Tenth Annual Family Tree DNA Conference Opening Reception

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One of the best things about the Family Tree DNA Conference each year is visiting with old friends, and making new ones.  This picture just warms my heart, because Marja from Finland and Mike from Virginia are meeting in person for the first time here in Houston.  They found each other through DNA testing, and I originally met both of them as clients.  Indeed, if DNA testing has shown us anything at all, it’s how small the world really is and how interrelated we are to the rest of humanity.

This is the 10th year of the conference, and it’s much more like a homecoming or a family reunion that a typical conference.  We’ve been in the same trench for a decade now!

Aside from lots of hugs, one of the things that happens from the time you find your first genetic genealogist on the hotel bus until your ride back to the airport is collaboration. Laptops abound and sharing is continual. It’s such a rich environment.

Tomorrow’s agenda includes:

  • Welcome by Max Blankfeld and Bennett Greenspan
  • DNA Ethics: Why We Can’t Cover Our Eyes by Blaine Bettinger
  • Genographic – Consumer Genomics: The 30,000 Foot View by Spencer Wells
  • Family Finder, How to Succeed with Autosomal DNA by Jim Bartlett
  • Your Origins, Their Origins by Razib Kahn
  • Update on Surname Journal by Brad Larkin
  • An Autosomal DNA Advocate’s Newfound Appreciation for Mitochondrial DNA by CeCe Moore
  • Discovering and Verifying your Ancestry Using Family Finder by Tim Janzen
  • Deep Clade 2.0 by Bennett Greenspan

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I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

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Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Thomas Day (1651-1706), Probable Murderer, 52 Ancestors #41

Thomas Day.  Even his name brings a chill to my bones…now that I know who he is and what he very probably did to Elizabeth, his wife.  Thomas and Elizabeth Day are my 7 times great grandparents.  Thomas very probably murdered Elizabeth, in 1699, in their home in Essex County, Virginia.

Thomas Day was probably born about 1651, probably in old, now extinct, Rappahannock County, Virginia and died in 1706 in Essex County, VA.  Old Rappahannock County was incorporated into Essex County when it was formed in 1692.  If Thomas was not the original immigrant, then his parents likely were, as Jamestown was only settled in 1607 – so we aren’t far from the original settlers.

I recently found these early immigrants in the book “Lists of Emigrants to America 1600-1700”.  Thomas’s father has been reported to be another Thomas, but I have never found any documentation for that.  If anyone has more information about these lines, in particular, the immigrant Thomas, I’d be very grateful.

The names Day and Daye are impossible to tell apart so I’m listing them all.

  • Anthony – age 22 to VA on the Ship Pauli July 1635
  • Dorothy – age 17 same as above
  • Hanna – servant age 20 to New England on the Ship Elizabeth and Ann May 1635
  • James – Commander of ship Thomas and Sara, Sept. 18, 1679
  • (3 similar entries for James above)
  • John – age 16 to Bermados (Bermuda or Barbados?) Sept 1635 ship Dors
  • John – living in VA Feb. 16, 1623 at College Land
  • John and his wife – in 1620 on the ship London Merchant – also on the Hogg Doland muster
  • John – in the Sumner Islands
  • Robert – age 30, April 3, 1635 to New England on the ship Hopewell
  • Samuel – listed in index but could not find entry
  • Thomas – listed as “Poor” in Barbados
  • Thomas Dayes – age 20, 1634 to Barbados
  • Mary – age 28, see Robert
  • Richard – age 32, to VA May 1635 ship Plaine Joan
  • Robert – age 30, April 1634 to Ipswich on the ship Elizabeth

In 1676, Thomas Day married widow Dorothy Young Hudson in Old Rappahannock County, Virginia. Dorothy was the daughter of Robert and Anne Parry Young. Dorothy (born circa 1646, died before 1698) was the widow of Edward Hudson with whom she had three children: Serania/Lurana, Anne, and William. The following is reported to be the marriage contract between Thomas Day and Dorothy Young Hudson:

“Know all men by these presents that I Thomas Day of Rappa Planter doe upon consideration of a marriage with Dorothy Hudson as alsoe for and in consideration of a horse received of the said Dorothy hereby engage myselfe my heirs and assigns to buy a mare filly of a yeare old the same to be bought within two years and what female increase comes of the said mare to be equally divided between Laurana, Anne and William Hudson and Mary Bartlet and I do hereby engage that the first two calfes that fall [ends.]”

Early records show that Thomas Day purchased land from William Hudson and wife Rebecca Woodnut Hudson located in Essex County, Virginia in 1687. He also purchased 189 acres in Essex County, Virginia from a John Brookes in 1693.

This 1703 transaction gives us at least a waterway in Essex County.

thomasday1

We find his land on the map below, in the area in gray, in essence between the two orange balloons in Essex County, on Dragon Swamp, also known as Dragon Run.  This was an area where the Indians used to hide.

thomasday2

The Mitchell map, below, drawn in 1751 shows Dragon Swamp.

dragon swamp

We know very little about Thomas Day, but we do know what was going on in the region where he lived.

In 1676, the same year that Thomas Day married Dorothy Hudson, Bacon’s Rebellion broke out in this part of Virginia, in fact, Virginia had its own mini-Civil war.  While this sounds “cute,” it was anything but.  Everyone had to choose sides.

In 1676, Nathaniel Bacon and many settlers rebelled against the governor, attacking Native Americans, and eventually burning Jamestown.

You either declared “for” the renegades, or they ransacked your home and maybe worse.

In part, Bacon’s Rebellion was fueled by Bacon’s compulsive, unwielding position that all Indians needed to be attacked and killed.  In addition, the landed class did not like the fact that the governor had signed into law sweeping reforms passed by the House of Burgesses allowing unlanded freemen the right to vote.  Did that apply to Thomas Day?

After passage of these laws, Bacon arrived with 500 followers in Jamestown to demand a commission to lead militia against the Native Americans. The governor, however, refused to yield to the pressure. When Bacon had his men take aim at Berkeley, he responded by “baring his breast” to Bacon and told Bacon to shoot him himself. Seeing that the Governor would not be moved, Bacon then had his men take aim at the assembled burgesses, who quickly granted Bacon his commission. Bacon had earlier been promised a commission before he retired to his estate if he could only be on “good” behavior for two weeks. While Bacon was at Jamestown with his small army, eight colonists were killed on the frontier in Henrico County (where he marched from) due to a lack of manpower on the frontier.

On July 30, 1676, Bacon and his army issued the “Declaration of the People of Virginia“. The declaration criticized Berkeley’s administration in detail. It accused him of levying unfair taxes, appointing friends to high positions, and failing to protect frontier settlers from Indian attack.

Bacon and his men attacked the innocent (and friendly) Pamunkey Indians. The tribe had remained allies of the English throughout other Native American raids. They were supplying warriors to aid the English when Bacon took power.

When Governor Sir William Berkeley refused to march against the Native Americans, farmers gathered around at the report of a new raiding party. Nathaniel Bacon arrived with a quantity of brandy; after it was distributed, he was elected leader. Against Berkeley’s orders, the group struck south until they came to the Occaneechi tribe. After getting the Occaneechi to attack the Susquehannock, Bacon and his men followed by slaughtering most of the men, women, and children at the village.

After months of conflict, Bacon’s forces, numbering 300-500 men, moved to Jamestown. They burned the colonial capital to the ground on September 19, 1676, pictured in the 18th century drawing, below. Outnumbered, Berkeley retreated across the river.

Bacon burning Jamestown

Eventually, the governor prevailed, but that was not the sure and certain outcome for much of the rebellion and probably would not have been had Bacon not died.

