Transfer DNA Results or Retest at Family Tree DNA?

confusionThe recent announcement by that they are discontinuing their Y and mtDNA products and associated data bases, combined with the opportunity to transfer your Y and autosomal Y DNA results to Family Tree DNA has raised the question of whether it’s best to transfer or retest.  Let’s look at the various options, pluses and minuses, for each product involved.  As it turns out, one size does not fit all.  In other words, it depends…


The cost of an autosomal test transfer to Family Tree DNA is $69 and you can transfer either’s autosomal test results or 23andMe’s v3 results to Family Tree DNA for that price.

However, the cost of retesting at Family Tree DNA, utilizing the Father’s Day sale, and yes, it’s valid for females too, not just men, is just $79.

So, should you transfer existing results or retest?

  1. If you retest at Family Tree DNA, you’ll have the added benefit of having your DNA archived there, available to you for other tests in the future. Archiving is free and is part of the service.
  2. If you retest at Family Tree DNA, you don’t have to deal with downloading files from Ancestry or 23andMe and then uploading them to Family Tree DNA. If you’re not a techie, this is a benefit.
  3. Ancestry has never been known for quality, so in terms of Ancestry, for a $10 difference, I would certainly retest.
  4. At 23andMe, if you tested either early (the v2 chip) or since November/December of 2013 (the v4 chip) you have no choice but to retest, because the results aren’t compatible.

In a nutshell, for a $10 difference, my vote would be to retest, unless, of course, the person isn’t available to retest then by all means, transfer the results.

If you’re going to retest, do it now while the price is still $79.  The sale ends on 6-17-2014.

Don’t forget, the Big Y, which is a nearly full sequence of the Y chromosome, is also on sale for Father’s Day for only $595.  The newly announced SNP matching in addition to the regular marker matching promises to add a second tool to those who are trying to determine family lineages.  I suggest that someone from each of your primary family surname lines take this test.  Mutations are being found every 90-150 years so this test holds great promised in combination with regular STR (37, 67 and 111 marker) testing.


You can transfer your Ancestry Y DNA results to Family Tree DNA for $19, and then upgrade to the Family Tree DNA standard marker test for another $39, for a total of $58.

If you transfer Ancestry’s 33 marker results, the $58 upgrade price buys you an upgrade to the 25 marker test.  If you transfer Ancestry’s 46 marker test, the upgrade buys you a standard 37 marker test.  Both of these upgrades include DNA matching to other participants.  The $19 transfer alone, does not, just the ability to join projects.

The standard 37 marker test at Family Tree DNA today costs $169 without the transfer, so transferring is definitely the way to go on Y DNA.  You save $111.  Plus, with the upgrade, you will have the added benefit of having your DNA archived at Family Tree DNA.

For Y DNA, a transfer with the upgrade is definitely your best value.  Don’t forget to do this before Sept. 5th because the Ancestry data base disappears that day.  In fact, the sooner, the better, because some of Ancestry’s DNA data base features have already been discontinued.

Mitochondrial DNA

Ancestry’s mtDNA test results weren’t compatible with Family Tree DNA’s, so you don’t have a transfer option.  The mtDNA plus at Family Tree DNA which provides you with your haplogroup and matches in the HVR1+HVR2 regions is $59, but the full sequence mitochondrial DNA test is only $199.  The full sequence test provides you with fully sequenced mitochondrial DNA results, about 10 times more locations than the HVR1+HVR2 regions, a full haplogroup designation and matching at the highest level.  It’s definitely the best value and then you’re done with mtDNA because there are no upgrades beyond the full sequence.

My recommendation would be to purchase the Full Sequence test for $199 as the best value.

The Net-Net

In short, here’s what we have:

  • Autosomal – you can retest at Family Tree DNA for $79, $10 more than the $69 transfer price, which has several benefits.
  • Y DNA – the transfer plus upgrade for $58 is your best value, saving you over $100.
  • Mitochondrial DNA – there is no transfer option, so retesting is necessary.

Click here to order.

Marcus Younger (c1740-1816), Mystery Man, 52 Ancestors #23

The Younger story starts with Marcus Younger.  It shouldn’t but it does, because we don’t know who his parents were.  We may never know, because Marcus Younger’s Y chromosomal, paternal, DNA doesn’t match the rest of the Younger line to whom he is obviously related.  Why obviously?  You’ll see.  This story reminds me a bit of a soap opera and an onion – unpeeling one layer at a time – slowly and painfully over the past 20 years or so.

In 2007, I began the Younger DNA project.  I fully expected Marcus’s descendants to match on the Y chromosome to the descendants of Thomas Younger, a man who lived very close to Marcus in Halifax County and who many believed was Marcus’s father.  Even if he wasn’t Marcus’s father, the he was likely his uncle.  One thing is for sure – we fully expected them to descend from a common paternal male line – but we were wrong.

Not only did the men not match, there is no possibility on their Y (paternal) line that they are distantly related.  In other words, this isn’t a questionable match, it’s a flat out no-match.  They are in different haplogroups, with Thomas’s line being in haplogroup R and Marcus’s line in haplogroup I.  These men’s paternal ancestors weren’t related in 10s of thousands of years.  Well, that was a “stop me in my tracks” revelation.  So now what?

So let’s start with Marcus and tell as much of our Younger story as we know.  We have made some remarkable breakthroughs recently, compliments of autosomal DNA technology.

Marcus Younger

Marcus Younger was born probably in Essex County, VA and probably around 1730, based on his son’s 1760 birth.  He died in January 1815 in Halifax County, Virginia.  He married Susannah, possibly Hart.  Anthony Hart sold land to Marcus Younger before he moved to Halifax County.  Marcus was also taxed under Anthony.  We don’t know who Marcus’s parents are, but given recent autosomal DNA evidence, we suspect that he was the illegitimate son of a daughter of Alexander Younger and Rebecca Mills.  Alexander Younger mentions no son, Marcus, in his will.  Alexander’s son, Thomas Younger, moved to Halifax County earlier than Marcus who arrived about 1785.  They lived close to each other, Thomas on Terrible Creek and Marcus on Yellow Bank Creek on the Banister River.  Thomas died in 1791 and his will was witnessed by both Marcus and Marcus’s son, John Younger.  This implies strongly that Marcus was not Thomas’s heir, as heirs typically did not witness wills.  It also suggests that they were very close.

In 1780, Marcus Younger aided in the American Revolution in King and Queen County as documented by the Public Service Claims. He provided 1 gallon, 2 quarts and a half brandy worth 39 pounds, 1 shilling and 3 pence.  He probably didn’t have any choice about this, because then the army needed (or wanted) supplies, it needed supplies.  They gave you a receipt with the idea that someday you could turn it in for reimbursement.  In actuality, people did that, which is why we have the records today.  He’s lucky that’s all they took.  They were known for impressing horses, but then again, maybe Marcus didn’t have a horse to impress.

Marcus was in Essex County in 1782 and 1785, taxed under Anthony Hart, but is in Halifax County by December 1786 when he signs the marriage bond for his daughter, Mary, to marry George Estes, suggesting she is under the age of 21.

Interestingly enough, George Estes’s father, Moses Estes lived beside William Younger, born about 1740, wife Patience, whose parentage is also unknown.  William Younger is in Halifax County as early as 1760 when he was assigned to a road crew on Reedy Creek. He apparently lived on Reedy Creek in South Boston for the rest of his life.  Reedy Creek abutted the land purchased by Moses Estes Jr. and today Younger Street is the street that runs perpendicular to Estes Street, both of which now lead to the city dump, and is no place remotely close to Terrible Creek or the Banister River.

In 1795, Moses Estes, George Estes, his son who married Mary Younger in 1786, and William Younger, neighbors, all signed a petition.

estes younger glebe petition

I have always wondered if there is a previous pre-Halifax County connection between the William Younger and Moses Estes families.  I have often suspected that Moses Estes Sr. had daughters who would have been the perfect age to have been Patience, the wife of William Younger.  Conversely, we don’t know who the wife of Moses Estes Sr. was, only that her name was Elizabeth.

Regardless, these two families owned land that is very close to each other on the border of Essex and King and Queen Counties in northern Virginia prior to coming to Halifax County.  This is detailed in the unpublished document, “Estes of King and Queen County.”  An excerpt is provided below.

King and Queen and Essex County, Virginia

Using various hints, tips and what few records do still exist, we were able to locate fairly reliably the land of Abraham Estes, the original immigrant in the Estes line.  As luck would have it, we also discovered the Younger holdings in that area as well.

My cousin Wilma, long time Younger genealogist, posted the following information on the Younger rootsweb list in 2002.

Recently I have come into possession of a map which was the project of a Woman’s Club started in 1937 and published in 1972. It attempts to located the early tracts of King and Queen County. Unfortunately some very significant pieces of the map were omitted. I’m referring to the various hundreds and parishes which would better pinpoint a known location.

That said, I studied the map first, for familiar names. I found the name Boulware not far from Caroline County. Many of you will remember that a Boulware was a business associate of John Younger (from Whitehaven, England) in Caroline County which adjoins King and Queen directly to the north. A Boulware also married the daughter of John Price and Ann Younger, daughter of Alexander. [Note: Alexander is the proven father of Thomas Younger who moved to Halifax County.]

The next name is a little more disconnected but it caught my attention.  The name of the property was Fleetwell. Thomas Younger’s daughter by his first wife married a Fretwell and her father (apparently) was prominent in transferring property to Thomas. This Fleetwell certainly may have no relevance but, as I said, it did catch my eye.

Then there was Armistead Hill. Now we all can agree that Armistead is not a very common given name but it has been repeated throughout the Virginia family. I cannot say for sure but I suspect this piece of property was not far from Alexander’s in Essex and King and Queen (to be explained below).

I also noted the name Aylett and remembered having seen it before. I checked Alexander Younger’s notes and found that in 1716 a Robert Farish of St. Stephen’s Parish, King and Queen County bought 100 acres lying in both Essex and King and Queen Counties upon the head of the Dragon. The land adjoined Maj. Aylett’s Quarter and also adjoined the land of Alexander Younger.

I had thought Alexander Younger’s son Thomas had left Essex County (perhaps in anger that his mother had remarried so soon) and had gone to King and Queen. He was known to be in King and Queen County in 1751/2.  [Note – based on a merchant’s account book.] Thomas Younger sold his property to his mother and step-father and it was noted that the property he sold was adjoined by John Farish and Capt. William Aylett.

The man I believe to be the father in law of Thomas Younger, (William Fretwell) obtained the property in question from the mother and stepfather and resold it to Thomas Younger.

No record of any other purchase by Thomas Younger has as yet come to light so one can assume (I hope) that half of the land left to Susannah by her father Thomas was the same described property. The other half was willed to Samuel also without a description. The subsequent lawsuit among the heirs did not deal in property but delineated money instead.

This little exercise put things a bit into perspective for me. It is amazing somehow that maps can be so enlightening – even incomplete ones.

I now suspect that the Younger’s lived fairly close to the border between Essex and King and Queen Counties and being located at or near the head of the Dragon, they were also not terribly far from Middlesex County which accounts for some of the Younger records there.

I took Wilma’s information and ran with it and in doing so, using contemporary maps, I located the approximate location of both the Estes and the Younger land.

Abraham Estes’s land in 1783 abuts the Hoskins and Grymes land.  Today this marker resides on 360 East of St. Stephen’s Church.

estes essex map

Going with the info from the various locations to my trusty atlas, I find that in King and Queen County, on 360 where it crosses 14 and then East on 360 from that location, we have an intersection with 631 and 621 before getting to Miller’s Tavern.  Miller’s Tavern is too far East,  It looks like this land is between Bruington which is at the intersection of 14 and 621 as one point on the triangle, 621 itself as another point on the triangle, and probably St. Stephen’s church as another point.  You also see Dogwood Fork which surely is connected to Dogwood swamp.  Abraham Estes’s land seemed to be on the NE quadrant of this land, so probably nearer to 621.  In a much larger sense, it’s between the Rappahannock and the Mattaponi, but nearer to the Mattaponi.

Essex County Land Grants

June 22 1722 – Grant of Robert Farish described as 775 acres in the Counties of King and Queen and Essex. Beg. of Silvester Estice standing in Thomas Cranes line; thence &c. on the south side a branch of Mattapony River. And then 775 acres in the Counties of King and Queen and Essex adjoining the land of Silvester Estice, Thos. Crane &c. on the south side of a branch of Mattapony River and crossing several branches of Rappa: River.

Here are 3 transactions that position Alexander Younger’s land in this same area:

Essex County Deed Book 22 (1738-1742), Pg 215
3 Dec 1740

Thomas Younger of St Stephen’s Parish, King and Queen County, VA to Timothy Driscoll [sic] of Southfarnham Parish, Essex County VA for 5000 lbs of tobacco and cash, all interest now or hereafter in 100 acres in Essex in the Parish of Southfarnum adjoining John Farish, Capt. William Aylett and John Croxton it being all that tract purchased by his father, Alexander Younger, dec’d of Richard Jones and Leonard Hill

Witnesses – Thomas Barker, John Croxton, Henry Brown
Acknowledged 17 Mar 1740 at a court held for Essex County at Tappahannock

3 Dec 1740

Know All Men by these presents that I Thomas Younger of King and Queen County stand indebted to Timothy Driscoll in the sum of ten thousand pounds of good tobacco and cash. The condition of the above obligation is such that Thomas Younger at all times upon request of Timothy Driscoll  his heirs sufficiently grant all that parcel of land now in the tenure of Timothy Driscoll clearly aquitted and discharged from all manner of former bargains and incumberances whatsoever done by Thomas Younger then this obligation to be void otherwise to remain in force.

Signed: Thomas Younger
Witnesses: John Croxton, Henry Brown

Then received the full sum of thirty pounds current money, it being the full consideration.

Essex County VA Deed Book 24, Pg 354 and Virginia Colonial Abstracts, p.353
10 Aug 1749

William Fretwell of Southfarnham Parish, Essex County VA to Thomas Younger of Drisdale Parish in County of King and Queen County for 30 pounds, all interest now or hereafter in 100 acres in Essex, purchased of Thomas Younger by Timothy Driscoll and by him conveyed to William Fretwell

Signed: William Fretwell
Witnesses – Thomas Barker, Richard Hodges
Acknowledged 19 Sep 1749.

Another set of records that involved Thomas Younger also positions this family on the Mattaponi.

Thomas Younger was still living in King and Queen County in 1751-1752. (King and Queen Merchants Ledger 1751-1752. Accession #25110, Virginia State Library, Pg. 49).  He made purchased in both 1751 and 1752.

Thomas Younger Mar 1751
Thomas Younger July  1752

An Index – Magazine of Virginia genealogy, Vol 29, Number 3, Aug 1991

The King and Queen County merchant’s account book has been abstracted and is identified in the Virginia State Archives by Accession number 28893.

Ledger A covers 25 Feb 1748-21 May 1750 and the unpaid accounts on the latter were transferred to Ledger B as opening balances. Ledger B covers 23 May 1750 to 16 Mar 1751. Balances on 16 Mar 1751 were transferred to Ledger C which covers 19 Mar 1751-4 Aug 1752. These ledgers came from the store of Nininan Boog, factor for Buchannan and Hamilton, Liverpool Merchants. Boog’s King and Queen store was apparently located at Todd’s on the Mataponi about a mile above Aylett where state route 628 now ends.

Name                              A                                    B                               C

Thomas Younger           68                                 104                              49

Alexander Younger in America

We know very little about the origins of Alexander Younger before his arrival in Virginia.  There is a parish register entry in Lanark, Glasgow, Scotland showing an Alexander Younger christened on May 2, 1681.  We don’t know if that record is for our Alexander, but it could be, especially given the 1699 court record which indicates his age as 18 years of age.

There are at least four possibilities for his importation records which begs the question of what happened to these other Alexander Youngers.

1. Old Rappahanock County, VA Order Book 2 1698-1699, Pg 148

10 June 1699 – Deposition – Alexander Younge (r), a servant of Edward Rowzee, said to be eighteen years old.

2.  General Index to Court Orders, Essex County VA 1684-1714

11 Oct 1704 – An Alexander Younger imported by Thomas Dickinson 0-3-124

10 May 1705 – An Alexander Younger imported by Ralph Rowze 0-3-164

Considering that Alexander was a servant in a Rowze household it seems plausible that he immigrated in 1705.

These first two records cause me to wonder if Alexander went back and forth a couple of times.  That was not unheard of, especially if he was the personal servant to a wealthy man.

We do know that Alexander Younger wrote his will in 1725, designating his wife and son, Thomas to be his executors.  His son would have had to have been born very shortly after his arrival.  If Alexander was a indentured servant, it’s unlikely that he would have been allowed to marry for the requisite 5 or 7 years to complete his indenture.  This record says he is a servant, but it does not say that he is indentured, but it certainly does imply that he is.

3.  From on Genforum under the Younger forum:

Alexander received 100 acres of land for transporting himself and his servants, James Morrison, to Somerset Co., Maryland.  He later signed it over to Henry Bishop, a planter from Maryland.  From G. Spades “The Early Settlers of Maryland”.  Alexander came to York Co., VA in 1680.  As per Virginia Colonial abstract #9.  Essex Co. will and deeds of 1714-1717 Alexander Younger was sold 100 acres of land for 3250 pounds of tobacco in the Parish of Southfarnham, Essex Co. Record Book 15 page 359.

I question whether the records above are for the same person.  We know that “our” Alexander was in Essex County, but I would like to see some documentation that ties the Maryland Alexander Younger with ours in Essex County, VA.

Alexander witnessed wills in both 1706 and 1707, suggesting that he was not an indentured servant at that time.

Virginia Colonial Abstracts, p. 155 (Essex County)

Will of Richard Matthews of Essex County
Written 12 Jan 1705/6, Pro 11 Feb 1705/6

To eldest son Richard a Bible. To youngest son Giles and daughter Elizabeth. the balance of  the estate for their maintenance. To  Ann a cow.

Exec. John Boulware, John Mottlin
Witnesses: John X Williams, Robert Parker, Alexander Younger

Essex County VA Records, Abstracted by John Frederick Dorman,

p. 36,37 – 18 Jan 1707 – Will of Daniel Browne of Essex County VA witnessed by Alexander Younger

p. 224 – Jean Browne wife of the deceased Daniel Browne, Sr. of Southfarnum Parish gave her interest in her 1/3rd to son Henry.

Witnessed by Alexander Younger

4.  General Index to Court Orders, Essex County VA 1684-1714

10 Aug 1708 – Alexander Younger grants 50 acres of land for his own importation 0-4-47 – 10 Sep 1708

This record actually suggests that Alexander Younger was not indentured, as the person who paid for his transportation would have been the person to claim his 50 acres.  However, if the land were part of his agreement, and he arrived in 1799, and was indentured for 7 years, he would have been freed in 1706, in time to witness the 1706 will.

Alexander Younger’s Land

Records show that in 1715, Alexander Younger purchased 220 acres of land in South Farnham Parish, Essex County, VA (Virginia Colonial Abstracts #9, pp. 319-320, Essex County VA Wills and Deeds Bk 14, p 359)

By 1716, Alexander had land and we know where it was, near the head of the Dragon Branches.

Records of Essex Co, VA, No 15, p. 1
18 and 19 Mar 1716

Deed and Release

Casper Coston, smith, and Mary his wife, of St Anne’s Parish, Essex Co, sell to Robert Farish of St Stephen’s Parish, King and Queen Co, for 48 pounds, 250a, part of 100a granted to Richard Jones and George Turner, 8 Feb 1672, lying in Essex and King and Queen Counties, upon the heads of the Dragon, Ashnamscot and Piscatua branches adj a marsh at the head of one of the Dragon branches, by Maj. Aylett  the Quarter formerly known as Goodrich’s land, the land of Sheffells old field, Alexander’s house and the head of a branch of Fisher’s mill. Also Capt Brerton’s land “descending to me Mary Coston as being heir at law to my only sister Sarah Shipley, late dec’d, which was left by will of George Boyce to my sd sister, (adj land of Major Aylets Quarter formerly known by the name of Goodrich land, and also adjoining the land of Alexander Younger. Also Capt Brereton’ land)

Witnesses: John Bates, John Boughan, Thomas X Shipley

(Extracted from Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Vol II, Beverly Fleet, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, MD, 1988, p.83) SW: Sheffield

This is apparently Mary Cosston, sister of Keziah. The second entry of this record on p. 179 of this same source states Jasper Coston, not Casper, Goodrick, not Goodrich. Third record on p. 296 (filed under King and Queen Co) states “the head of Kissells old field, Alexander Youngers house, branch of Fishers mill, etc.” George Boyce record not yet located.

