Native American DNA Resources

Spokane and Flathead men circa 1904

I receive lots of questions every day about testing for Native American DNA, ethnicity, heritage and people who want to find their tribe.

I’ve answered many questions in articles, and I’ve assembled those articles into this handy-dandy one-stop reference about Native American DNA testing.

Where to Start?

If you are searching for your Native American heritage or your tribe, first, read these two articles:

Father’s and Mother’s Direct Lines

Y DNA is inherited by men from their direct paternal line, and mitochondrial DNA is inherited by both genders from their mother’s direct matrilineal line. You can read a short article about how this works, here.

If you’re interested in checking a comprehensive list to see if your mitochondrial DNA haplogroup is Native American, I maintain this page of all known Native American haplogroups:

Information about Native American Y DNA, subsets of haplogroup Q and C:

How Much Native Do You Have?

Estimating how much of your Native ancestor’s DNA you carry today:

Projects – Joining Forces to Work Together

Native American DNA Projects you can join at Family Tree DNA:

Regardless of which other projects you choose to join, I recommend joining the American Indian project by clicking on the Project button on the upper left hand side of your personal page.

News and How To

Some articles are more newsy or include how-to information:

Utilizing Haplogroup Origins and Ancestral Origins at Family Tree DNA:

I’ve written about several individual Native haplogroups and research results. You can see all of articles pertaining to Native American heritage by entering the word “Native” into the search box on the upper right hand corner of my blog at www.dna-explained.com.

Ancient Native Remains

Which Tests?

Family Tree DNA is the only vendor offering comprehensive Y and mitochondrial DNA testing, meaning beyond basic haplogroup identification. However, there are several levels to select from. Several vendors offer autosomal testing, which includes ethnicity estimates.

These articles compare the various types of tests and the vendors offering the tests:

Additional Resources

My blog, Native Heritage Project is fully searchable:

The Native American Ancestry Explorer group for Native American or minority DNA discussion is on Facebook:

For other DNA related questions, please check the Help page, here.

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The Sacred Boyne Valley – Knowth, New Grange and Tara – 52 Ancestors #171

These ancient sacred sites represent so much of Ireland’s distant past. Of course, if you have Irish heritage, Ireland’s ancient past is also your own. We’re beyond fortunate to have these sites, in any state of preservation today. The fact that they are open to the public is absolutely amazing!

What a glorious day.

First, I want to mention that these people were my ancestors, as proven by the work of Trinity College, in Dublin, and thanks to my McNiel cousin whose Y DNA we tested as a descendant of the Reverend George McNiel. The Y DNA from this McNiel line matches the signature attributed to Niall of the Nine Hostages, High King of Ireland, crowned at Tara. You can read more about Niall of the Nine Hostages genetic signature here, here and here, and how males can test at Family Tree DNA to see if you, or one of your male ancestral lines, descends from this noble lineage.

I wrote about Niall in the article about Rev. McNiel, but there is absolutely nothing like standing on that very site yourself, nearly alone, in the late afternoon, with the sun setting in the misty distance. Niall was with me, as he is with all of his descendants. I could feel his presence and that of those long gone, on that high hill, overlooking Ireland in all directions, surveying his domain.

Before I go on, if you have Irish genealogy, then it’s very likely that this is your history too, that Niall of the Nine Hostages or his relatives are your ancestors as well.  You may carry his blood in your veins, and possibly also in your DNA. After all, 3,500 years equates to about 875 generations. That’s 875 opportunities for a descendant to marry into your line – and chances are very good that they did, probably many times. So this isn’t just my ancestral journey, it’s yours too.

Make yourself a cup of coffee or maybe some fine Irish tea, complete with milk of course, in honor of being Irish, and come along on this great adventure of discovery!

Back to the Past

This, my third full day in Ireland is spent once again with Brian, my trusty personal tour guide, and what a wonderful day it has been.

I knew that this day wasn’t just about the history and mystery of Ireland, but about my own ancestral past – my personal connection to this lush green country.

The places we would drive and walk, my ancestors did too, for hundreds and thousands of years.

Their blood watered this soil. Their ashes remain a part of Ireland.

Morning Fog

The morning began with fog. Brian said this was somewhat unusual in this part of the country, but it created a bit of a dreamlike mystical aura to set the stage.

These historic sites are only about an hour or so out of Dublin, without traffic, but they literally inhabit another world. The added dimension of fog creates a sense of timelessness and transports us back to the time that Niall of the Nine Hostages lived.

The roads quickly shrank from those of a modern city to country roads without center lines because they are too small for two lanes simultaneously. However, traffic is still two-way and everyone is simply expected to be courteous and drive with some semblance of sanity. And they do – everyone – everyday – without the angry blaring of horns. Very, very different from the US. Paradigm shift.

Brian and I discovered this beautiful thatched roof house and adjoining barn in the morning fog, as the sun began peeking through.

Thatched roof houses still exist and are in relatively common use today in the countryside. They aren’t simply part of the past in Ireland. This thatched roof farmhouse in Ireland stands right alongside the road, where nearly all of the old buildings are located, and the barn, covered with vines, stands right in front of the house, separated by only a few inches, smack dab up against the wall which physically comprises the edge of the road. The road used to be the old cart path and before that, probably a footpath, trod by the very first settlers in this valley.

Roads and farms here are bordered with walls. In fact, walls are so common you don’t “see them” anymore. They serve multiple purposes, not the least of which is to keep livestock off of the roads.

Where rock walls don’t exist, hedges do the job as well.

The hedges are so dense that farmers install gates.

New Grange wasn’t far distant, winding down the road. I held my breath on some of those curves, driving on the “wrong side” of the road, but Brian knew exactly what he was doing and where he was going.

A spider spun her web on the sign at the entrance of the historical park at Knowth and New Grange.

Even the gate is beautiful, graced with ornamentation inspired by the carved stones at both sites.

We don’t know exactly why these Neolithic people constructed these mounds. It’s likely that they initially bore a spiritual significance and we do know that later, a group or groups of people lived on the mounds.

The megalithic tomb tradition began 6000 years ago in Brittany, France, 500 years or so before the first tombs established in Ireland.

It’s easy to speculate that the culture came with the people from continental Europe, and that may well be accurate. Professor Dan Bradley, in his presentation this week at Genetic Genealogy Ireland, speaking about ancient DNA and burials, said very clearly that the Ireland of prehistoric times is not, genetically speaking, the Ireland of today. When comparing the DNA of the earliest burials against modern populations, the ancient results map to the far north, an area Dr. Bradley jokingly called Valhalla, land of the mythical Norse “Heaven.” A second ancient burial maps to an area near Portugal. The only burials that map to the Irish of today occurred much later, after the Neolithic, after the Celtic influence and after the Viking invasions.

These mounds were created hundreds to thousands of years before people actually lived on the mounds as residents. Some dead are interred in the mounds, but not enough for the mounds to be a cemetery for the entire community, as we conceive of cemeteries today. But clearly, everyone died and the bodies had to be disposed of in some fashion.

By the time the tombs began to be catalogued and preserved, people had been “visiting” them for 260 years, so virtually everything above ground, meaning both artifacts and bones, had been disturbed, and who knows how much is missing.

Of course, water played a crucial role in the lives of our ancestors. These sacred sites were all established near the River Boyne, crossed by this contemporary bridge today along the walk from the Visitor Center to the bus that takes visitors to the Knowth and New Grange sites.

The River Boyne, giver of life, connects the sacred sites of Knowth, Dowth, New Grange and Tara.

The carved stones at these prehistoric sites are believed to have been transported from distances far away by barge, then log rolled uphill to the sites where they were installed. Of course, the bridge in the photo is modern, established for tourists to tread the ancestral path.

Whoever these ancient settlers were in the Boyne River Valley, they would probably have selected these sites for their elevation and would have looked over the valley and seen much the same scene as today, except that the hillsides would have originally been forested.

Knowth

Knowth is pronounced something like “note” by the locals, in an Irish brogue.

Most of the mounds, which are likely passage graves and sacred ceremonial sites, have not been excavated at Knowth, this first stop on our journey.

Some of these photos leave me breathless and speechless, and I feel they would be better served without narrative, but I need to let you know what you’re viewing. This is exactly what our ancestors would have seen on a similar misty foggy morning thousands of years ago, standing exactly where I was standing.

At one time, people lived on top of these mounds, farmsteads probably, and the first person to rise in the morning would have had this same view before the activities of the day began. Perhaps a goat bleated in the distance and a dog accompanied our early riser.

This mound has been excavated. The soil eventually covered these carved rocks after the site was abandoned, so the excavation exposed the rocks and the site was reinforced so that the stones remain within view.

The view of the countryside down the path between the mounds (left) and other sites (right).

More beautiful spider webs on the historical signage. The local people tell us that the problem with thatched roofs is that they attract spiders who love to nest there. Then again, spiders eat lots of other insects.

Beautiful carved stones. The carvings were created by picking or pecking at the stones with a hammer and chisel, or their Neolithic equivalent. All of the kurbstones, as they are known, are carved, although the carving is difficult to see on some today and nearly impossible in some light situations.

These stones are massive, weighing tons and about waist high on an adult.

Some stones are curved, as the mounds are round.

Many mounds, which served as homes, butted up against each other.

Some passageways functioned as entrances, some as souterrains, underground storage pits for food. Crawling would have been the only way in and out for most of these.

Some tunnels probably functioned as both. Claustrophobic? You wouldn’t want to be the person sent to retrieve whatever was kept there.

As I continued my walk around this mound, I noticed this rock which was very unusual and different from the rest. This rock has carving both on top and on the sides. Most don’t although the archaeological reports indicate that some stones are carved in areas that are not able to be seen, like on the bottoms and backs. The wheel-like carving on top of this stone may have been astrological in nature, perhaps a calendar of sorts.

This area in front of the two sided carved rock (above) is believed to be some type of sacred area. The white stones are original, and are not native to this region. I believe the guide said they were quartz and transported, one by one, from a site in the Wicklow mountains 90 km to the south. The black stones are granite and come from about as far away to the North, gathered and carried one by one up the hill from the River Boyne where they would have been transported by boat. Clearly, these stones were important and it’s thought perhaps that the white stones were ceremonial and may have represented the light and warmth of the sun.

This is one if my favorite stones. I have always had an affinity for spirals. The spiral is the oldest carving, with the undulating carving added later.

The guide said that the archaeologists can recognize the work of individual carvers.

The rock second from left is another absolutely amazing stone. This one, if you’ll notice, has a similar carving to the rock with the carving on top. Both resemble a wheel. These two images are surely somehow connected to each other as well as connected to whatever their religion was. No one would spend this much time and effort otherwise.

The stewards of this site have reconstructed an example of what they believe wooden henges would have been like just beside the mound.

Standing stones, and another entrance.

The most remarkable finding discovered in the archaeological excavations was a beautiful carved flint mace head. I saw the actual artifact the following day in the National Museum, but the position of the mace head in the case made it very difficult to photograph.

You can see additional photos here and here, along with the carved bowl from the passage tomb in New Grange.

These passage mounds at Knowth are not open inside to the public, but the one at New Grange is. That’s where we’re headed next.

Think of Knowth and New Grange as a neighborhood of sorts, not adjacent exactly, but within sight from the tops of the hills and dating from approximately the same timeframe.

New Grange

New Grange is a separate site from Knowth, today, but clearly the original inhabitants were part of the same culture and probably the same family grouping too. After all, the number of original settlers or inhabitants was probably small.

All of these sacred sites are located on hilltops, which could be a factor of both religion as well as defensive protection.

This was the entrance to New Grange in the late 1800s. The area had been largely overgrown. I couldn’t help but notice how clear the carvings were only 118 years ago as compared to today.

Standing stones mark the entrance to the tomb.

Because it is off season here (October), complicated by the weather (Hurricane Ophelia), with few tourists, I was able to get generally unobstructed photos, with few or no people.

This is the entrance to the New Grange passage tomb.  Above the entrance, the light enters through the “lightbox” above the top of the lintel stone at dawn on Winter Solstice, assuming no clouds or fog. The stone in front of that passage entrance is the most elaborately carved stone at the site sporting beautiful spirals. Notice that the stones above the lightbox are mostly the light quartz stones. Were they “guiding” the light on the solstice?

Just pretend this shivering park employee is one of the ancient holy priests!

Yes, it was COLD. But then it would have been cold on December 21st each year when the people who lived here celebrated the beginning of the cyclical warming of the earth – when mother earth begins to rejuvenate and come alive once again.

As we entered the small chamber, we walked through an increasingly smaller passageway until we reached the center some 40 feet inside, in the middle of the mound.  The chamber in the center holds about 25 people, so long as they are good friends and don’t mind being close.

Unfortunately, after this site was discovered in 1799, it was open to the curious for decades, until it became protected. By the time the first scientists documented the site, the human remains of at least 5 people had been scattered on the floor, so we don’t know how or exactly where in this mound they were interred. We do know that they were cremated, although some later burials, believed to be Celtic, found on this site but in another location, were buried, not cremated.

For those who are thinking about the next question, I’ll just answer it.

I asked if DNA extraction had been attempted, and the guide sidestepped the question twice, saying lots of information was as yet unpublished after for than 40 years of excavation. I visited the ancient DNA labs at Trinity College and UCD on the Monday following the conference, and was told there that yes, DNA has been extracted and is awaiting publication. However, they have not been successful, at least not yet, extracting DNA from cremains.

Professor (and geneticist) Dan Bradley who runs the ancient DNA lab at Trinity said that they have access to all skeletal remains in at the National Museum. I took that to mean there may be many publications in the future that will help us further understand the history of the Irish people.

Photos were not allowed inside the passage tomb, but here’s a great video on YouTube that shows approximately what the ancients would have seen at the Winter Solstice when the shaft of light entered the New Grange tomb.

The precision necessary 5200 years ago to engineer and construct this mound to achieve the Winter Solstice’s rising sunlight striking the back wall of the mound is absolutely mind-boggling to comprehend – especially given that the shaft enters above the opening, but strikes the wall at ground level – meaning that an incline in elevation is involved as well.

Amazingly enough, no water has ever penetrated the chamber in the center this mound, an incredible testimony to the original architects. Keep in mind this mound was built before the pyramids of Giza and that these builders had no cement or any substances except dirt and rock. This mound was watertight due to the angle of the stacked stones and layers of gravel and dirt on top of the mound.

From Knowth.com:

This chamber is roofed by a corbelled vault, which has remained intact and watertight without any conservation or repair. The cairn (stone mound) that covers the chamber is estimated to weigh 200,000 tons and is retained at its base by 97 massive kerbstones.

You can see photos of the vaulted ceiling, along with other artworks of New Grange, here. I must admit, I was just a tad nervous inside that chamber. Still, I wouldn’t have missed this opportunity for anything.

Knowth and New Grange have a few standing stones, but nothing like Stonehenge. However, like Stonehenge, the massive stones were all transported from quite some distance, as measured in many miles, not feet or yards, requiring massive manpower and coordination which implies a complex social structure. Both locations were somehow connected to the solstices as well, with other circles and locations marking the equinoxes. Whoever these people were, they were experienced skywatchers and expert architects.

Ok, indulge me with a selfie as I’m standing beside one of the standing stones. I didn’t come this far, survive a blood clot and a hurricane not to get a photo! Thank goodness for cell phones. It was quite windy on the top of this hill.

The outside of the New Grange passage mound is (re)constructed of the same white (quartz) and black (granite) rocks as were found outside surrounding the mound at Knowth. These are fist sized stones at this site, slightly smaller, and the black are interspersed with the white in the wall built above the carved stones.

This photo shows New Grange around 1900 after the overgrowth had been cleared away. These walls, shown before reconstruction, were in amazingly good condition, considering their age.

Walking around the mound, I noticed this beautiful stone building and of course, the sheep in the background. Sheep are everyplace in both Ireland and Scotland. The wall behind the structure has beautiful vines growing up and along the top. The wall is old but not ancient.

This is probably one of the most famous of the New Grange stones, and the one reproduced in the gates.

A lintel stone is found above this carved stone, and the sun is peeking over the mound. I can’t help but wonder how this stone is different and the significance of the lintel. What did this mean to the builders?

This looks to be a drainage area which is probably part of the reason this tomb has stayed dry for 5000+ years.

The top of the passageway mound.

The function of the free-standing rocks on the site is unknown.  None of the stones are native to the area.

Of course, this site is mowed today, but originally, goats, sheep or other domesticated animals would have been their lawnmowers. There may have originally been so many people that little vegetation grew, but today, these daisies have escaped the mower. They speak to me of the women who were obviously present.

Small standing stones.

The entrance to New Grange today, showing the wall, the stones and a few people in profile. I couldn’t help but think that this scene probably wasn’t too different from what our ancestors saw some 5000 years ago, in this exact same location. People walking between the stones to the entrance. Perhaps at that time, festivities and a procession would have surrounded the anxiously awaited solstice morning – or maybe the site was sacred – reserved only for the holy people who would report to the rest if the sun’s light once again struck the back wall in the chamber.

Did these people think that the solstice sun connected them with their ancestors, or perhaps that the solstice sun was a sign from the ancestors? A promise once again of the warming of the earth? Was this passageway also the passageway between worlds?

New Grange from a distance. The entrance to the passage tomb is to the right, by the standing stones.

I’m so grateful that this area remained undeveloped.

Rescue

And because my adventures in life never seem to be complete without rescuing something – a Goldcrest, the smallest bird in Ireland, flew into the window of the tourist center, which is actually a small building away from the mound. Poor thing. Another man, a young farmer from Virginia, and I rescued the bird and I explained to the employee what to do for the stunned bird.

For those who don’t know, I spent years as a volunteer (licensed) wildlife rehabilitator. For a stunned bird, with no obvious injuries, you simply put it into a dark place, like a grocery bag or box, and let it rest for an hour or so. Generally, they will recover enough to leave, or die, or will need treatment for injuries. The employee promised to do so, which was all I could do for the bird in that time and place. I hope it survived. Based on my experience, it stood a pretty good chance.

Interpretive Center

The visitor center for both Knowth and New Grange includes an interpretive center with a nice movie, restrooms, a snack bar and gift shop.

I’m not generally crazy about gift shops, but they do support the site and this one had some really unique offerings.

I loved this green man journal, but it was heavy! I needed something lighter, so I bought a scarf with the images of the stone carvings which I may use in a quilt.

In the interpretive center, I thought this display was simply beautiful. I would like to have those fabrics! Just saying!

This lovely artwork was created by students.

You really get to know someone after several days in a car together. Brian bought me three lovely gifts as he waited in the cafeteria area while I was traipsing around the sacred sites. Amazingly, exactly what I wanted – books – and a CD to watch when I get back home. Brian is not your typical tour guide. He purchased something else for a former client during our 4-day adventure, as well. I’ll be writing about Brian separately, so be sure to stay tuned.

Now, it’s off to Tara, about 45 minutes away, by car.

The Road to Tara

On the road to Tara, Brian knew of a wonderful quaint cottage type of farm. This farm is different than the rest, but every bit as interesting.

This person seems to like to collect old farm equipment. There are pumps and tractors and other things scattered about the place, creating a very unique ambience.

An older, thatched roof type of cottage adjoins a newer addition.

I particularly like the fact that they utilize the top of their rock wall as a planter.

Next, Brian and I stopped at the local pub for lunch. I’ve been subsisting on soup and bread since I arrived, by choice, as both are wonderful. Their vegetable soup here is much more creamy than ours and the vegetables in the soup are more or less pureed. However, in this case, those mushrooms with garlic dip just won the day.

Love these tables in this pub.