Before an English naval squadron could arrive to aid Berkeley and his forces, Bacon died from dysentery on October 26, 1676. John Ingram took over leadership of the rebellion, but many followers drifted away. The Rebellion did not last long after that. Berkeley launched a series of successful amphibious attacks across the Chesapeake Bay and defeated the rebels. His forces defeated the small pockets of insurgents spread across the Tidewater. Thomas Grantham, a Captain of a ship cruising the York River, used cunning and force to disarm the rebels. He tricked his way into the garrison of the rebellion, and promised to pardon everyone involved once they got back onto the ship. However, once they were safely ensconced in the hold, he trained the ship’s guns on them, and disarmed the rebellion. Through various other tactics, the other rebel garrisons were likewise overcome

The 71-year-old governor Berkeley returned to the burned capital and a looted home at the end of January 1677. His wife described Green Spring in a letter to her cousin:

“It looked like one of those the boys pull down at Shrovetide, and was almost as much to repair as if it had been new to build, and no sign that ever there had been a fence around it…”

Bacon’s wealthy landowning followers returned their loyalty to the Virginia Government after Bacon’s death. Governor Berkeley returned to power. He seized the property of several rebels for the colony and executed 23 men by hanging, including the former governor of the Albemarle Sound colony, William Drummond.

After an investigative committee returned its report to King Charles II, Berkeley was relieved of the governorship, and recalled to England. “The fear of civil war among whites frightened Virginia’s ruling elite, who took steps to consolidate power and improve their image: for example, restoration of property qualifications for voting, reducing taxes and adoption of a more aggressive Indian policy.” Charles II was reported to have commented, “That old fool has put to death more people in that naked country than I did here for the murder of my father.” No record of the king’s comments have been found; the origin of the story appears to have been colonial myth that arose at least 30 years after the events.

Indentured servants both black and white joined the frontier rebellion. Seeing them united in a cause alarmed the ruling class. Historians believe the rebellion hastened the hardening of racial lines associated with slavery, as a way for planters and the colony to control some of the poor.

We don’t know what Thomas Day did or his sentiments during Bacon’s Rebellion, but there wasn’t such a thing in that time and place as someone who was uncommitted or ambivalent.  You were on one side or the other, and if you didn’t decide for yourself, someone would be deciding on your behalf.

Before 1698, Thomas married second to Elizabeth.  We don’t know Elizabeth’s surname, nor do we know when she was born, nor where, although probably in Virginia.  We don’t know exactly when she married Thomas Day, but it was sometime after 1687 and before 1698.  She had one child before her death in early 1699.  It’s her death that we know the most about.  Elizabeth was murdered, horrifically murdered, beaten to death, very likely at the hands of her husband, Thomas Day.  And we only discovered this terrible fact, some 314 years after it happened.  Talk about a well-kept family secret.  You would think if any oral history would survive, this juicy piece would.  Maybe the family was ashamed and didn’t speak of it.  Or maybe it was just too painful.

Elizabeth Mary Angelica Day, believed to be the only child of Thomas and Elizabeth, per his will, born between 1687-1698 (probably closer to the 1698 date), married George Shepherd about 1725.  They lived in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.  Their son, Robert would marry Sarah Rash and they would settle in Wilkes County, beginning the Shepherd line in western NC.

Indicted for Murder

Thomas Day was indicted for the murder of his wife, Elizabeth, in 1699. Exactly what transpired concerning this event is not completely clear – but the depositions from the neighbors are pretty damning.

According to recorded testimony, it appears that a neighbor, Mary Hodges, visited the Day home and found Elizabeth Day’s dead body lying on a bed. She had been severely beaten, and Thomas Day also had wounds on his face. Thomas Day said his wife died about two hours before sunrise, but he did not know what had happened to her. He told Hodges that his facial wounds resulted from hitting his head over a “potrack.” A jury indicted Day for the murder of his wife, but he was acquitted. A man named John Smith was later found guilty of Elizabeth’s murder and was executed.

Nothing is recorded concerning Smith’s relation to the Day’s or his motive–only that he was found guilty and executed (presumably hanged).

Testimony concerning this case follows:

Essex Co., VA Deeds and Wills BK 10, Part 1, 1699-1702; page 31A; 10 Feb 1699;

The deposition of Judith Davy aged 27 years or thereabout, being Examd and swoorn saith that upon ye 9th of this instant and going to ye house of Tho. Days of Ffarnham in ye Essex County at ye request of Mary Hodge, her neighbour and seeing ye Days wife lying dead upon ye bed in a most horrod and barborey mannor all gored in blood this depo. asked him how his wife cam to be in that condition who mad answer he know not. Thy Depot. further asked him if he and his wife had been quarrelling who replyed that he and his wife had not had an angry word this many a day also they Depot further asked him if anybody had been lately thoto who answered nither did he see anhbody also they Depot. asked him how he burned his eyes who replyed again ye pott rack and being asked a little while after by this depot. how he hurt himself he answered the Lord Knows, I know not and this Depot. saith furthor that ye Sd. Tho. Day had then and at the same time his face and eyes most greviously bruised and further saith not.

Judith Davy

Sworne before me ye Day and yeare above written; Rich’d. Covington

The deposition of Elizabeth Aeres, aged thirty-eight years or thereabout, being Examined and Sworne saith that upon the ninth of this instant that going to the house of Tho. Daye of Ffarnham parrish in Essex County at the request of Mary Hodge, he neighbour and seeing the sd. Days wife lying dead upon the bed in a most horrod and barboriy mannor all Gored in Blood thy deponent asked him how his wife came to lie in that condition who made answer he knew not this Depo’t further asked him if he and his wife had been quarrelling who replyed that he and his wife had not had an angry word this many day also thy depont. further asked him if anybody had been lately there who answered no neither did he see anybody also this dDepont. asked him how he hurt his Eyes who replyed against the potrack and being asked a little while after by thy depont’ how he hurt himself he answered the Lord knows I know not and thy Depont saith further if the sd. Thomas Daye had then at the same time his face and eyes most greviously brused with severall wound and bruses upon his head and further saith not.

Elizabeth Aeres

Sworn before me the day and yeare above written By me Rich’d Covington in ye Place of A Coroner

The Deposition of Mary Hodges aged seaventy five yeares or thereabouts being Examined and Sworne saith that upon the ninth of this Instant coming from the house of Mr. Tho. Covingtons and going to Tho. Days of Ffarnham Parish in Essex County seeing the sd. Day setting upon a counch by the fire seemed melancholy asked him how he did who answered he did not know his face and eyes being most greviously brused he presently after tould me that his wife was dead. Your Depot asked him how she came to die who presently replyed she died about two houres before day of morning. Your depot further asked him how his face came to be in that condition who tould me he cut it against the potrack that was over the fire upon which I went to the woman, his wife as she lay on the bed and found her dead your depont. seeing her lying in a most horrod and barborous manor all gored in blood upon….Your depont. took Days wife by one of her shoose which was upon her foot and found her legg to be somewhat limber and the sd. Day requesting her to strip her dead body I told him I may not able of myself to perform it and further told him I would goe for more assistance and call of Judith Davy my daughter in law and Elizabeth Aeres which accordingly I did and ye depont. further saith not.

Mary Hodges

Sworn before me the day and yeare above written. Rich’d Covington in Place of Coronor.

The Inquisition

An Inquisition….taken at ye house of Thomas Dayes in Ffarnham Parish in Essex County ye 10 day of February in ye yeare 1699 before me. Rich’d Covington one of his Majesties Justices of ye Peace for ye County of Essex upon view of the body of Elizabeth day ye wife of Thomas Day….then and there lying dead and ye Jurors being good and lawfull men and Sworne to trye and inquire in ye behalfe of our Sovereigne Lord & King how and in what manner ye Eliza Day came by her death and they upon their oath say that ye Elizabeth Day was much beaten and bruised with both her eyes exstreem black with many other bruses on her face and bruise on her right eare and a hole underneath ye smae eare and we of the juror say..ye cause of ye sd. Eliza Days death and wee of ye Jurors further say that Tho. Day at ye same time was much brused and beaten having both his Eyes Extreemly brused and black several cuts in his head and further upon his Examination would not confess anything how Elizabeth his wife came by them blows and wounds now how he came to be soo beaten himself so we Jurors say that in ye parish and county aforsd and on the eight or ninth of this instant to wit: in ye dwelling house of ye sd. Tho. Day that ye Sd. Eliza. Day was barbarously murdered and by all manner of Circumstances we can find or gather that ye aforesaid Thom. Day is Guilty of ye murdering ye said Elizabeth Day. In Reffereance to ye Same I Rich’d Covington as afforsd togeather with the jurory aforsd: have put our hands and seales ye day and date above written.