By 1725, Alexander had died, fairly young, and with young children.  His son John died in 1733 and Alexander’s estate funds were used to bury John as well.  In 1732, his 3 youngest daughters were still under age and Thomas was appointed their guardians.

Alexander was impaneled as a juror several times.  But then, in 1724, it was his turn to face the jury.

Essex County VA Order Book 1723-1725, p. 107 – 19 Mar 1723

The suit brought by John Bagge against Alexander Younger is dismissed.

p. 138 – 20 May 1724

Alexander Younger of the Parish of South Farnham for not frequenting his Parish Church according to Law.  Presented by the Grand Jury and therefore ordered the Sheriff to summon all said persons to appear at the next court for this County to show cause if any they have why they should not be fined according to Law.

p 161, 17 June 1724

The presentment of the Grand Jury agt. Alexander Younger is dismissed.

The 1724 presentment against Alexander for not attending church was dismissed.  Obviously, he wasn’t attending.  The question is why.  Given that he made his will in 1725, it causes me to wonder if he wasn’t ill by 1724 and not attending church for that reason.

p. 167, 17 Jun 1724

In the action on the case brought by Nathaniel Sanders against John Griggs it is ordered that James Edmondson, Alexander Younger and John Haile or any two of them audit and settle the accounts between the plaintiff and the defendant. and make their report to the next court.

Given this court order, Alexander must not have been ill at this time.

p. 172 – 18 Jun 1724

The action of debt brought by John Bagge vs Alexander Younger is continued. The Plaintiff’s Attorney being absent.

On July 18, 1727, Alexander’s will was probated.  He would have been less than 50 years old.

Essex County Wills, Bonds and Inventories, Part 2, pg 222 1722-1730

Will Book 4, pp 222-223
Written 11 Aug 1725, Probated 18 Jul 1727
Virginia State Library

IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN…The eleventh day of Aug 1725, I, Alexander Younger of the County of Essex, being sick and weak of body yet in perfect sense and memory thanks be to God for the same I do make and constitute ordain and declare this to be my last will and testament and no other first being point out and sorry from the bottom of my heart for all my sins past most humble begging God forgiveness and remission of the same through the alone merits of my dear redeemer and only savior, Jesus Christ. I commit my soul into the hand of Almighty God, my savior and only redeemer through the merit of whose death and passion I hope to have full and perfect remission and forgiveness of all my sins. My body to be decently interred by my executors hereafter named in hopes of a happy resurrection at the last day and my soul and body to enter into perfect joy and felicity forevermore. And for the settling and disposing my temporal and such goods and chattels as it hath pleased God to bestow upon me I do order give and dispose as follows, that is to say, first all those debts and duties as I owe in right or custom to any person whatsoever shall be well and truly contented and paid within convenient time after my decease by my executors hereafter named. First I will and bequeath to the three poorest objects of pity in the parish thirty shillings in such things as may answer their wants to be paid within one year after my decease by my executors.

Secondly I will and bequeath to my son Thomas Younger that piece of land that I bought of Mr. Hill and Richard Jones, a young heifer called Fairmade and her female increase and if she happens to be barren and not a breeder then to have a young cow out of my own proper stock of chattels and if she should die then to have another young cow in her room out of my own proper stock and six pounds currency and that gun which I bought of Captain Welch.

Thirdly I will and bequeath to my son John Younger that piece of land which I bought of Mary Newton, two young cows out of my proper stock, six pound currency and his choice of my other two guns.

If either of my two sons Thomas or John die without issue then their land, money and gun to fall to the eldest female then alive only my will is that the child in whose hands any of the boy’s land falls to, the other part of

their estate shall be equally divide among the rest then alive. They themselves that have the land having one equal part thereof. It is my will that the two eldest then alive of the female kind if the male be all dead should inherit the land. Also my will is that after appraisement made that my estate be equally divided among my other six children to wit: James Younger, Elizabeth Younger, Ann Younger, Mary Younger, Jannett Younger, and Susannah Younger, and further it is my will that if any one of them died without issue lawfully begotten of their body that their part be equally divided among the rest then alive and it is my will concerning every one of my children’s parts of the estate if they die without issue lawfully begotten of their body to be still equally divided among the rest then alive and further it is my will that if my well beloved wife, Rebecca Younger, should happen to join in wedlock state after my decease it is my will that the boys should be for themselves at the age of seventeen years old and if she continues my widow then to remain till the year of twenty one and if it should please God to whom all things are subject to remove all my issue by death then it is my will that my land and personal estate be secured for my next heir in Scotland of my brother Andrew’s only wife to have the liberty of the same all her days in a moderate way to live upon without control of any person whatsoever.

The executors whom I order and appoint is my well beloved wife Rebecca Younger and my son Thomas Younger to see the same truly appointed and fully performed. In witness whereof I have affixed my seal and set my hand the day and year first above written.

Signed: Alexander Younger
Witnesses: John Haile, Bryant Edmondson, Francis Haile (his mark)

At a court for Essex County on Tuesday the 18th of July 1727, the within last will and testament of Alexander Younger, dec’d, was proved by the oath of Rebecca Younger, his executrix and being further proved by the oath of John Haile and Bryant Edmondson, two of the witnesses thereto was admitted to record.

Signed W. Beverly, C.C.

18 Jul 1727

Bond of Rebecca Younger as Executrix of Alexander Younger. Unto William Dangerfield, Benjamin Robinson, John Taliaferro and Nicholas Smith, Gent., Justices. For L 300 sterling

Securities: Thomas Covington and Richard Jones

It is ordered that James Edmondson, Henry Boughan, John Haile and William Gatewood or any three of them appraise the estate of Alexander Younger, dec’d and return their proceedings therein to the next court.

Appraisers were typically the largest debtor, someone from the wife’s family and a totally disinterested party.

Essex County VA Will Book 5, p. 152,153 – 1727

Account for the administration of the estate of Alexander Younger

This account provides the information that by later in 1727, Alexander’s son John has died, his daughter Elizabeth has married John Dillard and the widow Rebecca has remarried Timothy Driscoll, although it is odd that she signs her name as Rebecca Younger on this document.  Actually, she signed with a mark so maybe the clerk wrote her name as Rebecca Younger instead of her new married name.  The only reason Timothy Driscoll would sign this is if he had an interest and his only interest would be as her husband.

Essex County VA Court Wills #5

Total Valuation L 157.12.10 including one Negro man valued at 25 pounds.

The estate of Mr. Alexander Younger, dec’d

  • To funeral expenses for Mr. Younger
  • To Dr. John Haile
  • To John Leach a legacy left by Mr. Younger
  • To Thomas Barber for sundry writing for the estate
  • To John Taylor (no reason given)
  • To Pitman Grandoff (no reason given)
  • To the appraisers of the estate (not named)
  • To the probate of Mr. Younger’s will
  • To Mr. ? Carter
  • To registering the death of the sd Younger
  • To registering the death of a negro
  • To registering the death of John Younger
  • To rolling Mr. Younger’s tobacco
  • To tobacco charged in the inventory due in his lifetime not received by the executors
  • To tobacco charged for clerks, secretarys and parsons
  • To John Dillard for his wife’s part of the estate being 1/8 of 127 pounds, 13 shillings, 4 1/2 pence.

Signed Timothy Driscoll (his mark)

Rebecca Younger (R)

At a court convened and held for Essex County on 22 Aug 1833

Timothy Driscoll and Rebecca, his wife, Executors of the last will and testament of Alexander Younger, dec’d produced their vouchers and made oath that this was a just and true account of the sd deceased estate and all the articles therein being allowed by this court, on the motion of Timothy the same is admitted to record.

Essex County VA Will Book 5: 119,120
15 Jan 1732

Thomas Younger made guardian of Mary and Ann, infant orphans of Alexander Younger, dec’d. Samuel Gatewood and John Ferguson were bondsmen with Thomas. The document continues to reveal that he is also guardian to James Younger.

Essex County VA Will Book 5: 115,116
19Dec 1732

Thomas Younger made guardian of James, Jannett and Susannah stating that they are orphans

I have to wonder why he was not appointed prior to this time.  His father has been dead since 1727.  Marcus was born sometime prior to 1740, likely to one of these sisters.  I thought at one time that perhaps his mother died at this time, but according to later deeds, she did not.  Something clearly happened during this time to precipitate this legal action.  But what?

Essex County Deed Book 22 (1738-1742), Pg 215
3 Dec 1740

Thomas Younger of St Stephen’s Parish, King and Queen County, VA to Timothy Driscoll [sic] of Southfarnham Parish, Essex County VA for 5000 lbs of tobacco and cash, all interest now or hereafter in 100 acres in Essex in the Parish of Southfarnum adjoining John Farish, Capt. William Aylett and John Croxton it being all that tract purchased by his father, Alexander Younger, dec’d of Richard Jones and Leonard Hill

Witnesses – Thomas Barker, John Croxton, Henry Brown
Acknowledged 17 Mar 1740 at a court held for Essex County at Tappahannock

3 Dec 1740

Know All Men by these presents that I Thomas Younger of King and Queen County stand indebted to Timothy Driscoll in the sum of ten thousand pounds of good tobacco and cash. The condition of the above obligation is such that Thomas Younger at all times upon request of Timothy Driscoll his heirs sufficiently grant all that parcel of land now in the tenure of Timothy Driscoll clearly aquitted and discharged from all manner of former bargains and incumberances whatsoever done by Thomas Younger then this obligation to be void otherwise to remain in force.

Signed: Thomas Younger
Witnesses: John Croxton, Henry Brown

Then received the full sum of thirty pounds current money, it being the full consideration.

Essex County VA Deed Book 24, Pg 354 and Virginia Colonial Abstracts, p.353  10 Aug 1749

William Fretwell of Southfarnham Parish, Essex County VA to Thomas Younger of Drisdale Parish in County of King and Queen County for 30 pounds, all interest now or hereafter in 100 acres in Essex, purchased of Thomas Younger by Timothy Driscoll and by him conveyed to William Fretwell

Signed: William Fretwell
Witnesses – Thomas Barker, Richard Hodges
Acknowledged 19 Sep 1749.

There are no records in subsequent Deed Books of Essex County, VA of Thomas Younger selling this land. There are no tax records of Essex County until 1782. It is also known by probate records that William Fretwell was the son-in-law of Thomas Younger.

Unfortunately, the records of King and Queen County have been burned, so while there were very likely more records that pertain to Thomas, they were destroyed.  The next time we see Thomas after the 1751/1752 merchant’s account record is in 1765 in Halifax County.

Essex County, Virginia, Summary

The deeds and land transactions tell us that the Estes and Younger families probably knew each other long before they came to Halifax Co.  Notice below that the head of Dragon Run is almost exactly on the county border between King and Queen and Essex county which is highlighted in yellow.  The purple arrow is pointing to this general area, but slightly on the Essex side.  The Younger’s lived on the Essex side and the Estes lived just across the road, right about where the “620” is printed on the way south from Miller’s tavern.

Younger essex co map

It is exceedingly frustrating for me not to be able to connect our Marcus Younger back to his father.  There were other early Younger men who also came to Halifax County, like William Younger.  Were they also from Essex county?  Was our Marcus related to them?  He was clearly associated very closely with all of the Youngers of that time in Halifax County, as they witnessed deeds and such for each other and the Estes family.  Marcus and Thomas Younger were neighbors, as were William Younger and Moses Estes Jr.

Given the DNA results, Marcus did not share a paternal line with Thomas Younger or James Younger, both sons of Alexander Younger and Rebecca Mills.  The Y DNA of Thomas and James descendants matches each other, but Marcus’s Y chromosome does not, and one of the people (Seay) he matches closely also doesn’t match the DNA of his surname family.  The Marcus Younger line also matches one single Rolland male.

Halifax County, Virginia Younger Families

The Halifax County research had two goals.  One, to piece the various Younger families together, learning and much as possible about them and second, to find the land and cemetery where Marcus Younger lived.

The following information is extracted from the deed, will, court order, and chancery suits and is combined with census and tax list information in order to assemble families.  This is not intended to be exhaustive, but to provide an overview in summary form of the results of the research in Halifax.  I have removed almost all of the detail for the Thomas and William Younger families, leaving only what might be relevant for Marcus.

In a nutshell, we have connected all of the early families into three distinct groups that apparently do not connect together in Halifax, meaning they are not father-son groupings.  They may well be otherwise related, but we just don’t know yet.

Ironically, it was neither William, Marcus nor Thomas who first appeared in Halifax County, but  James Younger in 1758 who is mentioned as providing blacksmith services in the estate management for the children in the estate of Capt. James Hill.  Halifax Will Book 0-46.  This James never reappears.  Two years later, William Younger followed.  In 1765 Thomas Younger arrived. Marcus doesn’t appear in any records until 1785.

Marcus Younger, born before 1740, died 1815, wife Susannah

Halifax County records for Marcus Younger begin in 1785.

1785 – Markus Younger is listed on the tax list with 1 white, 1 slave, no horses and 2 cows.

1785 – Marcus Younger is listed on Berryman Green’s list with 1 white tithe, 2 slaves and 1 horse.  A different records show him with 1 white, 1 slave, no horses and 2 cows.

1785 – John Younger, son of Marcus, is listed with 1 white, no slaves, no horses and 2 cows.

1786 – On December 19, Mary Younger marries George Estes, her father Marcus Younger and George Estes sign, William Martin is a witness and Daniel Parker is surety.

estes younger marriage

George signs his marriage bond, above.  Below, Marcus signs for Mary to marry George.

Younger marcus signature

1787 – Markus Younger on the tax list shows 1 white, 2 slaves, 3 horses and 2 cows.

1787 – John Younger on the tax list shows 1 white, 1 slave, 3 horses and 6 cows.

1788 – Halifax County VA Deed Book 14, Pg. 276

7 Mar 1788 Mark Younger from Meador Anderson and wife Sarah
100 acres on Branch of the Bannister River

1788 – Halifax County VA Deed Book 14, Pg. 281
7 Mar 1788
John Younger from Meador Anderson and wife Sarah
100 acres on Branch of the Bannister River for 60 pounds.
(John is the son of Marcus)

1788 – Tax list Markus Younger 1 white, 0 slaves and 3 horses.

1788 – Tax list John Younger 1 white, 1 black, 3 horses.

1789 – Marcus witnessed the will of Thomas Younger and also was on the tax list with 100 acres and tithed with one white male, no slaves and 2 horses.

1790 – Marcus Younger has 100 acres every year until 1814 when his land drops to 93.5 acres and then in 1815 to 43.5 acres and is then noted as a life estate instead of held in fee simple.  This would be his daughter’s share, I would think.  Marcus has no slaves until 1794 when he has 3, then none in1795, 1 in 1796  and each year until he acquires a second slave in 1800 and has 2 until his death.  He has no horses in 1790, but acquires 2 in 1796 and then has 4 in 1802, dropping back to 2 in 1809 and 1 in 1810.

1790 – Marcus’s son John Younger has 100 acres and maintains that land until 1812 when he adds another 3.5 acres from his father.  He has one slave until 1794 when he acquires a second and has two throughout the record period until 1817.

1795 – John Younger, road hand along with George Estes.

Note:  This road hand assignment confirms that George and Mary Younger Estes indeed were living in the north part of the county, probably on the Marcus Younger land.  Given this, the Marcus Younger farm is probably where John R. Estes, their son and also my ancestor, born in 1787/1788 was born.  There are also several spaces for children “missing” who would have been born in the 1790s, nor were any children named after George’s parents, Moses and Luremia.  I suspect those children are buried in the cemetery on Marcus’s land.

1799 – Marcus Younger is listed as a road hand.

1799 – John Younger is listed as a road hand on Terrible Creek along with George Estes.

Note:  Further confirmation that George and Mary Estes Younger were living among the Youngers as late as 1799.

1805 – Marcus wrote his will, but he did not pass away until 10 years later, in 1815.  Generally in this timeframe in Virginia, people did not write a will until they thought they were going to pass away, so he must have had a scare 10 years before he died.

1810 – Halifax County Tax list.  Marcus is taxed with 2 whites, meaning two adult white men, George Estes is not listed on the tax list, which means he was taxed under someone else, and Moses Estes, George’s father, is only taxed with one white male.  George and Mary Estes Younger are very likely living with Marcus Younger.

1811 –  Halifax County VA Deed Book 23, Pg.197
20 May 1811
Mark Younger to John Younger
6 1/2 acres on Bannister River adjoining Younger’s land.
Witnesses: Benjamin and William Landrum, James Powers

Marcus’ will, written 23 Jun 1805, Probated 25 Jan 1815:

To daughter Susannah 50 acres of land where my house stands during her natural life. Also one Negro girl (Fanny), one mare, one bed, and furniture, one cow and calf.  To grandson Younger Wyatt one mare.   The rest of my estate to be equally divided among my four children namely, John Younger, Elizabeth Clark, Mary Estes and Susannah Younger together with my forenamed grandson Younger Wyatt.

Marcus and Susannah Younger’s children:

  • John born April 11, 1760 in Essex County, married Lucy Hart, had 9 children, inherited his father’s land and lived in Halifax County. His son Joel owned the Younger land after John’s death in 1817 as well as the old Younger store. John’s land is where the cemetery is today.
  • Elizabeth married William Clark, had 5 children, but was dead by March 1816.
  • Mary Younger married George Estes in 1786 and died after her sister Susannah in 1831, but before 1842.
  • Sally Younger married a Wyatt and had Younger Wyatt. She was probably deceased by 1805.
  • Susannah apparently never married and died about 1831. She had a will and in her will she left her clothes to her sister Mary Estes and Mary Wyatt, and then she freed her negroes Fanny and Henry “to be released and given $15”. Fifteen dollars at that time was a significant amount of money.       Susannah had inherited Fanny when Fanny was a child when Marcus died in 1815. By 1831, Fanny had presumably married Henry, or perhaps Henry was her son. Neither a Fanny nor Henry Younger are found in the Halifax County region in either 1840 or 1850.

Page 568 July 1815

Land of Marcus Younger (heirs listed) decd to John Younger with agreement of all parties to make survey to Susannah Younger who becomes entitled to the part allocated her under the will of Marcus, tract on the draught of Bannister River beginning at a post on John Younger’s line.

1816 – Marcus Younger’s estate was inventoried.  Slaves Joshua, Harry (boy), Phoebe, Ceily (girl), Jacob (boy), Ben (boy), Sampson (boy), Dicey (girl), mare and sorrel colt, Fanny given by will to Susannah Younger, cow, 3 feather beds and furniture also to Susannah, one yoke oxen, cow, cow and yearling, yearling, one stack tops, two clade stacks, two vat stack, cart, 2 ploying, panel of plank, 2 head sheep, 3 fatted hogs, 1 cutting box, parcel of nubings.

I love estate inventories because they tell us so much about what the person did, and didn’t, have.  This man was not wealthy by any stretch, but with three feather beds and 8 slaves, although several were children, he also wasn’t a pauper.  The slave records hurt my heart and make me sad.  I hope they were considered part of the family.

In 1816, Marcus’s estate transferred 62 acres on Banister Creek.  Deed Book 25-568.

