New Family Tree DNA Holiday Coupons – And Why the Big Y

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Each week during the holiday season, Family Tree DNA issues new coupons on Monday. These coupons are redeemable on top of the holiday sale prices, already in effect.

As I’ll be doing each week, I’ve listed my coupons available to redeem from kits that I manage.

But first, want to talk briefly about one particular type of DNA that is tested, and why one might want to order that particular test.

I’ve seen questions this past week about the Big Y test, so let’s talk about this test today.

The Big Y Test

The questions I’ve seen recently about the Big Y mostly revolve around why the test isn’t listed among the sale prices shown on the Family Tree DNA main page.

The Big Y test is not an entry level test. The tests shown on the Family Tree DNA main page are entry level and can be ordered by anyone, at least so long as the Y DNA tests are ordered for males. (Females don’t have a Y chromosome, so Y tests won’t work for them.)

The Big Y test is an upgrade for a male who has already taken the regular 37, 67 or 111 STR (short tandem repeat) marker test. For those who are unfamiliar, STR markers are used in a genealogically relevant timeframe to match other men to search for a common recent ancestor and are the type of markers used for 37, 67 and 111 marker tests.

SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) are used to determine haplogroups, which reflect deep ancestry and reach significantly further back in time.

Haplogroups are predicted for each participant based on the STR test results, and Family Tree DNA’s prediction routines are very accurate, but the haplgroup can only be confirmed by SNP testing. These two tests are testing different types of DNA mutations. I wrote about the difference here.

Different SNPs are tested to confirm different haplogroups, so you must have your STR results back with the prediction before you can order SNP tests.

The Big Y is the granddaddy of SNP testing, because it doesn’t directly test each SNP location, and there are thousands, but scans virtually the entire Y chromosome to cover in essence all known SNPs. Better yet, the Big Y looks for previously unknown or unnamed SNPs. In other words, this test is a test of discovery, not just a test of confirmation.

Many SNPS are either unknown or as yet unnamed and unplaced on the haplotree, meaning the Y DNA tree of mankind for the Y chromosome. The only way we discover new SNPs is to run a test of discovery. Hence, the Big Y.

It’s fun to be on the frontier of this wonderfully personal science.

Applying the Big Y to Genealogy

In addition to defining and confirming the haplogroup, the Big Y test can be immensely informative in terms of ancestral roots. For example, we know that our Lentz line, found in Germany in the 1600s, matches the contemporary results of Burzyan Bashkir men, descendants of the Yamnaya. I wrote about this here, near the end of the article.

Even more amazing, we then discovered that our Lentz line actually shares mutations with ancient DNA recovered from Yamnaya culture burials from 3500 years ago from along the Volga River. You can read about that here, near the end of the article. This discovery, of course, could never have been made if the Big Y test had not been taken, and it was made by working with the haplogroup project administrators. I am eternally grateful to Dr. Sergey Malyshev for this discovery and the following tree documenting our genetic lineage.

JakobLenz Malyshev chart

Our family heritage now extends back into Russia, 3500 years ago, instead of stopping in Germany, 400 or 500 years ago. This huge historical leap could NEVER have been made without the Big Y test in conjunction with the projects and administrators at Family Tree DNA.

And I must say, I’m incredibly glad we didn’t wait to order this test, because Mr. Lentz, my cousin who tested, died unexpectedly, just a couple months later. His daughter, when informing me of his death, expressed her gratitude for the test, the articles and shared with me that he had taken both articles to Staples, had them printed and bound as gifts for family members this Christmas.

These gifts will be quite bittersweet for those family members, but his DNA legacy lives on, just as the DNA of our ancestors does inside each and every one of us.  He gave all Lentz descendants an incredible gift.

Purchasing the Big Y

If you or a kit you manage has already tested to 37 markers, you can order the Big Y test as an upgrade.  If they haven’t yet tested to 37 markers, you’ll need to order that test or upgrade first.

Every kit has an upgrade link that you can see in two places on your personal page.

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Click either of these links and you’ll be able to see which tests are available for you to purchase including upgrades.

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The sale prices are reflected on this page. Just click on the Big Y or whatever tests you wish to purchase.

If you have a coupon code, type it into this field where I’ve typed “Coupon Code” and then click on Apply.

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It’s worth noting that there are a couple $100 off coupons for the Big Y and some $75s and $50s too.

Coupons

Now, for this week’s list of coupons. As always, first come, first serve. These coupons expire on 12-4-2016 unless otherwise noted. Dates before 12-4 are a result of bonus coupons issued during the past week as coupons were used.

Please list any coupons you wish to share in the comments to this article.

Please note that these coupons, with the exception of the Big Y test, are for new kit orders only, not upgrades.

Remember to be cognizant of the number 1 versus the capital letter l, and the number zero versus the capital letter O.

Click here to redeem coupon codes below or to see what coupon codes await you on your account!!! Enjoy!

Coupon # Good for What
R186H23O1CJY $10 Off MTDNA
R18UFAYP9YP1 $10 Off MTDNA
R18CM684KFTG $10 Off MTDNA
R18QQOEDDC2W $10 Off MTDNA
R18B6EQTQNZO $10 Off MTDNA
R18N16ONSWUM $10 Off MTDNA
R18T3EGHSFSJ $10 Off MTDNA
R18DK57J883L $10 Off MTDNA
R18ZAODYZ5OS $10 Off MTDNA
R18G3OZQCHBR $10 Off MTDNA
R1859WUSWKWO $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18P6S4FJWOM $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18KOGLXRX7O $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R185G17XWT3R $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18RJ37YR49M $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18KDQDDADVB $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R186LQRI8DS2 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18QSZB7A86T $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18IU4DK5NGW $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18IK8GMDD8C $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18U9XCYU1HO $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18OM4SXOL16 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18AWCHIW45H $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R188VCTO38WC $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18AJXZEZEXC $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R155WBEMG99 $100 Off Big Y
R18HMGLKL4KG $100 Off Big Y
R1834VTG4CIF $20 Off MTDNA
R18TRKWO2MY9 $20 Off MTDNA
R18OUBCTA2KI $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18ZXDH7TAX7 $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18OX18NFXJE $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18AB7JDZ73O $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18XEKCN8GPH $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18UUAEIVMG9 $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1813Q24LQA7 $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R1853SS3IIQP $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R18BQFEFNWSL $40 Off MTFULL
R18M96WZ4X5F $40 Off MTFULL
R18O73U6Y51O $40 Off MTFULL
R18S53W9HXBC $40 Off MTFULL
R157Y5N3USEH $40 Off MTFULL (until 12-3 only)
R189ZHFFPSU3 $40 Off Y-DNA 111
R18XO6Q76XP{N $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R187Y9BO9ODH $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R18OFGORCM7E $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R189HMHY3N9D $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R18DMEO59OVO $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R15QHJMX45W7 $50 off Big Y
R18MKLR7L32P $50 off Big Y
R15GVYGX51MI $50 Off Big Y (Until 12-1 only)
R18H467ILEKD $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R18AOZQU4XZG $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R18QO8WNQNOZ $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R186Z9BJDZEC $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R18HOPBNDKIL $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R188ODYMOO5P $75 Off Big Y
R15VBANUACFW 20% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R154JXYQPK6F 20% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111

Genos – A Medically Focused DNA Exome Test

On June 21, 2016, I placed an order for a DNA test with a new company, Genos at www.genosresearch.com. The first week of October I received my results.

Genos is a new type of testing company, focused not on genealogy, but on the human exome and medical conditions. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the genetic genealogy community might not find a way to utilize these tests in the future – but today this test is not useful genealogically.

A typical genetic genealogy autosomal test tests between roughly 500,000 and 900,000 locations to compare to others to determine kinship. These are the most variable locations in our genome, the ones most likely to differ from each other and be genealogically useful.

