23andMe: DNA Relatives, Connections, Event History Report and Other Security Tools

A few days ago, I suggested a pause strategy while you ponder whether or not you wanted to delete your DNA file in light of the recent data exposure at 23andMe. I need to revise this with additional information today.

First and foremost, disabling DNA Relatives does NOT remove all matching. You need to remove Connections separately.

Secondarily, there’s a report at 23andMe for you to order to determine whether your account may have been individually compromised. I’ve described how to find it and use the information in the report.

This article includes several sections with important information about how these intertwined features at 23andMe work and instructions to protect yourself.

  • An update on the breach situation with informational links
  • Customer notifications
  • Confusion regarding types of sharing – DNA Relatives vs Connections
  • Explaining the difference between DNA Relatives and Connections
  • Step-by-step instructions for removing Connections – disabling DNA Relatives doesn’t accomplish this or stop matching/linkage to Connections
  • Who sees what, when?
  • DNA Relatives and Connections comparison chart
  • Account Event History – how to determine when your account was signed into, from where, what they (or you) did, and when
  • Deletion instructions and caveats
  • Summary

Update on Breach Information

I’m not going to post anything from the hacker(s) – but please, in an abundance of caution, presume your data is now available publicly or will be when the hacker sells the balance of the accounts they have and act accordingly.

The hacker has posted millions of accounts already, and I know people who have found themselves in the “sample” download provided by the hacker to convince people that the breach and resulting data is for real. If you really want to see this for yourself, the hacker, Golem, is very active at BreachForums, under Leaks, 23andMe – but I DO NOT recommend hanging out there. I reached out to colleagues who work with security and breach monitoring services. I am not poking around myself.

This 23andMe customer information first appeared in August, not October, when a hacker by a different name on Hydra posted images of the accounts of both Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe and her former husband, CEO of Google. The hacker said that the information was obtained through an API provided by 23andMe to pharmaceutical companies. Additionally, the hacker said they had already sold all of that initial data to “an individual in Iran.” You can read about this here.

Furthermore, if what the hacker or hackers say is accurate, this situation is far more serious than a password recycling issue. I don’t want to speculate because I can’t verify, although many people have written to me to say two things:

  • They were seeing leaked customer information weeks earlier
  • They did use a unique password at 23andMe

Here are four additional articles that I suggest reading to understand the scope of the situation and why there’s so much uncertainty:

One of my blog readers asked why anyone would want to do this. Of course, there can be many or even multiple motivations, but based on some of the commentary, it appears that Jewish people were targeted and compiled identifying data sold to Iran who backs Hamas. If you’re a Jewish person, anyplace in the world, you have to be extremely concerned especially since this test identifies your closest relatives and (if provided) the location where you live.

Both 23andMe and Ancestry display your current location if provided and selected. I NEVER recommend doing that under any circumstances. Of course, if the hacker gained access to individual accounts as reported and you entered that information, even if you didn’t choose to share it, they have it anyway.

Customer Notification

Please note that so far, the only notifications received by 23andMe customers say that their information was revealed through DNA relatives, meaning that at least one of their matches’ accounts was compromised. No one, to my knowledge, has received a notification that their own account has been directly compromised. Perhaps 23andMe doesn’t know whose accounts were compromised yet.

Near the end of this article, I’ll show you how to obtain a list of all the activity that has taken place on your 23andMe account so you can see if there are logins from locations not your own or other suspicious activity.

According to the original announcements from 23andMe and others, the data exposure was a result of two things:

  • Direct access to accounts due to reused passwords allowing the hacker to aggregate data and sign in as the user. You can see if your email address has been found in a data breach at the site, haveibeen pwned.com. I know this list is incomplete, though, because I’ve been notified by letter by other companies not listed here.
  • DNA Relatives information shows DNA matches, segments, and your matches’ potential relationships to each other along with their shared data, permitting triangulation.

The more I read about this from credible sources, combined with how 23andMe has handled this situation, the more “uncomfortable” I become.

Before 23andMe even straightened this mess out, this week, they introduced a new “Total Health” subscription for the low price of $99 PER MONTH. Seriously. Billed as one payment of $1,188 per year. To me, this smacks of a company desperate for money.

How do we even begin to place any confidence in this service, given what has already been exposed and the unanswered questions? Especially given that for weeks, 23andMe dismissively replied to customers who informed them of the issue that their systems had not been accessed in an unauthorized manner. Not to mention, this announcement is entirely tone-deaf as we struggle to deal with what has already been exposed one way or another.

In response to this, if you still want to maintain your existing account at 23andMe, I have help for you. If you want to delete it, I’ve provided instructions for that too.

Questions and Challenges

I discovered that DNA Relatives and Connections don’t work in exactly the way I believed they did, and it’s very confusing. Nothing, not one thing that 23andme has provided has addressed exactly what information has been exposed or what customers can do other than change their password and add 2FA.

  • Was the breach only DNA Relatives, or was it Connections, too?
  • Connections is essentially a subset of DNA Relatives plus potentially some unrelated people.
  • Not everyone has DNA Relatives enabled, but if not, Connections still exposes/exposed you if your account was individually breached.
  • 23andMe only mentioned DNA Relatives, so you may think you’re in the clear if you don’t have DNA Relatives enabled. That’s inaccurate if you have any Connections and your account was individually breached.
  • If the hacker did sign on to your account, Connections are equally vulnerable.
  • The hacker could enable DNA Relatives without your knowledge to create a more lucrative fishing environment. I’ve provided instructions for how to determine if this might have happened.

Disabling DNA Relatives is not enough.

23andMe Sharing Options Are Confusing

I first reported the breach here and said in my article, here, that a pause strategy would be to stop sharing in DNA Relatives, which would effectively provide you with time to make a decision.

I knew that DNA Relatives did not unilaterally disable Connections, but I did NOT realize how much information your Connections can see.

Over the years, 23andMe has revised how their sharing works. I remember when DNA Relatives opt-in and opt-out was added in 2014. It was extremely confusing then and still is.

DNA Relatives and Connections are confusing individually and together. I could not find any feature comparison or side-by-side table for each tool, either individually,  compared to each other, or with both enabled.

Because of this confusion, what we need right now is a one-button invisibility cloak that we can click to JUST STOP being visible to everyone until we reverse the invisibility cloak by opting in again – without losing anything or being penalized.

That’s what most people think happens when you stop sharing through DNA Relatives, but it’s not.

There is no invisibility cloak at 23andMe like there is at other vendors.

No Invisibility Cloak

I spent a considerable amount of time over the past few days trying to figure out the differences between DNA Relatives and Connections.

Believe it or not, that information was almost impossible to find, as it was scattered piecemeal across several places.

Let me step you through where to find it, and then compile an easy reference.

If you sign on to your account, you can see on the left-hand side that you have several selections under DNA Relatives.

Under Connections, you have the statuses of Connected, Pending, and Not Connected.

If you mouse over Connections, you see a general description.

I have two separate tests at 23andMe, and I have DNA Relatives enabled on one of the tests and disabled on the other, so I can see the differences when compared to the same people.

I have 1803 DNA Relatives, meaning matches, but the connections option told me that 348 were also Connections.

Why Do I Have 348 Connections?

Remember that 23andMe limits your matches to 1500, and the lowest matches roll off your match list without a subscription, which was only introduced in the last year or so. The subscription only allows 5,000 matches before the matches roll off your match list.

The only way to prevent matches from rolling off your list was/is to “Connect” with them, either through DNA relatives or initiating messaging. So, for years, genealogists sent a connection request to every match they had, beginning with the smallest first, in order to preserve matches that would otherwise be gone. That’s why I have 1803 matches and not just 1500 like I do on the second account where I have not established “Connections.”

Given my number of matches at the other DNA testing companies, I would likely have well over 20,000 matches, so preserving as much as possible was important to genealogists.

Understanding Connections

I switched to a different account that I manage that opted out of DNA matching a decade ago, but has more Connections than I do with many of the same people that I match.

You can view your DNA Connections by clicking on Family & Friends and then on Your Connections.

As you can see on the left, you can either share “Ancestry” with these Connections, which means typical genealogy info, or “Health + Ancestry.” Relevant to the breach, your Ancestry Composition (ethnicity) results as compared to your Connections (and DNA Relatives) are shown.

You can invite anyone to connect with you, including people on your match list or anyone else you know who has tested. In other words, your spouse or a cousin whom you DON’T MATCH.

Here’s an example of a cousin by marriage who I’ve known for years. We connected even though we don’t match and are only related by marriage.

Some Connection invitations that you receive or send are for Ancestry only, and other invitations are for BOTH Ancestry and Health.

Melissa sent me a combined request for both Ancestry and Health.

Remember that the focus of 23andMe has always been medicine, big pharma and health. Unfortunately, 23andMe PRECHECKS to accept the Health sharing option when you’ve been invited to share Health. It’s easy to miss, so UNCHECK Health if you don’t want to share YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION. The only people I’ve ever shared Health with are my immediate family members.

What’s Different?

I wanted to know what information was different about someone you’re NOT connected with and someone you’re connected with.

One of my DNA matches, Gwen, requested a Connection. Here’s the information I can see with Gwen before her Connection request.

I verified that this information is accurate by comparing Connections requests with a family member who is opted into DNA Relatives, one who is not, and also with my research-buddy cousin who is a Connection but not a match.

Any one person can potentially be:

  • A DNA Relative and not a Connection
  • A Connection and not a DNA Relative
  • A Connection but not participating in DNA Relatives even though they are a match

Today, the information a Connection and a DNA Relative can see since 23andMe disabled some DNA Relatives features seems identical.

Gwen’s profile card shows her name, location where she lives, and year of birth, if provided and selected for display. She obviously did not allow her birth year to be displayed, but she did allow the city/state where she lives.

23andMe estimates how I may be related to Gwen and how much DNA we share..

Gwen’s family background, which I’ve blurred. I have removed my information as I ponder whether to delete my account or not.

Ancestry Composition (ethnicity) of both people. Note that even if DNA Relatives is not enabled, either person’s account can view the shared ethnicity of both accounts.

Amounts of Neanderthal Ancestry.

How Sharing Works

23andMe discussed sharing, but differentiating between DNA Relatives and Connections is unclear.

Based on my comparison and their descriptions, I think I’ve figured out the differences. Let’s begin with their description of how sharing works.

Here, they describe part of what Connections shows.

At this point, the features of DNA Relatives that were available IN ADDITION to what could be viewed in Connections have been disabled due to the breach.

The next image is part of the Connections section, followed by DNA Relatives,

I was surprised that Shared DNA was displayed using Connections alone, before 23andMe (possibly temporarily) disabled this functionality in response to the breach. I would have presumed that if you disabled DNA Relatives, your DNA would NOT have been shown to your DNA relatives.

DNA Relatives was necessary for advanced features, including viewing relationships between your matches, meaning you and two other people, and also between your matches and each other. That means you could compare them to each other.

That feature selection is now gone as well. For the record, this graphic was out of date anyway, but now it doesn’t matter.

Connections DOES have access to the tree calculated by 23andMe but (apparently) only for people you are connected with unless you have DNA Relatives enabled. Please note that all accounts managed by one person appear to be connected to each other, although that might not be universal. I manage four kits, and all of them are shown as connections to each other.

Considerations provided by 23andMe

Here’s what they don’t say.

Disabling Your DNA Relatives Option does NOT Change Connections

This is very important considering how much information Connections can view:

  • Disabling DNA Relatives does NOT disable sharing. You can disable DNA Relatives across the board with one setting, but you CANNOT do that with Connections.
  • Each Connection must be deleted individually.

After you disable DNA Relatives, as I described in this article, under the heading, “Opting Out of DNA Relatives” you need to additionally remove each Connection if you genuinely don’t want to be seen by other people as a match. If you DO want to be seen as a match, then don’t disable DNA Relatives.

DNA Relatives will eliminate new matches from automatically occurring but won’t remove anyone you’ve previously added as a Connection.

To view and edit your connections, select “Your Connections” under “Family and Friends.”

For each Connection, click on the gear, then select which type of sharing to remove.

Please note that you may have to refresh the page to reload Connections, as there is no “load more” button, until you see the message, “You aren’t connected with anyone yet.”

Connections Versus DNA Relatives Chart

If you’ve had a hard time keeping this straight, me too. I created a chart that lists each feature and if it’s present in DNA Relatives, Connections, or both.

Feature Connections Only DNA Relatives Comment
Profile Yes Yes
Current Location, Year of Birth, Genetic Sex Yes Yes If provided and selected for display
Additional info about yourself Yes Yes If provided
Prevents Rolling Off Match List at Threshold Yes No Only Connections or people you’ve initiated contact with are retained
Matches Yes, only Connections Yes
Non-Relatives Can send an invitation to people you’re not biologically related to meaning not on your match list No, only DNA matches
Ancestry Yes Yes, plus shared matches and additional information If selected
Health If selected If selected
Genetic Relationship Yes Yes Estimated
Shared DNA Percent Yes Yes
Genetic Constructed Family Tree Connections only Yes all To about 4th generation shared ancestors
Family Background – birth places of grandparents Yes Yes
Other ancestors’ birthplace Yes Yes
External Family Tree Link Yes Yes If provided
Ancestry Composition (ethnicity) Yes Yes
Shared ethnicity Yes Yes
Maternal, Paternal Haplogroups Yes Yes Base to mid-level
Neanderthal Ancestry Yes Yes
Matching segments Shown in 23andMe documentation, currently disabled Yes, currently disabled Disabled due to breach
Chromosome browser Not shown in 23andMe documentation Yes, currently disabled Disabled due to breach
Shared matches No Yes, currently disabled Disabled due to breach
Triangulation No Was changed recently to be more difficult, now disabled Disabled due to breach
Shared Matches compared to each other’s tests No Yes, currently disabled Disabled due to breach
Shared Matches relationships to each other No Yes, currently disabled Disabled due to breach
Download Matches I don’t think so, but I can’t positively confirm Yes, currently disabled Disabled due to breach
Download Segment information No Yes, currently disabled Disabled due to breach
Download Raw data file (Your own) Yes Yes

Now that you know what can be seen and done and by whom, let’s take a look at how your account has been accessed.

Account Event History – Who Signed In To Your Account?

There’s a little-known feature at 23andMe that you can utilize to view the locations of sign-ins to your account and what was done, including changes and file download requests.

Navigate to settings.

Scroll down to “23andMe Data,” then click on View.

Scroll to profile data, click on “Account Event History,” then “Request Download.” 23andMe says it may take several days, but mine was ready the following day. You’ll receive a link to sign in and download a spreadsheet. Click on the blue “Account Event History” to download the report.

At the top, you’ll see column names. Please note that I added the Location column to record the results of the “Client IP Addr” lookup.

The “Client IP Addr” field is a record of where the login was initiated from. It’s your electronic address, or more specifically, the address of your internet provider, and it may not be the exact town where you live, but someplace close. I’ve blurred mine, but not where failed logins originated.

I use this site or this site to identify IP address sources.

As you can see, on May 1, 7, and 10, someone tried to sign in with my email address. It wasn’t me or the region where I live, and I was not traveling.

I was able to track these IP addresses to cities but not to individuals, of course. One tracked to a specific Internet Service Provider in that city, but nothing more.

However, that tells me that someone tried three times to use what was probably a compromised password. Thank goodness I don’t reuse passwords.

I also need to mention that you can find legitimate differences in location. For example, if you are traveling or use tools like Genetic Affairs that sign on on your behalf from their location, the IP address will reflect connection services from those locations.

You will also see interesting IP addresses, like that 127 address. That means the host computer made the change. In essence, that means that another 23andMe user removed sharing with me. That’s clearly legitimate.

I did not see any successful sign-ins from unauthorized locations. If you see a successful sign-in from an unknown location that’s not close to your home sometime in 2022 or 2023, and you weren’t traveling, nor using a location masking tool like TOR, then please notify 23andMe immediately.

The notification email I received from 23andMe was that my information had been exposed through DNA Relatives. Based on their notification in addition to the information in my report, my personal account does not appear to be individually breached.

23andMe clearly has access to this IP address information for all users, so I’m really surprised that they have not notified anyone, at least not that I know of, that their accounts have been DIRECTLY compromised – meaning NOT through DNA Relatives. Even if someone signed on using the correct password, there could/should be some pattern of sign-ons through not-normal locations for a group of customers during this time.

Of course, if the hacker was telling the truth and the breach was NOT through password reuse (stuffing,) and was through an API, neither users nor 23andMe may see unauthorized account accesses. I hope 23andMe and the professionals they have retained are able to sniff out the difference and will update their customers soon.

Regardless, I recommend requesting and reviewing this report and implementing 2FA everyplace that you can.

Deleting Your Profile

Based on your comfort level, you may decide to delete your test at 23andMe. It’s a personal decision that everyone has to make for themselves. There is no universally right or wrong decision, and I’m not recommending either way.


  • If you want to delete only your profile, you can transfer other profiles under your care to someone else.
  • If you manage multiple profiles and click delete, all of the profiles you manage will be deleted.

To find the delete function, click on the down arrow by your initials at top right, then on Settings.

Scroll to the very bottom.

Click on “View,” then scroll to the bottom to the Delete Data section.

23andMe provides links in this section to review, so please do. This includes information about how to transfer profiles and things to consider.

If you want to download your raw DNA file to use as an upload to other vendors, be sure to do it before you delete, because it won’t be available after. You can find instructions, here.

Remember, delete is permanent, and you’ll need to pay to retest if you change your mind.

In Summary

I hope this information has helped organize and explain things in a logical manner.

To recap, to become totally invisible, meaning no other tester can see you:

  • Disable DNA Relatives
  • Delete Connections individually and selectively

If you delete connections and those matches are lower than your 1,500th match, they will roll off your match list unless you have a subscription, and then it’s 5,000.

Additional Tasks

  • Request your Account Event History and review for anomalies.
  • For security purposes, change your password to one you have not used elsewhere, if you have not already, and enable 2FA.

I hope that 23andMe has or will take care of whatever issues they have, post haste, and will be transparent about what actually happened. I also hope they will find a way to re-enable the tools that have been disabled. That functionality is critically important to genealogists, and without those tools and the lack of trees, there’s little reason for genealogists to test at 23andMe.

