About robertajestes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.

Hugs in the Churchyard – Thanks to Y DNA

Isn’t this just a wonderful picture? Even though the picture is of two very excited female cousins, it’s all because of Y DNA. Don’t tell anyone, but I think we might have jumped up and down a few times too (wink), with very good reason!

This exuberant photo is my cousin, Mary and me, in the cemetery of the church in Downham, Lancashire, England where our ancestor, Thomas Speake was baptized in 1634. How we got here is truly a genetic journey, and we couldn’t have done it without our Speak male cousins who were all too willing to help by Y DNA testing!

Mary and I share ancestor, Nicholas Speaks, who was born in 1782 in Charles County, Maryland and migrated as a child with his father to Washington County, Virginia where he married Sarah Faires. The young couple homesteaded in Lee County, Virginia, establishing the first Methodist Church in the area about 1822.

When Cousin Mary and I began our genealogy journey, along with a few other cousins, years ago, we didn’t have any information prior to Lee County. Where did Nicholas come from and who were his parents?

Over the years, our line was traced back to Maryland in the 1600s to immigrant Thomas Speak. However, we were truly stuck in Maryland, with absolutely no idea where Thomas originated in the UK. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Several Speak men Y DNA tested when DNA testing became available, and then the wait began. A few years later, they matched a man who lived in New Zealand. The Speak cousin from New Zealand knew a lot more about his ancestors in England than we did since they migrated to New Zealand in the 1800s, not the 1600s like our Thomas Speak.

Our newly discovered cousin from down-under pointed us to the little town of Gisburn, where his Speak ancestor was born and baptized. Our Thomas’s baptismal record wasn’t in Gisburn, but working in a circle in surrounding communities turned up Thomas’s baptismal record in 1634 in the tiny village of Downham, just 4 miles distant.

The baptismal record further told us that Thomas was from an even smaller village, if that’s even possible.  Twiston is more of a farming hamlet (shown below), a mile or so away from Downham down a tiny road so twisty that anything larger than a passenger vehicle can’t navigate the road.  Let’s just say I have personal knowledge of this issue:)

Two years later, after our amazing DNA discovery, followed by confirming record discoveries, about 20 descendants of the Speak family of Gisburn and Downham, including our New Zealand cousin, arranged a tour back to our homeland. We met in London, having rented a bus and driver, and off we went to Lancashire on a journey back in time.

This amazing adventure truly was the trip of a lifetime, a dream come true, with cousins near and dear to my heart, finding and honoring our common ancestral homeland.

All, thanks to Y DNA. Y DNA isn’t always a sprint, although sometimes you have an important immediate match. Y DNA is sometimes more of a wait and be patient proposition, as the DNA results are constantly fishing for you – but it’s so, so, worth the wait.

I hope that you too get to hug your cousin in the cemetery where your ancestors are buried on a journey someplace you could never have imagined. But you’ll never get to hug in that cemetery if you don’t start the journey by testing. I couldn’t test myself, being a female, but I surely could test my cousins – and I have – lots of them!

All of genetic genealogy is a collaborative journey and you never know which new tester will make that fateful difference!

With Father’s Day on the horizon, and a sale at Family Tree DNA, there’s no better time to test your male lines that haven’t yet tested. You truly never know what wonderful adventure or new cousin is waiting. Give the gift of discovery.


Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure will now appear at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

Father’s Day Sale at Family Tree DNA

Just in time for Father’s Day, Family Tree DNA is having a sale on the introductory level 37 marker Y DNA test for males, along with the Family Finder autosomal test for everyone. Better yet, you can bundle the two for additional savings.

Sale Starts: Tuesday, June 6th
Sale Ends: Saturday June 18th, 11:59 PM CST

If you’d like to see what kind of information you’ll receive in a Y DNA test and how to utilize the results, please take a look at the article I just published yesterday, Working with Y DNA – Your Dad’s Story.

If you haven’t yet tested your father or better yet, your grandfather – this is the perfect chance. Don’t let that opportunity slip away. If you want to read about why testing older family members is so important, please read Concepts – Why DNA Testing the Oldest Family Members is Critically Important.

Have a wonderful Father’s Day with your loved ones.


Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure will now appear at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

Working with Y DNA – Your Dad’s Story

Have you ever wondered why you would want to test your Y DNA? What would a Y DNA test tell you about which ancestors? What would it mean to you and how would it help your genealogy?

If you’re like most genealogists, you want to know every single tidbit you can discover about your ancestors – and Y DNA not only tells males about people they match that are currently living and share ancestors with them at some point in time, but it also reaches back beyond the range of what genealogy in the traditional sense can tell us – past the time when surnames were adopted, peering into the misty veil of the past!

If you aren’t a male, you can’t directly test your Y DNA, because you don’t have a Y chromosome, but that’s OK, because your father or brother or another family member who does carry the same Y chromosome (and surname) as your father may well be willing to test.

What Is Y DNA?

Y DNA a special type of DNA that tells the direct story of your father’s surname line heritage – all the way back as far as we can go – beyond genealogy– to the man from whom we are all descended that we call “Y line Adam.” In the pedigree chart below, Y DNA is represented by the people with blue squares – generally the surname line.

Y DNA is never mixed with the mother’s DNA, so the Y DNA of the blue line of ancestors above remains unbroken and intact and the Y DNA is passed from father to only their male children. The Y chromosome is what makes males male, so females never inherit a Y chromosome. Of course, that means females can’t take Y DNA tests, so they have to ask a family member to test who carries the Y chromosome of the line they are interested in.

Because the surname doesn’t typically change for males between generations, this test is particularly powerful in identifying specific lineages of the male’s surname.  For men looking to identify their paternal line, Y DNA testing is extremely powerful!

Y DNA testing is a great way to determine which ancestral line of a given surname a male descends from.

Want to see how this works?  Family Tree DNA provides 13 great tools for every Y DNA customer. Let’s take a look!


Everyone who tests their Y DNA at Family Tree DNA receives a haplogroup assignment. Think of a haplogroup as your genetic clan. Haplogroups have a history and a pedigree chart, just like people do. Haplogroups and their branches can identify certain groups of people, such as people of African descent, European, Asian, Jewish and Native American.

While the Y DNA is passed intact with no admixture from the mother, occasionally mutations do happen, and it’s those historical mutations that form clans and branches of clans as generation after generation is born and continues to migrate to new areas.

If you take any Y DNA test at Family Tree DNA, you will receive a haplogroup prediction. In the following example, the gentleman received haplogroup C-P39 as his haplgroup prediction.

Haplogroup predictions from Family Tree DNA are very accurate. They are basic in nature, but detailed enough to identify the continent where your ancestors are found as well as sometimes identifying groups like Jewish or Native American. To receive a more refined haplogroup, additional tests are available (individual SNPs, SNP panels and the Big Y), which confirm the original haplogroup assignment and give you the opportunity to find the smallest branch of the haplotree upon which you reside as a leaf.

Let’s look at an example.

Y haplogroup C arose in Asia and subgroups are found today in parts of Asia, Europe and among Native American men.

Recently, by utilizing the Big Y test, an advanced specialized test that scans the majority of the Y chromosome for mutations, the haplogroup C tree was extended by several branches at Family Tree DNA.

With regular STR marker testing, which is the Y DNA test you purchase from Family Tree DNA,  this particular haplogroup C male had his base haplogroup of C identified along with the additional branch of C-P39. With additional advanced testing of some type, such as individual SNP testing, panels of SNPs available for some haplogroups, or the Big Y test – testers can learn more about their haplogroups – and with the Big Y, virtually everything there is to know about their Y chromosome.

However, until testers receive their regular STR results for their markers, advanced tests aren’t available to order, because testers don’t yet know into which haplogroup, or clan, they will be placed.

The haplogroup C Y-DNA project at Family Tree DNA provides a map of the most distant known ancestors of Haplogroup C members, including all branches, shown below.

Hapologroup C-P39, a Native American subgroup, is found in a much more restricted geography in the Haplogroup C-P39 project, below.

Tools at Family Tree DNA

At Family Tree DNA, your Y haplogroup is shown in the upper right hand corner on your personal page dashboard.

In the Y DNA section, additional tools are shown. Let’s look at each tool and what it can tell you about your direct paternal line.

You can always navigate to the Dashboard or any other option by clicking on the myFTDNA button on the upper left hand corner and then the Y DNA dropdown.


The first place most people look is at their Matches page. In the case of our example, he has twenty three 111 marker matches ranging from one person with a genetic distance of 1, meaning one mutation difference, to several with 6 mutations difference. The fewer mutations, in general, the most likely the closer in time your most recent common ancestor with your match.

You can see by just looking at the matches below why entering the name of your earliest known ancestor (under Manage Personal Information, Account Settings, Genealogy) is so important!!! That’s the first thing people see and the best indication of a common ancestor. I always include a name, birth/death date and location.

In this case, it’s very clear the common ancestor of most, if not all, of these men is Germain Doucet born in 1641 in Port Royal, Nova Scotia. And before you ask, yes, it’s rather unusual to have an entire list of men descended from one man, but it’s clearly not unheard of.

As you can see, many of these matches (names obscured for privacy) have trees attached to their results and several have also taken the autosomal Family Finder test.