Richard Covington in ye Place of Coronor

Sam. Farry, Tho. Ewell, Henry Perkins, Richd. Taylor, Tho. Crants, Tho. Johnsone, Tho. Greene, Wm. Price, Sam. Coates, John Brooks, Tho. Cooper, Henry Geare, Jeffrey Dyer, Tho. Williamson February 10, 1699.

Thomas Day of Essex Co., VA was charged with murdering his wife Elizabeth Day. Surprisingly, he was acquitted in the Aprill Generall Court 1700.  I wish desperately that we had those detailed court notes.

Subsequently, John Smith was found guilty of murdering Elizabeth Day and was executed. October Generall Court 1700.

I’m not  lawyer, but I’m going to play prosecutor.  Questioning might have gone something like this, based on the information from the depositions and inquisition:

Q – Thomas Day, were you in the house all night the night your wife died.
A – Yes.

Q – Did you know she was dead?
A – Yes.

Q – When did she die?
A – Two hours before sunrise.

Q – How did she die?
A – I don’t know.

Q – Who killed her?
A – I don’t know.

Q – You were in the house and someone murdered your wife  by beating her to death, and you don’t know who was there?
A – No.

Q – How did your wife come to be “lying dead upon ye bed in a most horrod and barborey mannor all gored in blood?”
A – I don’t know.

Q – Why was your face so bruised?  How did that happen?
A – I hit my head over a potrack.

Q – Your face and eyes were terribly bruised and you did that by hitting your head on a potrack?
A – Lord knows.

Q – What did you do after your wife died?
A – Sat by the fireplace.

Q – So someone killed your wife while you were at home, but you don’t know who.  You didn’t come to her assistance and defend her.  You didn’t call anyone or go for help.  You knew she was dead, but simply sat by the fireplace until your neighbor came to your house.  You changed your story about how your face was wounded and bruised from hitting your head on the potrack to “Lord knows.”  Gentleman of the jury (ladies couldn’t serve on juries at that time)…..I submit to you that Thomas Day killed his wife, Elizabeth, by brutally beating her to death and watched as she lay dying in a pool of her own blood.  What other explanation for his condition and behavior can there possibly be?

However, today’s prosecutor would have an easier job, or the defense attorney one….because we would have DNA evidence.  It would be impossible for someone to brutally beat Elizabeth in the fashion described without leaving some of their DNA on her.  She obviously fought back and would have likely had the murderer’s blood on her  body and their skin under her fingernails.

So today, DNA would have convicted Thomas or removed all doubt, one way or the other.  I wish I had a time machine.

Thomas Day’s Death

Thomas Day didn’t live long himself.  He was ill when he made his will.  It’s unclear who his daughter lived with after his wife’s death and after his death as well.  It’s presumed that he had only the one child because no other children are known or mentioned in the will.

Thomas Day died between December 5, 1705 (the date of his will) and February 11, 1706 (when his will was probated), ironicly, possibly 7 years to the day after his wife’s death. At the writing of his will, an ailing Thomas Day had placed himself and his daughter Elizabeth (still a minor) in the care of John Fargason.

The will of Thomas Day from “Fleets Colonial Abstracts” – Essex County, VA Vol 29, page 81, No 12, page 181

“To all to who these presents shall come Greting know yee that I thomas Day of the parish of South Farnham in the County of Essex in Virginia being in a sickly weake and low condition and noe(ways) waies Capable to tke care of, or provide for myself and that little Estate it hath pleased God to bestow upon me (it chiefly lying in Perishable Creatures) have and by these presents doe Bargain Sell Bind and firmly make over unto Jn’o Fargason of the parish and County aforsaid planter all and singular my said Estate”, etc. In consideration Fargason “to maintain and keep me the said Day During my naturall life with sufficient accomodation of victuals Cloathes washing and lodging and give to Eliza a Mary Angillica Day my Daughter when she arrive to the age of Eighteen or when married one Cowe and Calfe.”

5 Dec 1705 signed Tho x Day Wit: John Fargason Wm. aylett Adam Denning Ack and rec 11 Feb 1705/6

On additional piece of information we obtain about Thomas is that he lived in Farnham Parish in Essex County.

When the North Farnham Parish Register opens (1663-1814), there was no such Parish. It was simply Farnham Parish and covered both sides of the Rappahannock River in Old Rappahannock County, Virginia. In 1684 Farnham Parish was subdivided into North Farnham Parish and the Rappahannock River as the natural boundary. Then, in 1692 Old Rappahannock County was abolished and became the parent of two new counties, South Farnham Parish fell into Essex County and North Farnham Parish Fell into Richmond County.

In Essex County, South Farnham was simply called Farnham Parish.  The first church was built in 1737, long after Thomas Day was dead.  Bishop Meade refers to an earlier church there as “Piscataway.”  Given Elizabeth’s demise, I find it hard to believe that Thomas attended church any more often than was required by law, at that time.

There are no Day(e) entries in the parish register.

We don’t know where Thomas Day is buried, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s not in the churchyard.

Reflecting

I can’t even begin to imagine how or why Thomas Day was acquitted of his wife’s murder.  Looking at the depositions, some 300+ years removed, it appears obvious and nearly conclusive that Thomas murdered Elizabeth.  Perhaps research into the life and social standing of Thomas Day might reveal more information and shed light on this situation.  Records in the Virginia archives might contain more information as well, although there are no chancery suits.

I find it extremely hard to believe that Thomas did not murder his wife.  In fact, how could he NOT have been the murderer, given the circumstances?  The description of her wounds, the severity and the continuous beating that had to have occurred in order to inflict those grave wounds would have been unlikely to have been inflicted by someone simply wanting to get her out of the way, like for a robbery.  Those are wounds of passion, of anger, and it looks like she put up a fight as well.  Thomas had obviously been in a fight as his own face and eyes were bruised, with wounds, according to the indictment.  This was a crime of passion.  Added to that was the fact that Thomas’s wife had died in the night, and he had not sought assistance from anyone.  He was found sitting by the fireplace.  If he had found her bloody and beaten, he would have gone for help, but he didn’t.  Instead, he watched her die and left her lying on the bed in a pool of her own blood for the neighbor to find in the morning, stating that he didn’t know what happened.

Even if Thomas didn’t directly murder Elizabeth, meaning that a stranger broke in, beat them both, killed Elizabeth but not Thomas, and left the house – Thomas still has some culpability for Elizabeth’s death, since he was clearly conscious and knew when she died, according to what he told 3 separate witnesses.  So he wasn’t asleep or unaware, yet he did nothing before she died to try to help her.  He clearly knew she was badly injured.  Had she survived, she surely would have named him as the person who beat her.  Nor was Thomas distraught by her death.  He wasn’t found sobbing at her bedside.

So Thomas Day not only killed his wife, he is also responsible for the death of John Smith in 1700 who was hung for Elizabeth’s murder.  In essence, if Thomas murdered Elizabeth, he murdered John Smith too.  I hope that if John Smith’s family finds out that he was hung in Essex County, Virginia, as a murdered, that they google and find this article.

All of this makes me wonder how his first wife died, assuming that his first marriage ended with the wife’s death.

Chances are that Thomas and Elizabeth’s child, Elizabeth Mary Angelica Day never knew her mother, for whom she was named, or was too small to remember her.  She may well have been in the house when her father murdered her mother, and depending on her age at the time, might well remember the event.  She could also have been an infant.  If she was, then she likely didn’t remember either her mother or her father very well as he died just a few years later, in 1706, as an invalid.  Somehow Thomas’s death not long after Elizabeth’s seems like karmic justice.  If he did in fact murder Elizabeth, we can wish him a long and miserable death, dreading and fearing his own passing, knowing that he would face sure and certain retribution for his actions in the court of ultimate truth.  There is no other justice to be wrought for Elizabeth – none.

As she grew up, Elizabeth the daughter would have known that her mother was murdered, and even though her father was acquitted, she surely would have known about the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death.  When she married George Shepherd about 1727, she may have been all too happy to leave the area and settle in Spotsylvania County, striking out for a new location where she could leave the past behind.  In essence, she had been raised an orphan under the storm cloud of her mother’s terrible death and her father’s inferred guilt.