Exome testing, on the other hand, tests 50 million locations – the ones most often medically relevant and the ones we know the most about. Testing the 99% or so of our genome that is exactly like every other human is pointless, for either genetic genealogy or medicine.

What is an Exome?

What is the exome? Genos explains.

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Let’s step through the ordering process, then look at my results. They are very interesting.

What is Genos?

Before ordering, I did a bit of research on what Genos offers, what makes them different, and what kind of potential they might have to help me understand my own genes and conditions that makes me unique.

Let’s take a look.

Founders

Genos was founded by these two men.

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The next tab is Values, and I’m really impressed, especially with number 4, below.

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And the Genos Vision:

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Let’s move to the Product page.

Product

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Ordering

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Your DNA at Genos is yours, entirely, and you can choose when, where and if you want to participate in studies, unlike Ancestry and 23andMe where the consent you MUST AGREE TO in order to activate your kit includes allowing them to sell and profit from your DNA.

Family Tree DNA does NOT sell your DNA. Family Tree DNA does not want the genetic genealogy community to associate genetic genealogy testing with medical testing, because of concerns that it might discourage some people from testing for genealogy.

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Before ordering, as with any DNA sequencing product or service, please read the Genos Terms of Service here. The Privacy Policy is here and the Terms of Use are here. These are all actually different parts of one larger document titled “Genos Legal Policies.”

As far as I’m concerned, this is the overarching important sentence:

We do not sell, lease, or rent your User Information without your explicit consent.

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Also keep in mind that as with all companies, policies can and do change over time – and it’s the consumer’s responsibility to stay current with the policies of any company you do business with.

A New Business Model

Genos is trying a new business model both in terms of testing the entire exome and in terms of allowing participants to actively participate in selecting research projects, so I decided to be on the frontier of this brave new world. You pay for the sequencing, but the results are yours, forever, whether you participate in medical research projects or not, and Genos doesn’t sell your DNA or otherwise share your DNA results without your permission. You own it and you control it. Period.

I want to contribute to and facilitate research, but I want to select the research projects in which I choose to participate. I don’t feel that it’s ethically or morally right for a company to in essence capture and co-opt my DNA by holding forth the lure of my ancestors as bait. Both Ancestry and 23andMe participate in this unsavory practice. The Genos model very specifically does NOT do that.

Right now, the Genos Exome sequencing product and services are in BETA.

I was the 98th person to order this test, although I’m sure many more have ordered since June.

Let’s take a look at my results.

My Personal Logo

The first thing Genos does is to introduce you to your genome by creating a personal logo for you, if you select that option. I did, of course.

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The circle twirled and locations on my chromosome lit up, like tiny fireflies. I wish I had taken a video.

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Next, my unique logo, derived from my DNA, was displayed beside my name.

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OK, that was fun, but now, let’s look at the data and what, as a consumer, I receive.

The Four Options

Your results are broken down into 4 categories. You can explore your genome, click on Health Identity, view the News or look at the educational Genomics 101 section.

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I first spent a few minutes looking at Genomics 101 which is professional and well written. It includes chapters covering questions like, “What is a gene?”

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The News section includes links to articles you may find of interest. Of course, I was dying to see my results, so I quickly moved on to the “Explore Genome” tab, where I saw the Map Your Genome page. So, let’s map my genome.

Map Your Genome

Genos compares your genome of the standardized Genome Reference Consortium reference model.

On the page, below, Genos shows me the 44,154 locations where I vary from the reference model, of which only 773 of these have known medical affiliations or mentions in medical papers. The key word here, of course, is KNOWN. The rest of the variants could be family differences, recently introduced or perhaps from generations back in time. Those locations may not be medically significant, or they may be, but we just don’t know how yet. Time and research will tell.

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Out of the 50 million loci (locations) sequenced, I have 773 variants which are certainly of interest and may or may not be relevant medically.

I wondered what happens when a new variant is discovered to be medically relevant or found in a new paper. Would my 773 become 774, or is this a static page, really only relevant to today? I wrote and asked Genos, and discovered that their customer support is very prompt, courteous and helpful. Here’s what they had to say.

At no additional cost to you, as the information in ClinVar (the NIH sponsored database) is updated with new assessments and new discoveries, your data will be automatically updated through our digital experience. This ensures that you are always aware of the latest literature available.

This is great news, making this product infinitely useful (medically) into the future.

You can view all of your chromosomes with the chromosome number and the number of identified variants present on each chromosome, below.  Please note that you can click on any image to see a larger version.

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Genos allows you to browse your medically relevant variants and what they may mean. The results are broken down into “Conditions” and “Traits,” as seen at right, above.

The Conditions are health related, but just because you have a mutation that may be associated in literature with a particular condition, that does NOT mean you have or will ever be diagnosed with that condition. In fact, as you can see, the literature itself is often contradictory. We don’t always understand what makes one person get a disease while another person does not.

For this reason, nearly every page that involves conditions also contains a link to genetic counselors along with cautionary messages that succinctly warn people against assuming that variant=disease. It doesn’t.

Individual Chromosomes

You can explore each chromosome individually.

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I clicked on variant 1, on chromosome 1, above.

If I click on the NEXN with the right arrow, I see the display below.

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If I click on the G>A which means the normal G nucleotide at this location has been replaced with an A in my case, I see the following:

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I can then read more about this gene and the mutational variant.

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I must tell you that I feel very empowered by having my own genetic information at my fingertips that was previously entirely unavailable to me, or available only through a medical provider, if at all.

Conditions

Moving now to the Conditions link on the right hand side of the main page, I can see the following conditions, grouped by category.

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You can explore the Conditions link for conditions associated with your variants, the Traits or the Variants themselves.

By clicking on the icons, you can see how many variants you have in each category. The first category is allergies.

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For example, here is one of my Conditions. I’ve chosen to share this one because you can tell by looking at my picture that I am clearly NOT albino.

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Still, I carry at least one mutation associated with this condition.

Estes Publicity

Almost every single page carries this warning verbiage, which is proven by my albinism mutation and my somewhat younger photo when my hair was still its original color!

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Variants

Variants are divided into groups.

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Most of my findings are benign. Whew!!!

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This is an example of one of my benign variants.

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You can see that while this mutation is mostly benign, or green, some papers show it to fall into the other risk categories.

Please note the verbiage at the bottom of the screen.

“What is believed to be true today may be disproven tomorrow.” That’s part of why I’m participating in this type of testing.

The screen for each variant goes on to provide the links to the studies themselves, which may or may not agree, so you can read and digest for yourself. Please, unless you’re an MD, do not attempt to be your own doctor!

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Traits

The Traits at Genos are the same traits that are tested and reported by other testing firms as well.

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Like other genetic values, variants and results, these may or may not be accurate. My hair is very thick, as you can see from my photo, I taste bitter very well, unfortunately, and my skin is not light…at least not for someone primarily Caucasian. Some of these traits are clearly subjective. They make for interesting party conversation.

Health Identity

The next section of the website if for Health Identity. This is where you provide information about yourself and your health history. 

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If you’re going to participate in this type of endeavor, it’s important to provide Genos with as much information as possible. That’s one avenue for Genos to know who would might be a good candidate for specific kinds of research.

Research

While there aren’t any research projects yet underway today, there will be in the future.

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And last but not least…

Genetic Counselors

If you discover something you would like to know more about, or that concerns you, you can make contact with a genetic counselor through the Genos site.

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Caveat

I am, personally, very much an advocate of genetic research, when it is preformed ethically, transparently and with full disclosure. As far as I’m concerned, Genos absolutely fits that bill.

However, if someone were prone to anxiety or hypochondria, this type of testing might not be a good fit.

I’m not prone to either, and I have a very high risk tolerance level, but I still am inclined to spend quite a bit of time looking at the variants that aren’t benign. If you are in the “don’t want to know” camp, then don’t test. Bottom line.