Brian asked me if I would be interested in stopping at a quaint little cottage type shop? He didn’t really need to ask. As if I needed convincing, he mentioned that the shop offered a lot of hand made items, and maybe she had quilt fabric too.

Unlike most older farmhouses, which are located within feet of the road, this house was down a long lane.

Look at that old tree which has probably stood sentinel for hundreds of years and seen many generations come and go.

I didn’t know quite what to expect.

This beautiful old home is packed to the gills with woven works and other items hand made by local artisans.

The owner, Mison Fullam, demonstrated weaving. I’ve always been fascinated by weaving, but quilters brains and weaver’s brains don’t work the same way – although both are fascinated by each other’s work.

There isn’t a sign, but the shop is Boyne Valley Wools and Mison told us the story of the Leck family homestead. This house belonged to her husband’s family for generations.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and today was one of those days.

I walked up to an incredible piece of artwork, a limited edition print by Colette Gough (collettegough@hotmail.com), picked it up, and knew I had to have it. Thank goodness it was affordable. I would share, but it’s copyrighted.

I turned the print over, looking for the price, and noticed what was written on the back.

“Found on Bettystown beach by school children, the Tara brooch is believed to have belonged to the High King of Ireland as it is so ornate and also the elongated pin. It is now housed at the National Museum.”

The Tara Brooch. I had never heard of it before, but it was utterly stunning and perfect in every way, and the print looks like it belongs in the Book of Kells. Better yet, it seems to be associated with my ancestors. Something tangible that was actually theirs? Opinions vary – but regardless, both the art and the brooch are incredible.

I took the photo above, of the brooch itself, the next day after stumbling into it by accident at the National Museum. However, the sign below that I spotted when exiting the museum shows the colors much more vividly.

I can’t even begin to explain how utterly stunning this brooch is, nor how much I’d love to have a replica, maybe as a hair barrette?

Brian decided to wait outside and made a discovery of his own.

I walked outside of the shop and noticed that Brian was giving me the thumbs up sign. Curious, I walked over to see what he was looking at, and aside from sheep, an old cemetery was located behind the wall.

You know, I think this genealogy bug is infecting Brian too!

Private family cemeteries are rather unusual in Ireland, as most of the Irish are Catholic and Catholics are buried in consecrated land, in churchyards. This part of Ireland was (and is) heavily Catholic, with the Protestant faction being focused in Northern Ireland in the Ulster Plantation area.

Mison graciously invited us into the cemetery and gave us a tour.

The cemetery is in poor repair, although the family is working to remedy that situation. The sheep have actually helped immensely. It was previously overgrown with briers, and now you can at least walk relatively unobstructed.

This old tree reminds me of a Druid tree. What stories it must have. You can see some cut wood in the background. Hurricane Ophelia last week was not kind to the trees.

One person wrote their entire family history of this stone. Why can’t my relatives do this?

And of course, there has to be a mystery. In this case, a large crypt of a Finnegan man that the family has absolutely no idea why is buried here.

It was time to depart, but not before we noticed the bridge over…nothing, apparently.

On down the road, we noticed another wonderful stone house, with a miller’s stone, an antique car and geese. Those dogs are the friendliest watchdogs ever. One crawled through the fence to be petted. Don’t tell my grandpuppies I was cheating with another dog.

I guess those geese didn’t lay enough eggs today.

Remember the thatched roof house in the early morning fog? We passed it again, and I realized that the thatching was truly unique.

Can you see the pattern? Notice the woven bird on the top right of the crest of the roof.

Tara isn’t far down the road, another of the megalithic mound neighborhood built along the Boyne River, about 45 minutes by car from New Grange.

Thankfully, the site of Tara itself is somewhat protected, but beneath Tara a few shops celebrate the mystical origins of Tara itself.

The Tara gatekeepers, perhaps?

Tara

Before we get there, I have to warn you. Brian explained that Tara is not one of the most exciting sites for tourists. Many have expectations that Tara is much like New Grange, but it isn’t. For the most part, Tara is unexcavated and still in its original condition. The part that has been excavated has been returned to a natural state, so there are no passage graves that you can enter, interpretive center, walkways or anything like that.

In essence, it’s a very large field, albeit a very special field.

The 100-acre site is now government owned, and free, but also virtually unprotected with no government employee presence. That means it’s visually not as striking with little WOW factor, comparatively speaking. Therefore, many visitors are disappointed.

Brian was afraid I might be disappointed as well, but I attempted to convey to him the extent of my insanity as a genealogist.

Brian’s probably saying to himself, “Oy, no wonder her husband didn’t come with her!”

Well, Brian will have a few stories to add to his repertoire after this week too. I wonder if as I write this, on another continent, if Brian is regaling this week’s tourists with stories about the crazy Tara lady😊

This map created about 1900 by William Wakeman shows the layout of the site, including Rath-Laoghaire at the bottom which is the Niall of the Nine Hostages mound.

Beyond the mound, in the center of the barrows, stands the stone known as the Lia Fail, literally “stone of Ireland” in Gaelic, also known as the “stone of destiny,” where the High Irish Kings were crowned. It has previously been vandalized and is now cemented in place.

The stone is reportedly imbued with magical powers of various descriptions and is said to roar with joy when the rightful king puts his feet on the stone.

By Alison Cassidy – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50403087

This aerial photo shows the gift shop area in the bottom left, the church, and behind the church to the right, the mound of Niall of the Nine Hostages which is the oldest known structure of this type in Ireland.

Tara, like other sacred sites, is located on a vista, high above the surrounding countryside.

Unlike other sites, there are no visitor walkways or paths, except for those worn into the soil by the feet of visitors who enter through a gate and simply walk across a field and up a hill, past the church dedicated to St. Patrick.

It was very common for the early Christian churches to “adopt” Pagan sites in an effort to draw the pagan people into the church.

If that didn’t work, they hoped to disrupt their pagan sites and rituals.

A statue of St. Patrick holding a shamrock stands guard near the church today, as well, looking only slightly out of place.

Passing the church and statue, the vista of the open field greets visitors as they emerge from the treed area surrounding the church. The rolling hills, which aren’t hills at all but ancient earthworks, begin. The sides of the barrows are steep and the grass is long and slippery even without mist or rain. No mowing occurs here.

The first sacred site encountered is the mound of Niall of the Nine Hostages. In early times, rival kings, or those who wished to be king, would send one of their sons, preferably their first-born who was in line to be heir and therefore more “valuable” than the rest, to be a hostage. Hostage in this sense means that the son lived with the actual king instead of his parents in order to discourage the rival kings or king-wannabes from attacking the king, knowing their son lived there and would likely be killed.

Niall took hostages from all 9 of his (potential) rivals from the various provinces of Ireland, or Ireland and Scotland, depending on the source .

The inside of this passage mound does have spiral carved rocks at the entrance, but it’s not open to the public and would not be tall enough to enter upright.

I was able to obtain a photo by slipping the camera inside the grate. When excavated in the 1950s, this passage was full of human remains, nearly to the ceiling, with burials occurring contiguously for more than 1500 years.

The items above are a few of the things excavated in the tomb.

Leaving the mound and turning towards the field, you can see the stone of destiny standing in the distance, at left, on the horizon.

Tara is a massive site, and would have been crowded with people when a new king was crowned.

I followed the path, cut into the grassy plain by the pilgrims’ feet that came, and went, before me, in modern times.

The silence and remoteness today belies the hubbub of those ancient feast and festival days. If you listen carefully, you can hear their voices in the wind.

In the center of the plateau on top of the hill, among mounds and barrows, undulating like Neolithic snakes across the land, we climb to the highest point and the stone of destiny where the kings of Ireland were crowned.

I tried, but the stone didn’t speak for me.

Looking outward from the stone, you can see the valley in the distance as the sun drifts toward the horizon.

In the photo above, the Tara fairy tree is directly under the sun.

What’s a fairy tree?

Fairy trees, generally Hawthorne’s, represent a location for pilgrims to leave items or relics representing prayers in sacred places, often for healing.

Some of these are heartbreaking – in particular, things like prayers written on baby bibs tied to the tree.

Tara is large and it took quite a while to thoughtfully walk the entire area. It’s also very hilly, with steep barrows surrounding the higher areas. At one time, these barrow rings, would have offered protection.

Circling back, we see the Niall of the Nine Hostages mound again. On the horizon, you can see this mound from almost anyplace on the site, which means this mound has inadvertently become the gatekeeper. The church which does have a steeple is obscured in the trees when viewed from Tara and is located between this mound and the road. Thankfully the trees obscure almost everything modern.

As I turn to say goodbye to Tara, knowing I will never return to this land of my ancestors in my lifetime, I’m struck by the soft mysticism that connects this landscape with my bloodline, with my family DNA, with those who trod this land so long ago, pioneers on this timeless landscape. I am here because of these people. They are part of me. My history.

No Brian, I wasn’t disappointed. My heart sang. I leave part of my soul here on the hill of Tara.

I began the day in the mist and the fog, and I end it the same timeless way, with the sun descending over the Niall of the Nine Hostages mound – feeling the spirits of my ancestors speaking across more than 5500 years, on an emerald green grassy plateau in Ireland, far distant from modern life, yet inextricably connected through the silvery spider web of time.

Which DNA Test is Best?

If you’re reading this article, congratulations. You’re a savvy shopper and you’re doing some research before purchasing a DNA test. You’ve come to the right place.

The most common question I receive is asking which test is best to purchase. There is no one single best answer for everyone – it depends on your testing goals and your pocketbook.

Testing Goals

People who want to have their DNA tested have a goal in mind and seek results to utilize for their particular purpose. Today, in the Direct to Consumer (DTC) DNA market space, people have varied interests that fall into the general categories of genealogy and medical/health.

I’ve approached the question of “which test is best” by providing information grouped into testing goal categories.  I’ve compared the different vendors and tests from the perspective of someone who is looking to test for those purposes – and I’ve created separate sections of this article for each interest..

We will be discussing testing for:

  • Ethnicity – Who Am I? – Breakdown by Various World Regions
  • Adoption – Finding Missing Parents or Close Family
  • Genealogy – Cousin Matching and Ancestor Search/Verification
  • Medical/Health

We will be reviewing the following test types:

  • Autosomal
  • Y DNA (males only)
  • Mitochondrial DNA

I have included summary charts for each section, plus an additional chart for:

  • Additional Vendor Considerations

If you are looking to select one test, or have limited funds, or are looking to prioritize certain types of tests, you’ll want to read about each vendor, each type of test, and each testing goal category.

Each category reports information about the vendors and their products from a different perspective – and only you can decide which of these perspectives and features are most important to you.

You might want to read this short article for a quick overview of the 4 kinds of DNA used for genetic genealogy and DTC testing and how they differ.

The Big 3

Today, there are three major players in the DNA testing market, not in any particular order:

Each of these companies offers autosomal tests, but each vendor offers features that are unique. Family Tree DNA and 23andMe offer additional tests as well.

In addition to the Big 3, there are a couple of new kids on the block that I will mention where appropriate. There are also niche players for the more advanced genetic genealogist or serious researcher, and this article does not address advanced research.

In a nutshell, if you are serious genealogist, you will want to take all of the following tests to maximize your tools for solving genealogical puzzles. There is no one single test that does everything.

  • Full mitochondrial sequence that informs you about your matrilineal line (only) at Family Tree DNA. This test currently costs $199.
  • Y DNA test (for males only) that informs you about your direct paternal (surname) line (only) at Family Tree DNA. This test begins at $169 for 37 markers.
  • Family Finder, an autosomal test that provides ethnicity estimates and cousin matching at Family Tree DNA. This test currently costs $89.
  • AncestryDNA, an autosomal test at Ancestry.com that provides ethnicity estimates and cousin matching. (Do not confuse this test with Ancestry by DNA, which is not the same test and does not provide the same features.) This test currently costs $99, plus the additional cost of a subscription for full feature access. You can test without a subscription, but nonsubscribers can’t access all of the test result features provided to Ancestry subscribers.
  • 23andMe Ancestry Service test, an autosomal test that provides ethnicity estimates and cousin matching. The genealogy version of this test costs $99, the medical+genealogy version costs $199.

A Word About Third Party Tools

A number of third party tools exist, such as GedMatch and DNAGedcom.com, and while these tools are quite useful after testing, these vendors don’t provide tests. In order to use these sites, you must first take an autosomal DNA test from a testing vendor. This article focuses on selecting your DNA testing vendor based on your testing goals.

Let’s get started!

Ethnicity

Many people are drawn to DNA testing through commercials that promise to ‘tell you who you are.” While the allure is exciting, the reality is somewhat different.

Each of the major three vendors provide an ethnicity estimate based on your autosomal DNA test, and each of the three vendors will provide you with a different result.

Yep, same person, different ethnicity breakdowns.

Hopefully, the outcomes will be very similar, but that’s certainly not always the case. However, many people take one test and believe those results wholeheartedly. Please don’t. You may want to read Concepts – Calculating Ethnicity Percentages to see how varied my own ethnicity reports are at various vendors as compared to my known genealogy.

The technology for understanding “ethnicity” from a genetic perspective is still very new. Your ethnicity estimate is based on reference populations from around the world – today. People and populations move, and have moved, for hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of years. Written history only reaches back a fraction of that time, so the estimates provided to people today are not exact.

That isn’t to criticize any individual vendor. View each vendor’s results not as gospel, but as their opinion based on their reference populations and their internal proprietary algorithm of utilizing those reference populations to produce your ethnicity results.

To read more about how ethnicity testing works, and why your results may vary between vendors or not be what you expected, click here.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from testing, only to be sure consumers understand the context of what they will be receiving. Generally speaking, these results are accurate at the continental level, and less accurate within continents, such as European regional breakdowns.

All three testing companies provide additional features or tools, in addition to your ethnicity estimates, that are relevant to ethnicity or population groups.

Let’s look at each company separately.

Ethnicity – Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA’s ethnicity tool is called myOrigins and provides three features or tools in addition to the actual ethnicity estimate and associated ethnicity map.

Please note that throughout this article you can click on any image to enlarge.

On the myOrigins ethnicity map page, above, your ethnicity percentages and map are shown, along with two additional features.

The Shared Origins box to the left shows the matching ethnic components of people on your DNA match list. This is particularly useful if you are trying to discover, for example, where a particular minority admixture comes from in your lineage. You can select different match types, for example, immediate relatives or X chromosome matches, which have special inheritance qualities.

Clicking on the apricot (mitochondrial DNA) and green (Y DNA) pins in the lower right corner drops the pins in the locations on your map of the most distant ancestral Y and mitochondrial DNA locations of the individuals in the group you have selected in the Shared Origins match box. You may or may not match these individuals on the Y or mtDNA lines, but families tend to migrate in groups, so match hints of any kind are important.

A third unique feature provided by Family Tree DNA is Ancient Origins, a tool released with little fanfare in November 2016.

Ancient Origins shows the ancient source of your European DNA, based on genome sequencing of ancient DNA from the locations shown on the map.

Additionally, Family Tree DNA hosts an Ancient DNA project where they have facilitated the upload of the ancient genomes so that customers today can determine if they match these ancient individuals.

Kits included in the Ancient DNA project are shown in the chart below, along with their age and burial location. Some have matches today, and some of these samples are included on the Ancient Origins map.

Individual Approx. Age Burial Location Matches Ancient Origins Map
Clovis Anzick 12,500 Montana (US) Yes No
Linearbandkeramik 7,500 Stuttgart, Germany Yes Yes
Loschbour 8,000 Luxembourg Yes Yes
Palaeo-Eskimo 4,000 Greenland No No
Altai Neanderthal 50,000 Altai No No
Denisova 30,000 Siberia No No
Hinxton-4 2,000 Cambridgeshire, UK No No
BR2 3,200 Hungary Yes Yes
Ust’-Ishim 45,000 Siberia Yes No
NE1 7,500 Hungary Yes Yes

Ethnicity – Ancestry

In addition to your ethnicity estimate, Ancestry also provides a feature called Genetic Communities.

Your ethnicity estimate provides percentages of DNA found in regions shown on the map by fully colored shapes – green in Europe in the example above. Genetic Communities show how your DNA clusters with other people in specific regions of the world – shown with dotted clusters in the US in this example.

In my case, my ethnicity at Ancestry shows my European roots, illustrated by the green highlighted areas, and my two Genetic Communities are shown by yellow and red dotted regions in the United States.

My assigned Genetic Communities indicate that my DNA clusters with other people whose ancestors lived in two regions; The Lower Midwest and Virginia as well as the Alleghenies and Northeast Indiana.

Testers can then view their DNA matches within that community, as well as a group of surnames common within that community.

The Genetic Communities provided for me are accurate, but don’t expect all of your genealogical regions to be represented in Genetic Communities. For example, my DNA is 25% German, and I don’t have any German communities today, although ancestry will be adding new Genetic Communities as new clusters are formed.

You can read more about Genetic Communities here and here.

Ethnicity – 23andMe

In addition to ethnicity percentage estimates, called Ancestry Composition, 23andMe offers the ability to compare your Ancestry Composition against that of your parent to see which portions of your ethnicity you inherited from each parent, although there are problems with this tool incorrectly assigning parental segments.

Additionally, 23andMe paints your chromosome segments with your ethnic heritage, as shown below.

You can see that my yellow Native American segments appear on chromosomes 1 and 2.

In January 2017, 23andMe introduced their Ancestry Timeline, which I find to be extremely misleading and inaccurate. On my timeline, shown below, they estimate that my most recent British and Irish ancestor was found in my tree between 1900 and 1930 while in reality my most recent British/Irish individual found in my tree was born in England in 1759.

I do not view 23andMe’s Ancestry Timeline as a benefit to the genealogist, having found that it causes people to draw very misleading conclusions, even to the point of questioning their parentage based on the results. I wrote about their Ancestry Timeline here.

Ethnicity Summary

All three vendors provide both ethnicity percentage estimates and maps. All three vendors provide additional tools and features relevant to ethnicity. Vendors also provide matching to other people which may or may not be of interest to people who test only for ethnicity. “Who you are” only begins with ethnicity estimates.

DNA test costs are similar, although the Family Tree DNA test is less at $89. All three vendors have sales from time to time.

Ethnicity Vendor Summary Chart

Ethnicity testing is an autosomal DNA test and is available for both males and females.

Family Tree DNA Ancestry 23andMe
Ethnicity Test Included with $89 Family Finder test Included with $99 Ancestry DNA test Included with $99 Ancestry Service
Percentages and Maps Yes Yes Yes
Shared Ethnicity with Matches Yes No Yes
Additional Feature Y and mtDNA mapping of ethnicity matches Genetic Communities Ethnicity phasing against parent (has issues)
Additional Feature Ancient Origins Ethnicity mapping by chromosome
Additional Feature Ancient DNA Project Ancestry Timeline

 

Adoption and Parental Identity

DNA testing is extremely popular among adoptees and others in search of missing parents and grandparents.

The techniques used for adoption and parental search are somewhat different than those used for more traditional genealogy, although non-adoptees may wish to continue to read this section because many of the features that are important to adoptees are important to other testers as well.

Adoptees often utilize autosomal DNA somewhat differently than traditional genealogists by using a technique called mirror trees. In essence, the adoptee utilizes the trees posted online of their closest DNA matches to search for common family lines within those trees. The common family lines will eventually lead to the individuals within those common trees that are candidates to be the parents of the searcher.

Here’s a simplified hypothetical example of my tree and a first cousin adoptee match.

The adoptee matches me at a first cousin level, meaning that we share at least one common grandparent – but which one? Looking at other people the adoptee matches, or the adoptee and I both match, we find Edith Lore (or her ancestors) in the tree of multiple matches. Since Edith Lore is my grandmother, the adoptee is predicted to be my first cousin, and Edith Lore’s ancestors appear in the trees of our common matches – that tells us that Edith Lore is also the (probable) grandmother of the adoptee.