How her mother’s death must have haunted her.  To lose your mother is bad enough, but to know she died horrifically, and possibly, or probably, at the hands of your own father, is an unspeakable burden for anyone, let alone a child.  How could she embrace the memory of her father who took her mother from her?  In essence, she lost both parents when her mother died, and her father again at his own death.  Of course, it’s also possible that whoever raised her shielded her from the truth, and perhaps that is why this story never descended through the family.  Maybe Elizabeth never knew the extent of her father’s involvement.  Let’s hope not, for her sake and let’s hope Thomas wasn’t abusive to Elizabeth as well.

Of course, since there were no known sons of Thomas Day, we can’t retrieve his Y DNA.  We don’t know who his parents were, so we don’t know if he had male siblings, or who they were, so that avenue is closed to us as well.

There is a Day DNA project, but unfortunately, it is not hosted at Family Tree DNA and the site doesn’t provide any ancestral information, so it’s entirely useless in terms of trying to find a specific line or even a geographic location.  The genealogy site it connects to is no longer being maintained, so a double strike-out.

I think this is one ancestor I’m just as happy to leave among the dead.  I pray that I didn’t inherit very much DNA from him, or any traits.  From now on, I’ll blame my temper on him.  He has to be good for something.  As my mother used to say, if all else fails, you can always serve as a bad example.

The research about the murder of Elizabeth Day compiled by a cousin at http://www.danielprophecy.com/daye.html.

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I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

DNA Day with Ancestry

For quite some time now, the genetic genealogy community has been beating the living tar out of Ancestry.com for not listening, among other things. Well, I’m here to say, they are listening.  Now, what I can’t say is how much they are hearing.  The jury is out and we will see. However, we are hopeful.

Ancestry invited a few of the leaders in the genetic genealogy field to come and meet with them this week. They dedicated the resources of eighteen of their scientists and executives to this meeting and they spent the day with us, sharing information about the science underlying their upcoming product changes and having frank discussions with the group.

This was a very cordial, informative and I think, team-building, experience, but there was far from uniform agreement. There was a great deal of discussion which I think helps everyone understand the position and reasoning of the other parties involved. Like anything else, it’s not as simple as one might hope.

Another important aspect of these meeting is that they serve to put faces with names and humanize the other people involved.

I also found it encouraging that most of the people at Ancestry are genealogists and utilize their own tools.

Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry stopped by and talked with us for a few minutes. He asked us what we wanted, why and if we had any questions for him.  He told us about his own genealogy experiences.  And, we discovered, he does read our blogs.  Tim is very actively engaged as is Ken Chahine, Senior Vice President and General Manager DNA, who is in many of the photographs because he was sitting at the end of the screen and was with us for the entire day.

I will be covering different aspects of the content of these meetings as time moves forward and as Ancestry’s new software version is implemented, but for now, I wanted to update you on the two burning questions in the genetic genealogy community.

These, as you might guess, were also the most contentious aspects of the entire meeting.

Will We Receive a Chromosome Brower?

I want to share with you readers that there is absolutely no question that Ancestry heard the message that we need a chromosome browser, loud, clear and uniformly from us. Ancestry is equally as adamant, it appears, as we are, that we don’t need one.

So, the short answer is no.

The longer answer is probably not.

Judy Russell, in comments to her article, “when less is more,” which I strongly encourage you to read, says about the chromosome browser:

“In my personal opinion, speaking only for myself and based solely on my own perceptions of the attitudes of some folks at AncestryDNA and not on any specific representations by anyone else, my judgment is that we may get a chromosome browser at AncestryDNA when hell freezes over.”

This was also followed by a comment about pigs flying…..plus, she took all the good phrases…not much left for me to say.pig fly

I think this pretty well sums it up.

I do want to discuss why Ancestry does not feel a chromosome browser is warranted. This topic was discussed directly and indirectly several times throughout the day.  These concerns listed below are not necessarily in priority order based on discussions, because I couldn’t really discern a priority.

1.  Given that Ancestry will hit the million kit DNA mark sometime in the first quarter of 2015, they feel that very few, a small percentage, of those people would ever utilize, or understand the results of a chromosome browser. Given that, they don’t feel it is a good investment of their engineering time to invest in something that few people, or a small percentage of the whole, will utilize.

2.  Since Ancestry did not begin utilizing chromosome browsing in the beginning, they are concerned about privacy issues having to do with now introducing the feature to people who did not expect to have that to begin with.

3.  Ancestry is concerned about unexpectedly and unintentionally revealing health information. For example, let’s say that today, a particular SNP is included in their information and is not known to be medically relevant. Next year, someone discovers that a particular SNP on chromosome 7 is connected to the genetic propensity for erectile dysfunction. Remember, a genetic propensity does NOT mean you have or will get the particular disease. In this case, of course, that would not apply to women.

Ancestry’s concern is that since they would have already been displaying that match on chromosome 7 between several people for months/years, the cow is proverbially out of the barn and closing the door at that point it a bit late, if possible at all.

Of course, as we pointed out to Ancestry, that’s the entire point of having testers sign a release, and both Family Tree DNA and 23andMe both deal with the same issue.

4.  Ancestry feels that a chromosome browser would provide information to people that they should not be drawing conclusions from, and they are.

For example, as they showed us, there are areas in each person’s chromosome and their matches chromosomes that are what they call “pile up” areas. These are areas that we would call IBS, identical by state as opposed to IBD, identical by descent.  Some of these pileup areas are so old that they could potentially be considered AIMs, or Ancestrally Informative Markers that harken back to continents like Africa, Asia or Europe. my pileup

This slide shows Cathy Ball, VP Genomics and Bioinformatics, showing me my own pileup areas. The two screens are a TV screen to the right where the colors resolved much better, and the larger screen where the display was larger.

my pileup2 crop

What this shows you is that on the chart at left, I have one area that has a very large number of pileups, probably about 800 matches (out of my 12,500 total matches), two areas that have 400 each, two that have about 200. On the chart at right, the top of the chart is 25 match segments, so you can see that most of my matches fall below that.  Ancestry feels that the higher matched segments are less relevant because they match to so many people, that they aren’t really indicative of shared ancestry in a genealogical timeframe.

And no, they did not tell me which chromosome these pileup segments are found on, and I’m DYING to know so that I can relate that to my ancestral chromosome mapping….but no cigar. It’s so frustrating that they know, they have the info, our info, but they won’t share it with us.  I’m not referring here to the slide and my pileup, but the lack of segment information in general.  I don’t know how that’s any worse that allowing customers to infer that a shakey leaf tree match is equivalent to a DNA match…..

Everyone has these pileup areas, which also means that they show up on your chromosome browser as matches. Ancestry is concerned that you will see three people, whether from a common genealogy line or not, who match on one segment and you will presume that they are genealogically related, when perhaps they aren’t, because their match is IBS from a pileup area.

Clearly, those of us who work in this field daily deal with IBS issues routinely, but Ancestry is concerned about the general consumer who doesn’t.

I suggested that the chromosome browser could be even more useful if they had a way to show but “grey out” those pileup areas, so we would be aware that their confidence is low, and to highlight the areas where the rarest alleles match, because those matches are most likely to indicate true genealogical matches. That suggestion met with polite silence.

Roberta’s Opinion

I do agree that many people won’t utilize the chromosome browser, but many people won’t utilize many of their services.  That doesn’t prevent Ancestry from providing those services for those who want to utilize them.  I’m fine with Ancestry making the Chromosome Browser part of a subscription kit so only subscribers have access, just like many of their data bases.

Unfortunately, without a chromosome browser, we are left with nothing concrete to base any matches on, nor the ability to utilize that information in conjunction with chromosome segment information from other companies to map our segments to various ancestors.  The problem of incorrect ancestor attribution remains and will remain present in their matches.

They are changing their matching algorithm and in some ways, it will be improved, but in one way, I am gravely concerned that it will be worse. Ancestry will begin weighting various factors in calculating the match strength, and one of those factors will be the number of trees that list a particular ancestor.  If you’ve just had a coronary…so did we.  I thought one of the genetic genealogists was going to have the big one right there – they turned so red in the face.