We can’t change what has already happened. Each one of us has to decide whether we want our test to remain at 23andMe and, if so, what steps we want to take to move forward successfully.

I hope this information helps you decide how to handle the situation and perhaps relieve some anxiety. Now you know how to check your activity report, understand who sees what in DNA Relatives and Connections, associated options, what needs to be done, and how to take appropriate action.

Other Vendors

You probably have observed and will continue to see other vendors implementing additional security measures, such as required 2FA, precautions against account scraping, and not accepting uploads from 23andMe in case the hacker downloaded DNA files.

These revisions may be temporary or permanent, or some of each. I’m grateful for each vendor taking steps to protect our information from unauthorized access. I’ll write more after things settle down and we better understand the new landscape.


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The 23andMe Data Exposure – New Info, Considerations and A Pause Strategy

As most of you know, 23andMe has been suffering the effects of what appears to be a significant data compromise, meaning many of their customers’ information has been compromised or exposed.

Here’s the latest news indicating that information from millions more accounts has been offered on the dark web, along with 23andMe’s latest update, here.

I’ve been trying to keep up with the changes, and I must tell you, the hacker’s quotes in that Cybernews article chill me to the bone.

Furthermore, the depth of this issue is still unfolding, with a report of an earlier August breach.

What Has Happened

Essentially, due to users who have reused and recycled passwords, a bad actor was able to sign on to many customer’s accounts, directly, acting “as” the customer, which allowed them to:

  • View (or change) personal information
  • View matches’ information
  • View matches in common
  • View triangulation information
  • View how your matches also match each other
  • View health information if you and your match have agreed to share at that level
  • View ethnicity, shared ethnicity, and ethnicity chromosome painting
  • View the family tree provided by 23andMe that provides an estimated reconstruction of your matches to you and each other to ancestors several generations into the past
  • View your profile information
  • Download your matches
  • Download your raw data file

Anything you can do or see, they could do or see because they were signed on as “you.”

That’s a lot, and I’m sure that 23andMe is struggling with how to keep their customers safe, especially since this data compromise was reportedly not due to a breach or “break-in” of their system or site, but due to social engineering failures. It’s also difficult to sort the truth from the rest.

Right now, things are moving so fast on this front that every time I have an article ready to publish, something else changes. I’m going to share what I do know, and what you can do.

Some Users Have Been Notified

I know of at least two people who have been notified by 23andMe that their data was exposed in the compromise, receiving the same email. The communication was nonspecific, partially extracted as follows.

After further review, we have identified your DNA Relatives profile as one that was impacted in this incident. Specifically, there was unauthorized access to one or more 23andMe accounts that were connected to you through DNA Relatives. As a result, the DNA Relatives profile information you provided in this feature was exposed to the threat actor.

Based on our investigation so far, we believe only your DNA Relatives profile attributes were exposed.

They did not say, nor do I know how 23andMe identified those customers.

This only applies to people whose information was partially exposed as a match to a compromised account. I don’t know if they have identified the compromised accounts and are notifying those people, too.

Given the reported magnitude of this exposure, I wonder why only two people have mentioned being informed. None of my accounts have been informed, nor those of family members.

Using Email as a User ID

Using an email address as half of your user ID essentially gives that piece of the puzzle away.

It makes users particularly vulnerable because bad actors only have to obtain the second half – a password. That’s a lot easier than you’d think.

If nothing else, this 23andMe incident illustrates just how many people engage in unsafe security practices.

Not all vendors utilize email as part of your user id, and those that do often utilize other safety practices, including but not limited to two-factor authentication (2FA.)

Forced Password Reset

Several days ago, 23andMe forced their customers to reset their passwords before signing in. Of course, by that time, millions of cows had already left the proverbial barn. Still, that was certainly the responsible thing for 23andMe to do, preventing additional damage, assuming their customers didn’t reuse yet another password.

I finally managed to reset my password, although that was anything but easy. In order to do a password reset, the standard procedure and the one 23andMe follows, is to send a reset link or key to your email address on file. However, if you changed your email, or it has been “blacklisted” because your carrier was down at some point when 23andMe tried to communicate with you, or the reset email wasn’t received for some other reason, you have to contact support to obtain assistance. Needless to say, 23andMe support is overwhelmed at this point.

23andMe has provided a Privacy and Security page, with suggestions, here.

Two-Factor Authentication

23andMe has NOT required their customers to implement two-factor authentication, known as 2FA.

They DO provide an option to enable 2FA, and I recommend that you do so. Generally, this means that every time you sign in, as part of that process, after entering your password, 23andMe will text a code to your phone or email one to you, or you can utilize a third-party authenticator application. Essentially, this adds a a third step that communicates with you through some methodology that you control, in addition to your username and password. Yes, 2FA can be a pain, but it works. You’ll find information, here.

The Relatives in Common Change Before the Compromise

I was writing about this change when all Hades broke loose with this data compromise.

A week or two prior to the compromise, 23andMe made what may have appeared to them to be “cosmetic” changes, but to genealogists, 23andMe made genealogy and triangulation much more tedious and difficult. Certainly not impossible, just requiring several steps instead of one.

Previously, Relatives in Common under DNA Overlap said “yes” or “no.” Yes meant that me, a match (Tim), and a third person (Tony) triangulated. No meant we all matched each other but no triangulation.

The 23andMe change replaced yes and no with “Compare.” That meant that customers were required to complete the following steps to get to “yes” or “no.”

  • You compared to person A (Tim)
  • You compared to person B (Tony)
  • Person A compared to person B (Tim to Tony)

It went from easy to painful, and now, since the compromise, it’s gone altogether.

Before I move on to what else has changed, I want to comment on the original change. I don’t think it’s connected to the current exposure situation, but I have no insider knowledge.

Given my background in technology, creating a permanent yes/no link means storing the relationships of each DNA segment to your matches, which quickly become a HUGE three-dimensional matrix. Storage requirements would be substantial. If you only compare three people when requested, those storage requirements disappear. Storage = $$$, and 23andMe has been struggling financially for some time.

23andMe stock is down 62% year to date, 72% since this time last year, and 92% over five years.

Based on this data, my assumption was that 23andMe was trying to save money, shaving anything anywhere it could. Genealogists were hoping to convince 23andMe to reverse their decision, but now it’s a moot point because DNA Relatives is gone altogether, at least for now, and 23andMe has much, much larger fish to fry.

23andMe Update

23andMe provided an update on their blog about changes they’ve made related to DNA Relatives, here.

However, DNA Relatives is ONLY HALF THE PROBLEM. 23andMe did not address the rest.

  1. A Direct Compromise – Your data was very clearly compromised IF YOUR ACCOUNT WAS DIRECTLY COMPROMISED. This means the situation where the bad actor was able to sign on to your account as you because your email and password were found in other data breaches. If you’ve ever reused a password, you have no way of knowing if your account was compromised and you must assume it was.
  2. Compromise Through DNA Relatives Matching – Your DNA Relatives information, as described in this 23andMe link may have been compromised, meaning revealed if ANY OF YOUR MATCHES’ ACCOUNTS WERE COMPROMISED. In other words, your information shown to a match was exposed if any of your 1500 (non-subscriber) or 4500 (subscriber only) matches had their account directly compromised – meaning signed into because they reused a password. Less of your data was compromised than in a direct exposure, but some of it very clearly would have been exposed in this scenario.

The link 23andMe provided only addresses what can be viewed through DNA Relatives. They did not mention health information if you and any specific match have authorized that level of sharing. I have not.

That’s not all, either.

If Your Account Was Directly Compromised, Your RAW DNA File Could Have Been Downloaded

If YOUR account has been signed into, the bad actor is functioning as you, and they can download your raw DNA file, which means they could upload it elsewhere. The hacker mentioned that specifically.

You do have to request a download at 23andMe. A notification is sent to your email when the download is ready, BUT, you don’t actually need that email to retrieve your download. If you simply sign out and back in again, and return to the download function, a notification awaits you that your download is now ready. Just click to download.

If your email address used at 23andMe is functioning correctly, you would have received a notification that you had requested a DNA file download. If you received a notification like this in the past few days/weeks/months, and you did NOT request a download, please inform 23andMe immediately. This could be one way that 23andMe might be able to determine whose accounts were directly compromised, and therefore whose accounts were indirectly compromised using DNA Relatives.

In my case, I was not receiving email notifications from 23andMe because my account had been blacklisted due to carrier issues, so I would never have received that email.

If your account was one that was compromised, your file may have already been downloaded. Check your inbox and spam folder to see if you have any notifications from 23andMe that escaped your notice.

It Could Still Be Happening

23andMe can only do so much.

They can force users to select a new password, but they can’t prevent people from reusing a different password, which means that the bad actor could still be trying to sign on to accounts – and getting into some.

Genealogy, including DNA is a team sport. We have to depend on our matches.

23andMe could force everyone to use 2FA, but so far they have not opted to do that, probably because it would be very unpopular.

Additional Changes

The following DNA Relatives features have either been temporarily or permanently disabled or removed:

  • Download matches (which included matching segments) is no longer available
  • Relatives in common (three-way matching) is disabled entirely, so there are no shared matches or shared segments
  • Viewing how your matches match each other is gone
  • The chromosome browser is gone

However, other tools such as the family tree which shows relationships and health sharing are still available.

At 23andMe, What Can You Do?

Truthfully, I’ve been a hair’s breadth from deleting all of my tests at 23andMe for days. I manage two tests of my own and other relatives’ too.

23andMe has never been committed to genealogy and was always the least useful site for me. Having said that, I have had some close and very useful matches there that aren’t elsewhere.

I’m certainly never testing there again, but I really don’t want to give up on 23andMe altogether, at least not yet. I’ve already paid for several tests, and I would lose valuable information today, and the potential of the same in the future.

We can’t undo any damage that has already been done. That ship has sailed. However, we can take steps to protect ourselves, both today and tomorrow. In other words, we have options other than deleting our tests.

I’ve decided to pause, at least for now.

The Pause Strategy

Only you can protect yourself by selecting a unique, strong password. Not just at 23andMe, but every site you use on the internet for any purpose.

Until and unless 23andMe requires 2FA, you need to decide on a strategy to protect yourself from other people’s negligence.

You don’t have to permanently delete your tests. Instead, you can disable DNA Relatives, which means matching.

I’ve opted-out of DNA Relatives while waiting to see what happens as 23andMe works through this quagmire. That means that I’m not participating directly in matching anymore. I’ve also opted all of the tests I manage out as well. I can always opt back in when this problem is resolved, if that ever happens.

Opting-Out of DNA Relatives

Here’s how to opt-out.

Under the Ancestry tab, select DNA Relatives.

Click on Edit profile.

Scroll all the way to the very bottom.

At the bottom, click on “I would like to stop participating in DNA Relatives.

I clicked on “Finish,” then verified that this profile is not shown as a match.

My profile prior to disabling DNA Relatives looked like this:

These same fields after disabling DNA Relatives.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that you can disable Connections broadly.

Apparently, you need to disable Connections one by one. I know that Connections can still see you, but they can’t see everything. You can find instructions here.

What I’d really like is an “invisibility” function that simply stops all sharing by making me invisible until I want to be visible again, without deleting my accounts. I’m more than a little irritated that connections remained, other than within the accounts I actually manage.

I still have not decided if I will eventually retain or delete my accounts, but disabling DNA Relatives helps somewhat and buys me some pause time while I make a final decision about 23andMe.

Your decision may not be as difficult. In addition to my genealogy research, I depend on my accounts at the various vendors for instructional articles for my blog.

Minimum Two Steps

No matter what else you do, implement the following NOW:

  1. Use a unique, difficult-to-guess, strong password at every vendor. Here and here are some ideas and guidelines for strong passwords.
  2. Turn on 2-factor authentication.
  3. If you did not previously use a unique password at 23andMe, presume your data was compromised.
  4. If you have to assume your data was compromised, be hyper-vigilant of anything unusual or strange.
  5. Check to see if your email address associated with 23andme received a DNA file download request that you did not initiate, and if so, notify 23andMe immediately at customercare@23andme.com or 1-800-239-5230.

Other Companies

Other DNA testing companies are taking precautions and reviewing safeguards. Some have or may disable some features as they move through the process. Don’t be angry if a feature you depend on is gone for now.

The situation is changing very rapidly. I don’t know if the changes at the vendors, including 23andMe, will be permanent, and the companies probably don’t yet either.

Right now, overall, patience is the word as this mess sorts itself out – but while being patient, be sure to review your own safeguards and follow safe online practices.


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Barney Campbell’s Descendants in the 1872 Chancery Court Suit – 52 Ancestors #414

Cousin Sherri, who is related to the Campbells, found a newspaper notification in the Knoxville Weekly Chronicle dating from July 24, 1872, and it clearly has to do with the Claiborne County, TN Campbell line.

Them’s my people!

So down the rabbit hole I went!!!

Who are these people? How are they connected together?  What is this all about?

Why Do I Care?

Why might an 1872 Chancery Court suit be important? My Campbell ancestors, John Campbell and his daughter, Elizabeth Campbell, were long dead by then, so why would I care what was happening 30+ years later?

Well, it’s complicated.

First, we don’t know much about the father of the two men, John and George Campbell, who settled in Claiborne County around the time the county was formed in 1801. They are believed to be brothers, both sons of Charles Campbell, but we lack definitive proof.

Second, we don’t know who the father of Charles Campbell is, but we have Y-DNA hints, and we’ve been chipping away at this brick wall for decades now. You just never know when and where that desperately needed tidbit is going to drop. Property and arguments over property are generational and often reach significantly back in time.

Third, Jacob Dobkins’ two daughters, Jenny Dobkins and Elizabeth Dobkins married John and George Campbell, respectively. Then, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren intermarried. All was NOT quiet on the homefront. In fact, these families seemed to be wracked with one scandal after another. Thank goodness, because those court records make them much more human, and often, it’s all we know about the family. Not to mention buried and not-so-buried hints.

Fourth, Jacob Dobkins was quite controversial. Jacob was a Revolutionary War soldier who bought a ton of land in Claiborne County, 1400 acres to be precise, apparently to keep his family together instead of his sons and son-in-laws moving off to claim land someplace else. Jacob was buried on the old home place, which wound up in the possession of his grandson, Barney Campbell, who himself is surrounded in mystery.

As it turned out, Jacob’s will was hidden and there was a huge brouhaha and resulting lawsuit over all that, complete with soap-opera-worthy drama and first-person details. I didn’t discover that Supreme Court case until this time last year when another cousin notified me. So old Jacob Dobkins still continues to surprise me, as do his family members. That one was juicy, too, and went all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1853, which is the only reason we found it.

Fifth, Barney Campbell himself. This man – Lord Have Mercy. He was Elizabeth Dobkins’ first-born child. There was debate for decades about whether he was born to Elizabeth before she married George Campbell, or after. And, based on that and other anomalies, whether or not Barney was fathered by George Campbell or someone else. The fact that George’s other children were mentioned by name in his will, but Barney was not, fueled that flame.

The story from WITHIN Barney’s line as told by a descendant:

My grandmother, Sally, died (in 1951) when I was about 10. I heard the story of Barney from her many times growing up…Barney was a Dobkins, his mother was Elizabeth, and he took the Campbell name when Elizabeth married George Campbell.

To explain that and probably to rescue Elizabeth’s reputation, another story emerged in a different child’s line – that George and Elizabeth had found an abandoned baby boy whose parents had been killed in Indian raids and raised him as their own. This, of course, removed the tongue-clucking about long-deceased Elizabeth’s morals. Tisk. Tisk.

Initially, based on DNA results, it looked like the answer was that Barney’s father was “someone else,” but his mother was Elizabeth Dobkins based on his descendants’ autosomal matches. Then, the results from the descendant of a second son of Barney tested and matched the Campbell line. Of course, we can’t go back in time to figure out what REALLY happened. Given those circumstances, I found it odd that Barney, of all the grandchildren, eventually would wind up owning his grandfather, Jacob Dobkins’ farm – especially after the accusations surrounding Jacob Dobkins’ will – yet he did.

I need about four Bingo cards to keep track of all of this.

To add to that suspense, someone else who lived in Claiborne County told me years ago that one of their relatives in Barney’s line started researching this family decades earlier, found something, tore everything up, and stopped searching. They wouldn’t tell anyone what they found and said no one needed to know. There’s clearly SOMETHING there, a story begging to be told.

What was it?

Where did they find that information?

Were the destroyed papers the originals?

Is this the key to that big secret?


I transcribed the article so I could work with the names of the plaintiffs and defendants. It was quite helpful that the suit told us where the defendants lived. I used my own research plus Joe Payne’s website here, which isn’t always correct, but Joe obtained the information from the old-timers in Claiborne County. In other words, the stories haven’t been sifted through the Ancestry filter hundreds of times and “stretched.”

Joseph Lanham and Levi Brooks vs

Residents in Claiborne County:

    • Benjamin Campbell
    • Eldridge Campbell
    • D. Campbell
    • John Campbell
    • Elizabeth Jennings
    • Mary Walker
    • David Campbell
    • Abraham Campbell
    • Alexander Campbell
    • Emily Brooks
    • Louisa Lewis
    • Abraham Lewis
    • Eliza Shumate
    • Daniel Shumate
    • Isaac Campbell
    • Mary Campbell
    • Benjamin Campbell
    • Margaret Campbell
    • George Campbell
    • Nancy Campbell
    • Reuben Kesterson

Non-residents of Tn:

    • Arthur L. Campbell
    • Newton J. Campbell
    • Andrew Campbell
    • Eldrige Campbell

Residents of Union County, TN:

    • Lucy Walker
    • John Walker

Resident of Hancock County:

    • Robert Campbell

Resident of Grainger County:

    • James Campbell

In this cause it appearing from the allegations in the bill filed, which is sworn to, that Arthur L. Campbell, Newton J. Campbell, Andrew Campbell, and Eldridge Campbell are non-residents of the state as aforesaid, so that the ordinary process of law cannot be served on them. It is therefore ordered that publication be made for 4 successive weeks in the Knoxville Chronicle notifying said non-resident defendants to appear before the Chancellor at a Chancery Court to be holden at the courthouse in Tazewell, TN on the second Monday in October 1872, then and there to make defense to complainants said bill, or the same will be taken as confessed and set for hearing ex parte to them.