The different Y-DNA haplogroups listed to the right are a function of the “Terminal SNP,” meaning the SNP that tested positive furthest out towards the tip of the branch of the tree. Four matches have had additional SNP testing which shows their terminal SNP to be either Z30754 or M217.

This gentleman can then view his 67, 37, 25 and 12 marker matches by clicking on that dropdown.

He can also e-mail any of his matches by clicking on the envelope icon or view their trees by clicking on the pedigree icon.


Next, let’s look at the Y-STR results for 67 markers. This page should really probably say “raw results,” because as many people say, “it’s just a page of numbers.”

This page shows your values and mutations at specific markers – in other words, what makes you both different from other people and the same as people you match, which means you share a common ancestor at some point in time in the not too distant past.

The beauty of these numbers, is, of course, in what they tell us in context of matching other people. You can’t have matches without these numbers. You also can’t have maps or anything else without the raw mutation information.

HaploTree and SNP Page

STR markers show mutations in recent timeframes, generally within the past 500-800 years, but SNPs take you back into antiquity – just like your family pedigree chart – working from closest to further back in time .

Your Haplotree and SNP page shows you the tree for your haplogroup – in this case C – designated by SNP M216, shown at the very top, along with all branches of the tree. The branches and leaves are color coded based on whether you have tested for that particular SNP, and if so, whether you were positive, meaning you carry the mutation, or negative, meaning you don’t.


The SNP map shows you cluster locations worldwide where any selected SNP is found.

Matches Maps

One of my favorite tools is the Matches Map because it shows the most distant ancestor for all of your matches that have provided that information.

Hint: you MUST enter the geographic information through the link at the bottom of this map (below) for YOUR ancestor to be displayed on THIS map and also on the maps of your matches.

You can also display your match list by clicking on the link beneath the map. You can click on the pins on the map to display the accompanying information.

Note the legend, as your exact matches are shown in red, 1 step mutations in orange, 2 steps in yellow, and so forth. Be sure to look for clusters, and note that if there are multiple people listed in the same location, their pins will stack on top of each other.

For example, in this case, the orange pin shown has two people’s ancestors in that location, including this tester, and a relevant cluster is clearly shown in Nova Scotia.

Migration and Frequency Maps

Are you wondering how your ancestor and his ancestors arrived where you first find them?

The haplogroup Migration Maps shows you the path from Africa to wherever they are found – in this case, the Americas.

The Frequency Map then shows you how much of the New World population is branches of haplogroup C.

Haplogroup Origins

The Haplogroup Origins tool shows the distribution of the haplogroup, by region, by match type and count.  Please note that you can click on any graphic to enlarge.

For example, this person has one 111 marker C-Z30765 match in Canada.

Ancestral Origins

The Ancestral Origins page shows matches by country along with any comments. These matches don’t have any comments, but comments might be Ashkenazi or MDKO (most distant known origin) when US is given.

Advanced Matching Combines Tools

Another of my favorite tools is the Advanced Matching tool, available under the Tools and Apps tab.

Advanced Matches is a wonderful tool that allows you to combine test types. For example, let’s say that you want to know if any of the people you match on the Y DNA test are also showing up as a match on the Family Finder test. You could further limit match results by project as well.

Be sure to click on “show only people I match in all selected tests” or you’ll receive the combined list of all matches, not just the people who match on BOTH tests, which is what you want.

In this example, I’ve selected 12 markers and Family Finder, because I know I’m going to find a few matches for illustration.

Of course, for adoptees, finding someone with whom you match closely on the Family Finder test AND match exactly (or nearly) on the Y DNA test would be very suggestive of a patrilineal common ancestor in a recent timeframe.


We started our discussion about Y DNA haplogroups by referencing two different haplogroup C projects. Family Tree DNA has over 9000 projects for you to select from.  The good news is that you really don’t have to limit your selections, because you can join an unlimited number of projects.

Thankfully, you don’t have to browse through all the available projects.

  • Haplogroup projects are categorized by Y or mtDNA and then by subgroup where appropriate.
  • Surname projects exist as well and are searchable for your genealogy lines.
  • Geographical projects cover everything else, from geographies such as the Denmark project to the American Indian project.

Some projects focus on Y DNA, some on mtDNA and some include both.  Additionally, some projects welcome people with autosomal results that pertain to that family surname or region.  Every project is run by one or more volunteer administrators that define the focus of the project.

To help people select relevant projects, project administrators can enter surnames that pertain to their project so that Family Tree DNA can match your surname to the project list to provide you with a menu of candidate projects to join.

Of course, you’ll need to read the project description for each project to see if the project actually pertains to you. You can see what is available for other surnames by utilizing the “Search by Surname” function, at the bottom of the menu.

You can also scroll down and browse in a number of ways in addition to surname.

All testers should join their haplogroup project so that everyone can benefit from collaboration.

You can join and manage your projects from your home page by clicking on the Projects tab on the upper left, shown below.

Y DNA Summary

I hope this overview has provided you with some good reasons to test your Y DNA or to better understand your results if you’ve already tested.

If you are a male and are interested in testing a line that is not your surname line, or if you are a female and you can’t test, you can find a male who descends from the ancestral line in question through all males and recruit that gentleman to test.  You can also check existing surname projects to see if someone from your line has already tested.

Y DNA holds the secrets of your patrilineal line. You never know what you don’t know unless you test. You don’t know what kind of surprises are waiting for you – and let’s face it, our ancestors are always full of surprises!

Y DNA Order Options

Family Tree DNA is the only company that offers this type of testing.  Ordering options include 37, 67 and 111 marker tests. You can also order 12 and 25 marker tests within projects. I suggest testing at the highest level the budget will allow, but no less than 37 markers. Most people have matches. Some people have a lot of matches and need the 111 marker test to more fully refine their matches to just the ones that may be genealogically relevant.

You can always upgrade later to a higher marker level later, but the combined original test plus upgrade cost more separately than just purchasing the larger test out the gate. It’s really a personal decision based on your goals and your budget.


If you have never tested at Family Tree DNA, you can obtain a discount any day of the week by joining through your surname project. Just click here and then enter your surname into the Project Search box, shown upper right below.  I’ve typed Estes for purposes of illustration.

You will be shown a list of projects (at left above) where the various project administrators have indicated that someone with your surname might be interest in their project. Read the project descriptions, then click on the resulting project that best suits your situation – generally your surname – Estes above for example. You will automatically be joined to the project you select when you order a product, shown below. After you order, you can join multiple projects.

Next, click on the test level you wish to order.

By virtue of comparison, the project pricing for 37, 67 and 111 markers, above, saves you $20 off the regular price if you don’t order through a project.

If you already have a kit number at Family Tree DNA and have ordered other products, you can sign in, upgrade and order your Y DNA test by clicking here.

Happy ancestor hunting!


Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure will now appear at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

The Parents of Charles Dodson, Jamestown Unraveled, 52 Ancestors #163

First, let me say right out and straight up that we have absolutely NO EVIDENCE whatsoever for who the parents of Charles Dodson ARE. But we do have evidence that strongly suggests who they aren’t!

Having said that, let’s look at the various rumors that persist and let’s see if we can address them.

The most common rumor, and by the way, I fell for it hook, line and sinker too, initially, because I was making the assumption that earlier researchers certainly would have had evidence or they would not have made fantastic claims, is that Charles Dodson is the grandson of John Dod’s of Jamestown through son Jesse Dodson who married Judith Hager.

Furthermore, Ann Dodson, Charles’ wife is rumored to have been his first cousin through Benjamin Dodson, brother to Jesse Dodson.

If anyone ever had evidence, it has disappeared today along with the documentation of whatever it was.

If you have or come across evidence, please, by all means contact me, because I’m still searching and I would actually LOVE to find some evidence that is documented.

What I will share with you is what I and other researchers have been able to assemble from records.

The Reverend Silas Lucas

The go-to resource for the Dodson family is the Dodson Family of North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia, an exceptional two volume set by the Reverend Silas Lucas published in 1988. He had written an earlier book in 1958 that preceded this more comprehensive set. Reverend Lucas spent 30 years sifting through primary records in every county in Virginia and many other states as well. Dodson researchers owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

On page vi of the introduction, here is what Rev. Lucas has to say:

A word of warning about trying to claim kinship with people with whom we cannot prove a relationship, i.e. “Are we kin to the John Dodson, d (sic, but he meant circa) 1607” of Jamestown, Virginia or Benjamin Dodson c 1652 of Essex County, Virginia? Some people would like to say that these men are the direct ancestors of Charles Dodson who died in 1701(sic). They state that a John Dodson came with Captain John Smith in 1607 and the John Dodson had sons Jesse and William Dodson. It is further stated that the aforementioned Jesse Dodson was the father of Charles Dodson, born about 1649 and died about 1701, in Richmond County, Virginia. Some of these people further state that our Charles Dodson of Richmond county, Virginia married one Anne Dodson, daughter of Benjamin Dodson of Essex County, Virginia. Regardless of how much one would like to claim descendancy from these aforementioned Dodsons, it must be stated unequivocably that no legal records exist to prove this hypothetical descendancy of Charles Dodson. Others have said that Gervais Dodson of Northumberland County, VA c 1650 was the progenitor of our family, but this also has not been proved.