1816 – Susannah Younger’s land laid off.  Susanna Younger, Younger and Polly Wyatt, Thomas and Peggy Clark, William Clark, John and Sarah Henderson, Edmund and Elizabeth Henderson, John and Polly Landrum and George and Mary Estes to John Younger – prompt distribution of Marcus Younger, decd – survey to Susanna Younger part allocated to her under will of Marcus, land sold for 12 months credit $420.60 on the draughts of Banister 62 acres bounded by John Younger line, Bruce’s line, Sights corner, Susanna Younger laying off allotment of land he bequeathed her.  Halifax Deed Book 25-568

1817 – Halifax County VA Deed Book 26. Pg. 572
16 Jul 1817
John Younger, Sr. and wife Lucy to Thomas P. Anderson
107 acres on the head of Yellow Bank Branch for $700
Witnesses: Anthony Younger, George Estes, John Younger and James Bruce

1817 – Will: Halifax County Will Book 11, Pg 50 – John Younger (son of Marcus)
Written 17 Jul 1817, Probated 29 Oct 1817

Names wife Lucy – tract she lives on, furniture, stock,  all my Negroes

  • John Younger – $500 to be raised by executors 12 months after my decease
  • Elizabeth, wife of Thomas P. Anderson – $500
  • Joel Younger – 170 acres adjoining Thomas Anderson
  • Anthony Younger – 100 acres  on Big Creek on which he resides lying on the waters of Rye Creek (Bye Ck)
  • Thomas Younger- land lent to his mother after her death or marriage
  • Robert Younger – land previously given as his share (100 acres north side of Bye Creek apparently)
  • Sally, wife of Joel Anderson – $500  beds, furniture & bridles
  • Polly – $250 for each of her children
  • Nancy – $500 beds, furniture, horses $ bridles
  • Polly & children – $125 ea; Bazoil and Betsy P. Ray – 1/2 land she lives on, the children, the other half

Execs: sons Robert and Anthony Younger
Witnesses: James Bruce, Daniel Mills, George Estis and Mary Estis, her mark (daughter of Marcus)
Security: Joel Tucker, Edward Carlton

Note:  The fact that George and Mary Estes, sister to John, witnessed his deed indicates that they were close to John and trusted family members.  Also note that Mary Younger Estes cannot write.

John (son of Marcus) died in 1817.  His wife was Lucy Hart and he was obviously already married when he came to Halifax.  His children were:

  • Robert S who married Mary Polly Moore and died in 1870
  • Joel who married Lucy Cain and then Fentel Hart
  • John who married Elizabeth and lived in Pittsylvania Co.
  • Thomas married Elizabeth Willingham
  • Nancy married Vincent Carlton
  • Sally married Joel Anderson
  • Elizabeth married an Anderson and then Thomas Andrews
  • Anthony who married Nancy Carrell and sells land in 1824 to James Bruce, by 1830 they live in Franklin Co., VA
  • Polly who was widowed by a Ray and then marries Samuel Younger (son of Thomas). She has children by Ray, Bazrael (wife Jane) and Elizabeth Ray.

Joel (son of John, son of Marcus) died in 1877 and had the following children:

    • Samuel W. (presumed Younger)
    • Vincent B. (presumed Younger)
    • Harriett F. Carlton
    • Matilda E. Tune
    • Louise E. Younger
    • Martha B. Younger
    • Joseph G. Younger
    • Thomas L. Younger

This was the last Younger family to own the original Younger land.  It was sold in 1906.

Robert, (son of John, son of Marcus) married Mary Polly Moore (William D. Moore brother, James D. Moore nephew), and died in 1870.  They had the following children:

    • Philip A. Younger
    • William Polard Younger
    • Peter Palmer Younger
    • John Marcus Younger (Methodist Minister) buried in Pittsylvania Co.
    • William Younger
    • James Younger
    • Betsy Light Younger
    • Martha F. Younger marries Thomas Bradley

It’s quite interesting that the theme of the Methodist religion runs through these families.  This may indeed be the tie that binds many together, especially in situations where they don’t appear as close neighbors, but the children are still intermarrying.  Their connection could well be through their church.  At this time, the only approved State church was the Anglican church, and everyone was required to attend and to pay tithes to support the church. Methodists and Baptists were considered “dissenting religions.”  Around the Revolutionary War, Halifax County authorized three dissenting ministers to perform marriages.  William Moore was one of those ministers, and his daughter, Nancy Ann Moore would marry John R. Estes, the son of George and Mary Estes, in 1811.  The Rice and Henderson families were also known to be dissenters, and the Younger family married into the Clark family who married into the Henderson family, who was already married into the Moore family.

In 1842, a chancery suit involving Marcus’s estate was settled.  The suit claimed that when the heirs of Marcus sold 52 acres to Thomas Clark, the heirs had received the purchase money, but that the whole of them had never conveyed to him clear title, although he was in possession of the land.  All of the children of Marcus Younger were listed, and if Marcus’s children were dead, their children as heirs were listed.   This suit was invaluable in reconstructing the family of Marcus Younger and in particular, his grandchildren.  However, the mystery of his parents, remains.

Marcus Younger Chancery Suit

Suit 1842-057, Halifax Co. Va. – extracted in June 2005 by Roberta Estes

The worshipful county court of Halifax in chancery sitting:  Humbly complaining sheweth unto your worships your orator Thomas Clark that a certain Marcus Younger died many years ago leaving a small tract of land containing about 53 (58?) acres to his wife Suckey Younger (see note) for life and at her death to be divided amongst his children.  That after the death of the said Suckey Younger, the rest of the children of the said Marcus Younger (the wife of your orator being one) sold the said land to  your orator,  put him in possession of the same and have received from them the whole of the purchase money, but have not as yet conveyed to him the legal title.  The names of the said renders(?) are John Henderson and Sally his wife, John Landrum and Sally his wife, Edward Henderson and Betsy his wife, Robert Younger and Mary his wife, Samuel Younger and Mary his wife, Thomas P. Anderson, Joel Younger and Fental his wife, Vincent Carlton and Nancy his wife, Joel Anderson and Sally his wife, Thomas Younger and Betsy his wife, William Estes and Rebecca his wife, James Smith and Polly his wife, Susanna Estes, Marcus Estes, William Clark and Mary his wife, Anthony Younger and Nancy his wife, John Younger and Betsy his wife, Younger Wyatt and Polly his wife, John Estes and Nancy his wife, Thomas Estes and Sally his wife.  In tender consideration of the promises and in as much as your orator is remedyless therein at last?.  To this end therefore that the above named renders? be made parties to this suit and required to answer the allegations herein contained under oath.  That in consequence of the said partys being numerous and widely dispersed in the United States that the said court decree that the legal title to the said land be conveyed to your orator and that the parties to the said contract as vendors? be required to do so and unless they shall do so within a reasonable time that the court appoint a commissioner for that purpose and grant all other recipients relief.  May it please the court to grant the Commonwealths writ of subpoena.

Note:  This mention of his wife Suckey Younger drove me to distraction for years.  During one of the visits to Halifax County, I saw a form for a lawsuit and realized that often, forms or standard language were used at that time as well.  The standard verbiage here would be wife and not daughter.  The next sentence in fact says, “the rest of the children” and the subsequent suit and deeds all reference Susannah not as the wife of Marcus, but his daughter.  Unfortunately, in this case, the fact that his wife and the daughter who died without marrying and without heirs shared the same first name.

Next document:

The joint answer of John Henderson and Sally his wife, John Landrum and Polly his wife, Edward Henderson and Betsy his wife, Robert Younger and Mary his wife, Samuel Younger and Mary his wife, Thomas P. Anderson and Betsy his wife, Joel Younger and Fental his wife, Vincent Carlton and Nancy his wife, Joel Anderson and Sally his wife, Thomas Younger and Betsy his wife, William Estes and Rebecca his wife, James Smith and Polly his wife, Susanna Estes, Marcus Estes, William Clark and Mary his wife, Anthony Younger and Nancy his wife, John Younger and Betsy his wife, Younger Wyatt and Polly his wife, John Estes and Nancy his wife.  Thomas Estes and Sally his wife to a bill of complaint exhibited against them in the county court of Halifax by Thomas Clark – These respondents saving? Do say that the allegations of the complainants bill are true and having answered pray to be hence dismissed.

Next document

This cause came on this day to be heard on the bill of chancery and answered and was argued by counsel and consideration and decise? that Jonathan B. Stovall who is hereby appointed a commissioner for that purpose do by proper deeds convey the lands in the proceeding mentioned to Thomas Clark in fee simply with special warranty.

Two attached pages in file as follows:

Page 1

Marcus Younger left 83 acres for life to Sukey Younger for life and at her death to be divided among his children.  Note – after this statement, in a different handwriting, begins the list of his heirs.

  • Elizabeth Clark, Sally Wyatt, John Younger, Mary Estes, children of Marcus
  • Thomas, Sally Henderson wife of John Henderson, Polly Landrum wife of John Landrum, Betsy wife of Edward Henderson, William Clark, Children of Elizabeth Clark (inferring that she is deceased).
  • Younger Wyatt child of Sally Wyatt
  • Robert, Polly wife of Samuel Younger, Anthony, Joel, Betsy wife of J. P. Anderson, Nancy wife of Vincent P. Carlton, John, Thomas, Sally wife of Joel Anderson – children of John Younger.
  • John Estes, William, Susannah, Sally wife of T. Estes, Polly wife of James Smith and a grandchild name Mark Estes – children of Mary Estes.
  • Elizabeth Clark’s children are entitled each to 1/5 of 1/4th
  • Younger Wyatt entitled to ¼th
  • John Younger’s children are each entitled to 1/9 of 1/4th
  • Mary Estes children are entitled each to 1/6 of 1/4th
  • Mary Estes grandchild is entitled to 1/6th of 1/4th

Next page:

  • Thomas Clark and Peggy his wife – Halifax
  • John Henderson and Sally his wife – Halifax
  • John Landrum and Polly his wife – Halifax
  • Edward Henderson Jr. and Betsy his wife – Halifax
  • William Clark and Mary his wife – Patrick County
  • Robert Younger and Mary his wife – Halifax
  • Samuel Younger and Mary his wife – Halifax
  • Anthony Younger and Nancy his wife – Franklin
  • Thomas P. Anderson and Betsy his wife – Halifax
  • Joel Younger and Fental his wife – Halifax
  • John Younger and Betsy his wife – Pittsylvania
  • Vincent Carlton and Nancy his wife – Halifax
  • Joel Anderson and Sally his wife – Halifax
  • Thomas Younger and Betsy his wife – Halifax
  • Younger Wyatt and Polly his wife – Rutherford County Tennessee
  • John Estes and Nancy his wife – Rutherford Co Tennessee (actually ditto marks and John was actually in Claiborne by this time it is believed)
  • William Estes and Rebecca his wife – Halifax
  • Susannah Estes – Halifax
  • Thomas Estes and Sally his wife – Montgomery County Tennessee
  • James Smith and Polly his wife – Halifax
  • Marcus Estes (son of Mark) – Halifax

(Note – Marcus Estes the son of George and Mary Estes died in 1815 shortly after his marriage.  Susanna Y. Estes, the daughter of George and Mary Estes, who never married, also had a son Marcus Estes, not to be confused with this Marcus, the son of George and Mary Estes.)

Thomas Younger, born before 1806, died in 1791, wives unknown

Thomas Younger had to have been born before 1706 if he was administering his father’s estate in 1727.  His father, Alexander wrote his will in 1725.  If Thomas was 21 at that time, he would have been born in or before 1704.

Thomas Younger was in Halifax County by 1765 when both Thomas and William appeared on different tax lists.

1781 – Halifax County – Revolutionary War Public Claims from Thomas Younger.  22 diets #1-7-6, 15 do, 15 forages#1-10, 54# mutton 11s-3, .5 bu corn 1s-3, 4 gal brandy #2, .5 bu oats, 17 diets #1-2, 100# fodder 3s, 56# fodder, 1 bu corn, 2 bu oats 7s-1.75, 200# fodder 6s, 6 forrages, 1 qt brandy, 3 diets 9s-9, 5 pts brandy 6s-3 cont

Thomas owned land on Terrible Creek adjacent his son William who died in 1801.  This relationship is proven in one of the many chancery suits that follow regarding Thomas’s will and his daughter Susannah who had land for her life.  Upon her death, the heirs filed suits to determine how her assets were to be divided.  Thomas Younger’s children were:

  • Susannah who never married and inherited land
  • Samuel who married Polly Younger Ray
  • James who could not be found for an estate distribution when Susannah dies but then suddenly shows up, causing yet another chancery suit
  • John
  • Joseph
  • Thomas (of the half blood)
  • Mary Fretwell Scudders (of the half blood)
  • Jesse who dies in 1805
  • William who owns land on Terrible Creek and died in 1801 (see below)
  • Elizabeth who had the child (John G. Younger) by Rev. Gordon and marries John LeGrand
  • Nancy (Nanny) Smallman
  • Katey Brown
  • Dolly Light
  • Lucy who married George Winn
  • Rebecca married John Franklin
  • Rachel

It doesn’t help in the confusion factor that both Marcus and Thomas have daughters Susannah who never marry.

The Younger Store

The old store below is all that is visibly left of the family on the main road, 501, the L.P. Bailey Memorial Highway.  This building is about equidistant between the two families, Thomas and Marcus.  Brownie, Thomas Younger’s descendant, who took the photo about 2002, believes it was run by Joel’s family, who would have been Marcus’s grandson.  You can see that at one time this was probably an early gas station, with the cars pulling under the roof area.  This building still stood in 2008.

Younger store

The Marcus Younger Graveyard

The old Younger family graveyard is located on the original Younger land upon the North side of Banister River located off of current road 610, Murphy Grove Road, on land that included part of Yellow Bank Creek, according to early deeds.  This land passed from Marcus Younger to his son John and then to John’s son Joel.  I understood that this land was sold in about 1892 to Walter Tune, so I originally thought it could still be in the Tune family, especially given there is an “old Tune house” in that vicinity.

I found records indicating that the graveyard was apparently in the woods near the Tune house, but without a local who knew the area, locating it was going to be very difficult.

In the spring of 2008, with the help of lots of people, I eventually located and visited the original Younger cemetery.  I wrote the following story about it at the time.  The first part is written in 2007 when I first attempted to locate the cemetery, and the second part in 2008 when I finally found it with the help of one very generous farmer, the current land owner, and my cousin, Audrey.

Meeting Marcus Younger – 1740-1816

Yes, indeed, I met Marcus, just last week…..but not as you might think.

Two or three years ago when I was visiting the Halifax County, Virginia courthouse, extracting records in the damp dusty basement, a gentleman came in and began talking to Lawrence Martin, the gentleman who works in the historical records there.  This visitor’s interest was veterans of the various wars who lived in Halifax County, but in particular, those who died in service.

Later in that week, I met with my cousin to do some genealogical spelunking for the Estes and Younger surnames, and she mentioned a gentleman named Doug  who might know about the Younger line, as he too is a descendant.  Yep, it was Doug who was in the courthouse and I had already exchanged e-mails with him.

Doug and I compared notes.  I had discovered an old document in the library in Danville in a prior visit that mentioned an old Younger cemetery on the original Marcus Younger land.  The individual who wrote the document had visited it many years ago, years as measured in decades, probably between the 1930s and 1960s, as best I could tell.  Clearly her address was no longer valid and her phone number only had 5 digits.  All I had were her cryptic directions, based on landmarks of that time and road names that had since changed.  Oh yes, and a new major road was put in too, but I didn’t know that it hadn’t always been there.  The old woods had been logged, and the well that was supposed to be there apparently wasn’t…..but I’m getting ahead of my own story.

Doug and I communicated for a few months, but then Doug grew very ill.  His recovery took a long time and he faced many challenges.  In one of his e-mails, he mentioned that I should call a lady named Audrey, that she might know more about the cemetery and such, that she also descended from the Youngers.

Now I hate to make phone calls, especially cold calls, but I’d do just about anything to find my ancestors, so I put off the call as long as possible, but eventually, call Audrey I did.  Audrey was very nice when I finally made that call in August of 2007.  I was going to NC on business and planned to be in Halifax County for one day on the way back.  For a researcher who had spent weeks in Halifax, one day was little opportunity to get anything done, but one day was better than nothing, and I was looking forward to meeting my new cousin, Audrey, who was going to take a DNA kit to one of her male Younger cousins on the Marcus Younger line.

Audrey said she thought she could get us to the cemetery based on the directions in the old letter.  She knew it existed, but she had never been there herself.  In fact, she had a list of some of the people buried in the cemetery, provided by an elderly relative years ago, which she gave me and are listed below.  My identification notes as to how they connect are in parenthesis.

  1. Louise Younger Tune Younger (daughter of Joel Younger who married first a Tune (who was killed in the Civil War) and then her first cousin, Patrick (also shown as Phillip) Andrew Jackson Younger, son of Robert H. Younger, Joel’s brother)
  2. Patrick A. J. Younger (Louise’s husband & 1st cousin)
  3. Kate Younger (Louise’s unmarried sister, daughter of Joel Younger)
  4. Tom Younger (Louise’s unmarried brother, son of Joel Younger and Civil War Veteran)
  5. Nathan Younger (Louise’s unmarried brother, son of Joel and Civil War Veteran)
  6. Walter Tune’s father (Louise’s first husband, his first name unknown, killed in the Civil War)

These turned out to be the children of Joel Younger, grandson of Marcus, so this did in fact confirm we had the right family cemetery.

Audrey and I set out to find the cemetery.  We visited the old “Tune House”, now called “Breezy Hill”.

tune house

This house clearly is not old enough nor the correct style to be the original Marcus Younger home built around 1788 when he first purchased land here. However, this does fit exactly with the directions we found at the library, and with what Audrey knew from her lifetime of living in this area.

tune house 2

According to the old directions in the library in Danville from the folks who found the cemetery years ago, this is exactly what we should find:

“Route 610 to a dirt road on the left and follow to end of public maintenance where you see a large white farmhouse.  Near the house towards the back on the right is a farm road leading down to the creek through a gate.  Drive across the creek and you will find an old rock lined well now covered by a concrete slab.  Near the well is an area slightly sunken covered by English Ivy.  Follow the road on the right about ½ mile beyond the creek.  There is a large graveyard in the woods, completely overgrown with trees and a groundcover of periwinkle.”

Route 610 to a dirt road on the left and follow to end of public maintenance where you see a large white farmhouse.  Near the house towards the back on the right is a farm road leading down to the creek through a gate.  Drive across the creek and you will find an old rock lined well now covered by a concrete slab.  Near the well is an area slightly sunken covered by English Ivy.  Follow the road on the right about ½ mile beyond the creek.  There is a large graveyard in the woods, completely overgrown with trees and a groundcover of periwinkle.

How on earth would we find this in 2007?

We obtained permission from the current owners to drive on back on their property to find the old cemetery, so off we went.  They were aware that it was there, but did not know its exact location.

After a false start going down the wrong farm lane, we indeed found Yellow Bank Creek, although the name has been lost to the current generation.  Looking at the yellow clay, the reason for the name is obvious.  However, the gate was gone and we didn’t expect such a large “dip” in the “road”, shown below.

yellow bank creek

Audrey was getting a bit nervous.  My cell phone didn’t work and she clearly did not want to be the laughing stock of the county for getting stuck in the woods with her northern cousin.  I got out and walked across the creek, determining that there was gravel in the bottom and we’d be fine so long as we didn’t tarry and maintained a good speed when crossing.  I got back in and told Audrey to hold on, and off we went across the creek in the Jeep.  She was truly a good sport, although she periodically looked terrified.

Looking across the creek below, we initially went to the right on a little road only visible by a small clearing in the trees and then determined that this must not be the way, then followed the visible tracks, although it turns out the first overgrown road was the old road we wanted.  This turned to the left and then the ground became somewhat soft and we drove on a raised burm until the washouts made us turn back.  It was pretty rough back there, even for a Jeep, with quite deep well-hidden (with underbrush and overgrowth,) unforeseen gulleys that could easily swallow a car.

We looked, but the area was so over grown that we could not see any well or anything that looked like a well had ever been there.  But then again, we weren’t quite sure what we were looking for either.

Little did we know that the well as actually about just past the clump of trees across the creek on the right, to the right of the road about where the dirt mound is showing.  I would discover that this year (2008), but we were painfully close last fall.

Audrey and I decided that we really needed to abandon our plans since we could not get to the cemetery the way we were going and it was getting into the late afternoon and it was getting more difficult to see those gulleys.

On the way out, I took photos of the creek upstream in the little pond and downstream as well, as I knew full well this was the place.  However, I desperately wanted to find the cemetery where Marcus and his family, my family, rested.

Audrey mentioned that she knew a farmer who could take us to the land, but he had recently sold it to another gentleman.  She called the farmer in question, but he wasn’t home, and besides that, he would need to chat with the current property owner before taking us back to the cemetery from the “front side”.