July 16, 1972

Note that the second Monday of 1872 was October 13.

Who are these people? How are they related to each other? Who are the plaintiffs, and why do they have an interest in whatever the complaint is. And what is the complaint that they are suing over?

I have to know, so down that rabbit hole I leaped. I sure hope there’s a big fat rabbit down there!

Who Are These People?

Of course, the Campbell family, like all Southern families, named children after ancestors, other family members, and so forth. That means there are a bazillion Johns, Georges and Williams, etc. Many are about the same age in the same county. They need to take numbers.

“Hello, I’m John Campbell #372; pleased to meet you.”

The first thing I did was to try to sift out who these people’s parents were. I was actually HOPING that they would be a mix of the descendants of John Campbell and George Campbell, which meant they had a common interest, might link back to their fathers and confirm that they were brothers, or even give hints a generation further back.

Multiple people are listed with the same name, so I had to figure out which person was being referenced.

Also, who are the plaintiffs, and what is their interest?

I created a table and listed every defendant in the suit, the location as given in the suit, then their parents and birth year, if known, along with any commentary. By the way, Barney Campbell had two wives, but that doesn’t matter in this suit, so I’ve only listed him as the parent.

Name 1872 Location Birth/Spouse Parents Comment
Arthur L. Campbell Outside TN Born circa 1842 Barney Campbell
*Newton J. Campbell Outside TN Born 1845, died 1911 in Claiborne, m Lucy Williams 1885 Barney Campbell In 1870, he was living in Pleasant Grove, Kansas, but had moved back to Claiborne Co. by 1885 when he married.
Andrew Campbell Outside TN Born c 1842 Barney Campbell In 1870, Andrew is living with his brother Newton with the Nelson Lanham family in Kansas.
Eldridge Campbell Outside TN B 1827, died > 1880 Claiborne, m 1845 Emeline Hazelwood Barney Campbell Probably this guy, but check his death location since he is reported to have died in Claiborne.
Lucy Walker Union Co., TN B c 1834 m John Walker 1850 Claiborne Barney Campbell
John Walker Union Co., TN Husband of Lucinda (Lucy) Campbell
Robert Campbell Hancock Co., TN B 1845, d 1914 Pennington Gap, VA, m Sarah Thomas George Campbell (son of Barney) & Nancy Eastridge Probably this guy – Robert S. Campbell
James Campbell Grainger Co., TN Probably James C., son of George d 1864, son of Barney
Benjamin Campbell


Claiborne Co., TN B 1820 d 1882 Claiborne m Eliza “Louisa” Eastridge Barney Campbell
Eldridge Campbell (second listing) Claiborne Co., TN Uncertain. The only other Eldridge I show is the son of Jacob Campbell, son of John Campbell.
T. D. Campbell (probably Toliver Dodson known as “Dock”) Claiborne Co., TN B 1835 d 1899 Claiborne m Sarah Lewis Barney Campbell
John Campbell Claiborne Co., TN Many candidates, Barney’s son b 1829 d 1900 Claiborne Barney Campbell Many John candidates
Elizabeth (Louisa) Jennings Claiborne Co., TN B 1823, m James Jennings, died aft 1866 Barney Campbell She is likely a widow
Mary Walker Claiborne Co., TN Uncertain, could be Barney’s daughter who married John Lanning and perhaps remarried?
David Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B 1841, d 1919 Claiborne m Missouri Williams Barney Campbell Middle initial either H or R
Abraham Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B 1850 d 1914 Claiborne m Nancy Williams Barney Campbell
Alexander Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B 1853 d 1923 m 2C Sallie Campbell Barney Campbell
Emily Brooks Claiborne Co., TN B 1831 d c 1887 m Levi Brooks Barney Campbell Levi Brooks is one of the plaintiffs.
Louisa Lewis Claiborne Co., TN B 1843, d 1920 m Abraham Lewis George Campbell d c 1879 & Nancy Eastridge, son of Barney
Abraham Lewis Claiborne Co., TN Husband of Louisa Campbell
Eliza Shumate


Claiborne Co., TN B 1847 d 1914, m 1866 Daniel Shumate George Campbell d c 1870, son of Barney
Daniel Shumate Claiborne Co., TN Husband of Eliza Campbell
Isaac Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B 1851 d > 1885 George Campbell d c 1879, son of Barney
Mary Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B c 1853 George Campbell d c 1879, son of Barney
Benjamin Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B c 1855 George Campbell d c 1879, son of Barney
Margaret Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B c 1860 George Campbell d c 1879, son of Barney
George Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B 1864 d 1922 Claiborne George Campbell d c 1879, son of Barney
Nancy Campbell


Claiborne Co., TN Unknown
Reuben Kesterson Claiborne Co., TN Unknown

*Newton J. Campbell was very confusing. Not only are there multiple men by that name, but the Newton under discussion moved to Kansas, then back before marrying. Before this, I’m not sure anyone realized he had ever moved away. I don’t think his brother Andrew moved back because there is almost no information about him.

Barney Campbell’s first wife was Mary Brooks with whom he had a dozen children between 1820 and 1835. She died between 1835 and 1840. His second wife was Martha Jane Kesterson (1810-1889), the daughter of David Chadwell Kesterson and Elizabeth Lanham. Note the family connection in that Newton and Arthur Campbell are living with a Lanham family in Kansas in the 1870 census.

Barney and Martha had six children that lived, and probably at least one that died, between 1840 and 1853.

Regarding the Mary Campbell who married a John Lanning, I can’t help but wonder if this is actually a misspelling of Lanham. I can’t place her.

I can’t fit Reuben Kesterson, who was ordered to appear as a defendant cleanly into this family. However, in that valley, everyone was literally related to everyone else within a couple of generations, thanks to intermarriage. In the 1870 census, Reuben’s wife was deceased, so he may well have been listed as a surviving spouse. Or, he could be George Campbell’s minor children’s guardian. Or, something else.

It’s worth noting that every one of these people that I can place is either the child of Barney Campbell, through both of his wives, or the child of Barney’s son George, who died in 1864, with the exception of the second Eldridge. There is only one other Eldridge living at that time who is not Barney’s son or grandson. Was Eldridge accidentally listed twice? Did Barney’s son George have a son Eldridge that is unknown?

Barney was born about 1797 and died sometime between 1853 and 1856. A will for Barney has not been found – which may be the predicating force behind this lawsuit.

In 1860, Levi Brooks, one of the plaintiffs, is living beside Barney’s widow with his wife, Emily Campbell, and their children.

Barney’s Children

As a sanity check, I created a table of Barney’s children and what I know about them, then bolded the abovementioned children.

Name Birth, Death Spouse Comments
Benjamin 1820-1882 Claiborne Married Eliza Louisa Eastridge Alive in 1872
George (deceased 1864, not in lawsuit but his children are) B c 1821, d 1864 in Civil War Married Nancy Eastridge Captured in Civil War
Mary E. B c 1822 d ? Married John Lanning in 1853 Uncertain. There’s also a Mary Ann Campbell.
Louisa “Eliza” (deceased, not in lawsuit) B c 1823 d c 1866 Married James Jennings in 1840 – why is he not on the list? Their daughter, Mary Jennings b 1831 married c 1870 Joseph Lanham, one of the plaintiffs
Andrew B c 1826 died ? Married Louisa “Eliza” Campbell, his 2C
Eldridge B c 1827 d after 1880 Claiborne Married Emeline Hazelwood
John B c 1829 d after 1900 Claiborne Married Mary Ann Chadwell
Mary Ann B c 1829 d 1908 Claiborne Married James Walker in 1840
Emily A. B c 1831 d 1877 Claiborne Married Levi Brooks  in 1848 Levi Brooks is a plaintiff.
Lucinda B c 1834 d > 1886 Claiborne Married John Wesley Walker in 1850
Toliver D B 1835 d 1899 Claiborne Married Sarah Lewis in 1854
Charles B c 1841, probably died in Civil War. He served and is not found after. No record of marriage 20 in 1860 census, not found in 1870 nor listed in the suit
David H. (R.) B 1842 d 1919 Claiborne Married Missouri Williams in 1874
Arthur L B c 1842 d 1904 Married Sarah Ellen Clingensmith in 1875
Newton J. B 1845 d 1911 Claiborne Married Louisa “Lucy” Williams c 1885
Abraham B 1850 d 1914 Claiborne Married Nancy Williams his 2C c 1890
Alexander B 1853 d 1923 Claiborne Married Sarah Campbell his 2C c 1880

This is beginning to make more sense.

It appears that this suit probably has to do with Barney’s estate. His second wife, Martha Jane Kesterson was living in 1872 and is not a party to this suit. She would have, by law, inherited one-third of Barney’s estate. Perhaps that portion wasn’t under debate.

In 1839, Barney was taxed for 200 acres, so he clearly had land to be divided which descended through his descendants to recent times.

The Chancery Suit

Ok, so what does the Chancery Bill filed in the Chancery Court in Tazewell have to say? That’s where the meat of this lawsuit will be revealed.

Chancery bills tell us what is alleged. In other words, let’s say that person A claims they paid person B for some land, but person B died before conveying the land, died without a will, and the heirs either didn’t know about the deal, or don’t want to recognize it. Complicating matters further, the heirs planted a crop on the land which needs to be harvested, and person A claims it’s his crop since he bought the land. Person A would file against all of the heirs in order to obtain satisfaction. A judge would have to figure out what happened, and what is equitable under the circumstances.

In most places, Chancery Court is entirely different than Circuit or Criminal Court. Disputes requiring a judge to determine a fair and equitable settlement are resolved in Chancery Court. Think about a couple’s assets in a divorce. A Criminal Court would try someone for murder or a crime that broke a state or federal government law. Civil or “regular” court would be used to collect an undisputed debt, register a will, record tax payments or “prove” a deed transfer in open court by testimony.

Additionally, a Chancery Court generally served a region, not just a county, where county courts only served that particular county.

The second Monday of 1872 was October 13 and the Claiborne County chancery notes do not appear in the regular Claiborne County court notes, although the Chancery Court bills, pleadings and minutes were recorded in the courthouse at Tazewell in Claiborne County.

I browsed the court minutes at FamilySearch and read the circuit court minutes page by page, hoping for something. Anything.

Claiborne County is one of my “home” counties, so I have just about every published resource. I don’t have those notes, but maybe I missed something. I checked every available source, just in case.

I was getting a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach because I was beginning to suspect that those records may not exist. The courthouse burned twice, once in 1863 during the Civil War, and again in 1931. Thankfully, not all records burned either time, but plenty did, including some crucial records.

The FamilySearch Catalog and FamilySearch Claiborne wiki don’t list Chancery suits or minutes at all.

Then, I found it, here.

I Found Something

No, no, I didn’t find the Chancery filing or anything else whatsoever about the suit. What I found was confirmation that those records don’t exist.


This Tennessee Secretary of State site confirms that the Claiborne Chancery Court records began in 1934. Given that divorces were heard in Chancery Court, this also explains why I could never find the divorce records between Martha Ruthy Dodson and John Y. Estes. At least this exercise was good for making sense of that.

However, all that was waiting down this rabbit hole about John and George Campbell was a laughing rabbit. But maybe not for Barney’s descendants.

Sometimes, even some information is better than no information. Just the newspaper article alone helps assemble Barney’s family.

So, now the rest is up to Barney’s descendants. Does anyone know what happened in 1872? Any juicy stories about land, Barney’s estate, or a rift in the family?

One thing we know for sure – something assuredly happened! So far, it’s still a mystery, and this newspaper filing was just a teaser.

Update 10-24-2023

Not long after this article was published, a cousin sent me the following deed from Claiborne County Deed book 12, page 598 that may pertain to the lawsuit filed in 1872. This deed was filed in 1880, so by inference, this deed, if related, would have been related to the result of that suit.

Based on the language, it would appear that Barney had given advancements to his children, but not his son George who had died before Barney. It’s worth noting that not all of the people in the suit are reflected in this deed.

Extracted as follows:

Lucinda Walker, wife of John W. Walker appeared separately…acknowledged annexed deed…signed on August 25, 1880.

Indenture entered into 10th day of March 1869 between Benjamin Campbell, Andrew Campbell, John Campbell, Eldridge Campbell, Emily A. Brooks, Loucinda Walker, T. D. Campbell, Mary Ann Walker, Louiza Jennings all of the county of Claiborne, state of Tennesee, of the first part and A. L. Campbell, David H. Campbell, Newton Campbell, Abraham Campbell, Alexander Campbell of the county aforesaid of the second part.

In consideration of that Barney Campbell had advanced to the party of the first part considerable property both parties being heirs at law of the said Barney Campbell, and that party of the first part for the consideration of their having had advancements by the said Barney Campbell their father before his death do hereby convey, sell, bargain, enfroff? and confirm into the said party of the second part all the right, title or claim to the reversionary interest in the dower of said Barny Campbell’s widow Jane Campbell her dower is the first part laid off to her out of the lands that Barney Campbell owned and lived on at the time of his death, to have and to hold to the said A. L. Campbell, David H. Campbell, Newton Campbell, Abraham Campbell and Alexander Campbell all the right that the said Benjamin Campbell, Andrew Campbell, John Campbell, Eldridge Campbell, Emily A. Brooks, T. D. Campbell and Mary Ann Walker, Loucinda Jennings has or may have in and to the dower of said Jane Campbell widow of Barney Campbell, decd, the part of the first part does hereby covenant to and with the party of the second part that they have a good right to convey their title in the lands before mentioned and that said Party of the first part will forever warrant and defend the title to the said lands as before stipulated to the party of the second part their heirs and assigns forever in fee simple.

Said party of the first part have hereunto set their hands and seals…


Jeremiah Brooks
Levi Brooks
Attest as to T. D. Campbell
Robert Campbell
John Cales
as to Mary A. Walker
D. Cardwell
J. A McGriff
as to Louiza Jennings
D. Cardwell
F. L. McVey
as to Loucinda Walker
D. C. Smith
William B. Hodges
Attest to Emily Ann Brooks
Signature Sept 10
Henly Buise
J. W. Buise

Second column:
Benjamin x-mark Campbell
Andrew x-mark Campbell
John x-mark Campbell
Eldridge x-mark Campbell
T. D. x-mark Campbell
Mary Ann x-mark Walker
Louiza x-mark Jennings
Loucinda x-mark Walker
Emily Ann x-mark Brooks

Filed in my office October 4, 1880
B. H. Campbell Registrar


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Y-DNA Haplogroup O – When and How Did It Get to the Americas?

Y-DNA Haplogroup O has been found in male testers descended from a Native American ancestor, or in Native American tribes in the Americas – but sometimes things are more complex than they seem. The story of when and how haplogroup O arrived in the Americas is fascinating – and not at all what you might think.


The concept of Native American heritage and indigenous people can be confusing. For example, European Y-DNA haplogroup R is found among some Native American men. Those men may be tribal members based on their mother’s line, or their haplogroup R European Y-DNA may have been introduced either through adoption practices or traders after the arrival of Europeans.

There is unquestionable genetic evidence that the origin of Haplogroup R in the Americas was through colonization, with no evidence of pre-contact indigenous origins.

Y-DNA testing and matching, specifically the Big Y-700 test, with its ability to date the formation of haplogroups very granularly, has successfully identified the genesis of Y-DNA haplogroups and their movement through time.

We’ve spent years trying to unravel several instances of Native American Y-DNA Haplogroup O and their origins. Native American, in this context, means that men with haplogroup O are confirmed to be Native American at some point in documented records. This could include early records, such as court or probate records, or present-day members of tribes. There is no question that these men are recognized as Native American in post-contact records or are tribal members, or their descendants.

What has not been clear is how and when haplogroup O entered the Native American population of these various lineages, groups, or tribes. In other words, are they indigenous? Were they here from the earliest times, before the arrival of colonists, similar to Y-DNA haplogroups C and Q?

This topic has been of great interest for several years, and we have been waiting for additional information to elucidate the matter, which could manifest in several ways:

  1. Ancient pre-contact DNA samples of haplogroup O in the Americas, but none have been found.
  2. Current haplogroup O testers in Native American peoples across the North and South American continents, forming a connecting trail genetically, geographically, and linearly through time. This has not occurred.
  3. Big-Y DNA matches within the Americas between Haplogroup O Native American lines unrelated in a genealogical timeframe whose haplogroup formation pre-dates European contact. This has not occurred.
  4. Big-Y DNA matches between Haplogroup O men whose haplogroups were formed in the Americas after the Beringian migration and expansion that scientists agree occurred at least 12-16K years ago, and possibly began earlier. Earlier human lineages, if they existed, may not have survived. A later Inuit and Na-Dené speaker circumpolar migration occurred 4-7K years ago. This has not occurred.
  5. Big-Y DNA matches with men whose most recent common ancestor haplogroup formation dates connect them with continental populations in other locations, outside of North and South America. This would preclude their presence in the Americas after the migrations that populated the Americas. This has occurred.

The Beringian migration took place across a now-submerged land bridge connecting the Chutkin Peninsula in Russia across the Bering Strait with the Seward Peninsula in Alaska.

By Erika Tamm et al – Tamm E, Kivisild T, Reidla M, Metspalu M, Smith DG, et al. (2007) Beringian Standstill and Spread of Native American Founders. PLoS ONE 2(9): e829. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000829. Also available from PubMed Central., CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16975303

Haplogroup O is clearly Native American in some instances, meaning that it occurs in men who are members of or descend from specific Native American tribes or peoples. One man, James Revels, is confirmed in court records as early as 1656. However, ancestors of James Revels fall into category #5, as their upstream parental haplogroup is found in the Pacific islands outside the Americas after the migration period.

Based on available evidence, the introduction of haplogroup O appears to be post-contact. Therefore, haplogroup O is not indigenous to the Americans in the same sense as haplogroups Q and C that are found widespread throughout the Americas in current testers who are tribal members, descendants of tribal members, and pre-contact ancient DNA as mapped in the book, DNA for Native American Genealogy.