Let me say this again.

Don’t test if you really don’t want to know.

You cannot put the genic back into the bottle once it’s out.

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Exome testing is different than genetic genealogy testing and has the potential to reveal information which may be frightening or distressing to some people, which is why I shared my results with you in such detail.

Looking to the Horizon

Having said that, I find exome testing absolutely fascinating. I would like to see if my children have the same variants that I do. Did they inherit those from me or did those variants bite the dust in my generation? Are there variants that I carry one of and my children have two, meaning their father contributed one as well? What does this mean, health-wise, potentially, for my grandchildren?  What did they inherit?

Of course, today, exome comparisons between individuals are not possible at Genos (or elsewhere), but perhaps in the future?

Could this type of testing be a step forward in identifying conditions and diseases not yet “discovered” as we define them today? Some mutations affect particular individual family lines negatively, and sometimes fatally. Can exome testing help these families, if not today, then tomorrow? Exome testing certainly has that and a lot more potential.

I’m excited about being able to select and participate in research studies with the ability for the researchers to contact me to follow up many years into the future, if need be. The new Genos model allows citizens willing to have their exome sequenced the opportunity to help shape the future of medical understanding and potentially, contribute to treatments and cures – in addition to learning a great deal about their own DNA and literally what makes them tick.  Which studies you participate in and what happens to your DNA is entirely within your control.

I hope that a research project (or projects) that I participate in eradicates a disease or diseases so that my descendants will only read about the disease in history books and will hopefully know that their ancestor played a small role in disease extermination.

In the mean time, I’m very actively participating in exome testing to attempt to track and identify a fatal family mutation that has plagued one family for at least 4 generations.  Of course, we don’t yet know how successful we will be.  However, exome testing, especially at this price, holds promise that was never available before. I hope that what today is literally a life and death experiment will one day be a standard testing routine available to any family with this type of issue.  I’ll let you know the outcome in a few months.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Your family is your very best genealogy resource, in many ways.

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With the holidays approaching, this is the perfect time to talk to your family about family history. Often, we think about family history in the sense of genealogy, meaning names, birth dates and death dates. But there is more to the story – a lot more. Or maybe better said, there are many stories to flesh out your genealogy.

It’s those stories that you want to hear and the holidays when family is gathered provide perfect opportunities. You just have to get the ball rolling!

I discovered over the years that people react better to questions that are open ended and encourage them, and others in the room, to talk and reminisce.

Questions I asked my mother that produced very interesting answers were questions like:

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your lifetime?

For mother, it was electricity in her home. It had never occurred to me that she had lived in a home without electricity before that conversation. The discussion then progressed to things like, “how did you preserve food without electricity,” “how did you have light in the evenings,” and “how did your parents heat the house,” especially since I don’t remember a fireplace in my grandmother’s home. The discussions that followed were very interesting and would never have happened without that single topic-opening question.

For example, I learned that the bedrooms weren’t heated, and the “bathroom” didn’t need to be heated since it was the outhouse.  That means bathing was with a cloth out of a wash basin or tub with water heated on the wood stove.

Another question that might produce some wonderful stories is to ask about “once in a lifetime events.”

My mother recalled a family trip to the 1933 World’s Fair in an old Model T Ford to see her grandmother, Nora Kirsch Lore McCormick’s quilt displayed in the Sears Pavilion.

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In my case, one of those (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime events forever seared in my memory is the 1965 Palm Sunday Tornado which cut a wide and devastating swath through central Indiana.  I didn’t realize what I was seeing, but I saw that tornado move across the southern part of the city where I lived.  A tree fell on the house and in an instant my mother grabbed me and we ran for the basement – her half dragging me all the way.

Another time, Mother, my daughter and I were in a van in Illinois one beastly hot June day and after watching a wall cloud overtake us, a tornado picked the van up and moved it some 20-30 feet off the road, sitting it back down right side up, amazingly enough. We were all fine that day, albeit terrified, but others weren’t so lucky.

Another very memorable and somewhat surreal event, as an adult, was unexpectedly seeing the Hale-Bopp Comet from an airplane.

A humorous episode occurred when mother’s uncle died in the middle of a paralyzing blizzard and they put his body in my grandfather’s garage. That was the family joke for years, ribbing my grandfather, but what else were they going to do?

“Remember when” stories like these may never surface if you don’t prompt with questions – and the answers in terms of your family and also in terms of what was happening in society – like radio, TV, electricity and the space race – at that time in history are all part of your family story. Those things would clearly have affected everyone one way or another but the personal stories of how they directly affected people in your family will never emerge unless you ask those leading questions – and record them for posterity.

DNA

Of course, it goes without saying that you might want to take some DNA kits along to family gatherings, just in case.  I always have a swab kit in my purse or in the car, or both.

Your family is also your best resource for genetic genealogy as well. Different family members can provide haplogroup information for ancestors whose haplogroups you don’t carry.

Family members often can and will gladly provide this genetic information for the family, but they don’t realize they carry these genealogy gems, gifts directly from the ancestors passed down the direct paternal and direct matrilineal lines. For example, your father and his siblings can provide the mitochondrial haplogroup of your paternal grandmother (red circles on the chart below), something you don’t carry.  Of course, the blue squares on the chart below represent the direct patrilineal line for males which is both the path of the Y chromosome and the traditional way surnames are inherited.  Your father will carry the family surname and Y DNA, but your mother’s father or brothers will carry the Y of her birth surname.  There’s lots to be discovered!

DNA Pedigree

If you’d like to see an example of how to build a DNA pedigree chart, above, by collecting the haplogroup information from all of your ancestral lines, click here.

Let’s face it, both Y and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups are the only direct line periscope we have back in time more than the few generations provided by autosomal testing. Autosomal DNA is divided in half in each generation, but Y and mitochondrial DNA is not, and is passed intact, except for mutations that might occur, generation to generation – making Y and mtDNA extremely valuable resources to the genealogist.

Haplogroups, discovered through Y and mitochondrial DNA testing, are invaluable historical resources revealing your deep ancestry and not utilized nearly enough. We simply don’t know what we don’t know and testing the right people is the only way to find out.

In terms of autosomal DNA testing, anyone that is a third cousin or closer is used in Family Tree DNA’s phased family matching to indicate which side of your family your matches originate from, as shown by the little blue male, pink female and purple “both” icons shown beside matches, below.

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The only way to divide your matches into maternal and paternal sides, without both parents, is by testing other relatives.  If you’re lucky enough to have both parents, that’s wonderful, but the only way to divide your parents’ results is by testing other relatives as well.

Right now, you can purchase the DNA kits on sale and save them until you need them. You can fill in the name of the tester when you determine who is going to take the test, but be sure to let Family Tree DNA know the correct gender at the time the test is submitted if it is different than the gender indicated when you purchased the kit. The actual swab kit is the same for both genders, but gender verification is part of quality assurance for the various tests.  Listing the wrong gender will delay your test results – and no one wants that!

When I find a willing candidate, I have them swab right then and there, on the spot, and I mail the kit back to Family Tree DNA myself. That way, I know the swabbing gets done and the kit doesn’t take up residence in their junk drawer or under the front seat of the car forever!  In one case, family members found a used swab kit in the glove box three years later, after the person died – and amazingly – it was still good!  However, mailing the kit back yourself avoids these situations.

Enjoy your holidays, take DNA kits along, and ask leading questions. You don’t know what you don’t know and you’ll never find out if you don’t ask those questions and DNA test your relatives.

Family Tree DNA 2016 Holiday Sale

An annual event we all look forward to, the Family Tree DNA Holiday sale is here with a new version of weekly gifts for everyone.

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First, almost all of Family Tree DNA’s tests are on sale.

