1767539 3571907 2.7 235
4 70345811 73405268 2.5 223
5 2340730 2982499 2.3 200
5 55899022 57881001 2.3 231
5 132734528 134538202 1.9 275
5 137986213 140659207 1.7 241
6 34390761 36370969 1.8 293
8 17594903 18464321 1.9 200
8 23758017 25732105 1.7 240
8 109589884 115297391 1.9 203
9 122177526 124032492 1.6 229
10 101195132 102661955 1.2 264
10 103040561 105596277 1.3 304
10 106135611 108371247 1.5 226
12 38689229 41184500 1.6 247
13 58543514 60988948 1.6 220
13 94528801 95252127 1.0 277
14 60929984 62997711 1.8 255
14 63724184 65357663 1.7 201
14 72345879 74206753 1.7 263
15 36850933 38329491 2.7 238
16 1631282 2985328 2.5 273
16 11917282 13220406 3.7 276
16 15619825 17324720 3.1 305
16 29085336 31390250 1.3 263
16 51215026 52902771 3.4 224
17 52582669 56643678 4.7 438
19 11527683 13235913 1.7 203
19 15613137 16316773 1.2 204
19 46195917 49338412 3.3 397
20 17126434 18288231 2.1 225
21 35367409 36969215 4.1 254
21 42399499 42951171 1.6 233
22 33988022 35626259 5.0 289

In my case, I’m particularly fortunate, because my mother tested her DNA as well.  By process of elimination, I can figure out which of my matches are through her, and then by inference, which are through my father or are truly IBS by convergence.

I carry Native heritage on both sides, but my mother’s is proven to specific Native ancestors where my father’s is only proven to certain lines and not yet confirmed through genealogy records to specific ancestors.

Because I had so many matches, quite to my surprise, I also compared my mother’s DNA to the Anzick sample, combined the two results and put them in a common spreadsheet, shown below.  White are my matches.  Pink are Mom’s matches, and the green markers are on the segments where we both match the Anzick sample, confirming that my match is indeed through mother.

ancient compare

We’ll work with this information more in a few minutes.

Paleo

At 200 SNP level, 2 segments.

1 26535949 27884441 1.1 258
2 127654021 128768822 1.2 228

My mother matches on 9 segments, but neither of the two above, so they are either from my father’s side or truly IBS by convergence.

Altai Neanderthal

ancient compare2

Russian Neanderthal

Neither my mother nor I have any matches at 100SNPs and 1cM.

Denisovan

I have one match.

Chr Start Location End Location Centimorgans (cM) SNPs
4 8782230 9610959 1.2 100

My mother matches 2 segments at 100 SNPs but neither match is the same as my segment.

Matching to Ancestral Lines

I’ve been mapping my DNA to specific ancestors utilizing the genealogy information of matches and triangulation for some time.  This consists of finding common ancestors with your matches.  Finding one person who matches you and maps to a common ancestor on a particular segment consists of a hint.  Finding two that share the same ancestral line and match you and each other on the same segment is confirmation – hence, the three of you triangulate.  More than three is extra gravy:)

I have also recorded other relevant information in my matches file, like the GedMatch Native chromosomal comparisons when I wrote “The Autosomal Me” series about hunting for my Native chromosomal segments.

So, after looking at the information above, it occurred to me that I should add this ancestral match information to my matches spreadsheet, just for fun, if nothing else.

I added these matches, noted the source as GedMatch and then sorted the results, anxious to see what we might find.  Would at least one of these segments fall into the proven Native segments or the matches to people who also descend from those lines?

What I found was both astonishing and confusing….and true to form to genealogy, introduced new questions.

I have extracted relevant matching groups from my spreadsheet and will discuss them and why they are relevant.  You can click on any of the images to see a larger image.

ancient compare3

This first set of matches is intensely interesting, and equally as confusing.

First, these matches are to both me and mother, so they are confirmed through my mother’s lines.  In case anyone notices, yes, I did switch my mother’s line color to white and mine to pink to be consistent with my master match spreadsheet coloration.

Second, both mother and I match the Anzick line on the matches I’ve utilized as examples.

Third, both 23andMe and Dr. Doug McDonald confirmed the segments in red as Native which includes the entire Anzick segment.

Fourth, utilizing the Gedmatch admixture tools, mother and I had this range in common.  I described this technique in “The Autosomal Me” series.

Fifth, these segments show up for two distinct genealogy lines that do not intersect until my grandparents, the Johann Michael Miller line AND the Acadian Lore line.

Sixth, the Acadian Lore line is the line with proven Native ancestors.

Seventh, the Miller line has no Native ancestors and only one opportunity for a Native ancestor, which is the unknown wife of Philip Jacob Miller who married about 1750 to a women rumored to be Magdalena Rochette, but research shows absolutely no source for that information, nor any Rochette family anyplace in any proximity in the same or surrounding counties to the Miller family.  The Miller’s were Brethren.  Furthermore, there is no oral history of a Native ancestor in this line, but there have been other hints along the way, such as the matching segments of some of the “cousins” who show as Native as well.

Eighth, this makes my head hurt, because this looks, for all the world, like Philip Jacob Miller who was living in Bedford County, PA when he married about 1750 may have married someone related to the Acadian lines who had intermarried with the Micmac.  While this is certainly possible, it’s not a possibility I would ever have suspected.

Let’s see what else the matches show.

ancient compare4

In this matching segment Mom and I both match Emma, who descends from Marie, a MicMac woman.  Mom’s Anzik match is part of this same segment.

ancient compare5

In this matching segment, Mom and I both match cousin Denny who descends from the Lore line who is Acadian and confirmed to have MicMac ancestry.  Mom’s Anzik segments all fit in this range as well.

ancient compare6

In this matching segment, cousin Herbie’s match to Mom and I falls inside the Anzick segments of both Mom and I.

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More matching to the proven Miller line.

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This last grouping with Mom is equally as confusing at the first.  Mom and I both match cousin Denny on the Lore side, proven Acadian.

Mom and I both match the Miller side too, and the Anzik for both of us falls dead center in these matches.

There are more, several more matches, that also indicate these same families, but I’m not including them because they don’t add anything not shown in these examples.  Interestingly enough, there are no pointers to other families, so this isn’t something random.  Furthermore, on my father’s side, as frustrating as it is, here are no Anzick matches that correlate with proven family lines.  ARGGHHHHHH……

On matches that I don’t share with mother, there is one of particular interest.

ancient compare9

You’ll notice that the Anzik and the Paleo-Greenland samples match each other, as well as me.  This is my match, and by inference, not through mother.  Unfortunately, the other people in this match group don’t know their ancestors or we can’t identify a common ancestor.

Given the genetic genealogy gold standard of checking to see if your autosomal matches match each other, I went back to GedMatch to see if the Paleo-Greenland kit matched the Clovis Anzik kit on this segment, and indeed, they do, plus many more segments as well.  So, at some time, in some place, the ancestors of these two people separated by thousands of miles were related to each other.  Their common ancestor would have either been in Asia or in the Northern part of Canada if the Paleo people from Greenland entered from that direction.

Regardless, it’s interesting, very interesting.

What Have I Learned?

Always do experiments.  You never know what you’ll find.

I’m much more closely related to the Anzick individual than I am to the others. This isn’t surprising given my Native heritage along with the endogamous culture of the Acadians.

My relationship level to these ancient people is as follows:

Lived Years Ago Relatedness Comments
Montana Anzick 12,500 107.4cM at 200 SNP level Confirmed to Lore (Acadian) and Miller, but not other lines
Greenland Paleo 4,000 2.3cM at 200 SNP level No family line matches, does match to Anzick in one location
Altai Neanderthal 50,000 2.1cM at 200 SNP level No family line matches
Russian Neanderthal 29,000 0
Denisovan 30,000 1.2cM at 200 SNP No family line matches

The Lores and the Millers

Looking further at the Lore and Miller lines, there are only two options for how these matching segments could have occurred.  There are too many for them all to be convergence, so we’ll have to assume that they are indeed because we shared a common population at some time and place.

The nature of how small the segments are testify that this is not a relatively recent common ancestor, but how “unrecent” is open to debate.  Given that Neanderthal and Denisovan ancient segments are found in all Europeans today, it’s certainly possible for these segments to be passed intact, even after thousands of years.

The confirmations to the Lore line come through proven Lore cousins and also through other proven Acadian non-specific matches.  This means that the Acadian population is highly endogamous and when I find an Acadian match, it often means that I’m related through many ancestors many times.  This, of course, increases the opportunity for the DNA to be passed forward, and decreases the opportunity for it to be lost in transmission, but it also complicates the genealogy greatly and makes determining which ancestor the DNA segment came from almost impossible.

However, I think we are safe to say the segments are from the Acadian population, although my assumption would be that they are from the Native Ancestors and not the French, given the high number of Anzick matches, Anzick being proven to be Native.  Having said that, that assumption may not be entirely correct.

The Miller line is relatively well documented and entirely from Germany/Switzerland, immigrating in the early 1700s, with the exception of the one unknown wife in the first generation married in the US.  Further examination would have to be done to discover if any of the matches came through Johann Michael Miller’s sons other than Philip Jacob Miller, my ancestor.  There are only three confirmed children, all sons.  If this segment shows up in Johann Michael Miller’s line not associated with son Philip Jacob Miller, then we would confirm that indeed the segment came from Europe and not a previously unknown Native or mixed wife of Philip Jacob.

Bottom Line

So, what’s the bottom line here?  I know far more than I did.  The information confirms, yet again, the Acadian Native lines, but it introduces difficult questions about the Miller line.  I have even more tantalizing questions for which I have no answers today, but I tell you what, I wouldn’t trade this journey along the genetic pathway with all of its unexpected bumps, rocks, slippery slopes and crevices for anything!!  That’s why it’s called an adventure!

Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton (1853-1920), Who’s Your Mama?, 52 Ancestors #37

bolton1

Looking down the Powell River from Cumberland Gap, we peer into the heart of the lands where the Boltons lived, near the border of Claiborne and Hancock Counties in Tennessee, just slightly south of Lee County, Virginia, along the meanders of the Powell River.

Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton was born on September 18, 1853 in Hancock County, Tennessee to Joseph Preston Bolton and his wife, Margaret Herrell (Harrell) Martin Bolton.  We don’t know what his middle initial, B., stands for, nor do we know how he obtained the nickname, Dode.  His grandson, Joseph Estes, through daughter Ollie Bolton Estes, obviously named for him, also had the same nickname.

Unfortunately, the records of Joseph Preston Bolton and Margaret Herrell Martin Bolton and their son, Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton and his wife, Margaret (Margret) Clarkson/Claxton Bolton are difficult to sort through because the names of the both couples are the same and of course, they live in very close proximity and in a burned records county.  This confirms that the genealogy Gods have a sense of humor.

Hancock County records were only partially burned, in 1885 and 1930, so we only know of Joseph Dode’s approximate marriage date/year of 1873 based on the birth of his first child and the census record in 1910 which indicates that he had been married for 37 years to wife Margaret N. Claxton (Clarkson).