Looking at the possibilities for how Edith Lore can fit into the tree of me and the adoptee, as first cousins, we fine the following scenario.

Testing the known child of daughter Ferverda will then provide confirmation of this relationship if the known child proves to be a half sibling to the adoptee.

Therefore, close matches, the ability to contact matches and trees are very important to adoptees. I recommend that adoptees make contact with www.dnaadoption.com. The volunteers there specialize in adoptions and adoptees, provide search angels to help people and classes to teach adoptees how to utilize the techniques unique to adoption search such as building mirror trees.

For adoptees, the first rule is to test with all 3 major vendors plus MyHeritage. Family Tree DNA allows you to test with both 23andMe and Ancestry and subsequently transfer your results to Family Tree DNA, but I would strongly suggest adoptees test on the Family Tree DNA platform instead. Your match results from transferring to Family Tree DNA from other companies, except for MyHeritage, will be fewer and less reliable because both 23andMe and Ancestry utilize different chip technology.

For most genealogists, MyHeritage is not a player, as they have only recently entered the testing arena, have a very small data base, no tools and are having matching issues. I recently wrote about MyHeritage here. However, adoptees may want to test with MyHeritage, or upload your results to MyHeritage if you tested with Family Tree DNA, because your important puzzle-solving match just might have tested there and no place else. You can read about transfer kit compatibility and who accepts which vendors’ tests here.

Adoptees can benefit from ethnicity estimates at the continental level, meaning that regional (within continent) or minority ethnicity should be taken with a very large grain of salt. However, knowing that you have 25% Jewish heritage, for example, can be a very big clue to an adoptee’s search.

Another aspect of the adoptees search that can be relevant is the number of foreign testers. For many years, neither 23andMe, nor Ancestry tested substantially (or at all) outside the US. Family Tree DNA has always tested internationally and has a very strong Jewish data base component.

Not all vendors report X chromosome matches. The X chromosome is important to genetic genealogy, because it has a unique inheritance path. Men don’t inherit an X chromosome from their fathers. Therefore, if you match someone on the X chromosome, you know the relationship, for a male, must be from their mother’s side. For a female, the relationship must be from the mother or the father’s mother’s side. You can read more about X chromosome matching here.

Neither Ancestry nor MyHeritage have chromosome browsers which allow you to view the segments of DNA on which you match other individuals, which includes the X chromosome.

Adoptee Y and Mitochondrial Testing

In addition to autosomal DNA testing, adoptees will want to test their Y DNA (males only) and mitochondrial DNA.

These tests are different from autosomal DNA which tests the DNA you receive from all of your ancestors. Y and mitochondrial DNA focus on only one specific line, respectively. Y DNA is inherited by men from their fathers and the Y chromosome is passed from father to son from time immemorial. Therefore, testing the Y chromosome provides us with the ability to match to current people as well as to use the Y chromosome as a tool to look far back in time. Adoptees tend to be most interested in matching current people, at least initially.

Working with male adoptees, I have a found that about 30% of the time a male will match strongly to a particular surname, especially at higher marker levels. That isn’t always true, but adoptees will never know if they don’t test. An adoptee’s match list is shown at 111 markers, below.

Furthermore, utilizing the Y and mitochondrial DNA test in conjunction with autosomal DNA matching at Family Tree DNA helps narrows possible relatives. The Advanced Matching feature allows you to see who you match on both the Y (or mitochondrial) DNA lines AND the autosomal test, in combination.

Mitochondrial DNA tests the matrilineal line only, as women pass their mitochondrial DNA to all of their children, but only females pass it on. Family Tree DNA provides matching and advanced combination matching/searching for mitochondrial DNA as well as Y DNA. Both genders of children carry their mother’s mitochondrial DNA. Unfortunately, mitochondrial DNA is more difficult to work with because of the surname changes in each generation, but you cannot be descended from a woman, or her direct matrilineal ancestors if you don’t substantially match her mitochondrial DNA.

Some vendors state that you receive mitochondrial DNA with your autosomal results, which is only partly accurate. At 23andMe, you receive a haplogroup but no detailed results and no matching. 23andMe does not test the entire mitochondria and therefore cannot provide either advanced haplogroup placement nor Y or mitochondrial DNA matching between testers.

For additional details on the Y and Mitochondrial DNA tests themselves and what you receive, please see the Genealogy – Y and Mitochondrial DNA section.

Adoption Summary

Adoptees should test with all 4 vendors plus Y and mitochondrial DNA testing.

  • Ancestry – due to their extensive data base size and trees
  • Family Tree DNA – due to their advanced tools, chromosome browser, Y and mitochondrial DNA tests (Ancestry and 23andMe participants can transfer autosomal raw data files and see matches for free, but advanced tools require either an unlock fee or a test on the Family Tree DNA platform)
  • 23andMe – no trees and many people don’t participate in sharing genetic information
  • MyHeritage – new kid on the block, working through what is hoped are startup issues
  • All adoptees should take the full mitochondrial sequence test.
  • Male adoptees should take the 111 marker Y DNA test, although you can start with 37 or 67 markers and upgrade later.
  • Y and mitochondrial tests are only available at Family Tree DNA.

Adoptee Vendor Feature Summary Chart

Family Tree DNA Ancestry 23andMe MyHeritage
Autosomal DNA – Males and Females
Matching Yes Yes Yes Yes – problems
Relationship Estimates* Yes – May be too close Yes – May be too distant Yes – Matches may not be sharing Yes –  problematic
International Reach Very strong Not strong but growing Not strong Small but subscriber base is European focused
Trees Yes Yes No Yes
Tree Quantity 54% have trees, 46% no tree (of my first 100 matches) 56% have trees, 44% no tree or private (of my first 100 matches) No trees ~50% don’t have trees or are private (cannot discern private tree without clicking on every tree)
Data Base Size Large Largest Large – but not all opt in to matching Very small
My # of Matches on 4-23-2017 2,421 23,750 1,809 but only 1,114 are sharing 75
Subscription Required No No for partial, Yes for full functionality including access to matches’ trees, minimal subscription for $49 by calling Ancestry No No for partial, Yes for full functionality
Other Relevant Tools New Ancestor Discoveries
Autosomal DNA Issues Many testers don’t have trees Many testers don’t have trees Matching opt-in is problematic, no trees at all Matching issues, small data base size is problematic, many testers don’t have trees
Contact Methodology E-mail address provided to matches Internal message system – known delivery issues Internal message system Internal message system
X Chromosome Matching Yes No Yes No
Y-DNA – Males Only
Y DNA STR Test Yes- 37, 67, and 111 markers No No No
Y Haplogroup Yes as part of STR test plus additional testing available No Yes, basic level but no additional testing available, outdated haplogroups No
Y Matching Yes No No No
Advanced Matching Between Y and Autosomal Yes No No No
Mitochondrial DNA- Males and Females
Test Yes, partial and full sequence No No No
Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroup Yes, included in test No Yes, basic but full haplogroup not available, haplogroup several versions behind No
Advanced Matching Between Mitochondrial and Autosomal Yes No No No

Genealogy – Cousin Matching and Ancestor Search/Verification

People who want to take a DNA test to find cousins, to learn more about their genealogy, to verify their genealogy research or to search for unknown ancestors and break down brick walls will be interested in various types of testing

Test Type Who Can Test
Y DNA – direct paternal line Males only
Mitochondrial DNA – direct matrilineal line Males and Females
Autosomal – all lines Males and Females

Let’s begin with autosomal DNA testing for genealogy which tests your DNA inherited from all ancestral lines.

Aside from ethnicity, autosomal DNA testing provides matches to other people who have tested. A combination of trees, meaning their genealogy, and their chromosome segments are used to identify (through trees) and verify (through DNA segments) common ancestor(s) and then to assign a particular DNA segment(s) to that ancestor or ancestral couple. This process, called triangulation, then allows you to assign specific segments to particular ancestors, through segment matching among multiple people. You then know that when another individual matches you and those other people on the same segment, that the DNA comes from that same lineage. Triangulation is the only autosomal methodology to confirm ancestors who are not close relatives, beyond the past 2-3 generations or so.

All three vendors provide matching, but the tools they include and their user interfaces are quite different. 

Genealogy – Autosomal –  Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA entered DNA testing years before any of the others, initially with Y and mitochondrial DNA testing.

Because of the diversity of their products, their website is somewhat busier, but they do a good job of providing areas on the tester’s personal landing page for each of the products and within each product, a link for each feature or function.

For example, the Family Finder test is Family Tree DNA’s autosomal test. Within that product, tools provided are:

  • Matching
  • Chromosome Browser
  • Linked Relationships
  • myOrigins
  • Ancient Origins
  • Matrix
  • Advanced Matching

Unique autosomal tools provided by Family Tree DNA are:

  • Linked Relationships that allows you to connect individuals that you match to their location in your tree, indicating the proper relationship. Phased Family Matching uses these relationships within your tree to indicate which side of your tree other matches originate from.
  • Phased Family Matching shows which side of your tree, maternal, paternal or both, someone descends from, based on phased DNA matching between you and linked relationship matches as distant as third cousins. This allows Family Tree DNA to tell you whether matches are paternal (blue icon), maternal (red icon) or both (purple icon) without a parent’s DNA. This is one of the best autosomal tools at Family Tree DNA, shown below.

  • In Common With and Not In Common With features allow you to sort your matches in common with another individual a number of ways, or matches not in common with that individual.
  • Filtered downloads provide the downloading of chromosome data for your filtered match list.
  • Stackable filters and searches – for example, you can select paternal matches and then search for a particular surname or ancestral surname within the paternal matches.
  • Common ethnicity matching through myOrigins allows you to see selected groups of individuals who match you and share common ethnicities.
  • Y and mtDNA locations of autosomal matches are provided on your ethnicity map through myOrigins.
  • Advanced matching tool includes Y, mtDNA and autosomal in various combinations. Also includes matches within projects where the tester is a member as well as by partial surname.
  • The matrix tool allows the tester to enter multiple people that they match in order to see if those individuals also match each other. The matrix tool is, in combination with the in-common-with tool and the chromosome browser is a form of pseudo triangulation, but does not indicate that the individuals match on the same segment.

  • Chromosome browser with the ability to select different segment match thresholds to display when comparing 5 or fewer individuals to your results.
  • Projects to join which provide group interaction and allow individuals to match only within the project, if desired.

To read more about how to utilize the various autosomal tools at Family Tree DNA, with examples, click here.

Genealogy – Autosomal – Ancestry

Ancestry only offers autosomal DNA testing to their customers, so their page is simple and straightforward.

Ancestry is the only testing vendor (other than MyHeritage who is not included in this section) to require a subscription for full functionality, although if you call the Ancestry support line, a minimal subscription is available for $49. You can see your matches without a subscription, but you cannot see your matches trees or utilize other functions, so you will not be able to tell how you connect to your matches. Many genealogists have Ancestry subscriptions, so this is minimally problematic for most people.

However, if you don’t realize you need a subscription initially, the required annual subscription raises the effective cost of the test quite substantially. If you let your subscription lapse, you no longer have access to all DNA features. The cost of testing with Ancestry is the cost of the test plus the cost of a subscription if you aren’t already a subscriber.

This chart, from the Ancestry support center, provides details on which features are included for free and which are only available with a subscription.

Unique tools provided by Ancestry include:

  • Shared Ancestor Hints (green leaves) which indicate a match with whom you share a common ancestor in your tree connected to your DNA, allowing you to display the path of you and your match to the common ancestor. In order to take advantage of this feature, testers must link their tree to their DNA test. Otherwise, Ancestry can’t do tree matching.  As far as I’m concerned, this is the single most useful DNA tool at Ancestry. Subscription required.

  • DNA Circles, example below, are created when several people whose DNA matches also share a common ancestor. Subscription required.

  • New Ancestor Discoveries (NADs), which are similar to Circles, but are formed when you match people descended from a common ancestor, but don’t have that ancestor in your tree. The majority of the time, these NADs are incorrect and are, when dissected and the source can be determined, found to be something like the spouse of a sibling of your ancestor. I do not view NADs as a benefit, more like a wild goose chase, but for some people these could be useful so long as the individual understands that these are NOT definitely ancestors and only hints for research. Subscription required.
  • Ancestry uses a proprietary algorithm called Timber to strip DNA from you and your matches that they consider to be “too matchy,” with the idea that those segments are identical by population, meaning likely to be found in large numbers within a population group – making them meaningless for genealogy. The problem is that Timber results in the removal of valid segments, especially in endogamous groups like Acadian families. This function is unique to Ancestry, but many genealogists (me included) don’t consider Timber a benefit.
  • Genetic Communities shows you groups of individuals with whom your DNA clusters. The trees of cluster members are then examined by Ancestry to determine connections from which Genetic Communities are formed. You can filter your DNA match results by Genetic Community.

Genealogy – Autosomal – 23and Me

Unfortunately, the 23andMe website is not straightforward or intuitive. They have spent the majority of the past two years transitioning to a “New Experience” which has resulted in additional confusion and complications when matching between people on multiple different platforms. You can take a spin through the New Experience by clicking here.

23andMe requires people to opt-in to sharing, even after they have selected to participate in Ancestry Services (genealogy) testing, have opted-in previously and chosen to view their DNA Relatives. Users on the “New Experience” can then either share chromosome data and results with each other individually, meaning on a one by one basis, or globally by a one-time opt-in to “open sharing” with matches. If a user does not opt-in to both DNA Relatives and open sharing, sharing requests must be made individually to each match, and they must opt-in to share with each individual user. This complexity and confusion results in an approximate sharing rate of between 50 and 60%. One individual who religiously works their matches by requesting sharing now has a share rate of about 80% of their matches in the data base who HAVE initially selected to participate in DNA Relatives. You can read more about the 23andMe experience at this link.

Various genetic genealogy reports and tools are scattered between the Reports and Tools tabs, and within those, buried in non-intuitive locations. If you are going to utilize 23andMe for matching and genealogy, in addition to the above link, I recommend Kitty Cooper’s blogs about the new DNA Relatives here and on triangulation here. Print the articles, and use them as a guide while navigating the 23andMe site.

Note that some screens (the Tools, DNA Relatives, then DNA tab) on the site do not display/work correctly utilizing Internet Explorer, but do with Edge or other browsers.

The one genealogy feature unique to 23andMe is:

  • Triangulation at 23andMe allows you to select a specific match to compare your DNA against. Several pieces of information will be displayed, the last of which, scrolling to the bottom, is a list of your common relatives with the person you selected.

In the example below, I’ve selected to see the matches I match in common with known family member, Stacy Den (surnames have been obscured for privacy reasons.)  Please note that the Roberta V4 Estes kit is a second test that I took for comparison purposes when the new V4 version of 23andMe was released.  Just ignore that match, because, of course I match myself as a twin.

If an individual does not match both you and your selected match, they will not appear on this list.

In the “relatives in common” section, each person is listed with a “shared DNA” column. For a person to be shown on this “in common” list, you obviously do share DNA with these individuals and they also share with your match, but the “shared DNA” column goes one step further. This column indicates whether or not you and your match both share a common DNA segment with the “in common” person.

I know this is confusing, so I’ve created this chart to illustrate what will appear in the “Shared DNA” column of the individuals showing on the list of matches, above, shared between me and Stacy Den.

Clicking on “Share to see” sends Sarah a sharing request for her to allow you to see her segment matches.

Let’s look at an example with “yes” in the Shared DNA column.

Clicking on the “Yes” in the Shared DNA column of Debbie takes us to the chromosome browser which shows both your selected match, Stacy in my case, and Debbie, the person whose “yes” you clicked.

All three people, meaning me, Stacy and Debbie share a common DNA segment, shown below on chromosome 17.

What 23andMe does NOT say is that these people. Stacy and Debbie, also match each other, in addition to matching me, which means all three of us triangulate.

Because I manage Stacy’s kit at 23andMe, I can check to see if Debbie is on Stacy’s match list, and indeed, Debbie is on Stacy’s match list and Stacy does match both Debbie and me on chromosome 17 in exactly the same location shown above, proving unquestionably that the three of us all match each other and therefore triangulate on this segment. In our case, it’s easy to identify our common relative whose DNA all 3 of us share.

Genealogy – Autosomal Summary

While all 3 vendors offer matching, their interfaces and tools vary widely.

I would suggest that Ancestry is the least sophisticated and has worked hard to make their tools easy for the novice working with genetic genealogy. Their green leaf DNA+Tree Matching is their best feature, easy to use and important for the novice and experienced genealogist alike.  Now, if they just had that chromosome browser so we could see how we match those people.

Ancestry’s Circles, while a nice feature, encourage testers to believe that their DNA or relationship is confirmed by finding themselves in a Circle, which is not the case.

Circles can be formed as the result of misinformation in numerous trees. For example, if I were to inaccurately list Smith as the surname for one of my ancestor’s wives, I would find myself in a Circle for Barbara Smith, when in fact, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that her surname is Smith. Yet, people think that Barbara Smith is confirmed due to a Circle having been formed and finding themselves in Barbara Smith’s Circle. Copying incorrect trees equals the formation of incorrect Circles.

It’s also possible that I’m matching people on multiple lines and my DNA match to the people in any given Circle is through another common ancestor entirely.

A serious genealogist will test minimally at Ancestry and at Family Tree DNA, who provides a chromosome browser and other tools necessary to confirm relationships and shared DNA segments.

Family Tree DNA is more sophisticated, so consequently more complex to use.  They provide matching plus numerous other tools. The website and matching is certainly friendly for the novice, but to benefit fully, some experience or additional education is beneficial, not unlike traditional genealogy research itself. This is true not just for Family Tree DNA, but GedMatch and 23andMe who all three utilize chromosome browsers.

The user will want to understand what a chromosome browser is indicating about matching DNA segments, so some level of education makes life a lot easier. Fortunately, understanding chromosome browser matching is not complex. You can read an article about Match Groups and Triangulation here. I also have an entire series of Concepts articles, Family Tree DNA offers a webinar library, their Learning Center and other educational resources are available as well.

Family Tree DNA is the only vendor to provide Phased Family Matches, meaning that by connecting known relatives who have DNA tested to your tree, Family Tree DNA can then identify additional matches as maternal, paternal or both. This, in combination with pseudo-phasing are very powerful matching tools.

23andMe is the least friendly of the three companies, with several genetic genealogy unfriendly restrictions relative to matching, opt-ins, match limits and such. They have experienced problem after problem for years relative to genetic genealogy, which has always been a second-class citizen compared to their medical research, and not a priority.

23andMe has chosen to implement a business model where their customers must opt-in to share segment information with other individuals, either one by one or by opting into open sharing. Based on my match list, roughly 60% of my actual DNA matches have opted in to sharing.

Their customer base includes fewer serious genealogists and their customers often are not interested in genealogy at all.

Having said that, 23andMe is the only one of the three that provides actual triangulated matches for users on the New Experience and who have opted into sharing.

If I were entering the genetic genealogy testing space today, I would test my autosomal DNA at Ancestry and at Family Tree DNA, but I would probably not test at 23andMe. I would test both my Y DNA (if a male) and mitochondrial at Family Tree DNA.

Thank you to Kitty Cooper for assistance with parent/child matching and triangulation at 23andMe.