Family Finder and Bundles Regular Price Sale Price
Family Finder (for males and females) $79 $59
Family Finder + Y37 (males) $268 $188
Family Finder + Y67 (males) $367 $278
Comprehensive Genome (males) – Family Finder + Y 67 + mtDNA full sequence $566 $451.50
Family Finder +mitochondrial full sequence (males and females) $298 $228
Paternal (Male Only) Tests  
Y37 $169 $139
Y67 $268 $229
Y111 $359 $319
Big Y (Upgrade Only from Y Tests) $575 $525
Matrilineal (Male and Female) Tests  
MtDNA+ (HVR1+HVR2) $79 $79
mtFull Sequence (complete test) $199 $179

Additional Holiday Reward Coupon Savings

Second, there are additional “Holiday Reward” coupon savings e-mailed to every customer sometime after midnight Sunday Central Standard Time (meaning sometime on Monday) that provide additional savings on specific products. You can use these coupons on top of the sale prices to receive additional discounts – beginning with an extra $10 off.

If you don’t receive the e-mail right away, you can sign on to your account to see your coupon, at the top of your personal page with the green background that says “Holiday Reward.”  Be sure to check other accounts you manage as well.

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If you’re not going to use your coupons, you can share them by listing the amount and what they can be applied towards in the comments to this blog or by directly sending to someone via e-mail from your account.

Here’s my coupon for this week, and the first person to use it is welcome to the savings!.

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Furthermore, it gets better yet, because if you share your holiday rewards coupon, you will receive another coupon that may be better than the first one, depending on what you want to purchase – according to the e-mail from Family Tree DNA, below.

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Your personal page provides a second way for you to share your coupons in order to receive a second coupon before the following Monday. However, you will receive a second coupon regardless of whether you share through your account or by just giving someone your code (like on the list below.)

ftdna-coupon-sharing

Please feel free to list any coupons you may want to share, and what they are for, in the comments to the blog, like we have done every year. I will be listing my coupon codes available for usage each week as well.  Feel free to use the ones below and beware the difference between zero (0) and the letter capital O, and the number one (1) and the letter capital I.

Click here to use the coupons below or to see what coupons await you!!!

Coupon # Good for What
R16IYQIC4FZD $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16IW5OVTB52 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16MIX3DXOYJ $40 OFF Y67
R16LQMMYCZOD $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16RCMN3BJN6 20% OFF Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16I85RHI8QC 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R163H7YVXHOK $50 Off Big Y
R16OS1AX7X8I 20% OFF Y37, Y67 or Y111
R165K78FBHMY 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16UC39OU5F $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16MD7L3UG3Q 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R163SVXYBR9A $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16ZX1JNQDTQ 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1685DXE53D9 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16L9CDAN31Z $20 Oiff MTDNA
R16J7VI9OFWN $20 Off MtDNA
R16U55JS9S2D 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16TPNKGFKHK $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R162B6TXJYMB $10 Off MTDNA
R16163G75WQ1 $40 OFF Y67
R16QAKWBYB0O 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16JYOR77GEO $100 Off Big Y
R16A4A69Y5A5 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16GOOWFAOON $10 Off MTDNA
R16W4JTXHOX6 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1643WY7WOQN $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16SZDSTDH9A $20 Off MtDNA
R16H1H6KOTP7 $20 Off MtDNA
R16LKDOQG3UF 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16POHVJ97YB $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R168OCU8PR14 20% OFF Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16UNAZTG2ZE $75 Off Big Y
R16OFCKVHOWY $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16K9YZRTYA8 $10 Off MTDNA
R16TL78JDKMS $20 Off MtDNA
R16O9JV4OTN6 20% OFF Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16EW3O2ZHYC $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16MVKTAVKY8 $40 off MTFULL
R16O3HF22OQH $10 Off MTDNA
R161SAUW7VX3 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16BTUFHPM1F $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16457PON7BE $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1667JIWJJRS $40 OFF Y67
R16DO4G9UF8L $50 Off Big Y
R165VL2OLBIZ $40 off MTFULL (used)
R162OJ2Y1CM6 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16R8O4M6F5U $50 Off Big Y
R164CHEXU2U9 $20 Off MtDNA
R167SSQG2SZK 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1672CFZN7KB $20 Off MtDNA

Happy Holidays and thank you, Family Tree DNA!

Building Your Personal Mitochondrial Tree

People who test at Family Tree DNA and receive mitochondrial DNA full sequence results often have questions about how they can use their results to further their understanding of their ancestors.

One of the things you can do is to build a mitochondrial DNA haplotree of your own, showing how various people that you match are or are not descended from common ancestors. To do this, you’ll need to contact your matches and share your mutations.

Your results at Family Tree DNA tell you how many mutations you have, shown below, in the genetic distance column.  For more information on genetic distance, how it is calculated and what it means, click here.

GD my results

Your results at MitoSearch, if you upload, or within projects at Family Tree DNA, show you the HVR1+HVR2 region mutations, but the only way to compare the coding region, or full sequence matches is for the people involved to share them directly with each other.

How can mutations help identify your common ancestors with your matches, or if not the ancestor themselves, at least where they were from?

Let’s look at reconstructing a DNA tree based on both your common mutations and mutations you don’t share with your matches.

When building a DNA tree, remember that once a mutation enters the mitochondrial DNA, unless there is a back-mutation, which is exceedingly rare, that mutation will be found in all descendants.

This discussion excludes heteroplasmic mutations, which can be easily identified as any mutation that ends with any letter other than T, A, C or G – for example 16519Y would be heteroplasmic, indicated by the Y. The simple explanation for heteroplamic mutations is that they are a mutation in progress, and therefore relatively recent. They don’t pertain to deeper ancestry, so we are ignoring them for this discussion. Most people don’t have heteroplasmic mutations.

Building Your Tree

Let’s look at an example of how to build a mitochondrial mutation tree.

A common ancestor, at the top of the tree, has 2 mutations that they pass to all of their descendants.

Ancestor B and C have those 2 mutations, so they match ancestor A and each other.

Both ancestor B and C have both developed mutations that don’t match each other. In real life, it would be very rare for mitochondrial DNA to develop mutations in every generation, so just view this as a rather time-compressed example.

In ancestor B’s line, there are two contemporary individuals, D and E, who have all 3 of the mutations that Ancestor B carried.

So, you have a tree that looks like this.  You can click to enlarge.

mito-tree

Ancestor C also has two descendants, F and G, who both carry all of Ancestor C’s mutations, plus both F and G each have a mutation that doesn’t match each other.

So, now let’s say Person I comes along as a match. You can tell which line they belong to, and which lines they don’t, by which mutation(s) person I carries, as compared to your tree. For example, if person I carries mutations 1, 2 and 4, then you know that they are a descendant of Ancestor C, not B.  If they carry 1, 2, 4 and 5, then they descend from Person G’s line.

I suggest that you work with your full sequence matches to build this type of mitochondrial descendancy tree. You must work with your matches, because you cannot see your matches’ coding region results, not even in projects, so you’ll have to ask each one to share with you. Be prepared, some people won’t answer, but often, based on who the people match that do respond to you, and are willing to share, you can figure out the missing blanks.

For example, Let’s say John matches you with one mutation, and so does Joe, but Joe doesn’t answer your e-mail. However, John wants to work with you and John matches Joe exactly. Now you know which mutation Joe has as well – the same one as John.

You know that each of your full sequence matches is within a maximum of 3 mutations difference from you, because that’s the maximum that Family Tree DNA allows to be considered a match at the full sequence level.

Of course, not all of your matches will have the same 3 mutations, which is why you’ll need to work with them to see how your tree fleshes out. Who knows what surprises you may find.