Their children were:

  1. Ollie Florence Bolton, my grandmother, born May 5, 1874 in Hoop Creek, Hancock County, died April 9, 1955 in Chicago, Illinois. She married William George Estes in 1893, later divorcing about 1915.
  2. Charles Tipton Bolton born June 30, 1876, died before 1953, enrolled for the WWI Draft in Sonora, Washington Co., AK, listed his father as J.B. Bolton in Hoop, TN.
  3. Elizabeth Bolton born 1879, married E.C. Baker Dec. 20, 1901 in Claiborne Co., died before 1953.  Note:  A family member who personally knew and was friends with “Lizzie” Bolton who was married to E.C. Baker tells me that she was unquestionably the daughter of Daniel Marson Bolton.  So the Joseph’s daughter, Elizabeth, married someone else.
  4. Dudley Hickham Bolton born March 21, 1881, registered for the draft in Hoop, Hancock Co. TN for WWI, married to Matilda, known as Tilda, died in 1818 in Bell Co., KY according to the family.
  5. Dalsey Edgar Bolton born July 26, 1883, died Nov. 9, 1946, El Paso, Texas from a broken back in an auto accident in New Mexico, wife Jennie in 1940 census.
  6. Ida Ann Bolton born May 30, 1886 married Gilbert Scott Saylor, lived in London, KY, taught school, no children, died June 7, 1953 of breast cancer, buried in the Plank Cemetery.
  7. Mary Lee Bolton born June 21,1888 married Tip Richmond Sumpter, died Sept. 25, 1935 in Illinois, buried Brush Creek Cemetery, Divernon, IL.
  8. Estle Vernon Bolton born December 4, 1890, died December 1971, Truth or Consequences, Sierra Co., NM.
  9. Cerenia Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bolton, died young, before the 1900 census.
  10. Samuel Estwell H. Bolton born June 12, 1894, died October 8, 1918, France, a casualty of WWI, buried in the Plank Cemetery, Claiborne Co., TN.
  11. Henry Bolton born May 1897, probably died before 1910 as not in census.

We do have photos of a few of these people, but none of Joseph Bolton or his wife, Margaret Clarkson/Claxton Bolton.

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Ida and Elizabeth Bolton, daughters of Joseph “Dode” Bolton and Margaret Clarkson.

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Dalsey Edgar Bolton, son of Joseph “Dode” Bolton and Margaret Clarkson, above.

Ollie Bolton 1950s

Ollie Bolton, taken about 1950, daughter of Joseph “Dode” Bolton and Margaret Clarkson.

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Estle Vernon Bolton

As ironic as it is, given that William George Estes, son-in-law of Joseph Bolton, was a photographer, there don’t seem to be any photographs of Joseph Bolton and Margaret Clarkson/Claxton.  I keep hoping that there really ARE some, someplace and eventually, someone will find and share one.  I can’t tell you how crazy this makes me.  Joseph didn’t die until 1920 – there SHOULD BE pictures!!!

Update:  My wish has been granted.  A wonderful cousin did in fact find a photo of Joseph B. Bolton in a box of family photos and has been kind enough to share with me.

Joseph B Bolton2

This photo identifies the men as Joseph and Dudley Bolton, Joseph’s son.  The cousin thinks that the child is Elizabeth Bolton, daughter of Matilda and Dudley Bolton who was born about 1910, putting this photo at about 1913 or 1914.  Joseph would have been about 60 years old at the time!

In 1900, the Bolton family had their first reunion in Claiborne County, and to the best of my knowledge, they still have them annually, or at least they were still holding them a few years ago.  In 1985, the family produced a book titled “Bolton Family History” and in the book, included a photo of the first reunion.

Bolton4

Given this photo above, I would think that the entire Bolton family should be in the top photo, but that family in the photo is clearly not large enough to encompass even just the Claiborne County folks.  At least six of Joseph Preston Bolton’s children were still living in 1900, and in that area.  At that time, Joseph “Dode” Bolton and Margaret would have been under 50.  James, the son of Joseph Preston Bolton and his first wife would have been about 55 here, pictured in the bottom photo.  Are Joseph “Dode” Bolton and Margaret in that top photo?  Was William Estes taking pictures?  He and Ollie were living in Claiborne County in 1900, according to the census.

Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton’s death certificate tells us that he lived in Sedalia, in Hancock County at the time of his death.  My Genealogy Hound has 1888 maps of the Tennessee Counties that include at least some place names.  You can see New Sedalia just above the headwaters of Sycamore Creek which runs along Little Sycamore Road from Springdale in Claiborne County.  The name was changed to Sedalia in the 1890s.  The Plank Cemetery, where both Joseph and Margaret Bolton are buried is found on Little Sycamore road just inside Claiborne County.  While the county line bisects this road, the people living on this road function as one community called “Little Sycamore.”

Bolton5

What do we know about Joseph Bolton’s life?  We know where Joseph was born, based on the 1850 census where his father, Joseph Bolton, and his first wife, Mary “Polly” Tankersley were living.  Joseph Sr. was still living in Hancock County in the 1860 census which shows the family living on 4 Mile Creek in Hancock County and Joseph Jr. was age 7.

Bolton6

You can see, on this map above, that Four Mile Creek intersects with the Powell River near the Atlanthis Hill area.  Rebel Hollow Road is where Rebels were hung during the Civil War, except in Hancock County, it’s called “Rebel Holler.”

The Civil War

Minnie, one of the Crazy Aunts, said Joseph fought in the Civil War for the North. She might have been talking about his father, Joseph Sr., although I checked military and other records, and there is no record of Joseph Preston Bolton or his son, Joseph, serving in the Civil War.  Joseph “Dode” Bolton would have been about 8 when the Civil War began in 1861 when 7 stated seceded from the Union and formed the Confederacy.  Tennessee was officially a southern state, but the northern-most counties which did not have the type of land that supported large plantation type of farms provided many recruits for the Union forces.  Recruits would cross over the border to neighboring Kentucky, a Union state, under the cover of night to enlist, often in groups.

To a large extent, the Civil War was fought in cities and farms of Tennessee, as only Virginia saw more battles. Tennessee was the last of the Southern states to declare secession from the Union, but saw more than its share of the devastation resulting from years of warring armies criss-crossing the state. Its rivers were key arteries to the Deep South, and, from the early days of the war, Union efforts focused on securing control of those transportation routes, as well as major roads and mountain passes such as the Cumberland Gap, just a few miles away from where the Bolton’s lived.

Family history tells us quite a bit about the Civil War in Hancock County though.  Family members said that soldiers from both sides came though, mostly looking for food, and sometimes looking for recruits, willing or otherwise, which may have something to do with the hangings in Rebel Holler, according to local lore.

The Vannoy family who lived in close proximity to the Boltons found a cave and took what livestock they could and hid in the cave in the mountains.  The Estes family, who lived down Little Sycamore Road had all of their livestock stolen.  One of their daughters snuck into the Confederate camp at night and took their milk cow back.  She was the family hero.

The Civil War was very hard on the families in this area.  Not only were their allegiances terribly torn, even within families, their lands were used as a battleground.  The 1890 veterans census for Hancock County, TN is quite unique because it recorded the Civil War veterans for both the Union and the Confederacy, later marking through the Confederate veterans.  This gives us a unique view as to how many soldiers on each side were either still living, or their widows were living, in 1890.

1890 vet census Hancock co tn1

While this doesn’t tell us directly about how the Bolton family felt about the Civil War, there is some interesting information here that suggests their allegiance.

Evaline Martin, daughter of Margaret Herrell Martin Bolton through her first husband, Anson Cook Martin, married Calvin Busic about the same time her mother married Joseph Preston Bolton.  Therefore, she was a half-sister to Joseph “Dode” Bolton.  Calvin Busic is listed on the veteran’s census along with his death in 1862.  He died of malarial fever while in the service and he fought on the side of the Union.

Samuel Clarkson, the father of Margaret Clarkson/Claxton, the future wife of Joseph Dode Bolton also fought for the Union in the war.  He died in 1876 as a result of bronchitis and pneumonia contracted during the war, about 3 years after his daughter married Joseph Dode Bolton.

Samuel Clarkson’s sister’s husband, Calvin Wolfe also served in the Union forces.

In fact, if you look at the men who lived in the Atlanthis Hill area, most of them were Union sympathizers, but not all.

Elijah Wolf, Margaret Herrell Martin Bolton’s niece’s husband fought for the Confederacy and was prisoner of war at Louisville, KY.

I imagine these families didn’t have family reunions for years following the Civil War.  The four page 1890 veteran’s census for Hancock County shows a total of 25 who fought for the Confederacy and 24 who fought for the Union.  The Atlanthis Hill area seems to be heavily Union with the more southeastern end of the county, Mulberry Gap to Sneedville, more Confederate.

In the 1970s, when I was visiting one of the old farms near Cumberland Gap, their garden was edged by civil war cannonballs found on their property while plowing.  Aunt Margaret, born in 1906, said the old-timers would put their old Civil War uniforms on when she was young, went to town, and “fought that war over and over,” especially on “Decoration Day.”

There wasn’t anyone alive during that time in Hancock County or Claiborne County, Tennessee that wasn’t directly affected by the Civil War.  It truly was the worst of times between the actual fighting, marauding troops, hunger and concerns about an uncertain future.

Church

The Bolton and Clarkson families both attended Rob Camp Church which was formed in October of 1845.  The church minutes make for very interesting reading.

rob camp

We know that Margaret Herrell Martin, Joseph “Dode” Bolton’s mother, was a member, because her first husband, Anson Cook Martin was received by experience shortly after the church was formed, and shortly before his death about 1845.

In January 1853, we find a note that Margaret Bolton was received by experience, or in today’s Baptist vernacular, was “saved” and was likely baptized.

Her son, Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton would be born that September.

Beginning in 1854, Joseph Preston Bolton was mentioned in the church minutes four times, the last time being when he was excluded from the church as his own request following accusations by another member.  In 1866, Joseph was once again received back into the flock and in 1868, he is a deacon. It’s likely that Margaret continued to attend this church, even while Joseph Sr. was excluded and that Joseph Dode Bolton grew up in this church.

Joseph Preston Bolton, Dode’s father, was also a founding member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Hancock County, shown below. Joseph “Dode” Bolton would have been 15 at that time.

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According to the Rob Camp Church minutes, on the second Saturday of April, 1869, Rob Camp Church released the following people from their fellowship to form the Mount Zion Baptist Church.  On the third Saturday of May, the following list of brothers and sisters met to officially constitute the church which would be located on a parcel of land belonging to William Mannon.  Most of these people were related to Margaret Clarkson, Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton’s future wife in some fashion.