A second confidence weighting factor will be the amount of source information for a particular tree which Ancestry feels helps judge the quality of the tree. In a sense, I agree, but attaching source information, perhaps incorrectly, to the wrong family, or having the wrong ancestor you’ve just attached source information to, is still the same large problem.  Clearly, quality is not a matter of quantity, but just as clearly Ancestry cannot look at each tree individually and render an opinion, so they have to develop some automated methodology if they are going down this path.

Ancestry is trying to find ways to improve their matching and predictions of common ancestry. As time moves forward, I’ll be covering these developments.  As someone in the meeting said, first steps first.

But back to the chromosome browser, my gut reaction to this is, and this is my opinion alone, that they don’t want to invest the development effort into something that will make the user experience more complex and may increase their customer support staff load to support and explain matching on a chromosome browser. I don’t think they believe the genealogy community has the ability to utilize and understand this type of tool.  Ancestry is a genealogy marketing company.  They want the user’s experience to be pleasant, easy and fulfilling…not difficult and certainly not upsetting.

Our message did not waiver, we need a chromosome browser and “trust me” simply won’t work.

The Y DNA and mtDNA Data Base

When Ancestry sent the invitation to this meeting, I had to wonder if they really thought through the fact that this meeting would occur less than a week after they decommissioned their Y and mtDNA data base.

Did they really want a group of people that were mad as wet hens arriving to meet with them? I fully expected to receive an “un-invitation” after my article and before the meeting, but I didn’t.

Without going into nitty-gritty detail, Ancestry indicates that the data base that held those results was literally on its last leg and they did not want to invest any money into something they was not bringing in any revenue and for a product they were no longer selling. I do believe that data base was indeed in its death throes because after the denial of service attack in June, it was no longer searchable.

In the ensuing discussion, the genetic genealogy community provided a number of alternative scenarios both within and outside of Ancestry as a way to salvage the information in that database. Ancestry has agreed to take the matter under consideration internally and discuss the various options.  They made no promises, but I personally find it very encouraging that they are willing to discuss the matter and reconsider.

I told them I’d like nothing more than to write a retraction article that says that Ancestry did not, after all, burn the DNA courthouse.

In the same vein, I asked if they had any plans to decommission the Sorenson data base at www.smgf.org and they indicated that they do not have any plans at this point to do that.  Obviously, nothing is forever, and they could reconsider in the future but at least it appears that resource is safe for now and adding the Y and mtDNA records from Ancestry into that data base was one option discussed.

In Conclusion

I do feel this was a productive meeting. The scientific aspects of having a large data base to draw from are quite interesting and I’ll be sharing some those in upcoming articles.  Some of the best conversations took place beside the proverbial “water cooler.”  I am hopeful that we made progress, or at least thawed the ice a little on the issues so critical for the genetic genealogy community, but time will tell.  In a way, I felt like this was a United Nations type of meeting where everyone leaves with a better understanding.

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Elizabeth Day (c 1667 – 1699), Murdered, 52 Ancestors #40

rose1

Elizabeth Day, her married name, was my 7th great-grandmother.

  • Roberta Estes
  • William Sterling Estes
  • William George Estes and Ollie Bolton
  • Lazarus Estes and Elizabeth Vannoy
  • Joel Vannoy and Phoebe Crumley
  • Elijah Vannoy and Lois McNiel
  • William McNiel and Elizabeth Shepherd
  • Robert Shepherd and Sarah Rash
  • George Shepherd and Elizabeth Mary Angelique Day(e)
  • Thomas Day (1651-1706) and Elizabeth (murdered 1699), last name unknown

We don’t know Elizabeth’s surname, nor do we know when she was born, nor where, although probably in Virginia.  We don’t know exactly when she married Thomas Day, but it was sometime after 1687 and before 1698.  She had one child before her death in early 1699.  It’s her death that we know the most about.

Elizabeth was murdered, horrifically murdered, beaten to death, very likely at the hands of her husband, Thomas Day.  And we only discovered this terrible fact, some 314 years after it happened.  Talk about a well-kept family secret.

Thomas Day was born about 1651 in Rappahannock, Virginia and died in 1706 in Essex County, VA.  Daughter, Elizabeth Mary Angelica Day, believed to be the only child of Thomas and Elizabeth, per his will, married George Shepherd about 1725.  They lived in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.  Their son, Robert would marry Sarah Rash and they would settle in Wilkes County, beginning the Shepherd line in western NC.

In 1676, Thomas Day married widow Dorothy Young Hudson in Old Rappahannock County, Virginia. Dorothy was the daughter of Robert and Anne Parry Young. Dorothy (b. ca. 1646, d. bef. 1698) was the widow of Edward Hudson with whom she had three children: Serania/Lurana, Anne, and William.

Early records show that Thomas Day purchased land from William Hudson and wife Rebecca Woodnut Hudson located in Essex County, Virginia in 1687. He also purchased 189 acres in Essex County, Virginia from a John Brookes in 1693.

Before 1698, Thomas married a second time to Elizabeth. Thomas and Elizabeth had one daughter, Elizabeth Mary Angelica Day, born between 1687 and 1699.  I suspect her birth was closer to the 1698 timeframe, because her eventual husband was born around 1700.

Thomas Indicted

Thomas Day was indicted for the murder of his wife, Elizabeth, in 1699. Exactly what transpired concerning this event is not completely clear.

According to recorded testimony, it appears that a neighbor, Mary Hodges, visited the Day home and found Elizabeth Day’s dead body lying on a bed. She had been severely beaten, and Thomas Day also had wounds on his face. Thomas Day said his wife died about two hours before sunrise, but he did not know what had happened to her. He told Hodges that his facial wounds resulted from hitting his head over a “potrack.” A jury indicted Day for the murder of his wife, but he was acquitted. A man named John Smith was later found guilty of Elizabeth’s murder and was executed.

Nothing is recorded concerning Smith’s relation to the Day’s or his motive–only that he was found guilty and executed (presumably hanged).

Testimony concerning this case follows:

Essex Co., VA Deeds and Wills BK 10, Part 1, 1699-1702; page 31A; 10 Feb 1699;

The deposition of Judith Davy aged 27 years or thereabout, being Examd and swoorn saith that upon ye 9th of this instant and going to ye house of Tho. Days of Ffarnham in ye Essex County at ye request of Mary Hodge, her neighbour and seeing ye Days wife lying dead upon ye bed in a most horrod and barborey mannor all gored in blood this depo. asked him how his wife cam to be in that condition who mad answer he know not. Thy Depot. further asked him if he and his wife had been quarrelling who replyed that he and his wife had not had an angry word this many a day also they Depot further asked him if anybody had been lately thoto who answered nither did he see anhbody also they Depot. asked him how he burned his eyes who replyed again ye pott rack and being asked a little while after by this depot. how he hurt himself he answered the Lord Knows, I know not and this Depot. saith furthor that ye Sd. Tho. Day had then and at the same time his face and eyes most greviously bruised and further saith not.

Judith Davy

Sworne before me ye Day and yeare above written; Rich’d. Covington

The deposition of Elizabeth Aeres, aged thirty-eight years or thereabout, being Examined and Sworne saith that upon the ninth of this instant that going to the house of Tho. Daye of Ffarnham parrish in Essex County at the request of Mary Hodge, he neighbour and seeing the sd. Days wife lying dead upon the bed in a most horrod and barboriy mannor all Gored in Blood thy deponent asked him how his wife came to lie in that condition who made answer he knew not this Depo’t further asked him if he and his wife had been quarrelling who replyed that he and his wife had not had an angry word this many day also thy depont. further asked him if anybody had been lately there who answered no neither did he see anybody also this dDepont. asked him how he hurt his Eyes who replyed against the potrack and being asked a little while after by thy depont’ how he hurt himself he answered the Lord knows I know not and thy Depont saith further if the sd. Thomas Daye had then at the same time his face and eyes most greviously brused with severall wound and bruses upon his head and further saith not.