To show how ridiculous this type of false claiming of kinship is, when I first heard of the above claims, I telephoned a lady in Texas who had been making these claims to Dodson descendants who had written her for possible help. I asked her where she got this proof, and she told me that several people who had joined one or more patriotic organizations had used these claims in their affidavits of descendancy, and she told me that it had to be true if one of these patriotic organizations had accepted the person for membership. I tried to point out that some of these organizations were of very recent beginnings and many had no hard-and-fast membership requirements, as to the DAR, Colonial Dames of America, as far as authenticating each detail of descent. Needless to say, I was unable to convince her of the questionable validity of these organizations and her desire to be associated or claim kinship with persons of the Jamestown era was too overwhelming for her to accept the basic premise of genealogical research concerning documenting proof of family descendancy by legal records.

Of course, for any genealogist reviewing this information, the first issue is that Essex County, Virginia didn’t exist in 1652. Neither did Richmond County.

The history of the counties that ultimately became both Richmond and Essex in 1692 when Old Rappahannock was dissolved, is as follows.

Dods and Dodson

From the book Domesday People: Domesday Book by K.S. B. Keats-Rohan, we find that a man named Aluuin Dodesone lived in Hertfordshire in 1086.

The book The Quest for a Lost Race by Paul B. Du Chaillu who proposed the theory that the English were descended from Scandinavians rather than the Teutons – Normans rather than Germans provides the following:

Dodson – The son of Dode, Alwinus Dodesone, occurs in Domesday as a tenant-in-chief. It is an open question whether it is Scandinavian or Anglo-Saxon. Even Lower is doubtful. There is a large connection of this name in Maryland and Kentucky. One branch is connected with the Botelers of Virginia. A good English stock.

The following publication from the Oxford University Press also provides information.

Is this the same as what would become Dodson, and if so, is it our Dodson line? We know positively that there was more than one, according to Y DNA. We have no way of knowing if this line would become our Dodsons.

Ancestry provides us with the following information about the source of the Dodson surname.


For the past two or three years, I’ve been focused on the Virginia and Maryland ancestors. I had the opportunity to visit Jamestown in 2015. When there and in the Virginia archives in Richmond, I checked for Dod, Dods, Dotson and Dodson in early records of both Jamestown and also of the area that became surrounding counties.

I really wanted to find proof, or even a probable trail that indicated my ancestor actually was John Dods who had been at Jamestown.

The following digitized book includes transcriptions of the original early documents.

The original lists of persons of quality; emigrants; religious exiles; political rebels; serving men sold for a term of years; apprentices; children stolen; maidens pressed; and others who went from Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700 : with their ages and the names of the ships in which they embarked, and other interesting particulars; from mss. preserved in the State Paper Department of Her Majesty’s Public Record Office, England

Jamestown Biographies

When I found the Jamestown Biographies project, and discovered that John Dods, wife Jane, was listed among the available biographies, I quickly purchased one. Thankfully, it was only $5.

It documents that John Dods was in Jamestown and that oral history says that Jane was an Iroquois, daughter of chief Eagle Plume. Oral history? Seriously? And I paid for this? Their source, personal correspondence with Dodson researchers. My heart sank.

A second page repeats the lore that Jane was reported by the family to be the daughter of Chief Eagle Plume, an Iroquois.

There is some good news in this report and that is the additional research. If we, meaning the Charles Dodson Y DNA descendants, ever get a Y DNA match to someone overseas, these very early references may become invaluable because one of them could potentially be our ancestor – whether through John Dods or not.

Jamestown lists two wills, both in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.  The first dated February 6, 1560 is the will of John Dodd, gentleman of Little Illford, Essex, and the second dated May 7, 1652 is for John Dodd, gentleman of Enfield, Middlesex.

If John Dodd’s on the lists is actually John Dodson, then the Dodd wills, above, are irrelevant.

Dispelling Rumors

Some genealogists contend that John Dodds wife was Jane Dier who came over after the first settlers and that John Dodds then lived and died in Richmond Co., Virginia.

The second part of that contention is impossible, since Jamestown was settled in 1607 and Richmond County was formed in 1692, which would have made John Dodds about 100 years old when Richmond County was formed. Oh, those pesky details.

John Dods did survive the Indian massacre at Jamestown which occurred on March 22, 1622.

According to the Persons of Quality book by Hotten:

The List of Living and Dead on February 16, 1623 shows John Dod’s and Mrs. Dod’s living at “ye neck of land.”

In 1624, at Neck of Land Corporation of Charles Cittie, John Dod’s is listed on the muster as being 36 years old and arriving on the Susan Constant in April 1607. His wife, Jane is listed as age 40 and there is no arrival ship beside her name, which is probably much of what fuels the speculation that she is Native.

In 1626, John Dodd’s is listed with 50 acres at Charles Cittie and with 150 acres at Tappahanna against James Cittie.

There is absolutely no evidence or records to suggest that John had children. The various lists do include “infants,” meaning underage children, and there are no other Dod individuals listed by any surname spelling, and nothing even close.

Other families on this same list had children listed, such as John Price, wife Ann, and Mary, a child aged 3 months. Very few families have children. Many woman arrived between 1620 and 1623.

Most women are younger than Jane. She along with one other woman is 40, and one woman is 50. Not all women have ages. Most are listed with the names of the ships they arrived in. The other woman, aged 40, does not.

There is no evidence that John and Jane, or John and anyone had any children who survived. There are no records of Jesse and/or William, their supposed sons, whatsoever. If other couples with children have their children listed, John and Ann would too. The oldest child born on American soil was age 8, and there was only one. Two children aged 7 were born in Virginia. It appears that there were very few females in the early colony and that children did not survive the 1722 attack. According to Jamestown historians, only three of the original settlers were still living and found on 1723 list of the living – and none with known children.

Given the information we do have, combined with the fact that Jane was age 40 in 1624, it’s reasonable to surmise that John Dodds and Jane never had children that lived. If they did, it would have had to have been in very short order, given Jane’s age.

Given that children are listed among the dead, and there is no Dod, Dods or Dodson listed by any spelling, it’s reasonable to presume that they did not have a child or children that died. Given that there are no other individuals listed with the Dodds surname, it’s reasonable to conclude that there were no other Dodds or Dodson individuals in the colony in 1624.

Under the list of Thomas Dunthorne’s muster, we find “Thomas an Indian Boaye” under the subtitle, “servants.” This suggests that if Ann had been an Indian, a notation beside her name might have said “Indian.”

Following further rumors, the marriage between John Dodson’s son, Jesse Dodson and Judith Hagar is supposed to have occurred on May 7, 1645 in Jamestown. The problem with this information is that there appear to be no records whatsoever of Jamestown marriages that have survived. Furthermore, there is no record of Judith Hagar arriving in Jamestown, either. Nor is there any record of Jesse Dodson. This rumor has struck out altogether.

Another rumor is that Jesse Dodson died in 1680 in Old Rappahannock County, Virginia, but you guessed it already, there is no record of any Jesse Dodson ever living in Rappahannock County or dying in Rappahannock County in 1680 or anytime, for that matter. Furthermore, Charles Dodson had no sons named Jesse.

Where is Charles Cittie?

John Dods owned land in Charles Cittie and James Cittie.  Charles Cittie is now Charles City County.

James Cittie is now James City County, adjoining Williamsburg and including Jamestown, which is, indeed, on a neck of land.

James City County abuts Charles City County.

On the map below, you can see both Jamestown and Charles City, along with the Northern Neck of Virginia, at the top of the map, north of the Rappahannock River, near 360, where Charles Dodson lived.

Jamestown and Charles City are 23 miles distant. John Dod’s land could have been anyplace along this route. His 2 parcels of land could actually have been very close if they were located near the border of Charles Cittie and James Cittie. Given that John Dodd was one of the original settlers, few of whom survived until 1623, my presumption would have been that he would have been allowed land in the original Jamestown settlement, if he wanted land there.

Where Did These Rumors Come From?

In determining whether there is any truth to a rumor, it often helps to determine the source. For example, if this line of descent had been reported in every one of Charles Dodson’s children’s lines, recorded repeatedly before the days of easy access to other people’s work, I would be more likely to consider the possibility that the story actually descended from the original settlers and wasn’t somehow later manufactured or surmised.

I discovered that I’m not the first person who asked that question. Glenn Gohr back in the 1980s and 1990s posted a significant amount of research on his Rootsweb page involving the various Dodson records.

Glenn first found the Dodson information involving Jamestown in a 1908 document:

Ege, Thompson P. Dodson Genealogy, 1600-1907. Philadelphia, PA: Deemer & Jaisohn, 1908.

Page 4 of the above book does have a good clue:

“Colonial Annals of Virginia mention ‘Dodson’s Plantation’ in 1632.”

Some say this is a reference to the plantation of a John Dodson, who they list as the grandfather of Charles Dodson (c1649-c1704) of Rappannock County and North Farnham Parish in Richmond Co., VA. I do not see enough evidence at this time to establish Charles Dodson’s progenitors.

Pages 363-364 lists origins of early Virginia branches of Dodsons. It says:

“The annals of Virginia record the name of a ‘Dodson Plantation’ in 1632. And the traditional story in a large and widely scattered line of descendants is that their ancestor settled along the James River and was one of the early Jamestown Colony.”

This document goes on to give partial more recent lineages for the Tennessee Dodsons, not going back as far as Charles of Richmond County and his sons. The more I read, the less reliable this source seemed to be.