  • E.H. Clarkson (Edward Hilton, 1st cousin once removed to Margret)
  • Mary Clarkson (Mary Martin, wife of E.H. Clarkson, half sister to Joseph Preston Bolton through his mother Mary Herrell Martin Bolton and Anson Cook Martin)
  • William Mannon
  • Elizabeth Mannon
  • Mary Muncy
  • Clarissa Hill
  • Sarah Shefley (cousin)
  • Farwix Clarkson (grandfather to Margret)
  • Agnes Clarkson (grandmother to Margret)
  • Nancy Furry (cousin)
  • Elizabeth Clarkson (mother to Margret)
  • Margret Clarkson (future wife of Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton – she was about 3 years older than he and would have been considered an adult at 18)
  • William Bolton (son of Joseph Preston Bolton)
  • James Bolton (son of Joseph Preston Bolton)
  • John Grimes
  • Catherine Grimes
  • Joseph Bolton (this would be Joseph Preston Bolton Sr., the deacon)

In the first church meeting of the new church, Joseph Bolton was made a Deacon.  One of the first things the new church did was to create a list of members and they all signed a very lengthy statement about the mission of the church.  Among those names is Joseph Bolton, noted as a Deacon, Margret Bolton and Margret Clarkson.  However, a note beside Joseph’s name, obviously added later, says “excluded” and a note beside Margaret’s name says “dis” for dismissed.  Obviously, things did not go swimmingly well at the new church.

The next page in the notes is a page titled “Dismissed by Letter.”  This meant that the church gave you a letter to take to your next church that basically stated that you had been baptized and were a member in good standing.  Joseph B. Bolton is on that list.  That would be the younger Joseph.  There is no date.

In the 1870 census, the Bolton family is living in the same location in the 14th district of Hancock County and Joseph Dode Bolton is found living with his parents.

Joseph Dode Bolton married Margaret Clarkson about 1873, and about the same time, his father, Joseph, was once again in trouble with the church.  The trouble boiled over into 1874 and eventually, Joseph Sr. was once again excluded from the church.

Given all of the family relationships, I’m presuming that Joseph Dode Bolton and his bride, Margaret were probably married in this church and continued to attend Mt. Zion until 1876 when Little Mulberry, below, was formed.

Little mulberry

Little Mulberry Baptist Church is located in the 5th Civil District of Hancock Co. in the lower Mulberry Community.  Little Mulberry Church was organized in May 1876 with 19 charter members:

  • G.W. Coleman
  • Mary and Norah Clarkson (first cousin to Margaret Clarkson)
  • Thomas and Jane Greer
  • William Pendleton
  • Lucy Skidmore
  • Jane Baker
  • Mr. and Mrs. H. Edens
  • James Fugate
  • C.K. Coleman
  • J.B. and Margaret Bolton (This is the younger Joseph Bolton.)
  • Thomas and Mollie Reed
  • Etta and Susan Sumpter

In 1879, there is a note in the Mt. Zion Baptist Church minutes that Joseph D. (sic) Bolton be charged with getting drunk and that E. H. Clarkson be sent to talk to him.  At the July meeting, Brother Joseph Bolton was present and made his acknowledgement to the church and was “restored back in fool fellowship.”  I don’t think that’s really what they meant, “fool fellowship,” but it surely is exactly what they said.

On the Hancock Co. 1880 tax list from the East Tennessee Roots Vol VI, number 4, Margret Bolton is listed with 55 acres, $350 value, 105 to county, 35 to state, 35 to school, 87.5 for special, 262.5 total taxes, no poll.  The 1880 census shows Joseph Sr. and Margaret living in Claiborne County.  Joseph Bolton Jr. lives beside Margret’s land in Hancock County, with no land, 1 poll (himself), but then under him it says 100 to school and 30 special and 130 total, paid to Edds.  Joseph Dode probably farms his mother’s land.

The 1880 census shows Joseph Bolton (Jr.), age 27 with his wife Margaret and their first 3 children, Ollie F., age 6, Charles J. or T., age 4 and Elizabeth, age 1.  Joseph shows his mother and father as born in Virginia.  They still live in the same district at Joseph’s parents did in 1860 and 1870.

In 1885, the Rob Camp church minutes have a list of “Names.”  On that list is Margret Bolton.  It’s unclear whether his is a current list as of that date, but I suspect that it is because Joseph (Sr.) is not to be found and he is still living.

In February 1887, the Mt. Zion Church notes mention that Brother Clinton Clouse and Brother Joseph B. Bolton talked and made the acknowledgement to the church “for living cold and out of duty and hoped to live a better life from this time forward.” Ironically, it was Clinton Clouse that was brought up on charges at the same time as Joseph in 1879, except Clinton was brought up for swearing as well.  Makes me wonder if they were best buds, or if the timing was simply circumstantial.  The 1880 census perhaps sheds some light on that question.

1880 hancock census

In June of 1888, Mt. Zion Church received Margret Bolton by letter.  This may have been Margret, the widow of Joseph Bolton, the elder, who died in December of 1887. According to the “Bolton Family History” book, in 1887, Joseph was living in Little Sycamore, in Claiborne County.  Perhaps after his death Margaret moved back to where she was more comfortable, in essence, going “home.”

Near the end of the Mt. Zion notes, after October 1896, there are several pages of members.  Upon them, Joseph B. Bolton is listed and by his name, “excluded.”  About half of the men were excluded.  I don’t know if he was in good company, but he certainly had a lot of it!

Of course, there is no 1890 census.  Prior to the 1900 census, the Joseph Bolton family lived in the 14th district but in 1900 and 1910 they live in the 8th district, so they have apparently moved.  None of the neighbors are the same, and Clinton Clouse or Cloth is nowhere to be found, which was probably a great relief to Joseph’s wife, Margret.  In 1900, their name was misspelled Bolting.

1900 hancock census

In 1910 they lived in Hancock County on Back Valley Road as is detailed in the article about their son, Samuel, who died in WWI.

Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton’s death certificate says his father, Joseph Bolton, was born in Washington Co., VA and his mother was Nancy Christie, which is dead wrong as far as we know.  Margret, his wife, notified the authorities of his death, and then herself died on March 11th, just two weeks later.  It appears that Joseph was buried on February 25th, so the family oral history that they put him out in the woodshed or barn and waited for her to die and had one funeral is not accurate.

Bolton7

Joseph’s death certificate says he was sick from Feb. 18th through the 24th, so died of pneumonia following the flu after being sick for only 6 days.  However, Margret’s death certificate says that she was sick from Feb. 18th through March 10th, so she got sick at the same time, but it took her another 2 weeks to die.  I wonder if she went to Joseph’s funeral – or maybe they buried the body but had a joint funeral at the church, especially if she was sick, they would probably have been waiting for her to get better.  Or maybe Joseph didn’t want a funeral at any church, given that the final note we have says that he was excluded and there is no evidence that he ever attended another church.

What a terrible blow to the family, to lose both parents within two weeks.  If they were sick, it’s very likely that many others in the community were as well.  A quick spin through the Hancock County death certificates confirms that there were several other deaths from pneumonia following the flu in the surrounding weeks.

Joseph Bolton’s death certificate is interesting.  It gives us lots of information, not all of it accurate.  Remember, death information is given by relatives, some of them quite bereaved, or perhaps distant, or maybe elderly and forgetful.  In Margret’s case, she was both bereaved and ill.  I view death certificate information as a great hint – to be proven.

In the case of Joseph, his birth location of Washington County, VA, is suspect, very suspect.  In 1850, his parents were both living in Claiborne County, TN, as they were in 1860, so unless they moved away, and back again, he was born in Hancock County, TN, not Washington Co., VA.  The portion of Hancock County where the Bolton family lived was split from Claiborne in 1845, so the family didn’t move, the county line did.

The most interesting piece of information, or in this case, misinformation, was his mother’s name.  Nancy Christie.  Joseph Bolton’s mother was Margaret Herrell.  She had previously been married to Anson Cook Martin who died about 1845 in Hancock County, leaving his widow with 9 children.  Margaret remarried to Joseph Bolton after 1850, as Joseph’s former wife, Mary Tankersley, was still living in the 1850 census which was dated in December, although it is supposed to be taken “as of” June.  I have seen cases of people on the census who have actually died, but are enumerated because they were still alive in the month the census was taken “as of.”

Margaret Martin, with her children, was enumerated in1850 as a head of household.  Margaret had two more children after marrying Joseph Bolton: Mary Ann Matilda born in 1851 and Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton born in 1853.

In the 1860 census, taken in August, daughter Mary Bolton is shown as age 9, so born in 1851, meaning she had already had her birthday for that year.  Since in the 1850 census, Joseph’s first wife was still living in December, and Mary was born in 1851, probably before August, this strongly suggests that Mary Tankersley Bolton was already dead when the census was taken in December of 1851 and Joseph married Margaret about that time.  Both people had a houseful of kids and had probably known each other for years.  Joseph’s youngest child was about 2 and Margaret’s about 6.  I’m betting their courtship lasted about a week or may simply have consisted of a visit and a chat.  I surely wish we had their marriage license.

In the 1860 census, two of her Martin children, Malinda, age 18 and Alexander, the baby at 15 are still living with Margaret Herrell Martin Bolton and Joseph Bolton.

Back to the pesky issue of the death certificate.  How can one mistake a mother’s name, or a grandmothers, especially if you knew the person well?  And not just the last name, but the first name too?  Margaret Clarkson Bolton clearly knew her mother-in-law, Margaret Herrell Martin Bolton, the grandmother to her children.  Margaret Herrell Martin Bolton didn’t die until sometime after 1880 and before 1892, so Margaret’s children, if they provided the death certificate information, would have clearly known their grandmother.  Joseph Bolton Jr. was around age 40 when his mother died.  His wife, Margaret Claxton had been a daughter-in-law to his mother for some 20 years and was a neighbor to his grandmother, Mary McDowell Harrell before that.  So these families were well known to each other their entire lives, not just after marriage.  Margaret Clarkson/Claxton was raised on the land beside her mother-in-law, Margaret Herrell Martin Bolton.  This much confusion and misinformation just makes me uneasy, especially without a marriage license, even though we clearly do find Margaret Herrell Martin’s children with Joseph Bolton’s family in 1860.

Fortunately, not all of the Hancock County records burned. Just generally the ones I want, and of course, all of the marriage licenses!

On July 1, 1878, Pleasant Smith and Serelda Smith, his wife, John Martin and Hanah Martin, his wife, sign their interest in land after the death of Marget (sic) Bolton for $100 to J.M. Martin.  That land was located in the 14th district containing 50 acres bounded by John McDaniels, Elexander Herrell and others.  That deed as also witnessed by D.M. Bolton.  The deed was registered and sworn to by D.M. Bolton on January 10, 1892. This is very likely the 50 acres that Joseph Bolton, Jr., was farming in 1880.

What this tells us is that Margaret (Herrell Martin) Bolton was still living in 1878, and that she had died before January 10, 1892.