Genealogy Autosomal Vendor Feature Summary Chart

Family Tree DNA Ancestry 23andMe
Matching Yes Yes Yes – each person has to opt in for open sharing or authorize sharing individually, many don’t
Estimated Relationships Yes Yes Yes
Chromosome Browser Yes No – Large Issue Yes
Chromosome Browser Threshold Adjustment Yes No Chromosome Browser No
X Chromosome Matching Yes No Yes
Trees Yes Yes – subscription required so see matches’ trees No
Ability to upload Gedcom file Yes Yes No
Ability to search trees Yes Yes No
Subscription in addition to DNA test price No No for partial, Yes for full functionality, minimal subscription for $49 by calling Ancestry No
DNA + Ancestor in Tree Matches No Yes – Leaf Hints – subscription required – Best Feature No
Phased Parental Side Matching Yes – Best Feature No No
Parent Match Indicator Yes No Yes
Sort or Group by Parent Match Yes Yes Yes
In Common With Tool Yes Yes Yes
Not In Common With Tool Yes No No
Triangulated Matches No – pseudo with ICW, browser and matrix No Yes – Best Feature
Common Surnames Yes Yes – subscription required No
Ability to Link DNA Matches on Tree Yes No No
Matrix to show match grid between multiple matches Yes No No
Match Filter Tools Yes Minimal Some
Advanced Matching Tool Yes No No
Multiple Test Matching Tool Yes No multiple tests No multiple tests
Ethnicity Matching Yes No Yes
Projects Yes No No
Maximum # of Matches Restricted No No Yes – 2000 unless you are communicating with the individuals, then they are not removed from your match list
All Customers Participate Yes Yes, unless they don’t have a subscription No – between 50-60% opt-in
Accepts Transfers from Other Testing Companies Yes No No
Free Features with Transfer Matching, ICW, Matrix, Advanced Matching No transfers No transfers
Transfer Features Requiring Unlock $ Chromosome Browser, Ethnicity, Ancient Origins, Linked Relationships, Parentally Phased Matches No Transfers No transfers
Archives DNA for Later Testing Yes, 25 years No, no additional tests available No, no additional tests available
Additional Tool DNA Circles – subscription required
Additional Tool New Ancestor Discoveries – subscription required
Y DNA Not included in autosomal test but is additional test, detailed results including matching No Haplogroup only
Mitochondrial DNA Not included in autosomal test but is additional test, detailed results including matching No Haplogroup only
Advanced Testing Available Yes No No
Website Intuitive Yes, given their many tools Yes, very simple No
Data Base Size Large Largest Large but many do not test for genealogy, only test for health
Strengths Many tools, multiple types of tests, phased matching without parent DNA + Tree matching, size of data base Triangulation
Challenges Website episodically times out No chromosome browser or advanced tools Sharing is difficult to understand and many don’t, website is far from intuitive

 

Genealogy – Y and Mitochondrial DNA

Two indispensable tools for genetic genealogy that are often overlooked are Y and mitochondrial DNA.

The inheritance path for Y DNA is shown by the blue squares and the inheritance path for mitochondrial DNA is shown by the red circles for the male and female siblings shown at the bottom of the chart.

Y-DNA Testing for Males

Y DNA is inherited by males only, from their father. The Y chromosome makes males male. Women instead inherit an X chromosome from their father, which makes them female. Because the Y chromosome is not admixed with the DNA of the mother, the same Y chromosome has been passed down through time immemorial.

Given that the Y chromosome follows the typical surname path, Y DNA testing is very useful for confirming surname lineage to an expected direct paternal ancestor. In other words, an Estes male today should match, with perhaps a few mutations, to other descendants of Abraham Estes who was born in 1647 in Kent, England and immigrated to the colony of Virginia.

Furthermore, that same Y chromosome can look far back in time, thousands of years, to tell us where that English group of Estes men originated, before the advent of surnames and before the migration to England from continental Europe. I wrote about the Estes Y DNA here, so you can see an example of how Y DNA testing can be used.

Y DNA testing for matching and haplogroup identification, which indicates where in the world your ancestors were living within the past few hundred to few thousand years, is only available from Family Tree DNA. Testing can be purchased for either 37, 67 or 111 markers, with the higher marker numbers providing more granularity and specificity in matching.

Family Tree DNA provides three types of Y DNA tests.

  • STR (short tandem repeat) testing is the traditional Y DNA testing for males to match to each other in a genealogically relevant timeframe. These tests can be ordered in panels of 37, 67 or 111 markers and lower levels can be upgraded to higher levels at a later date. An accurate base haplogroup prediction is made from STR markers.
  • SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) testing is a different type of testing that tests single locations for mutations in order to confirm and further refine haplogroups. Think of a haplogroup as a type of genetic clan, meaning that haplogroups are used to track migration of humans through time and geography, and are what is utilized to determine African, European, Asian or Native heritage in the direct paternal line. SNP tests are optional and can be ordered one at a time, in groups called panels for a particular haplogroup or a comprehensive research level Y DNA test called the Big Y can be ordered after STR testing.
  • The Big Y test is a research level test that scans the entire Y chromosome to determine the most refined haplogroup possible and to report any previously unknown mutations (SNPs) that may define further branches of the Y DNA tree. This is the technique used to expand the Y haplotree.

You can read more about haplogroups here and about the difference between STR markers and SNPs here, here and here.

Customers receive the following features and tools when they purchase a Y DNA test at Family Tree DNA or the Ancestry Services test at 23andMe. The 23andMe Y DNA information is included in their Ancestry Services test. The Family Tree DNA Y DNA information requires specific tests and is not included in the Family Finder test. You can click here to read about the difference in the technology between Y DNA testing at Family Tree DNA and at 23andMe. Ancestry is not included in this comparison because they provide no Y DNA related information.

Y DNA Vendor Feature Summary Chart

Family Tree DNA 23andMe
Varying levels of STR panel marker testing Yes, in panels of 37, 67 and 111 markers No
Test panel (STR) marker results Yes Not tested
Haplogroup assignment Yes – accurate estimate with STR panels, deeper testing available Yes –base haplogroup by scan – haplogroup designations are significantly out of date, no further testing available
SNP testing to further define haplogroup Yes – can purchase individual SNPs, by SNP panels or Big Y test No
Matching to other participants Yes No
Trees available for your matches Yes No
E-mail of matches provided Yes No
Calculator tool to estimate probability of generational distance between you and a match Yes No
Earliest known ancestor information Yes No
Projects Surname, haplogroup and geographic projects No
Ability to search Y matches Yes No Y matching
Ability to search matches within projects Yes No projects
Ability to search matches by partial surname Yes No
Haplotree and customer result location on tree Yes, detailed with every branch Yes, less detailed, subset
Terminal SNP used to determine haplogroup Yes Yes, small subset available
Haplogroup Map Migration map Heat map
Ancestral Origins – summary by ancestral location of others you match, by test level Yes No
Haplogroup Origins – match ancestral location summary by haplogroup, by test level Yes No
SNP map showing worldwide locations of any selected SNP Yes No
Matches map showing mapped locations of your matches most distant ancestor in the paternal line, by test panel Yes No
Big Y – full scan of Y chromosome for known and previously unknown mutations (SNPs) Yes No
Big Y matching Yes No
Big Y matching known SNPs Yes No
Big Y matching novel variants (unknown or yet unnamed SNPs) Yes No
Filter Big Y matches Yes No
Big Y results Yes No
Advanced matching for multiple test types Yes No
DNA is archived so additional tests or upgrades can be ordered at a later date Yes, 25 years No

Mitochondrial DNA Testing for Everyone

Mitochondrial DNA is contributed to both genders of children by mothers, but only the females pass it on. Like the Y chromosome, mitochondrial DNA is not admixed with the DNA of the other parent. Therefore, anyone can test for the mitochondrial DNA of their matrilineal line, meaning their mother’s mother’s mother’s lineage.

Matching can identify family lines as well as ancient lineage.

You receive the following features and tools when you purchase a mitochondrial DNA test from Family Tree DNA or the Ancestry Services test from 23andMe. The Family Tree DNA mitochondrial DNA information requires specific tests and is not included in the Family Finder test. The 23andMe mitochondrial information is provided with the Ancestry Services test. Ancestry is omitted from this comparison because they do not provide any mitochondrial information.

Mitochondrial DNA Vendor Feature Summary Chart

Family Tree DNA 23andMe
Varying levels of testing Yes, mtPlus and Full Sequence No
Test panel marker results Yes, in two formats, CRS and RSRS No
Rare mutations, missing and extra mutations, insertions and deletions reported Yes No
Haplogroup assignment Yes, most current version, Build 17 Yes, partial and out of date version
Matching to other participants Yes No
Trees of matches available to view Yes No
E-mail address provided to matches Yes No
Earliest known ancestor information Yes No
Projects Surname, haplogroup and geographic available No
Ability to search matches Yes No
Ability to search matches within project Yes No projects
Ability to search match by partial surname Yes No
Haplotree and customer location on tree No Yes
Mutations used to determine haplogroup provided Yes No
Haplogroup Map Migration map Heat map
Ancestral Origins – summary by ancestral location of others you match, by test level Yes No
Haplogroup Origins –match ancestral location summary by haplogroup Yes No
Matches map showing mapped locations of your matches most distant ancestor in the maternal line, by test level Yes No
Advanced matching for multiple test types Yes No
DNA is archived so additional tests or upgrades can be ordered at a later date Yes, 25 years No

 

Overall Genealogy Summary

Serious genealogists should test with at least two of the three major vendors, being Family Tree DNA and Ancestry, with 23andMe coming in as a distant third.

No genetic genealogy testing regimen is complete without Y and mitochondrial DNA for as many ancestral lines as you can find to test. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you’ll never know if you don’t test.

Unfortunately, many people, especially new testers, don’t know Y and mitochondrial DNA testing for genetic genealogy exists, or how it can help their genealogy research, which is extremely ironic since these were the first tests available, back in 2000.

You can read about finding Y and mitochondrial information for various family lines and ancestors and how to assemble a DNA Pedigree Chart here.

You can also take a look at my 52 Ancestors series, where I write about an ancestor every week. Each article includes some aspect of DNA testing and knowledge gained by a test or tests, DNA tool, or comparison. The DNA aspect of these articles focuses on how to use DNA as a tool to discover more about your ancestors.

 

Testing for Medical/Health or Traits

The DTC market also includes health and medical testing, although it’s not nearly as popular as genetic genealogy.

Health/medical testing is offered by 23andMe, who also offers autosomal DNA testing for genealogy.

Some people do want to know if they have genetic predispositions to medical conditions, and some do not. Some want to know if they have certain traits that aren’t genealogically relevant, but might be interesting – such as whether they carry the Warrior gene or if they have an alcohol flush reaction.

23andMe was the first company to dip their toes into the water of Direct to Consumer medical information, although they called it “health,” not medicine, at that time. Regardless of the terminology, information regarding Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, for example, were provided for customers. 23andMe attempted to take the raw data and provide the consumer with something approaching a middle of the road analysis, because sometimes the actual studies provide conflicting information that might not be readily understood by consumers.

The FDA took issue with 23andMe back in November of 2013 when they ordered 23andMe to discontinue the “health” aspect of their testing after 23andMe ignored several deadlines. In October 2015, 23andMe obtained permission to provide customers with some information, such as carrier status, for 36 genetic disorders.

Since that time, 23andMe has divided their product into two separate tests, with two separate prices. The genealogy only test called Ancestry Service can be purchased separately for $99, or the combined Health + Ancestry Service for $199.

If you are interested in seeing what the Health + Ancestry test provides, you can click here to view additional information.

However, there is a much easier and less expensive solution.

If you have taken the autosomal test from 23andMe, Ancestry or Family Tree DNA, you can download your raw data file from the vendor and upload to Promethease to obtain a much more in-depth report than is provided by 23andMe, and much less expensively – just $5.

I reviewed the Promethease service here. I found the Promethease reports to be very informative and I like the fact that they provide information, both positive and negative for each SNP (DNA location) reported. Promethease avoids FDA problems by not providing any interpretation or analysis, simply the data and references extracted from SNPedia for you to review.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that you should be sure you really want to know before you delve into medical testing. Some mutations are simply indications that you could develop a condition that you will never develop or that is not serious. Other mutations are not so benign. Promethease provides this candid page before you upload your data.

Different files from different vendors provide different results at Promethease, because those vendors test different SNP locations in your DNA. At the Promethease webpage, you can view examples.

Traits

Traits fall someplace between genealogy and health. When you take the Health + Ancestry test at 23andMe, you do receive information about various traits, as follows:

Of course, you’ll probably already know if you have several of these traits by just taking a look in the mirror, or in the case of male back hair, by asking your wife.

At Family Tree DNA, existing customers can order tests for Factoids (by clicking on the upgrade button), noted as curiosity tests for gene variants.

Family Tree DNA provides what I feel is a great summary and explanation of what the Factoids are testing on their order page:

“Factoids” are based on studies – some of which may be controversial – and results are not intended to diagnose disease or medical conditions, and do not serve the purpose of medical advice. They are offered exclusively for curiosity purposes, i.e. to see how your result compared with what the scientific papers say. Other genetic and environmental variables may also impact these same physiological characteristics. They are merely a conversational piece, or a “cocktail party” test, as we like to call it.”

Test Price Description
Alcohol Flush Reaction $19 A condition in which the body cannot break down ingested alcohol completely. Flushing, after consuming one or two alcoholic beverages, includes a range of symptoms: nausea, headaches, light-headedness, an increased pulse, occasional extreme drowsiness, and occasional skin swelling and itchiness. These unpleasant side effects often prevent further drinking that may lead to further inebriation, but the symptoms can lead to mistaken assumption that the people affected are more easily inebriated than others.
Avoidance of Errors $29 We are often angry at ourselves because we are unable to learn from certain experiences. Numerous times we have made the wrong decision and its consequences were unfavorable. But the cause does not lie only in our thinking. A mutation in a specific gene can also be responsible, because it can cause a smaller number of dopamine receptors. They are responsible for remembering our wrong choices, which in turn enables us to make better decisions when we encounter a similar situation.
Back Pain $39 Lumbar disc disease is the drying out of the spongy interior matrix of an intervertebral disc in the spine. Many physicians and patients use the term lumbar disc disease to encompass several different causes of back pain or sciatica. A study of Asian patients with lumbar disc disease showed that a mutation in the CILP gene increases the risk of back pain.
Bitter Taste Perception $29 There are several genes that are responsible for bitter taste perception – we test 3 of them. Different variations of this gene affect ability to detect bitter compounds. About 25% of people lack ability to detect these compounds due to gene mutations. Are you like them? Maybe you don’t like broccoli, because it tastes too bitter?
Caffeine Metabolism $19 According to the results of a case-control study reported in the March 8, 2006 issue of JAMA, coffee is the most widely consumed stimulant in the world, and caffeine consumption has been associated with increased risk for non-fatal myocardial infarction. Caffeine is primarily metabolized by the cytochrome P450 1A2 in the liver, accounting for 95% of metabolism. Carriers of the gene variant *1F allele are slow caffeine metabolizers, whereas individuals homozygous for the *1A/*1A genotype are rapid caffeine metabolizers.
Earwax Type $19 Whether your earwax is wet or dry is determined by a mutation in a single gene, which scientists have discovered. Wet earwax is believed to have uses in insect trapping, self-cleaning and prevention of dryness in the external auditory canal of the ear. It also produces an odor and causes sweating, which may play a role as a pheromone.
Freckling $19 Freckles can be found on anyone no matter what the background. However, having freckles is genetic and is related to the presence of the dominant melanocortin-1 receptor MC1R gene variant.
Longevity $49 Researchers at Harvard Medical School and UC Davis have discovered a few genes that extend lifespan, suggesting that the whole family of SIR2 genes is involved in controlling lifespan. The findings were reported July 28, 2005 in the advance online edition of Science.
Male Pattern Baldness $19 Researchers at McGill University, King’s College London and GlaxoSmithKline Inc. have identified two genetic variants in Caucasians that together produce an astounding sevenfold increase of the risk of male pattern baldness. Their results were published in the October 12, 2008 issue of the Journal of Nature Genetics.
Monoamine Oxidase A (Warrior Gene) $49.50 The Warrior Gene is a variant of the gene MAO-A on the X chromosome. Recent studies have linked the Warrior Gene to increased risk-taking and aggressive behavior. Whether in sports, business, or other activities, scientists found that individuals with the Warrior Gene variant were more likely to be combative than those with the normal MAO-A gene. However, human behavior is complex and influenced by many factors, including genetics and our environment. Individuals with the Warrior Gene are not necessarily more aggressive, but according to scientific studies, are more likely to be aggressive than those without the Warrior Gene variant. This test is available for both men and women, however, there is limited research about the Warrior Gene variant amongst females. Additional details about the Warrior Gene genetic variant of MAO-A can be found in Sabol et al, 1998.
Muscle Performance $29 A team of researchers, led by scientists at Dartmouth Medical School and Dartmouth College, have identified and tested a gene that dramatically alters both muscle metabolism and performance. The researchers say that this finding could someday lead to treatment of muscle diseases, including helping the elderly who suffer from muscle deterioration and improving muscle performance in endurance athletes.
Nicotine Dependence $19 In 2008, University of Virginia Health System researchers have identified a gene associated with nicotine dependence in both Europeans and African Americans.

Many people are interested in the Warrior Gene, which I wrote about here.

At Promethease, traits are simply included with the rest of the conditions known to be associated with certain SNPs, such as baldness, for example, but I haven’t done a comparison to see which traits are included.

 

Additional Vendor Information to Consider

Before making your final decision about which test or tests to purchase, there are a few additional factors you may want to consider.

As mentioned before, Ancestry requires a subscription in addition to the cost of the DNA test for the DNA test to be fully functional.

One of the biggest issues, in my opinion, is that both 23andMe and Ancestry sell customer’s anonymized DNA information to unknown others. Every customer authorizes the sale of their information when they purchase or activate a kit – even though very few people actually take the time to read the Terms and Conditions, Privacy statements and Security documents, including any and all links. This means most people don’t realize they are authorizing the sale of their DNA.

At both 23andMe and Ancestry, you can ALSO opt in for additional non-anonymized research or sale of your DNA, which you can later opt out of. However, you cannot opt out of the lower level sale of your anonymized DNA without removing your results from the data base and asking for your sample to be destroyed. They do tell you this, but it’s very buried in the fine print at both companies. You can read more here.

Family Tree DNA does not sell your DNA or information.

All vendors can change their terms and conditions at any time. Consumers should always thoroughly read the terms and conditions including anything having to do with privacy for any product they purchase, but especially as it relates to DNA testing.

Family Tree DNA archives your DNA for later testing, which has proven extremely beneficial when a family member has passed away and a new test is subsequently introduced or the family wants to upgrade a current test.  Had my mother’s DNA not been archived at Family Tree DNA, I would not have Family Finder results for her today – something I thank Mother and Family Tree DNA for every single day.

Family Tree DNA also accepts transfer files from 23andMe, Ancestry and very shortly, MyHeritage – although some versions work better than others. For details on which companies accept which file versions, from which vendors, and why, please read Autosomal DNA Transfers – Which Companies Accept Which Tests?

If you tested on a compatible version of the 23andMe Test (V3 between December 2010 and November 2013) or the Ancestry V1 (before May 2016) you may want to transfer your raw data file to Family Tree DNA for free and pay only $19 for full functionality, as opposed to taking the Family Finder test. Family Tree DNA does accept later versions of files from 23andMe and Ancestry, but you will receive more matches if you test on the same chip platform that Family Tree DNA utilizes instead of doing a transfer.

Additional Vendor Considerations Summary Chart

Family Tree DNA Ancestry 23andMe
Subscription required in addition to cost of DNA test No Yes for full functionality, partial functionality is included without subscription, minimum subscription is $49 by calling Ancestry No
Customer Support Good and available Available, nice but often not knowledgeable about DNA Poor
Sells customer DNA information No Yes Yes
DNA raw data file available to download Yes Yes Yes
DNA matches file available to download including match info and chromosome match locations Yes No Yes
Customers genealogically focused Yes Yes Many No
Accepts DNA raw data transfer files from other companies Yes, most, see article for specifics No No
DNA archived for later testing Yes, 25 years No No
Beneficiary provision available Yes No No

 

Which Test is Best For You?