My visit was coming to a close, so Audrey and I parted and agreed to try this trip again in the spring of 2008 when the brush was less dense and when we could find the right people to show us where the cemetery was located.  It had become obvious that without knowing where you were going, you weren’t going to find it.

yellow bank 2

Above, Yellow Bank looking downstream.  Below, Yellow Bank looking upstream.

yellow bank 3

I left and came home, and Audrey began to pursue the people we would need to help us locate the cemetery.  She told me that the new land owner, a man named  Dennis, was building a house there and had actually rented from Larry Younger, a Thomas Younger descendant and local veterinarian, while he was getting settled.  What a small world.

What a string of coincidences, or maybe Marcus was helping.

To put things in perspective, this is the location where we were traveling.

The topo map below was provided by Denny and the yellow highlighter shows the location of the cemetery.  There is a second smaller cemetery near the main road due north of the cemetery on the old road shown that enters from the main road.  This road is now defunct, but a small cemetery remains beside this road.  The third cemetery, which we now know holds the remains of the Street family, is marked on this map near what is now Younger road.  Denny’s land is penciled.

younger topo

Note Terrible Creek just across the main road on the map above.  That’s where Thomas Younger owned land and the Younger store is on the main road between the two locations

younger topo 2

Trying to coordinate between the schedules of several people in the spring of 2008 presented some challenges, plus the challenge of not exactly knowing where the cemetery was located.  Discussions with Denny, the current land owner, several days in advance disclosed that there wasn’t just one, not two, but three different cemeteries on his property, and that he had purchased his property in segments from different people.  To confuse matters even more, there is a 4th cemetery near his land, between his land and the Banister River, which houses the grave of Hawkins Landrum, a very early dissenting preacher in that area who died about 1804.  The local folks tell of the time that his “people” came from Texas to see the grave and there are probably only 1 or 2 people still living who know where that cemetery is located.  We have determined that it is not on Younger land.

Denny was kind enough to contact the title companies involved and they did produce some helpful documentation, which I was able to use as a baseline to work from in my courthouse research.  My first day was spent at the courthouse in an attempt to track Denny’s various land purchases backwards in time to meet Marcus Younger’s descendants coming forward in time.

What an interesting exercise that was!

Fortunately, we had isolated the land to that just north of the Horseshoe Bend in the Banister River, which was a readily recognizable landmark.  You can see the bend on the map below, at the bottom.  The approach we took in 2007 shows up in white, and you can see where it crosses Yellow Bank Creek, about an inch to the left of where the white line ends.

Yellow bank arrow v2

On the map below, you can see Younger Road and Bessie Marion Trail as well.

yellow bank arrow v22

The Yellow Bank Creek crossing is shown by the red arrow.  Here is a closer view.  The cemetery is between the house and barn and the Creek crossing.  Below, you can clearly see Dennis’s new construction.

marcus topo2

Here we are, in 2008, back at the infamous creek crossing.  But this time, I’m on the right side of the creek with someone who knows where they are going.

You can see the yellow clay and can tell why it was named Yellow Bank Creek.

yellow bank creek 2

Cemeteries, especially abandoned pioneer cemeteries and homesteads are often marked by daffodils and periwinkle in the spring.  This one was no different.  These flowers are often wonderful guides.  Marcus Younger or maybe his wife may have planted these.

In the earlier directions, a well was mentioned.  Dennis knew exactly where it was.  This is probably the original house well that Marcus Younger used and he perhaps dug the well himself.  The original stones are there but it was shored up in later days and then of course, the well was eventually abandoned.

younger well

The area behind the well shows evidence that it had once been a homestead.  Daffodils were getting ready to bloom in a wide area.  This is probably where the original log cabin was located and where Marcus lived.

younger by well

Younger step

Was this the original step to the house?

Dennis, the property owner, knew exactly where the cemetery was.  It is, like the original records said, located in the woods.  I could not help but think how difficult these graves would have been to dig.

younger cem

younger cem 2

Many graves are still marked by fieldstones, hidden under the leaves and periwinkle.

younger cem 3

None of the graves are actually marked with contemporary stones, all have simple field stones.

younger cem 4

This cemetery is not small.  Among this family must surely be Marcus and his wife, Susanna and their unmarried daughter, also Susanna.  Another daughter, Sally, died young, after having only one child, and she is probably here too.  Marcus’s son John, who inherited this land, died only a year after his father at about age 57 and assuredly is buried here.  John’s wife, Lucy Hart, died 17 years later, in 1834, and probably rests here too.  Any of their children who died would also be buried here, surrounded by their parents and grandparents.

Marcus and his wife only had 5 documented children.  They were married their entire adult life to each other, as best we know, having had son John in 1760, probably their first child.  They could have been expected to have 10-12 children during a normal reproductive marriage, which implies that 5-7 children died.  Some may be buried here, some back in King and Queen or Essex Counties.  How hard it must have been for Susanna to leave the graves of her babies.

If Susanna married Marcus Younger at approximately age 20 and had her first child, John, in 1760, we could expect that she would be bearing children for approximately the next 25 years, or until 1785.  We know she was dead by 1805 when Marcus made his will, as was her unnamed daughter who married the Wyatt.

Our ancestor who was Marcus and Susanna’s child was Mary Younger who married George Estes in 1786, roughly two years before Marcus Younger purchased this land on Banister River.  In fact, this was before George’s father, Moses Estes Jr. had bought the land abutting William Younger in what is now South Boston.  The first records of George Estes are in the north part of the county, possibly living and working on the Younger land.  Thomas Younger lived here long before Marcus first bought land. George Estes and Mary Younger may also have children buried here.  Mary died sometimes after 1831 and before 1842 and we’ve always presumed she was buried in the Estes cemetery, now under the landfill, in South Boston.  If she is not buried there, then she is surely buried here.

Joel Younger, son of Marcus’s son John Younger and his wife Lucy Hart, inherited the Marcus Younger land and died in 1877.  Joel’s first wife, Lucy Caine, died in 1818, probably in childbirth, only 4 years after their marriage and a year after Joel’s father, John died, the year after Marcus died.  The Younger family visited this sacred burying ground often.

Joel’s second wife, Fentel Hart, died in 1862, during the Civil War.  Where else would Joel and his wives be buried?  Other family members could well be buried here as well.  Many children died young and we don’t even know their names.  After the census began to be recorded for every family member in 1850, complete with ages, we know these children existed because there is a gap in the living children of the exact spacing for one who died.  It’s certain that many are buried here with their parents, grandparents and siblings.

When property passed out of the hands of the original owners, the new family often started a new family cemetery elsewhere on the property.  This land did not pass from the Younger family hands until in the 1900s and according to the list provided by Audrey, several of the Tunes are buried here as well.  The Tunes were Younger descendants through Joel’s daughters Louisa and Matilda who both married Tunes.  Louisa’s husband, William R. Tune was taken prisoner during the Civil War, and died, but their only child, a son, Walter T. Tune, born in 1864, would own and live on this land.  Louisa’s second husband was her first cousin, Phillip A.J. Younger, son of Robert, brother to her father, Joel.  This means that Louisa’s name was Louisa Younger Tune Younger.  Louisa and Phillip lost at least 4 children who are recorded in Audrey’s note as having been buried here as well.  Walter T. Tune died in 1945 and is buried in the McKendree United Methodist Church Cemetery, located just down the road, the first generation not to be buried in this Younger family cemetery.

There are abandoned buildings on the property.  I think this building below is too new to be the original home.  Dennis said this is an old barn.

younger barn

Dennis said the photo below may have been the original house.  I question that because it’s not a log cabin, but maybe planks were made by the 1780s when Marcus moved to Halifax County.  Although the original house/cabin would have been very close to the well and this one is not.  Some building was located by that well and the daffodils near Yellow Bank Creek.  It’s certainly possible that at one time both Marcus Younger and his son John both lived on this land, along with possibly other families as well, such as George and Mary Younger Estes.  Multigenerational family farms were not uncommon.  Later generations, such as Joel, may have built a “new” house too.

younger house

The second cemetery on the property is shown below.

second younger cem

Did someone lovingly plant this daffodil on their family member’s grave?

second younger cem daffodil

The property owner, Dennis, showed me a second cemetery on the property as well.  He believes this may be a slave cemetery.  It is much smaller and many fewer graves, above and below.  The graves are marked with the same kind of field stones as the larger cemetery.

second younger cem fieldstone

The 2008 visit was just wonderful, to find and stand on the land that Marcus owned and to visit his grave, someplace in that cemetery, nearly 200 years after his death.

Reflections Upon Marcus’s Parents

While there are many records we don’t have for Halifax County’s early residents, such as birth and death records, there are also many that do exist.  Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for King and Queen County, Virginia, whose early records are entirely lost.

By combining all of those juicy tidbits, we discover that there is actually a lot of information, in bits and pieces, about Marcus Younger as well as the other Younger families found in Halifax County, even though we still don’t know how they are related.   We are provided with a glimpse into Marcus’s life and the lives of his children.  We know where he lived and died, and where his daughter, Mary lived after she married George Estes.

Who was the father of Marcus Younger?  Speculation abounds, but no genealogical hints have been forthcoming at all.  Y DNA tests test males of the same surname and can determine if they share a common ancestor.  They don’t tell you which common ancestor though, just if you match others of the same last name. Originally, this was the extent of DNA testing available.  Today, in 2014, autosomal DNA testing that matches both male and female cousins is also available.  People from both the Thomas and James Younger lines, both sons of Alexander match the descendants of Marcus Younger utilizing autosomal testing, so he appears to be descended from the Younger family, just not through the paternal line.  Given all of the evidence available, it’s likely that he descends through an illegitimate birth by one of Alexander Younger’s daughters.

Currently, the Marcus Younger Y-line matches a Seay and a Rolland.  Autosomally, we know that Marcus is descended from the Younger family, and he carries the surname, so by process of elimination, it must be through a female, because it is clearly not on the paternal male line.

The Promise of DNA

There are two types of DNA testing that is relevant to the Younger family in terms of sorting out who Marcus’s family and parents were.

The first is Y DNA testing, in which the father contributes the Y chromosome to only his sons.  That DNA is not mixed with any DNA from the mother, so it is passed unchanged from male generation to male generation, all carrying the same surname, Younger.  Therefore, when we Y DNA test two Younger men, if their Y DNA matches, we know they share a common paternal (surname) ancestor, and if it doesn’t, then no common paternal ancestor.

There is no question that the male Younger descendants of Marcus Younger don’t match the male descendants of either Alexander Younger or his son, Thomas Younger.  However, the descendants of Alexander Younger do match each other, through two different sons, Thomas and James.  Therefore, we know what the “true” Younger line looks like, and which of these is the “undocumented adoption.”

The second type of DNA testing is autosomal testing.  This test differs from that of the Y, because it tests all of your DNA that is contributed by both Mom and Dad’s lines, equally.  Therefore, in each new generation, the autosomal DNA that you received from your ancestors is divided in half as the next generation is created by combining the DNA of mother and father together.  Half of the DNA of each parent is used, in effect roughly halving the DNA of each ancestor passed on to the child.

Several generations downstream from any given ancestor, descendants carry small amounts of DNA from that ancestor.  You carry half of your parents DNA, roughly 25% of the DNA of each grandparent, 12.5% of the DNA of each great-grandparents, until eventually, in the 7th generation, or your 4th great-grandparents, you carry about 1% of their autosomal DNA, and so do all of their other great-great-great-great-grandchildren.  Marcus is in fact my 4th great-grandfather, so I carry about 1.5% of his autosomal DNA.

Comparing our autosomal DNA is how we identify cousins.  By matching, we know we share a common ancestor, and by comparing genealogy, we figure out which common ancestor we share.  When we have three or more descendants that share a common piece of DNA, we can then identify that DNA segment as belonging to that specific ancestor, and anyone else who matches us on that same segment is confirmed to have come from that ancestral line in some fashion.  For example, if someone matches me and two Younger cousins on the same DNA segment, we know they are either descended from the Younger line or the line of one of the Younger wives upstream, genealogically, from our common ancestral match.

Let’s say that three Younger descendants match autosomally: me who descends from Marcus, someone who descends from Thomas, son of Alexander and someone who descends from James, son of Alexander.  This tells us that all 3 of us either match through the Alexander Younger line, or his ancestors, or though Alexander’s wife or Alexander’s ancestor’s wives lines.  Of course, Alexander’s ancestors become Alexander’s line, but his wife’s line becomes his children’s biological line.

This is important to understand because Alexander’s wife was Rebecca Mills.  It’s certainly possible that we will match Mills cousins who have no Youngers in their line, because our common ancestor with those Mills cousins through Alexander Younger’s children was not Alexander, but his wife.

To shed light on the Younger family connections, we’ve utilized both Y line and autosomal DNA.

The DNA Evidence 

Descendants of Thomas Younger and of Marcus Younger both took the Y DNA test some years ago, and we were absolutely stunned to discover that their Y DNA did not match.  We have two descendants of John, the only son of Marcus, and they do match each other, but no other Youngers.  It is possibly that Marcus did match the Alexander Younger line of DNA, but his son John, did not.  However, given that John’s descendants match Alexander’s descendants autosomally, that virtually eliminates that possibility.  If that were the case, that John was not Marcus’s biological son, he would not match the Younger line at all on autosomal tests, because his mother was not genetically a Younger.

The several descendants of Thomas Younger match each other and also the descendants of Alexander’s other son, James.  So Marcus seems to be related to the family, carries the surname, but does not share a direct paternal ancestor on his father’s side.

Our candidates for his parents are quite limited.

Barring a totally unknown Younger person, we have the following candidates.

John Younger, son of Alexander – but that would also mean that John was not the biological son of Alexander but did share a mother since Marcus’s descendants autosomally match this line today.  Since Alexander’s estate paid to register the death of John, that implies that John was not yet married at the time of his death and responsible for himself.  This effectively eliminates John as a possibility.  If Marcus was John’s illegitimate son, he would not carry the Younger surname.

The other alternative is that Marcus is the illegitimate child of one of Alexander’s daughters.  His daughters were named Ann, Mary, Janet, Susannah and Elizabeth.  Unfortunately, three of those names are repeated in Marcus’s daughters, but it could effectively eliminate Janet and Ann, unless Marcus had a child with that name that died young and he did not reuse the name as so many people did at that time.  As it turns out, Ann and Janet married about 1732, which would probably eliminate them since Marcus appears to have been born about 1740 – but it doesn’t completely eliminate them as possible mothers as Marcus could have been born earlier.  We have no information on the other 3 daughters, Mary, Susannah and Elizabeth other than they were minors at their father’s death in 1727 and Thomas was appointed their legal guardian in 1732, indicating they were still minors at that time, so born after 1711.

This scenario, that Marcus was the child of one of Alexander’s daughters would fit what we do know about this family both genetically and genealogically.

The DNA Jackpot

This brings us to December 2013.  Until then, none of the descendants of Marcus Younger autosomally matched the descendants of Thomas Younger, at least not on large enough segments to be counted as a match at the testing companies.

I manage the kit of one of the descendants of John Younger, Marcus’s son.  We’ll call him Larry.

I received a query from someone about matching Larry autosomally.  I sent the note that I always do, with some basic genealogy info.  What I received back was a pedigree chart screen shot from the match, David, that included Thomas Younger as his ancestor.  He descended from Thomas via a daughter.

younger pedigree 2

Once again, I was stunned, because here was the link we had sought for so many years…a genetic bond between Thomas and Marcus.

Of course, the first thing I did was to ask about other lines as well through which Larry and David might be related.  There were none.

Then I turned to DNA.  Larry matches me and Larry matches David, but I don’t match David.  This could well be because we don’t have any segment matches above the match threshold of approximately 7.7cM at Family Tree DNA, but since we both match Larry, I could look at Larry’s matches and then drop the comparison level to below the matching threshold to see all of our common matches between the three of us.

Below are our default 5 cM matches on chromosome 1-10.  We show a match on chromosomes 1, 4 and 10, but no common segments between the three of us.  There were no matches on chromosomes 11-22, so they are not shown.

I am orange.  David is blue.  Larry is who we are being compared against and is represented by the black background chromosome.

younger chromosome

Dropping the cM matching threshold level to 1 shows us that golden nugget we have searched for so diligently on the following graph.  In this case, with the matching threshold lowered, we now have matches on chromosomes 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 15.

Look at chromosome 1.  All 3 of us match on a small segment of DNA.  That DNA is Younger DNA.  And that little orange and blue segment proves that indeed, Marcus and Thomas were related, because all 3 of us match on the exact same segment of the chromosome.  In other words, that segment comes from a common ancestor of all 3 of us, and there is only one common line, the Youngers.

younger match

This also means that there will be others who fall into this “too small to be a match but hugely relevant small segment” scenario.  In order to take a look, I triangulated all of the matches for my cousin Larry and David, and there were a total of 15 individuals.

But here’s the amazing part.

There are 16 people in total, including Larry and David who match.

I compared them in the chromosome browser, and downloaded all of them.  I then sorted them by chromosome and start/end segment.  Here is that oh so beautiful “proof” match on chromosome 1.

younger match chart

There are a total of 191 individual segments across all chromosomes where these people match Larry.

Of those 191 segments,  there are also 94 segments on which one or more of us also match each other.  Those are shaded green above for chromosome 1.

Of those 94 segments, only 8 were large enough to be above the matching threshold.  That means that there were a total of 86 segments that were below the matching threshold but that were useful genealogically.  On chromosome 1 above, only Larry and I would have been over that threshold, and we were already matching.

Looking at those 8 large segment matches, some were between known relatives on both sides, like me and Larry on chromosome 1, but until there was someone who connected the dots and matched someone on both sides, like David, on a segment large enough to be counted as a match, the connection wasn’t there and the other matches weren’t meaningful to the question and answer of whether Marcus and Thomas were related.

David matches Larry on a large enough segment to be counted as a match on chromosomes 4 and 10, neither of which is a match to me in that location.

The golden “proof” egg, in this case, for the three of us, was hidden in a very small segment on chromosome 1 that would have gone entirely unnoticed and unreported because it was not over the vendor match threshold.

Are We Done?

Of course, we’re not “done.”  Genealogists are never “done” because as soon as you find one more ancestor, there are two more needing to be discovered, their parents.  I’d still like to know where the Younger family originated overseas before we find them in Glasgow, Scotland, although that could be before the advent of surnames.  I’d like to know who Marcus’s paternal line is and I’d like to identify the surname of his wife.  For that matter, I’d also like to know who his mother was and the circumstances surrounding his birth.  You know there has to be a story there and probably some scuttlebutt too.

Given that we do now know that Marcus is descended from the Alexander Younger line, even though we don’t know exactly how, let’s take a look at what we do know about this Younger line.

Glasgow, Scotland, the Younger Ancestral Home

There’s a lot we don’t know about the Younger line, but there is a whole raft of information that has been discovered, that tells us about the lives of our Younger ancestors and their descendants.  Halifax County is rich with Younger family history beginning around the time of the Revolutionary War.  Prior to that, the Younger family was found in Essex and King and Queen Counties, in Virginia.

We know that Alexander Younger was married to Rebecca Mills around 1700 in Essex County and that their son was Thomas Younger.  We know that Marcus and Thomas are related, in some way.  I’ve speculated that Marcus’s mother was a sister of Thomas Younger, and if this is correct, then Alexander Younger would be the grand-father of Marcus Younger.  DNA tells us that they are related.  We just don’t know how.

The identity of Marcus’s wife as a Hart is also suggested by DNA testing, but needs additional matches to be confirmed, although I’m fairly confident at this point.

What we do know is this.  Alexander Younger was born probably around 1675 in Scotland.  We know that because his will, after immigrating to America and having children with Rebecca Mills, stated that if his entire family died, his estate was to be left to his brother Andrew, in Scotland.

From this point, we move to the Scottish records, but we can’t prove beyond a doubt that the Alexander in the 1681 Glasgow baptismal records is ours.

Alexander Younger’s father, born January 15, 1652 in the High Church in Glasgow, Scotland, is believed to be one Thomas Younger who married Anna Smith.  We have no way of knowing whether or not the Alexander who immigrated to America and married Rebecca Mills is the same Alexander who was born to Thomas Younger and Anna Smith, although three of Alexander’s children carried the same first names as the children of Thomas Younger and Anna Smith: Janet, Mary and Thomas.  Mary and Thomas aren’t unusual, but Janet is rather rare.   Thomas Younger and Anna Smith also had a son named Andrew, which aligns with Alexander Younger’s 1725 will which leaves his estate, if none of his children survive, to his brother Andrew in Scotland.