Ancient DNA

Haplogroup C is found in both North and South America today, as are these ancient DNA locations.

Haplogroup Q is more prevalent than Haplogroup C, and ancient DNA remains are found throughout North and South America before colonization.

No ancient DNA for Haplogroup O has been discovered in the Americas. We do find contemporary haplogroup O testers in regional clusters, which we will analyze individually.

Let’s take a look at what we have learned recently.

Wesley Revels’ Lineage

Wesley Revels was the initial Y-DNA tester whose results identified Haplogroup O as Native American, proven by a court record. That documentation was critical, and we are very grateful to Wesley for sharing both his information and results.

Wesley’s ancestor, James Revels, was Native American, born about 1656 and bound to European planter, Edward Revell. James was proven in court to be an Accomack “Indian boy” from “Matomkin,” age 11 in 1667. James was bound, not enslaved, until age 24, at which time he was to be freed and receive corn and clothes.

James had died by 1681 when he was named several times in the Accomack County records as both “James, an Indian” and “James Revell, Indian,” in reference to his estate. James lived near Edward Revell, his greatest creditor and, therefore, administrator of his estate, and interacted with other Indian people near Great Matompkin Neck. Marie Rundquist did an excellent job of documenting that here. Additional information about the Revels family and Matomkin region can be found here.

The location where Edward Revell lived, Manokin Hundred, was on the water directly adjacent the Great Matomkin (now Folly Creek) and Little Matomkin Creeks, inside the Metomkin Inlet. The very early date tells us that James Revels’s paternal ancestor was in the colonies by 1656 and probably born about 1636, or perhaps earlier.

Lewis and Revels men are later associated with the Lumbee Tribe, now found in Robeson and neighboring counties in North Carolina. The Lewis line descends from the Revels lineage, as documented by Marie and Wesley. Other men from this line have tested and match on lower-level STR markers, but have not taken the much more granular and informative Big-Y test.

Until recently, the men who matched Wesley Revels closely on the Big-Y test were connected with the Revels line and/or the Lumbee.

Wesley has a 37-marker STR match to a man with a different surname who had not tested beyond that level, in addition to several 12-marker STR matches to men from various locations. Men who provided known ancestral or current locations include one from Bahrain, two from the Philippines, and three from China. Those men have not taken the Big-Y, and their haplogroups are all predicted from STR results to O-M175 which was formed in Asia about 31,000 years ago.

12-marker matches can reach thousands of years back in time. Unless the matches share ancestors and match at higher levels, 12-marker matches are only useful for geographic history, if that. The Big Y-700 test refines haplogroup results and ages from 10s of thousands of years to (generally) within a genealogically relevant timeframe, often within a couple hundred years.

One of Wesley’s STR matches, Mr. Luo, has taken a Big Y-700 test. Mr. Luo descends directly from Indonesia in the current generation and is haplogroup O-CTS716, originating about 244 BCE, or 2244-ish years ago. Mr. Luo does not match Wesley on the Big-Y test, meaning that Wesley and Mr. Luo have 30 or more SNP differences in their Big-Y results, which equates to about 1,500 years. The common ancestor of Wesley Revels and Mr. Luo existed more than 1,500 years ago in Indonesia. It’s evident that Mr. Luo is not Native American, but his location is relevant in a broader analysis.

There is no question that Wesley’s ancestor, James Revels, was Native American based on the court evidence. There is also no question that the Revels’ paternal lineage was not in the Americas with the Native American migration group 12-16K years ago.

The remaining question is how and when James Revels’ haplogroup O ancestor came to be found on the Atlantic seaboard in the early/mid 1600s, only a few years after the founding of Jamestown.

The results of other Haplogroup O men may help answer this question.

Mr. Lynn

Another haplogroup O man, Mr. Lynn, matches Wesley on STR markers, but not on the Big-Y test.

Mr. Lynn identified his Y-DNA line as Native American, although he did not post detailed genealogy. More specifically, we don’t know if Mr. Lynn identified that he was Native on his paternal line because he matches Wesley, or if the Native history information was passed down within his family, or from genealogical research. Mr. Lynn could also have meant generally that he was Native, or that he was Native “on Dad’s side,” not specifically his direct patrilineal Y-line.

Based on Mr. Lynn’s stated Earliest Known Ancestor (EKA) and additional genealogical research performed, his ancestor was John Wesley Lynn (born approximately 1861, died 1945), whose father was Victor Lynn. John’s death certificate, census, and his family photos on Ancestry indicate that he was African American. According to his death certificate, his father, Victor Lynn, was born in Chatham Co., NC, just west of Durham.

Family members are found in Baldwin Township, shown above.

I did not locate the family in either the 1860 or 1870 census. In 1860, the only Lynn/Linn family in Chatham County was 50-year-old Mary Linn and 17-year-old Jane, living with her, presumably a daughter. Both are listed as “mulatto” (historical term) with the occupation of “domestic.” They may or may not be related to John Wesley Lynn.

In 1870, the only Linn/Lynn in Chatham County is John, black, age 12 or 13 (so born in 1857 or 1858), farm labor, living with a white family. This is probably not John Wesley Lynn given that he is found with his mother in 1880 and the ages don’t match.

In 1880. I find Mary Lynn in Chatham County, age 48, single, black, with daughter Eliza Anne, 20, mulatto, sons John Wesley, 14 so born about 1866, and Charles 12, both black. Additionally, she is living with her nieces and nephews, Cephus, black, 12, Lizzie, 7, mulatto, Malcom, 4, mulatto, William H, 3, mulatto (I think, written over,) and John age 4, mulatto. The children aged 12 and above are farm labor.

In 1880, I also find Jack Lynn, age 28, black, married with 3 children, living beside William Lynn, 25, also married, but with no children.

Trying to find the family in 1870 by using first name searches only, I find no black Mary in 1870 or a mulatto Mary with a child named Jack or any person named Cephus by any surname. I don’t find Jack or any Lynn/Linn family in Chatham County.

The 1890 census does not exist.

In the 1900 census, I find Wesley Lynn in Chatham County, born in January of 1863, age 37, single, a boarder working on the farm of John Harris who lives beside Jack Lynn, age 43, born in April of 1857. Both Lynn men are black. I would assume some connection, given their ages, possibly or probably brothers.

In 1940, John Wesley Lynn, age 74, negro (historical term), is living beside Victor Lynn, age 37, most likely his son.

I could not find Victor Lynn, John Wesley Lynn’s father in any census, so he was likely deceased before 1880 but after 1867, given that Mary’s son Charles Lynn was born in 1868, assuming Mary’s children had the same father. The fact that Mary was listed as single, not married nor widowed suggests enslavement, given that enslaved people were prohibited from legally marrying.

About the only other assumption we can make about Victor Sr. is that he was probably born about 1832 or earlier, probably in Chatham County, NC based on John Wesley’s death certificate, and he was likely enslaved.

Subclades of Haplogroup O

Both the Revels and Lynn men are subclades of haplogroup O and both claim Native heritage – Wesley based on the Revels genealogy and court documents, and Mr. Lynn based on the Native category he selected to represent his earliest known paternal ancestor at FamilyTreeDNA.

Both men have joined various projects, including the American Indian Project, which provides Marie and me, along with our other project co-administrators, the ability to work with and view both of their results at the level they have selected.

How Closely Related Are These Haplogroup O Men?

How closely related are these two men?

By Viajes_de_colon.svg: Phirosiberiaderivative work: Phirosiberia (talk) – Viajes_de_colon.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8849049

  • Do the haplogroups of the Revels men and Mr. Lynn converge in a common ancestor in a timeframe BEFORE colonialization, meaning before Columbus “discovered” the Caribbean islands when colonization and the slave trade both began?
  • Do the haplogroups converge on North or South American soil or elsewhere?
  • Is there anything in the haplogroup and Time Tree information that precludes haplogroup O from being Native prior to the era of colonization?
  • Is there anything that confirms that a haplogroup O male or males were among the groups of indigenous people that settled the Americas sometime between 12 and 26 thousand years ago? Or even a later panArctic or circumpolar migration wave?

Haplogroup O is well known in East Asia, Indonesia, and the South Pacific.

Another potential source of haplogroup O is via Madagascar and the slave trade.

The Malagasy Roots Project has several haplogroup O individuals, including the Lynn and Revels men, who may have joined to see if they have matches. We don’t know why the various haplogroup O men in the project joined. Other haplogroup O men in the project may or may not have proven Malagasay heritage.

Information provided by the project administrators is as follows:

The people of Madagascar have a fascinating history embedded in their DNA. 17 known slave ships came from Madagascar to North America during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. As a result, we find Malagasy DNA in the African American descendants of enslaved people, often of Southeast Asian origin. One of the goals of this project is to discover the Malagasy roots of African Americans and connect them with their cousins from Madagascar. Please join us in this fascinating endeavor. mtDNA Haplogroups of interest include: B4a1a1b – the “Malagasy Motif”, M23, M7c3c, F3b1, R9 and others Y-DNA Haplogroups include: O1a2 – M50, O2a1 – M95/M88, O3a2c – P164 and others


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2987306/  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1199379/  http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=19535740  http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2156/15/77  http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2164/10/605

The Malagasy group only has one other man who is haplogroup O and took the Big-Y test, producing haplogroup O-FTC77008. Of course, we don’t know if he has confirmed Madagascar ancestry, and his haplogroup is quite distant from both Revels and Lynn in terms of when his haplogroup was formed.

Viewing the Malagasy Project’s Group Time Tree, above, the common ancestor between those three men lived about 28K BCE, or 30,000 years ago.

Haplogroup O Project Group Time Tree

The Haplogroup O Project Time Tree provides a better representation of haplogroup O in general given that it has a much wider range of samples.

On this tree, I’ve labeled the haplogroup formation dates, along with the Revels/Lewis line which descends from O-FT45548. This haplogroup includes one additional group member whose surname is locked, as he hasn’t given publication permission. The haplogroup formation date of 1766 occurs approximately 85 years after James Revel’s birth, so is attributable to some, but not all of his descendants. At least one descendant falls into the older Haplogroup O-BY60500.

The common ancestor of all three, meaning Revels, Lewis, and the man whose name is locked and does not know his genealogy, is haplogroup O-BY60500, born about 1741.

Their ancestral haplogroup before that, O-FT11768, is much older.

Two Filipino results are shown on and descending from the parent branch of O-FT11768, formed about 3183 BCE, or about 5183 years ago. This tells us that the ancestors of all these men were in the same place, most likely the Philippines, at that time.

3183 BCE (5180 years ago) is well after the Native American migration into the Americas.

Discover Time Tree

Obviously, not every tester joins a project, so now I’m switching to the Discover Time Tree which includes all Y-DNA haplogroup branches. Their common haplogroup, O-FT11768, has many branches, not all of which are shown below. I’m summarized unseen branch locations at bottom left.

Expanding the Time Tree further to view all of the descendant haplogroups of O-FT11768, we see that this was a major branch with many South Pacific results, including the branch of O-FT22410, bracketed in red, which has three members.

One is Mr. Lynn whose feather indicates Native American as his EKA country selection, one is a man whose ancestor is from Singapore, and one is an unknown individual who did not enter his ancestor’s country of origin.


Wesley’s STR match list, which can reflect matches further back in time than the Big-Y test, includes islands near Singapore. This geography aligns with what is known about haplogroup O.

The distance between this Asian region and continental America, 9000+ miles distant by air, is remarkable and clearly only navigable at that time by ship, meaning ships with experienced crew, able to navigate long distances with supplies and water.

We know that in 760 CE, about 1240 years ago, Mr. Lynn’s haplogroup O-F24410 was formed someplace in the South Pacific – probably in Malaysia or a nearby island. This region, including the Philippines, is home to many haplogroup O men. The majority of haplogroup O is found in Asia, the South Pacific, and Diaspora regions.

We know that Hawaii was populated by Polynesian people about 1600 years ago, prior to the age of colonization. Hawaii is almost 7000 miles from Singapore.

Here’s the challenge. How did these haplogroup O men get from the South Pacific to Virginia? Mr. Lynn and the Singapore tester share a common ancestor about 1240 years ago, or 760 CE.

There is no known or theorized Native American settlement wave across Beringia as late as 760 CE. We know that the parent haplogroup was someplace near Singapore in approximately 760 CE.

Two Filipino men and the Revels’ ancestors were in the same location in the Pacific Islands 5180 years ago. How did they arrive on the Eastern Shore in Virginia, found in the Native population, either in or before 1656 when James Revels was born?

What happened in the 3500 years between those dates that might explain how James Revel’s ancestor made that journey?

Academic Papers

In recent years, there has been discussion of possible shoreline migration routes along the Russian coast, Island hopping along Alaska, Canada, and what is now the US, known as the Kelp Highway or Coastal Migration Route – but that has yet to be proven.

Even if that is the case, and it’s certainly a possibility, how did this particular group of men get from the Pacific across the continent to the Atlantic shore in such a short time, leaving no telltale signs along the way? The Coastal Migration Theory hypothesis states that this migration occurred from 12-16 thousand years ago, and then expanded inland over the next 3-5K years. They could not have expanded eastward until the glaciers receded. Regardless, the parent haplogroup and associated ancestors are still found in the Philippines and South Pacific 5000 years ago – after that migration and expansion had already occurred.

The conclusion of the paper is that there is no strong evidence for a Pacific shoreline migration. Regardless, that’s still thousands of years before the time range we’re observing.

We know that the Lynn ancestor was with men from Indonesia in 760 CE, and the Revels ancestor was with men from the Pacific Islands, probably the Philippines, 5180 years ago. They couldn’t have been in two places at the same time, so the ancestors of Revels and Lynn were not in the Americas then.

A 2020 paper shows that remains from Easter Island (Rapa Nui) show Native American DNA, and suggests that initial contact occurred between the two cultures about 1200 CE, or about 800 years ago, but there is not yet any pre-contact or post-contact ancient Y-DNA found in the Americas that shows Polynesian DNA. Furthermore, the hypothesis is that the DNA found on Easter Island came from the Americas, not vice versa. The jury is still out, but this does show that trans-Pacific contact between the two cultures was taking place 800 years ago, at least two hundred years pre-European contact.

Australasian migration to South America is also suggested by one set of remains found in Brazil dating from more than 9000 years ago, but there have been no other remains found indicating this heritage, either in Brazil, or elsewhere in the Americas.

Based on the Time Tree dates of the Haplogroup O testers in our samples, we know they were in the Islands of Southeast Asia after this time period. Additionally, there are no Australia/New Zealand matches.

The Spanish

The Spanish established an early trade route between Manila and Acapulco beginning in 1565. Consequently, east Asian men left their genetic signature in Mexico, as described in this paper.

Historians estimate that 40-129K immigrants arrived from Manilla to colonial Mexico between 1565 and 1815, with most being enslaved upon arrival. Approximately one-third of the population in Manilla was already enslaved. Unfortunately, this paper focused only on autosomal genome-wide results and did not include either Y-DNA, nor mitochondrial. However, the paper quantifies the high degree of trade, and indicates that the Philippines and other Asian population haplotypes are still prevalent in the Mexican population.

In 2016, Dr. Miguel Vilar, the lead scientist with the National Geographic Genographic project lectured in Guam about the surprising Native American DNA found in the Guam population and nearby islands. He kindly provided this link to an article about the event.

Guam was colonized by Spain. In the image from the Boxer Codex, above, the local Chamorro people greet the Manila Galleon in the Ladrones Islands, as the Marianas were called by the Spanish, about 1590.

Native Hawaiians descend from Polynesian ancestors who arrived in the islands about 400 CE, or about 1600 years ago. Captain Cook, began the age of European contact in Hawaii in 1778.

Five Possibilities

There are five possible origins of haplogroup O in the Americas.

  • Traditional migration across Beringia with the known migrations, estimated to have occurred about 12-16K years ago.
  • A Kelp Highway Coastal Migration which may have occurred about 12-16K years ago and dispersed over the next 3-5K years.
  • Circumpolar migration – specifically Inuit and Na-Dene speakers, about 4-6K years ago.
  • Post-contact incorporation from the Pacific Islands resulting from shipping trade on colonial era ships sometime after 1565.
  • Post-contact incorporation from Madagascar resulting from the importation of humans who may or may not have been enslaved upon arrival.

Do we have any additional evidence?

Other Haplogroup O DNA

From my book, DNA for Native American Genealogy:

Testers in haplogroup O-BY60500 and subclade O-FT45548 have proven Native American heritage.

We have multiple confirmed men from a common ancestor who is proven to be an enslaved Accomack “Indian boy,” James Revell, born in 1656, “belonging to the Motomkin” village, according to the Accomack County, Virginia court records. These men tested as members of haplogroup O-F3288 initially, after taking the Big Y-500 test. However, upgrading to the Big Y-700 produced more granular results and branches reflecting mutations that occurred since their progenitor was born in 1656.

Unfortunately, other than known descendants, these men have few close Y-DNA or Big Y-700 matches.

Without additional men testing from different unrelated lines, or ancient haplogroup O being discovered, we cannot confirm that this haplogroup O male’s ancestor was not introduced into the Matomkin Tribe in some way post-contact. Today, one descendant from this line is a member of the Lumbee Tribe.

However, that isn’t the end of the haplogroup O story.

The Genographic Project data shows one Haplogroup O Tlingit tribal member from Taku, Alaska, along with several testers from Mexico that indicate their paternal line is indigenous. Some people from Texas identify their paternal line as Hispanic.

Another individual indicates they were born on the Fountain Indian Reserve, in British Columbia and speaks the St’at’imcets language, an interior branch of Coastal Salish.

Haplogroup O has been identified as Native American in other locations as well.

Much of the information about Haplogroup O testers was courtesy of the Genographic Project, meaning we can’t contact those people to request upgraded tests, and we can’t obtain additional information in addition to what they provided when they tested. As an affiliate researcher, I’m very grateful to the National Geographic Society’s Genographic project for providing collaborative data.

When the book was published, the Discover Time Tree had not yet been released. We have additional information available today, including the dates of haplogroup formation.