Elizabeth Aeres

Sworn before me the day and yeare above written By me Rich’d Covington in ye Place of A Coroner

The Deposition of Mary Hodges aged seaventy five yeares or thereabouts being Examined and Sworne saith that upon the ninth of this Instant coming from the house of Mr. Tho. Covingtons and going to Tho. Days of Ffarnham Parish in Essex County seeing the sd. Day setting upon a counch by the fire seemed melancholy asked him how he did who answered he did not know his face and eyes being most greviously brused he presently after tould me that his wife was dead. Your Depot asked him how she came to die who presently replyed she died about two houres before day of morning. Your depot further asked him how his face came to be in that condition who tould me he cut it against the potrack that was over the fire upon which I went to the woman, his wife as she lay on the bed and found her dead your depont. seeing her lying in a most horrod and barborous manor all gored in blood upon….Your depont. took Days wife by one of her shoose which was upon her foot and found her legg to be somewhat limber and the sd. Day requesting her to strip her dead body I told him I may not able of myself to perform it and further told him I would goe for more assistance and call of Judith Davy my daughter in law and Elizabeth Aeres which accordingly I did and ye depont. further saith not.

Mary Hodges

Sworn before me the day and yeare above written. Rich’d Covington in Place of Coronor.

An Inquisition

An Inquisition….taken at ye house of Thomas Dayes in Ffarnham Parish in Essex County ye 10 day of February in ye yeare 1699 before me. Rich’d Covington one of his Majesties Justices of ye Peace for ye County of Essex upon view of the body of Elizabeth day ye wife of Thomas Day….then and there lying dead and ye Jurors being good and lawfull men and Sworne to trye and inquire in ye behalfe of our Sovereigne Lord & King how and in what manner ye Eliza Day came by her death and they upon their oath say that ye Elizabeth Day was much beaten and bruised with both her eyes exstreem black with many other bruses on her face and bruise on her right eare and a hole underneath ye smae eare and we of the juror say..ye cause of ye sd. Eliza Days death and wee of ye Jurors further say that Tho. Day at ye same time was much brused and beaten having both his Eyes Extreemly brused and black several cuts in his head and further upon his Examination would not confess anything how Elizabeth his wife came by them blows and wounds now how he came to be soo beaten himself so we Jurors say that in ye parish and county aforsd and on the eight or ninth of this instant to wit: in ye dwelling house of ye sd. Tho. Day that ye Sd. Eliza. Day was barbarously murdered and by all manner of Circumstances we can find or gather that ye aforesaid Thom. Day is Guilty of ye murdering ye said Elizabeth Day. In Reffereance to ye Same I Rich’d Covington as afforsd togeather with the jurory aforsd: have put our hands and seales ye day and date above written.

Richard Covington in ye Place of Coronor

Sam. Farry, Tho. Ewell, Henry Perkins, Richd. Taylor, Tho. Crants, Tho. Johnsone, Tho. Greene, Wm. Price, Sam. Coates, John Brooks, Tho. Cooper, Henry Geare, Jeffrey Dyer, Tho. Williamson February 10, 1699.

Thomas Day of Essex Co., VA was charged with murdering his wife Elizabeth Day. He was acquitted in the Aprill Generall Court 1700.

Subsequently, John Smith was found guilty of murdering Elizabeth Day and was executed. October Generall Court 1700.

Thomas Day’s Death

Thomas Day didn’t live long himself.  He was ill when he made his will.  It’s unclear who his daughter lived with after his wife’s death and after his death as well.  It’s presumed that he had only the one child because no other children are known or mentioned in the will.

Thomas Day died between December 5, 1705 (the date of his will) and February 11, 1706 (when his will was probated), ironicly, possibly 7 years to the day after his wife’s death. At the writing of his will, an ailing Thomas Day had placed himself and his daughter Elizabeth (still a minor) in the care of John Fargason.

Reflecting

I can’t even begin to imagine how or why Thomas Day was acquitted of Elizabeth’s death.  Looking at the depositions, some 300+ years removed, it appears obvious and nearly conclusive that Thomas murdered Elizabeth.  Maybe that’s because today we understand much better the profile of wife abusers.

Perhaps research into the life and social standing of Thomas Day might reveal more information and shed more light on this situation.  Records in the Virginia archives might contain more information as well.

I find it extremely hard to believe that Thomas did not murder his wife.  In fact, how could he NOT have been the murderer, given the circumstances?  The description of her wounds, the severity and the continuous beating that had to have occurred in order to inflict those grave wounds would have been unlikely to have been inflicted by someone simply wanting to get her out of the way, like for a robbery.  Those are wounds of passion, of anger, and it looks like she put up a hellatious fight as well – literally, fighting for her life.  Sadly, a battle she did not win.  Thomas had obviously been in a fight as his own face and eyes were bruised.  This was a crime of passion.  Added to that was the fact that Thomas’s wife had died in the night, and he had not sought assistance from anyone.  He was found sitting on the couch by the fireplace hours after she died.  If he had found her bloody and beaten, he would have gone for help, but he didn’t.  Instead, he watched her die and left her lying on the bed in a pool of her own blood for the neighbor to find in the morning, stating that he didn’t know what happened.

Even if Thomas didn’t directly murder Elizabeth, meaning that a stranger broke in, beat them both, killed Elizabeth but not Thomas, and left the house – Thomas still has some culpability for Elizabeth’s death, since he was clearly conscious and knew when she died, according to what he told 3 separate witnesses.  So he wasn’t asleep or unaware, yet he did nothing before she died to try to help her.  He clearly knew she was badly injured.  Had she survived, she surely would have named him as the person who beat her.  Nor was Thomas distraught by her death.  There was no sobbing at her bedside.

So Thomas Day not only killed his wife, he is also responsible for the death of John Smith in 1700 who was hung for Elizabeth’s murder.  In essence, if Thomas murdered Elizabeth, he murdered John Smith too.  All of this makes me wonder how his first wife died, assuming that his first marriage ended with his wife’s death.

Chances are that Thomas and Elizabeth’s child, Elizabeth Mary Angelica Day, never knew her mother, for whom she was named, or was too small to remember her.  She may well have been in the house when her father murdered her mother, and depending on her age at the time, might well remember the event.  She could also have been an infant.  If she was, then she likely didn’t remember either her mother or her father very well as he died just a few years later, in 1706, as an invalid.  Somehow Thomas’s death not long after Elizabeth’s seems like karmic justice.  If he did in fact murder Elizabeth, we can wish him a long and miserable death, dreading and fearing his own passing, knowing that he would face sure and certain retribution for his actions in the court of ultimate truth.  There is no other justice to be wrought for Elizabeth – none.

As she grew up, Elizabeth, the daughter, would have known that her mother was murdered, and even though her father was acquitted, she surely would have known about the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death.  People talk.

When she married George Shepherd about 1727, she may have been all too happy to leave the Essex County area and settle in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, striking out for a new location where she could leave the past behind.  In essence, she had been raised an orphan under the storm cloud of her mother’s terrible death and her father’s inferred guilt.

How her mother’s death must have haunted her.  To lose your mother is bad enough, but to know she died horrifically, and possibly, or probably, at the hands of your own father, is an unspeakable burden for anyone, let alone a child.  How could she embrace the memory of her father who took her mother from her?  In essence, she lost both parents when her mother died, and her father again at his own death.  Of course, it’s also possible that whoever raised her shielded her from the truth, and perhaps that is why this story never descended through the family.  Maybe Elizabeth never knew the extent of her father’s involvement.  Maybe she never knew the terrible truth about how her mother died.

Elizabeth’s DNA

Elizabeth’s one daughter, Elizabeth had two daughters.  We don’t know much about either of them.

Ann Shepherd was born about 1737 in Spotsylvania County and is reported, by some, to have married a Benjamin Holliday or Holloway.

Elizabeth Shepherd was born about 1745 in Spotsylvania County and married Gabriel Shelton.

I have a DNA scholarship for anyone descended from either of these women to the current generation through all women.  The current generation can be either male or female, because women contribute their mitochondrial DNA to all of their children, but only the females pass it on.

I’d love nothing more than to honor Elizabeth by telling more of her story held in her DNA.

Honoring Elizabeth

I wanted to find a way to honor Elizabeth Day.  Regardless of who killed her, she was certainly, unquestionably, a victim.  Her life was taken from her in a most heinous way.

I must admit that it bothers me that some of Thomas Day is in me, even though it is only .39%.  I would still probably carry at least some of his actual DNA, likely about 3,000 of the 700,000 autosomal SNPs tested at Family Tree DNA.  Maybe that explains a bit of my flash temper.