According to the book, Scottish Church Records, Thomas Younger and Anna Smith’s children were christened in the High Church in Glasgow, as follows:

  • Janet Younger – Feb. 25, 1673
  • Jean Younger – Oct. 18, 1674
  • Agnes Younger – March 11, 1678
  • Alexander Younger – May 2, 1681
  • Andrew Younger – Nov. 13, 1683
  • Mary Younger – Feb. 16, 1690

Thomas Younger’s father, reportedly Alexander Younger was born about 1608 is a weaver and a burgess.  He married Margaret Steinson (Steinsoun) and was listed in the guild records as follows:

The Burgesses and Guild Brethren of Glasgow, 1573-1750
This is the roll of the parish of Portpatrick above “tuelve yeirs of age”
County: Lanarckshire
Country: Scotland
Younger, Alexander, weaver, B., as third son to dec’d William Younger, burgess (G.B., as mar. Margaret, dau to dec’d Neill Steinson. B. and G.B., 24 Sep 1646) 31 Oct. 1639

Here’s a carving of 16th century burgesses from Glasgow.  Burgesses were free men, often in a guild.  Therefore all guild members were by default burgesses in the earliest meanings of the word.  Eventually, it could mean an elected official of the municipality.


Although the guild note referring to Alexander Younger is dated 1646, there is a marriage record for Alexander Younger and Margaret Steinsoune Feb. 9, 1632 and their first child was christened in January, 1633.

This record gives us his father’s name, as well as his home location of Lanarkshire, where Glasgow is located.  From this, we know that his father was William Younger and he is deceased in 1639, meaning that he would have been born before 1590 and probably earlier.

In summary, this gives us the following generations:

  • William Younger, burgess, born before 1590 and died by 1639
  • Alexander Younger, born circa 1608, married Margaret Steinson
  • Thomas Younger born before 1653, married Anna Smith
  • Alexander Younger born May 2, 1681, immigrated to America, married Rebecca Mills, will probated July 1727, Essex Co., VA

What do we know about Glasgow?  Who was living there, how was it settled and what was occurring during this timeframe that might have affected the lives of the residents?

The present site of Glasgow has been used since prehistoric times for settlement due to it being the furthest downstream fording point of the River Clyde, at the point of its confluence with the Molendinar Burn. After the Romans left Caledonia the settlement was part of the extensive Kingdom of Strathclyde, with its capital at Dumbarton 15 mi (24 km) downstream, which merged in the 9th century with other regions to create the united Kingdom of Scotland.  The origins of Glasgow as an established city derive ultimately from its medieval position as Scotland’s second largest bishopric. Glasgow increased in importance during the 10th and 11th centuries as the site of this bishopric, reorganized by King David I of Scotland and John, Bishop of Glasgow.

There had been an earlier religious site established by Saint Mungo in the 6th century.

Glasgow grew over the following centuries, the first bridge over the River Clyde at Glasgow was recorded from around 1285, giving its name to the Briggait area of the city, forming the main North-South route over the river via Glasgow Cross. The founding of the University of Glasgow in 1451 and elevation of the bishopric to become the Archdiocese of Glasgow in 1492 served to increase the town’s religious and educational status, and landed wealth. Its early trade was in agriculture, brewing and fishing, with cured salmon and herring being exported to Europe and the Mediterranean.

Following the Reformation and with the encouragement of the Convention of Royal Burghs the 14 Incorporated Trade Crafts federated as the Trades House in 1605 to match the power and influence in the Town Council of the earlier Merchants Guilds who established their Merchants House in the same year. Glasgow was subsequently raised to the status of Royal Burgh in 1611.

This was about the time that William Younger would have been a young man.  For William’s third son, Alexander, to marry in 1646, at the probable age of between 25 and 30, he would have been born between 1616 and 1621.  We know for sure he was over the age of 12 in 1639, so definitely born before 1627.   His father, William, therefore, to have Alexander as his third son would have therefore been born before 1580 and probably before 1570.

Glasgow is today’s largest city in Scotland, but in the early 1600s, Glasgow was a relatively young and undeveloped city, as we can see by various maps.

In Glasgow, there are two churches referred to as High Church, Inner High Church at St. Mungo’s cathedral and Outer High Church or St. Paul’s.  The Glasgow Cathedral is called the “High Kirk” of Glasgow and is located between High and Cathedral Streets, also referred to as St. Mungo’s.  It was originally the Roman Catholic mother church before the Scottish Protestant Reformation in 1560.

William’s parents and grandparents would have lived through the Reformation , and William, depending on exactly when he was born, could have been baptized either Catholic or Protestant.  By the time Alexander came along, he would definitely have been baptized or christened as Protestant.

The Younger timeline in Glasgow, Scotland, as best we can reconstruct it, is shown below.

  • 1560 – Protestant Reformation
  • 1560 -1580 – William Younger, shown as a burgess, deceased in 1639, his third son Alexander is over the age of 12 at that time.
  • 1600 -1612 – Alexander Younger (Sr.), son of William, born. In 1639, he is over the age of 12 and in 1646, he marries Margaret Steinson.
  • 1632 – Alexander Younger married Margaret Steinsoune and in 1633, their first child is christened.
  • 1639 – Burgesses and Guild Brethren roll list Alexander Younger (Sr.) as over the age of 12 and his father, William, as deceased, with Alexander being his third son.
  • 1646 – Note in guild roll indicating Alexander Younger (Sr.) married Margaret Steinson.
  • 1652 – Thomas Younger, born in 1652.
  • 1656 – Alexander Younger is shown in the guild records as a weaver.
  • 1665 – Alexander Younger is shown in the guild records as a weaver.
  • 1672 – Thomas Younger married Anna Smith based on the christening of their first child in 1673 in the High Church in Glasgow.
  • 1681 – Alexander Younger (Jr.) born to Thomas Younger and Anna Smith and christened in the High Church in Glasgow, Scotland.
  • 1687 – Alexander Younger (Sr.) dies in Glasgow.
  • 1695 – Thomas Younger died in Glasgow. His wife, Anna died in 1690.
  • 1699 – Alexander Younger (Jr.) is found in Virginia records and said to be 18 years old, which would place his birth in 1681.
  • 1704 – Alexander’s son, Thomas Younger, born about this time based on the fact that when Alexander wrote his will in 1725, he indicated that Thomas was to be his executor which indicates that Thomas was 21 years of age.
  • 1725 – Alexander Younger (Jr.) writes his will in Essex Co., VA, referring to his brother Andrew in Scotland.
  • 1727 – Alexander Younger’s will is probated in Essex Co., VA.

This engraving, below, shows the High Church in Glasgow in 1693.  This would have been about 100 years after William Younger lived, given that he was born sometime before 1580, and not far removed from the time that William’s son, Alexander and his grandson, Thomas, died in Glasgow, in about 1687 and 1695, respectively.  This is also likely the church where their funeral rites were carried out, and it is likely where they are buried as well, although their gravestones, if they ever had one, surely don’t remain today.

The next generation, Alexander, the immigrant was born, probably in Glasgow, probably in 1681, so this is what Glasgow would have looked like about the time he left for America.


The following photo is of the College of Glasgow in the late 1660, with Blackfriars Church on land granted to them in 1246, shown on the right.  Alexander, born in the early 1600s and his son, Thomas born in 1652 would have looked upon this very scene.

glasgow college 1660

Below, engraving of Glasgow Cathedral and neighborhood in 1811.

glasgow cathedral 1811

glasgow cathedral 2

Here is the Glasgow Precinct in 1574.  Later maps all show graveyards by the churches and in fact that may be what the “Yairds” are.

glasgow precinct 1574

This undated engraving shows a communal washing green near the Cathedral, shown in the background.  Our ancestors surely visited this area and did just that.

glasgow washing

The front of the Cathedral today from Cathedral Square.

glasgow cathedral today

The history of the cathedral is linked with that of the city, and is allegedly located where the patron saint of Glasgow, Saint Mungo, built his church. The tomb of the saint is in the lower crypt.

This crypt and the remains of St. Mungo were a much venerated pilgrimage site, so our Younger ancestors would have been very aware of this heritage held within their church.

glasgow crypt

Below, the Crypt of Glasgow Cathedral where Glasgow University was founded.

glasgow crypt univ

Built before the Reformation from the late 12th century onwards and serving as the seat of the Bishop and later the Archbishop of Glasgow, the Cathedral is a superb example of Scottish Gothic architecture. It is also one of the few Scottish medieval churches (and the only medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland) to have survived the Reformation not unroofed.

Today, the church stands majestic and intact, shown below with the Royal Infirmary, the Cathedral and the Necropolis.

glasgow aerial

Someplace on these lands, the bones of our ancestors surely rest, as our family brought new life into the world, were baptized and married in this church and laid their dead to rest here as well.  It’s from here that our family sprang and Alexander Younger would leave on a ship, from the port of Glasgow, below, about 1700, sailing past the port, Grennock, shown below, to settle in Virginia.  I visited Grennock in the fall of 2013, and it assuredly looks much different today.

glasgow distance

Ponderings In Closing

Sometimes just putting things in order helps to straighten them out and makes otherwise obscured patterns emerge.

One pattern, of note, is the repeated name of Janet in the daughters of the Younger family beginning with Alexander Younger and Margaret Steinson and continuing for the next three generations through Alexander Younger and Rebecca Mills children.  Unfortunately, neither Thomas nor Marcus continued that tradition, or if they did, those children did not survive, but the name Janet does help us connect Alexander Younger in early Virginia with the Younger families in Glasgow, Scotland.  The names of Thomas and Alexander also repeat, as does the name Susannah as a sister to Thomas Younger and a child of both Thomas and Marcus Younger.

From the evidence we have, it appears that the Glasgow Younger family is indeed ours.

Another pattern that emerges is of family groupings moving from the Essex/King and Queen County area of Virginia to Halifax County about the time of the Revolutionary War.  This includes both the Estes and Younger families as well as the Harts, Fergusons and Landrums.

A third pattern seems to be one of belonging to a dissenting religion, in this case, Methodists.  This tale is told by the fact that two of the 3 dissenting ministers in Halifax County were marrying family members of the various Younger families.  This is true of the Marcus, Thomas and William Younger family lines, even though we still don’t know exactly how they are connected.  Hawkins Landrum, one of those dissenting ministers, is buried next to the Marcus Younger land.  The Landrum family also came from Essex County.

A fourth pattern is the connection between the South Boston Younger and Estes families whose lands abut, with the Banister River and Terrible Creek Younger families, some 12 miles distant.  This connection likely reaches back to their common location on the Essex/King and Queen County borders.  Mary Younger and George Estes were married before George’s father, Moses (Jr.), purchased land abutting William Younger, and before we find records of Marcus Younger, Mary’s father, In Halifax County.  In addition, it now appears that George Estes and Mary Younger, daughter of Marcus may have lived on Marcus’s land from the time of their marriage in 1786 until when either Marcus Younger or Moses Estes died, in 1813 and 1815, respectively.  In 1810, they appear to be living with Marcus.

After Marcus Younger’s death in 1815, his land went to son John and in life estate, to daughter Susannah.  George Estes was the eldest son of his father, Moses (Jr.), who died in 1813 and George stood to inherit significantly from that estate.  We do know that later in his life, from at least 1820 on, George and Mary Estes Younger unquestionably did live on the Estes land in South Boston.  On the map below, the path from Estes Street in South Boston is shown to Younger Road, running through and north of Halifax, where the courthouse stands.

Halifax map2

Additional records that could well illuminate the Hart connection to this family may be available in Essex County.  I checked the chancery suit index at the library of Virginia for Essex County, and no Younger, Hart or Estes suits are old enough to be relevant to these families. It does, however, beg the question of who these Youngers in Essex County in the 1800s belong to, since Alexander had only 3 sons and we know the location of all 3.  Thomas moved to Halifax County, John died shortly after his father, and James went to Chatham Co., NC.

As with many things in life, and all things genealogy, answered questions beget new ones.   We answered quite a few questions recently, including the long-burning question of whether Thomas and Marcus Younger were related.  They were in some way.  We also have DNA evidence that indicates that Marcus’s wife, Susannah, was a Hart, or related to the Hart line.

With this information, of course, we have simply substituted new burning questions for old ones.  We still don’t know who Marcus Younger’s father was, nor his mother, and we may never know.  We do know that the men who his Y DNA matches also don’t match their family, or anyone else for that matter.  I can’t help but think of a traveling salesman, or in that timeframe, the peddler or maybe an itinerant minister.  Were it not so frustrating, it would be quite humorous really.  I’m sure our ancestors, who, of course, know the answers, are all having a good chuckle!

Bennett Greenspan – The Future of Genetic Genealogy

Bennett SCGA 2014 v2

Bennett Greenspan, one of the founders of Family Tree DNA, spoke about “The Future of Genetic Genealogy” at the Southern California Genealogy Society conference this week.  The SCGS has been gracious enough to provide a video of the livestream.

High points of Bennett’s presentation include:

  1. There will be a new Y SNP matching capability released in the next few days.
  2. “Regulatory issues are larger issues than the science.” Bennett discusses “armwrestling with the FDA.”
  3. If prices of SNP chips that test over 2 million locations don’t drop substantially in the next couple of years, then genealogy testing likely will not utilize the next generation of SNP chip, but will move directly to full genome sequence testing. This may happen in the 3-5 year range but will, for sure in the 5-10 year range.

Bennett talked quite a bit about privacy and what privacy is in this technology era, expectations and how privacy expectations may affect future DNA testing.  Be sure to watch the video. It’s always interesting to hear Bennett, functionally the father of genetic genealogy, speak about this industry and the future.

Finding Native American Ethnic Results in Germanic People

I’m often asked about the significance of small percentages of autosomal DNA in results.  Specifically, the small percentages are often of Native American or results that would suggest Native admixture.  One of the first questions I always ask is whether or not the individual has Germanic or eastern European admixture.


Take a look at this map of the Invasion of the Roman Empire.  See the Huns and their path?

Hun map

It’s no wonder we’re so admixed.

Here’s a map of the Hunnic empire at its peak under Attila between the years 420-469.

Hun emplire

But that wasn’t the end of the Asian invasions.  The Magyars, who settled in Hungary arrived from Asia as well, in the 800s and 900s, as shown on this map from LaSalle University.

magyar map

Since both the Hungarians and some Germanic people descend from Asian populations, as do Native Americans, albeit thousands of years apart, it’s not unrealistic to expect that, as populations, they share a genetic connection.

Therefore, when people who carry heritage from this region of the world show small amounts of Native or Asian origin, I’m not surprised.  However, for Americans, trying to sort out their Native ethnic heritage, this is most unhelpful.

Let’s take a look at the perfect example candidate.  This man is exactly half Hungarian and half German.  Let’s see what his DNA results say, relative to any Asian or Native heritage, utilizing the testing companies and the free admixture tools at

He has not tested at Ancestry, but at Family Tree DNA, his myOrigins report 96% European, 4% Middle Eastern.  At 23andMe in speculative view, he shows 99.7 European and .2 sub-saharan African.

Moving to the admixture tools at GedMatch, MDLP is not recommended for Asian or Native ancestry, so I have excluded that tool.

Eurogenes K13 is the most recently updated admixture tool, so let’s take a look at that one first.

Eurogenes K13

 JK Eurogenes K13 v2

Eurogenes K13 showed 7% West Asian, which makes perfect sense considering his heritage, but it might be counted as “Native” in other circumstances, although I would certainly be very skeptical about counting it as such.

However, East Asian, Siberian and Amerindian would all be amalgamated into the Native American category, for a combined percentage of 1.31.

jk eurogenes k13 chart

However, selecting the “admixture proportions by chromosome” view shows something a bit different.  The cumulative percentages, by chromosome equate to 10.10%.  Some researchers mistakenly add this amount and use that as their percentage of Native ancestry.  This is not the case, because those are the portions of 100% of each individual chromosome, and the total would need to be divided by 22 to obtain the average value across all chromosomes.  The total is irrelevant, and the average may not reflect how the developer determines the amount of admixture because chromosomes are not the same size nor carry the same number of SNPs.  Questions relative to the functional underpinnings of each tool should be addressed to the developers.


I understand that there is a newer version of Dodecad, but that it has not been submitted to GedMatch for inclusion, per a discussion with GedMatch.  I can’t tell which of the Dodecad versions on GedMatch is the most current, so I ran the results utilizing both v3 and 12b.

jk dodecad v3

jk dodecad v3 chart

I hope v3 is not the most current, because it does not include any Native American category or pseudocategory – although there is a smattering of Northeast Asian at .27% and Southwest Asian at 1%.

Dodecad 12b below

jk dodecad 12b

The 12b version does show .52% Siberian and 2.6% Southwest Asian, although I’m not at all sure the Southwest Asian should be included.


jk harappaworld

jk harappaworld chart

Harappaworld shows .09 Siberian, .27% American (Native American), .23% Beringian and 1.8% Southwest Asian, although I would not include Southwest Asian in the Native calculation.

In Summary

Neither Family Tree DNA nor 23andMe find Native ancestry in our German/Hungarian tester, but all 3 of the admixture tools at Gedmatch find either small amounts of Native or Asian ancestry that could certainly be interpreted as Native, such as Siberian or Beringian.

Does this mean this German/Hungarian man has Native American ancestry?  Of course not, but it does probably mean that the Native population and his ancestral populations did share some genes from the same gene pool thousands of years ago.

While you might think this is improbable, or impossible, consider for a minute that every person outside of Africa today carries some percentage of Neanderthal DNA, and all Europeans also carry Denisovan DNA.  Our DNA does indeed have staying power over the millennia, especially once an entire population or group of people is involved.  We’ve recently seen this same type of scenarios in the full genome sequencing of a 24,000 year old Siberian male skeleton.

Our German/Hungarian man carries 2.4% Neanderthal DNA according to 23andMe and 2.7% according to the Genographic Project, which also reports that he carries 3.9% Denisovan.  The European average is about 2% for Neanderthal.

The net-net of this is that minority admixture is not always what it seems to be, especially when utilizing autosomal DNA to detect small amounts of Native American admixture.  The big picture needs to be taken into consideration.  Caution is advised.

When searching for Native admixture, when possible, both Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA give specific answers for specific pedigree lines relative to ancestry.  Of course, to utilize Y or mtDNA, the tester must descend from the Native ancestor either directly paternally to test the male Y chromosome, or directly matrilineally to test the mitochondrial line.  You can read about this type of testing, and how it works, in my article, Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA.  You can also read about other ways to prove Native ancestry using autosomal DNA, including how to unravel which pedigree line the Native ancestry descends from, utilizing admixture tools, in the article, “The Autosomal Me.”

Ethnicity Percentages – Second Generation Report Card

Recently, Family Tree DNA introduced their new ethnicity tool, myOrigins as part of their autosomal Family Finder product.  This means that all of the major players in this arena using chip based technology (except for the Genographic project) have now updated their tools.  Both 23andMe and Ancestry introduced updated versions of their tools in the fall of 2013.  In essence, this is the second generation of these biogeographical or ethnicity products.  So lets take a look and see how the vendors are doing.

In a recent article, I discussed the process for determining ethnicity percentages using biogeographical ancestry, or BGA, tools.  The process is pretty much the same, regardless of which vendor’s results you are looking at.  The variant is, of course, the underlying population data base, it’s quality and quantity, and the way the vendors choose to construct and name their regions.

I’ve been comparing my own known and proven genealogy pedigree breakdown to the vendors results for some time now.  Let’s see how the new versions stack up to a known pedigree.

The paper, “Revealing American Indian and Minority Heritage using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosomal Testing Data Combined with Pedigree Analysis” was published in the Fall 2010 issue of JoGG, Vol. 6 issue 1.

The pedigree analysis portion of this document begins about page 8.  My ancestral breakdown is as follows:

Geography Pedigree Percent
Germany 23.8041
British Isles 22.6104
Holland 14.5511
European by DNA 6.8362
France 6.6113
Switzerland 0.7813
Native American 0.2933
Turkish 0.0031

This leaves about 25% unknown.

Let’s look at each vendor’s results one by one.