Glenn continues with the following:

No documentation is given for any of the above. Much more is given on descendants in each of these lines. They do not show Charles Dodson of N. Farnham Parish in the lineage, but some of these names, especially the ones in Estanalle Valley of TN are listed in Rev. S. E. Lucas’s 2-vol. book (but) the lineage in the Ege book does not line up with the lineage in the Lucas book. The connection to Jamestown is interesting, and these lineages may provide some clues for researchers, but they cannot be taken as fact.

The above book also covers Dodsons in Maryland and Dodsons in Pennsylvania, and some unplaced Dodsons. There is also mention of 3 early Dodson settlers (2 brothers and a sister–John Dodson, b. March 1655; Mary Dodson, b. 11 Nov. 1664 md. Richard Boyes; Thomas Dodson, b. 19 Oct. 1669; md. Katharine Savill) who settled in New Jersey and were Quakers and children of a Daniel Dodson, b. ca. 1635 of Knaresborough, Yorkshire, England. These appear to be the ancestors of Dodsons in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland.

The information about the New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland Dodsons is useful relative to Y DNA testing in the Dodson DNA Project which shows that the Talbot Co., Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Dodson’s don’t match either the Charles Dodson line, or each other.

Glen then notes another book which repeats the Jamestown story

Ancestors of Robert Dodson and His Descendants, written by Mrs. C. T. Dodson; Illustrated by Miss Oneida Uzzell. Privately published, [1964?]. She included this information:

“The year 1619 brought three important events to Virginia and the colonists. Virginia was permitted to enjoy a measure of self government; a ship load, eighty, of prospective wives arrived from England (probably Jesse (2) Dodson and William (2) Dodson married two of these women). The colonist could secure a wife, with her permission, and by paying her transportation, in the amount of one hundred and twenty pounds of tobacco–about $500 dollars worth; and the first Negro slaves landed in Virginia.”

Glen then provides the information from an application for the Daughters of Colonists that seems to be part of the source for the rumors.


Here follows information on records to get into Daughters of the Colonists by Lillian E. Dodson.

  1. 72-73 (This is quoted word for word from the book, including mispellings or question marked items–gg):

Copied 9 February, 1966 by Edith Wolf Standhardt from handwritten copy lent by O. H. Schwanderman.

From Records to get into Daughters of Colonists by Lillian Elanine Dodson [I think this should be Daughters of the American Colonists– gg]

Name of Ancestor – John Dodson of James River or Jamestown. Served in the Council and General Court of Jamestown, 1622 – 1629.

The undersigned have investigated and approve the applicant and her application

Signature of St. Louis Chapter Officers:

Chapter Regent: Maude Bryan Jenneinzo (?) (Jennings?


Chapter Registrar: Gertrude L. Wingert

Chapter Sec: Clara Sizer Nevling

Date: Nov. 21, 1949

Signature of Missouri State Officers:

State Regent: Mrs. Edwin Lamont Barber

State Registrar: Nell Downing Norton

State Sec: Acenath M. Booth

Date: Nov. 21, 1949

Fee received by National Society: Mabel S. Stoyer, Nat. Treas. Dec. 15, 1949

Signature of National Officers:

Natl. President: Margaret F. Powers

Natl. Registrar: Lillian M. Sanford

Natl. Sec.: Mabel Puffer Martin

Date of Acceptance: Jan. 31, 1950


Mrs. Clyde Nevling, 4259 Maffit Ave., St. Louis

Mrs. Joseph Jannuzzo, 8016 Seminole Place, Clyton 5, Mo.

Miss Lillian Elanine Dodson, born 4 Feb. 1901, Wayne Co., KY. herein apply for membership in Society by right of descent from John Dodson, a member of the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia, who is mentioned in Va. Mag. Vol. 23, p. 11 in St. Louis Public Library Ref. Room., of Jamestown, Virginia, born in England, died in Virginia, served in Council and General Court of Jamestown 1622-29.

I was born in Steubenville (Wayne Co.) Ky. I am the daughter of John Cornelius Dodson of Steubenville, Ky., born 22 Feb. 1869, died 31 Jan. 1931 – married 22 Feb. 1900 to Nancy Kelly, born 19 Dec. 1869 d. 18 Dec. 1939.

John Cornelius Dodson, son of John Dodson born 23 Nov. 1831, died 11 Aug. 1885, married Sara Phillips, born 23 Nov. 1828

John Dodson is the son of Jesse Dodson born 26 Dec. 1802, died 3 Jan. 1864, married 14 July 1824 Elizabeth Small, born 12 Oct. 1805, d. 12 June 1876.

Jesse Dodson is the son of Thomas Dodson, died prior to 1836. married Jemima Randall.

Thomas Dodson is son of George Dodson of Richmond Co., Va., born 31 Oct. 1737, died 1825 Pittsylvania Co., Va., married twice, Margaret and Elizabeth.

George Dodson is the son of George Dodson, married 30 April 1726 in Richmond Co., Va. to Margaret Dagord.

George Dodson is son of Thomas Dodson born 15 May 1681, died 21 Nov. 1740.

Thomas Dodson is son of Charles Dodson of Richmond Co., Va. born 1649, died 1704.

Charles Dodson is son of Jesse Dodson, Richmond Co., Va. married to Ann.

Jesse Dodson is the son of John Dodson of Jamestown Settlement born in England.

Records to be found: Genealogy traced in “Dodson Genealogy 1600 – 1907” page 364, St. Louis Mo. Library. Will on record in Pittsylvania Co., Courthouse, Va. proved 19 Dec. 1825. Named in father’s will proved 2 Mar. 1740 in Richmond Co., Va.

Named in father’s will (Charles) in Richmond Co., Va. Courthouse, 1704. Abstracts of Richmond Co., Va. Also “Dodson Genealogy”, Ege. Lineage in “Dodson Genealogy 1600-1907” by Rev.. T. P. Ege, Local Library. Mentioned in “Dodson Genealogy”, also Virginia Mag. of History.

Children of Ancestor

Jesse Dodson)

   ) sons of John Dodson

William Dodson)

Authorities proving services of Ancestor: Virginia Mag. of History, Vol. 23, p. 11; his name given in minutes of the Council and General Court, 1622, 1629, and the fact stated that he was a passenger on ship Ann, that he came to Jamestown in the original settlement. He was called to report in the Council on conditions of the ship and provisions for the voyage. He is reported to have been a hunter of some note, a good citizen, and the father of at least two children, sons William and Jesse, listed above in Dodson Genealogy.

Copied by Oliver H. Schwanderman of Fort Recovery, Ohio, Route 3, 4 Feb. 1964. She is a cousin to me by Dodson lineage from Rutha Mary Dodson Schwanderman, 1870 – 1959, Wayne Co., Ky. Champaign Co., Ill.

Ancestors of Robert Dodson and His Descendants. Written by Mrs. C. T. Dodson; Illustrated by Miss Oneida Uzzell. Privately published, {1964?] (Note: This book is 115 p. and is located in the Dallas Public Library, Dallas, TX, call # R929.2 D647d), pp. 73-74:

Article in Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol.23 (1915), pp. 11-12, as quoted in:

*Note: I am quoting this directly from the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography article–there is more than what is quoted, here, but this is the part that refers to John Dodson.–gg

Minutes of the Council and General Court

[ink folio 105]

Mr. Thomas Edwardes beinge Demanded wt he could sayd concerninge the Accomodatinge of passengers yt cam in the shipp called the Ann said that he wold never Desire to be better vsed Yt is ordered Yt mr Daniell Lacye shall haue four acres of grounde in the Islande adioyne on the grounde of mr Kingsmells, wch is the rather granted for that mr Kingsmell Doth Desire the same Moris Thomsone and John Dodson sworne and Exand sayeth that for ye they were a fortnight or three weeks abourde befor they had any breckfast Drinke allowed them, And after they had Complayned, they had to smale Cans of beere for breckfast to 5 men wch Contynued soe for some six weeks or two moneths And they had a quarter can of beere to a meale for 5 men wch Contynued for the space of sixteen weeks, And after that for the space of Six weeks a three weeks they had three smale cans of beere to A messe. And a pounde and a halfe And that they had three pownd of bred a Daye to A messe for the space of some sixteene weeks. And after till theyr cominge in thre bisketts a meale to A mess. And for A sixteen weeks they had thrree flesh Dyes A week, And after that for about a moneth fortnight they had too flesh Dyes a week and after yt 2 flesh meales a week till theire Cominge in foorther they say that ther beere was well condicioned except a butt or two (ink folio 106) And fovrther they say have harde some of the passengers Complayne but wt cause they had they know nott….

Glenn closes by stating the following:

Mrs. Dodson does try to list and include sources about the information she has listed, but there is NOTHING besides “family tradition” which definitely links the John with the 2 sons, William and Jesse. Also nothing besides tradition to link Jesse with Charles Dodson of N. Farnham Parish, Richmond Co., VA.

Still it is fascinating reading, hoping that it all could be true and proven true. I, personally don’t see enough proof for the links.

At least now we know where this came from, thanks to Glenn’s detective work.

The Reverend Elias Dodson, writing about 1859, penned a manuscript titled “Genealogy of the Dodson Familes of Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties in the State of Virginia.” Reverend Lucas had a copy of that document and used it extensively when writing his book. However, Reverend Elias Dodson says nothing at all about Jamestown or John Dods. This is the earliest known family document or history of the Dodson family – and it stands mute.