Death or abuse at the hands of one who is supposed to love and protect you is the ultimate betrayal, second only to a betrayal by a parent I think.  Reading the depositions about her death chilled me to the core, knowing what she probably tolerated day to day before the abuse escalated to the point where he killed her.  It probably wasn’t the first time she had been abused.  I could feel her dread and fear.  Perhaps she couldn’t leave.  Maybe she had no place to go.  We’ll never know.  All we know is the outcome, that she died, horribly.  At some point during that terrible night, she realized that the man she loved, whose child she had borne, was killing her – that indeed, she would die, as consciousness slipped away.  Were her last thoughts wondering what would happen to her defenseless daughter, left through her death to her murderous husband?

This was very difficult for me to read and to deal with.

I posted a query about discovering an ancestor you don’t like to the Cumberland Gap list and we discussed dealing with the emotional aftermath of finding ancestors that you don’t really care for – like Thomas Day, and the horrible knowledge of what he very likely did.  Many of the people who participated in that conversation had examples much more current, such as parents and grandparents.

Someone suggested creating a memorial, a virtual cemetery on Find-A-Grave for Elizabeth so that she is not forgotten and is memorialized.  In addition, someone made the following commentary.

“You are most honest and ethical Roberta!  Each of us, if we shake our family tree long and hard enough, will have a few nuts fall out.  Chuck offered good advice. Honor the victim and realize that while you share some of the same genetics, you are not the abuser. The question of nature/nurture will always loom unanswered. We don’t know what causes one member of a family to do monstrous things and another to be acclaimed in their community for their selfless acts of bravery and/or generosity. Do your best to live in the here and now and enjoy this moment. Every shining act that you commit proves the darkness did not win. We can’t change the past but we CAN affect the future.”

That is great advice.

Another person wrote, “We must memorialize if for no one other than ourselves. It is a necessary ritual for all the Pearl Harbors, the Dachaus, Trade Centers, tears, parental betrayals, abandonments and broken promises, the innocent humans of their day and standing insufficiently for each stance of human fragility.  We can raise one in the dancing flame of a candle set near the window, a wish upon a star, or by placing a marker on an unmarked grave—cyber or otherwise We must never lose the trail for the tears.  Darkness is defined by DAY.”  Indeed, in this case, it was.

We can’t bring Elizabeth back and make it possible for her to live out her life.  We can’t restore to her what was taken from her, or her child.  We can’t change the actions or calm the anger of her attacker that night, or mitigate their ripple effect.  We can be aware and wary of the anger issue in our ancestral line, and we can make sure the darkness does not win.

For Elizabeth:

elizabethday2

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=114762168

The Virginia research compiled by a cousin at http://www.danielprophecy.com/daye.html.

rose2

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

 

More Ancient DNA Samples For Comparison

Felix Chandrakumar has prepared and added three additional ancient DNA kits to GedMatch.  Thanks Felix!  This is a wonderful service you’re performing for the genetic genealogy community!

  • The Linearbandkeramik (LBK) sample, also referenced as “Stuttgart,” reflecting where it was discovered in Germany.  This individual was an early farmer dating from about 7,500 years ago and was one of the samples analyzed for the paper, Ancient genomes suggest three ancestral populations for present-day Europeans. Kit F999916
  • The La Brana-Arintero sample from Leon, Spain, about 7000 years old, represents a pre-agricultural European human genome – in other words, before the agriculturists from the Near East arrived. In an article at Science Daily, they have reconstructed his face. Original academic article available here. Kit F999915
  • The Mal’ta sample, from Siberia, about 24,000 years of age. The results were discussed in article, Native American Gene Flow – Europe?, Asia and the Americas, and the original article is available here. Kit F999914

These kits, along with the ones listed earlier, give us the opportunity to compare our own DNA with that of ancient people in specific populations.  It’s like taking a step back in time and seeing if we carry any of the same small segments as these people did – suggesting of course that we descend from the same population.

This Ancient European DNA map by Richard Stevens shows the European locations where ancient DNA has been retrieved.

ancient dna map2

Recent discussion has focused on determining what matches to these specimens actually mean to genetic genealogists today.  We obviously don’t have that answer at this point.  We know that, due to their age, these samples are not close relatives in terms of genealogy generations, but in some cases, we find that we have matches far larger than one would expect to be found utilizing the 50% washout per generation math.

Endogamy, especially in a closed population such as Native Americans is certainly one explanation.  That doesn’t explain the European matches however – either to Anzick, the Native American specimen, nor Europeans to the European samples.  The higher no-call rate in the autosomal files can contribute as well, but wouldn’t account for all matches.  In some cases, maybe everyone carries the same DNA because the population carries that DNA in very high rates – but the population carries the DNA in very high rates because the ancient ancestors did as well…so this is a bit of circular logic.  All that said, we’re still left wondering what is real and what is Memorex, so to speak?

Ancient DNA is changing our understanding of the human past, and that of our ancestors.  It allows us a connection to the ancient people that is tangible, parts of them found in us today, as unbelievable as it seems.

When Svante Paabo discovered that modern Europeans all carry pieces of Neanderthal DNA, he too was struck by what I’ll call “the disbelief factor,” thinking, of course, that it can’t possibly be true.  He discussed this at length in his book, Neanderthal Man, In Search of Lost Genomes, and the steps taken by his team to prove that the matches weren’t in error or due to some problem with the ancient genome reconstruction process.  Indeed, all Europeans and Asians carry both Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA, and by the same process of the DNA being carried by the entire population at one point, which must be the avenue for contemporary humans to carry other ancient DNA as well.  As we find individual matches to small pieces of DNA with these matches, how much of that is “real” versus convergence or a result of no-calls in the ancient files?

In that vein, I find this article from Dienekes Anthropology Blog quite interesting,  found in the ASHG Titles of Interest from the upcoming Conference in October in San Diego, CA.

Reducing pervasive false positive identical-by-descent segments detected by large-scale pedigree analysis. E. Y. Durand, N. Eriksson, C. Y. McLean.

“Analysis of genomic segments shared identical-by-descent (IBD) between individuals is fundamental to many genetic applications, from demographic inference to estimating the heritability of diseases. A large number of methods to detect IBD segments have been developed recently. However, IBD detection accuracy in non-simulated data is largely unknown. In principle, it can be evaluated using known pedigrees, as IBD segments are by definition inherited without recombination down a family tree. We extracted 25,432 genotyped European individuals containing 2,952 father-mother-child trios from the 23andMe, Inc. dataset. We then used GERMLINE, a widely used IBD detection method, to detect IBD segments within this cohort. Exploiting known familial relationships, we identified a false positive rate over 67% for 2-4 centiMorgan (cM) segments, in sharp contrast with accuracies reported in simulated data at these sizes. We show that nearly all false positives arise due to allowing switch errors between haplotypes when detecting IBD, a necessity for retrieving long (> 6 cM) segments in the presence of imperfect phasing. We introduce HaploScore, a novel, computationally efficient metric that enables detection and filtering of false positive IBD segments on population-scale datasets. HaploScore scores IBD segments proportional to the number of switch errors they contain. Thus, it enables filtering of spurious segments reported due to GERMLINE being overly permissive to imperfect phasing. We replicate the false IBD findings and demonstrate the generalizability of HaploScore to alternative genotyping arrays using an independent cohort of 555 European individuals from the 1000 Genomes project. HaploScore can be readily adapted to improve the accuracy of segments reported by any IBD detection method, provided that estimates of the genotyping error rate and switch error rate are available.”

I’m pleased to see that they are addressing smaller segments, in the 2cM-4cM range, because those are the ranges some are finding in matches to these ancient genomes.  A few matches are even larger.

Of course, all of this ancient matching has caused an upsurge in interest in the cultures and populations of these ancient people whose DNA we carry.

I find this graphic very interesting from the paper, Toward a new history and geography of human genes informed by ancient DNA, just published this month, by Joseph Pickrell and David Reich.  This map, which shows the population movement into and out of geographic regions of the world in the past, is especially interesting in that several back migrations are shown into Africa.  I’ve never seen the “history of the world in population migration” summed up quite so succinctly before, but it helps us understand why certain DNA is found in specific locations.

population man

Copyright @2014 Elsevier Ltd, Trends in Genetics, 2014, 30, 377-389DOI: (10/1016/j.tig.2014.07.007

As we find and fully sequence additional ancient DNA specimens, we’ll be able to better understand how the ancient populations were related to each other, and then, how we descend from each of them.