In 1885, in Chancery Court, in Hancock County, James Spears brings suit against J. M. Martin, William Martin, Joseph Bolton and Margaret Bolton.  As interesting as the suit itself is the list of who was involved.  Cannon Herrell, Alexander Herrell and John McDowell were each paid for 2 days, likely as chainers to the surveyor.  This suit has to do with land.  James Spears is somehow connected to the Herrell family, as he testifies as to their character in other suits.  By the time this suit gets to court, the people have agreed and they survey the land.  They surveyor’s notes give us somewhat of a location for the “lands in controversy.”  Beginning at James M. Martin’s house…Spear’s line…Martin’s line…Spear’s water…bank of Powell’s River.  It should also be noted that there are Spears buried in the old McDowell Cemetery on Powell River.

Alexander Herrell is Margaret Herrells’ brother, Cannon is her half-brother and John McDowell is either her uncle or nephew.

In fact, this hand drawn representation of the Claiborne County survey book shows the McDowell, Clarkson/Claxton and Herrell land, so we can rest assured that the Boltons and Martins are living in close proximity as well.

bolton8Here’s a current topo map with the McDowell, Herrell and Clarkson land plotted.  You can see Four Mile Creek at the top to the left of McDowell and then Mulberry Creek just below the word Clarkson.

bolton9

This picture was taken on a visit to Hancock County where I was standing on the McDowell land, aptly named “Slanting Misery,” looking at the Claxton/Clarkson land.

bolton10

Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton started his life near 4 Mile Creek in Hancock County, perhaps within sight of this location.  He spent most of his life in that area.  He perhaps had a drinking problem and was excluded from the church.  He seemed to have a rabble-rousing friend in Clinton Clouse for at least a decade.

Getting oneself excluded from church seemed to be a Bolton family tradition, as his father has been excluded before him, as well, twice, although not for drinking.

Joseph’s brothers and father had moved down to Little Sycamore in the early 1880s, but Joseph “Dode” didn’t.  He apparently remained in Hancock County and farmed his mother’s land, at least until her death and the land was conveyed in 1892.

On March 31st 1902, a deed was filed in Hancock County by and between S.F. Clarkson who was appointed administrator of the estate of Fernando Clarkson decd, late of Hancock Co., Tn. by the county of Hancock on Dec. 11, 1900 and Joseph Bolton of Hancock Co.., stating:  On July 30 1896 Fernando Clarkson decd did sell to Joseph Bolton a certain tract of land and execute him a title for the said tract of land lying and being in the 8th civil district of Hancock Co and on the Sulphur Fork of Mulberry Creek and bounded as follows: with L. Overtons line to G. Overtons line and thence east with G Overton’s line to a conditional line between Thomas Reed and Bolton and then with a conditional line in H.S. Fugates line to a small oak on the top of Wallen’s ridge with H.E. Fugate and E. Overton’s line.  S.F. Clarkson does now convey to Bolton together with the right of way for a road through the land now held by Thomas Reed. Signed by S.F. Clarkson and witnessed by R.L. Parkey and Ollie Parkey.

Joseph was later reportedly living at Hoop Creek, both by the family and in official documents.

bolton11

Hoop Creek is about half way between 4 Mile Creek and the Little Sycamore Community where his father lived and died.  The Plank Cemetery is at the location of West Teller Road and Little Sycamore, below  Hoop Creek was well known for being a mixed racial area.

bolton12

The Plank Cemetery is where Joseph Presley Bolton Sr. was buried in 1887.  Twenty three years later, his son, Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton was buried there and two weeks later, to the day, his wife, Margaret Clarkson Bolton.  Fifteen months earlier, their son Samuel who was killed in WWI was buried and daughter Ida was buried there in 1953.  The cemetery can be difficult to find because it sets back a long drive into the center of a field, which is dead center in this satellite view.

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You can see the Plank Cemetery, fenced, in the center of the field above.

bolton14'

There are many unmarked graves here.  Margaret Herrell Martin Bolton may be one of them.  Or, she may be buried with her first husband, Anson Cook Martin, up near Four Mile Creek, or maybe in the Herrell family cemetery, also in that vicinity.

Bolton15

I’d really like to remove any little tiny niggling nagging doubt that I might have about who Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton’s mother really was and put it to bed once and for all, forever.  Fortunately, there is a way for me to do that.

A number of Harrell descendants have DNA tested.  If Margaret Herrell is Joseph Bolton’s mother, then I, or other Joseph Bolton descendants, should match at least one of our Harrell cousins using autosomal DNA testing.

And, as you can see, on the chromosome graph below, comparing me with a Harrell cousin, we do!

Bolton16

The orange DNA segments above range in size from 1cM to 17 cM on chromosome 17.  That is a nice beautiful chunk of Margaret Harrell’s DNA!  Proof, at last, that Margaret Herrell is Joseph “Dode” Bolton’ mother.

Bolton17

As you can see, this person descends from Margaret Herrell though a child from her first marriage.  Indeed, this match is good news and proves that yes, Margaret Herrell is indeed Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton’s mother, because the Harrell cousin I match carries no Bolton DNA, and we don’t share any other ancestors – so the matching DNA has to be Harrell.

A second cousin who also descends through Joseph Bolton Sr. and Mary Tankersley also matches.  Now this gave me pause to reflect, because, she SHOULDN’T match my Herrell cousin on any common segments, because she doesn’t descend through Joseph Bolton Jr. and Margaret Herrell.  But take a look, we three have several segments in common with each other if you drop the threshold to 1cM, specifically, chromosomes 6, 7 and 12.

Bolton18

And yes, both matches also match each other.  This is called a huge fly in the ointment. So, right about now, I’m all set to have a little meltdown because there is obviously a problem SOMEPLACE and probably in my genealogy or maybe his mother really isn’t his mother….or…or…or

So, I took both a deep breath and a closer look at the second match’s tree, and lo and behold, guess what?  She has a questionable Herrell penciled in, spelled Harrell, so it didn’t’ show on my previous surname match.  The tentative Harrell is a possible child of….yep….Margaret Herrell.  Well, guess what…it’s not tentative anymore, it’s now confirmed!  I’ll have to let her know!  Whew, what a relief!!!

Bolton19

But then, it got even better.  Looking at my cousin’s Herrell matches, she had some matches that didn’t match me directly, because for me, they are below the initial matching threshold, but we all match my cousin.  Pushing all of our data through to the chromosome browser, there were now a total of 5 Herrell cousins.  Dropping our cM to 1 shows this chromosome browser match.

The reason these folks don’t show for me, except for the pink person, is because the segments are small enough that they are under the match threshold, but because we do match someone else in common, we can see them as matches by comparing everyone to the other person we match and dropping the match  threshold.

I desperately wish we could adjust the matching threshold at FTDNA, at least in specific cases.  I realize that Family Tree DNA is worried about having too many matches, but in some cases, we’re missing the confirming data by not being able to see those smaller matches.  By utilizing the standard matching, I have only one match on chromosome 17 to the pink lady, shown in the first screen shot, above, in addition to the person being matched against.  The proof of why we need to be able to adjust the threshold to capture additional matches, is all of those colored spaces below.

Bolton20

I’m green on this comparison.  Very interesting that I match with multiple cousins on chromosomes 10, 11, and 12.  It’s also very interesting that I match on a fairly large chunk of the X chromosome with my Harrell cousin that wasn’t sure she’s a Harrell!

On chromosome 11, there is one segment that 4 of 5 cousins carry that descends from Margaret Herrell.  We know this segment comes from Margaret and not Joseph because some of these cousins are Herrell cousins who don’t also descend from Joseph Bolton.

All of the technology and genealogy data aside, just sitting for a moment and realizing that this is Margaret Harrell’s and Joseph Bolton’s DNA showing up in orange, blue, green and pink.  By comparing to people who only descend through one of those people, and not both, in the future, we can even divide those matches, just like we did on chromosome 11, so we know which pieces are Margaret’s and which are Joseph’s.

To me, and to descendants hunting for confirmation of their ancestry, these are absolutely the most beautiful, multi-colored stars shining through the inky black night sky, illuminating our ancestral path, and winking at us along the way!  They are pieces of our ancestors found in us today, lighting the path forward, or backward…or both.

 

DNA Buys the Truth

true-straight

Recently, George Doe, clearly a pseudonym, a man with a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology, a professional stem cell and reproductive biologist, related his story to Julia Belluz.  Vox published the resulting article titled, “With Genetic Testing I Gave My Parents the Gift of a Divorce.”  The original rather unflattering and somewhat derisory article by Julia is here, titled Genetic Testing Brings Families Together and Sometimes Tears Them Apart.

In these articles, Dr. Doe tells us that last year, in a class he was teaching, he used the 23andMe test to demonstrate how to collect a spit sample.

In fact, he was so excited that he bought kits for his parents as well:

“I had spent many years looking at the genes of other animals — particularly mice — but I never looked at my own. Because I was so excited about it, I got two 23andMe kits for my mom and dad as gifts. It’s a lot more fun when you can incorporate your family because you can trace not just the chromosomes but individual alleles on the chromosome so you don’t just see them, but where they came from. Also, I felt I had a good handle on my family’s medical history so I was very interested in confirming any susceptibility to cancers that I heard had run in my family, like colon cancer. I wanted to know if I had a genetic risk.”

But Dr. Doe found more than he anticipated.  He found a half brother, an adoptee, sired by his father.

“When I saw that I share about 22 percent of my genome with a person, I thought, “That’s huge.” It took a bit of time to realize Thomas and I actually share the same genome with my father. This is how it happened: when you share around 25 percent genetic similarity with someone, that means that either it’s your grandfather, uncle, or half-sibling. 23andMe listed Thomas as a grandfather, which was confusing to me. I called my dad. All I had was his name, Thomas, and the fact that he’s male. I just asked my dad, “Does this name sound familiar?” He said no. He logged into his account, and Thomas wasn’t showing up at all. I was so confused. We figured out that at the very bottom of your profile, there’s a little box that says “check this box if you want to see close family members in this search program.”

Dad checked it, and Thomas’ name appeared in his list. 23andMe said dad was 50 percent related with Thomas and that he was a predicted son.”

Given Dr. Doe’s next comments, one can surmise that this child was not conceived before Dr. Does’ parents married, nor was Dr. Doe’s father a sperm donor.

“Years of repressed memories and emotions uncorked and resulted in tumultuous times that have torn my nuclear family apart. My parents divorced. No one is talking to my dad. We’re not anywhere close to being healed yet and I don’t know how long it will take to put the pieces back together.”

Correction Note:  CeCe Moore provides information that Doe’s half-brother was conceived prior to the marriage, as reported by Belluz.  However, we don’t know that the conception was outside of the time span of the relationship of the parents.  CeCe also states that “both Neil Schwartzman and I were misquoted/misrepresented in the article. Neil says that he never told her it was a negative experience for him. (Some of my quotes have been changed – with no correction noted interestingly, but there is still some misrepresentation of our conversation.) So, this does make me wonder if Ms. Belluz got Doe’s story exactly right as well. Ms. Belluz clearly had an agenda and twisted the “truth” to support it.”

At this point, I felt really bad for the Doe family, and I still do.  But Dr. Doe’s next paragraph bothered me when I first read it and it bothers me now.

Instead of laying the blame for this problem where it clearly resides, at the feet of his father, he is unhappy instead with the testing company, in this case, 23andMe.