If Elias had heard about Jamestown, and that Charles was descended from John Dod or his son, Jesse, Elias surely would have included that information.

However, there are records of some additional Dodsons that we should review.

Thomas Dodson of Northumberland County

There is a Thomas Dodson found in Northumberland County in 1658.  Because Charles Dodson names his second eldest son Thomas, and because the eventual Richmond County is taken from part of the original Northumberland, these records deserve close scrutiny.

Thomas Dodson patents land on Dividing Creek in 1658 in Northumberland County, but the patent expires and nothing more is known of Thomas’s land until 1694 after he has lost the land and died. Unfortunately there are no records in this part of Virginia that speak to his death, so he may have died elsewhere.

The book Cavaliers and Pioneers volume 1 by Dennis Ray Hudgins, page 383, documents that Thomas Dodson was granted 1200 acres on Nov. 29, 1658 in Northumberland Co., VA for the transportation of 24 persons. His name appeared on the list, which suggests that he is one of the 24. The fact that he transported (or paid for the transportation of) 24 people suggests that Thomas Dodson is wealthy.

Researcher Michelle Ule found the following:

Patent Thomas Dodson grantee 29 Nov 1658 Northumberland County 1200 acres on the high lands above the head of the Dividing Creeks. Source: Land Office Patents No 4 1655-1664 pg 340 reel 4) Dividing Creeks is south of the Great Wicomico and the river flows into the southern Chesapeake Bay.

1200 acres would be the exact amount, at 50 acres each, for transporting 24 individuals.

Grant Walter Jenkin grantee 30 Nov 1694 Northumberland County 500 acres escheat land part of a tract of land of 1200 acres granted to Thomas Dodson 29 Nov 1658. Southermost &c of sd 1200 acres, adjoining to the lands of Colo. Lee and John Cousins. Source: Northern Neck Grants No 2 1694-1700 pg 88-91 (reel 288)

Grant John Lewis grantee 26 Mar 1695 Northumberland County 150 acres escheat land beginning on the land of Charles Lee, Walter Jenkins, Peter Hammon, and Thomas Haydon. Thomas Dodson, died seized of 1200 acres patent dated Nov. 29, 1658. Source: Northern Neck Grants No. 2, 1694-1700, p. 146-147 (Reel 288).

Grant Grantee Hammon, Peter grantee, Date 26 March 1695.  Note  Location: Northumberland County.  Note  Description: 150 acres escheat land, Thomas Dodson died seized of 1200 acres of land, patent dated Nov. 29, 1658, the 150 acres abutting southerly on the land of Walter Jenkins westerly on the land of Thomas Williams. Source: Northern Neck Grants No. 2, 1694-1700, p. 144-146 (Reel 288)

Source: Land Office Patents No. 6, 1666-1679 (pt.1 & 2)


Another researcher reports the following information pertaining to Thomas of Northumberland.

1663 March Northumberland County land record sale of land by Wilbur and Sarah Mauder to Thomas Dodson – the land upon which he lives.

1664 Northumberland County Power of attorney from Jane Wiley to Symon Dodson.

The above record is the only record that involves Symon Dodson.

One Thomas Dodson apparently lived in Northumberland County between 1658 and 1663, but he was not living there in 1652 when the loyalty oath was taken.  He may have had a relative named Symon.  We don’t find anything about either man after 1664, in Northumberland or any of the spinoff counties.  We do know that by 1694, Thomas had died, apparently still owning his land, and the land reverted, probably due to lack of tax payments or because he never paid the fees or had the land surveyed.  If Thomas had an estate that included underage heirs, such as Charles Dodson, a guardian would have been appointed to protect the assets of the heirs and the land would not have been allowed to escheat back to the colony.  No such records exist, so it’s extremely unlikely that Charles is the son of Thomas.

Charles, born in 1649, would have been age 14 in 1663 when Thomas last appears in the records, obtaining land from Wilbur and Sarah Mauder.

Thomas Dodson died sometime between 1663 and 1694.  Charles never owns or sells land in Northumberland County, nor do we find any record of Thomas’s land from the Mauder’s being sold.

Englishmen non-resident in England had their wills probated through the Canterbury Court. One Thomas Dodson’s will is probated in Canterbury in 1672, but his wife’s name is Sarah, as well as his daughter, and he lived in Great Warley, Essex.  Other Thomas Dodson’s are found in Yorkshire, Kent and one buried in London in 1668.

There is no Charles born in 1649 in any of these locations, and no Charles born to a Thomas in any records that are indexed yet today – although future researchers should check these records again.  There is a Charles born in 1645 to Northamptonshire to John and Joanne Dodson and in 1655 in Shropshire to Edward and Frances Dodson – neither of which look promising, given naming conventions.

Charles first appears in Old Rappahannock County in 1679 in a lease type arrangement with Peter Elmore.  Charles does not purchase his own land until 1686, so he clearly didn’t have funds until that time. Nor did Charles patent land, so apparently someone else took credit for his 50 acre headright.

Other Dodsons

Gervais Dodson appears before Charles Dodson in the records of Northumberland County, VA in 1658, but he appears to have died without issue. Furthermore, there is no Gervais in any of Charles children nor their offspring.

There is a John Dodson line in early Maryland which, via DNA testing, we know does not match our Charles Dodson.

Another researcher reports several other Dodsons:

1622 – 31 July Robert Dodson Jr. came to Virginia at the expense of Robert Dodson Sr aboard the ship James.

I was not able to find any evidence of this Robert Dodson Jr. He is not among the list of living taken in 1623.

1623 – 30 April Robert Dodson Jr. said that he had firsthand knowledge of the plantations east of Jamestown.

I have not been able to confirm this informaton, and he does not appear on the 1624 muster list.

1643 – Thomas Dodson by Richard Richards, Charles River Virginia. Source:  Greer, George Cabell. Early Virginia Immigrants, 1623-1666. Richmond VA: W.C. Hill Printing Co., 1912. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1978. Repr. 1982. Page: 96.

Charles’s wife Ann, Daughter of Benjamin?

A secondary Dodson rumor is that Charles married his first cousin, Ann, daughter of Benjamin Dodson, son of John Dodson, of Jamestown.

If you’ll notice, the original rumor has changed. Originally, John Dodson and Jane had two sons, Jesse and William. However, when Ann’s story got added, she became the first cousin of Charles through Benjamin, the brother of Jesse. Therefore, John Dods (Dodson) of Jamestown would have had three sons, Jesse, William and Benjamin. The rumors aren’t adding up, especially considering that John and his 40 year old wife had no children in 1624.

And then there’s the pesky issue of the fact that we have an immigration record for Benjamin in 1635.

1635 – Benj Dodson Place: Virginia Source:  Greer, George Cabell. Early Virginia Immigrants, 1623-1666. Richmond VA: W.C. Hill Printing Co., 1912. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1978. Repr. 1982. Page: 96.

1635 – 22 June: Captain William Pierce, Esq received 2000 acres for the transportation of 40 persons including Benjamin Dodson.  Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.

Another researcher takes this a step further, providing the following:

Charles Dodson, born about 1649, d 1705 Richmond, Co., Va. m Ann Dodson (dau. of Benjamin Dodson, who gave his daughter a legacy of land on the James River in Essex Co., Va., May 1652.  This joined John Hill, Sr.’s land.  (This Benjamin probably came from England.)  Ann m before 1680 to Charles Dodson (2nd) John Hill, Jr., after Charles’ (3) death.

One thing I can confirm is that indeed, Ann did marry John Hill after Charles died. I can’t confirm that it was John Hill Jr.

I can state unequivocally that there was no Dodson in Northumberland County in 1652 when the loyalty oath was signed, so Benjamin must have been elsewhere at that time.

Capt. Hill does patent land, according to the Virginia County Records Quarterly Magazine March 1911, Vol. IX #1:

Capt John Hill land grand 1669 Rappahannock Co for 650 acres, also in 1670 for 1200

However, Essex County wasn’t formed until 1692, so it’s impossible for Benjamin Dodson to leave anyone a legacy in Essex County in May of 1652. In 1652, this area would have been part of Northumberland or Lancaster.

I review the Essex County records, which includes the original Old Rappahannock records prior to 1692, and there is absolutely no mention of Benjamin Dodson in any type of record, including land, court, church or will/probate.

There is absolutely no record to substantiate the claim that Ann was the daughter of Benjamin Dodson, or that there were any transactions between John Hill and Benjamin Dodson, or that John Hill even owned land in what would become Essex County.

Charles Dodson’s wife was clearly Ann.  Later, in online trees, she rumored to be the daughter of Peter Elmore, which I wrote about here.

Dodd is Not Necessarily Dodson

The Dodd family is also found in Richmond County, VA. It has never been suggested that the Dodd and Dodson families are one and the same, nor am I suggesting that now, but while we Dodson researchers have been incredibly focused on the Dodson surname, we need to be cognizant that the Dodd surname in Richmond County is equally as likely, if not moreso, to be descended from John Dodd at Jamestown – if anyone is.