I hope you now know the answer as to which DNA test is best for you – or maybe it’s multiple tests for you and other family members too!

DNA testing holds so much promise for genealogy. I hesitate to call DNA testing a miracle tool, but it often is when there are no records. DNA testing works best in conjunction with traditional genealogical research.

There are a lot of tests and options.  The more tests you take, the more people you match. Some people test at multiple vendors or upload their DNA to third party sites like GedMatch, but most don’t. In order to make sure you reach those matches, which may be the match you desperately need, you’ll have to test at the vendor where they tested. Otherwise, they are lost to you. That means, of course, that eventually, if you’re a serious genealogist, you’ll be testing at all 3 vendors.  Don’t forget about Y and mitochondrial tests at Family Tree DNA.

Recruit family members to test and reach out to your matches.  The more you share and learn – the more is revealed about your ancestors. You are, after all, the unique individual that resulted from the combination of all of them!

Update: Vendor prices updated June 22, 2017.

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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.

John Iron Moccasin, The Story of a Sioux Man

Occasionally, the project administrators of the American Indian project are presented with a rare opportunity to test an individual who is either full-blooded Native or nearly so. Recently, a Native Sioux man, John Iron Moccasin, born Earl White Weasel, stepped forward.

In order to facilitate testing, project members and others contributed funds with the agreement that we could publish John’s results and story. Now that the original tests are complete and we are publishing his results, we would like to upgrade John’s Y markers to 111 (from 37) and add the Big Y test – so if you’re inclined to contribute to the American Indian Project for this advanced testing – you can do so by clicking here.

But first, perhaps you’d like to hear John’s story. The results of the research into John’s history, both genealogically and genetically are fascinating. I hope you’ll get a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy this journey. Come along – we’re going on an adventure to South Dakota and we’ll be visiting the Sioux people!

In the Beginning…

A few months ago, John Iron Moccasin was talking to his friend and told her that he would like to share not only his oral history, but his genealogy and genetic history, with his daughter. He didn’t know how to go about doing either, but that friend, Pam, did, and she turned to me.

John was born as Earl White Weasel on Eagle Butte Reservation in South Dakota. He then lived at Cherry Creek Reservation in South Dakota. After adoption, he relocated to Pine Ridge Reservation, Kyle Reservation and then Oglala Reservation.

Unlike many adoptees, John always knew the identity of his birth parents and has given permission to use both his birth and adopted surnames. He takes pride in both, as well as his heritage. However, since John’s genetic genealogy is connected only with his biological parents, that’s where this article will focus.

Both of John’s biological parents belonged to the Cheyenne Sioux tribe. His birth father was Timothy Urban White Weasel and his birth mother was Martha Hale.

John is tribally enrolled with the Cheyenne Sioux based on his birth parents. John’s card shows his “degree of blood” to be at least 15/16ths.

Let’s take a look at tracking both John’s maternal and paternal ancestry. Many people ask how to work with Native records, and this article will follow my step-by-journey with both John’s traditional genealogy as well as his genetic genealogy, tracking each line back in time. But first, let’s look at the history of the Sioux people.

The Sioux

The Sioux are groups of Native American tribes and First Nations peoples in North America. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or to any of the nation’s many language dialects. The Sioux comprise three major divisions based on language divisions: the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota.

The Santee Dakota reside in the extreme east of the Dakotas, Minnesota and northern Iowa. The Yankton and Yanktonai Dakota reside in the Minnesota River area. They are considered to be the middle Sioux, and have in the past been erroneously classified as Nakota. The actual Nakota are the Assiniboine and Stoney of Western Canada and Montana. The Lakota, also called Teton are the westernmost Sioux, known for their hunting and warrior culture.

The Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868 established the Great Sioux Reservation, shown below, much of which has been whittled away today.

Today, the Sioux maintain many separate tribal governments scattered across several reservations, communities, and reserves in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Montana in the United States; and Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan in Canada.

sioux-map-today

By User:Nikater – Own work by Nikater, submitted to the public domain. Background map courtesy of Demis, http://www.demis.nl., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2309029

The Dakota are first recorded to have resided at the source of the Mississippi River during the seventeenth century. The source of the Mississippi trickled out of Lake Itasca in present day South Clearwater, Minnesota. On the map below, you can see that location as well as Eagle Butte, to the west (larger white circle in South Dakota), some 300 or more miles as the crow flies, where John Iron Moccasin was born. The third location, Wilsall, Montana, on further west (red balloon), is where the remains of the 12,500 year old Anzick Child were found with Clovis tools.

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By 1700 some Sioux had migrated to present-day South Dakota. John’s Native ancestors were born in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska and reportedly, Canada.

Late in the 17th century, the Dakota entered into an alliance with French merchants. The French were trying to gain advantage in the struggle for the North American fur trade against the English, who had recently established the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The first recorded encounter between the Sioux and the French occurred when Radisson and Groseilliers reached what is now Wisconsin during the winter of 1659-60. Later visiting French traders and missionaries included Claude-Jean Allouez, Daniel Greysolon Duluth, and Pierre-Charles Le Sueur who wintered with Dakota bands in early 1700. In 1736 a group of Sioux killed Jean Baptiste de La Vérendrye and twenty other men on an island in Lake of the Woods. However, trade with the French continued until after the French gave up North America in 1763.

For the most part, Sioux contact with Europeans was very limited until in the 1800s, and then, it turned deadly in a series of “wars” as the Sioux tried to protect their land and way of life. Europeans were equally as determined to eradicate the Indians, take their land and eliminate their way of life – and ultimately – they succeeded by containing the Sioux on reservations.

Records, other than oral history in the Sioux tongue, didn’t begin until Europeans began keeping them, so our earliest genealogical records of the Sioux only reach back into the 1800s. Thankfully, genetic records can reach back infinitely into time.

Let’s visit John Iron Moccasin’s ancestors, beginning with John’s paternal line.

The White Weasel Line

John’s father was Timothy Urban White Weasel, born August 1, 1939 to Oscar White Weasel and his wife, Esther (also called Estella) Ward. Timothy died March 28, 2004 in Eagle Butte, Dewey County, SD, the same location where he was born.

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John’s grandfather, Oscar White Weasel is listed as a farmer in the 1930 census in Ziebach County, South Dakota, in Township 8, district 59 as a full blood Sioux male with a note “74-5,” speaking Sioux, as is his wife, Esther, age 24. They have been married 5 years and have two children, Margie age 4 & 9/12 and Beatrice, age 2 & 5/12th. Oscar is a veteran.

Please note that you can click to enlarge any graphic.

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This means John’s grandfather was born about 1898 and his grandmother about 1906. It should be noted that many traditional Native people have only a general idea of when they were born.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs Death File shows that Oscar Weasel was born on Feb. 22, 1898 and died on February 12, 1979. His military service was from March 28, 1917 to May 12, 1919.

The 1940 census from the same location shows Oscar J. White Weasel, age 42, wife Esther M., age 38, both Indian, both born in South Dakota, both educated through 7th grade, with 5 children including baby Urban J. White Weasel, age 7/12th. They live in Cherry Creek in Ziebach County, SD in the same place they lived in 1935.

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The Rapid City, SD obituary index shows that two obituaries for Oscar exist.

Weasel, Oscar J. 80 12 Feb 1979 Fort Meade, SD BHN 14 Feb 1979 p.31

16 Feb 1979 p.5

BHN means that Oscar is buried in the Black Hills National Cemetery. Find-A-Grave shows that he is buried in Section C, site 455 and that he was a PFC in WWI.

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im-black-hillsThe Social Security Claims Index shows that Oscar’s wife was Esther Ward and their child that filed the claim is Beatrice Louise Janis.

The 1927 Indian Census of the Cheyenne River Sioux Agency provides a little more information.

Joseph, also known as Oscar White Weasel is listed as born in 1898 and with two numbers instead of an English name. 322986 and 328110. I suspect these are the governmental identification numbers assigned to his parents when they were paid from the settlement fund – although one of those numbers could he his. His wife is listed as born in 1903 and as Mrs. Joseph White Weasel, nee Esther Ward, and she has one number listed in place of English name, 359087. Their daughter Margie is listed as born in 1925 and has no number listed by her name. There are no additional White Weasel individuals listed.

The 1925 Indian Census (below) shows us that he is listed as Joseph with Oscar penciled in above the name, with the number 322986 beside his name – which is evidently his number.

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The numbers probably related to the numbers assigned to Indians on the Dawes Rolls resulting from the Dawes Act of 1887 which allotted tribal lands in severalty to individual tribal members in exchange for Native Americans becoming US citizens and giving up some forms of tribal self-government.

In the South Dakota 1925 census, Joseph White Weasel is listed as married in 1924 and as Catholic. The South Dakota Marriages lists them as having married on October 18, 1924 in Cherry Creek.

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Many of the Native people were “converted” to Catholicism by missionaries. The French were Catholic and the traders in this region and throughout the Great Lakes were French.

The 1900 federal census (below) lists Joseph White Weasel, born in 1898 as the son of Charley White Weasel born in April of 1866 in South Dakota. They are living on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, district 48 in Dewey, County, South Dakota. Joseph’s mother is “Follows” and she was born in July of 1869 in Montana, as were both children. They have been married 12 years, had 5 children, and 2 are living. Joseph’s older brother is Wakes (probably Makes) Believe his (probably he’s) Running. Charley is listed as “Indian Police” and Follows is listed as “Ration Indian.” They have not attended school, cannot read or write and do not speak English.

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The bottom of the census document includes an area called “special inquiries relating to Indians.”

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This entire family is listed as Sioux, with no white blood. The mother and father of both Charley and Follows are listed as Sioux as well. They are not polygamous and they lived in a fixed, as opposed to moveable, structure. In other words, a “house” of some sort, not a teepee.

Polygamy was considered a grave sin by most Christian religions, and clearly someone still practicing the Native ways, which includes both polygamy and living in teepees, was highly encouraged to abandon those practices.

Note in the Indian census as late as 1902, some households are still listed with wife 1 and wife 2. It’s impossible to tell which child was born to which wife.

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Also note that the Native name and English name may have nothing to do with each other. They are not always literal translations. Please also note that Follows Him, above, is not the same person as Follows.

Christianity, and specifically Catholicism, along with “civility,” meant taking English names and living in established locations in structures. These behaviors were strongly encouraged and then forced upon the Native people with the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 when their children were sent to “boarding schools” to learn the white ways, renamed, and it became illegal to practice the Native ways, including spiritual practices, powwows and speaking their own language. These restrictions lasted until the Native American Languages Act of 1990 which once again allowed Native people to speak their own language and the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act allowing Native people once again to hold events such as powwows and practice their own belief system.  Unfortunately, the half century plus between 1924 and 1978/1990 successfully eroded and destroyed much of the Native cultural heritage.

Follows continues to be listed in the Indian census documents. 1895 is shown below.

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The 1897 Indian census (below) shows Follows and White Weasel with Makes Believe he is Running and a new child, aged 2. This child is not yet named, which makes sense in the Indian culture because children are not named until they “earn” a name of some sort. In some tribes, names are changed as new names are earned.

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The family is also shown in the Indian Census of 1899 (below) where Joseph has been named, in 1900, in 1902 when Lucy has been born, in 1903, in 1904, in 1906 when Lucy is no longer with them, and in 1907.

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The June 30, 1909 Indian Census shows Follows, age 40, but White Weasel is gone and she is shown with both sons, below.

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The 1910 federal census shows a Louise Weasel on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, with sons Peter age 17 and Oscar, age 11. I don’t know if this is the same family with white names, or this is a different family. I suspect that Follows has been “renamed” Louise for the federal census document.

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The 1910 Indian census shows Follows with both boys again as well as in 1911, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1917.  In 1918, Follows is shown with only Joseph.

I cannot find either Follows or Joseph (Oscar) White Weasel in the 1920 census, although he was clearly living because he married in 1924. It’s unclear when Follows died.

The Ward Line

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John’s grandmother, Esther Ward is listed as Esther White Weasel born in 1904 on the 1945 South Dakota Census, with both of her parents born in South Dakota.

On the 1910 federal census, Esther Ward is 6 years old living with her father, Alfred Ward, age 32, married 13 years, and his wife Nellie age 28. They have another daughter, Mary, age 12 and (apparently) a son, Alec Chasing Hawk, age 2. Alec’s father is listed as having been born in Montana and mother South Dakota, white everyone else and their parents are listed as born in South Dakota – so Alec is a bit of an enigma. They also live with a man I would presume to be Alfred Ward’s’s father, although he could be Nellie’s father, as he is listed only as “father” but generally that is the relationship to the head of the household. Jerome Chasing Hawk, age 78, so born in about 1832, widowed, Sioux, a Ration Indian. However, we later discover that Alfred Ward’s father is Clarence “Roan Bear” Ward and his mother is Estella DuPris, so the identity of Jerome Chasing Hawk is quite a mystery.

Ration Indian means that they are receiving rations from the Bureau of Indian affairs, often in exchange for land traded by the tribe.

Alfred raises stock and both Alfred and Nellie can read and write, but Jerome cannot.

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In the special inquiries section, Alfred Ward is listed as ¾ Indian and ¼ white, married once, not living in polygamy, received an allotment in 1908 and is living on his own land.

Nellie is listed as full Indian, received an allotment in 1909 and has been married once.

Jerome Chasing Hawk is listed as full, married twice, not living in polygamy, and received an allotment in 1903. He is not living on his own land.

The 1900 federal census shows Chasing Hawk, a widower, as the father-in-law of Dirt Kettle, whose wife is Woman Eagle. Chasing Hawk is 68 and was born in May of 1832 in South Dakota. His father was born in an unknown location and his mother was born in North Dakota. He is a Ration Indian and does not read, write or speak English. In the special inquiries section, Chasing Hawk is noted with other name as “Cetan, unknown” and that he is full Native.

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I did not solve the mystery of Chasing Hawk’s relationship to this family.

If Alfred Ward is indeed ¼ white, then John Iron Moccasin is 1/32nd white, assuming all other ancestors were full Native.

The 1900 federal census shows Alfred Ward, age 22, with wife Pretty Voice, age 16 and daughter Irelia Ward, age 1.

Pretty Voice appears to be Nellie’s Native name.

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In the special inquiries section, Alfred is listed with both parents being Sioux, but listed as half white. Pretty Voice is listed as Sioux, all Indian with no white. He can speak English, she cannot. Alfred is shown in the photo below.

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On the 1925 Indian Census Roll, Alfred and Pretty Voice are both shown. He has number 246235 or 246285 next to his name and she has 248261 beside her name. They have 3 children.

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On the 1931 Indian Census Roll, Joseph White Weasel is listed with his wife, Esther, with their roll numbers and the identification numbers of their allotment, annuity and identification numbers.

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On the 1895 Indian census, Pretty Voice is listed as the child of Hump and White Calf is listed as Hump’s wife, although we will see in a minute why that may not mean that White Calf is Pretty Voice’s mother.

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This is a very interesting development, because Hump and White Calf are also in John Iron Moccasin’s mother’s line, as are Clarence Ward and Estella DuPris.

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The 1886 Indian Census shows Hump, age 45, with wife Beautiful Hail, age 26, and daughter Pretty Voice age 3 and Her Voice, age 2. This strongly suggests that Pretty Voice’s mother was Beautiful Hail and not White Calf.

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The 1891 Indian Census labeled “Sioux of different bands” shows Hump, age 43, his wife designated only as “Mrs.” age 21, With Pretty Voice, age 9, Sun age 6 and Hope or Hoop age 2.

The 1892 Indian Census shows that Hump, age 42, married to White Calf, with daughter Pretty Voice, age 11, Sun age 8 and Hope age 2. Her Voice is not with the family, so presumably has died.

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Pretty Voice is reported on another tree maintained by YanktonSiouxTribe, who indicates they are a professional genealogist, to be the daughter of Chief Hump, friend and mentor to Crazy Horse. YanktonSiouxTribe reports that Pretty Voice married Alfred Ward, son of Roan Bear also known as Clarence Ward and Estella Dupris, the daughter of Fred Dupris and Good Elk Woman whose photo is shown below.

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Good Elk Woman

In the 1895 Indian Census, Alfred Ward is shown living with his parents, Clarence Ward and Estelle Ward, ages 44 and 40, respectively. They would have been born in 1851 and 1855. Clarence and Estelle’s youngest son, Willie, is also John’s ancestor through his mother’s line, having married Hope (Dora) Hump.

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It’s interesting to note in reviewing the Indian census records that in the mid-1890s, many Native people did not have an English name. Some had both, but far less than half in this tribe. However, by the 1920 federal census, they all had white names.

The 1900 census shows us that Clarence Ward was born in July of 1850 in Nebraska and his parents were both born in South Dakota. He is listed as Missionary R and his wife is listed as a Ration Indian. The “R” is noted beside a number of occupations, so I would presume he is a missionary and the R may indicate “ration Indian” as well. They have been married 21 years and she has had 5 children, 4 of whom are living.

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In the special inquiries section, Clarence is listed as Sioux, as are his parents. Estella and her parents are also listed as Sioux, but she is listed as one half Native.

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In 1920, Clarence Ward was living, age 67, no occupation, wife Stella, age 64. Both were born in South Dakota and are living on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in SD.

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Clarence is reported to have died in 1933.

Stella, or Estella DuPris, was born in August 1854 to Frederick DuPris and Good Elk Woman and died on July 6, 1927. Stella married Clarence Ward (shown below), who was born in 1851 in Nebraska.

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In the 1886 Indian Census, Clarence is shown as 35, Estelle as 31 and Alfred as 9.

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The 1900 Federal census shows Clarence as a Missionary, Estelle as born in South Dakota, her father born in France and her mother born in South Dakota.

DuPris Line

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Stella’s father, Frederick Dupris, was born in 1813 in Quebec City, Quebec and died in 1898. He had 10 children with Good Elk Woman between 1845 and 1870. He died on June 16, 1898 in South Dakota. Good Elk Woman, also known as Mary Ann DuPris, died on February 13, 1900.

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Photo of Fred DuPris and his wife, Good Elk Woman and Son, Xavier Dupris, courtesy, South Dakota Historical Society.

In case there is any question about whether Fred DuPris was 100% white, the 1900 census lists his son, Fred Dupris as Sioux, father white, mother Sioux and he being one half Native. This, of course, indicates that Fred Sr. was all white.

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In the Indian Census of 1894, Good Elk Woman is listed as age 68 and is living with her daughter.

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Good Elk Woman was the daughter of One Iron Horn born about 1805 in South Dakota and Red Dressing born about 1810. Good Elk Woman was originally married to hereditary chief, Henry Makes Room and had a son, Henry Makes Room Junior.

The following information was provided by Calvin Dupree.

“The First Dupree Into South Dakota”

Frederick Dupuis came from Longueil, Quebec to Kaskaskia, Illinois and from there to the Cheyenne River area. One Dupuis brother, Pierre (known as Peter), went on up into Montana where he married an Assiniboin Sioux woman.

A French-Canadian, Fred Dupuis arrived at Fort Pierre in 1838 and was in employee of the American Fur Company under Pierre Choteau, Jr. Letters from the winter of 1861 were written to Charles Primeau from Fred Dupuis by M. C. Rousseau at the mouth of Cherry Creek. The letters were concerned with reports of the Indian bands and the number of buffalo robes Fred was sending in and a list of the materials he needed for trading and maintaining his small outpost at the mouth of Cherry Creek. The trader (Fred) was concerned that the buffalo were becoming scarce and that the Indians and their horses were “poor”.