23andme v2

My results using the speculative comparison mode at 23andMe are shown in a chart, below.

23andMe Category 23andMe Percentage
British and Irish 39.2
French/German 15.6
Scandinavian 7.9
Nonspecific North European 27.9
Italian 0.5
Nonspecific South European 1.6
Eastern European 1.8
Nonspecific European 4.9
Native American 0.3
Nonspecific East Asian/Native American 0.1
Middle East/North Africa 0.1

At 23andMe, if you have questions about what exact population makes up each category, just click on the arrow beside the category when you hover over it.

For example, I wasn’t sure exactly what comprises Eastern European, so I clicked.

23andme eastern europe

The first thing I see is sample size and where the samples come from, public data bases or the 23andMe data base.  Their samples, across all categories, are most prevalently from their own data base.  A rough add shows about 14,000 samples in total.

Clicking on “show details” provides me with the following information about the specific locations of included populations.

23andme pop

Using this information, and reorganizing my results a bit, the chart below shows the comparison between my pedigree chart and the 23andMe results.  In cases where the vendor’s categories spanned several of mine, I have added mine together to match the vendor category.  A perfect example is shown in row 1, below, where I added France, Holland, Germany and Switzerland together to equal the 23andMe French and German category.  Checking their reference populations shows that all 4 of these countries are included in their French and German group.

Geography Pedigree Percent 23andMe %
Germany, Holland, Switzerland & France 45.7451 15.6
France 6.6113 (above) Combined
Germany 23.8014 (above) Combined
Holland 14.5511 (above) Combined
Switzerland 0.7813 (above) Combined
British Isles 22.6104 39.2
Native American 0.2933 0.4 (Native/East Asian)
Turkish 0.0031 0.1 (Middle East/North Africa)
Scandinavian 7.9
Italian 0.5
South European 1.6
East European 1.8
European by DNA 6.8362 4.9 (nonspecific European)
Unknown 25 27.9 (North European)

I can also change to the Chromosome view to see the results mapped onto my chromosomes.

23andme chromosome view

The 23andMe Reference Population

According to the 23andMe customer care pages, “Ancestry Composition uses 31 reference populations, based on public reference datasets as well as a significant number of 23andMe members with known ancestry. The public reference datasets we’ve drawn from include the Human Genome Diversity ProjectHapMap, and the 1000 Genomes project. For these datasets as well as the data from 23andMe, we perform filtering to ensure accuracy.

Populations are selected for Ancestry Composition by studying the cluster plots of the reference individuals, choosing candidate populations that appear to cluster together, and then evaluating whether we can distinguish the groups in practice. The population labels refer to genetically similar groups, rather than nationalities.”

Additional detailed information about Ancestry Composition is available here.

ancestry v2

Ancestry is a bit more difficult to categorize, because their map regions are vastly overlapping.  For example, the west Europe category is shown above, and the Scandinavian is shown below.

ancestry scandinavia

Both categories cover the Netherlands, Germany and part of the UK.

My Ancestry percentages are:

Ancestry Category Ancestry Percentage
North Africa 1
America <1
East Asia <1
West Europe 79
Scandinavia 10
Great Britain 4
Ireland 2
Italy/Greece 2

Below, my pedigree percentages as compared to Ancestry’s categories, with category adjustments.

Geography Pedigree Percent Ancestry %
West European 52.584 (combined from below) 79
Germany 23.8041 Combined
Holland 14.5511 Combined
European by DNA 6.8362 Combined
France 6.6113 Combined
Switzerland 0.7813 Combined
British Isles 22.6104 6
Native American 0.2933 ~1 incl East Asian
Turkish 0.0031 1 (North Africa)
Unknown 25
Italy/Greece 2
Scandinavian 10

Ancestry’s European populations and regions are so broadly overlapping that almost any interpretation is possible.  For example, the Netherlands could be included in several categories – and based up on the history of the country, that’s probably legitimate.

At Ancestry, clicking on a region, then scrolling down will provide additional information about that region of the world, both their population and history.

The Ancestry Reference Population

Just below your ethnicity map is a section titled “Get the Most Out of Your Ethnicity Estimate.”  It’s worth clicking, reading and watching the video.  Ancestry states that they utilized about 3000 reference samples, pared from 4245 samples taken from people whose ethnicity seems to be entirely from that specific location in the world.

ancestry populations

You can read more in their white paper about ethnicity prediction.

Family Tree DNA’s myOrigins

I wrote about the release of my Origins recently, so I won’t repeat the information about reference populations and such found in that article.

myorigins v2

Family Tree DNA shows matches by region.  Clicking on the major regions, European and Middle Eastern, shown above, display the clusters within regions.  In addition, your Family Finder matches that match your ethnicity are shown in highest match order in the bottom left corner of your match page.

Clicking on a particular cluster, such as Trans-Ural Peneplain, highlights that cluster on the map and then shows a description in the lower left hand corner of the page.

myorigins trans-ural

Family Tree DNA shows my ethnicity results as follows.

Family Tree DNA Category Family Tree DNA Percentage
European Coastal Plain 68
European Northlands 12
Trans-Ural Peneplain 11
European Coastal Islands 7
Anatolia and Caucus 3

Below, my pedigree results reorganized a bit and compared to Family Tree DNA’s categories.

Geography Pedigree Percent Family Tree DNA %
European Coastal Plain 45.7478 68
Germany 23.8041 Combined above
Holland 14.5511 Combined above
France 6.6113 Combined above
Switzerland 0.7813 Combined above
British Isles 22.6104 7 (Coastal Islands)
Turkish 0.0031 3 (Anatolia and Caucus)
European by DNA 6.8362
Native American 0.2933
Unknown 25
Trans-Ural Peneplain 11
European Northlands 12

Third Party Admixture Tools is kind enough to include 4 different admixture utilities, contributed by different developers, in their toolbox.  Remember, GedMatch is a free, meaning a contribution site – so if you utilize and enjoy their tools – please contribute.

On their main page, after signing in and transferring your raw data files from either 23andMe, Family Tree DNA or Ancestry, you will see your list of options.  Among them is “admixture.”  Click there.

gedmatch admixture

Of the 4 tools shown, MDLP is not recommended for populations outside of Europe, such as Asian, African or Native American, so I’ve skipped that one entirely.

gedmatch admix utilities

I selected Admixture Proportions for the part of this exercise that includes the pie chart.

The next option is Eurogenes K13 Admixture Proportions.  My results are shown below.

Eurogenes K13

Eurogenes K13

Of course, there is no guide in terms of label definition, so we’re guessing a bit.

Geography Pedigree Percent Eurogenes K13%
North Atlantic 75.19 44.16
Germany 23.8041 Combined above
British Isles 22.6104 Combined above
Holland 14.5511 Combined above
European by DNA 6.8362 Combined above
France 6.6113 Combined above
Switzerland 0.7813 Combined above
Native American 0.2933 2.74 combined East Asian, Siberian, Amerindian and South Asian
Turkish 0.0031 1.78 Red Sea
Unknown 25
Baltic 24.36
West Med 14.78
West Asian 6.85
Oceanian 0.86

Dodecad K12b

Next is Dodecad K12b

According to John at GedMatch, there is a more current version of Dodecad, but the developer has opted not to contribute the current or future versions.

Dodecad K12b

By the way, in case you’re wondering, Gedrosia is an area along the Indian Ocean – I had to look it up!

Geography Pedigree Percent Dodecad K12b
North European 75.19 43.50
Germany 23.8041 Combined above
British Isles 22.6104 Combined above
Holland 14.5511 Combined above
European by DNA 6.8362 Combined above
France 6.6113 Combined above
Switzerland 0.7813 Combined above
Native American 0.2933 3.02 Siberian, South Asia, SW Asia, East Asia
Turkish 0.0031 10.93 Caucus
Gedrosia 7.75
Northwest African 1.22
Atlantic Med 33.56
Unknown 25

Third is Harappaworld.



Baloch is an area in the Iranian plateau.

Geography Pedigree Percent Harappaworld %
Northeast Euro 75.19 46.58
Germany 23.8041 Combined above
British Isles 22.6104 Combined above
Holland 14.5511 Combined above
European by DNA 6.8362 Combined above
France 6.6113 Combined above
Switzerland 0.7813 Combined above
Native American 0.2933 2.81 SE Asia, Siberia, NE Asian, American, Beringian
Turkish 0.0031 10.27
Unknown 25
S Indian 0.21
Baloch 9.05
Papuan 0.38
Mediterranean 28.71

The wide variety found in these results makes me curious about how my European results would be categorized using the MDLP tool, understanding that it will not pick up Native, Asian or African.


mdlp k12

The Celto-Germanic category is very close to my mainland European total – but of course, many Germanic people settled in the British Isles.

Second Generation Report Card

Many of these tools picked up my Native American heritage, along with the African.  Yes, these are very small amounts, but I do have several proven lines.  By proven, I mean both by paper trail (Acadian church and other records) and genetics, meaning Yline and mtDNA.  There is no arguing with that combination.  I also have other Native lines that are less well proven.  So I’m very glad to see the improvements in that area.

Recent developments in historical research and my mitochondrial DNA matches show that my most distant maternal ancestral line in Germany have some type of a Scandinavian connection.  How did this happen, and when?  I just don’t know yet – but looking at the map below, which are my mtDNA full sequence matches, the pattern is clear.


Could the gene flow have potentially gone the other direction – from Germany to Scandinavia?  Yes, it’s possible.  But my relatively consistent Scandinavian ethnicity at around 10% seems unlikely if that were the case.

Actually, there is a second possibility for additional Scandinavian heritage and that’s my heavy Frisian heritage.  In fact, most of my Dutch ancestors in Frisia were either on or very near the coast on the northernmost part of Holland and many were merchants.

I also have additional autosomal matches with people from Scandinavia – not huge matches – but matches just the same – all unexplained.  The most notable of which, and the first I might add, is with my friend, Marja.

It’s extremely difficult to determine how distant the ancestry is that these tests are picking up.  It could be anyplace from a generation ago to hundreds of generations ago.  It all depends on how the DNA was passed, how isolated the population was, who tested today and which data bases are being utilized for comparison purposes along with their size and accuracy.  In most cases, even though the vendors are being quite transparent, we still don’t know exactly who the population is that we match, or how representative it is of the entire population of that region.  In some cases, when contributed data is being used, like testers at 23andMe, we don’t know if they understood or answered the questions about their ancestry correctly – and 23andMe is basing ethnicity results on their cumulative answers.  In other words, we can’t see beneath the blanket – and even if we could – I don’t know that we’d understand how to interpret the components.

So Where Am I With This?

I knew already, through confirmed paper sources that most of my ancestry is in the European heartland – Germany, Holland, France as well as in the British Isles.  Most of the companies and tools confirm this one way or another.  That’s not a surprise.  My 35 years of genealogical research has given me an extremely strong pedigree baseline that is invaluable for comparing vendor ethnicity results.

The Scandinavian results were somewhat of a surprise – especially at the level in which they are found.  If this is accurate, and I tend to believe it is present at some level, then it must be a combined effect of many ancestors, because I have no missing or unknown ancestors in the first 5 generations and only 11 of 64 missing or without a surname in generation 6.  Those missing ancestors in generation 6 only contribute about 1.5% of my DNA each, assuming they contribute an average of 50% of their DNA to offspring in each subsequent generation.

Clearly, to reach 10%, nearly all of my missing ancestors, in the US and Germany, England and the Netherlands would have to be 100% Scandinavian – or, alternately, I have quite a bit scattered around in many ancestors, which is a more likely scenario.  Still, I’m having a difficult time with that 10% number in any scenario, but I will accept that there is some Scandinavian heritage one way or another.  Finding it, however, genealogically is quite another matter.

However, I’m at a total loss as to the genesis of the South European and Mediterranean.  This must be quite ancient.  There are only two known possible ancestors from these regions and they are many generations back in time – and both are only inferred with clearly enough room to be disproven.  One is a possible Jewish family who went to France from Spain in 1492 and the other is possibly a Roman soldier whose descendants are found within a few miles of a Roman fort site today in Lancashire.  Neither of these ancestors could have contributed enough DNA to influence the outcome to the levels shown, so the South European/Mediterranean is either incorrect, or very deep ancestry.

The Eastern European makes more sense, given my amount of German heritage.  The Germans are well known to be admixed with the Magyars and Huns, so while I can’t track it or prove it, it also doesn’t surprise me one bit given the history of the people and regions where my ancestors are found.

What’s the Net-Net of This?

This is interesting, very interesting.  There are tips and clues buried here, especially when all of the various tools, including autosomal matching, Y and mtDNA, are utilized together for a larger picture.  Alone, none of these tools are as powerful as they are combined.

I look forward to the day when the reference populations are in the tens of thousands, not hundreds.  All of the tools will be far more accurate as the data base is built, refined and utilized.

Until then, I’ll continue to follow each release and watch for more tips and clues – and will compare the various tools.  For example, I’m very pleased to see Family Tree DNA’s new ethnicity matching tool incorporated into myOrigins.

I’ve taken the basic approach that my proven pedigree chart is the most accurate, by far, followed by the general consensus of the combined results of all of the vendors.  It’s particularly relevant when vendors who don’t use the same reference populations arrive at the same or similar results.  For example, 23andMe uses primarily their own clients and Nat Geo of course, although I did not include them above because they haven’t released a new tool recently, uses their own population sample results.

National Geographic’s Geno2

Nat Geo took a bit of a different approach and it’s more difficult to compare to the others.  They showed my ethnicity as 43% North European, 36% Mediterranean and 18% Southwest Asian.

nat geo results

While this initially looks very skewed, they then compared me to my two closest populations, genetically, which were the British and the Germans, which is absolutely correct, according to my pedigree chart.  Both of these populations are within a few percent of my exact same ethnicity profile, shown below.

Nat geo british 2

The description makes a lot of sense too.  “The dominant 49% European component likely reflects the earliest settlers in Europe, hunter-gatherers who arrived there more than 35,000 years ago.  The 44% Mediterranean and the 17% Southwest Asian percentages arrived later, with the spread of agriculture from the Fertile Crescent in the middle East, over the past 10,000 years.  As these early farmers moved into Europe, they spread their genetic patterns as well.”

nat geo german

So while individually, and compared to my pedigree chart, these results appear questionable, especially the Mediterranean and Southwest Asian portions, in the context of the populations I know I descend from and most resemble, the results make perfect sense when compared to my closest matching populations.  Those populations themselves include a significant amount of both Mediterranean and Southwest Asian.  Looking at this, I feel a lot better about the accuracy of my results.  Sometimes, perspective makes a world of difference.

It’s A Wrap

Just because we can’t exactly map the ethnicity results to our pedigree charts today doesn’t mean the results are entirely incorrect.  It doesn’t mean they are entirely correct, either.  The results may, in some cases, be showing where population groups descend from, not where our specific ancestors are found more recently.  The more ancestors we have from a particular region, the more that region’s profile will show up in our own personal results.  This explains why Mediterranean shows up, for example, from long ago but our one Native ancestor from 7 or 8 generations ago doesn’t.  In my case, it would be because I have many British/German/Dutch lines that combine to show the ancient Mediterranean ancestry of these groups – where I have many fewer Native ancestors.

Vendors may be picking up deep ancestry that we can’t possible know about today – population migration.  It’s not like our ancestors left a guidebook of their travels for us – at least – not outside of our DNA – and we, as a community, are still learning exactly how to read that!  We are, after all, participants on the pioneering, leading edge of science.

Having said that, I’ll personally feel a lot better about these kinds of results when the underlying technology, data bases and different vendors’ tools mature to the point where there the differences between their results are minor.

For today, these are extremely interesting tools, just don’t try to overanalyze the results, especially if you’re looking for minority admixture.  And if you don’t like your results, try a different vendor or tool, you’ll get an entirely new set to ponder!

John Campbell (c1772-1838) of Little Sycamore Creek – 52 Ancestors #20

John Campbell’s early life is shrouded in the mists of time.  We can’t positively identify him until he’s an adult, living in Claiborne County, Tennessee, beginning in 1802.  By that time, he would have been roughly 30 years old, married, and probably had 2 or 3 children by his wife, Jane “Jenny” Dobkins, daughter of Jacob Dobkins and Dorcas Johnson.

The closest thing to proof we have that Jane was a Dobkins is Claiborne County lawyer and historian, P.G. Fulkerson (born in 1840) who interviewed old-timers and documented the early families.  He stated that Jacob’s daughter, Jane, married John Campbell and his other daughter Elizabeth married George Campbell. Jacob Dobkins died in 1833, and the Claiborne County courthouse burned in 1838, so if Jacob had a will or estate settlement that named his children, it’s lost to flames.

We believe that John Campbell was born in Virginia based on census information from his children in 1880.

John’s children were:

  • Jacob Campbell born about 1810, died 1879/1880, Collin Co., TX, married Temperance Rice
  • Elizabeth born about 1802, dead before 1842, married Lazarus Dodson
  • Elmira born about 1804 married John Pearson
  • Jane born about 1807, married a Freeman, then a Cloud
  • Martha born 1807/1808, died after 1850, married Elisha Jones, moved to Coles County, Illinois before 1839
  • Rutha born about 1813, died after 1870, married Preston Holt
  • George Washington Campbell born about 1813, died in 1860 in Texas, married Nancy Eastridge, then Mary unknown
  • William Newton Campbell born 1817, died 1908 Tillman Co. OK, married Sydnia Holt

I spent years, decades actually, chasing the wrong parents for John Campbell.  I’ve chased so many parents for this man that I’ve just about ruled everyone out and the ones I haven’t ruled out HAVE to be his parents by process of elimination.  If only it were that easy.  Campbells are like rabbits – they have huge families, are found everyplace and they all have the same first names.  John – how could you be any more generic?  And the man we presume is his brother is named George.  Not much better.  Why not Hezekiah and Azariah???

Several years ago a cousin sent me part of her Campbell research, 4 pages of a 23 page document.  In the portion she sent, she states that back in the 1950s, some Campbell relatives were interviewed who were quite elderly, and they reported that John’s father had been James, as told by their grandparents.  That information morphed into the James Campbell from the northern part of Hawkins County who was also descended from the Crockett line.  This did make some sense, as John’s grandson’s middle name was Crockett, although his first name was David.  The problem is that when you track that James in Hawkins County, TN and his widow and children, there is no John and absolutely no hint of a connection with the John Campbell in Claiborne County, Tennessee, nor the George he is so closely associated with.  Not only that, but James Campbell lived in Carter’s Valley, no place near Jacob Dobkins whose daughters John and George Campbell both married.

In Hawkins County, there are two very distinctive groups of Campbell men.  The group that lived about 20 miles north of Rogersville in Carter’s Valley, who believed they were actually settling in Virginia originally, and Charles Campbell who lived just south of Rogersville across the Holston River on Dodson Creek.  The North group is who James Campbell descended from the Crockett family is associated with.  Charles Campbell, living on Dodson Creek, had 2 sons, John and George, and Jacob Dobkins, whose daughters John and George married, lived just up the road at Bulls Gap, about 9 miles or so.  Charles Campbell lived at the ford of the Holston River, so I’d wager that everyone who crossed the river stopped by to visit, probably including Jacob Dobkins and his daughters.

Charles Campbell was living on Dodson’s Creek in 1788 and possibly as early as 1783.  In 1793, he deeded land jointly to John and George Campbell, from Hawkins Co., for 45#, 150 acres on the south side of the Holston River on the west fork of Dodson Creek.  Charles signed the deed and John Payne was the witness.  The description was metes and bounds except for a stake at the mountain.

On Feb. 26, 1802, book 3-54, George and John Campbell of Hawkins Co. sell to Daniel Seyster the 149 acres on the fork of Dodson Creek where “John Campbell now lives” for 225#.  Both men signed and the witnesses are William Paine, Michael Roark and Charles Campbell. It was proved in the May session of the court in 1802 by Michael Roark, which implies that the Campbell men were gone by that time.

John Campbell is no longer found in Hawkins County.  On May 1, 1802, John first appears in Claiborne County when he purchases land from Alexander Outlaw.  This deed is in the loose papers in the front of deed book A.