The first question I ask each of my matches, after explaining what I’m trying to do, is whether they share any of my extra or missing mutations, with the exception of the insertions at 309, 315 or 522 and/or any mutation at 16519. These mutations are extremely common. Sometimes people are more comfortable sharing specific mutations than sending you their results. Other people will be glad to send results. In rare instances, the coding region may hold mutations that have medical significance, which is why Family Tree DNA doesn’t show specific mutations, only whether you match or not.

mito-extra-and-missing

In the example above, you can see that C16189T is normally present in this mitochondrial sequence, but it missing from this person’s results.

Your mitochondrial tree that you build may well shed light on your common ancestor and based on the location of the oldest ancestor of the person at the top of your tree, may also shed light on the location where your common ancestor may have lived and the migration path she took to where your most distant ancestor in this line was found.

My own mitochondrial DNA tree begins in Scandinavia and only my line winds up in Germany before 1700.  Another branch is found in Poland.

mitomatches

Ironically, my exact matches are in Norway (red), not to the line in Poland (orange). The rest of the lines whom I match and that also descend from my Scandinavian ancestor are still found in Scandinavia with one exception found in southern Russia which could be a result of migration to this region from the Germanic region of Europe in the 1700s and 1800s. This tells me that I’m closer, genetically, to the Scandinavian branches than the Polish branch, which is not at all what I would have expected. The Polish branch apparently migrated separately from mine.

My mitochondrial tree also tells me that the common ancestor of all of the matches likely originated in Scandinavia, possibly Norway, also not something I would have expected, given that my most distant ancestor is very clearly German, based on church records.

Give building your mitochondrial tree a try and see what kinds of surprises it may hold!  If you haven’t yet tested your full sequence mitochondrial DNA, order that test today.  You have ancestors waiting for you!

Concepts – Undocumented Adoptions vs Untested Y Lines

So you took the Y-line test and you don’t match the surnames you expected to match and now you’re worried. Is there maybe an “oops” in your lineage?

One of two things has happened. Either your line has simply not tested or you have an undocumented adoption in your line.

An undocumented adoption is any “adoption” at any time in history that is not documented – so if you didn’t know about it, it’s an undocumented adoption. Often, these events in genetic genealogy are referred to as NPEs, Non-Paternal Events, but I prefer undocumented adoptions.

Yes, there are myriad ways for this to happen, and I mean besides the obvious infidelity situation, but right now, you only care about figuring out IF you have an undocumented adoption, not how it happened.

How can you tell if your line is one that simply hasn’t been tested of if there is an undocumented adoption in your line? Sometimes you can’t, you’ll simply have to wait until more people of your surname test. Of course, you can always recruit people through the Rootsweb and Genforum lists and boards and social media.

Most of the time this is a process of elimination. If you can’t find anything to suggest that you have an undocumented adoption, then your line is simply probably untested, especially if it’s not a common surname or your ancestors had few male children.

However, there are often clues lurking relative to undocumented adoptions.

Scenario 1 – Right Family, Non-Matching DNA

If you are part of DNA surname project and there are other people who have tested, that you don’t match, that claim the same ancestor as you do – you might have an undocumented adoption on your hands.

In this case, someone’s genealogy is wrong, yours or theirs. By wrong, that doesn’t mean you made a mistake. You (or they) may have tracked the line back to the right ancestor, but instead of being the child of a son of John Doe, for example, your ancestor was the child of the daughter of John Doe, who wasn’t married at the time and had a child by a Smith, but gave the child her surname, Doe.

undoc-1

So right Doe family, wrong child giving birth. There are also other family situations that are discovered utilizing Y DNA testing, like a child simply using the step-father’s name. In this case, finding more descendants to test, especially through other sons will help resolve the paternity question. Given the scenario above, we really don’t know whether the green or red DNA is the Y DNA of John Doe. We need the DNA of another son to resolve the question.

Scenario 2 – Accurate Genealogy, Undocumented Adoption

If you are part of a DNA surname project and two other people who descend from two separate sons of the same ancestor you claim, both having good solid genealogy back to that ancestor – you do have an undocumented adoption on your hands. This situation pretty much removes any doubt about your ancestral line if you are Steve, below.

undoc-2

Assuming their genealogy is correct (and yes, the genealogy could be wrong), theirs (the green) is the paternal line from that ancestor, so you need to start looking at situations that might lend themselves to your ancestor having that name but not sharing that paternal genetic line.

The break in the ancestral line can have occurred anyplace between John Doe and son Steve and the tester, Steve V.  You might want to test males descended from men between Steve Doe and Steve Doe V.  Word of warning here – if you don’t want to know the answer, don’t test.  The break could be between you and your father or your father and grandfather.  Sometimes, these possibilities are just too close for comfort.

At this point, I would turn to autosomal testing to see if any of the people in the surname project match you autosomally. That may tell you if you are actually descended from this line at all – perhaps through a female child as described above. With autosomal testing, especially of distant relatives, you can prove a positive, that you are related, but you can’t really prove a negative, that you aren’t related.

If you’re testing second cousins or closer, you can prove a negative.  If you don’t match your full second cousins, there is a problem – and it’s not the genealogy.

Scenario 3 – Matching a Group of Men with a Particular Surname

If you match a significant number of men with other surnames, with one surname in particular being closely matched and quite prevalent, it’s a large hint. For example, let’s say you have 6 matches at your highest marker level, and 5 of them are Miller men descended from the same ancestor. Chances are very good that you are of Miller descent too.

Again, I’d turn to autosomal testing at this point to see how closely you are related to your closest matching Y DNA Millers or others descended from this same ancestral line.

undoc-3

Scenario 4 – Your Line is Untested

If your surname is something quite unusual, like Ferverda for example, and you don’t fit the situations described above, then it’s likely that your line simply hasn’t tested yet. In this case, the grandfather of our tester was the immigrant from the Netherlands, and Ferverda, both there and in the US, is a very unusual name.

undoc-4

Of course, your line having not tested can happen with common surnames too.

Utilizing Y Search

Check www.ysearch.org periodically to see if others of your surname took the Y chromosome test elsewhere and just got around to entering the results into YSearch, even though the other testers (Ancestry, Sorenson) have been defunct for some time now relative to Y DNA.

undoc-5

You can also search at YSearch by surname. You don’t have any way to view results by surname, outside of projects, at Family Tree DNA, so the only way to discover that someone who claims your paternal line and doesn’t match you is to search by surname at YSearch and hope they have included a tree.

undoc-6

In this example, one person with the Estes surname has results at YSearch, but 40 have Estes in their tree, just not as their patrilineal surname.

undoc-7

Keep in mind that depending on how far back in time an undocumented adoption occurred, you may find matches to people with that same surname who descend from your common biological ancestor, but you may still not share the original ancestor. In the example above, the Doe men red all match each other, because their unknown Smith ancestor is the same, but they don’t match the descendant of John Doe through son James.

A non-match to men of your same surname isn’t a cause for panic, but it is time to do some additional digging to see if you can discover why.

Happy ancestor hunting!

Conferences, Reunions and Flavors of Family

riddell

Jim Brewster (FTDNA), Gail Riddell (New Zealand), me with Linda Magellan peeking over Jim’s shoulder at the ISOGG reception at the 2016 FTDNA conference. Photo courtesy Gail Riddell.

What do you call an event where you’ve seen the same folks for a dozen years? An event that brings people from the far corners of the earth, literally? A conference that feels far more like a family reunion.

What do you call those people?

Family.

New family.  Old family.  Family of heart.  Sisters or brothers by another mother maybe.  Friends you just haven’t met yet.  And sometimes…real, honest to blood cousins.

The 12th annual international family reunion, er, I mean International Genetic Genealogy Conference sponsored by Family Tree DNA occurred this past weekend in Houston.  I’m still on the road, typing on a tiny keyboard, and I really can’t do it justice just yet but I want to take this opportunity to send you a couple teasers and just to say how wonderful it was to see everyone again.

Sadly, some were missing.  Hopefully we’ll see them next year.  Unfortunately, a few have passed over to where genealogists get to meet all of their ancestors, so we have to cherish their memories and hope they will help out by sending us answers from their current location.