“After this discovery was made, I went back to 23andMe and talked to them. I said, “I’m not sure all your customers realize that when they participate in your family finder program, they’re participating in what are essentially really advanced paternity tests.” People find out that their parents aren’t who they think they are. They have nearly a million people in the database. If there happens to be anyone in there you’re related to, they’ll find your match. This is a solid science.”

Dr. Doe goes onto say;

“I don’t want to say if I knew that I wouldn’t have participated. But I’m really devastated at the outcome. I wrestle with these emotions. I love my family. This is nothing I ever would have wished. My dream would be to introduce Thomas to dad, to incorporate a new family tradition, to merge families. We all get to broaden our horizons and live happily ever after. At least right now, that’s not what happened. I still hold out hope that in time we can resolve things. But I also worry that as these transitions happen there may have been some permanent emotional damage that may not be able to be undone.”

Dr. Doe goes on to say that 23andMe isn’t doing enough to protect the public from themselves, in essence.  23andMe did and does have a special box to click to indicate that you DO want to see close relatives.  Most people have no idea that this box even exists, let alone that they need to click it.  In fact, the mere fact that you have to click the box, and it’s not front and center, makes your results unreliable because you believe that you’re seeing all of your results, when you aren’t.  He even describes how this option confused his father and his father could not see his children.  His father isn’t the only one.  This option has caused more panic among families that “should” match until someone explains this hidden “Opt In” option and where they have to click.

Now, I’ve been quiet all week, mulling this situation over.  While I was mulling, 23andMe, who had previously announced that they were going to make seeing close relatives an “opt out” instead of an “opt in,” announced they had changed their mind.  Coincidence?  Doubtful.  In fact, Vox, who published the original two articles also published 23andMe’s announcement and stated that the announcement was a result of their original articles.

I find this stance personally abhorrent.  I believe that the people who test have the right to the truth – all of it – and not just if they happen to discover that all of their results are not being displayed.  They are adults.  They choose to take, or not take the test.  If you take the test, you have every right to expect you’re seeing all of your results.

Dr. Doe, of all people, has absolutely no right to complain.  He, of all people, a PhD in this field, knew exactly what he could discover.  The problem is that the truth is sometimes inconvenient and ugly, especially if you don’t expect to discover that your father cheated on your mother, or vice versa.

Dr. Doe – the problem is not that 23andMe did not protect you from yourself.  You, admittedly, clicked right through the options, believing of course, that it “couldn’t be me.” The problem is your family’s choices, perhaps then, and certainly now.

23andMe’s reversal on their policy will do nothing, absolutely nothing, to protect people like Dr. Doe from himself.  The only policy that will do that is the French policy of making DNA testing illegal to “protect the family unit.”  God forbid that we ever become that paranoid.

What 23andMe’s policy does it to continue to obscure the truth from unsuspecting testers.  Unfortunately, even if they put a big red box dead center in the screen today that says “If you don’t click here, you won’t see close relatives including sons, daughters……,” many people will never see it, because many people never sign on again after receiving their initial results.  In other words, many of their clients’ data would remain dark.  The only way to solve that problem is to do what 23andMe announced they would do and were preparing to do, to shift the option from “Opt In” to “Opt Out,” until Dr. Doe created a publicity nightmare because he couldn’t handle the results of his own test, AFTER, he intentionally and with full knowledge, clicked the “Opt In” option.

Furthermore, Dr. Doe could have discovered the same thing if he had found his father’s old journals, for example.  He could have discovered an old letter from a sweetheart.  He could have found the letter telling his father that the child would be put up for adoption.  What would he have done then?  Who would he complain to that no one protected him from himself?  The company that created the paper and the ink???  The post office because they might deliver a letter with disturbing information inside?

I don’t mean to be insensitive here, but it’s vastly unfair to make hundreds of thousands of people pay the price for Dr. Doe’s family issues.  The timing of this article with the much anticipated 23andMe change has created the perfect media storm.  Dr. Doe whined, loudly, and publicly, and 23andMe doesn’t want to create even more negative publicity.

If you think that I’m speaking from an ivory tower, or a vacuum, so to speak, I’m not.  Let me explain about infidelity and betrayal.  After my former husband’s massive stroke, when I was in my late 30s and he was in his late 40s, I found pictures of him with another female, with the sailboat that I bought him.  Yep, he was on vacation, with another woman, while I was staying home and working.  I felt terribly, horribly betrayed…not to mention gullible, stupid and naïve…oh yes, and angry.

I found those pictures a month or two after his stroke, when he was so terribly incapacitated that he couldn’t even speak, sit up, or eat, let alone answer any questions.  Really, there was nothing he could have said anyway – the pictures, multiple pictures, over multiple summers….were all the evidence I needed.  But I wanted them, I so wanted them to not be true.  But they were.  Staring back at me in living color.

The truth was ugly and painful and devastating.  But it was also freeing.  It freed me from the pain of loss of something I never had – a loving and loyal husband.  I only thought I did.  At the time it was horrifically painful.  Today, I’m incredibly grateful that I didn’t spend my entire married life with a cheating, lying scoundrel.

I also know about infidelity within a family when we discovered that my half-brother through my father was not my father’s child.  I lived through the pain of that too, and I can tell you that my brother, Dave, who wasn’t my biological brother, and I were far closer than many biological family members.

DNA does not tear families apart, people do.  Infidelity does.  Poor choices do.

My grandfather, about 1910, recently married to my grandmother, was present in his mother-in-law’s kitchen the day that a young man knocked on the back door.  His mother-in-law, Nora Kirsch Lore had recently been widowed after being married to Curtis Benjamin “CB” Lore for more than 20 years.  The young man asked for CB, by name.  Nora asked him to come inside and figured he was one of the young men who had worked for CB in his construction and racehorse business.  That’s not at all why the young man was looking for CB Lore.  CB Lore, according to the young man’s mother, was his father.  Let’s just say that it was a very awkward day in that kitchen as Nora asked the young man what year he was born.

In 1910, there was no way to prove, or disprove, this allegation.  Today, there is – DNA.  Nora too was devastated by her husband’s indiscretion, to put is softly, or outright betrayal to call it what it was.  But she was not without a hint – he had always been somewhat of a playboy.  Had she known specifically about this woman?  No, but it didn’t entirely surprise her either.  It only confirmed, or at least potentially confirmed, what she suspected happened when he traveled.  It certainly was not this young man’s fault for showing up to find his father.  Just like it isn’t DNA’s fault today.

Dr. Doe is not responsible for “outing” his father.  His father obviously made his own choices.  So did his mother.

Dr. Doe did not buy his parents a divorce, his parents did.  Pure and simple.  Their choice.  Sounds like that divorce was, perhaps, years overdue.

What Dr. Doe gave his mother was possibly the gift of truth and freedom.  Mrs. Doe obviously had the option of discussing things with her husband.  She didn’t.  Dr. Doe himself said it brought up repressed memories, and they obviously were not pleasant.  This was only a festering scab and he, unfortunately, was the one who bumped up against it and knocked it off.

I’m glad Dr. Doe is getting help.  I hope the entire family is getting help.

As I tell people, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.  If you don’t want the truth, don’t DNA test.  Period.

The culprit in this story is not Dr. Doe, is not 23andMe, but is very clearly Dr. Doe’s father’s original behavior combined with current family dynamics.

Sadly, the people that are ultimately paying the price for Dr. Does’ family turmoil are the hundreds of thousands of people that now continue to have their results obscured because of 23andMe’s abrupt change of policy.

That’s not right either.

23andMe lives and dies not on genetic genealogy or on the revenue from the tests themselves, but on their customers allowing them to use their results to compile for medical studies and to sell.  If you want to make your feelings known, you can personally opt out of allowing 23andMe to utilize your results for those types of endeavors.  In other words, 23andMe will no longer be able to make money from your DNA.

Perhaps 23andMe will hear and understand that message.  Companies understand dollars.

To remove your consent for 23andMe to utilize your DNA, or to at least review the consent form, sign on and click on the down arrow beside your name.

23andme consent

Then click on “Privacy and Consent.”

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Scroll down to the bottom of the page to “Basic Research Consent.”  If you have given consent, this is what you will see.

23andme consent3

Click in the green box on “view/change consent.”  You will then see the consent document.

23andMe consent4

Scroll down again.  You will see that the “give consent” box, in green, has been clicked already.

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Underneath that box, click on the blue “click here to change your consent.”  You will then see a green and a red box with your consent options.

23andme consent6

You can see that I’ve selected “I am this person and I don’t give consent,” in the red box.  Then click on the green “Save” button.

The change takes place imediately for any future projects or initiatives, but does not affect any studies or data sales that have previously taken place.

Furthermore, e-mail 23andMe’s Human Projects Administrator at hpa@23andMe.com and tell them why.

You have a voice in this matter.  Use it.

Joseph Preston Bolton (1816-1887), Twice Excluded Baptist Deacon, 52 Ancestors #38

Joseph Preston Bolton was born on July 28, 1816 in Botetourt County, Virginia to Henry Bolton and Nancy Mann.  His middle name, Preston, is very likely a family name and may be a clue to his parents ancestry.  We don’t know who his grandparents were on either side.

When I ordered his marriage bond, I was hopeful that we would acquire his signature, but I believe this is all the same handwriting and probably that of the clerk’s, so not Joseph’s signature.

joseph bolton marriage

Joseph married first to Mary Tankersley on March 26, 1838 in Giles County, Virginia, daughter of Pleasant Tankersley and Elizabeth Haley.  This suggests that the Bolton family had moved to Giles County by that time.

PG Fulkerson, local Claiborne County historian, says, in error, that Joseph was married first to Mary Lankins and second to Nancy Preston or Presley, and that she Joseph’s son, Joseph Dode’s mother.  He also says that Joseph (Sr.) came from Giles County in 1831, which we know is incorrect because he was married in Giles Co., VA in 1838.

In the 1830 census, Henry Bolton Sr. is living in Giles County with 11 children in his household, while his son, Henry Bolton Jr. is living in Botetourt County.  Joseph Bolton would have been one of Henry’s two sons aged 10-15.

In the 1840 census, Henry Bolton Sr. is living in Giles County, but Joseph Bolton is not shown.  Henry Boulton, Sr. is shown with 1 male under 10, 2 15-20, 1 20-30 and 1 80-90.  The females in the household don’t suggest that Mary is living there, as there is one 15-20 and one 60-70.  Joseph and his wife had an infant daughter by this time.  Apparently Joseph is living elsewhere, probably in a household with another family.

Based on the children’s birth dates between Virginia and Tennessee for both Joseph and his brother John, the Bolton families moved to Tennessee between 1844 and 1846 and lived in the 4 Mile Creek area of what was then possibly Claiborne County, but became Hancock County before the 1850 census.

This made sense because Joseph’s mother, Nancy Mann Bolton, died in 1841 and his father, Henry, in 1846, so perhaps the family moved right after Henry Bolton’s death.