Alexander Outlaw of Jefferson Co. TN to John Campbell of Claiborne, copied from Book A page 32 – May 1, 1802 – for $400 in hand and paid by John Campbell, tract of land on the North fork of Sycamore Creek adjoining a survey of 640 acres of James Cooper and Nathaniel Henderson beginning on a grassy hill on the North side of said Creek…300 acres.  Alexander signs.  Witness Jacob Dobbins and James A. Perreman.  Registered July 7 1802.

In the same court session, John Campbell is assigned with other men to “view and lay out a road from Fort Butler to Mulberry Gap and report to next court.”

In 1809, John purchases slaves on the same day, from the same person who sells slaves to Jacob Dobkins.  Note that this same male slave, or another by the same name, is sold within the family in 1839 after John Campbell’s death.

March 29, 1809 – Jesse Cheek of Grainger County to John Campbell, negro boy Charles for $300, signed and witnessed by Solomon and Reuben Dobkins. (note this same day Jesse Cheek and his daughter sold slaves to Jacob Dobkins as well).

1809 – Elizabeth Cheek of Grainger does sell and deliver a negro girl named Jamima aged six years unto John Campbell of Claiborne and by virtue and effect of these presents to bind myself and my heirs to warrant and defend said negro from all persons and claims…Elizabeth signs…March 24, 1809 witness Jesse Cheek Senior and Jr.

Followed directly by…

I, Jesse Cheek, hath bargained and sold unto Jacob Dobkins 4 negroes names Aneker or Anekey, Mitilty, Jiary, Amelyer for the consideration of $130 in hand paid.  March 29, 1809 Jesse signs, registered July 30, 1809.  John Campbell and Solomon Dobkins witness.

In 1811, John Campbell purchases more land.

Jan. 21, 1811 Abner Chapman of Warren Co., Georgia to John Campbell of Claiborne $100 the land where said John Campbell now lives at the head of the north fork of Sycamore Creek (metes and bounds)…original corner of Chapman grant for 400 acres….stake in Campbell’s line…Campbell’s corner…crossing line in Chapman grant…containing 300 acres more or less.  Signed.  Wit Walter Evans and Abel Lanham.  Registered May 18, 1811

For the next many years, John Campbell along with George Campbell and often Jacob Dobkins are assigned as jurors and to work on and lay out roads.  This is normal activity for the timeframe.  Courts, which were held quarterly, were quite the social event of the season – and everyone attended.  If they weren’t a juror, they certainly wanted to watch the proceedings.  It’s said that one time there was so much imbibing that court had to be adjourned because the justices fell off the bench.

It appears in 1812 that John managed to upset someone, although there were two John Campbells, the other being the son of Arthur Campbell of Middlesboro, KY, who lived just beyond the Cumberland Gap.  This Martin Beaty did sue numerous people in the Arthur Campbell family, so maybe our John didn’t get himself sued.

March 25, 1812 – pages 18 and 19 – Martin Beaty vs John Campbell, defendant appears in court by Jacob Peck and Charles F. Keith his attys for slander, appealed for unit of error – moved to next court.  (Note – Beatty lives where Kentucky Rd. crosses Gap Creek, very near Middlesboro, KY where Arthur Campbell lived.)

In 1817, John Campbell was security for Solomon Dobkins, who was a constable.

In 1823, John Campbell buys and sells some land.

1823, June 4 – William Willoughby of Sullivan Co and John Campbell of Claiborne $600 paid in hand tract of land beginning on Brumfield Ridley’s corner chestnut then down the Valley south…stake in the side of Powell’s mountain…200 acres…being the tract where John Condry and others now live.  William Signs.  Witness Hugh Graham and R. Rose.

1823 – John Campbell to Jacob Campbell for $300 land on both sides of main road from the spring fork of Sycamore Creek to Little Mulberry Creek being one half of a two hundred acre tract of land granted by the St of NC to Matthew Willoughby of number 79 dated Feb. 13, 1791 and said half begins at a chestnut tree at the beginning of said grant running with the grant line…crossing said road…stake in the side of Powell’s mountain in the grant line…containing 100 acres to Jacob Campbell.  John Campbell signs.  Witness Walter Evans (he is the clerk).  Registered Jan 15 1824.  Proved in open court May 1823.

John Campbell dies in 1838.  There remains some confusion about exactly where John died.  He had some connection to Coles County, Illinois, possibly only because his daughter lived there and the documents in question may only be referring to her residence in Coles County.  Some indication is that John died there, but in the subsequent deeds, it suggests that he died in Claiborne County.  Regardless, we know that he was dead on or before Sept 22, 1838 when William Hicks built John’s coffin and submitted a receipt for payment for $5.

In 1840, a William Hicks was living 2 doors away from a William and George Campbell, so I’m betting that John Campbell was buried in Claiborne County. William Hicks also purchased items at the estate sale of John Campbell in 1838.  If John was buried in Claiborne County, in September, I’m thinking that no one would want to transport a body from Illinois to Claiborne County for burial, by wagon, at about 20 miles a day.  Google maps says that it’s about 445 miles so that would equate to about 3 weeks.  By that time, I’m thinking they would be burying him along the road someplace or giving him a water burial in the Ohio River.

If John died in Claiborne County, which seems very likely, he could be buried in the old Jacob Dobkins Cemetery which seems to be the family cemetery, shown below, and has many early unmarked graves, including that of Jacob Dobkins and his wife.  There was not a cemetery on John Campbell’s land, unless there was an early cemetery where Liberty Church and cemetery stand today, which is certainly possible.

Dobkins cemetery

On the 1839 tax list, John is listed thus in the Rob Camp District in the far northeast part of the county:

  • John Campbell, decd – 443 acres worth $1300, 25 school acres worth $10, 2 slaves worth $900

Will Book A – page 71 – inventory of the estate of John Campbell, decd and of sales (3 pages) William Fugate and Jacob Campbell admin.

In the cousin’s research that she sent, she indicated that Henley Fugate was the uncle of John Campbell, and was married to Elizabeth Campbell, sister of John, although that would make Henley John’s brother-in-law, not his uncle.  Henley and Elizabeth’s son, William, according to the cousin, was administrator of John’s estate, along with Jacob Campbell, John’s son, and that somehow William Fugate and Jacob Campbell cheated the heirs out of their money.  There are 4 different court entries accounting for the funds, which don’t look in any way unusual, but there is always a back story to be found, it seems, especially having to do with estate settlements.  The Fugates do seem very connected to the Campbell family, so there may well be a family relationship there. The cousin also indicated that the families had lived adjacent in Virginia but since I can’t seem to find a location in Virginia, I have been unable to confirm that tidbit of data.

John Campbell’s sale was huge, as these things go, and as compared to other estates of the time.

  • Cash on hand after paying note – $649
  • Note from Johoel and William Fugate  – $15
  • Notes from others – $385.22

Apparently John was in the business of lending money as he was owed notes from several people.

John’s estate sale was Feb. 25, 1839.  We don’t know what the weather was like that day.  In Claiborne County, it could have been anything from snowing, slick and miserable to sunny and warm.  The administrators of John’s estate likely wanted to get things sold and felt early spring was a good time because farmers were likely to purchase things they needed for the upcoming planting season.

Sadly, the widow, Jane Campbell, had to purchase her own things at the estate sale, because all property was deemed to be that of the husband.  Therefore, Jane Campbell, widow, purchased the following items for a total of $87.63 and a half cents:

  • 1 saw
  • 1 little wheel
  • 1 set spools
  • 1 cupboard furniture
  • 1 reel bed and bedding
  • 1 chaff bed and feather bed
  • 1 lot of gums (guns?)
  • Sheet of cotton
  • 1 trunk
  • 1 clock and case
  • 1 lot of hay
  • 1 bucket
  • 1 set fire irons and shovel
  • 1 tin trunk
  • 1 set chairs
  • 1 lot barrels
  • Tub and lard
  • 1 ewe and lamb
  • 1 mare
  • 1 lot of casting
  • 1 cow

She obviously purchased her spinning wheel.  I have to wonder at the lack of a listing for the family Bible.

Others at the same purchased:

  • 1 tub
  • 1 chipping ax
  • 1 lot tubs
  • 690 lbs bacon
  • 1 broad ax
  • 1 big wheel
  • 1 trunk
  • Raxor and box
  • Table
  • Ax
  • 2 pr gears
  • 1 yoke oxen
  • 2 baskets
  • Hoe
  • Curry comb and chair
  • Piece of steel
  • Ax
  • Harrow
  • 1 bull
  • 1 grindstone shovel, plows and bridle
  • Remnant of corn
  • 1 box shoemakers tools
  • Side leather
  • 2 lots tools
  • Fire irons
  • 1 coult
  • 1 cow
  • Cow
  • Horse
  • 1 lot sheep
  • 4 yearlings
  • 1 scythe blade
  • Cross cut saw
  • Candle stand
  • 1 saddle
  • 2 pitch forks
  • Double tree
  • Wheet sive
  • Wagon
  • Skillet and lid
  • Lot plunder
  • Lot corn basket and pickett book
  • Yoke of oxen
  • Lot of tools
  • Coult
  • 1 horse
  • 1 lock chain
  • Cow and calf
  • 1200# ?
  • 1 plain
  • 1 mare
  • 1 bridle
  • 2 hoes
  • Coulter and iron
  • Remnant of oats
  • Cutting knife and hammer
  • 202 lb bacon
  • 1 lot castings
  • Saddle
  • Lot of hogs
  • Set of chains
  • Big plow
  • 13 bushels and 3 peck wheat
  • Plow
  • 50 bushels corn
  • Big plow
  • Mill peck
  • Plow
  • Sack of cotton
  • Large plow and matchk
  • Hoe and stretchers
  • 1 bridle
  • Grindstone
  • 1 shovel, plows
  • 1 chair
  • Lot tools
  • 1 beef hide
  • 1 bee gum
  • Hoe and rake
  • Bridle and lot of corn
  • Big sugar
  • Bureau
  • 1 pair chains
  • 1 little when
  • 1 side leather and castings
  • 1 press
  • 1 bee gums
  • Blacksmith tools
  • Piece of iron
  • 2 leather aprons
  • Lot of castings and coffee mill
  • 1 pair steelyards
  • 1 cack bank
  • 1 scythe and cradle and houe
  • 1 cupboard
  • 100 dozen binds of oats
  • 1 mattock
  • 1 bedstead
  • 3 scythes
  • 1 cutting knife and scythe
  • Plow

The total of the estate sale was $958.58

Was John a shoemaker or a blacksmith?  Was his slave trained to one of these professions?

What else does this tell us about John’s life?  He was obviously a farmer, but everyone was.  He had several horses; 2 mares, 2 colts, 3 horses and 4 yearlings.  He had a “lot of hogs,” which of course means a group that was sold together, and he also had almost 1000 pounds of bacon.  Fall was slaughtering time, so there were quite a few hogs that had been killed and processed, probably in a smoke house.  There was one ewe and lamb and obviously Jane felt fondly towards them.  There was also a “lot of sheep.”  There were 3 cows and a bull and there were 2 yoke of oxen.  Oxen were matched and trained to work together, so they were often sold together as well.

They also had bee gums, which were gum trees that bees lived in.  So in essence, he was an early beekeeper.  This means, of course, that they also had honey, which might be connected to the item called “big sugar.”

They had 3 beds, 3 trunks, 2 cupboards, a bureau and a clock, which was a luxury. John was not a poor farmer.  In fact, few people in Claiborne County had slaves, so John having 2 was rather unusual.  Those who did have slaves had 1 or 2 and a very few people had 10 or more.  In the 1830 census, John had 2 slaves and his father-in-law, Jacob Dobkins, had 4.  Finding this heritage of slavery within the family saddens my heart, although I realize that it was socially acceptable, even desirable, at the time.  Well, desirable by everyone except the slave.  Slaves on small farms were often well treated and had good lives, and I hope that is how these people were treated.

John’s children and their spouses also attended his estate sale except for his daughter, Martha, who lived in Illinois.  It’ must have been a sad day to see your parents things being divided like so much excess and being sold away from your mother.  Jane did, of course, retain her dower right to one third of his estate, but that didn’t stop the estate sale.

In July of 1839, the court record shows each of the children of John Campbell and what they received during their lifetimes.

July 22, 1839 – Estate of John Campbell, amounts received during this lifetime:

  • Jacob Campbell $210
  • George Campbell (blank)
  • Lazarus Dodson 192.95
  • Preston and Ruth Holt 170.00
  • Jane Freeman 43.50
  • Jefferson and Elmire? (Eliza?) Pearson 124.50
  • William Campbell 214.00
  • Martha Jones 65.75 of Illinois

Page 206 – settlement estate of John Campbell by William Fugate and Jacob Campbell before Wiley Huffaker, clerk of court – paid William Hicks for coffin- Sept 22, 1838 – $5.00  Paid Jane Campbell for her dower June 25, 1839

By 1839, John’s heirs are selling his land to their sibling, along with a slave described as a boy in this document, so not the same person purchased in 1809.

July 29, 1839 – Elisha Jones and Martha Jones his wife, formerly Martha Campbell and daughter of John Campbell, now decd of Coale Co., Illinois, to William and George Campbell of Claiborne Co., for $187.50 assign all right and interest of 1/8th share in consequence of Martha being a daughter and heir of the said John Cambell in tract of land containing 345 acres adjacent the lands of William McVay and Marcurioius Cook it being the tract of land where on the John Campbell formerly lived and whereon the said John Campbell died seized and possessed of subject to the dower of the widow and all right and title after the death of the widow.  Elisha signs and Martha with an X.  Witness William Niel and Jacob Campbell.

This is the entry that caused the confusion about where John died.  We know that Martha Campbell lived in Illinois, and given the other information we do have, I believe this is mean to convey that Martha Jones is of “Coale Co., Illinois” and not John Campbell.  The words “formerly lived” is always used after death.  John was clearly still very invested in Claiborne County, judging from his significant estate.

On March 30, 1840, John Campbell’s negroes were sold.

In April 1841, the court notes reflect that John’s estate was now worth $2897.64 and two thirds cents.

In July 1841, Wiley Huffaker was the guardian to the children of Elizabeth Campbell Dodson, deceased, and Lazarus Dodson.

Feb 1843 – Settlement of the estate of John Campbell by William Fugate and Jacob Campbell admin.  Amount given to each heir of John Campbell as received by them in the lifetime of said deceased.

  • Jacob Campbell $210.00
  • George Campbell 103.65
  • Lasarous (Lazarus) Dotson 192.75
  • Preston Holt 170.16 and a half cents
  • Jane Freeman 43.50
  • Elmire Pearson 124.50
  • William Campbell 214.00
  • Martha Jones 65.75

This is a great list, as it shows that John Campbell loaned or gave his children part of their inheritance early.

Jacob Campbell, George Campbell, Jane Freeman, Jefferson Pearson, Preston Holt and Jane Campbell sell to William Campbell for $33.03 and 1/3 cents negro boy Charles which John Campbell died seized and possessed and Jefferson Pearson and Preston Holt having interest in said negro by their marriage with daughters of said John Campbell.  Signed except Jane who makes mark of a plus sign.  Witness Gray Garrett and Hugh Dobkins and registered Jan. 13, 1840.

In October 1843, a final settlement was made with the children of Elizabeth Campbell Dodson which lists her children, by name.

On Jan. 24, 1852, William Campbell sells to Daniel Jones of the same for $1300 the land where Daniel Jones now lives including the residence of John Campbell decd lying on Little Sycamore Creek including part of 2 grants, one to Alexander Outlaw and the other to Abner Chapman, beginning….southwest corner of Outlaw grant…closing line of Chapman grant…conditional corner between William Campbell and Daniel Jones…Outlaw grant.  Signed.  Registered March 10, 1852.  Witness Tennessee Cook and William Fugate.

This last deed clearly identifies which John Campbell we are talking about.  I brought these deeds forward in time, hoping to find a landmark of some sort that I could locate today. I was very lucky.  Skipping several transactions, I found this:

1903 – Jane Ann Jones et all to G.R. Sulfridge – deed of trust – all the old Daniel Jones home farm and tract deeded to Ann Jane Jones except that previously deeded to H. Friar and others, beginning at Sycamore Creek at Nancy Coles, Nancy Cooks line, across ridge to John Cunningham’s line, Buis corner, top of ridge, George Runions, Friar’s line, public road in Little Sycamore Valley, except the grave yard plot of 3/4 acre deeded to Liberty Church, 140 acres.

liberty cemetery sign

The Liberty Church!  I knew exactly where that was located.  Here’s a photo of some of the old settlers and the Old Liberty Church taken about 1902.  The church itself was founded in 1856 and the building in this photo was built in 1883, so this church did not exist when John Campbell was alive, but the fact that the cemetery was deeded to the church helped us locate John’s land.

liberty church

The Liberty church sits down on Little Sycamore road, but the cemetery sits up on a ridge beside the church and directly behind John Campbell’s house.

From this vantage point, you look down over the valley.  It’s quite beautiful!  John Campbell might be buried here.

Liberty cemetery

This photo, below, is John’s house from in the cemetery.

Campbell house from cemetery

It’s very likely that when John died, William Hicks made his casket, someone preached his funeral, and John was carried up the hill, probably in his wagon by his own team of oxen, and he was buried right here, forever standing silent sentry, looking over his land from what is called Little Ridge.

Here’s the house from the road.  My cousin, Daryl and I went to visit.  Once we discovered the landmark of Liberty Church, we couldn’t NOT visit.

Campbell house

The cemetery stands above the house on top of the ridge.

This was a prime piece of real estate, because it had a natural spring which still flows today.  The head of the spring is under the rocks and you can see that it has hollowed out a bed downstream.

Campbell spring

You can see the stream here, located in front of the house, where it’s not far to carry fresh water to the house.

Campbell spring 2

Campbell property

The current owners were very gracious allowing us to photograph the property and answering many questions.

campbell house 2

You can easily see the original house in the center.  The owners told us the center part is made of logs.

Campbell foundation

We asked about this odd part of the foundation and discovered that there is a hidden “room” under the house.  The owners told us that they had been told that it was for travelers from long ago so that they could stay someplace without disturbing the household if they arrived at night.  I wondered about the Civil War because this area was rife with marauding soldiers from both side and many families have stories about hiding from the soldiers.

Campbell step

The door into the original cabin and the original steps.  Most of the steps in this region are stones like this.  I have the stone from one of my ancestor’s cabins that is now my back step.  I’m not sure how I’d have gotten this one in my Jeep, but had it been offered, Daryl and I would have found a way, rest assured!

George and John Campbell, Brothers or Not?

One enduring mystery is the relationship of George Campbell and John Campbell.  If you believe Fulkerson, and there isn’t any reason not to, they married Dobkins sisters, but what he did not say was that they were brothers, although based on the joint deed from Charles Campbell, the timing and the enduring relationship between the Campbell men, it’s certainly a logical conclusion.  But is it accurate?

One fine day, when Daryl and I were researching on one of our many library trips, we stumbled on one right juicy lawsuit in which the divorce of one of John Campbell’s daughters is discussed.  It seems that one fall during “hog killing,” while married, she was “discovered” in a compromising position in the barn with her Campbell cousin, George’s son, who was named and identified as her cousin.  Woohooo…..our lucky day.  Until we realized that John’s daughter and George’s son would have been cousins through their mother’s as well.  If John and George were brothers then their children would have been double first cousins.  Thankfully, she apparently didn’t get pregnant from the encounter, just divorced.  I bet that was the talk of the neighborhood for a very long time.

These families didn’t live far apart.  It was closer over the mountains, and they had wagon trails and roads across the ridges that don’t exist today.

On the map below, the red arrow at left shows the approximate location of the land of George Campbell on Russell Creek.  The top arrow shows Jacob Dobkins land and the bottom arrow shows the circle drive today around the cemetery above John Campbell’s home.  These properties were about 3 miles from each other, John’s being “across the ridge” from the others.

Campbell map

I turned to DNA hoping that perhaps I could discover something more about the relationship between John and George Campbell.  Maybe, if I was lucky they would have a family mutation that linked them.  Maybe, today, they would match exactly to a family line out of Virginia.  When the descendants of both George and John were first Y DNA tested, several years ago, we certainly weren’t that lucky.

John’s descendant who tested is Jim Campbell and George’s descendant is Paul Campbell.

I would expect both Jim and Paul to match closely.  They do match, but not closely.