I did find evidence of John Dod(d) who was married to a Jane in the Richmond county records, according to records beginning in 1696/97 in both deed and court records. This record at the Early Colonial Settlers of Southern Maryland and Virginia’s Northern Neck Counties site reveals more information about this John Dodd, including that he is the son of Richard Dodd who was born in 1634 in England and died in 1678 in Charles County, Maryland. So, clearly, this is not the Jamestown Dod family, nor is he related to our Dodsons.


Not only do we have absolutely not one shred of evidence that John Dod, Dodd or Dodson of Jamestown is an ancestor of Charles Dodson, we have evidence that he isn’t.

Probably the most compelling evidence is that John and his wife are listed in the 1624 muster without children, where other people are listed with children. Given that Jane is 40 at that time, it would be very unusual for her to bear 3 additional children, Jesse, William and Benjamin, and for all 3 to live.

There is also no information about what happened to John Dod or Dodson, or what happened to his land.

There is no evidence whatsoever that a William, Jesse or Benjamin Dodson lived in Virginia before the record of Benjamin’s arrival in 1635. Neither Jesse nor William are ever reported in any record.

It is possible that some Dodson was living in Virginia by 1632 when Dodson’s plantation was reportedly referenced, although I have not been able to confirm that record.

However, given the fact that Charles Dodson can write suggests strongly that he was not raised in early Virginia. If Charles could write, then he would have been the son of a gentleman. He would likely have been sent back to England to be schooled, and when he returned, it would not have been as a penniless man who contracted to work and improve another man’s land 1679 for a period of 19 years. The son of a gentleman would simply have purchased land. Charles did not – at least not for another 6 years, in 1685. Nor did Charles ever claim a 50 acre land grant for transporting himself, so either he was transported by someone who claimed his headright, or he arrived as an indentured servant.

The best we can piece together is that Charles was probably born in England. I’m hopeful that eventually, a parish record will emerge that shows a Charles born in about 1649, a year revealed by Charles’ own testimony in 1699 stating that he was about 50 years old.

Until then, all we can say is that the parents of Charles Dodson were almost certainly NOT Jesse Dodson and Judith Hagar who supposedly married in 1645 in Jamestown. Unless new information is forth coming with actual documentation of some sort, this couple must be relegated to the annals of myth – along with Charles Dodson being the son of John Dods of Jamestown.

I’m hopeful that one day either a parish register of Charles’ birth will emerge or a Y DNA match to an English Dodson whose lineage is located in a small village and has been since records began. Either one would go a very long way in terms of helping us bridge the gap between Charles and his parents by providing us with a search location in England.  Those records may be waiting in a small village church in England for Dodson researchers to find them – along with Charles’ ancestors in the church cemetery!

MyHeritage Ethnicity Results

I originally wrote about MyHeritage in February 2017, reflecting matching issues and a broken promise regarding providing ethnicity estimates to people who uploaded their raw DNA file from another vendor. I’m glad to say MyHeritage changed their minds about providing ethnicity results and, today, has honored their original commitment and provided free ethnicity results to uploaders. I feel much better about the DNA aspect of MyHeritage given this decision although their challenges with matching remain.

MyHeritage has also provided updated ethnicity results to people who tested directly at MyHeritage.

In an e-mail received today from Aaron Godfrey, their Director of Marketing, he says:

I wanted to let you know that we’ve just launched MyHeritage’s new and improved Ethnicity Estimate. The new analysis, developed by the company’s science team, provides MyHeritage DNA customers with a percentage-based estimate of their ethnic origins covering 42 ethnic regions, many unique to MyHeritage.

In addition, the new Ethnicity Estimate will be provided for free to users who have already uploaded their DNA data to MyHeritage from other services, or who will upload it in the coming months. Users who upload their DNA data to MyHeritage, already enjoy free DNA Matching, and now they will benefit from the new ethnicity analysis too.

Our Ethnicity Estimate is delivered to users through a captivating “reveal” experience featuring animation and, as of this week, original music composed by MyHeritage. Each of the 42 ethnicities has a distinctive tune, based on the region’s cultural elements; all tunes seamlessly connect to each other. You can view an example here:  https://vimeo.com/218348730/51174e0b49

An excerpt from their press release is provided below:

TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah, May 30, 2017 – MyHeritage, the leading global destination for family history and DNA testing, and the makers of the successful MyHeritage DNA product, today announced the launch of its new and improved Ethnicity Estimate. The new analysis, developed by the company’s science team, provides MyHeritage DNA customers with a percentage-based estimate of their ethnic origins covering 42 ethnic regions, many available only on MyHeritage, representing the most comprehensive report of its type available on the market. This fascinating report gives users a much better understanding of who they are and where their ancestors came from. The Ethnicity Estimate is presented in an original and engaging format, making it not only interesting but also fun to watch and share.

MyHeritage is unique among the main industry players in allowing users who have tested their DNA already with another service to upload – for free – their data to MyHeritage. Those users receive DNA Matches for free, for finding relatives based on shared DNA. Beginning this week, users who have already uploaded their DNA data to MyHeritage, or who will upload it in the coming months, will receive – for free – the new Ethnicity Estimate. This benefit is not offered by any other major DNA company.

Development of the new Ethnicity Estimate raises the number of ethnic regions covered by MyHeritage DNA from 36 to 42. It was made possible thanks to MyHeritage’s Founder Populations project — one of the largest of its kind ever conducted. For this unique project, more than 5,000 participants were handpicked by MyHeritage from its 90 million strong user base, by virtue of their family trees exemplifying consistent ancestry from the same region or ethnicity for many generations All project participants received complimentary DNA tests and allowed MyHeritage’s science team to develop breakthrough ethnicity models based on the generated data. Thanks to this analysis, MyHeritage DNA has become the only mass-market percentage-based DNA test that reveals ethnicities such as Balkan; Baltic; Eskimo & Inuit; Japanese; Kenyan; Sierra Leonean; Somali; four major Jewish groups – Ethiopian, Yemenite, Sephardic from North Africa and Mizrahi from Iran and Iraq; Indigenous Amazonian; Papuan and many others. In some cases, competing products can identify and report an aggregated region (e.g., Italian & Greek), whereas MyHeritage has better resolution and identifies Greek, Italian and Sardinian ethnicities separately.

MyHeritage’s new Ethnicity Estimate is delivered to users via a captivating “reveal” experience (view example). It features animation and, as of this week, also original music composed by MyHeritage. Each of the 42 ethnicities has a distinctive tune, based on the region’s cultural elements; all tunes seamlessly connect to each other. This makes the report fun to watch and share over social media.

Dr. Yaniv Erlich, Chief Science Officer at MyHeritage, said, “For MyHeritage’s science team, this major update of our Ethnicity Estimate is only an appetizer. There are excellent installments on the way, and users can prepare for a feast! We have detailed plans to increase accuracy, extend our Founder Populations project further, and improve the resolution for ethnicities of great interest to our users from highly diverse origins. Our goal is to use science to further the public good, and to bring the best innovations of our science team to the public.”

If you tested earlier, your results have been updated and your “reveal intro” with music added. Check it out.

If you uploaded previously, you had no ethnicity results, but now you do.

Regions Reported

From my results, the regions that MyHeritage supports, meaning the regions they report, are as follows:

The regions above correlate with the regions shown on the map at the beginning of this article.

My Ethnicity Results

I filmed my own reveal to share with you, but viewing their Vimeo clip linked above is much better quality. I particularly enjoyed the music compositions from the locations where my ethnicity is reported.

As with other vendors who offer ethnicity services, I have compared the MyHeritage ethnicity results with my known genealogy, and then as compared to other vendors.

Let’s look at my results.

The first thing I noticed is that the British Isles is broken into two components, English and then Irish/Scottish/Welsh. Of course, looking at the map, they do overlap almost entirely.

The second thing I noticed is that, according to MyHeritage, I’m indigenous Amazonian.

My reaction to that? You’ve got to be kidding.

Now, the good news is that they did detect my Native American, which, by the way, is either from my mother’s side out of Nova Scotia (Acadian), which is proven in several ancestral lines via mtDNA and Y DNA testing, or from my father’s line from near the Virginia/North Carolina border, or both.

The bad news is that they have badly mislabeled my Native finding. What this really means is that their reference population is from the Amazon. Of course, all Native people spring from a few hearty settlers that crossed Beringia from Russia into what is now Canada someplace between (roughly) 12,000 and 15,000 years ago, so it’s not surprising that I do match the people from the Amazon at some level. However, that does not mean my DNA is indigenous Amazonian, or that my ancestors were ever anyplace NEAR the Amazon or even South America.

Ethnicity vs Genealogy Comparison

In the article, Concepts – Calculating Ethnicity Percentages, I explained how to calculate your expected ethnicity percentages from your genealogy. As each vendor has introduced ethnicity results, or updated previous results, I’ve added to the cumulative chart.

Let’s see how MyHeritage stacks up against my known genealogy.

MyHeritage uses groupings slightly differently than I grouped my genealogy, so in the British Isles region, I’ve used yellow and green to show like groupings of my genealogy as compared to the MyHeritage results. As you can see, the 44.4% England attributed by MyHeritage is very close to the 43.68% found in my genealogy. The Irish/Scottish/Welsh, not quite so close.

MyHeritage Compared to Other Vendors

Adding MyHeritage to the table with the other vendors’ current results, we find the following:

Please note that you can click to enlarge.