However, the Thompson Settlement Church records show that Joseph Bolton was “received by experience” on October 31, 1842.  His wife, Polly, is on a list of members dated 1838, but she is near the bottom and I suspect that list was added to as people joined the church.

In the 1850 Hancock County, TN census, Joseph is shown living in subdivision 33 beside Pleasant Tankersley and wife, Polly.

Bolton 1850 census

Everyone was born in Virginia, except Joseph’s two youngest children, Wilborn, age 4 and Morris, age 2 who were born in Tennessee.

Four houses away, we find Joseph’s brother, John Bolton and wife Sarah and their children.  Just two more houses away we find Margaritt (sic) Herrell Martin, the woman who would become Joseph Bolton’s second wife very shortly, and her son, John Martin living next door.  Clearly, Joseph and Margret knew each other as neighbors before Mary “Polly” Tankersley Bolton died.

Next door to Margaret Herrell Martin, we find her parents, William Herrell and Mary McDowell Herrell.  Two houses away from them lived Mary McDowell Herrell’s brother, John McDowell.

This census was actually taken on December 10th, but it was to be taken as of June of 1850.  This may be important, because Joseph Bolton and Margret Herrell Martin married sometime, likely in 1850, after Mary/Polly died.  Joseph and Margaret’s first child was (probably) born in September 1851, based on family records and the census.  In the 1860 census she is shown as age 9 which would put her birth year as either 1851 if she had her birthday, or 1850 if she had not.  We know the census is notoriously wrong in terms of people’s ages.

Margaret Herrell Martin Bolton and Joseph Bolton had 2 children, of which Joseph “Dode” Bolton was the youngest.

The 1860 census is very faint and difficult to read.

Children

Joseph Preston Bolton and Mary “Polly” Tankersley had the following children as gleaned from the census, family records and the book, “Bolton Family History” published by the Bolton Family Association in Claiborne Co., TN in 1985:

1.  Sarah Elizabeth “Betty” Bolton, born June 25, 1839, Giles Co., VA, died January 2,1922 in Claiborne County, TN, buried in the Harrogate Cemetery, married James Monroe “Roe” Martin, her step-brother, son of Margaret Herrell Martin, Joseph Preston Bolton’s second wife.

2.  William M. or A. Bolton, born on Christmas day, 1840 in Giles County, VA, died June 5, 1927 in Pineville, KY, buried in Harrogate Cemetery, married Susan “Tude” Parks. The Bolton family books states that he was a wagonmaster in the Civil War.

3.  Milton Halen Bolton born May 1844 (not shown on 1850 or 1860 census but is listed in family book), died 1907, buried in the Cook Cemetery, Claiborne Co., TN, married Narcissus “Nursey” Parks.  He and his wife are shown in the photo below.

Bolton - Parks

4.  James P. Bolton born October 1845 (census says 1843), died 1913, buried in the Cook Cemetery, Claiborne Co, TN, married Martha Jane Parks.

5.  Daniel Marson “Marsh” “Morris” “Uncle Mars” Bolton born June 2, 1846, listed as Wilburn in the census, died August 7, 1924, Claiborne County, TN, buried in the Liberty Cemetery, married Sylvia (Silvina) Jones.  He and his family loved to sing and were of the Baptist faith.

Daniel Bolton6.  Morris Bolton, age 2 in the 1850 census, born 1848, not shown in 1860, so died young or the children have been “renamed” or the census taken wrote the wrong information for the wrong child, given that Milton isn’t shown.

Joseph Bolton and his second wife, Margaret Herrell Martin, daughter of William Herrell and Mary McDowell, first wife to Anson Cook Martin who died about 1845, had the following children:

7.  Matilda Ann Matilda Bolton born September 5, 1851, Hancock Co., TN died July 2, 1909, Claiborne Co. TN, buried in the Cunningham Cemetery, Claiborne Co., TN., married Morgan Cunningham.

8.  Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton, born September 18, 1853, Hancock Co., TN, died February 23, 1920, Hancock Co., TN, buried in the Plank Cemetery, Claiborne Co., TN, married Margaret Clarkson/Claxton.

The Civil War

One researcher credits Joseph Bolton with serving in Co B, 9th Tennessee Cavalry, Union Army.  Checking with www.fold3.com, I found both service and pension records.  One claim is filed in 1879 for a Joseph Bolton in the B8 TN Cav who was age 20 in 1865 upon enlistment is obviously not our Joseph.  Another record for a Joseph Bolton in the Company I, 9th TN Cav was for a man captured and killed in 1865, so obviously not our Joseph, either.

Joseph died in 1887, so he would not have been listed in the 1890 veteran’s census, but his widow, Margret, would have been, assuming she was still alive at that time.  Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly when she died, we only have a date range, sometime before her children deeded her property to each other in 1992.  If she had died before the veteran’s census in 1890, then he would not have been listed if he did serve.

There is no evidence that Joseph Bolton served in the Civil War, on either side.

The Church

Our first record of Joseph Bolton in a church was when he was received into the Thompson Settlement Church on the Powell River, just over the border in Lee County, Virginia, located about 10 miles from where the Bolton family lived.  That’s a long way to travel for church.  Rob Camp was an offshoot of Thompson Settlement and was mentioned as an alternate church site as early as 1801.  In 1844 Rob Camp had been officially formed as a separate congregation.

It was very difficult in some instances to tell the Joseph Preston Bolton records from those of his son, Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton, especially in later church records.  Suffice it to say that at one time, Joseph Preston Bolton was a Deacon in the Baptist church, but he was censured and then banned from the church, not once, but twice.

In June 1854, the Rob Camp Baptist Church appointed brethren Joseph Bolton and Ervin McDowell to cite brother Jackson Boles for drunkenness to the July meeting to answer the charges.  Now I’m betting that’s just exactly what Joseph wanted to do.  Apparently, he was pretty good at this job, because he got to do it again.

In February 1856, the church appointed brother Joseph Bolton to cite John Owens for drinking spirits when he saw fit and for throwing stones at his fellow men on the Sabbath.  Throwing stones?  Was that alright if it wasn’t on Sunday?

In March 1856, Joseph Bolton brought a charge against Robert Tankersley, a man of color, for saying that Joseph Bolton “was a mean man and a lyer and other things.”  The next meeting notes are from from Robert Tankersley charging Joseph Bolton for “saying that he had stolen flower and bacon.”  This was referred to the April meeting.  I wonder if Robert Tankersley is a former slave of the Bolton or the Tankersley family.  Joseph Bolton’s first wife was Mary Tankersley and her parents moved to Hancock County as well.

In April, 1856, the church, by request of brother Joseph Bolton excludes him from their Christian fellowship.

In September 1859, (very difficult to read)…church being convinced that the ??? in receiving a charge against brother Joseph Bolton wrought by a member already himself under the censure of the church ??? therefore unanimously rescinded the ???

October, 1866, received Joseph Bolton by recantation and baptized into the fellowship of the church.  This could be the younger Joseph Bolton, but it’s doubtful as he would only have been age 13 and it seems to be the older Joseph Bolton that might have something to recant, as far as the church was concerned.

May 1868, elected brother Joseph Bolton to the office of Deacon.  This entry would confirm that the 1866 entry is Joseph Bolton Sr.  Deacon status is confirmed in the notes of July 1868.

Joseph Bolton was also a founding member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Hancock County.  According to the Rob Camp Church minutes, on the second Saturday of April, 1869, Rob Camp Church released the following people from their fellowship to form the Mount Zion Baptist Church.  On the third Saturday of May, the following list of brothers and sisters met to officially constitute the church which would be located on a parcel of land belonging to William Mannon.  Most of these people were related to Margaret Clarkson, Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton’s wife in some fashion.

  • E.H. Clarkson (Edward Hilton, 1st cousin once removed to Margret)
  • Mary Clarkson
  • William Mannon
  • Elizabeth Mannon
  • Mary Muncy
  • Clarissa Hill
  • Sarah Shefley (cousin)
  • Farwix Clarkson (grandfather to Margret)
  • Agnes Clarkson (grandmother to Margret)
  • Nancy Furry (cousin)
  • Elizabeth Clarkson (mother to Margret)
  • Margret Clarkson (future wife of Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton)
  • William Bolton (son of Joseph Preston Bolton)
  • James Bolton (son of Joseph Preston Bolton)
  • John Grimes
  • Catherine Grimes
  • Joseph Bolton (this would be Joseph Preston Bolton Sr., the deacon)

In the first church meeting of the new church, Joseph Bolton was made a Deacon.  One of the first things the new church did was to create a list of members and they all signed a very lengthy statement about the mission of the church.  Among those names is Joseph Bolton, noted as a Deacon, Margret Bolton and Margret Clarkson.  However, a note beside Joseph’s name, obviously added later, says “excluded” and a note beside Margaret’s name says “dis” for dismissed.  Obviously, things did not go swimmingly well at the new church.

Joseph’s name was never again found associated with a church, although he could have attended one the churches such as Liberty which would have been located quite close to his home on Little Sycamore after he moved to Claiborne County.

The 1870 census shows the family in District 14 of Hancock County near the Atlanthis Hill post office, Joseph age 56, Margaret age 60, Matilda age 19, Joseph age 17 and Rebecca Jones, age 14.  I’m not sure who Rebecca is or how she fits in.

The 1880 census shows that Joseph and Margaret had moved from Hancock County into Claiborne County where they lived in the 6th district.  There are no children living with them, and they are neighbors to both Milton N. Bolton and D.M. Bolton

In the Hancock Co. 1880 tax list from the East TN Roots Vol VI, number 4, Margret Bolton is listed with 55 acres, $350 value, 105 to county, 35 to state, 35 to school, 87.5 for special 262.5 total taxes, no poll.  This is very odd because her husband, Joseph Bolton Sr. did not die until 1887.  This may be her inherited land and since she and Joseph, according to the census, are living in Claiborne County, that could explain why he is not listed.

Joseph Bolton Jr. lives beside her with no land, 1 poll, but then under him it says 100 to school and 30 special and 130 total, paid to Edds.  So perhaps he is farming his mother’s land.

Land

On February 21, 1881, in Claiborne County, Daniel Jones and his wife, Ann Jane Jones deed to Joseph Bolton and D.M. Bolton and his wife Silvia land on the waters of Sycamore Creek on Powell Mountain and Little Ridge adjoining the land of H.H. Friar.

This deed puts the migration date from the 4 Mile Creek area in Hancock County to Little Sycamore about 1881 for the Bolton family.

In 1881, in Claiborne County, adjoining Hancock County, we find a deed dated November 25th between Joseph Bolton and his wife Margrett (sic) J. Bolton and D.M. Bolton and Silvania Bolton, his wife, to H. H. Friar for $1200, land on the waters of Little Sycamore and Powell’s Mountain and the Little Ridge, adjoining said Friar and others.  Daniel Bolton is the son of Joseph Bolton Sr. by his first wife Mary Tankersley.

In 1883 and 1884, James Bolton, son of the elder Joseph Bolton purchases land on Little Sycamore Creek in Claiborne County.  In the 1884 deed, the land abuts Sycamore Creek and Christley? Plank’s line and J.J. Park’s line.