By 1860, we must assume that Fred was married and busy with the affairs of a husband and father. He married a Minniconjou, Good Elk Woman, who became Mary Ann Dupuis. She had one son, Henry Makes Room, from a previous marriage who was adopted by Fred. Mary was the daughter of One Iron Horn and Red Dressing. Some elders in the family remember that Mary was from Cherry Creek. Mary and Fred had nine children. They were: Peter; Maggie (Fisherman); Esther (Ward); Edward; David Xavier; Alma (Blue Eyes); Fred, Jr.; Josephine (Vollin); Vetal; and Marcella (Carlin). “Not one of whom could speak English, with the exception of Edward, who was a student at Hampton, Va.”

After being an independent trader for some time (and probably as the buffalo dwindled and the Indians were put on reservations) Fred became a stock grower. He built the family home in a beautiful wooded flat on the north side of the Cheyenne River, thirty-five miles west of where it emptied into the Missouri. The patriarchal home was described as being 20 feet by 60 feet, and built of cottonwood logs. As each son or daughter married, a new small log house (called a tipi by the family) was built. These homes had dirt floor and gumbo roofs and were placed in a row near the main house. In addition there were usually a dozen tipis nearby, pitched by the full blood relatives of Mary Dupuis. The living arrangement was truly communal; the women had a large vegetable garden; the men worked the stock; all the cooking and eating was done in one cabin. One of the women baked all the bread, another cooked the meat and vegetables, and another made coffee and served the food. Three times a day 52 people ate together, along with any strangers or friends who might happen along.

The Dupuis home was known as a place for sharing good times and good food in the true Indian way. This was the era of government ration dispensing and all 52 of the family members collected their share which was hauled home in wagons from Fort Bennett, even though Old Fred was reputed to be wealthy with “several thousand head of cattle and 500 horses, a small herd of domesticated buffalo and a large amount of other property.”

The marriage of Marcella Dupuis, Old Fred’s youngest daughter, to Douglas F. Carlin, a non-Indian, of Pierre must have been a noteworthy event since newspapers from Deadwood and Pierre covered the event. Mr. Carlin was noted as the issue clerk at Cheyenne Agency. The ceremony was performed at the Dupuis home on the Cheyenne River with many important persons from the city, including the Pierre City Council, and unknown numbers of Sioux present. Forty fat steers were to be roasted. All the wedding gifts were put on exhibition after the supper, the most impressive being five hundred head of cattle and fifty ponies from Old Fred, father of the bride, and a decorated buffalo robe from sisters of the bride. The Sioux dancing continued for three days with the only interruption being a pause for more eating every three hours.

The Dupuis family’s contribution to saving the buffalo.

In 1883 (or possibly earlier) Old Fred and some of his sons and possibly Basil Clement (Claymore) went on a hunt for some buffalo calves in order to start a herd. By this time the great “surrounds” of the past were over and I can imagine that the desire to preserve at least a few of these animals, so necessary and so sacred to the Indian people, was strong. The group headed northwest from the Cheyenne River and was gone for many months and in Montana, or near Slim Buttes (reports differ), they located a small herd. They finally secured five calves (one report says nine), which were loaded into wagons brought along for that purpose. The calves were taken back to Cheyenne River.

By 1888 from this small start the Dupuis had nine pure-blood buffaloes. By the time of Old Fred’s death in 1898 the herd had grown considerably, and was purchased by James (Scotty) Philip of Fort Pierre. By 1918 (the herd) had increased to approximately 500 head. The State of South Dakota purchased 46 of these buffalo and transferred them to the State Game Park in Fall River County. Hearsay has it that Scotty Philip sold buffalo to other states and parks also, spreading the original Dupuis stock back into many areas where the buffalo once roamed free by the millions.

Old Fred died in 1898 at about age 80. Then, as now, a death was the occasion for sharing through a Give-Away of all the deceased’s belongings. From Aunt Molly Dupris Annis Rivers, Old Fred’s grand-daughter, I have heard the colorful story of how some of the Dupuis wealth was distributed. It is said that according to Lakota custom, any one who happened by was entitled to a gift and this even included a group of Crow Indians, traditional enemies of the Sioux since anyone can remember. The Crows were invited to join the other guests as they filed by a horse whose saddle bags had been filled with silver dollars. Each person took a silver dollar until they were gone; the next person in line was given the saddle, and the last person received the horse. And in this way, and probably by several other methods, Old Fred’s money and property were shared with the people. None of his oft mentioned wealth was inherited by any of his family.

Records indicate that Good Elk Woman, Mary Dupuis, died in 1900 at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Tom (Alma) Blue Eyes. One can only wonder about her life after Old Fred died, just as one wonders about her years of living, first as a child at Cherry Creek, then as a young wife of Makes Room and finally as Mary Ann Dupuis, mother of nine half French and half Lakota children. No stories about Mary have come down to me. Her life during the early time of tragedy and defeat for the Indian people cannot have been an easy one.

Old Fred and Mary, and many of their descendants, are buried in the Dupuis Cemetery on the hill above the river flat where their family home once was. Nearby is the old ”Buffalo Church”.

Old Fred and Mary may be gone, but South Dakota will not forget them. Dupree Creek runs into Rudy Creek and then into the Cheyenne River near the old home site, and the (town) of Dupree is located about 40 miles north of Cherry Creek where Old Fred carried on his fur trading. Just west of the Dupuis cemetery and the old church, in a draw filled with wild plums and chokecherries, the Dupree Spring (called the Circle P Spring, or Garrett Spring today) still furnishes clear, sweet water.

Imagine the hundreds of trips made to this spring, winter and summer, to haul water for the Dupuis family living down the hill by the river in the 1800’s.

The name, though changed from Dupuis to Dupris and in some cases to Dupree, has been carried all over South Dakota and to probably every state in the U.S. by their hundreds of descendants.

Calvin Dupree is the son of Adelia Fielder and Jonas E. Dupris; son of Sarah Red Horse and Frank Dupris; son of Harriet Cadotte and Xavier (David) Dupuis; son of Mary Ann Good Elk Woman and Frederick Dupuis. Calvin Dupree is presently a member of the faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.

According to Suzanne DuPree, a descendant, Fred DuPris (in later generations spelled DePree), and Good Elk Woman are buried in the DuPris Memorial Cemetery on the hill above the river flat where their family one was once location, near the old “Buffalo Church.”

FindAGrave lists Fred DuPris’s birth date as September 5, 1819 and his death as July 16, 1898. His wife, Mary Ann, born as Good Elk Woman, is shown as being born in 1824 and passing over on February 13, 1900. The maps below are from FindAGrave.

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The Sioux Chief, Hump’s Line

John descends from Chief Hump twice, apparently through two different wives; Beautiful Hail and White Calf. John Iron Moccasin’s family information indicates that Hump had 4 wives: Good Voice/Good Woman, Brings Her, Stands As A Woman and Bessie/White Calf Woman. The census provides information about Beautiful Hail and White Calf, but we have no further information about Humps’s other two wives.

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Hump, also known as Thomas Hump, lived until December 11, 1908 where he died in Cherry Creek, SD.

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Photo courtesy of the South Dakota State Historical Society

Born in Montana, Hump became a leader of the Cherry Creek Band of Minneconjou Sioux. In 1876 he fought in the Battle of the Rosebud against Gen. Crook, shown below in the wood engraving below depicting the Sioux charging Colonel Royall’s attachment on June 17th.

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Hump also fought on Calhoun Hill in the Battle of the Little Big Horn with Crazy Horse, Gall and others against Custer and the 7th Calvary on June 25th where he received a bullet wound in his leg, according to the National Park Service.

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The Lakota Museum and Cultural Center tells us the following about Hump.

Etokeah, a Minniconjou Lakota war chief, was a great leader. He is especially known for his skills during the 19th Century Lakota-US Government battles. His exact birth date and facts of parentage were not recorded. However, he first came into public notice in 1866. Then, he led the charge against Captain William Fetterman’s soldiers outside Fort Phil Kearney in Wyoming.

Hump did not sign the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1866. Because of his action, he was deemed a hostile or “non-treaty” chief by the US Government. He was a comrade-in-arms of Crazy Horse, Red Cloud and other great Sioux chiefs of the period. In 1876, he led his warriors into battle against Generals George Crook and George Custer.

After the defeat of the Sioux in the 1880s, he briefly lived in Canada. He eventually returned to the United States but remained hostile to the whites. In company with most of the Sioux, his band was intrigued by the Ghost Dance religion, which culminated in the massacre at Wounded Knee Creek in 1890.

Although Hump seems never to have become a true believer, he did lead his people in the Ghost Dance raids until early December of 1890. The US Army was alarmed by the Ghost Dance, and they sent emissaries to all of the major chiefs.

Captain Ezra Ewers – an old friend – was sent to speak with Hump. Ewers convinced Hump of the futility in armed resistance. At this point, Hump separated his band from the Dancers and led them to the Pine Ridge Agency.

As Hump was breaking camp, refugees from Sitting Bull’s group arrived and related how their leader had been killed during an arrest attempt. Sitting Bull’s people were eager to find allies as they sought revenge. Hump refused to help, and the refugees set out to join Big Foot near Wounded Knee Creek.

After the infamous massacre and subsequent events in 1890, Hump and several other Sioux chiefs went to Washington, D.C. They pleaded for fair treatment of their people.

Some of their requests were honored; however, the chiefs failed to gain concessions in other important areas. Reservation confinement continued, effectively ending the old way of life.

Hump died at Cherry Creek, South Dakota on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in December 1908 at the age of 70. He is buried in the Episcopal Cemetery near there.

According to records provided by John Iron Moccasin’s family, Hump’s father was Iron Bull “TaTankaMaza”, and his mother was Ziti “Yellow Lodge”. Hump was born about 1848 when his father was 28 and his mother was 21.

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This photo was taken ca. 1879 by photographer by L.A. Huffman. The notation is that the photo is of Hump and his favorite wives. One of these women could well have been Beautiful Hail given that she appears to have had children in both 1882 and 1883 with Hump. He does look to be significantly older than the women.

Hump is shown with other Sioux leaders in this 1891 photograph.

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1891 Sioux Delegation LA-NA-DA-Kota

Front Row Seated; L to R: High Hawk, Fire Lightning, Little Wound, Two Strike, Young Man Afraid of His Horses, Spotted Elk (Oglala), Big Road; (2nd row standing) F.D. Lewis, He Dog, Spotted Horse, American Horse, Maj Gen Sword, Louis Shangreaux, Bat Pourier; (3rd row, standing) Dave Zephier, Hump, High Pipe, Fast Thunder, Rev. Charles Cook, and P.T. Johnson. Denver Public Library

In the 1900 federal census of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, district 48 in Sterling County, SD, the last census in which Hump was alive, he is shown on the census as having been married 20 years, born in April 1850 in Montana, with both of his parents born in the same place. He is a Ration Indian and he does not read, write or speak English. In the special inquiries section, he is listed as Sioux, his father as Sioux Cheyenne and his mother as Sioux. He is listed as entirely Native and in this census, is not listed as polygamous.

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His wife is listed on the next page as White Calf to whom he has been married for 20 years, so dating back to 1880. Of course, as suggested by the picture taken circa 1879 and the 1886 census in which Hump is married to 26 year old Beautiful Hail, White Calf was not his only wife. Given that Pretty Voice appeared in the census in 1876 with Beautiful Hail as a young child, I would presume that Beautiful Hail is Pretty Voice’s mother.

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Dora, who was born in 1891, is not shown living with Hump. I cannot find her elsewhere on the census. However, remember that Native people changed their names. Hope is listed as being born in July of 1889 in Montana.

In the 1917 Indian Census, Hope Hump is also listed as Dora, age 26, married to Willie Ward who was born in 1889. This shows us that Dora is Hope or Hoop Hump on the earlier census records.

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According to the 1900 census, Hope was born in July of 1889 in Montana, as were both of her parents. She does not read, write or speak English. She is 100% Sioux.

The following information was provided by http://files.usgwarchives.org/sd/ziebach/history/chap16-2.txt

Born in Montana in 1848 or 1850, Hump became a leader of the Cherry Creek band of Minneconjou Sioux.   In 1876 he fought in the Battle of the Rose bud against General George Crook and in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

He later joined Sitting Bull’s band and other exiles in Canada.  Being considered American Indians, the exiles received no rations from the Canadian government. By 1881 the buffalo and other game were disappearing and the exiles returned to Fort Buford where they surrendered. They were taken to Fort Yates by steamboat. Later the Minneconjou under Hump and Fool Heart and the Sans Arc, led by Spotted Eagle and Circle Bear, were taken down the Missouri River to the Cheyenne River Agency, near their traditional camping grounds along the Cherry Creek and Cheyenne River.  They arrived at the Cheyenne River by May of 1882 and many of the Minneconjou settled near Cherry Creek, 50 miles west of the agency.

Hump and Big Foot became the most influential men on the Cheyenne River.  The Cherry Creek/Hump Band greatly opposed the land agreements of 1888 and 1889.  In 1890, the Ghost Dance found its greatest following in the Cherry Creek camps.

After Sitting Bull was killed on the Grand River, many of his followers fled south and camped a few miles above the junction of the Cherry Creek and Cheyenne River.  When the army at Fort Bennett moved to suppress the Ghost Dancing, Hump used his influence against the Ghost Dance. In the dead of winter he rode with two men from the garrison and two other scouts, 40 miles to persuade the Sitting Bull camp to surrender and move to Fort Bennett.  Those who did not surrender joined Spotted Elk, also known as Big Foot. When his band later fled toward Pine Ridge, they were met by the Army at Wounded Knee.

Hump was given 500 heifers for his service to the United States Government. These he turned loose, to share with his people. The heifers wandered near Leslie and many died of pinkeye.

Hump continued to work for his tribe until his death in 1908. He is buried in Cherry Creek.

HUMP

Told by John Hump

Hump (Thomas) was born in 1850 to Mashes His Nails/Iron Bull and Ziti/Mrs. Iron Bull (1827-1917) in Montana.

Hump’s brother, Little Crow, had been born in 1844. Hump’s sister, White Cow, married Fish (d. 1919) and had a son, James Fish (b. 1889) and a daughter. They lived on Rosebud.

Hump grew up in Montana. He had three or four wives, some of whom lived in Montana and were Crow.

While the Indians still roved in bands, he started to gather them together, to settle down and become ‘civilized’. Hump came down the Missouri River when the Army brought them to the Cheyenne River on boats. Their stock were driven over land.  Bertha Lyman Hump’s mother’s family came from Montana with Hump’s band.

Hump even joined the Army to work toward settling down. He was a scout from December of 1890 until June of 1891. He was discharged at Fort Bennett.

There were three Hump Flats. One east of Bridger, one by Iron Lightning and one across from Cherry Creek. All are so named because he lived on them. On the way to Montana for a visit, Hump camped with Iron Lightning on the Moreau River. At that time they chose their allotments. Iron Lightning community was later named for Iron Lightning after he moved there.

Hump had several wives. His son, by Good Voice/Good Woman, was Samuel Helper/ Stand by of Oglala, born in 1876.

Hump’s wife, White Calf/Bessie (d. 1915) was the mother of Pretty Voice/Nellie (b. 1882: Mrs. Alfred Ward); Important Woman/Sarah (b.1884: Mrs. Silas Yellow Owl); Spotted Bear who died in infancy; Dora (b.1891: Mrs. William Ward); Didn’t Drop/Nelson Hump, born in 1898 (no issue); William Miles Hump, born in 1900 and died in 1917 at Dupree, (no issue); and John Hump, born in 1904.

JOHN HUMP

John Hump was born at Cherry Creek, four years before his father’s death in 1908. Hump is buried at the Episcopal Cemetery in Cherry Creek.  John went to Carson Day School, Pierre Indian School and Rapid City Indian School.  In 1935 or 1936, he married Bertha Lyman, daughter of Ed Lyman. John transferred his heir ship lands from the Moreau River to Red Scaffold.

John and Bertha lived on the flat south of the (Cherry) creek, on her folks’ allotments. In 1954/1957 they moved north to their present home.  John went into the cattle business on the Rehab program. John and

Bertha’s sons, Duane and Darrell, now run the ranch.

Darrell is married to Alvina Runs After and Duane is married to Doris Halfred.

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The 1910 census taken at Cherry Creek station shows us that White Calf’s mother was Roan Hair, age 72, so born about 1838. She shows the birth of only one child.

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The special inquiries section tells us that she is Teton Sioux, full Native, married once, not polygamous, lived in an aboriginal dwelling and received her allotment in 1903.

Roan Hair is shown in the Indian census of the Cheyenne River Sioux in 1896 as the wife of Ragged, both age 56.

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Four years later, in 1901, they are shown again.

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Hump died on December 10, 1908 and is buried in the Episcopal Cemetery in Cherry Creek, SD.

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Hump’s Memorial at FindAGrave adds some additional information not found elsewhere.

Native American Chief. Sioux name “Etokeah.” Although very little is known about Hump’s early life, he eventually rose to become a Chief among the Miniconjou Sioux and was an active participant in the Red Cloud war. With Crazy Horse at the Rosebud Battle against George Crook, Hump led his Miniconjou Sioux, helping stop the column in their trek to meet Custer prior to the Little Big Horn. At the Little Big Horn, when the alarm was sounded, Hump jumped onto an unknown mount, and it which threw him to the ground. Hump rushed, mounted another horse and charged toward the soldiers. His horse was shot from under him and a bullet entered above the horse’s knee and went further into Hump’s hip. Hump was strained there due to the wound and did not participate in the main battle. Later, Hump went to Canada, and his band returned to the United States, the last of all the bands to return. On the reservation when other tribes had adopted white dress and housing, Hump’s band settled at Cherry Creek in South Dakota and maintained the old ways using lodges and traditional clothing. On the reservation when the authority of other chiefs wained, Hump continued to assert leadership over his band. Some said that Hump was feared by the whites even more than Sitting Bull. When the Ghost Dance religion surfaced among the Sioux, the military did not dare arrest Hump. Instead, they reassigned Captain Ezra Ewers, a trusted friend of the chief, to Fort Bennet in South Dakota. Ewers rode the 60 miles to Hump’s camp at Cherry Creek. Impressed with Ewer’s courage, Hump listened to his message and avoided the Ghost Dance religion. After the Wounded Knee Massacre, Hump along with other prominent Sioux went to Washington, DC pleading for a peaceful end to the tragedy. Interestingly enough, it was also Hump who taught the basic lessons of warfare to his better-known student, Crazy Horse. His grave is located on the west edge of the town of Cherry Creek.

This photo of Cherry Creek, probably in the early 1900s, shows both traditional teepees and more stationary buildings. This lends understanding to the special inquiries section of the census, and shows us what “fixed” dwellings look like as compared to “moveable.”

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The Hale Line

John’s mother was the daughter of Isabelle Ward and Robert Hale.

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South Dakota Marriage records show that Robert Clifford Hale, age 23, married Isabel Ward on May 3, 1946. Both lived in Cherry Creek, SD.

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Robert died on August 1, 2008. His photo and obituary are shown below.