FamilyTreeDNA Haplotree and Discover

The FamilyTreeDNA Haplotree (not to be confused with the Discover Time Tree) shows 10 people at the O-M175 level in Mexico, 10 people in the US report Native American heritage, 2 in Jamaica, and one each in Peru, Panama, and Cuba. There’s also one tester from Madagascar.

Altogether, this gives us about 35 haplogroup O males in the Americas, several with Native heritage.

Please note that I’ve omitted Hawaii in this analysis and included only North and South America. The one individual selecting Native Hawaiian (Kanaka Maoli) is in haplogroup O-M133.

Let’s look at our three distinct clusters.

Cluster 1 – Pacific Northwest – Alaska and Canada

We have a cluster of three individuals along the Pacific Coast in Alaska and Canada who have self-identified as Native, provided a tribal affiliation, and, in some cases, the spoken language.

How might haplogroup O have arrived in or near Vancouver, Washington? We know that James Cook “discovered” Hawaii in 1778, naming it the Sandwich Islands. By 1787, a female Hawaiian died en route to the Pacific Northwest, and the following year, a male arrived. Hawaii had become a provisioning stop, and the Spanish took Hawaiians onto ships as replacement workers.

Hawaiian seamen, whalers, and laborers began intermarrying with the Native people along the West Coast as early as 1811. Their presence expanded from Oregon to Alaska. Migration and intermarriage along the Pacific coast began slowly, but turned into a steady stream 30 years later when we have confirmed recruitment and migration of Hawaiian people

In 1839, John Sutter recruited a small group of 10 Hawaiians to travel with him to the then-Mexican colony of Alta, California.

By the mid-1800s, hundreds of Hawaiians lived in Canada and California. In 1847, it was reported that 10% of San Francisco’s residents were Hawaiian. Some of those people integrated with the Native American people, particularly the Miwok and Maidu. The village of Verona, California was tri-lingual: Hawaiian, a Native language, and English, and is today the Sacramento-Verona Tribe.

This article provides a history of the British Company who administered Fort Vancouver, near Vancouver, Washington, that included French-Canadians, Native Americans and Hawaiians. In 1845, 119 Hawaiians were employed at the fort. One of the 119, Opunuia, had signed on as an “engagé,” meaning some type of hired hand or employee, with the Hudson Bay Company for three years, after which he would be free to return home to Honolulu or establish himself in the Oregon Country. He married a woman from the Cascade Tribe.

The descendants of the Hawaiian men and Native women were considered tribal members. In most tribes, children took the tribal status and affiliation of the mother.

The Taku and Sitka, Alaska men on the map are Tlingit, and the man from British Columbia is from the Fountain Indian Reserve.

Hawaiian recruitment is the most likely scenario by which haplogroup O arrived in the tribes of the Pacific Northwest. In that sense, haplogroup O is indeed Native American but not indigenous to that region. The origins of haplogorup O in the Pacific Northwest are likely found in Hawaii, where it is indigenous, and before that, Polynesia – not due to a Beringian crossing.

Cluster 2 – Mexico

We find a particularly interesting small cluster of 4 haplogroup O individuals in interior Mexico.

In the 1500s, Spain established a trade route between Mexico and Manilla in the Philippines.

In 1564, four ships left Mexico to cross the Pacific to claim Guam and the Philippines for King Philip II of Spain. The spice trade, back and forth between Mexico and the Philippines began the following year and continued for the next 250.

Landings occurred along the California coast and the western Mexican coastline. The majority of the galleon crews were Malaysian and Filipino who were paid less than the Spanish sailors. Slaves, including people from the Marianas were part of the lucrative cargo.

One individual in Texas reports haplogroup O and indicates their paternal ancestors were Hispanic/Native from Mexico. A haplogroup O cluster claiming Native heritage is found near Zacatecas, Fresnillo and San Luis Potosi in central Mexico. Additionally, mitochondrial haplogroup F, also Asian, is found there as well. Acapulco is the lime green pin.

An additional haplogroup O tester with Native heritage is found in Lima, Peru.

Haplogroup O men are found in Panama, Jamaica and Cuba, but do not indicate the heritage of their paternal ancestral line. None of these men have taken Big-Y tests, and some may well have arrived on the slave ships from Madagascar, especially in the Caribbean. This source attributes some enslaved people in Jamaica to Hawaiian voyages.

I strongly suspect that the Mexican/Peru grouping in close proximity to the Pacific coastline is the result of the Manilla-Mexico 250-year trade route. The Spanish also plied those waters regularly. Big Y testing of those men would help flesh-out their stories – when and how haplogroup O arrived in the local population.

Cluster 3 – East Coast

At first glance, the East Coast grouping of men with a genetic affinity to the people of the Philippines and Indonesia seems more difficult to explain, but perhaps not.

On the East Coast, we have confirmed reports of whalers near Nantucket as early as 1765 utilizing crewmen from Hawaii, known then as the Sandwich Islands, Tahiti, and the Cape Verde Islands off of Africa. A thorough review of early literature might well reveal additional information about early connections with the Sandwich Islands, and in particular, sailors, crew, or enslaved people.

The Spanish and French were the first to colonize the Philippines by the late 1500s. They had discovered the Solomon Islands, Melanesia, and other Polynesian Islands, and by the early 1600s, the Dutch were involved as well.

The Encyclopedia Britanica further reports that Vasco Balboa first sailed into the Pacific in 1513 and seven years later, Ferdinand Magellan rounded the tip of South America. The Spanish followed, establishing a galley trade between Manila, in the Philippines and Acapulco in western Mexico.

While I found nothing specific stating that the earliest voyages brought men from the Philippines and Oceania back to their European home ports with them, we know that early European captains on exploratory voyages took Native people from the east coast of the Americas on their return journey, so there’s nothing to preclude them from doing the same from the Pacific. The early explorers stayed for months among the Oceanic Native peoples. If they were short on sailors for their return voyage, Polynesian men filled the void.

We know that the Spanish took slaves as part of their trade. We know that the ships in the Pacific took sailors from the islands. If the men themselves didn’t stay in the locations they visited, it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that they fathered children with local, Native women. Furthermore, given that the slave trade was lucrative, it’s also possible that some Pacific Island slaves were taken not as crew but with the intention of being sold into bondage. Other men may have escaped the ships and hidden among the Native Tribes along the eastern seaboard.

Fishing in Newfoundland and exploration in what would become the US was occurring by 1500, so it’s certainly possible that some of the indigenous people from Indonesia and the Philippines were either stranded, sold to enslavers, escaped, or chose to join the Native people along the coastline in North America. Ships had to stop to resupply rations and take on fresh water.

We know that by the mid-1600s, James Revels, whose father carried haplogroup O, had been born on the Atlantic coast of Virginia or Maryland, probably on the Delmarva Peninsula, short for Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, where the Accomac people lived.

There are other instances of haplogroup O found along the east coast.

On the eastern portion of the haplogroup O map from the book, DNA for Native American Genealogy, we find the following locations:

  • Hillburn, NY – man identified as “Native American Black.”
  • Chichester County, PA – Genographic tester identified the location of his earliest known ancestor – included here because O is not typically found in the states.
  • Accomack County, VA – Delmarva peninsula – James Revels lineage
  • Robeson County, NC – Lewis and Revels surname associated with the Lumbee
  • Chatham County, NC – Lynn ancestor’s earliest known location
  • Greene County, NC – enslaved Blount ancestor’s EKA in 1849

The genesis of Mr. Blount’s enslaved ancestor is unclear. Fortunately, he took a Big Y-700 test.

Mr. Blount’s only Big-Y match is to a man from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but the haplogroup history includes Thailand, which is the likely source of both his and his UAE matches’ ancestors at some point in time. Their common ancestor was in Thailand in 336 CE, almost 1700 years ago.

All surrounding branches of haplogroup O on the Time Tree have Asian testers, except for the one UAE gentleman.

The Blount Haplogroup O-FTC77008 does not connect with the common ancestral haplogroup of Lynn and Revels, so these lineages are only related someplace in Oceana prior to O-F265, or more about  30,000 years ago. Their only commonality other than their Asian origins is that they arrived on the East Coast of the Americas.

We know that the Spanish were exploring the Atlantic coastline in the 1500s and were attempting to establish colonies. In 1566, a Spanish expedition reached the Delmarva Peninsula. This spit of land was contested and changed hands several times, belonging variously to the Spanish, Dutch, and British by 1664.

Furthermore, we also know that the ships were utilizing slave labor. One of the Spanish ships wrecked in the waters off North Carolina near Hatteras or Roanoke Island before the Lost Colony was abandoned on Roanoke Island in 1587. The Croatan Indians reported that in memorable history, several men, some of whom were reported to be slaves, had survived the wreck and “disappeared” into the hinterlands – clearly running for their lives.

These men, if they survived, would have been incorporated into the Native population as there were no other settlements at the time. Variations of this scenario may have played out many times.

James Revels’ ancestor could have arrived on any ship, beginning with exploration and colonization in the early 1500s through the mid-1650s.

By the time the chief bound the Indian boy who was given the English name James to Edward Revell, James’s Oceanic paternal ancestor could have been 4, 5 or 6 generations in the past – or could have been his father.

The Accomack was a small tribe, loosely affiliated with the Powhatan Confederacy along the Eastern Shore. By 1700, their population had declined by approximately 90% due to disease. A subgroup, the Gingaskins, intermarried with African Americans living nearby. After Nat Turner’s slave rebellion of 1831, they were expelled from their homelands.

The swamps near Lumberton in Robeson County, NC, became a safe haven for many mixed-race Native, African, and European people. The swamps protected them, and they existed, more or less undisturbed, for decades. Revels and Lewis descendants are both found there.

Many Native Americans were permanently enslaved alongside African people – and within a generation or so, their descendants knew they were Native and African, but lost track of which ancestors descended from which groups. Life was extremely difficult back then. Generations were short, and enslaved people were moved from place to place and sold indiscriminately, severing their family ties entirely, including heritage stories.

Returning to the Discover Time Tree Maps

Wesley Revels has STR matches with several men from Indonesia, China, and the Philippines. It would be very helpful if those men would upgrade to the Big Y-700 so that we can more fully complete the haplogroup O branches of the Time Tree.

The common Revels/Lewis ancestor, accompanied by two descendant men on different genetic branches from the Philippines, was born about 5180 years ago. There is no evidence to suggest Haplogroup O-FT11768 was born anyplace other than in the Philippines.

How did the descendant haplogroups of O-FT45548 (Revels, Lewis, and an unnamed man) and O-F22410 (Lynn) arrive in Virginia or anyplace along the Atlantic seaboard?

Hawaii wasn’t settled until about 1600 years ago. We know Hawaiians integrated with the Pacific Coast Native tribes in the 1800s, but James Revels was in Virginia in 1656..

We know that the Spanish established a mid-1500s trade route between Manila and Acapulco, leaving their genetic signature in western Mexico.

None of these events fit the narrative for the Revels or the Lynn paternal ancestor.

Furthermore, the Revels and Lynn lines do not connect on North American soil, as both descend from the same parent haplogroup, O-FT11768, 5180 years ago in the Philippines. This location and history suggest a connection with the Spanish galleon trade era. The haplogroup formation clearly predates that trade, which means those men were still in the Philippines, not already living on the American continents. Therefore, the descendants of the haplogroup O-FT11768 arrived in Virginia and North Carolina sometime after that haplogroup formation 5100 years ago.

The Lynn ancestor connects with a man from Singapore in 760 CE, or just 1240 years ago. A descendant of haplogroup O-F22410 arrived in North Carolina sometime later.

It does not appear, at least not on the surface, that there is a connection through Madagascar, although we can’t rule that out without additional testers. If the connection is through Madagascar, then their ancestors were likely transported from Indonesia to Madagascar, then as enslaved people from Madagascar to the Atlantic colonies to be sold. However, James Revels was not enslaved. He was clearly Native and bound to a European plantation owner, who did, in fact, free him as agreed and subsequently loaned him money.

Based on the dates involved, and when we know they were in Oceania, an arrival along the west coast, followed by a quick migration across the country to a peninsula of land in the Atlantic, is probably the least likely scenario. There is also no historical or ancient haplogroup O DNA found anyplace between the west and east coasts, nor in the Inuit or Na-Dene speakers. The Navajo, who speak the Na-Dené language, migrated to the Southwest US around 1400 CE, but haplogroup O has not been found among Na-Dené speakers.

It’s a long way from Singapore and the Philippines to Madagascar, so while the coastal migration scenario is not impossible, it’s also not probable, especially given what we know about the Spanish Pacific trade that existed profitably for 250 years.

However, one haplogroup O subgroup arrived in the UAE by some methodology after 336 CE.

It’s entirely possible, indeed probable, that haplogroup O arrived in the Americas for various reasons, on different paths, in different timeframes.

Haplogroup O was found in people in the Americas after colonization had begun. There has been no ancient Haplogroup O DNA discovered, and there’s evidence indicating that these instances of haplogroup O could not have arrived in any of the known Beringia migrations nor the theorized Coastal or Kelp migration. We know the East Coast Cluster is not a result of the West Coast 19th-century migration because James Revels was in court one hundred and fifty years before the Hawaiians were living among the Native people along the Pacific coastline.

There’s nothing to indicate that the Mexican group that likely arrived beginning in the mid-1500s for the next 250 years as a result of the Indonesian trade route migrated to the east coast, or vice versa. That’s also highly unlikely.

The most likely scenario is that Mr. Lynn’s, Mr. Blount’s, and James Revels’ ancestors were brought on trade ships, either as sailors or enslaved men. They may not have stayed, simply visited. They may each have arrived in a completely different scenario, meaning Mr. Blount’s ancestors could have been enslaved arrivals from Madagascar, Mr. Lynn’s from Indonesia, and Mr. Revel’s as a crew member on a Spanish ship. We simply don’t know.

James Revels’ descendants were Native through his mother’s tribe, as confirmed in the 1667 court records. However, the Revels and Lynn lineages weren’t Native as a result of their paternal haplogroup O ancestors crossing Beringia into the Americas with Native American haplogroups Q and C. Instead, the Lynn and Revels migration story is quite different. Their ancestors arrived by ship. The journey was long, perilous, and far more unique than we could have imagined, taking them halfway around the world by water.


There’s a lot of information to digest, so I’ve compiled a timeline incorporating both genetic and historical information for easy reference.

  • 30,000 years ago (28,000 BCE) – haplogroup O-F265, common Asian ancestor  of Mr. Blount, the Revels/Lewis group, Mr. Lynn, and an unknown Big-Y tester in the Malagasy group project
  • 12,000-16,000 years ago – Indigenous Americans arrived across now-submerged Beringia
  • 12,000-16,000 years ago – possible Coastal Migration route may have facilitated a secondary source of indigenous arrival along the Pacific coastline of the Americas
  • 4000-7000 years ago – circumpolar migration arrival of Inuit and Na-Dené speakers found in the Arctic polar region and the Navajo in the Southwest who migrated from Alaska/Canada about 1400 CE
  • 5180 years ago (3180 BCE) – haplogroup O-FT11768, the common ancestor of Mr. Lynn and the Revels/Lewis group with many subgroups in the Philippines, Hawaii, Singapore, Brunei, China, Sumatra, and Thailand
  • 2244 years ago (244 BCE) – haplogroup O-CTS716, the common ancestor of Wesley Revels and Mr. Luo from Indonesia
  • The year 336 CE, 1684 years ago – haplogroup O-FTC77008, the common ancestor of Mr. Blount, UAE tester and a man from Thailand
  • 400 CE, 1600 years ago  –  Hawaii populated by Polynesian people
  • 760 CE, 1240 years ago – haplogroup O-F22410, common ancestor of Mr. Lynn with a Singapore man
  • 1492 CE, 528 years ago – Columbus begins his voyages to the “New World,” arriving in the Caribbean
  • By 1504 CE – European fishing began off of Newfoundland
  • 1565 – Spain claimed Guam and the Philippines
  • 1565 – Spanish trade between Manilla and Acapulco begins and continues for 250 years, until 1815, using crews of men from Guam, the Philippines, and enslaved people from the Marianas.
  • 1565 – St. Augustine (Florida) was founded by the Spanish as a base for trade and conquest along the eastern seaboard
  • 1566 – A Spanish expedition reached the Delmarva peninsula intending to establish a colony, but bad weather thwarted that attempt.
  • 1585-1587 – voyages of discovery by the English and the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island, North Carolina
  • 1603 – English first explored the Delmarva Peninsula, home to the Accomac people, now Accomack County, VA, where James Revels’s court record was found in 1667
  • 1607 – Jamestown, Virginia, founded by the English
  • 1608 – Colonists first arrived on the Delmarva Peninsula and allied with Debedeavon, whom they called the “laughing King” of the Accomac people. At that time, the Accomac had 80 warriors. Debedeavon was a close friend to the colonists and saved them from a massacre in 1622. He died in 1657.
  • 1620 – The Mayflower arrived near present-day Provincetown, Massachusetts
  • 1631-1638 – Dutch West India Company established a colony on the Delmarva Peninsula, but after conflicts, it was destroyed by Native Americans in 1638. The Swede’s colony followed, and the region was under Dutch and Swedish control until it shifted to British control in 1664
  • 1656 – Birth of James Revels, confirmed in a 1667 court record stating that he was an Accomack “Indian boy” from “Matomkin,” judged to be age 11, bound to Edward Revell. This location is on the Delmarva Peninsula.
  • 1741 CE –  Haplogroup O-BY60500 formation date that includes all of the Revels and Lewis testers who descend from James Revels born in 1656
  • 1765 – Whalers near Nantucket using crewmen from Hawaii (Sandwich Islands), Tahiti, and the Cape Verde Islands off of Africa
  • 1766 CE – Formation date for haplogroup O-FT45548, child haplogroup of O-BY60500, for some of the Lewis and Revels men who all descend from James Revels born in 1656
  • 1778 – Captain Cook makes contact with Hawaiian people
  • 1787 – The first male arrived in the Pacific Northwest from Hawaii
  • 1811 – Hawaiian seamen begin intermarrying with Native American females along the Pacific shore, eventually expanding their presence from Oregon to Alaska
  • 1839 – John Suter recruits Hawaiian men to travel with him to California
  • 1845 – Hawaiians employed by Fort Vancouver, with some marrying Native American women


It’s without question that James Revels was Native American very early in the settlement of the Delmarva Peninsula, now Accomack County, Virginia, but his common ancestor with Filipino men 5100 years ago precludes his direct paternal ancestor’s presence in the Americas at that time. In other words, his Revel male ancestor did not arrive in the Beringian indigenous migration 12,000-16,000 years ago. His ancestor likely arrived post-contact, based on a combination of both historical and genetic evidence.

