The old “Younger Store” in Halifax County, Virginia
BINGO – BINGO
Yes, I’m shouting. This is a 30 year BINGO – a wall that DNA just tore down!!! WOOHOO
Good thing you can’t see my happy dance. I wouldn’t care right this moment, but I’m POSITIVE I’d be embarrassed later.
Ok, so taking deep breath here – here’s the story.
The Younger Men
I descend from Marcus Younger of Halifax County, Virginia, through his daughter Mary who married George Estes in 1786. Marcus was born probably somewhat before 1740 in either Essex County, Virginia. Our first positive record of him is in 1780 when he gave to the Revolutionary War cause “1 gallon, 2 quarts and 1/2 pint brandy.” We don’t know who Marcus’s wife was, but she may have been a Hart or a Ferguson. Marcus moved to Halifax County, Virginia shortly after the war and subsequently died there in 1815 with a will listing his children. There were also subsequent chancery suits relating to his estate, thankfully, that reveal a great amount of information about his children and their lives. Marcus had only one son, John, born in 1760. Mary was probably his second child as her husband, George Estes, was born in 1761.
Also living in close proximity to Marcus Younger in Essex County, near the border with Queen and King, was Thomas Younger who was significantly older than Marcus, but was not his father. Thomas appears in deeds in Essex County, Virginia in the 1740s, but was in King and Queen County in 1752. Thomas moved to Halifax County by 1765 when he is found on a tax list and died there in 1791, with a will that was witnessed by both Marcus Younger and Marcus’s son John. This alone suggests strongly that Marcus was not the son of Thomas because heirs generally did not witness wills unless they were nuncupative wills taken orally just before the person died, and Thomas’s was not. Furthermore, there were chancery suits following both Thomas and Marcus’s deaths that tell us exactly who their heirs were. This will-witnessing also suggests an extremely close relationship between Thomas Younger and Marcus Younger. But what, exactly, was that relationship?
Thomas’s parents were Alexander Younger and Rebecca Mills. Alexander died in Essex County in 1727, with a will. He had three sons, Thomas, above, James who married a Nash and is well accounted for, and a John who died between 1725 and 1727 when Alexander’s estate is settled. Almost nothing is known about John. In addition, there were 5 sisters, only two of which are even somewhat accounted for beyond 1732 or as adults. This indeed may be a very important clue to the Marcus puzzle.
Who’s Your Daddy?
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, only son of Marcus, and they do match each other, but no other Youngers.
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, brother to Thomas – 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 pretty much eliminates John.
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, but we have no information on the other 3 daughters other than they were minors at their father’s death in 1727 and Thomas was appointed their legal guardian in 1732.
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
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, who we’ll call David, that included Thomas Younger as his ancestor. He descended from Thomas via a daughter.
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. On the Family Tree DNA match list, Larry matches me and Larry matches David, but David is not on my match list. 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.
Here are our default 5cM matches.
I am orange. David is blue. Larry is who we are being compared against.
Dropping the cM level to 1 shows us that golden nugget we have searched for so diligently.
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.
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.
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 shown as matches.
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 otherwise have gone entirely unnoticed and unreported because it was not over the match threshold.
What’s next, you ask? I’m sending e-mails to all 15 people, of course, asking how they connect to the Younger family. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be doubly lucky today and one of them will descend from one of the unknown wives families. We have a couple of those surnames that are theorized but unproven. That would be like hitting the lottery twice in one day!
This story already has a most wonderful PS. The genealogy Gods are at work.
As soon as I finished composing this article, I had an e-mail from a match to Larry. This lady is actually his closest match, but was not in the triangulation group I had been working with. She told me that she is an adoptee and that she was seeking information. On the off chance that she might fit into the group I had been working with, I downloaded her segments too and added it to the spreadsheet. Not only does she fit in the group, she also matches me as well and other proven Younger descendants. not on chromosome 1, but on 3 other common locations.
She matches Larry most closely, so she likely descends from John Younger’s line through Larry’s ancestor. I sent this woman some photos of the Younger descendants in my line, and she replied saying this is the first actual biological family line she has ever found. She started actively looking in 1994 when she applied for her redacted adoption information and received a razored out paper that was full of holes and looked like Swiss cheese. I can only imagine how she must have felt.
So, of course, I did what any other insanely addicted genealogist would have done. I stayed up half the night, literally, putting together all of my “notes” in some semblance of order so she can see her family line, photos of my trip to fine the Marcus Younger cemetery, etc. I asked her how she feels, and she said she is very excited and it’s also a tad bit scarry. Yes, I imagine so…knowing you’re related to a crazy genealogist. But you know, I bet she’s doing her happy dance too.