It’s hard to believe it has been a dozen years now.  The first conference was in 2004 – a one day event in Houston.  Little could we know or dream what the next decade+ would bring.

Another thing I find amazing is just how many people in this group of 230 or so people I am related to in one way or another.  All of these, bar none, were discovered via DNA testing.  Whoever would guess that in a room of 230 random people you would find several cousins? Certainly makes you wonder looking around the bus, at the people at work or in a restaurant.  How many share your ancestors?

I’m still on the road and will be for a few days, so you’ll get an article to do the conference justice when I get home.  In the mean time, I encourage you to read Jennifer Zinck’s wonderful summary articles on her blog, Ancestor Central.  Jen can type much faster than I ever could and she is able to listen at the same time too. The bad news is that there were several breakout sessions that ran concurrently and Jen can only be in one place at a time.  We have not yet defied the laws of physics.

Jen and I discovered that we have Mayflower ancestors in common, in addition to being friends – having met at this same conference years ago.  There just might be another ancestor trip in the planning stages….just saying.

Speaking of Jen, she contributed the photo below.  Many thanks, Jen.

We had a once-in-a-lifetime special event at the conference this year. Max Blankfeld and Bennett Greenspan were presented with rather unique Lifetime Achievement Awards by the genetic genealogy community.  Max and Bennett were both very grateful, not to mention….nearly speechless, a second once-in-a-lifetime event!

img_7231

Left to right: Linda Magellan, Roberta Estes (talking), Max Blankfeld, Bennett Greenspan, Nora Probasco and Katherine Borges. Photo courtesy Jennifer Zinck.

As many of you may know, I’m a quilter and yes, I made the double helix quilts.  I asked Katherine Borges, Linda Magellan and Nora Probasco to help me with the presentation process since I could not hold up 4 corners of two quilts by myself….and these ladies have attended all 12 conferences as well.  Not to mention, they are quilters – so they were glad to be co-conspirators.

We were all very honored to present these awards and want to thank Janine Cloud at FTDNA for clandestinely working us into the schedule without raising suspicion!  While that sounds easy, believe me, it wasn’t.

I will be writing an article about Max, Bennett and the awards shortly, and a separate article about the quilts themselves.

Until then, I’m still basking in the glow of two days of hugs, meals with friends, collaboration, and newly discovered information and opportunities. I encourage each of you to find a reunion or conference to attend so you can have the same wonderful experience.  There is just nothing better than family, regardless of which kind of family you have – of blood or of heart – or maybe yet-to-be-met!

James Watson TED Talk on How He Discovered DNA

Did you know that James Watson wanted to be an ornithologist?  I didn’t know that.  There are other surprises as well in Watson’s TED talk including his focus on cancer, autism and schizophrenia research.

His TED talk is interesting, and believe it or not, humorous.  Enjoy!

watson and crick

Above, a picture of Watson and Crick at Cambridge.

Below, Watson as a member of the RNA Tie Club.

RNA tie club

 

Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroup Y

Pam, a lady with very interesting mitochondrial DNA, recently asked me about mitochondrial haplogroup Y1, and if it had ever been found in the Native American population. The answer, as best I knew, was a resounding “no.”

Pam told me that she had only found about 15 people who were of that haplogroup and most of them are East Asian. Her most distant matrilineal ancestor is from Slovakia as is her full sequence exact match at Family tree DNA. A more distant match’s most distant ancestor was born in Istanbul, but immigrated there from someplace in Europe, possibly the Ukraine or Slovakia. A third match’s immediate family was from the Ukraine near Belarus from the 1880s.

The migration map provided by Family Tree DNA tells us the following about haplogroup Y:

ftdna-mtdna-y

Given that this haplogroup is primarily eastern Asian, Pam wondered if there was any possibility that this was a “sleeper” haplogroup and had been found in the Native American population since the most recent papers had been published.

Good question. Let’s take a look.

The History of Mitochondrial Haplogroup Y

Haplogroup Y evolved from haplogroup N9 that evolved from haplogroup N that evolved from haplogroup L3, which was African.

  • L3
  • N
  • N9
  • Y
  • Y1

As a National Geographic Genographic Affiliate Researcher, I decided to take a look at what information the Genographic Project might reveal about mtDNA haplogroup Y. For starters, the Genographic project provides a nice compact tree in their research database.

nat-geo-mtdna-y

I created a chart combining the subgroups of haplogroup Y, the age of each group, the standard deviation for each subgroup, the defining mutations as provided by the Genographic project (Phylotree Version 16) and the oldest maternal birth locations for haplogroup Y subgroup participants in the Genographic Project. The age should be read as “most likely 24,576 but the range would be from 17,493-31,659 years ago.” I would simply say that haplogroup Y was born about 25,000 years ago. If you think of a bell shaped curve, 24,576 would be the top of the bell and the tails, which are increasingly less likely would extend 7,083 years in both directions.

Haplogroup Age per Dr. Doron Behar Standard Deviation (+-) RSRS Defining Mutations (Genographic V 16) Genographic Oldest Maternal Birth Locations Other
Y 24,576 7,083 G8392A, A10398G!, T14178C, A14693G, T16126C, T16223C, T16231C China (2)
Y1 14,689 5,264 T146C!, G3834A, (C16266T) Slovakia, Czech, Poland, China, Korea (2)
Y1a 7,467 5526 A7933G, T16189C! None
Y1b 9,222 4,967 A10097G, C15460T

 

None
Y1b1 G15221A Russia, Korea
Y1b1a C9278T none
Y2 7,279 2,894 T482C, G5147A, T6941C, F7859A, A14914G, A15244G, T16311C! Simonstown, Western Cape, South Africa “coloured”
Y2a 4,929 2,789 T12161C Philippines
Y2a1 2.488 2,658 T11299C Philippines (8), Sumatra Indonesia, Spain, Malaysia, China, Ireland
Y2a1a C2856T, G13135A none
Y2b 1,741 3,454 C338T none

Unfortunately, there is no mitochondrial haplogroup Y project at Family Tree DNA, so I can’t do any comparisons there.

This article at WikiPedia provides a chart of where mtDNA haplogroup Y has been found in academic studies, along with the following verbiage:

Haplogroup Y has been found with high frequency in many indigenous populations who live around the Sea of Okhotsk, including approximately 66% of Nivkhs, approximately 38% of Ulchs, approximately 21% of Negidals, and approximately 20% of Ainus. It is also fairly common among indigenous peoples of the Kamchatka Peninsula (Koryaks, Itelmens) and Maritime Southeast Asia.

The distribution of haplogroup Y in populations of the Malay Archipelago contrasts starkly with the absence or extreme rarity of this haplogroup in populations of continental Southeast Asia in a manner reminiscent of haplogroup E. However, the frequency of haplogroup Y fades more smoothly away from its maximum around the Sea of Okhotsk in Northeast Asia, being found in approximately 2% of Koreans and in South Siberian and Central Asian populations with an average frequency of 1%.

Its subclade Y2 has been observed in 40% (176/440) of a large pool of samples from Nias in western Indonesia, ranging from a low of 25% (3/12) among the Zalukhu subpopulation to a high of 52% (11/21) among the Ho subpopulation.

Summary

Given that the Native people migrated from far eastern Asia, in Siberia, sometime between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago, we can see that Y1a, for example, is too young to be among that group – given that this haplogroup was born in Asia only around 7,500 years ago. However, it could be possible to find Y1 or Y or even a subgroup of Y not found in Asia or Europe in the Americas, but alas, to date, that has not materialized, nor have any pre-contact burials been found in the Americas that include mitochondrial haplogroup Y or of any subgroup.