Haplogroup O is not found in the Arctic Inuit nor the Na-Dene speakers, precluding a connection with either group, and has never been found in ancient DNA in the Americas.

Haplogroup O in the Revels lineage is most likely connected with the Spanish galleon trade with the Philippines and the early Spanish attempts to colonize the Americas.

The source of Haplogroup O in the Pacific Northwest group is likely found in the recruitment of Hawaiian men in the early/mid-1800s.

The Mexican Haplogroup O group likely originated with the Manilla/Mexico Spanish galleon trade.

The source of the Blount Haplogroup O remains uncertain, other than to say it originated in Thailand thousands of years ago and is also found in the UAE. The common Blount, UAE, and Thailand ancestor’s haplogroup dates to 336 CE, so they were all likely in or near Thailand at that date, about 1687 years ago.

What’s Next?

Science continuously evolves, revealing new details as we learn more, often clarifying or shifting our knowledge. Before the Discover tool provided haplogroup ages based on tests from men around the world, we didn’t have the necessary haplogroup origin and age data to understand the genesis of haplogroup O in the Americas. Now, we do, but there is invariably more to learn.

New evidence is always welcome and builds our knowledge base. Haplogroup O ancient DNA findings would be especially relevant and could further refine what we know, depending on the location, dates of the remains, who they match, and historical context.

Additional Big Y-700 tests of haplogroup O men, especially those with known genealogy or ancestor location, including Madagascar, would be very beneficial and allow the haplogroup formation dates to be further refined.

If you are a male with haplogroup O, please consider upgrading to the Big Y-700 test, here.


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Étienne Hebert (c1625-c1670): Two French Brothers & Their Ancient Ancestors – 52 Ancestors #413

In the book, Les vielles familles d’Yamachiche: vingt-trois généalogies, v. 4 published in 1908 in Ontario, we discover that Étienne Hebert is one of two brothers who came from France and settled in Acadia, now Nova Scotia. Étienne married Marie Gaudet and Antoine Hebert married Genevieve LeFranc.

We know that Étienne and Antoine were brothers because in the 2nd marriage record for Jean-Jacques Hébert (1681-?) to Marguerite Leprince on April 27, 1734, at Saint-Charles-les-Mines, they were granted a dispensation from a 3rd degree consanguine relationship. The only overlap in their two family trees would be the parents of Étienne and Antoine Hebert.

Thank goodness for those church records.


Stephen A. White provided the following information about Étienne.

HÉBERT, Étienne, came from France with his wife Marie Gaudet, according to nine depositions: one from his grandson Jean Hébert (Doc. inéd., Vol. III, p. 11), one from Pierre Trahan, husband of his granddaughter Madeleine Comeau (ibid., p. 8), one from Pierre and Madeleine’s son Pierre Trahan (ibid., pp. 110-111) and one from their nephews Sylvestre and Simon Trahan (ibid., p. 30), two from husbands of Étienne’s great-granddaughters (ibid., Vol. II, p. 182; Vol. III, p. 90), one from a great-great-grandson (ibid., Vol. III, pp. 93-94), and two from husbands of his great-great-granddaughters (ibid., pp. 45, 92-93). Seven of these depositions name his wife as Marie Gaudet; only those of the two Pierre Trahans, father and son, do not.

Lucy LeBlanc Consentino documents these priceless depositions here.


There have been several proposed and presumed parents of Étienne and Antoine Hebert. None are proven, and some have been disproven. I’m not going to recount each theory here. I’ll briefly mention the most common ones and strongly suggest that anyone tempted to assign parents for these men consult existing resources and arguments first.

Tim Hebert’s website is no longer online, but you can view it here at Wayback Machine. Tim did an exceptional job documenting the various theories and Hebert descendants.

It has been said that possibly the brothers were from south of Loudon (LaChaussee, Martaize, etc.), however, since Charles Menou d’Aulnay’s family had land in that vicinity. If he recruited settlers from that area, there is a chance they came from there, but there is no proof of where they (or most other) Acadians came from. The linguistic studies by Genevieve Massignon tried to say that they were from the Loudon area, but perhaps she was focusing too much. It is probably true that they came from western France. But the lack of documentation in the Loudon region means that perhaps we’re looking in the wrong place. Michael Poirier has suggested they came from west of Loudon at the coast … near Baie de Bourgneuf.

He bases this on:
– the location of the monastery of the Assumption (on the island Chauvet), which was regularly attended by Richelieu and was the property of his brother, Alphonse.
– Port-Royal and the church of St Jean-Baptiste
– salt-water marshes in the area were drained … much like the dyke system utilized in Acadia
– it was a zone surrounded by Protestants and enclosing Catholics

Genevieve Massignon (1921-1966) argues that a number of familial alliances existed among the first Acadian settlers PRIOR to their arrival from France, pointing to a common French origin. She believes they lived in the Acadian Governor d’Aulnay’s seigneury in France near Loudun (comprised of the villages of Angliers, Aulnay, Martaizé, and La Chausée). The Hébert family was allied with the Gaudets through Étienne’s marriage to Marie. Marie’s sister Francoise was also allied with the Leblanc family through her marriage to Daniel. Evidence of their marriages in France is found in the Belle-Isle-en-Mer declarations in 1767. Moreover, a certain Jean Gaudet was censistaire in 1634 on land at Martaizé (Vienne) in the Seigneurie owned by the mother of Acadian governor Charles d’Aulnay. However, Massignon’s research failed to find any relevant baptismal or marriage records.

Another couple, Jacques Hebert and Marie Juneau have been debunked as parents, based on the date of their marriage and analysis by Stephen White. Jacques was found in Acadia 30 years before Étienne and Antoine, then moved into mainland Canada. It’s unlikely that his two sons would be found in Acadia and not near or with him. Not to mention the depositions that state that Étienne and Antoine were born in France.

Another parent candidate was Louis Habert who is generally considered to have been the first permanent settler in Canada, arriving in 1604. He married Marie Rolet in Paris in 1602 but wasn’t known to live in Acadia. Spelling variations of this family name include Hebert, Harbert, Herbert, Herbot, Harbelot, and others. You can read more about this at FamilySearch here.

One source stated that Stephen White reported that Etienne Hebert arrived on the ship, La Verge in 1648. Karen Theriot Reader, upon further examination, determined that the page given as the source does not in fact provide that information, nor elsewhere by White.

However, the Verve did arrive in 1648, chartered by Emmanuel LeBorgne, Sieur of Coudray, to transport supplies. No passenger list exists, and several ships arrived in Acadia over the years.

In a letter to Tim Hebert, Stephen White stated that their parents are “unknown.” No birth records have been found, and White found none of the proposed parents convincing or even probable.

We simply don’t know when and where Étienne and Antoine were born. It’s fair to say it was in France because families weren’t imported until 1636. The Hebert brothers were born in the 1620s. They would have been teenagers or young men in 1636.

What Was Happening in Acadia?

Warm up your tea or coffee, ‘cause this is a fascinating tale.

Acadia was truly the frontier and constantly caught in the middle in a tug of war between France and England for control of both the land and resources, along with the people.

Settlement in Acadia began in 1604, but we’re joining this history 28 years later.

In 1632, control of Acadia passed from the English back to the French, who immediately launched voyages transporting traders and workers, some of whom became settlers. Their initial goal wasn’t settlement, though, but trading posts.

Port Royal is shown on Champlain’s 1632 map.

Isaac de Razilly was a French noble sea captain and knight who convinced his cousin, Cardinal Richelieu, chief minister to the King of France, that colonizing and establishing fur trade with Acadia was a profitable business venture. As a bonus that probably sounded attractive to Richelieu, they could convert and baptize the Native people, too.

Razilly’s 1632 voyage on the L’Esperance a Dieu included about 300 people, mostly men with possibly 12-15 women. A French newspaper report from that time states that a third ship from Rochelle joined the other two. A mason, baker, nailmaker-blacksmith, joiners, gunsmiths, sawyers, laborers, and soldiers signed up.

In 1640, notarial records in La Rochelle, France, show many contracts of engagement for workers in Acadia, although most of those people aren’t shown in the 1671 census, meaning they either died or returned to France when their engagement was over. In 1640, at least 25 men and 5 women signed up.

Couillard-Despres in “Les Gouvernors” states that 63 men arrived on the Saint Clement in 1642 to assist Charles LaTour.

After Razilly’s death in 1635, his cousin, Charles de Menou d’Aulnay, de Charnisay prepared to take over the administration of Acadia. By this time, there were 44 inhabitants at Le Have, Razily’s base of operation. Sometime between 1635 and 1640, d’Aulnay moved the settlement to Port Royal, but the men who had married Native American women likely did not move with him.

However, Charles La Tour, who had lived in Acadia since he was 17 and was married to a Mi’kmaq woman, had other plans. His father, Claude, obtained a grant for Nova Scotia from the English king, and Charles was appointed Governor, serving from 1631-1642. In essence, the LaTour father-son duo had outsmarted d’Aulnay.

Workers still continued to arrive. The 1636 passenger list of the St. Jehan, including occupations and some location origins, still exists.

d’Aulnay and La Tour began as competitors, with LaTour working out of Cap Sable and the St. John River area with traders, and d’Aulnay, who moved the Acadian settlement from La Have to Port Royal, beginning cultivation. Given where we find Étienne Hebert living, he likely arrived with d’Aulnay.

However, the competition between those men soon became animosity, then open warfare, with both men claiming to be in charge of all of Acadia.

If you think there was no drama in a relatively unpopulated area, just try to keep this next bit straight.

In 1640, after LaTour’s Mi’kmaq wife died, he married a French Huguenot woman, Françoise-Marie Jacquelin, who had powerful connections.

In 1642, d’Aulnay had LaTour, a Huguenot, charged with treason against France. LaTour’s well-connected wife traveled to France to advocate on behalf of her husband, returning with a warship for him to defend himself.

Perhaps this was a bit hasty.

In the Spring of 1643, La Tour led a party of English mercenaries against the French Acadian colony at Port-Royal. His 270 Puritan and Huguenot troops killed three men, burned a mill, slaughtered cattle, and seized 18,000 livres worth of furs.

Apparently, LaTour was a traitor after all, at least from the French perspective.

LaTour then traveled to Boston seeking reinforcements from the English, and while he was gone, d’Aulnay seized all of his possessions and outposts, including Fort LaTour.

Are you keeping track of this? I think the score was 3 to 3 here, with a Hail Mary pass underway. Get the popcorn.

LaTour may have been traveling to Boston, but his wife, Françoise-Marie, had remained at home and was not about to relinquish Fort LaTour without a fight.

In the ensuing battle, Françoise-Marie, at the ripe old age of 23, defended Fort LaTour in the Battle of St. John for three days, using the warship. D’Aulnay lost 33 men but on the fourth day, was able to capture the fort. LaTour’s men were hung at the gallows as Françoise-Marie was forced to watch with a rope around her neck, just in case she got any bright ideas. She was clearly not a woman to be trifled with.

Françoise-Marie was not hung, but Nicolas Denys recorded in his journal that she died three weeks later as a prisoner in captivity. The cause remains unknown, but it’s safe to say that her death was a volley in war. 

After learning that his wife had died, his possessions confiscated, and his men killed, LaTour sought refuge in Quebec City. He did not return to Acadia for several years, but return he would – eventually.

For the time being, d’Aulnay was firmly in control, but that only lasted a few years.

In 1650, d’Aulnay drowned when his canoe overturned, which provided the opening LaTour had been waiting for. LaTour sailed to France, obtained royal favor, his property restored, and returned to Acadia as governor in 1653, accompanied by several new colonists, including Philippe Mius d’Entremont, 1st Baron of Pobomcoup.

It was about this time, around 1650, that Étienne Hebert married Marie Gaudet. Perhaps they hoped that living near her parents, a dozen miles upriver, would be more peaceful and less exposed to attack and conflict.

LaTour had remained a widower since his wife’s death defending Fort LaTour in 1645, but in 1653, he married…wait for it… d’Aulnay’s widow, Jeanne Motin. It was not a marriage in name only, as they had five children. Some said they married to heal the rift between the warring d’Aulnay and LaTour camps, some think it was simply a marriage of convenience for both, and others feel it was LaTour’s final victory over d’Aulnay. However, Jeanne was no shrinking violet because she evicted Nicolas Denys when he attempted to exploit d’Aulnay’s death by setting up trading posts at St. Ann and St. Peters.

LaTour wasn’t off the hook, though, because in an odd sort of way, d’Aulnay still managed to be a thorn in LaTour’s side – even from beyond the grave.

Along with d’Aulnay’s property and wife came his substantial debts to Emmanuel Le Borgne, his main financier from La Rochelle. There were two sides to this story because, as part of the deal, La Bourg and other seigneurs were supposed to recruit and transport new settlers to Acadia and care for them by building communal resources like mills and bake-ovens, but they didn’t.

It appears that the Acadians and their French sponsors were both relatively unhappy. The French did not live up to their end of the bargain by building mills and ovens, and consequently, the Acadians resisted paying taxes. Everyone resented the English, but the English needed the Acadian settlers to work the land. And, of course, the land passed back and forth between the French and English from time to time, punctuated by skirmishes and outright attacks.

Acadia, for an Atlantic peninsula of land with few people, was drama-central.

By 1653, it was estimated that there were 45-50 households at Port Royal and La Have, which provides us an estimate of 300-350 people, including 60 single men. Étienne Hebert was lucky to find a bride, any bride.

In 1654, Port Royal was still small, with approximately 270 residents, as estimated by pioneer Nicholas Denys. Denys was a French prisoner at Port Royal who had been responsible for recruiting volunteers for the 1632 Razilly expedition of 300 men from Rochelle, France. They landed at La Hève near modern Bridgewater, the eventual site of the Gaudet village. This location was near the upper reaches of the tidal portion of the Riviere du Dauphine, and their boat probably could not progress further.

Denys did us the favor of describing Port Royal in 1653:

There are numbers of meadows on both shores, and two islands which possess meadows, and which are 3 or 4 leagues from the fort in ascending. There is a great extent of meadows which the sea used to cover, and which the Sieur d’Aulnay had drained. It bears now fine and good wheat, and since the English have been masters of the country, the residents who were lodged near the fort have for the most part abandoned there houses and have gone to settle on the upper part of the river. They have made their clearings below and above this great meadow, which belongs at present to Madame de La Tour. There they have again drained other lands which bear wheat in much greater abundance than those which they cultivated round the fort, good though those were. All the inhabitants there are the ones whome Monsieur le Commandeur de Razilly had brought from France to La Have; since that time they have multiplied much at Port Royal, where they have a great number of cattle and swine.

The commentary about the French settling on the upper part of the river may be very important for the Hebert family because that’s exactly where they are found.

Denys also recorded that Robert Sedgewick of Boston had been ordered by Robert Cromwell to attack New Holland (New York). As Sedgewick prepared, a peace treaty was signed between the English and the Dutch. Since he was “all dressed up with nowhere to go,” he attacked Acadia in August 1654 and destroyed most of the settlements, including Port Royal, La Have, and the Saint John River village. Sedgewick left the area but appointed an Acadian council with Guillaume Trahan in charge. Some of the French may have returned to France at this point.

Denys doesn’t say if Sedgewick burned the upper river homesteads and farms or if he was satisfied with torching Port Royal. Living 12-14 miles away in the out-country may have been the saving grace of the Hebert and Gaudet families. Or, their homesteads and farms may have been destroyed, too. Certainly, if not burned out, they were devastated by Acadia falling to the English.

Acadia was back under English rule and would remain so until being returned, again, to the French in 1667.

After Sedgewick captured Acadia for the English, LaTour went to London to regain his property, again. Being a Protestant would have worked in his favor, as well as having led the English in raids against Port Royal in 1643.

In 1656, Cromwell granted property to two Englishmen and LaTour, but LaTour sold his share to the Englishmen and moved to Cap Sable, on the southern end of the peninsula, to attempt to live the rest of his life in peace.

We don’t know positively that the Hebert brothers were in Acadia at this time, but it’s almost assured. They had probably been in Acadia for between 10 and 30 years. If White is correct, they had resided in Acadia for eight years. Windows of immigration existed, but generally only when the French were in charge, although France imported settlers to other nearby parts of New France. The French were not imported directly into Acadia when the English ruled.

In 1666, France stopped sending colonists, ostensibly for fear of depopulating the mother-country. However, the English were still arriving in the colonies to escape religious prosecution and for economic reasons. Therefore, the Acadians were exposed to at least some English settlers, probably spoke and understood at least a little English, and established some level of trade with the English colonies along the Eastern seaboard.

By Mikmaq – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1351882

Given the 1671 census and the ages of his children, we know Étienne was married by 1651 and that his wife’s parents also settled in Acadia.

Life in Acadia always seemed to be contentious and apparently, in no small part, dangerous.

Étienne was probably in his mid to late 40s when he died, about 1670. He clearly didn’t die of old age, but probably as a result of hunting, fishing, or farming – some accident. Or, perhaps, there was a skirmish. It seemed like there was always some sort of skirmish, but a simple act of daily living such as fishing carried the risk of drowning.

The Catholic church records don’t exist, if they even had a priest at that time, so we don’t know when Étienne died. We can rest assured that, if possible, he was buried in the parish cemetery, now the Garrison Cemetery in Annapolis Royal, beside the fort and the Catholic church.

The First Acadian Census

Even though Acadia was officially returned to France in 1667, it didn’t actually happen right away. In 1670, the English surrendered the fort at Port Royal, apparently without incident. The new French governor arrived, bringing with him another 60 settlers and 30 soldiers. The new governor ordered a census, thankfully. He likely needed to know how many people would be paying taxes.