This confirms the story in the “Bolton Family History” that the Bolton family owned “quite a bit” of land and that in 1985, it continued to be farmed by the family.  However, it appears that Joseph P. Bolton didn’t actually own the land after 1881, but it was in the family.

The Bolton book tells us that Joseph Sr. “picked up his tools one day and started to work.  While on his way, he fell dead, near the cemetery where he lies buried – the Plank Cemetery, about 5 miles east of Tazewell in Little Sycamore Valley.”

Joseph died in 1887 and is buried in the Plank Cemetery.  Margaret died sometime after 1885, based on a chancery suite, and before 1892, but her death date and burial location are unknown.  I always find it unusual when one parent has a headstone and the other parent’s grave is unmarked.  Always makes me wonder if there is a story lurking there, waiting to be uncovered and told.

plank cem1

plank cem2

Joseph Bolton stone 2

Joseph’s original stone is shown above, with an additional stone set by the family association below.

plank cem3

The mystery surrounding Joseph’s middle name, Preston, haunts me. It’s very similar to the Presnell or Presley that some folks obviously thought was his mother’s maiden name.  I strongly suspect it was a family name, so the question becomes whether we can find a Preston family associated with a Bolton or a Mann, preferably a marriage record.  Joseph’s mother was Nancy Mann, most likely Scots-Irish.

I spent quite a bit of time on both Ancestry.com and http://www.familysearch.org and searching the trees at www.rootsweb.com as well.

I did find one very intriguing record of a Bolton/Preston marriage at exactly the right time.  Henry Bolton, born about 1760, was supposed to be from London, according to the ship’s manifest, but where his parents were married and where the ship he sailed on some 15-20 years later could be two entirely different locations.  London was, after all, the “go to” place for both commerce and opportunity.

preston bolton marriage

I searched for additional information about where the Preston surname might be found.  Would Preston be more likely as Henry Bolton’s mother or Nancy Mann’s mother?  According to these maps, Preston is more frequently found in England.

Ancestry provides the following information:

Preston

English: habitational name from any of the extremely numerous places (most notably one in Lancashire) so called from Old English preost ‘priest’ + tun ‘enclosure’, ‘settlement’; the meaning may have been either ‘village with a priest’ or ‘village held by the Church’.  Scottish: habitational name from Presto(u)n, now Craigmillar, in Midlothian. This name has also been established in Ireland since the 13th century.

Preston in England

Preston in Scotland

The DNA Story

We have a total of 6 descendants of Joseph Preston Bolton who have taken the autosomal DNA test at Family Tree DNA.  Of those, three of us descend through Ollie and share other DNA as well, so I have eliminated the other two from the equation.  They are both further down the tree, so share less DNA and it would be too difficult to differentiate between the DNA that we share from our Estes line.  Therefore, for this exercise, we have 4 descendants, as shown, below.

There are other descendants of Henry Bolton through his second wife, Nancy Mann, but I am not utilizing them in this analysis.

joseph bolton 4 desc

I want to see how much of Joseph Preston’s DNA we share, and to, in essence, reconstruct some of Joseph Preston, on paper of course, from our combined DNA.

This, however, presented a problem.

Dillis is my third cousin once removed, and we found it distressing to not “be related” in our matches at Family Tree DNA.  Thankfully, we are, but we had to use the “back door methodology to prove that fact.

In the chart below, you can see that we cousins didn’t all match each other, at least not on the surface.

Dillis Me Barb Janet
Dillis na No Yes yes
Me No na Yes Yes
Barb Yes Yes na Yes
Janet Yes Yes Yes na

This means that I couldn’t simply compare everyone though the chromosome browser, I had to compare several people and then combine the results, deleting the duplicates in the resulting spreadsheet.

The method I used was to push the matches through to the chromosome browser from the match page and then download everyone’s matches to everyone else, meaning I only downloaded the matching information – not everyone’s matches to their entire match list.

The Dillis to Barb match information would be the same as the Barb to Dillis, so I deleted that portion so that all we have is one comparison for each pair.

For example, here’s a comparison of one cousin to two others at the 1cM level.  Look at that beautiful Bolton DNA!

Dillis cousin match

By clicking on the “download to Excel”, right beside the Chromosome Browser Tutorial, you only download the compared results and can then add them to a composite spreadsheet easily.

Dillis preston match

Here is the resulting composite spreadsheet for all of the cousin matches, after I’ve color coded the results.

joseph bolton desc ss

Actually, it’s the color coding that is important.  You have to do this yourself after you copy and paste the relevant results into your spreadsheet.

Let’s take each color one at a time.

First, let’s look at red.

The red are the segments that Dillis and I DO match on.  Yes, that’s what I said….we DO match.  Family Tree DNA has their thresholds set to maximize the largest matches they feel are genuine in a generalized population,  meaning not identical by state, but those rules don’t always apply when you have a known or suspected relationship.  What a nonmatch means at Family Tree DNA is that we don’t meet all of the following criteria:

  • 20cM total
  • At least one individual match over roughly 7.7cM
  • 500 SNPs for at least one segment

Obviously Dillis and I don’t meet that criteria, but we do have relevant matching DNA – lots of it – in at least 5 different areas.  The proof is in the downloaded spreadsheet.  Were it not for the fact that I happen to know our Bolton cousins who have tested, and we each match some of them in common, we would be unable, through Family Tree DNA to determine that we match.  That also means we wouldn’t be able to utilize the smaller Bolton segments to identify other matches – like, maybe Prestons.

It sure would be wonderful to be able to selectively reduce the matching criteria, especially within projects or in specific situations, like to Dillis, or to everyone who shows a certain ancestral surname or ancestor.  We miss a lot by not having this ability, but we can’t quantify how much we miss because we can’t see what we’re missing.

Second, let’s look at the green groups.  These are groups where all of the participants have overlapping DNA that matches.  Matching of three or more individuals from a known ancestor is called triangulation, and that is how DNA is assigned to that particular ancestor.  So, the overlapping portions of the green DNA are Joseph Preston Bolton’s DNA that we all share.  How about that?

The yellow flags the matches between Janet and Dillis who are more closely related.  They also share both Parks and Smith DNA, so those segments, if they don’t match another Boltons, cannot necessarily be attributed to Bolton lineage.  Before I would utilize this spreadsheet for further matching, I would probably remove those segments, or leave them colored to remind myself

I wanted to see a visual of Joseph Bolton’s DNA on his chromosomes, and who carries it today.

Utilizing Kitty Cooper’s wonderful ancestor chromosome mapping tool, a little differently than she had in mind, I mapped Joseph’s DNA and the contributors are listed to the right of his chromosome.  You can build a virtual ancestor from their descendants.  I have only utilized the proven, or triangulated DNA segments proven to three or more descendants.

joseph bolton reconstructed

Wow, how cool is that.

Notice the X chromosome as well.  Due to the unique inheritance pattern of the X chromosome, we know that Joseph received his X from his mother, Nancy Mann, so that is Nancy’s X segment we’re looking at.  Janet and I both carry that segment, that piece of Nancy, in us today.

Let’s look at one more thing.  Let’s see if we can glean any information at all about the surname Preston.

I went back into the Family Finder matching and I utilized the surname match capability.

bolton preston ff

I checked each match to be sure that Preston was a surname and not a county or a middle name, and then I recorded, on paper, the list of names of people who had Preston ancestry who matched each cousin.  Obviously, I was hoping to find someone listed on the match list of multiple, hopefully distant, cousins.

Cousin Dillis matches three people, shown below mapped onto Dillis’s chromosomes in 3 colors.  Notice that on chromosomes 11 and 12 some of them match Dillis in the same location.  This does not inherently mean they match each other too, but they might.  Unfortunately, since we are below the 7cM matching threshold at Family Tree DNA, we can’t utilize the Matrix tool to take a look.

Dillis preston match crop

Between all of the cousins’ matches, there were a total of 47 individuals who listed Preston as one of their surnames.

I decided to download the segment data of Dillis’s three Preston matches, and the one person, Terry, who was listed on two different cousin’s matches.  One of the cousins Terry matches is not a descendant of Joseph Preston Bolton, but descends through another child of Henry Bolton and Nancy Mann.

So, I’ve included those Preston match people in the resulting spreadsheet and let’s take a look at what we have.  Terry is the person who matches two different Bolton descendants.

Preston triangulation match

The spreadsheet has gotten quite large, too large to reproduce here, so I’m only showing an example.

What we want to find is one of the people with Preston genealogy dead center in the middle of a proven Bolton segment.  This can match mean one of a few things.

  • The matching person, Terry, in this case, has unknown Bolton heritage.
  • We share some mutual DNA that contributed to the Bolton line.
  • That mutually shared DNA may be Preston DNA.
  • We are the world’s most unlucky people and Terry matches us on all 27 common segments circumstantially. You can pretty much rule this one out.

Several of these segments have matches between Dillis, at least one of his Preston descendant matches, Terry and other cousins.  One of Dillis’s matches also matches on several of the same segments where Terry matches the cousins as well.

This very strongly suggests distant common ancestry.  What can we do to find out?

Genealogy, we’re back to genealogy.  Now, I need to look at the Family Trees on Family Tree DNA for each of the people who have loaded GEDCOMs to see if I can find any commonality between their Preston ancestors.  I need to send e-mails to those who haven’t uploaded GEDCOM files, and let’s hope that we are lucky enough to find a connecting thread between the Prestons that might lead us to a Preston/Bolton connection, or at least a geography – and who knows – maybe it’s the Bolton/Preston marriage from 1756 in York, England.  Or maybe not – that’s why it’s called a search!

Long shot?  Yep?  Genealogy is an adventure with never any sure answers and every answer leads to more questions.  But, as my brother, John, says, no shot is a sure miss.

I’m thinking Henry Bolton’s mother just might well be a Preston and I’m setting out to find more evidence.

What would be really useful now would be to find a descendant of Henry Bolton’s brother, Conrad.  Unfortunately, Conrad had only one known child, Sarah, born about 1806 who married Jesse W. Keyes on March 29, 1826 in Giles Co., VA.  If Sarah’s descendants also match one of those Preston DNA individuals, preferably on the same segment, then that eliminates Nancy Mann from the equation, confirming the Preston DNA came from Henry’s line.  Yea, I know I’m dreaming, but this is how we utilize DNA to prove hypothesis.

Wish me luck!

Step one….any descendants of Conrad Bolton out there???

Jack the Ripper???

The DNA community had some exciting news this past week about the identity of Jack the Ripper, notorious serial killer of prostitutes in the Whitechapel area of London in 1888.  In total, there were 11 murders potentially linked to Jack the Ripper, with 5 being considered the most likely to be positively his victims.  He slit the throats of his victims, in some cases disemboweled them and mutilated their faces.

ripper1

While there were many suspects and much speculation, the identity of the murderer was never established.  Among the suspects was one 23 year old Polish immigrant, Aaron Kosminski.  Aaron worked and lived in Whitechapel and was reportedly seen with one of the victims, but incriminating evidence was not given by the witness and he was released.  In 1891 he was committed to an insane asylum, probably a paranoid schizophrenic, where he eventually died.  He heard “solitary voices” and indulged in “unmentionable vices” which typically means activity of a sexual nature.