Both men are 5 generations from their oldest known ancestor, meaning John and George, so they would be 6 generations from a common ancestor if George and John are brothers.

At 67 markers they have 4 mutations difference.  This would be expected, at the 50th percentile, at about 8 generations, using the TIP tool at Family Tree DNA.  Of course, I’ve discussed this tool, its drawbacks and the fallacy of averages, but sometimes it’s the only tool you have and it’s certainly better than nothing.

At 37 markers Jim and Paul have 2 mutations, at 25 markers, they aren’t shown as a match, so that means 2 mutations (deduced because that is what they have at 37).  They are not showing as a match at 12 markers either, so more than 1 mutation difference in the first panel.

Moving to the Campbell DNA project, I can see the DNA results for the group that the administrator, Kevin Campbell has grouped both Jim and Paul into.  Fortunately, it is the same group, R1b-group 30.

Comparing their results with others in the group, we see that Jim (yellow 80569) has several mutations, and Paul (blue 81430) seems to match the modal value perfectly, so in essence has had no mutations since the common ancestor of this group.

Campbell group 30

Paul is the closest match to kit 23564 whose oldest ancestor is:

David J. Campbell, a son of Mark Washington Campbell and Mary Ann Campbell, was born on 26 August 1846 in Franklin County, PA.  It is speculated that he was born in Dry Run.  Also, according to speculation, his father, Mark W. Campbell, was born 15 December 1815 in the same county.  David married Marie Edna Gribble in 1870 and had six children. The family migrated to Clinton County, IA, McLean County, IL, Kearney County, NE, and Payette County, ID.

Jim’s closest match has 3 mutations, which isn’t terribly close, kit 28877 whose oldest ancestor is:

Solomon Campbell born Sept 1805, married Margaret Laurie, John N’s son James N Campbell Born Feb 2 1835.  Other children of John N are Martha, William, Margaret, Thomas L., James N., Solomon J., Jane.  It states on the 1841 Scottish census (Crofthead, Neilston, Renfrewshire) that John N and family were born in Ireland except for Jane who was born in Neilston.  Family also listed in Scotland 1851 census. Came to America in June of 1853, settled in Mason NH, John N. died 1878 Townsend Mass.

There is clearly no commonality in terms of either ancestors or location comparing the two closest matches.  Furthermore, Jim’s closest match is in Massachusetts when we know that John Campbell did arrive from Virginia, born in the 1770s, and was very likely part of the Scots/Irish migration from Pennsylvania through Virginia – simply given the historical patterns and logistics.

Let’s move to the individual markers and see what we can tell.

Campbell headingCampbell 389

I looked at the markers, and I think that DYS389(2) is having spontaneous mutations.  I say this because IF and assuming that truly, kit 81430 has not mutated, then all of the mutations in the 80569 kit happened after Charles Campbell who was born about 1750 or maybe slightly earlier.  It’s obvious from looking at oldest ancestors of the matches who have a value of 31 at DYS389(2) that  they could not all be descended from someone who lived since Charles Campbell.

Both Paul and Jim have taken the Family Finder autosomal test.  Let’s see what that says about their relationship.  I searched Jim’s account for matches having a surname of Campbell.  Sure enough, there were 5 results, but none of them were Paul.  These men should be 5th cousins if Charles Campbell is the father of both John and George.  That is a long way back and we would expect, on average for 5th cousins to carry only about 3cM of common DNA and less than 1%.  The FTDNA threshold is 7cM.

Jim’s sister has also taken the Family Finder test.  On the chance that she inherited differently, I checked to see if she perhaps matches Paul.  She does not.

We know that at Family Tree DNA matching threshold is set to approximately 7cM and that matches have to meet other criteria as well to be considered a match, like minimum SNPs and a minimum total cM as well.  Therefore, people with small amounts of matching DNA are not shown as matches at Family Tree DNA, but may share DNA that is important to find.  At GedMatch, you can set the matching thresholds yourself.

Let’s take a look at GedMatch to see if the John Campbell descendants match the George Campbell descendants.  Below, Jim and Paul’s autosomal DNA is compared for matches.

Campbell, paul vs jim

Sure enough, Jim and Paul match each other on four segments, one just above 3cM, just as predicted, and three more just over 1cM each.  Without a proven family connection, we would ignore segments of this size, but in a known family situation, these are important matching segments.

Let’s see if Jim’s sister matches Paul.

Campbell, paul vs jim sister

Yes, Jim’s sister and Jim both match Paul and in the same location on chromosome 7.

Do I match Paul?

Campbell, paul vs me

I do match Paul significantly.  On two chromosomes, the segments are 12 and 13 cm.  On chromosome 12, I match Paul on the same location at Jim’s sister.  On chromosome 13, I match on the same location as Jim matches Paul.

The GedMatch estimate is interesting in that it is 4.2 generations.  We know positively that we are a minimum of 7 generations distant, assuming that Charles is the father of both George and John.  Paul and I do not share any other ancestors.

Do I match Joy, the other George descendant?

Yes, I do, below.  Again, a minimum of 7 generations between us.

Campbell, me vs joy

Does Jim match Joy? No.

Does Joy match Jim’s sister? No.

Does Paul match Joy?  Both are descended from George.  Yes, on 10 different chromosomes.  These should be more closely matched than any John/George descendant matches, but they are further than 2.7 generations.

Campbell, paul vs joy

Do I match Jim, who is also descended from John Campbell?  Yes.

Campbell, me vs jim

Do I match Jim’s sister? Yes, on far more segments that I match Jim.

Campbell, me vs jim sister

The segments on chromosome 5 are identical between me, Jim and his sister.  Clearly, that came from John Campbell.  Our common ancestor, John Campbell is 5 generations from Jim and his sister, and 6 from me.

I created the following table of the results.  We have two descendants from George who match each other most closely.  Conversely, the descendants of John match each other more closely than the descendants of John match the descendants of George.  However, given the generational distance, the descendant of John and George do fall into the expected tolerance in the case of Paul matching Jim, John and me.

Jim (John) Jim’s sister Paul (George) Me (John) Joy (George)
Jim na siblings 1,3,7,13 5, 7, 11, 15 No
Jim’s sister siblings na 7, 10, 12, 13 2, 3, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13 No
Paul 1,3,7,13 7, 10, 12, 13 na 4, 9, 10, 12, 13 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 15, 16
Me 5, 7, 11, 15 2, 3, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13 4, 9, 10, 12, 13 na 16, 17
Joy No No 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 15, 16 16, 17 na

What else can we do now to further identify the parents of John and George Campbell, presuming that they are indeed brothers as the results above suggest?

At this point, there are three avenues open for study.

  1. Upgrade both Jim and Paul to 111 markers and hope for line marker mutations.
  2. Upgrade both Jim and Paul to the Big Y hoping for identical mutations, and if not, ones that will connect to another Campbell line. This option is very expensive at this time, and according to the Campbell surname administrator there are either few or no project members who have ordered the Big Y.
  3. Utilize Family Finder to search both Jim and Paul’s matches for consistent matches and hope for a clear genealogy clue as to where to begin the search for the common family of John and George.
  4. Add a dash of luck!

One thing is certain, whether John and George share a father or not, and whether that father is Charles Campbell who died before 1825 in Hawkins County, TN, or not, they do at some point not terribly distant past, share a common Campbell ancestor.  I surely wish there were any other proven children of Charles Campbell to test against.

As a matter of curiosity, I did check to see if any of the five of us Campbell descendants have matches to people with Fugate as an ancestral surname – and we all do.  However, many of these people also have Campbell ancestry and/or are from the Claiborne County region where we all have roots, so it would require more research to draw any inferences or conclusions on the Fugate question.

The Campbell lineage has been exceedingly frustrating. Why, oh why, didn’t they register that deed in 1825 in Hawkins County listing the heirs of Charles Campbell???

Family Tree DNA Releases myOrigins

my origins

On May 6th, Family Tree DNA released myOrigins as a free feature of their Family Finder autosomal DNA test.  This autosomal biogeographic feature was previously called Population Finder.  It has not just been renamed, but entirely reworked.

Currently, 22 population clusters in 7 major geographic groups are utilized to evaluate your biogeographic ethnicity or ancestry as compared to these groups, many of which are quite ancient.

my origins regions

Primary Population Clusters

  • Anatolia & Caucasus
  • Asian Northeast
  • Bering Expansion
  • East Africa Pastoralist
  • East Asian Coastal Islands
  • Eastern Afroasiatic
  • Eurasian Heartland
  • European Coastal Islands
  • European Coastal Plain
  • European Northlands
  • Indian Tectonic
  • Jewish Diaspora
  • Kalahari Basin
  • Niger-Congo Genesis
  • North African Coastlands
  • North Circumpolar
  • North Mediterranean
  • Trans-Ural Peneplain

Blended Population Clusters

  • Coastal Islands & Central Plain
  • Northlands & Coastal Plain
  • North Mediterranean & Coastal Plain
  • Trans-Euro Peneplain & Coastal Plain

Each of these groups has an explanation which can be found here.


Prior to release, Family Tree DNA sent out a notification about new matching options.  One of the new features is that you will be able to see the matching regions of the people you match – meaning your populations in common.  This powerful feature lets you see matches who are similar which can be extremely useful when searching for minority admixture, for example.  However, some participants don’t want their matches to be able to see their ethnicity, so everyone was given an ‘opt out’ option.  Fortunately, few people have opted out, less than 1%.

Be aware that only your primary matches are shown.  This means that your 4-5th cousins or more distant are not shown as ethnicity matches.

Here’s what the FTDNA notification said:

With myOrigins, you’ll be able compare your ethnicity with your Family Finder matches. If you want to share your ethnic origins with your matches, you don’t need to take any action.  You’ll automatically be able to compare your ethnicity with your matches when myOrigins becomes available.  This is the recommended option. However, we do understand that sharing your ethnicity with your matches is your choice so we’re sending you this reminder in case you want to not take part (opt-out). To opt-out, please follow the instructions below. *

  1. Click this link.
  2. If you are not logged in, do so.
  3. Select the “Do not share my ethnic breakdown with my matches. This will not let me compare my ethnicity with my matches.” radio button.
  4. Click the Save button.

You can get more details about what will be shared here.  You may also join our forums for discussion* You can change your privacy settings at any time. Thus, you may opt-out of or opt back into ethnic sharing at a later date if you change your mind.

What’s New?

Let’s take a look at the My Origins results.  You can see your results by clicking on “My Origins” on the Family Finder tab on your personal page at Family Tree DNA.

Ethnicity and Matches

Your population ethnicity is shown on the main page, as well as up to three shared regions that you share with your matches.  This means that if you share more than 3 regions with these people, the 4th one (or 5th or 6th, etc.) won’t show.  This also means that if your match has an ethnicity you don’t have, that won’t show either.

my origins ethnicity

Above, you see my main results page.  Please note that this map is what is known as a heat map.  This means that the darkest, or hottest, areas are where my highest percentages are found.

Each region has a breakdown that can be seen by clicking on the region bar.  My European region bar population cluster breakdown is shown below along with my ethnicity match to my mother.

my origins euro breakdown

And my Middle Eastern breakdown is shown below.

my origins middle east breakdown

Ethnicity Mapping

A great new feature is the mapping of the maternal and paternal ethnicity of your Family Finder matches, when known.  How does Family Tree DNA know?  The location data entered in the “Matches Map” location field.  Can’t remember if you completed these fields?  It’s easy to take a look and see.  On either the Y DNA or the mtDNA tabs, click on Matches Map and you’ll see your white balloon.  If the white balloon is in the location of your most distant ancestor in your paternal line (for Y) or your matrilineal line for mtDNA (your mother’s mother’s mother’s line on up the tree until you run out of mothers), then you’ve entered the location data and you’re good to go.  If your white balloon is on the equator, click on the tab at the bottom of the map that says “update ancestor’s location” and step through the questions.

ancestor location

If you haven’t completed this information, please do.  It makes the experience much more robust for everyone.

How Does This Tool Work?

my origins paternal matches

The buttons to the far right of the page show the mapped locations of the oldest paternal lines and the oldest matrilineal (mtDNA) lines of your matches.  Direct paternal matches would of course be surname matches, but only to their direct paternal lines. This does not take into account all of their “most distant ancestors,” just the direct paternal ones.  This is the yellow button.

The green button provides the direct maternal matches.

my origins maternal matches

Do not confuse this with your Matches Map for your own paternal (if you’re a male) or mitochondrial matches.  Just to illustrate the difference, here is my own direct maternal full sequence matches map, available on my mtDNA tab.  As you can see, they are very different and convey very different information for you.

my mito match map


By way of comparison, here are my mother’s myOrigins results.

my origins mother

Let’s say I want to see who else matches her from Germany where our most distant mitochondrial DNA ancestor is located.

I can expand the map by scrolling or using the + and – keys, and click on any of the balloons.

my origins individual match

Indeed, here is my balloon, right where it should be, and the 97% European match to my mother pops up right beside my balloon.  The matches are not broken down beyond region.

This is full screen, so just hit the back button or the link in the upper right hand corner that says “back to FTDNA” to return to your personal page.

Walk Through

Family Tree DNA has provided a walk-through of the new features.


How did Family Tree DNA come up with these new regional and population cluster matches?

As we know, all of humanity came originally from Africa, and all of humanity that settled outside of Africa came through the Middle East.  People left the Middle East in groups, it would appear, and lived as isolated populations for some time in different parts of the world.  As they did, they developed mutations that are found only in that region, or are found much more frequently in that region as opposed to elsewhere.  Patterns of mutations like this are established, and when one of us matches those patterns, it’s determined that we have ancestry, either recent or perhaps ancient, from that region of the world.

The key to this puzzle is to find enough differentiation to be able to isolate or identify one group from another.  Of course, the groups eventually interbred, at least most of them did, which makes this even more challenging.

Family Tree DNA says in their paper describing the population clusters:

MyOrigins attempts to reduce the wild complexity of your genealogy to the major historical-genetic themes which arc through the life of our species since its emergence 100,000 years ago on the plains of Africa. Each of our 22 clusters describe a vivid and critical color on the palette from which history has drawn the brushstrokes which form the complexity that is your own genome. Though we are all different and distinct, we are also drawn from the same fundamental elements.

The explanatory narratives in myOrigins attempt to shed some detailed light upon each of the threads which we have highlighted in your genetic code. Though the discrete elements are common to all humans, the weight you give to each element is unique to you. Each individual therefore receives a narrative fabric tailored to their own personal history, a story stitched together from bits of DNA.

They have also provided a white paper about their methodology that provides more information.

After reading both of these documents, I much prefer the explanations provided for each cluster in the white paper over the shorter population cluster paper.  The longer version breaks the history down into relevant pieces and describes the earliest history and migrations of the various groups.

I was pleased to see the methodology that they used and that four different reference data bases were utilized.

  • GeneByGene DNA customer database
  • Human Genome Diversity Project
  • International HapMap Project
  • Estonian Biocentre

Given this wealth of resources, I was very surprised to see how few members of some references populations were utilized.

Population N Population N
Armenian 46 Lithuanian 6
Ashkenazi 60 Masai 140
British 39 Mbuti 15
Burmese 8 Moroccan 7
Cambodian 26 Mozabite 24
Danish 13 Norwegian 17
Filipino 20 Pashtun 33
Finnish 49 Polish 35
French 17 Portuguese 25
German 17 Russian 41
Gujarati 31 Saudi 19
Iraqi 12 Scottish 43
Irish 45 Slovakian 12
Italian 30 Spanish 124
Japanese 147 Surui 21
Karitiana 23 Swedish 33
Korean 15 Ukrainian 10
Kuwaiti 14 Yoruba 136

In particular, the areas of France, Germany, Norway, Slovakia, Denmark and the Ukraine appear to be very under-represented, especially given Family Tree DNA’s very heavy European-origin customer base .  I would hope that one of the priorities would be to expand this reference data base substantially.  Furthermore, I don’t see any New World references included here which calls into question Native American ancestry.


Family Tree DNA typically provides a webinar for new products as well as general education.  The myOrigins webinar can be found in the archives at this link.  It can be viewed any time.


How did they do?  Certainly, Family Tree DNA has a great new interface with wonderful new maps and comparison features.  Let’s take a look at accuracy and see if everything makes sense.

I am fortunate to have the DNA of one of my parents, my mother.  In the chart below, I’m comparing that result and inferring my father’s results by subtracting mine from my mother’s.  This may not be entirely accurate, because this presumes I received the full amount of that ethnicity from my mother, and that is probably not accurate – but – it’s the best I can do under the circumstances.  It’s safe to say that my father has a minimum of this amount of that particular population category and may have more.

Region Me Mom Dad Inferred Minimum
European Coastal Plain 68 17 51
European Northlands 12 7 5
Trans Ural Peneplain 11 10 1
European Coastal Islands 7 34 0
Anatolia and Caucus 3 0 3
North Mediterranean 0 34 0
Circumpolar 0 1 0
Undetermined* 0 0 40

*The Undetermined category is not from Family Tree DNA, but is the percentage of my father not accounted for by inference.  This 40% is DNA that I did not inherit if it falls into a different category.

Based on these results alone, I have the following observations.

    1. I find it odd that my mother has 34% North Mediterranean and I have none. We have no known ancestry from this region.
    2. My mother does have one distant line of Turkish DNA via France. I have presumed that my Middle Eastern (now Anatolia and Caucus) was through that line, but these results suggest otherwise.
    3. My mother’s Circumpolar may be Native American. She does have proven Native lines (Micmac) through the Acadian families.
    4. These results have missed both my Native lines (through both parents) and my African admixture although both are small percentages.
    5. The European Coastal Plain is one of the groups that covers nearly all of Europe. Given that my mother is 3/4th Dutch/German, with the balance being Acadian, Native and English, one would expect her to have significantly more, especially given my high percentage.
    6. The European Coastal Island percentages are very different for me and my mother, with me carrying much less than my mother.  This is curious, because she is 3/4th German/Dutch with between 1/8th and 3/16th English while my father’s lines are heavily UK.  My father’s ancestry may well be reflected in European Coastal Plain which covers a great deal of territory.

What We Need to Remember

All of the biogeographic tools, from Family Tree DNA, 23andMe and Ancestry, are “estimates” and each of the tools from the three major vendors rend different results.  Each one is using different combinations of reference populations, so this really isn’t surprising.  Hopefully, as the various companies increase their population references and the size of their reference data bases, the results will increasingly mesh from company to company.  These results are only as good as the back end tools and the DNA that you randomly inherited from your ancestors.

Furthermore, we all carry far more similar DNA than different DNA, so it’s extremely difficult to make judgment calls based on ranges.  Europe, for example, is extremely admixed and the US is moreso.  The British Isles were a destination location for many groups over thousands of years.  Some of the DNA being picked up by these tests may indeed be very ancient and may cause us to wonder where it came from.  In future test versions, this may be more perfectly refined.

There is no way to gauge “ancient” DNA, like from the Middle East Diaspora, from more contemporary DNA, only a thousand years or so old, once it’s in very small segments.  In other words, it’s all very individual and personal and pretty much cast in warm jello.  We’ve come a long way, but we aren’t “there” yet.  However, without these tools and the vendors working to make them better, we’ll never get “there,” so keep that in mind.

While this makes great conversation today, and there is no question about accuracy in terms of majority ancestry/ethnicity, no one should make any sweeping conclusions based on this information.  This is not “cast in concrete” in the same way as Y DNA and mitochondrial haplogroups and STR markers.  Those are irrefutable – while biogeographical ethnicity remains a bit ethereal.

In summary, I would simply say that this tool can provide great hints and tips, especially the matching, which is unique, but it can’t disprove anything.  The absence of minority admixture, which is what so many people are hunting for, may be the result of the various data bases and the infancy of the science itself, and not the absence of admixture.

My recommendation would be to utilize all three biogeographic admixture products as well as the free tools in the Admixture category at GedMatch.  Look for consistency in results between the tools.  I discussed this methodology in “The Autosomal Me” series.

What Next?

I asked Dr. David Mittelman, Chief Scientific Officer, at Family Tree DNA about the reference populations.  He indicated that he agreed that some of their reference populations are small and they are actively working to increase them.  He also stated that it is important to note that Family Tree DNA prioritized accuracy over false positives so they definitely took a conservative approach.