The easiest way to compare apples to apples is to look at the pink region totals. The various vendors separate out the geographic regions differently, so it’s difficult to compare one directly to another.

Uploading or Testing at MyHeritage

You can still upload your data file if you tested with another company, for free, and obtain your matches and your ethnicity. You can add a tree up to 250 people for free, but beyond that, you must subscribe. I have had reports of people receiving phone calls from MyHeritage encouraging them to subscribe after utilizing the free tree, although I cannot confirm this personally as I subscribed when I decided to utilize their trees.

Although you can include a tree, MyHeritage does not provide tree matching for people whose DNA matches, showing common surnames or a common ancestor if one is listed.

As always with any vendor, read the Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy and any other linked documents when considering either a purchase or uploading your DNA results from another testing company. The MyHeritage Privacy Policy is here and Terms and Conditions are here.

You can upload your autosomal DNA results for free here.

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure will now appear at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

Frank Sadowski Jr. – Bravery Under Fire, 52 Ancestors #162

Your name is Frank Sadowski Jr.

You were born on May 8, 1921. You are the consummate all-American boy, a member of the science club in high school in Chicago, then on to Northwestern University studying to be a physician – following in the footsteps of your father.

You are a cherished member of the all-American family, son of an immigrant physician father who worked his way through medical school and “made something” of himself. You are his name-sake, shown with your father, below and your mother, Harriett, a stay-at-home Mom, peeking out the window in the background.

You have a brother, Bobbie, and a sister, Margie, shown below, who is also attending college, majoring in music. In fact, she’s racing you to see who will graduate first.

You have a beautiful girlfriend, Jean, a professional tap and ballet dancer, planned soon to be your wife – as soon as the war is over. She wears your ring in sweet anticipation.

You have it all.


December 7, 1941 – a day that lives in infamy in the history of this nation. Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, drawing the United States into the midst of WWII. Even today, nearly three quarters of a century later, most Americans know the meaning of that date.

Americans were shocked, then enraged and incensed. The next day, war was declared. Patriotism was running at an all-time high. The unexpected attack on Pearl Harbor, sinking American battleships, united Americans decisively, providing a common cause. It was no longer about warfare or politics, but about integrity and honor. Enlistment and recruitment offices were full to the brim, with long lines of patriotic young men proud and determined to fight for and defend America.

It probably pained you not to join the ranks that day to enlist.

On February 16, 1943, over the objections of family members, you feel you have to DO something. WWII is raging. You’re 21 years and 9 months old, barely old enough to buy a beer. Men are needed. Real men enlist! Emotions are running high. Northwestern University, and finishing medical school, can wait. You have a war to fight. For freedom. For liberty. For what is right. For mankind. To help those who are injured. You’re sure with your medical training that you won’t be on the front lines, so it’s a pretty safe bet.

You enlist in the Army.

Your mother sobbed inconsolably. A fortune-teller told her that two of her sons would serve, and only one would return. Now, the first half has come true.

Your first several months are spent in training in several locations: Texas, the University of Chicago which isn’t so bad, then Oregon and California. Christmas 1944 finds you being deployed to Okinawa in the Pacific Theater on a destroyer.

Before you leave San Francisco, you v-mail (victory mail) a Christmas card to your girlfriend because you won’t be able to later.

You also mail a very private letter to your sweetheart, which, for better or worse, didn’t survive for future generations to read. You talk about your dreams for a life together after the war, about your wedding, about your future children. You miss her terribly, an aching that won’t subside. You write her every single day, whether you can mail the letters or not. In fact, you write to her so much that the other guys, “Joes,” as you call them, tease you – but you don’t care. She is your link to sanity, to hope for the future.

The Letters

On December 9th, 1944 before boarding the ship, you also write a letter to your father, who too is waiting at home for your return. There is no paragraph spacing, because as you’ve said in other letters, writing paper is a scarce and valuable commodity.

Hello Dad,

This is a sloppy mess but so is everything around here. Never-the-less I’d like to write you a bit. You see I’m becoming quite a prompt son in spite of obstacles. Come on, pat me on the back. I’m a bounder as far as that’s concerned. Of course I’m going to thump you on the back, dad. Don’t look now but you’ve been very generous with us kids. Especially me. Of course ? your my favorite anyway. Maybe it’s because you’ve got the biggest darn heart any man has a right to have. I know now how you’ve spoiled me but I can’t help but love you all the more for it. I guess Margie would call me a weak character and apply polishing my dad again. She’s right but I want to do it anyway, pop. You see, I’ve never told you these things quite right till now so it’s a lot like a confession to me. Of course Mom, sis and Bobbie have been pretty good as a whole, but I apple polish you all one at a time. You, pop, were responsible for a very warm Thanksgiving in my heart. Say, Christmas, is probably right on you and though I wish you a Merry Christmas before let me do it again. Dad, I’m in just the pink of condition and kinda happy about having people like you at home thinking about me once in a while.

All my love dad,


While on board the ship, you write letters, but of course you can’t mail them until the ship docks, nor can you receive any mail. You count the days until mail call again, because that is the only lifeline between you and those you love.

On December 14th, you write a letter to your sister, Marge, who you also call “Red,” for her flaming hair, much to her chagrin, complaining, in a teasing brotherly way, of course, that you receive far fewer letters from her than she receives from you. You then write 4 paragraphs about the food, of all things, because you’re afraid to say goodbye to her. You then ask her, again, to write you more often, directly, no teasing this time. And then you finally say it:

So long sis, your brother sure is beginning to miss you.

The homesickness is dripping from your every word.

On December 22nd, you write a letter to your father that tells him how you’re just fine – because you’re really not and you’re terribly homesick and injured, but you don’t want to admit either.

Then you tell him how unhappy you are that the Army informed your parents that you were injured and you tell your father that it’s nothing, really, just a slight cut on your foot. You don’t tell him that the cutting instrument was an ax, because you know he would worry. You’re someplace on an island in the Pacific for treatment, so you tell him it’s easier on the island to sleep and that you’re always hungry, always first in the chow line and in the best health ever. Me thinks you do protest too much.

You complain that you still don’t have your brother, Bobbie’s address, and ask for someone to please send it to you. He too is serving in the military. You ask if his address is in the mail yet.

You congratulate your sister for graduating first. That must have come hard – but of course, had the war not interfered…

You close to your dad with, “Don’t forget, your son still loves you,” and a PS that says, “That goes for you too Mom and Marge.”

Now, you’re writing home almost every day. You talk about the Christmas carols on the radio and how it’s like Christmas in the middle of July. You reassure your family that you’re “feeling tops,” but of course, you’re not. You tell your father, “no more paternal concern on my score – do you hear!!!” Then you tell him that you worry about him and you want to come home and find him, “in the best health you’ve ever been in.”

And then:

Well, Dad, my time is running out but my love for you and the family isn’t.

Your loving son,

Finally, Christmas is over. Your letters home are gut-wrenching. The gifts sent by your family never arrived, but none-the-less you tell them you had a wonderful Christmas day doing nothing. Your letter on the 28th hints that you’re not receiving mail either, although you are still on the island recovering from the “minor injury.”

Say, pop, you’d better get a letter out here to me – maybe I’ll have something interesting in response. I write a much better letter when I’m reading one of yours.

Of course, you would never want to admit how desperately you miss your family or how you crave a letter. Some days, you receive 3 or 4 letters in one day, then none again for what seems like eternity.

A few days later, you are back on the ship again and writing your family. In those letters you admit to your sister that in fact, it wasn’t an ax after all, but a machete that slipped and cut your foot and infection followed. Sulfa drugs didn’t work. You were a lot, LOT, sicker than you admitted to your family.

It wasn’t your time to go. Not yet.

In January, you’re off the ship and on terra firma in the Philippine Islands, and you’ve lost your pocket Bible your father gave you to keep you safe. The Chaplain finds another one for you, but you lament the loss to your sister.

You tell your father how proud you are to have “Jr. tagged on your name,” because you are very proud to be his son. You tell him that some men don’t like being a “Jr.,” but you are honored. Your letters are becoming much more openly loving, with more than a hint of urgency.

Your girlfriend is working with the USO back home to put together a show so that she can show up in a performance and surprise you and the troops. I can only imagine the look on your face when you realize who is performing! It was supposed to be a surprise, but your girlfriend’s mother wrote a letter to you and unknowingly revealed the plan.

Wouldn’t that have been something!!!

Your letters continue to your family, but your life is becoming more difficult. You lament that your entire life is packed into one duffle bag, including that precious paper for writing home and an 8X10 picture of your girlfriend that you worry about spoiling. The Bible lives in your pocket. Some of your letters aren’t arriving home now. Your family and your girlfriend are comparing notes to try to piece your life together. The war is escalating and they are desperately worried.

Something is wrong. You are sent to Hawaii and try to pretend to your family it’s because you are sightseeing. Your tone gives you away when you say that “the coldness is sensed by me even more here than before.” And it’s not the weather you’re talking about.

Later in January, you’re gone from Hawaii, probably in the Philippines, and you tell your family that you’re “red-lined.” They don’t know that means that you’re in a thinly spread military unit holding firm against attack. Your letters become less frequent, or at least your family receives fewer of them, and there now seems to be at least a month or two delay between letters sent and a response to a particular letter.  Some letters take even longer.

You tell your family how wonderful it is that your unit has managed to somehow rig up a shower.