Last week, the British tabloid newspaper, the Daily Mail, ran a “world exclusive” article that Jack the Ripper has actually been identified as Aaron Kosminski utilizing DNA evidence found at the scene of one of the murders, that of Catherine Eddowes.

This was followed almost immediately by articles much more skeptical in nature, one in the Oregon Live and one by our own Judy Russell.

The reader’s digest version of the DNA part of the story is that a shawl was found with Catherine when she was murdered, although there is no evidence that the shawl was hers.  It’s believed that the killer left the shawl for some unknown reason.

The first problem with this story is that there is no proof that this shawl was indeed found with the body.  Catherine was so poor she reportedly hawked her shoes the night before, and the shawl in question was worth more than the shoes.  She has also just been released from jail for drunkenness before she was found murdered, and no shawl was mentioned by anyone.  Just the same, that doesn’t mean the shawl didn’t exist, and there is powerful DNA evidence, if it’s accurate, suggesting that this shawl was found exactly as stated, with Catherine’s body.

Russell Edwards purchased the blood-soaked shawl at auction, the shawl purportedly being found by a policeman the night of the murder and taken home to his wife, a dressmaker, who put it away unwashed.   Edwards hoped to somehow use the shawl to prove it was not only authentic, but to identify Jack the Ripper.

Edwards contacted Dr Jari Louhelainen, a leading expert in genetic evidence from historical crime scenes who combines his day job as senior lecturer in molecular biology at Liverpool John Moores University with working on cold cases for Interpol and other projects. He agreed to conduct tests on the shawl in his spare time.

Catherine’s DNA

He was able to extract DNA from some of the blood on the shawl and eventually managed to obtain mitochondrial DNA results.

Edwards managed to track down an individual, Karen Miller, who descends from the same matrilineal line as Catherine Eddowes, her three times great-granddaughter, and the mitochondrial DNA matched.  This is interpreted as confirming the identity of the blood on the shawl as that of Catherine.

Herein lies the second problem.

The article states that they “managed to get six complete DNA profiles from the  shawl” and that they were “a perfect match.”

I’m assuming, here, and I passionately hate to assume, because we all know what assume does…but I’m assuming that they are referring to mitochondrial full sequences here, all 16,569 locations on the mitochondria.  It would have been very helpful had they stated exactly what they tested.

They also don’t tell us what haplogroup they are working with.  If this is haplogroup H, it’s possible to have hundreds of “exact matches” because haplogroup H, itself, comprises almost 50% of Europeans today.  Of course, if they managed to sequence the entire mitochondria, the results would likely fall into a subclade, and some subclades are very rare, even within haplogroup H.

Because haplogroup H is so large, there is a great deal of diversity within H, and many of the subclades are small.  Furthermore, some people have no “unusual markers,” and those people tend to have many more matches than people who do have “unusual markers.”  Unusual markers are those mutations that have probably occurred in a family line and are not generally found in the majority of those of that particular subclade.

By way of example, here are the results from someone who is a member of haplogroup V, from eastern Europe.  They do not fall into a subclade of V and they have several extra mutations and one missing mutation compared to what is typically found in haplogroup V participants.

ripper2

This individual has 3 full sequence matches, two of which are exact matches, but neither of those lead to the same ancestor.  This is a rather typical situation, not out of the ordinary.

The Ripper’s DNA

Another discovery on the shawl was that of semen, possible evidence of the Ripper himself.  They enlisted the help of Dr. David Miller who found surviving epithelium cells, a type of tissue that coats organs, in this case, thought to have come from the urethra during ejaculation.

Here a quote from Dr. Louhelainen about the DNA findings from these cells.

“Then I used a new process called whole genome amplification to copy the DNA 500 million-fold and allow it to be profiled.

Once I had the profile, I could compare it to that of the female descendant of Kosminski’s sister, who had given us a sample of  her DNA swabbed from inside  her mouth.

The first strand of DNA showed a 99.2 per cent match, as the analysis instrument could not determine the sequence of the missing 0.8 per cent fragment  of DNA. On testing the second strand, we achieved a perfect 100 per cent match.

Because of the genome amplification technique, I was also able to ascertain the ethnic and geographical background of the DNA I extracted. It was of a type known as the haplogroup T1a1, common in people of Russian Jewish ethnicity. I was even able to establish that he had dark hair.”

Here is the third problem.

This description seems to combine two types of sequencing.  Now, that’s not a bad thing, it’s simply confusing.  Based on the haplogroup of T1a1, we know that they sequenced mitochondrial DNA and that they did in fact manage to sequence it to the full sequence level.  How do we know this?  Because each mitochondrial haplogroup is designated by certain specific mutations.  In this case, the final 1 of T1a1 is indicated by location 9899 in the coding region of the mitochondria – so in order to designate this individual as a member of haplogroup T1a1, they had to sequence the coding region.  Again, we presume (the cousin of assume – with the same consequences) that they were able to successfully sequence the entire mitochondria.

Now for the fly in the ointment, I have not found this haplogroup in Russian Jewish people.  In fact, the clients who I have done DNA Reports for who fall into this haplogroup are not Jewish – none of them, nor do they have Jewish matches.  Neither does Dr. Behar identify this as a Jewish haplogroup in his founding mother’s paper.  Nor is this identified elsewhere as a Jewish haplogroup.  Of course, this Daily Mail article has no sources, so we can’t independently verify what was said, but it looks like this assertion of T1a1 typical of Jewish people may be in error.

However, from his discussion, we can also tell that additional sequencing has been done on the DNA retrieved, because you can’t determine traits like hair color without autosomal sequencing.  Therefore, if the descendant is truly related to Jack the Ripper, then at least part of their autosomal DNA should match as well, and that was not addressed.  If the autosomal DNA does not match, at least in part, then it calls into question the conclusions drawn by the mitochondrial DNA match.

We know that Kosminski was born about 1865 if he was 23 in 1888 when the crimes were committed.  The DNA matches a descendant of his sister.  Let’s assume, for purposes of argument that his sister was born about the same time.  And let’s use the standard genealogy generation of 30 years.  This means that the sister’s child was born in 1895, her child in 1925, her child in 1955 and maybe yet another child in 1985.  That’s a total of 6 DNA transmission events to a common ancestor, being the parents of the Kosminski siblings.  Therefore, Kosminski is the great-great-uncle to the child born in 1955.  Therefore, the individual born in 1955 should share about 6.25 of their autosomal DNA with Kosminski.  If they don’t, then there’s a problem.

If they do, then why didn’t the article tell us that.  This information would, in essence, seal the deal – well, assuming all of the other presuming is remedied.

Is It True???

First, let me state that in science, I’m always very, very skeptical of publication via newspaper or internet, especially publication via tabloid.  This has been fraught with problems.  Debbie Kennett has covered this repeatedly on her blog.  Another example is the announcement of  Pict DNA being identified – published and never proven.  I know of other cases in which DNA evidence is intentionally twisted, inaccurately, to fit the intentions of the publishing entity.  So, yes, I’m a rabid skeptic without provable evidence.

I want to see this assertion go through the verification process with a second, reputable, lab.  By reputable, I mean one not associated with any of these other questionable assertions.  Then, I’d like to see the results published in an industry accepted journal.  Yes, that takes time, and yes, there are questions to answer, but the resulting paper carries with it credibility that is impossible to obtain otherwise.  Unfortunately, publishing results in a tabloid paper immediately causes me to question why they would have made that choice if they had solid proof.

Ok, now that I’ve said that, I want to address the question at hand.  Is it true?  Might it be true?

I’d like to make two points.  First, while I used random examples of mitochondrial matching, this isn’t a random situation.  This is a known individual in both cases, with known and I’m assuming, provable, genealogy to both Catherine Eddowes and to Aaron Kosminski.  We’re not looking at random matches here and we’re not looking for a common ancestor.  We know who the common ancestor is in both of these situations and we’re looking for matches to confirm that identity.  This, by the way, is exactly how our armed forces identify remains of soldiers and repatriate them to the family.  This uses the exact same premise – that we’re not looking for random matches, but for a match with a known family member of known provenance – with possibly, hopefully, family line mutations.

Now, let’s use a bit of math, which is sometimes, but not always, my friend.

I’m going to use two examples, haplogroup T1a1 and haplogroup J1c2f because it’s mine and I have easy access to those results.  We know that the mitochondrial DNA attributed to Kosminski is T1a1 and we’ll just let mine stand in for Catherine Eddowes.

In the Family Tree DNA data base, haplogroup T represents 8.06% of the participants and haplogroup J, 7.77%.  As of September 8, they have a total of 43,329 full sequence mitochondrial DNA results in their data base.  I calculated the number of members of each haplogroup based on that percentage and then I checked the corresponding DNA project at Family Tree DNA.  Then I checked to see how many occurrences of the subgroups of J1c2f and T1a1 were found and calculated the percentage of haplogroup J and T they represent.  The total subgroup percentage is the percentage of J1c2f and T1a1 of the entire FTDNA full sequence population.

  % FTDNA # Members Hap Project # #J1c2f/ T1a1 % of  Hap Proj Total % subgroup
J1c2f 7.77 3336 2165 6 .2 .01
T1a1 8.06 3492 673 52 .73 .12

London’s population was estimated to be 1 million in 1800 and 6.7 million in 1900, so let’s use the figure of 6 million for 1888 as an estimate.

Of 6 million people, you would expect to find 600 people carrying haplogroup J1c2f and 7200 people carrying T1a1.  Therefore to find two of those individuals whose DNA is found on the same scarf, who have a forensic tie, or a suspicion of a tie, is astronomically small.

If math is my friend today, we would multiple values of each haplogroup in the population together to find the odds of finding both in one place.

That would be .0001 times .0012, which equals 1.2e-7 which means, 0.00000012, in other words, about one in 1.2 billion.  The population of the world in 1875 was calculated to be about 1.3 billion

So, assuming their work is accurate, and assuming that this isn’t a huge elaborate hoax, it’s very likely accurate, and Jack the Ripper is very probably Aaron Kosminski.

Where’s the Beef???

ripper3

Remember the old Wendy’s refrain, “Where’s the Beef?’’

Well, I want to believe this story, especially since it’s such a feel good fairy tale story involving a Jack the Ripper hobbyist and DNA, of course.  But I’m really left waiting for some kind of corroboration.  Was it Carl Sagan that said “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?”  Well, they do and I really hope the authors will subject their findings to peer review and authenticate their claims.  If this isn’t true, it’s a hugely elaborate and well-planned hoax perpetrated probably to sell a resulting book or movie which should, if that is true, be named “Jack the Ripoff.”

I want this to be true, and I want the authors to make a believer out of me.  I want no presumes or assumes left standing.  So….where’s the beef???