This is a fascinating age of personal discovery!

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I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

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Ancestor Reconstruction

No, this is not Jurassic Park and we’re not actually recreating or cloning our ancestors – just on paper.

Back in early 2012, I began to discuss the possibility of using chromosome mapping of descendants to virtually recreate ancestors.

In 2013, I wrote a white paper about how to do this, and circulated it among a group of scientists who I was hoping would take the ball and run, creating tools for genetic genealogists.  So far, that hasn’t happened, but what has happened is that I’ve adapted a tool created by Kitty Cooper for something entirely different than its original purpose to do a “proof of concept.”

Kitty Cooper created the Ancestor Chromosome Mapper to allow people to map the DNA contributed by different ancestors on their chromosomes.  It’s exciting to see your ancestors mapped out, in color, on your chromosomes.

I utilized Kitty’s tool, found here, to map the proven DNA of my ancestors, below, utilizing autosomal matching and triangulation, to create this ancestor map of my own chromosomes.  As you can see there are still a lot of blank spaces.

Roberta's ancestor map2

After thinking about this a bit, I realized that I could do the same thing for my ancestors.

The chromosomes shown would be those of an individual ancestor, and the DNA mapped onto the chromosomes would be from the proven descendants that they inherited from that ancestor.  Eventually, with enough descendants we could create a “virtual file” for that ancestor to represent themselves in autosomal matching.  So, one day, I might create, or find created by someone else, a DNA “recreated” file for Abraham Estes, born in 1647 in Nonington, Kent, or for Henry Bolton, born about 1760 in England, or any of my other ancestors – all from the DNA of their descendants.

I decided a while back to take this concept for a test spin.

I wanted to see a visual of Joseph Preston Bolton’s DNA on his chromosomes, and who carries it today.  I wrote about this in Joseph’s 52 Ancestors article.

Utilizing Kitty Cooper’s wonderful ancestor chromosome mapping tool, a little differently than she had in mind, I mapped Joseph’s DNA and the contributors are listed to the right of his chromosome.  You can build a virtual ancestor from their descendants based on common matching segments, so long as they don’t share other ancestral lines as well.  I have only utilized the proven, or triangulated DNA segments, where three people match on the same segment.

joseph bolton reconstructed

We have a couple more DNA testers that descended from Joseph Bolton’s father, Henry Bolton through children other than Joseph Preston Bolton.  Adding these segments to the chromosome chart generated for Joseph Preston Bolton, we see the confirmed Henry Bolton segments below.

henry bolton proven

On the chart above, I’ve only used proven segments.

On the next chart I have not been able to “prove” all of the segments through triangulation (3 people), but if all of the provisional segments are indeed Bolton segments, then Henry’s chromosome map would have a few more colored segments.  Clearly, we need a lot more people to test to create more color on Henry’s map, but still, it’s pretty amazing that we can recreate this much of Henry’s chromosome map from these few descendants.

henry bolton probably

There’s a lot of promise in this technique.  Henry Bolton was married twice.  By looking at the DNA the two groups of children, 21 in total, have in common, we know that their common DNA comes from Henry himself.  DNA that is shared between only the groups descended from first wife, Catherine Chapman, but not from second wife, Nancy Mann, or vice versa, would be attributed to the wife of the couple.  Since Henry was married twice, with enough testers, it would be possible to reconstruct, in part, at least some of the genome of both wives, in addition to Henry.

Now, think for a minute, a bit further out in time.

We don’t know who Nancy Mann’s parents are for sure, although we’ve done a lot of eliminating and we know, probably, who her father was, and likely who her grandfather and great-grandfather were….but certainty is not within grasp right now.

But, it will be in the future through ancestor reconstruction.

Let’s say that the descendants of John Mann, the immigrant, reconstruct his genome.  He had 4 known sons and they had several children, so that would be possible.  John, the immigrant, is believed to be Nancy’s great-grandfather through son John Jr.

Now, let’s say that some of those segments that we can attribute through Henry Bolton’s children, as described above, are attributable to Nancy Mann.  The X chromosome match above is positively Nancy’s DNA.  How do I know that?  because it came through her son, Joseph Preston Bolton, and men don’t inherit an X chromosome from their father, only their mother.  So today, 3 descendants carry that segment of Nancy Mann’s X chromosome.

Let’s say that one of the Nancy Mann’s proven DNA segments (not the X, because John didn’t give his X to his son John) matches smack dab in the middle of one of the proven “John Mann” segments.  We’ve just proven that indeed, Nancy is related to John.

Think about the power of this for adoptees, for those who don’t know who their parent or parents are for other reasons, and for those of us who have dead end brick walls who are wives with no surnames.  Who doesn’t have those?

We have the potential, within the foreseeable future, to create “ancestor libraries” that we can match to in order to identify our ancestors.  Once the ancestor is reconstructed, kind of like reconstituting something dehydrated with water, we’ll be able to utilize their autosomal DNA file to make very interesting discoveries about them and their lives.  For example, eye color – at GedMatch today there is an eye color predictor.  There are several ethnicity admixture tools.  Want to know if your ancestor was ethnically admixed?  Virtually recreate them and find out.

Once recreated, we will be able to discover hair color, skin color and all of the other traits and medical conditions that we can today discover through the trait testing at Family Tree DNA and the genetic predispositions that Promethease reveals.

Yes, there will be challenges, like who creates those libraries, moderates any disputes and where are they archived for comparison….but those are details that can be worked out.  Maybe that’s one of the new roles of project administrators or maybe we’ll have ancestor administrators.

Someday, it may be possible to construct an entire family tree from your DNA combined with proven genealogy trees – not by intensely laborious work like it’s done today, but with the click of a button.

And that someday is very likely within our lifetimes, and hopefully, shortly.  The technology and techniques are here to do it today.

I surely hope one of the vendors implements this functionality, and soon, because, like all genealogists, I have a list of genealogy mysteries that need to be solved!!!

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

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Ancestry Destroys Irreplaceable DNA Database

fire

In spite of petitions and letters and pleas, from their customers, from the genealogy community and from the leaders in genetic genealogy, Ancestry did exactly what they said they would do – they deleted the Y and mtDNA data bases and in effect, destroyed the contents – tens of thousands of irreplaceable records, gone, forever.

In other words, they burned the courthouse of the County DNA.

Worse yet, several years ago, in 2007, Ancestry had acquired the DNA results of the customers of Relative Genetics and incorporated them into their Y and mtDNA database.   So the results of testing at two companies from the earliest days of genetic genealogy are gone – poof – up in smoke – not available for comparison or searching – the lynchpin of genetic genealogy.

It’s simply beyond me how a company that makes their living from rare historic records, like the census, for example, could be the one lighting the torch on something so valuable as a searchable database containing irreplaceable genetic data.  Many of the early testers are deceased now but through their DNA tests that identified their lineage, their legacy could live on and benefit all genealogists.  Some of those people were the end of their line.

I still can’t believe Ancestry did this.  It’s unfathomable.  Unthinkable.  Unbelievable.

But they did.

I won’t even begin on the topics of responsibility, stewardship and ethics.  It’s pointless.

Ancestry announced their intention to do so in early June, giving people in essence three months to retrieve their data or search the data base.  A few days later, Ancestry suffered a denial of service attack which broke the search function of the data base.  They never repaired that function, so, in essence, other than retrieving your own results, the data base had been non-functional since mid-June.  They extended the deadline to the end of September, but that mattered little since the data base wasn’t operational.

Today, October 1, I checked to see if the data base was in fact, gone, and it is.  We had held out hope to the very end that Ancestry could be persuaded to reconsider, or sell, or combine their results with the Sorenson data base they also maintain (as a function of their Sorenson purchase contract) – something – anything to salvage the resource – but no dice.

Ancestry did do one thing however.  If you tested your Y or mtDNA or hand entered results previously, you can still download or print your own data.  Any matching or other capabilities are gone and in their place, an ad, of course, for their autosomal DNA test….

ancestry download y2

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research