On February 9th, you tell your family you’re receiving some additional inoculations, “shots in both arms,” and then you’ll be “ready for shipment.” However, that’s delayed, because on February 12th, you have infectious jaundice and are now hospitalized in the Philippines.

On the 17th, you’re very sick, but you write a couple sentences to your family telling them their mail from 5 months earlier is finally arriving and that your skin color is very yellow.

You don’t write again until March 2nd when you tell your sister that you’ve been in the hospital for 18 days – and you fall asleep while writing.

The letters (apparently) stop, as your sister and father saved every single one. Perhaps you wrote them, but your letters were never received.


We know from your sister’s scrapbooks and family members that you do recover and are shipped to Okinawa, arriving on April 6th.

On April 15th, you were assigned to a medical unit in the thick of the Battle of Okinawa which began on April 1st and lasted 82 days, until June 22nd. This was one of, if not the single bloodiest battles of WWII, with a total of around 165,000 men killed and scores more injured. The battle was known as the “typhoon of steel” in English and the “violent wind of steel” in Japanese, referencing the ferocity of the battle and the intensity of the Japanese attacks.

On April 19, 1945, in the battle of Bloody Ridge, a Japanese sniper shot you in the head as you threw yourself over the body of a wounded soldier, trying to save his life. I hope your death was swift – that you didn’t suffer.

The second half of the fortune-teller’s story had come true.

And I wonder…did my mother somehow know? Did you visit her? Are you the ghost that haunts your parents’ home?

This photo of two abandoned M4 Sherman tanks was taken the following day, April 20th, at Bloody Ridge. The battle was so intense that all of the foliage was blown off of the trees and vegetation was destroyed. The winter of war.

Your life, as we know it, ended that day, but your body didn’t come home for another four years. Your lifeblood watered the soil of Okinawa.

Sadly, we don’t know if the soldier you were trying to save lived.

Your sister’s notes indicate that you received a commendation for “bravery under fire.” Clearly, that would have been posthumously awarded, but somehow that seems very inadequate and understated for your incredible sacrifice. A sacrifice even more profound because of your unrealized potential.

We are left to wonder what that might have been.

Honoring Your Memory

I wonder from reading your letters, or at least the ones I have copies of, if you knew somehow that you would not survive. It seems that you may have had premonitions. Perhaps they drove the urgency with which you told your family over and over again how grateful you were for their presence in your life and how much you loved them.

Your girlfriend, Jean, became my mother a decade after you died. You were supposed to be my father, but sadly, that never happened, nor did the rest of your dreams.

Mother told me that she knew, somehow, the last time that you left the train station in Chicago that you would not be returning home. She stood on the platform and watched through rivers of tears as you disappeared from her life that that day, a proud soldier. She said she cried too hard and grieved too deeply…and she knew. She always “knew” things like that. Your tragic death tore the very fabric of her soul. I can only imagine the anguish as she watched the train disappear down those tracks, escorting you to the merciless future she could not share.

The discovery of your sister’s scrapbooks, salvaged from the trash heap by a wonderful Samaritan provided us with far more insight into your life that we could ever hope to have any other way. We know how much your family loved you and how desperately you loved them.

Of course, you have no way of knowing what happened after your death, how deeply and unremittingly they all grieved for you. You never knew that none of your family, nor my mother, were ever the same.  All these years later, in many ways, we still live in the light cast by your flickering candle.

There was no recovery – there was only plodding forward, one foot at a time in front of the other. You touched and forever changed their lives, just as you touched the life, or perhaps eased the death of that man on the battlefield.

You are, indeed, a hero – by any measure.

Cornerstone of Peace Monument

Today, the Cornerstone of Peace monument, unveiled in 1995 and shown below, located in Itoman on the southern tip of Okinawa by the cliffs of Mobuni near where you died honors more than 240,000 who were killed on Okinawa from the US, Allied Forces, Japan and Okinawa.

Your name is etched here, Frank, commemorating your sacrifice. It’s not much, but it’s something. There is no consolation prize in life and death.

By mdid with Flickr Creative Commons License

Thank You

72 years distant.

From a lifetime and half a world away.

Let me say those words.

Thank you.

Did anyone ever say them?

At your funeral maybe?

Your body languished for 4 long years.

Someplace in Okinawa.

Before you reached your final resting place.

Returning home a fallen hero.

I wonder.

Was it even you in that wooden box?

Covered by a flag.

Thank you.

Those words seem obscenely inadequate.

I don’t know if you can hear them.

I don’t know if you will somehow know.

I need to say them anyway.

Thank you.

Thank you for your service.

Thank you for your bravery.

Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice.

Your life…your love…your dreams.

You gave them all.

The hearts of those you loved died that day too.

We don’t know where your footsteps would have gone.

How many you would have saved.

Had your light not been extinguished.

Too early.

Way too early.

My heart grieves your death.

But oh so grateful that men like you lived.

At all.

At all.

To light the way.

Through the ages.

Your candle held high.

A fine example.

Honor, bravery, integrity.

Thank you.

You are not forgotten.

Quick Tip – Add Most Distant Ancestor and Location

This Quick Tip will help you get the most out of your Y and mitochondrial DNA results at Family Tree DNA in 9 easy steps.  It’s not difficult, so let’s take a look at how this will help you and walk through the steps together.

Finding Your Common Ancestor

As genealogists, our goal is to find our common ancestor with our matches and this is done through matching our DNA and looking at the relevant branches of our and our matches’ trees.

At Family Tree DNA, one of the things each of us can do to help our matches identify our most distant direct matrilineal (mtDNA) and Y DNA matches is to complete the Earliest Known Ancestor fields in our Personal Information.

If you’re wondering how this benefits YOU, just look at the information you see about your matches. How much information you see is entirely dependent on your match completing their Most Distant Ancestor and that ancestor’s location information.

Note that you can click on any of the graphics to enlarge.

In the above example, the matches (names obscured for privacy) happen to be my mitochondrial DNA full sequence matches. Regardless of which matches you’re looking at, all Y and mtDNA matches show the Earliest Known Ancestor – which is absolutely critical information for you to discern whether you can identify a common ancestor, and whether or not the location of that ancestor is someplace near the location of your own earliest known ancestor.

The second screen where Earliest Known Ancestor information appears is the Matches Map, below, which shows you the location of the Earliest Known Ancestor of each of your matches.

My Matches Map for full sequence mitochondrial results is shown above, with my ancestor shown with the white pin. Ancestors and their locations are critically important for determining the relevance of matches.

The more everyone shares, the better for everyone who matches!

Who is My Earliest Known Ancestor?

It’s easy to get confused, because this field isn’t asking for your oldest known ancestor in that entire line, but your DIRECT LINE ancestor, specifically:

  • For mitochondrial DNA – your earliest known ancestor is your direct MATERNAL (matrilineal) ancestor – so, you, your mother, her mother, her mother, etc., until you run out of mothers. If your oldest ancestor in that line is the husband of one of the mothers, that doesn’t count – because you only inherit your mitochondrial DNA from the direct matrilineal females. The person listed in this field MUST BE A FEMALE. If you see one of your matches listing a male, you know they are confused.

To clarify, in the above pedigree chart, you inherit your mitochondrial DNA from the red circle ancestors – so the oldest ancestor in that line is whose name is listed as the Earliest Known Ancestor.

  • For your paternal line, Y DNA for males, your Earliest Known Ancestor would be your surname ancestor on the direct paternal line – shown by blue squares, above.

How Do I Add or Update Ancestors?

Step 1 – On your dashboard, beneath your picture, click on the orange “Manage Personal Information” link.

Step 2 – You will then see the Account Setting toolbar below.

Click on the “Genealogy” tab.

Step 3 – Click on the “Earliest Known Ancestors” link, beneath the Genealogy tab.

Step 4 – Update your Earliest Known Ancestors information, then click on the orange “Save” button on the bottom to save your information.

Step 5 – To add or update the Ancestral Location, click on “Update Location” for the Direct Paternal or Direct Maternal side, shown above.. You will see the following map which displays the locations for your ancestors if you have entered that information.

For females, since you don’t have a Y chromosome, your paternal location, won’t show. Everyone’s mitochondrial DNA location will be displayed on the map.

Step 6 – Below the map, click on “Edit Location.”

A grey box will be displayed with your current information showing. To add information or change a location, click on “Update Maternal Location” or “Update Paternal Location.” The Maternal and Paternal steps are the same, so we’ll use the maternal line as an example.

Step 7 – Enter your direct matrilineal ancestor’s name, birth year and location. This is the information that will show in your match link to others. Be sure it’s your earliest known ancestor in your mother’s direct line; your mother, her mother, her mother, etc.

Then click on “next.”

Step 8 – The system will search for the location you entered, showing in the search location, below, or finding the closest location. The system automatically completes the longitude and latitude, so ignore those fields.

Click on Search. You will be given the option to change the verbiage of the location. This may be useful when the name of the town, region or country has changed from when your ancestor lived there versus the name today.

Step 9 – Your final information will be shown, so click on “Save and Exit.”


Congratulations, you’re finished!  If you want to update your information, just follow the same process.

Now might be a good time to check your information to be sure it’s as detailed and complete as possible. After all, we all want information about our matches, so we need to give them our own!

You can click here to sign in.


Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure will now appear at the bottom of every article in compliance with FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.