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Death: Aug. 1, 2008 Sturgis Meade County South Dakota, USA
Robert “Bob” Clifford Hale, who lived in Cherry Creek, had the Lakota name Min A’ Kyan, which translates to Flies Over the Sea. While he may not have flown over the sea, he did ride the sea as a sailor in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Bob, at age 85, died Friday, Aug. 1, 2008, at the Fort Meade Veterans Hospital near Sturgis. He is survived by Larry (Delia) Hale, Theresa Hale, Herbert Hale and Cleo Hale, all of Cherry Creek, Martha (Erick) Hernandez of Chicago, Ill., Richard Hale of Rapid City, Connie (James) Bear Stops of Red Scaffold and Lavinia Hale-Eagle Chasing of Eagle Butte; grandchildren, Maude Hale, Denise and Richard Crow Ghost, Dawn Kills Crow, Angelic and Willard Demery of Cherry Creek, Amber and Alton Blacktail Deer Sr. of Manderson, Timothy Jr., Earl and Mary Iron Moccasin of Rosebud, Teno, Taun and Krista Bear Stops of Red Scaffold, Rhiana, Richard Jr. and Joshua Hale of Cherry Creek, Angel Prendergast and Aberham White Weasel of Rapid City, Maxine Flying By, Marsha Eagle Chasing of Eagle Butte, Sarah, Elizabeth, Mark and Posey Garter of Albuquerque, N.M., and Clinton and Kyle Harrison of Takini. Also surviving are his great great grandchildren, Morgan and Jasmine Hale, Eric Jarvis and Dewey Kills Crow, Kyra, Danieal and Alyssa Hayes, Adrienne and Royce Jr. Marrow Bone, Eric, Jarvis, Dewey, Drake and Autumn Kills Crow, Shantay Crow Ghost, Alton Blacktail Deer Jr., La’tia, Tyree and Lashae Bear Stops, D’Nica Ducheneaux, Tretyn Red Elk, Sage Bowker, Sarah Patryas, Jordan and Sierra Iron Moccasin, and Kleigh, Dawnelle and Deaconn Garter. Robert was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Ellen Hale; sisters, Claira Hale-Fritz, Myrtle Hale-Little Shield, Don’ta Black Tail Bear, Drazen Black Tail Bear, Mary Isabbella Kills Crow, Clifford Merle Hale; brothers, Martin and Wilson Hale; one daughter, Charmaine Hale Harrison; and his paternal grandparents. Funeral services for Robert were Saturday, Aug. 9, at the new Community Building in Cherry Creek. Ted Knife, Erick Hernandez and Elmer Zimmerman officiated. Hernandez read Matthew 7:7. Special music was provided by Buzzy Yellow Hawk, Daryl Whipple, the Tiospaye Singers, Michelle White Wolf and the Mennonite Singers. Harvey Eagle Horse played the Honor Song. Casketbearers were Bob’s grandsons, Joshua Hale, Taun Bear Stops, Timothy White Weasel Hr., Clinton Harrison, Posey Garter, Maris Reindall, Richard Hale Jr., Teno Bear Stops, Eric V. Kills Crow, Kyle Harrison, Mark Garter and Danny Hayes Sr. Honorary bears included all military veterans and all Bob’s other friends and relatives. Burial was at the UCC Cemetery in Cherry Creek under the direction of Oster Funeral home of Mobridge. Mobridge Tribune Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The US Department of Veteran’s Affairs BIRLS Death File lists Robert Hale’s birth and death dates and his service branch as Navy from July 24, 1942 to November 27, 1942.

The Social Security death index shows that Robert was born on Sept. 7, 1922.

I cannot find this family in 1920, 1930 or 1940 in the census, nor in the Indian census. It’s possible that the parents and siblings names are incorrect or nicknames.

Robert’s parents were given as Joseph Hale and Ellen in his obituary. John’s mother reports that Joseph Hale’s name was Joseph “Blows on Himself” and that this is the end of that line because they migrated from Canada on “the big trail.” I found nothing about this family at Ancestry or utilizing Google. It’s possible that the family was not living as a nuclear family as a recognizable unit.

The 1940 census shows a Joseph Hale, age 48, widowed, an Indian, as an inmate in the Davison County, South Dakota Jail, but we don’t know if this is the same Joseph Hale.  However, this is the only Joseph Hale in South Dakota, or for that matter, in that part of the country.

im-1940-census-hale

This Joseph was widowed, an Indian and born on an Indian Reservation, so it may well be the correct Joseph. It would be interesting to see if any court records still exist relative to this case.

I found scanty information on the following individuals from the obituary listing them as siblings of Robert Clifford Hale.

  • Claira Hale – married Elmer Fritz on February 27, 1962 , born about 1926.
  • Mytrle Hale – Myrtle Faye Hale married Theophil Little Shield and died in SD at age 65.
  • Don’ta Black Tail Bear – nothing
  • Drazen Black Tail Bear – nothing
  • Mary Isabella Hale Kills Crow – nothing
  • Clifford Merle Hale – nothing
  • Martin Hale – if the same Martin, died in 1935 of appendicitis, age 20.
  • Wilson Hale born about 1921 married Eunice Eagle Horse. He died in 1950 in Ziebach County. In the 1940 census he is living with the Straight Head family which would make sense if his mother was deceased and his father was in jail.

The Second Ward Line

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John Iron Moccasin’s grandmother on his mother’s side was Isabella Ward, born in 1925 or 1927.

The 1930 Federal census shows Isabella Ward, age 5, living with her parents in Ziebach County, SD. Her mother, Dora is listed as a full blood and her father, William, a mixed blood, all born in South Dakota and Sioux.

im-1930-census-ward

Her father is listed as a farmer.

We’ve already met Dora (Hope) Hump, daughter of Chief Hump and probably White Calf and William Ward, son of Clarence “Roan Bear” Ward and Estella Dupris.

DNA Results

Now for the most exciting part – the DNA results. Do John’s DNA results bear out his genealogy?

John’s tribal card says that he is at least 15/16th Native. That is accurate, given that he is 1/16th French on both his mother and father’s sides, from the same ancestor.

In percentages, for autosomal DNA, that translates into 6.25% white and 93.75% Native.

When I’m working with descendants of tribes located east of the Mississippi, I understand that they are very likely heavily admixed with (primarily) European males, and significantly so prior to 1800 and in most cases, prior to 1700. However, the Sioux are somewhat different. Except for occasional traders and missionaries, they essentially escaped the widespread influence of Europeans until the 1800s. With few exceptions, I would not expect to find earlier mixing with Europeans, meaning English, French or Spanish, or Africans.

Because of the history of the Sioux tribe, the sheer number of Sioux across a wide geography, and the lack of early European admixture, John’s DNA represents an opportunity to obtain a genetic view of a people not significantly admixed.

Endogamy

We know from John’s family tree that he shares at least 3 ancestors and possibly 4 on both his mother’s and father’s side of the family. Those ancestors are 4 generations up the tree from John.

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In most cases, one’s great-great-grandparents would each contribute, on average, 6.25% of your DNA. In John’s case, he received a double dose of the DNA of each of those ancestors. If John received the exact same DNA from those ancestors, from both sides, he would still only have 6.25 % of their DNA. This is very unlikely, because normally siblings share part of their parent’s DNA, but not all of it. Conversely, it would be very unlikely for John to inherit none of the same DNA from that ancestor from both lines. Therefore, it’s most likely that instead of 6.25% of the DNA from that each ancestor who is found twice at 4 generations, he would carry about 9.38% of their DNA, or about half a generation closer than one would expect.

And that goes for all 3 common ancestors. We’re not sure which of Hump’s wives gave birth to which children, so this could also apply to Hump’s wife, a 4th ancestor.

Furthermore, these individuals in the tribes are likely already very heavily inter-married and related to each other, long before any records. There were only a limited number of people to select as mates, and all of those people also descended from the same ancestors, who were part of a very small foundation population that migrated from Asia some 10,000 to 25,000 years ago, depending on which model you subscribe to.

Therefore, endogamy and pedigree collapse where one shares common known ancestors would be a phenomenon that has occurred since the time of Anzick Child, and before.

John’s Tests

We tested John’s DNA at Family Tree DNA where his Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA was tested. John’s Y DNA shows us the deep ancestry of the White Weasel line. The mitochondrial shows us the deep ancestry of Dora (Hope or Hoop) Hump, daughter of Hump, presumably through wife, White Calf.

John’s autosomal DNA shows us an overall ethnicity view, plus matches to autosomal cousins. Let’s see what we have.

Autosomal Results

John’s myOrigins results show that he is roughly 17% European and the rest a combination of Native and Asian that together represents 84%.

im-myorigins

One of the aspects that I find most interesting is that the portion of Europe that shows a genetic link is Finland, not France where 6.25% of John’s paper trail ancestry is from.

Finland is particularly interesting in light of the result of the Clovis Anzick Child burial found in Montana that dates from about 12,500 years ago. We have the Anzick Child’s results in the Family Tree DNA data base, compliments of both Felix Immanuel and Family Tree DNA.

The Anzick child’s myOrigins results are shown below.

im-anzick-myorigins

The Anzick Child’s DNA ethnic results are very similar to John’s. Anzick Child matches the reference population for Finland at 11%, where John matches at 17%.

Furthermore, John Iron Moccasin is one of 110 people in the data base today that actually match the Anzick Child’s DNA at contemporary levels.

The match threshold at Family Tree DNA today is:

  • No minimum number of shared cM required, but if the cM total is less than 20, then at least one segment must be 9cM or larger.
  • If the longest block of shared DNA is greater than 9cM, the match will show regardless of total shared cM or the number of matching segments.

Lowering the match threshold to 3cM, we can see several small segments that match between John and the Anzick Child.

im-anzick-browser-5cm

I downloaded their common matching segments.

Chromosome Start Location End Location centiMorgans (cM) # of Matching SNPs
1 4282649 5290332 2.56 500
2 98863262 101324606 1.69 600
2 112439588 114460466 1.71 500
2 169362301 170609544 2.27 500
3 8964806 10632877 3.03 600
3 14230971 16121247 2.83 600
3 46655067 53174054 1.28 1000
4 12866760 14721835 1.85 500
5 78642903 80323930 1.64 500
5 158757557 162829228 3.82 1000
6 34609507 36812814 2.88 600
6 127839067 130105402 2 500
7 76597648 78055762 2.84 500
7 99319352 101758792 2.05 600
8 10455449 12975017 2.68 700
8 30301880 34206702 3.45 799
9 26018352 27374204 2.37 500
9 104470303 106854637 3.76 777
10 71258510 72644677 1.46 600
10 102514460 106018240 2.65 800
10 110936823 113553555 3.83 700
11 32265994 34530393 3.35 700
11 91619854 94670011 3.71 800
11 102068510 103853340 1.76 500
12 27332778 29165805 1.66 500
12 96875639 99784589 2.74 700
13 55048728 58723000 1.66 600
13 78707414 80906921 1.34 500
14 22564888 24752111 3.59 800
14 68418807 70225737 1.65 500
14 76767325 78038237 1.71 500
16 12528330 14375990 5.49 659
18 33126219 35069488 1.37 500
19 8284870 13355259 7.87 1278
20 45913972 47494552 3.17 500

Their largest matching segments are on chromosome 19 for 7.87 cM and on 16 for 5.49 cM.

The genetic connection between the Anzick Child and John Iron Moccasin is evident. John’s tribe is descended from the same people as the Anzick Child who was buried in present day Montana. John’s ancestors, Hump, Roan Hair and Follows were all born in Montana, and the Sioux homelands stretched across this entire region.

This begs the question of whether John is simply lucky to have inherited these segments, or if they are found widely in the Native, particularly Sioux, population as a whole.

To help answer this question, I looked at John’s closest 4 matches along with the Anzick Child in the chromosome browser, compared to John’s DNA.

im-anzick-match-compare

At 5cM there is no overlap with John’s closest matches and the Anzick Child, whose DNA is shown in green, above. However, dropping the threshold to 3, below, shows overlap with Thomas’s closest match on chromosome 19 at 4.98 cM and other chromosomes in smaller amounts. This would suggest that perhaps the DNA that is the same as the Anzick Child’s does not repose in the entire tribal population.

im-match-compare-3cm

Let’s take a look another way.

John and the Anzick Child at GedMatch

At GedMatch, John matches the Anzick Child on slightly different segments than at Family Tree DNA. It’s not unusual for different vendors to produce slightly different results. In this case, the match on chromosome 16 is absent altogether, and there are larger segment matches on chromosomes 8 and 14 using a 5cM and 500 SNP threshold.  Chromosome 22 shows a match not present at Family Tree DNA.

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I was curious to see how many people matched John on his segments shared with the Anzick Child.

John matches a total of 2119 people at GedMatch at 5cM and 500 SNPs.

John’s results for his two largest segments, chromosome 16 (at FTDNA) and 19 were different. Chromosome 16, the smaller match, was generally unremarkable, but his chromosome 19 was a different story, carrying many names and surnames that I recognize.

Let’s take a look at the triangulation tool and see what we find there. We are looking for anyone who triangulates with both John and Anzick Child. This tool reports every triangulated match in excess of 5cM.

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Using the triangulation tool, no one triangulates, meaning matches both John and the Anzick child, on either chromosome 16 or 19. This suggests that all of John’s matches showing are on the “other” chromosome and that this chromosome segment is fairly rare.

If one of John’s parents were to test, we could identify which of John’s parents was matching Anzick, so we would know which side of John’s family these individuals are matching on these segments, assuming these matches are not identical by chance.

Out of curiosity, I triangulated Anzick Child’s kit to see if there were any triangulated groups. There were, but none that included John.

At GedMatch, let’s use the “Are Your Parents Related?” utility. We know that John’s parents are related, but are any of the segments that came from both parents the same segment that is found in John’s Anzick match? The match threshold at GedMatch for this tool is 7cM and 700 SNPs, so the only segment that would qualify would be this segment on chromosome 19, shown above in green.

19 8284870 13355259 7.87 1278

The “Are Your Parents Related?” tool at GedMatch shows the following results.

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According to GedMatch, this segment of chromosome 19 was not contributed by both of John’s parents, so this portion of the Anzick DNA is not found universally in the entire Native population in that region.

One last look at John’s DNA by comparing to the Ancient group contributed at GedMatch shows no segments 4cM or above that match with any ancient specimen other than the Clovis (Anzick) Child, including no match to the Paleo Eskimo in Greenland from 4,000 years ago and no match to Kennewick Man. The tiny orange bars represent matching segments at 400 SNPs and 4cM.

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John’s Mitochondrial DNA

John’s mitochondrial DNA comes directly from his matrilineal line, meaning from his mother, her mother, her mother, on up the tree until you run out of direct line mothers.

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In this case, that person winds up being Hump’s wife. We think that person is probably  White Calf, but it could be one of Hump’s other wives. We just don’t know for sure given that Hump was polygamous.

Mitochondrial DNA is passed intact in each generation, doesn’t get combined with the father’s DNA so it’s a direct line back in time.

Johns’s mitochondrial haplogroup is clearly Native, C4c1.

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Haplogroup C4c1 was originally reported in the Suswap by Ripan Malhi; in the Chippewa Creek and in Jasper House, Alberta Canada, in 2015 by Roberta Estes from the American Indian project.

At the HVR1 level, John has 62 exact matches, but he has no matches at the HVR2 or full sequence levels. This means that of the people who have tested at that level, he has more than 4 differences at the full sequence level. Translated, this means they don’t share common ancestors in hundreds to thousands of years.

Only 8 of John’s HVR1 matches have tested at the full sequence level, unfortunately.

Of those, the earliest ancestors are Spanish, indicating that they are probably from either the American southwest, or further south, and their haplogroup C ancestor was eventually associated with the Spanish. One is from New Mexico. One is from Michigan.

Few of John’s matches have entered the location of their most distant ancestor, but those who have provided that information are shown below at the HVR1 level, understanding that a common ancestor at that level could predate the migration into the Americas.

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Utilizing the information provided through the Genographic project, we find the following information about haplogroup C4c1.

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This provides very interesting geographic distribution information, but it also begs the question of how haplogroup C4c1 was found in Germany or Sweden. Of course, we are relying on participant-reported information and it’s certainly possible that two individuals misunderstood the directions. It’s also possible that one or both are legitimate. I have wondered for a long time about a link between the northern Scandinavian populations, especially subarctic, and the Native subarctic populations in North America.

According to Dr. Doron Behar in the supplement to his paper titled, “A Copernican” Reassessment of the Human Mitochondrial DNA Tree from its Root,” haplogroup C4c1 was born about 10,095 years ago with a standard deviation of 4550 years, meaning the range of time in which C4c1 was born in likely 5,545 to 14,645 years ago. Clearly, there is enough latitude in this date range for some C4c1 to be found in either Asia or Europe, and C4c1 to be found in the Americas as well. If this is indeed the case, one would expect for the variants of C4c1 found on the differing continents to contain a significant difference in mutations, exceeding the 4 mutations allowed for genealogical matching purposes at Family Tree DNA.

To date, there has been no ancient DNA recovered bearing this haplogroup.

Other Mitochondrial Results

Individuals descending from several of John’s maternal lines would be perfect candidates to test for the mitochondrial DNA of those lines. One must descend from these women through all females to the current generation:

  • Follows
  • Esther Ward – Nellie “Pretty Voice” – Beautiful Hail or White Calf
  • Ellen (wife of Joseph Hale)

Testing a female descended through Pretty Voice, mother of Esther Ward, would determine whether or not White Calf was the mother of Pretty Voice, or if it was another woman, probably Beautiful Hail.

John’s Y DNA

John inherited his Y DNA chromosome from Charley White Weasel.

im-white-weasel

John’s Y haplogroup is Q-M242, a Native haplogroup.

im-y-hap-q

John tested to the 67 marker level, but has no matches at 67 markers. At 12, 25 and 37 markers, he matches a gentleman whose ancestor was from Fort Thomson, SD who also tested at 67 markers. That is John’s only match, so apparently John carries some unusual mutations in his Y DNA as well that are probably isolated to people from the Sioux tribe or their ancestors in the past a few hundred to thousands of years.

im-y-matches-map

On the map above, John’s match is shown and on the map below, John’s white balloon is shown where he was born in relation to that of his red balloon match.

im-y-matches-map-2

To obtain additional information about John’s Y DNA haplogroup, the Big Y test would need to be run on his sample. By running the Big Y, we could obtain a more granular haplogroup, meaning further down the tree, and we could also see who matches him more distantly, meaning further back in time. That information could well provide us with information indicating which groups of Native people John is most closely related to. That suggests a migration route or pathway and tells us about social interactions at some level hundreds to thousands of years in the past.

Anzick Child’s Y DNA haplogroup is Q-L54, a subgroup of Q-M242, shown on the haplotree below. You can also see that many subgroups below L54 have been discovered.

im-hap-q-tree

I strongly suspect that John’s haplogroup would be Q-L54 or a subgroup further downstream. I’m betting on a subgroup, meaning that mutations have occurred in John’s line that define a newer, younger haplogroup since the time that Anzick Child and John shared a common ancestor.

Other Y Line Results

I was hopeful that I would find results for John’s Ward or Hale line in the projects at Family Tree DNA, but I did not. I checked in the American Indian project for Hump, with the hope that one of his descendants has tested as well, but did not find that Hump is yet represented in the data base. Of course, anyone paternally descended from Hump’s father, Iron Bull or his father, Black Buffalo would carry the same Y DNA.

If anyone descends from these direct Y lines, please do let us know.

Summary

What we have been able to discover about John’s ancestry both through traditional genealogy and genetic genealogy has been both amazing and fascinating.

John now knows that he is connected to the Anzick Child, the Ancient One. John’s ancestors and Anzick’s were one and the same. Some 12,500 years later, John was born on the same land where his ancestors have literally lived “forever.”

Anzick has given John a wonderful gift, and John has given that gift to the rest of us. We continue to learn through both John and Anzick’s contributions. Thank you to both.

What’s Next?