The first Acadian census was taken in 1671, documenting between 240 and 350  Acadian residents (depending which count you utilize) in 68 households in Port Royal and one household each in three other locations. Historians know some residents in settlements weren’t counted, and neither were Acadian/Native American families living with the Native people. Estimates of the entire Acadian population reach as high as 500.

Étienne was already deceased, but we can tell quite a bit from his widow’s census record, transcribed here by Lucy LeBlanc Consentino.

Marie Gaudet, widow of Étienne Hebert, 38. She has 10 children, two married children: Marie 20, Marguerite 19; Emmanuel 18, not yet married, Étienne 17, Jean 13, Francoise 10, Catherine 9, Martine 6, Michel 5, Antoine 1, 4 cattle, 5 sheep and 3 arpents of cultivated land.

This tells us that Etienne and Marie were married in about 1650, or maybe somewhat earlier. Their eldest living child was age 20. Étienne was probably about 25 years old when he married, so I’d estimate his birth year as 1625, give or take a few years. It appears that Marie Gaudet and her daughter, Marie Hebert, and her husband, Michel de Forest, and their families were probably living either on the same farm or even in the same house.

Marie’s youngest child was age 1, so we know that Étienne died sometime between 1669 and 1671.

His brother, Antoine Hebert is listed three houses away as a 50-year-old cooper, so he was born about 1621.

Hebert and Gaudet Allied Families

It’s clear that the Hebert family was somehow allied with the Gaudet family as early as 1650 when their children married. It’s possible that they married in France, or Acadia.

What we do know is that these two families lived in close proximity on the Riviere de Dauphine, now the Annapolis River.

This 1733 map at the Nova Scotia Archives is based on the 1707 census route and shows about a mile and a half or two miles distance between the Hebert and Gaudet homesteads – 57 years after Étienne Hebert and Marie Gaudet married.

Etienne Hebert lived along Bloody Creek, where the Hebert Village is found, courtesy of MapAnnapolis, below.

We know where Etienne, Marie, and their family lived and at least something about their life – but what else can we unearth?

The Hebert DNA Story

Eventually, the answer to where the Hebert brothers originated in France will be told through their Y-DNA, passed directly from father to son through the generations without ever being admixed with the mother’s DNA, or divided.

The Hebert family is well-represented in the Acadian AmerIndian Project with three Big-Y testers showing the same haplogroup. Haplogroup R-BY31006 was born about 1650, almost exactly when Étienne and his brother were marrying and having children near Fort Royal.

Click to enlarge any image

Two present-day project members descend from Étienne, and one descends from Étienne’s brother, Antoine. They have the same high-resolution haplogroup, so we know that their father had the same mutation that he gave to both sons. How I wish some Hebert men from France could test, but DNA testing for genealogy is illegal there.

Unfortunately, no other contemporary man of any surname is close to our Hebert cluster. The haplogroup ancestor upstream of R-BY31006 is the parent haplogroup R-BY31008 that occurred about 245 BCE, or 2245 years ago. The descendants of that man are also found in England, Norway, and Scotland, in addition to our Hebert men in France.

That’s quite interesting.

But there’s something even more interesting.

Ancient DNA

Looking at Ancient Connections in Discover, I note that one of the Hebert Ancient Connections was found in France and has been placed into haplogroup R-Z31644. I wonder what the connection is. Let’s take a look at that haplogroup.

The TimeTree shows us that nine ancient DNA samples are found on different haplogroup branches of R-Z31644, of which only one is found in Metz, France, and the rest in the British Isles. It’s unclear exactly what this means. Only the French sample and three others in England and Ireland are found in the current era, meaning after 1 CE. This was clearly prior to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, after which an influx of French settled in England.

Eight ancient DNA results are found in England, but none share a common ancestor earlier than 4300 years ago. Notably, one English burial from about 2000-2300 years ago shares a common ancestor with the Metz, France remains about 4000 years ago. The eight English remains, and our Metz guy descend from a common ancestor about 4300 years ago.

Did Étienne’s ancestors descend from the ancient sample at Metz? Maybe the study provides more clues.

According to the study’s authors:

The Sablon district, which is located in the southern part of the city of Metz, was, during the Gallo-Roman period, a huge necropolis where both inhumations and cremations are found. Towards the end of the 19th century, the exploitation of the sandpits enabled the uncovering of sarcophagi (stone), cists (brick and tile), coffins (wood) and vats (lead).

These characterise the new burial practices developed during late Antiquity. [Spans from about the 3rd to the 6th or 7th centuries.]

The largest funerary space spans almost a kilometre, on either side of the via Scarponensis (portion of the Reims/Metz road).

The Sablon area can be compared to the Collatina necropolis close to Rome by its chaotic organisation, although at a different scale

Looking at a map of Metz helps put this in context.

It’s unclear exactly where along this route the burials were discovered beginning in the late 1800s. They extend for more than a kilometer on both sides of the road in the Sablon neighborhood of Metz.

The Sablon neighborhood extends from near the old city center along the main artery that crosses railroad tracks that appear to sever the original road into the city.

Does the history of Metz tell us who lived there and what was occurring during this time? Indeed, it does.

Metz is located at the confluence of the Moselle and Seille rivers, near the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg. The original inhabitants were Celtic. The town was known as the “city of Mediomatrici,” a fortified city of the tribe by the same name.

The Mediomatrici village evolved into a Gallo-Celtic city after Julius Caesar conquered the Gauls in 52 BCE.

Named Divodurum Mediomatricum by the Romans, present-day Metz was integrated into the Roman empire in the first century CE, after which it was colloquially referred to as the Holy Village.

The historic district has kept part of the Gallo-Roman city with Divodurum’s Cardo Maximus, then called Via Scarponensis. Today, this is Trinitaires, Taison, and Serpenoise streets in the old city center, and the Decumanus Maximus, which is En Fournirue and d’Estrées streets. The Roman Forum was located at the Cardo and Decumanus intersection and is the Saint-Jacques Square today, as shown below.

By Alice Volkwardsen at German Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10681319

The ancient burial occurred between 432 and 551 CE, as calculated from a molar and was found in a very large Gallo-Roman necropolis, more than a kilometer long, located on both sides along the old Roman road.

This cityscape shows Divodurum Mediomatricum in the second century CE, capital of the Mediomatrici, ancestor city of present-day Metz. The original Roman amphitheater is shown at far left, and the living quarters are located within the city walls, protecting them from attack. A wonderful summary of archaeological findings can be found here.

Today the the Centre Pompidou-Metzocation is found at the site of the original large Roman amphitheater. This amphitheater held upwards of 25,000 people and was the largest and most consequential amphitheater outside of Rome.

Rome’s influence ended when the city was attacked, pillaged and burned by the Huns on April 7, 451, then passed into the hands of the Franks about 50 years later. By 511, Metz was the capital of the Kingdom of Austrasia.

How Does the Metz Burial Connect to England?

How do the dots between Metz and the British Isles connect, given that the common ancestor of our Metz burial and the British Isles burials has descendants scattered throughout the British Isles and in Metz?

The Celts first migrated to the British Isles about 1000 BCE, or about 3000 years ago, so this ancient French man and the other ancient burials in the British Isles make sense. Their common ancestor lived 4300 years ago in Europe. The closest common ancestor of our Metz man and any English burial occurred 4000 years ago, 1000 years before the earliest Celtic migrations across the English Channel.

This man from Metz lived 1500 or 1600 years ago and shares an ancestor with several ancient British men in addition to our Hebert line and was likely Celtic..

Of course, not every Celtic man left Europe. Many stayed and eventually integrated with whoever the next conquering army was. That ensured survival. Metz was a prize to be won, controlled over the centuries by many masters.

We don’t know if this specific Celtic man buried along the Gallo-Roman Road was a direct ancestor to our Hebert line, but if not, they were assuredly related and shared common ancestors. The descendants of haplogroup R-BY31008 are unquestionably the ancestors of our Hebert line.

Back to Étienne

Étienne’s Y-DNA has identified his ancestors as Celtic some 4000 years, or 200 generations ago.

More recently, his Y-DNA confirmed his connection to Antoine Hebert, and the church records of both of their descendants confirmed them as brothers.

Depositions given by Étienne’s grandchildren, spouses of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews confirm that Étienne was born in France, but, unfortunately, does not say where. This information alone debunked some of his parent candidates.

We find no suggestion of his parents in Acadia, although that’s not impossible. Many people died and never made it into existing records. The Hebert brothers likely arrived together as young men. Antoine may have married in France, as his wife’s surname is not found in Acadia. Of course, her father could have died and left no record. Étienne’s wife’s family lives next to the Heberts in Acadia, but we don’t know if Étienne and Marie Gaudet married in France or after arrival in Acadia.

How well did Étienne remember France? Did he look over his slice of countryside along the Riviere du Dauphine, with its dikes holding the tidal river at bay, and think of similar dikes constructed by his ancestors in France?

What about his parents?

Did they die, or did he sail away, knowing he and his brother would never see them or their siblings again?

Did their family shrink into tiny dots on the horizon, waving from the wharf, then disappear forever?

Did the brothers leave because they wanted to, or did they leave perhaps because they had no family left? Often, orphans had few options in their home country, and any opportunity was welcomed.

Did Étienne marry Marie Gaudet in Acadia, or did they marry someplace in France, then two Hebert boys immigrating to the new land with the Gaudet family?

In one way, we know so much – that Étienne matches an ancient Celtic burial in Metz who died about 1500 years ago, with whom he shared a common ancestor about 4000 years ago – yet we can’t identify Étienne’s parents. At least not today, but hope springs eternal. Two years ago, we didn’t know this.

Hopefully, one day, DNA testing for genealogy will be available to men in France. Our answers lie in Hebert men in some small French village, probably along a river that was once a highway of history.


I’m incredibly grateful to the Hebert men who have taken the Big Y-700 DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA, and to FamilyTreeDNA, because without those tests and the Discover tool that includes ancient DNA connections, we would never be able to peer beyond the mists of time into their deep ancestry.

As more men test and more academic studies and ancient DNA results are added to the Discover database, we’ll continue to learn more. The Big-Y DNA test is the gift that just keeps on giving.


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New Discover Tool – Compare Haplogroups & More at FamilyTreeDNA

FamilyTreeDNA has introduced a great new Y-DNA tool – Compare – as part of Discover. I wrote about how to use Discover, here.

The new Compare feature compares two haplogroups, including where they fall on the haplotree in relationship to each other, time to most recent common ancestor (TMRCA), TimeTree, and more.

It’s easy.

All you do is enter two haplogroups.

Click to enlarge any image

Here’s how.

Enter Haplogroups

You can enter the haplogroups to compare either through your account at FamilyTreeDNA or directly into Discover.

If you’ve signed in and taken any Y-DNA test, you can click through to Discover from your account, or, you can simply navigate to Discover. The Compare feature is publicly available and free, of course.

You can compare any Y-DNA haplogroup with any other haplogroup from your match list, from a project, or just at random.

Let’s say I was viewing the Estes surname project or the Estes project Group Time Tree, and found my ancestor’s lineage. Maybe I don’t know that haplogroup R-M269 is a very common mid-level predicted haplogroup, and I don’t know that R-ZS3700 is only discovered and confirmed via a Big Y-700 test.

I want to compare their haplogroups.

As an excited genealogist, I have questions.

  • How far apart are haplogroup R-ZS3700 and R-M269?
  • Have either or both of these men taken a Big Y test?
  • What commonalities do the two haplogroups have?
  • Does one descend from another?

In this case, I know these haplogroups are found in a specific ancestral cluster in a surname project, but I could compare any two haplogroups at random.


Let’s let Compare do its magic.

If you click through to Discover from your Y-DNA page, “you” are the orange profile. Otherwise, the orange profile is the first haplogroup entered.

Compare shows me LOTs of information.

To begin with, you can see which two haplogroups are being compared. This report tells us that R-ZS3700 is a direct descendant of R-M269. By looking at the dates in the little pedigree chart, you can see that R-ZS3700 originated in the year 1700, roughly, and R-M269 in about 4350 BCE, or approximately 6350 years ago.

This tells me, indirectly, that R-ZS3700 has taken a Big Y test, and the R-M269 man has not. The other clue is the message at bottom left encouraging an upgrade. One or both men have not taken the Big Y.

In the center-left, we have the path from ZS3700, the most refined haplogroup, to R-M269 on top, and beneath, the path from R-M269 to Y-Adam.

You can mouse over any of these haplogroups to view a brief description and their age.

There’s still more, though.

At the bottom right, you can see that both of these haplogroups connect to Collin Charvis, with the younger, more refined haplogroup more closely connected, of course.

Both haplogroups have connections to the Allen Ancient Genome Diversity Project out of the Reich lab. Now I’m getting really excited!

Check each haplogroup in Discover for additional information about these ancient and modern connections.

Scrolling down to the bottom of the page, we see the Discover Compare Timeline with the two compared haplogroups.

What About Completely Different Haplogroups?

When haplogroups are entirely different, Discover Compare searches for date and time information, then searches for commonalities.

In this example, the two haplogroups, J-FT1 and I-BY44445, are entirely different. The path to their common, joining haplogroup is shown in the tree at right.

At left, the ancestral path of each is shown, reaching back to their common haplogroup, then, at the bottom, the common haplogroup, IJ-P124 is tracked back to Y-Adam.

Even with these widely divergent haplogroups, both have an Entrepreneur connection, albeit in different haplogroups. The lucky haplogroup J-FT1 person connects with Bennett Greenspan, founder of FamilyTreeDNA.

Both have ancient connections found in Germany as well.

Let’s look at a few more examples.

The commonality between these haplogroup I and R samples is that both have an actor connection, and both have a connection in ancient DNA from a common study.

Of course, reviewing each haplogroup that you’ve compared shows you their individual information. In this case, you can view more about the Salme 2-Õ ancient individual.

You can also google the common study to discover what is known about the location, excavation, and the heritage of the people who lived there.

As I played with this new Compare tool, I found additional categories for Presidential connections, Author connections, Clan connections, and Location connections, such as the US State of Maryland in one case and the country of Hungary in another.

I’ve been asking for some time for a tool to compare haplogroups, so I’m very pleased! FamilyTreeDNA went the extra mile to include additional information.

Your family members who might not be particularly interested in DOING genealogy might be quite interested in this interesting information – and would be glad to let you test their Y-DNA and research genealogy on behalf of your family. Fingers crossed! That’s a win-win for everyone.

FamilyTreeDNA has included a share function in the upper right-hand corner of each page for exactly this reason. Let’s share and get our family members excited about genetic genealogy. The more cousins that test, the more you’ll know, and the more refined the Y-DNA haplotree becomes.

There is probably a lot more to discover, pardon the pun, in the new Compare feature. It was just released today, so I’m sure I haven’t found everything.

Check Compare out with your matches’ or ancestors’ haplogroups, and let me know what fun things you find.


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MyHeritage and the Israeli War

In the genealogy community, we make friends with each other – and we care. Over the years, those friendships become bonds. Today, with electronic communications buffered by in-person conferences, we know and cherish people from around the world.

As the entire world knows, a surprise attack was launched against Israel by Hamas out of Gaza on October 7th when they attacked people attending a music festival near the Gaza border with Israel, mowing down at least 260 attendees. More are missing, and some are hostages. Right now, their status is unknown.

Israel is a small, compact country about the size of New Jersey. Note the legend in the upper left-hand corner of the map.

Daniel Horowitz, Genealogy Expert at MyHeritage, posted this yesterday. The MyHeritage headquarters is in Israel.

More than 700 Israelis have been killed, mostly residents, meaning families including children and the elderly as opposed to soldiers. More were brutally kidnapped, and some of those have been murdered as well. Americans are among the dead and missing, too. Israel has declared war on Hamas. More have died and will die. You can track this fast-moving situation through the news outlet of your choosing, but here is CNN’s latest.

Here’s a public Facebook posting that describes the situation from the perspective of an American film director who was in Israel for a screening that included MyHeritage.

Please note, this is NOT a political posting. This is a humanitarian update regarding our friends at MyHeritage and what they are living through minute by minute.

Most of my friends in Israel are thanks to MyHeritage – either their employees or people I met at their conferences. I know many are your friends too, and even if you haven’t met them personally, you’ve seen them at events, in videos, and interacted with them online. Collectively, they make our genealogy experience at MyHeritage possible.

I have managed to touch bases with most of my close Israeli friends, and have verified that others are “alright,” meaning not dead or missing, via social media or the person-to-person grapevine. Some of the MyHeritage employees and many of their family members, both male and female, have been called up to serve in the military.

Having said that, no one is really “alright” right now. This is not one of the episodic border skirmishes that happens from time to time. This is sudden warfare where they live.

This massive attack was entirely unexpected. The first they knew something was amiss was the missiles arriving and rockets exploding, followed by the sirens alerting them to get to a bomb shelter NOW. Everyone seems to be shellshocked, and no one doesn’t know someone who is directly affected, meaning injured, killed, kidnapped, or missing.

MyHeritage is such an honorable, family-oriented company and is supporting their employees in whatever way they can.

I’ve been in touch with company representatives, and their offices in Or Yehuda, just east of Tel-Aviv, are safe and undamaged, and at least for now, it’s pretty much business as usual. Knowing MyHeritage, I’m sure they have backup plans, and backup to the backup plans. Thanks to Covid, everyone learned to work from home, and MyHeritage continues to post normally on their Facebook page.

But right now, my concern isn’t the MyHeritage office, database, or records – it’s about the people.

As things continue to unfold, if you’re interested in status updates, I encourage you to follow Daniel Horowitz, MyHeritage’s Chief Genealogist, in the following locations:

My favorite is Facebook, but he posted a video on Twitter today. What a juxtaposition. Just a couple of days ago he was posting smiling vacation photos. How quickly things have changed dramatically.

Many of our Jewish friends in the States and around the world have family in Israel and are worried sick. This is not going to be quick, and I fear will get even messier – the proverbial “worse before it gets better.”

Please join me in supporting our friends and genealogy family at MyHeritage who are living through this war that has descended upon them in their homeland.