How did haplogroup Y, an East Asian haplogroup, come to be found in eastern Europe?  Probably the same way my Lentz male Y DNA came to be found in Germany, as well as within the Yamnaya ancient remains found north of the Black Sea in Russia from some 3,500 years ago.  We can very probably thank the repeated invasions of what is now Europe from what is now Asia for bringing many of the haplogroups found in present day Eastern Europe – including Y1.  This map of the Genghis Kahn empire and troop movements in the 1200s might provide clues.

genghis khan map

By derivative work: Bkkbrad (talk)Gengis_Khan_empire-fr.svg: historicair 17:01, 8 October 2007 (UTC) – Gengis_Khan_empire-fr.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4534962

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank:

The 1709ers – German Palatinates – 52 Ancestors #137

I’m betting that a lot of you don’t know who the 1709ers were. I didn’t until I discovered I was descended from 1709ers, and then became immediately and compulsively interested in these people, their travels, travails and fate.

As luck and irony would have it, synchronicity smiled on me one day. I like to think that some favor I paid forward just got paid back. This was a big one.

A woman, Doris, was my “room angel” at a conference where I was speaking about DNA years ago – ironically, the Palatinate of America conference.  Doris contacted me after reading an article I wrote about X chromosome mapping and said that she had identified the parents of my Barbara Kobel who I had mentioned in the article as an “end of line” person – in other words – a brick wall. Indeed, Doris was correct, and she pointed me towards Jacob Kobel and his wife, Anna Maria. I have since added another 5 generations to this previous brick wall based on information that began with her kind note and information that she included. I can’t thank Doris enough! She’s an angel alright!

Doris told me that Jacob Kobel was part of the 1709 Palatine Immigration. The next question I had for her was “what was that?” The answer came in the form of a Wiki article and a couple of books, the best of which was “Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York” by Philip Otterness, a history professor at Warren Wilson College.

Who Were the German Palatines?

The German Palatines were natives of the Electorate of the Palatinate region of Germany, although a few had come to Germany from Switzerland, the Alsace, and probably other parts of Europe. Towards the end of the 17th century and into the 18th, the Palatine region was repeatedly invaded by French troops, which resulted in continuous military requisitions, widespread devastation and famine.

The “Poor Palatines” as they came to be called were some 13,000 Germans who arrived in England between May and November 1709 in response to a false rumor that the Queen was giving free land in America. Their arrival in England, and the inability of the British Government to integrate them, caused a highly politicized debate over the merits of immigration. The English tried to settle them in England, Ireland, and the Colonies. The English transported nearly 3,000 in ten ships to New York in 1710. Many were first were assigned to work camps along the Hudson River to work off the cost of their passage.

The Palatinates had left Germany believing that the English Queen was giving land in America in return for settling there. It wasn’t true, but the Germans didn’t discover that until after arriving in either Rotterdam or London, and then many refused to believe it. In fact, decades later, many were still trying to obtain their free land to which they were just sure they were entitled.

The 1709ers received their nickname because that’s the year they arrived, en masse, in London, descending on a city that was not prepared for them.

The first boats packed with refugees began arriving in early May 1709. The first 900 people were given housing, food and supplies by a number of wealthy Englishmen. The immigrants were called “Poor Palatines”: “poor” in reference to their pitiful and impoverished state upon arrival in England, and “Palatines” since many of them came from lands controlled by the Elector Palatine. The majority came from regions outside the Palatinate and often against the wishes of their respective rulers, they fled by the thousands down the Rhine River to the Dutch city of Rotterdam, where the majority eventually embarked for London.

Within a few days another 800+ Germans had crowded together in miserable rooms in St. Catherine’s parish in London. This was just the beginning of the tidal wave.

1709er-tower

In 1598, St. Katherine’s was described as “inclosed about or pestered with small tenements and homely cottages” and it remained so a hundred years later when its inhabitants consisted “of weavers and other manufacturers and of seamen and such who relate to shipping and are generally very factious and poor.” The parish, on the City’s east side just beyond the Tower had long been a community of poor English families and foreigners.  You can see the neighborhood to the right of the tower, both above and below.  The 1709ers would have fit right in were it not for the fact there were so many of them.

1746 London Map

Throughout the summer of 1709, ships unloaded thousands of refugees, and almost immediately their numbers overwhelmed the initial attempts to provide for them.

They were initially crowded into St. Katherine’s, also written as St. Catherine’s, today known as St. Katherine’s by the Tower.

At that time, these accommodations were tenements by the docks in an unsavory area. Having entirely overrun all buildings available, they lived in tents in squalid conditions and the local London people came to view them as entertainment.

By summer, some were moved to the fields and barns of Blackheath and Camberwell, now part of metropolitan London. A Committee dedicated to coordinating their settlement and dispersal sought ideas for their employment. This proved difficult, as the Poor Palatines were unlike previous migrant groups — skilled, middle-class, religious exiles such as the Huguenots or the Dutch in the 16th century.  The 1709ers, by contrast, were rather unskilled rural laborers, neither sufficiently educated nor healthy enough for most types of employment. Their health wasn’t improving by living in those squalid conditions, either.

The Germans already in London now realized that the queen had never planned to settle them in America and had been completely unprepared for their arrival. Now all they could do was to wait for the queen to determine their fate. They tried to make life as normal as possible. A woodcut of one the German camps at St. Katherine’s published in 1709 shows the women cooking and hauling wood while the children sleep next to the tents. This woodcut is part of an article describing the state of the Palatines.

1709ers

Some worked on surrounding farms. Some men joined the British army. The rest lived off of English generosity and the Queen.

In 1709, when the Palatinates were living at St. Katherine’s by the Tower, a beautiful church and hospital were located there as well, known as St. Katharine’s Church. The 1709ers would have worshipped in this church that was by that time already nearly 600 years old. Sadly, this church was destroyed in 1825 when the area was razed to build the St. Katharine Docks.

1709er-st-katherines

This map below shows the area to be destroyed to build the docks. You can see the church and cloisters and surrounding small streets and houses.

An intensely built-up 23 acre site was earmarked for redevelopment by an Act of Parliament in 1825, with construction commencing in May 1827. Some 1250 houses were demolished, together with the medieval hospital and church of St. Katharine. Around 11,300 inhabitants, mostly port workers crammed into insanitary slums, lost their homes.  Of course, only property owners received compensation and that didn’t include the tenants.

I shudder to think about more than 11,000 people crammed into 23 acres, what it would have looked and smelled like, but this map gives us some idea what this area would have been like with 16,000 Palatinates in tents in this same region, in addition to the residents.

1709er-st-katherines-map

You can see, on the current Google map below that the entire neighborhood was replaced by docks.  The water in the dock area looks dark, but you can see the boats moored today.

st-katherines-today

Life Gets Worse

Soon an alternate image of the “poor Palatine refugees” emerged. A physician wrote:

”I wish you the recovery of your health and a better neighborhood than the palatines, which I fear have infected your pure air. Our country has whole loads of them and call them gipsies, not knowing the language and seeing their poor clothes.”

Gypsies were often portrayed in Britain as parasitic intruders who invaded civilized societies while maintaining their own closed and mysterious communities. In 1711 gypsies were described as “this race of vermin.”

By the beginning of August, the people of London had visited their camps and the “poor Palatine refugees” had not lived up to their billing. Rather than being fit objects of charity, they had become, in the words of an anonymous pamphleteer, “a parcel of vagabonds, who might have lied comfortably enough in their native country, had not the laziness of their dispositions and the report of our well-known generosity drawn them out of it.”

Life was bad and getting worse for the German families. Many had been reduced to begging in the streets. Others were shipped back home. England became desperate to get rid of this group of people they hadn’t wanted nor invited and who couldn’t support themselves. When the opportunity to send the entire group to New York and Pennsylvania arose, they were all too happy to take advantage of the opportunity and send them on their way.