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Marie Hebert (1651- c 1677): Young Acadian Bride Gone Too Soon – 52 Ancestors #412

Marie Hebert is first found at age 20 as the spouse of Michel de Forest in the 1671 Acadian census in what is today Nova Scotia.

Michel de Forest, age 33, wife Marie Hebert, 20, with children Michel 4, Pierre 2, René 1, 12 cattle, two sheep, and two arpents of cultivated land

Brides were a very limited commodity in Acadia, and women tended to be swooped up and married as soon as they became eligible.

Given that, I’d wager that Marie probably had many suitors, and her father, Étienne Hebert, and mother, Marie Gaudet, selected the man they felt was best suited for their daughter.

Michel de Forest may have had somewhat of an unfair advantage, though, because he was farming the land next door to the Hebert family, as shown on this 1733 map. Or maybe he began farming the land next door as a result of marrying Marie. It’s fun to speculate, but we’ll probably never know for sure.

What we do know is that Marie married quite young.

In the 1671 census, she was 20 and already had three children, the oldest of which had been born four years earlier, so she probably married in the Catholic church at age 15, in 1666. Unfortunately, no records survived until the early 1700s.

The census entry beside Michel De Forest and Marie Hebert is Marie Gaudet, Marie’s mother, as follows:

Marie Gaudet, widow of Etienne Hebert, 38. She has 10 children, two married children: Marie 20, Marguerite 19; Emmanuel 18, not yet married, Etienne 17, Jean 13, Francoise 10, Catherine 9, Martine 6, Michel 5, Antoine 1, 4 cattle, 5 sheep and 3 arpents of cultivated land

This census is unique because it listed the married children by name, even if they weren’t living in the household. Marie was the eldest child, born about 1651. The census also listed the married child in the household where they lived. In Marie’s case, with her husband, Michel de Forest.

Marie’s mother, also named Marie, married by age 17, if not earlier and became a grandmother at 34. I know the math works, but just the thought makes me reel. Four years later, Marie’s mother was a widow.

Marie Hebert’s father had already died, in either 1670 or 1671, given that her mother, Marie Gaudet, had a 1-year-old son.

Marie and Michael de Forest, with their two eldest children, would have accompanied her mother to the church for her father’s funeral, and then to the cemetery for his burial. Marie’s nine siblings would have been there too, as would her own two young children – too young to remember their grandfather. Either Marie and her mother were both pregnant for another child, or they both had babes in arms according to the census. What a heartwrenching day that would have been.

Marie, wife of Michel de Forest married young, and she also died young.

Marie’s Death

In the next census, taken seven years later in 1678, Michel is shown as a widower with 4 acres, 3 cows, 2 calves, 1 gun, four boys, ages 12, 10, 8, 3, and two girls, ages 6 and 4. His age is not given, but he was 40 or 41 and very clearly had his hands full.

Based on the children listed in both censuses, we know that Marie had six children in the nine years or so that she was married, before her death. She had such a short life. Given that her youngest was 3 in 1678, I wonder if she died from complications of her child’s birth in 1677 or perhaps in childbirth in 1678. How I wish we had those church records.

She was only 26 if she died in 1677.

Marie’s still youthful body would have been carefully washed, probably by her mother and sisters, dressed in her best clothes, and placed lovingly in a hand-hewn coffin, then taken by wagon or perhaps by batteau to the Catholic Church one last time for her funeral.

Her funeral hymns would rise in the church where she had been baptized, married, and her children baptized.

After her service, Marie would have been buried in consecrated ground in the graveyard beside the church in Port Royal, probably someplace near her father and maybe her babies. Eternal sentries, their graves overlooked the marshlands of the Rivière du Dauphin, today the Annapolis River. Just upriver a dozen or so miles was the farm where Marie had been born, grew up, courted, and come home as a bride – on the banks of that tidal river.

Her entire life had been lived in just twenty-some years.

I can close my eyes and see her children, beginning with the eldest, Michel, just 10 years old, holding hands as they filed out of the church into the cemetery to bury their mother. The youngest was just a baby.

If the season was right, her children could have picked some Queen Anne’s Lace or maybe some Yarrow along the way and placed their flowers gently on their mother’s casket before it was lowered into her final resting place, perhaps along with a newborn baby.

That would be their last loving act for their mother. Oh, how they must have cried, hot, sorrowful tears sliding down their faces.

The local men would have dug Marie’s grave the day before while the family was preparing her body. What a grief-filled day that surely was – not only for Michel, and Marie’s children, but for her poor mother who outlived her daughter and was herself only 45 years old in 1678, and a recent widow.

Life, or more specifically, death was cruel and oh-so-indiscriminate in who it randomly claimed.

Marie’s Children

Despite losing their mother, Marie’s known children all grew to adulthood.

Child 1671 Census 1678 Census 1686 Census Birth Year Death Year Spouse
Michel 4 12 male 19 1666-1667 By 1731 – Pisiguit, parish of Saint-Famile. Abt 1689 to Marie Petitpas, then in 1708/1709 to Marie Celestin dit Bellemere
Pierre 2 10 male 18 1668 By Nov. 1730 Abt 1693 to Cecile Richard
René 1 8 male 16 1670 1751 Abt 1695 to Francoise Dugas
Gabrielle 6 female 13 1672-1673 Nov. 9, 1710 Abt 1691 to Pierre Brassaud
Marie 4 female 11 1674-1675 1704-1706 Abt 1695 to Pierre L’Aine Benoit
Jean-Baptiste 3 male 9 1675-1678 1776 Abt 1698 to Marie Elisabeth Labarre

I suspect that Marie had another child, born between René and Gabrielle, who was born and died, probably about 1672. There is space for another child between Marie and Jean-Baptiste, or perhaps after Jean-Baptiste, a final child was born and died with Marie.

In 1678, Marie’s husband, Michel, was shown as a widower whose youngest child was 3.

Children’s names were not listed in 1678, although it’s possible to connect the dots with the children’s names from the 1686 census, eight years later.

No mother wants to die before her children, but mothers of younger children will fight every minute they can and with their very last breath to live. Leaving young children is every mother’s worst nightmare.

Baptismal records don’t remain for that time period, but it’s clear that Michel couldn’t farm and raise a passel of young children. Whoever their godmothers were may have been called upon after Marie’s death. After all, that was at least part of the purpose of godparents.

Life went on. It had to. There was no choice.

The Next Chapter

The older boys would have been old enough to help their father, but there’s nothing less helpful than a helpful 2 or 3-year-old. They needed more supervision than Michel would have been able to give.

Part of that problem was solved when Michel married Jacqueline Benoit sometime after the census in 1686, although she was quite young at 15 – younger than Michael and Marie’s oldest three sons.

The next year, in 1687, Jacqueline would present the de Forest children with a half-sibling, Marguerite. Their blended family must have been doing well, but then, disaster struck once again.

Sometime after Jacqueline became pregnant with Marguerite, and before May of 1690 when Michel’s name is absent from the loyalty oath, he died. He and Marie’s youngest child would have been about 13, and Jacqueline’s child was just a baby.

This family had suffered so much. Thankfully, the Acadian community was small and close-knit.

Marie’s de Forest children were now without both of their parents.

Jacqueline remarried in 1691. In the 1693 census, Marie’s children are not living with Jacqueline, their stepmother, and her new husband, although it appears that the oldest two children had relocated to Grand Pre where they lived, and two more would leave Port Royal a couple of years later.

The Children Fledge

With both parents gone, there was nothing to keep Michel and Marie’s children in the Port Royal area, so they began to move to the Grand Pre region – the next frontier. Fortunately for us, the Grand Pre church records (1707-1748) were taken along into exile in 1755 when the Acadians were expelled and today reside in Iberville, LA, providing researchers with valuable early information.

  • Marie’s oldest son, also named Michel Forest, married in Port Royal about 1689. In the 1693 census, Michel de Forest was living in Les Mines at age 27. Michel Forets, resident of Pisiguit, widow of Marie Petitpas, married on October 29, 1709 to Marie Bellemere, living at Grand Pree. Michel and his wives had 12 children.
  • About 1692, Pierre Forest married Cecile Richard. In the 1693 census, he is shown, age 25 in the home of Pierre Brassuad, his sister’s husband, also in Les Mines. He and Cecile had nine children.
  • René de Forest is unaccounted for in the 1693 census, but he signed the loyalty oath in 1690 as an adult. He married about 1695 to Francoise Dugas and farmed his father’s land, remaining in the Port Royal region. They had at least 13 children.
  • Gabrielle Forest married about 1691 to Pierre Brassaud. In the 1693 census, she is noted as Gabrielle Michel. Her burial is recorded in the register of St. Charles aux Mines in Grand Pre, so they had clearly joined her brothers in that area. They had nine children.
  • Daughter Marie Forest married about 1695 in Port Royal to Pierre L’Aine Benoit, her stepmother’s brother, but died after the birth of their son in 1704. They had five children.
  • Marie’s youngest child, Jean Baptiste, would not have remembered his mother. In 1693, he was listed as Jean Laforest, age 15 (so born in 1678), a domestic in the home of Daniel LeBlanc. He married about 1698 to Marie Elisabeth Labarre with whom he had 12 children. By 1714, they were living in Beaubassin.

Marie may have died quite young, but her six children produced at least 59 grandchildren to carry on her legacy.

Even though four of their six children moved on, and another died by 1704, the farm that Marie Gaudet and Michel Forest had carved out of the swamps and wilderness along the Rivière du Dauphin would not leave the family – at least not before the wholesale expulsion of the Acadians in 1755. Their third son, René, stayed to farm his parent’s homestead, establishing the René Forest Village on the banks of the Annapolis River.

In 1755, a century after her birth and nearly 80 years after Marie’s death, those grandchildren and their children’s children were scattered to the winds, but like seeds, planted themselves around the globe in fertile soil, peppering the Acadian diaspora with thousands of her descendants.


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Thank you so much.

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23andMe User Accounts Exposed – Change Your Password Now

Call it what you may – a hacking attack, a breach, loophole, compromise, it doesn’t matter – there’s an issue at 23andMe, allegedly compromising the data of 7 million+ accounts – and you need to take action now.

I’m telling you what you need to do and why, then providing additional information. I’m presenting this weekend and very deadlined on other work as well, so this article is short and not-so-sweet.

  1. Change your password at 23andMe TO A COMPLEX PASSWORD NOT USED ANYPLACE ELSE.
  2. Consider enabling 2-factor authentication at 23andMe.

This issue has been reported to 23andMe by several people. This issue seems to have existed for several weeks, but those details don’t really matter right now.

While on October 3rd, 23andMe initially said that they “conducted an investigation” and “had not identified any unauthorized access” to their system, their press statement today was different, as reported at Wired.

What changed in the past couple of days is that this compromise became more widely known on various sites and servers, making its way into the media.

This detailed user information is for sale on the dark web. Jewish people may have been targeted, but a lot is unknown.

I have not seen these amalgamated breached files myself, but I worked with a security person who has to verify this information. That was today, and when we finished, this had blown up publicly today.

Briefly – What Has Happened?

Hackers have compiled information from multiple data breaches over time from companies across the web. That’s been going on for a long time.

Hackers have been using that information to sign into accounts at 23andMe.

Here’s how that works.

23andMe uses your email as the first step of signing on, then a password. If you use the same password at lots of places, and hackers compile breach information, they will know that the password “Fluffy” is associated with your email address, and they found it six different times in various data breaches.

So, they went to 23andMe and attempted to sign in with your email. Next, they tried “Fluffy” as your password, and voila, they were in – as you. Now the hacker has access to your profile information, not through any negligence at 23andMe, but because of data breaches elsewhere combined with an insecure and non-unique password.

Hackers then have access to DNA Relatives, shared matches, ethnicity, traits, and medical information. Furthermore, they can view the information of your matches who have opted to share their health information with you. Remember, the hacker is now operating as “you.”


Many people reuse passwords at different sites because they are easy to remember.

DON’T REUSE PASSWORDS. Ever. Make them unique, hard or impossible to guess, and certainly not Fluffy or any other word that can be associated with you via social media. Also, never, ever answer those social media “fun” questions because you are unnecessarily giving information away publicly. Bad actors aggregate that information too.

You need to take remediation action immediately to secure your account.

Go to Settings under your initials in the upper right-hand corner of your account page.

Then select Password and follow the steps.

Accounts You Manage

This also means that if you manage other people’s DNA kits within your own account, their accounts have been compromised through yours (if your account has been compromised), including any medical information.


Here are articles published within the past 24 hours for your review. Unfortunately, PC Magazine published a thread from X (formerly Twitter) where someone used a screenshot from my blog (without permission) which is part of how I got dragged into this and why I got notified.

This thread was posted on Twitter two days ago. This data “leak” had been reported before that to 23andMe and may have existed since August.

The dark box is the hacker saying that if 23andMe does not announce a data breach within 24 hours, they will start sharing the user data. I’m not posting the threat here, but you can view it on X (former Twitter.)

23andMe gave their standard canned reply.

Then I inadvertently got dragged into this mess because, next, someone grabbed a screenshot from one of my blog articles from 2019, which exposed my name – then PC magazine published a screenshot of their posting.

In that article, I was writing about a 2019 relationship between 23andMe and FamilySearch, hence the arrow. I believe that the Twitter poster grabbed the image as an example of the 23andMe DNA Relatives user interface, but it was an unfortunate choice. They should have used their own, not scalped mine.

We really have no idea what may be discovered as this situation evolves, but at this point, 23andMe has stated that they are investigating.

The Second Issue

It appears there’s a second issue, too. The person who notified me of the original issue also told me that signing on to your own account, then replacing your profile ID with someone else’s profile ID displays their name and at least some of their information.

I’ve blurred my profile ID in the above string.

They had personally reported this to 23andMe, including emailing the CEO personally, and received the same boilerplate message as reported by others. Here’s a quote:

“Hi [xxx- name redacted] – Following a claim that someone had gained access to and is selling certain 23andMe customer data, we conducted an investigation. We have not identified any unauthorized access to our systems. We will continue to monitor the situation.”

I tried this with my matches’ IDs and could see their information, but of course I should be able to access my matches’ profiles, so I didn’t find this disturbing. I tried this with people I had invited to connect with that I don’t match, and I could see those as well. That too is expected. Although, I must admit that I was rather startled to be able to access it that way.

I tried randomly replacing digits and characters in my own profile ID and that didn’t work. But then again, there’s no way to know if the number I created was actually a valid profile ID.

Then, I signed on to an account of someone whose account I manage completely separately from my account and copied the profile ID of a second account I manage separately from my account. Those two people don’t know each other and are not related.

I could see the identity of the person whose profile ID I copied into the string, replacing the profile ID of the account I was signed into.

I saw the information below.

I’ve blurred the person’s name, initials in the purple circle, and their “about” information. However, notice that their current location is also exposed, along with their full name.

The good news is that I can’t see anything else. However, I shouldn’t be able to see this much.

I don’t think I could have done this:

  • Without first being signed into a valid account AND
  • Without knowing the profile identification, which I don’t think I could have found unless the person gave it to me, or unless it’s in the hacked information, which I understand that it is. However, if the hacked information includes the profile ID, that means the hackers are already into that account, so they don’t need to do this.

To be on the safe side, I’m removing “about” information other than ancestral surnames in my account and the accounts I manage.

I have never been comfortable with my current location being shown to anyone, including matches.

If you want to remove your location information, navigate to the map function under DNA Relatives and make your modification there.


Right now, I’m far more concerned about keeping you safe than 23andMe’s investigation. That’s analogous to figuring out who opened the barn door after half the herd is gone. Yes, it needs to be done and the issue addressed, but their investigation won’t help you right now.

The exposure may NOT be half of their database. It may NOT include you. Please assume it does and protect yourself.

Please change your password and consider implementing two-factor authentication. I recommend removing your location information.

Also, don’t reuse passwords. Here’s a great article about password safety.

I surely hope 23andMe is partnering with legal and security resources and has engaged an expert firm for compromise assessment.

In essence, the hacker was using our DNA information as a lever to attempt to force 23andMe to announce a breach. It’s unclear what their motivation is, but based on reports from multiple people who have seen these files, the threat is credible, as confirmed by 23andMe today. I’m not sure if the hackers really want to sell our data to bad actors on the dark web or already have, or if they want to extort money, essentially ransom, out of 23andMe, or what.

23andMe is a victim here, too, because the leaked information seems to be due to compromised user passwords that did NOT occur on their system. This has generated a lot of speculation about the motivation of the hacker.

Regardless, that doesn’t change the fact that the hacker has a huge amount of data, and it’s out of our control. I don’t know how to or if you will ever know if your data is included. I don’t know how 23andMe would be able to ascertain whose accounts are involved since the accounts were all signed into legitimately using the correct email and password.

While I realize that this situation is at least partly due to customers reusing passwords, that does not justify or rationalize the delay by 23andMe in taking the issue seriously, wasting valuable time, and allowing the hacker to gather more information. Nor does it excuse the second security issue, although that seems to be less serious.

I feel bad for any company targeted like this, while I’m also furious with 23andMe about their arrogance and cavalier attitude, resulting in unnecessary delay. Right now, as a customer, I’m not interested in playing the blame game or debating semantics about which type of compromise this is. It’s bad, regardless.

The hacker has attacked 23andMe AND their customers, you and me, but this could have been any company. The ONLY way to preclude this as a customer in a digital world is to maintain password security and use unique, complex passwords – on every account.

Hopefully, we will know more soon. In the meantime, change your password and lock down your account so that no one else has access.

Please share this article with genealogy organizations or anyone you know who has tested with 23andMe so they can protect themselves.


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MyHeritage DNA Uploads This Week – Free Access to ALL DNA Features, Forever

MyHeritage has announced that DNA files uploaded this week, through October 8th, will receive all DNA tools and features, free, forever. This means no unlock fee, not today, not next month, not next year, not ever.

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It’s always a good thing to fish in multiple genetic ponds. You’re sure to match some of the 7.3 million testers at MyHeritage. In my case, I have more than 16,600 matches, many of whom are found nowhere else. That’s true for my European ancestral lineages and some US cousins who tested there and not elsewhere, including two close matches.

When you upload, you’ll receive these tools:

What a great value!

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Who will you match?________________________________________________________

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