On To America

In mid-April, 1710, almost a year after the first migrants had arrived in London, a convoy bearing the 3000 Germans and New York’s Governor Hunter left England.

Jacob Cobel (Kobel), a miller, age 27, reported to be a Catholic, his wife and a son aged one half, were in the 4th group of arrivals in England in 1709 according to the London Lists. He had left Hoffensheim-Sinsheim. This is somewhat remarkable in that he was reported to be Catholic AND that he continued to immigrate to America. Most Catholics, in fact, all that the English knew about, were returned to Holland. I am not convinced that he was Catholic. If he was, how he and his family evaded deportation is both unknown and miraculous.

In 1710, Jacob along with his wife and child continued on to America, in fact, settling eventually in a location that would be named after him, Cobleskill, NY.

The postcard below shows Cobleskill Creek in Coblesill, NY. This is likely Jacob’s mill creek. He was documented as being a miller in the US as well.

1709er-cobleskill-creek

Jacob Cobel’s wife was Anna Marie Egli and they had daughter Maria Barbara after their arrival in the US. Maria Barbara married Johann Jacob Schaeffer, a member of another 1709er Palatinate family. His parents were Johan Nicholas Schaeffer and Maria Katherine Suder from Relsburg, Germany.

However, the story doesn’t stop here. It does however, skip forward some 304 years, to September 2013.

St. Katherines Today

My husband, Jim, and I were visiting London. We only had 2 and a half days.

On the day of our arrival, after finally finding our hotel, walking from a train station pulling heavy bags, we discovered that the travel agent had not made the reservation for the correct days. We had to find a different hotel. With the help of the hotel, we were able to do so, but it took a couple of hours that we didn’t have to spend. We missed any possibility of the tour I had so been looking forward to. Our next two days were already spoken for. With all of the frustration and disappointment, I just wanted to cry. Things were not going as planned. What to do?

After getting settled, we regrouped, and realizing we only had part of the afternoon, we decided to visit a couple of quilt shops I had found online. The hotel was gracious and called us a taxi, and a few minutes later our driver arrived, ready to take us anyplace we wanted.

On the way to the first of three quilt shops, we told him about our travel snafu and the tour we had hoped to take. One of the places I was really looking forward to seeing was the Tower of London so I could, from there, hopefully, see St. Katherine’s by the Tower. My ancestors, the 1709ers, “camped” there and I wanted to visit that area – or at least see it from a distance.

Our driver, whose name was Said, was beyond wonderful, and he wove a tour into the quilt shop visits. We spent the most wonderful afternoon with this gentleman and he took me directly to places that were on no canned tour.

Of course, with his London driving experience, he knew exactly how to get to all the best places.  That travel snafu turned out to be a lovely gift in disguise!

From this area on the Thames near St. Katherine’s, you can see Tower Bridge, located beside the Tower of London.  St. Katherine’s is between the Hermitage Park, where I’m standing in this photo, and the Tower Bridge.  St. Katherine’s begins on the other side of the brown building, to the far right in this photo, about half way between me and the bridge. This gives you an idea of how small the neighborhood of St. Katherine’s actually was. Google maps shows the area of St. Katherine’s to be roughly 1000 feet by about 700 feet.

London Bridge

In the most ironic twist of fate, today, this area has once again been redeveloped and is now comprised of very high-end, upscale condos, some directly on the Thames and some on the Marina. My ancestors wouldn’t recognize it.

1709er-st-katherines-redevelopment

Beautiful buildings on what is now a beautiful setting.

1709er-st-katherines-dock

You don’t have to look too far though to see some of the warehouses that were adjacent to the docks. There are still warehouses a block off of the waterfront. You can see them behind Said’s car, waiting patiently for me to get my ancestor-fix.

Said's Mercedes

The city walls, a remnant shown below behind the men at the bus stop, would have still been intact when the 1709ers were there, but not much remains today. I love these old brick streets too.

1709er-london-city-wall

The old ship ties still exist at St. Katherine’s docks. These were at one time used to tie the large cargo ships to hold them secure while they were loaded and unloaded.

1709er-st-katherine-ship-tie

You can still read “St. Katherine by the Tower.”

St Katherines by the Tower

I had to pinch myself to believe I was really standing here where my ancestors stood. Truthfully, between being sleep deprived after an all-night flight, followed by the hotel debacle, this unplanned experience felt entirely surreal.

1709er-st-katherine-park

This area has been made into a lovely waterfront park which includes the docks of course, and the historic Dickens Inn, shown with the red hanging baskets, above.  What a transition from how cramped and miserable this area was in 1709 and how spacious and lovely it is today.  The 1709ers would be shocked and probably mortified at all of that “wasted space” that they so desperately needed.

st-katherines-park

The redeveloped park where I’m standing, is located in the area between the green “St. Katharine Docks and The Dickens Inn on the current map above, in the lower right hand quadrant.  You can click to enlarge.  On the old map, this would have been just in front of the St. Catherine’s church – a place certainly familiar to the 1709ers who were assuredly praying daily for deliverance of some sort.

1709er-st-katherine-condos

The photo above is difficult to see because I took it through glass, but it shows pictures of the inside of the condos or apartments that are for sale in the area, all for over half a million pounds – and those are the cheap ones.

It’s somehow a supreme irony that the former poorest area, the waterfront tenement slums, are now the posh area. This is the third life of St. Katherine’s. I guess that is the very meaning of redevelopment.

I was so very grateful to Said for taking me to where my ancestors camped.  It brought history to life in a very memorable way.

I’d love to know more about these families before their arrival in England.  In particular, I’d like to know more about their deep ancestry, before the advent of surnames.  Where did they come from?  Who were their people?  Were they Celts or Saxons or maybe Huns before they were Germans seeking refuge?  Y DNA testing can give us those answers, but we need a male from the surname lines in question to test.

DNA Projects and Participants

Given that I certainly can’t test my Y DNA (females don’t have Y DNA) for the 1709er lines, I need to find males who descend from these family lines to test. Y DNA is always passed from father to son, generally along with the surname. The best way to start that search is to check the projects at Family Tree DNA, along with YSearch.

I checked the Family Tree DNA Y database and discovered no Cobel, Kobel or derivative surname, so I started the Kobel/Coble Y DNA project. While this project was initially focused on Kobel/Coble males, anyone who descends from a Kobel/Cobel line is welcome to join. Fortunately, we do have a Coble male from Jacob Kobel’s line, and he matches other Coble males as well. I would invite and encourage any Kobel (or similar spelling) male to join. I’ll be writing about Jacob Kobel’s line soon.

Viewing the Shafer project, it does appear that the 1709er Schaeffer line has probably tested and is a subgroup of haplogroup U106. I say probably because it’s a line believed to connect to my line, from a group that went to NC. Still, I’d much prefer to test someone from my own proven line, just in case. You can view the grouping of men that match, in yellow, below.

shafer-dna-project

There are no projects for either Egli, Suder or Sonsst. There are apparently 8 people with the Egli surname who have tested, but the only one I could find in any project was from France. One Suder has apparently tested, and no Sonssts. Sonsst could easily have been corrupted into something I wouldn’t recognize today. YSearch showed several people with either the Egli surname or Egli in their pedigree charts, but nothing that would suggest that they connect to the Egli family from Hoffensheim-Sinsheim.

Hopefully, someone, someplace is researching these family lines and will pass the word. I’m offering a Y DNA testing scholarship for a male carrying the surname and descending from these various 1709er family lines. If you qualify, please contact me.

  • Johann Peter Schaeffer (born c1640) family from Relsburg, Germany
  • Michael Suder (born c 1650 or earlier) family from Relsburg, Germany
  • Marx Egli (born probably 1664 or earlier) family probably from the Hoffensheim-Sinsheim area of Germany
  • Han Sonsst (born probably 1680 or earlier) family probably from the Hoffensheim-Sinsheim area of Germany