I would very much like to upgrade John’s Y DNA to 111 markers and order a Big Y test while the holiday sale is in effect. If you would like to contribute to these tests of discovery, please donate to the American Indian project general fund at this link. If we raise more than we need for John’s tests, we have implemented an application process for other Native people. Every donation helps, and helps to build our knowledge base – so please contribute if you can.

Acknowledgements

My gratitude to the following people:

John Iron Moccasin for testing, providing family information and allowing us to work with and publish his results.

John’s mother, Martha Hale, for providing the original genealogical information, below.

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Johns’ friend, Pam, for bringing us this opportunity.

John’s wife, Carolyn, for coordinating information.

Family Tree DNA for testing and facilitating the Ancient DNA Project, the American Indian Project and various Native American haplogroup projects.

nat-geo-logoThe National Geographic Society Genographic Project for providing data base access to the project administrators of the American Indian Project as Affiliate Researchers

Project members and others for contributions to facilitate John’s testing.

My American Indian project co-administrators, Marie Rundquist and Dr. David Pike for their never-failing support.

Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroup Y

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

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

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

ftdna-mtdna-y

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

Good question. Let’s take a look.

The History of Mitochondrial Haplogroup Y

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

  • L3
  • N
  • N9
  • Y
  • Y1

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

nat-geo-mtdna-y

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

genghis khan map

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

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank:

Jakob Lenz (1748-1821), Vinedresser, 52 Ancestors #128

Today, I get to write the article I thought I’d never ever write. For a genealogist, this is red letter day!  Not only the fact THAT I get to write about this person that I never thought I’d identify, but WHAT I get to write about him just defies any hope or expectation I could ever have had.  I could never have dreamed this big.  I’m really not exaggerating.  You’ll see!!!

Jakob’s story begins like all genealogy stories, but it ends very, very uniquely with information that was unknown to even Jakob himself!  No cheating and peeking ahead.

Jakob Lenz is the father of Jakob Lenz, or Jacob Lentz as he was known here in the States. The younger Jacob, Jacob Lentz, my ancestor, is the man who immigrated to America.

Until just recently, with the help of Tom, a retired genealogist who specialized in German records, no one had ever been able to determine where Jacob Lentz, the immigrant, was from, or who his parents were.  It wasn’t for lack of trying.  It was for lack of being lucky.

Partly, as you can see, it was because the first and last names were spelled differently in Germany, and partly because his wife’s name was remembered incorrectly, so I was looking for a marriage that didn’t exist, and partly because there were no online records until recently, so searching was a needle-in-a-haystrack proposition.

In the blink of an eye, that all changed with Tom’s discovery and opened the door into the world of my ancestors in the beautiful village of Beutelbach in Germany. Along with finding Jakob Lenz came several generations of ancestors, literally until the church records run out. Jakob and his ancestors were firmly planted in Beutelsbach and had probably been living there “forever” as far as they were concerned.

That’s what people in Europe often say when you ask where their family was from before where they live now. “We’ve lived here forever.” While that’s true from their perspective, which generally reaches back a couple to a few generations, sometimes, forever isn’t really ”forever,” as we’ll discover.

Jakob Enters the World

Jakob Lenz was born on February 1, 1748 in Beutelsbach to Johann Jakob Lenz and Katharina Haag.

JakobLenzbaptism

Jakob’s baptism is shown here in the original church records, now available, albeit poorly indexed, at Ancestry. Genealogists must possess the minds of sleuths, and an intimate knowledge of German customs and records was critical for this process as well – skills I didn’t and don’t have and thankfully, Tom does.

His translation tells us that Jakob was born on February 1st and baptized the next day, on the 2nd and that his father was a vinedresser.

Godparents:

  1. Gottfried Jacob Bechtel, baker’s helper
  2. Maria Catharina, wife of Johann Reinhold surgeon (for minor wounds) here
  3. Anna Katharina, wife of Johann George Dobler, citizen and vinedresser, here

We don’t know how the godparents are related to the Lenz or Haag families, but they likely were.  The child was generally named after godparents, with the idea being that if something happened to both parents, the godparents would raise the child and assure their religious education.  In other words, without a will, this is how Germans universally provided for the possibility that both parents would die, a situation that happened all too often.

The records at Family Search originally discovered by Tom provided us with his birth information, and lists the source as well. We therefore knew this information was taken from the church records – we just needed to obtain that church record.

JakobLenz1

Beutelsbach has provided an invaluable service to genealogists seeking their family by reassembling the historical families from church and other records and providing the information online, and for free.

JakobLenz2

Here we find the records for Jacob with his parents listed at the bottom of the page, his siblings, his wife and his children, along with any notes found in the records.

In genealogy parlance, this kind of information is “to die for.” I had struck gold again on this line!  Twice in a month – I’m definitely on a roll!

Jakob’s Marriage

Jakob Lenz married Maria Margaretha Grubler or Gribler on November 3, 1772 in the church in Beutelsbach when he was 24 years old.

JakobLenzmarriage

The document above, from the Lutheran church in Beutelsbach shows his marriage record.  It says they were “married the 18th Sunday after Trinity and that Jacob Lenz was the legitimate unmarried son of the citizen and vinedresser, Jacob Lentz from here.  Maria Margaretha is the legitimate unmarried daughter of the late Johann George Gr_bler, citizen and vinedresser from here.”

It’s interesting that his first name is spelled both Jacob and Jakob in various records and Lenz as both Lenz and Lentz.  No wonder we are confused today!  German spelling wasn’t any more standardized than it was in America during the same timeframe.

Maria Margaretha was the daughter of Johann George Gribler (as it is spelled in the Beutelsbach heritage book) and Katharina Nopp, also of Beutelsbach.

JakobLenzchurch

You can see the church spire in the center of Beutelsbach, like all European villages where the original church still exists. It is here that Jakob and Maria Margaretha sealed the union that lasted just 16 months shy of 50 years. A half century marriage in a time without antibiotics and where early death was far more common than elder years, is truly remarkable. They both, individually and together, certainly beat the odds.

Jakob’s Children

Jakob Lenz would not have been allowed to marry were he not financially stable and able to support a family. The last thing Germans wanted was people that the church and villages had to support, so they assured that people were truly financially “ready for marriage” before the marriage was authorized. Of course, that just meant that some children were born before the official marriage took place. Most people weren’t thwarted by administrative details.

Jakob Lenz and Maria Margaretha Gribler had 9 children, their first child being born just days after their first wedding anniversary.

  • Katharina Barbara Lenz was born November 17, 1773 and died September 4, 1817 in Beutelsbach of epilepsy. She never married. This makes me wonder if she was epileptic for her entire life. I expect she lived with her parents. Perhaps it was a blessing she died before they did.
  • Jakob Lenz was born July 12, 1775 and died less than 2 months later on September 1, 1775 in Beutelsbach.
  • Maria Magdalena Lenz was born October 1, 1776 and died November 1, 1849 in Beutelsback of old age. She never married.
  • Johannes Lenz was born January 16, 1779 in Beutelsbach and died October 29, 1813 at 34 years of age in Beutelsback, single, cause of death stickfluss (bronchitis or pneumonia). Occupation not given.
  • Philipp Jakob Lenz was born April 30, 1781 and died March 1, 1789 in Beutelsbach, just a few weeks before his 8th birthday.
  • Jakob Lenz was born March 15, 1783 and emigrated to America. This is my ancestor whose story is absolutely incredible. So incredible, in fact, that we had to tell the story in two parts, plus one for his wife, Johanna Friedericka Ruhle whom he married on May 25, 1808 in Beutelsbach. The church records tell us that Jakob left with his family to immigrate on February 12, 1817.

Wandert mit K. Erlaubnis vom 12.Februar 1817 mit seiner Familie nach Nordamerika aus.

Translated as:
Emigrated with children permission from the 12th February 1817 with his family to North America.

  • Katharina Margaretha Lenz was born November 2, 1785 and died January 6, 1858 in Beutelsbach at age 73 of old age. She married Johann Conrad Gos on April 21, 1807 in Beutelsbach and had 5 children. Johann Conrad immigrated to Russia in 1817 where he eventually died, but Katharina’s last child, Jakob Freidrich Gos, was born in 1823. Son Jakob Freidrich died in the poorhouse of emaciation and “wasting” in 1857, the year before his mother. Occupation: hafner (potter). It’s unclear whether Jakob Freidrich was the son of Johann Conrad Goss, perhaps home for a visit, or the son of a different father. We’ll never know, because Jakob Freidrich Gos never married, so never had children, at least none that we know about. If he had produced sons, we would have the possibility of Y DNA testing to see if his sons’ descendants match Gos men or men by some other surname. Katharina Margaretha’s secret has already gone to the grave.
  • Johanna was born July 2, 1788 and died October 10, 1788 at 3 months of age in Beutelsbach.
  • Christina was born January 1, 1793 and died “8-13” but no year given, probably 1793 at about 7 months of age.

Of their nine children:

  • 4, 2 boys and 2 girls, died as children at 2 months, 3 months, 7 months and just under 8 years of age, respectively
  • 2 died as adults, but before their parents, having never married
  • 2 married and had children
  • The son who had children immigrated to America in 1817
  • The husband of the daughter who had children left for Russia in 1817
  • 1 additional daughter lived to adulthood but never married
  • Only 3 children outlived their parents

Vinedresser

Based on multiple church records, we know that Jakob’s occupation was that of a vinedresser in the vineyards surrounding Beutelsbach, the center of the wine region in Germany. The ancient vineyards on the sides of the hills, as you can see below, have been carefully pruned and lovingly cared for by generations of vinedressers, an occupation proudly passed from father to son.

Lentz Beutelsbach photo

In fact, according to the church records, we know that Jakob learned this occupation from his father and passed this occupation to his son Jakob who was also a vinedresser before he emigrated.

I can see the two Jakobs, father and son, working in the vineyard together, talking, making small talk, but the kind of small talk that sustains one’s soul after the other person is gone. Those are the moments that are bonding forever, even though at the time they seem routine and mundane. Like plowing the fields in Indiana or picking green beans on a hot summer morning when the grass was still slippery with dew. What I wouldn’t give today to pick a day, any day, to return back in time to visit the farm in Indiana – and I’m sure that Jakob Lenz, the son, especially during his hellish immigration to America, felt the same way.

War – The End of the Political World

In 1803, the Napoleonic War threatened and for the next 12 years, the Germans lived under constant threat of upheaval as Europe fought internal wars and redefined itself.  The French empire, led by Napoleon was pitted against an array of other European powers formed into various coalitions.

waterloo

The battles were bloody and devastating, and the countryside was often laid to waste.  This History of the Kingdom of Wurttemberg tells us the following:

Once a Duchy within the Holy Roman Empire, on 1 January 1806, Duke Frederick II assumed the title of king Frederick I. He abrogated the constitution and united old and new Württemberg. Subsequently, he placed the property of the church under the control of the kingdom, whose boundaries were also greatly extended by the process of “mediatisation,” the loss of immediacy. Immediacy is the status of persons not subject to local lords, but only to a higher authority directly, such as the Holy Roman Emperor.

In 1806, Frederick joined the Confederation of the Rhine and received further additions of territory with 160,000 inhabitants. Later, by the Peace of Vienna of October 1809, about 110,000 more people came under his rule. In return for these favors, Frederick joined French Emperor Napoleon in his campaigns against Prussia, Austria and Russia. Of the 16,000 of his subjects who marched to Moscow, only a few hundred returned.

After the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, King Frederick deserted the French emperor, and by a treaty with Metternich at Fulda in November 1813, he secured the confirmation of his royal title and of his recent acquisitions of territory, while his troops marched with those of the allies into France.

In 1815, the King joined the German Confederation, but the Congress of Vienna made no change to the extent of his lands. In the same year, he laid before the representatives of his people the outline of a new constitution, but they rejected it, and in the midst of the commotion that ensued, Frederick died on 30 October 1816.

The End of Jakob’s Personal World

For the decade beginning when Jakob was 55, war and the threat of war was ever present.  That alone would be enough to cause a great deal of stress in the life of a German citizen who lived not far from the French border.  Furthermore, many Germans lost their lives and Germany switched sides late in the war.  I’m sure the populace was both confused and disenchanted, not to mention, afraid for themselves, their children and the future.  Germany’s army was fueled by mass conscriptions and many Germans had already died in Napoleon’s war.

Beginning in 1813, when he was 65, Jacob’s personal world began to unravel as well. In October of 1813, his 34 year old son died of pneumonia.

In 1814, Jakob would have stood by the grave while his grandson was buried.

Towards the sunset of Jakob’s life, he would have lived through the year with no summer, as 1816 was called. Jakob had been born during what was termed the “Little Ice Age” in which Western Europe experienced a general cooling of the climate between the years 1150 and 1460 and a very cold climate between 1560 and 1850 that brought dire consequences to its peoples.

The colder weather caused social strife impacting agriculture, health, economics, emigration, and even art and literature. The eruption of Mt. Tambora in April 1815 in Indonesia propelled ashes into the atmosphere, blocking the sun, reducing temperatures even further – although at the time, no one could have put 2 and 2 together to deduce cause and effect. The Tambora eruption caused a particularly cold year in 1816 in which crops failed throughout both America and Europe, forcing prices for what little food did exist in Germany and other parts of Europe into record high territory. Riots ensued.

Additionally, this famine was added onto the effects of the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars which lasted from 1803-1815.

JakobLenz1812

Notice on this map of 1812, Germany really doesn’t exist, although it would by 1815 with Napoleon’s defeat.

From Jakob’s point of view, it probably seemed like the world he knew was coming to an end, between the wars, the cold weather and finally, 1816 with no summer.

It was reported that many people in 1816 spent the summer around a fire. The grape vines in many places died and few, if any, produced grapes. If Jacob loved those vines and vineyards, knowing each one personally as most vinedressers did, he would have grieved for them and been sickened at the pathetic sight of his beloved vineyards, always within view, on the hillsides.

Jakob practiced his craft as a vinedresser probably for more than half a century – and maybe longer if his health held. He probably began working in the vineyards when he was perhaps 15, or maybe younger, joining his father.  He probably worked at long as he could. He died at age 73, so it’s conceivable that he walked to work in the vineyards every day for 58 years or so. I would wager that he found the hillsides and vineyards both beautiful and peaceful.

If Jakob had not already retired, perhaps it was the year of 1816 that prompted him to do so. He would have been 68 years old and may have wondered what the world was coming to. Many people interpreted the climate change as a whole, and 1816 in particular, in Biblical terms.

Furthermore, Jakob may have had tuberculosis.

Jakob, his only surviving son, left in 1817 for America in the springtime, the year after the worst of the famine and when his father was 69 years old. Both men knew they would never see each other again. This must have been a gut-wrenching goodbye.

Jakob, the father, must surely have been terribly torn – wanting a better life for his namesake son and family, but also wanting Jakob’s company and help in his final years. Perhaps Jakob walked up the hills into the vineyard to watch his son’s wagon disappear into the distance so that no one would witness the hot tears he surely cried.  With his only son gone, he must have felt terribly alone and vulnerable in the face of an  uncertain future combined with old age.

Jakob the son would likely have been terribly torn between providing for his future and that of his wife and children by immigrating to a land with more opportunity, and staying in Germany to care for his aging parents. Not knowing if 1817 was going to repeat the agricultural devastation of 1816, not to mention the political unrest, made the decision particularly difficult, but it’s obvious that Jakob wasn’t taking a “wait and see” approach, since he had clearly made and acted upon his decision by February and probably departed Beutelsbach shortly thereafter, perhaps looking back one last time to see if his father was in sight and to sear the vineyards on the hillsides above the village that he would never see again in his memory forever.

Jakob, the father, would say a different kind of goodbye to yet another child a few months later on September 4, 1817 when his firstborn, Katharina Barbara, would die of an epileptic seizure. Given that she never married, she very likely lived with her parents. At 45 years of age, if she had been epileptic for her entire life, perhaps her death was a release. Still for an aging parent, Katharina Barbara’s decline and death must have been utterly devastating and horribly traumatic to witness. Watching your children suffer and being powerless to help is its own special kind of hell on earth.  Your worst nightmare come true.

Having witnessed seizures where the person stopped breathing, I can only imagine with horror watching your child seize and die.  How many times had they literally held their breath as she seized, but eventually resumed breathing.  This time, she didn’t.  I shudder to even think.  My heart just breaks for them, almost 200 years later.

Yet another catastrophe visited this family in 1817, which Jakob may have come to regard as the year from Hell. Katharina Margaretha Lenz’s husband, Conrad Gos, emigrated to Russia, leaving his wife and children behind.  Their support may have fallen to Jakob.

Jakob may have wondered just how much more he could take.

Jakob’s Death

JakobLenz death

Jakob Lenz died July 2, 1821 at 6AM in Beutelsbach and was buried two days later, July 4th, at 10 AM, as shown in the church record, above. Jakob’s death entry in the church records, according to the Beutelsbach website is as follows:

  • Ist hier geschult und aufgezogen worden.
  • Todesursache: Zehrfieber
  • Beruf: Weingärtner

Translated, this means:

  • Has been trained here and raised.
  • Cause of death: Zehren fever
  • Occupation: Vinedresser or liternally, wine gardener

It also gives his parents names and his father’s occupation as a vinedresser.  The record gives Jakob’s age at death as 73 years and 5 months.

Zehren fever translates as “hectic fever,” which, according to the dictionary, is described as a remittent fever, with stages of chilliness, heat, and sweat, variously intermixed, usually present in wasting diseases, in particular pulmonary consumption or tuberculosis.

Jakob’s body may have died, but his absolutely incredible Y DNA lives on in his male Lentz descendants who carry his Y chromosome.  The Y DNA is passed from father to son and follows the surname path, so all Lentz males today who descend from this line through son Jakob/Jacob who immigrated to America, barring an adoption of some sort, carry Jakob’s Y DNA signature.  Let’s take a look!

Jakob’s DNA, Another Chapter

Several weeks ago, cousin C. Lentz, a descendant of son Jacob Lentz, agreed to test his Y DNA. Never, in my wildest dreams did I expect results so unbelievably unique. C. Lentz was not the first Lentz male to test, but my previous Lentz cousin who tested is now deceased, and if we wanted to test additional markers, and order additional tests, we needed to have a new candidate.

Am I ever glad cousin C. Lentz agreed, because the information forthcoming that was not available at the time the previous Lentz cousin tested is nothing short of phenomenal. As in jaw-dropping fall-off-your-chair incredible.

The last chapter, at least as of today, in the epic journey back in time comes from Dr. Sergey Malyshev, a geneticist at the Institute of Genetics and Cytology of Belarus National Academy of Sciences who specializes in plant genetics. Plant or human, genetics is genetics and the underlying foundation is the same. As Dr. Malyshev said, the methods of DNA analysis are universal. There are no big differences in the methodology between the DNA analysis for plants or humans.

Dr. Malyshev is one of the volunteer project administrators for the R1b Basal Subclades project at Family Tree DNA. Cousin C. Lentz is a member of that project. Dr. Malyshev asked me to request the BAM file for cousin C. so that he could analyze the results. I want to emphasize that Dr. Malyshev is not affiliated with any other company or organization, and the information went no place other than to Dr. Malyshev.

I received an e-mail from Dr. Malyshev detailing the SNPs, or mutations, and the order they are found on the Y DNA tree, grouped by the older haplogroup designations, in bold below.  Underneath the headings are the SNPS that must be found positive (+) to indicate the individual is a member of that sub-haplogroup.

R1b1a1a2a2

  • CTS1078/Z2103+
  • Z8128/Y4371+
  • Z2105+
  • S20902/Z8130+
  • CTS9416+

R1b1a1a2a2c

  • Z2106+

R1b1a1a2a2c1

  • Z2108+
  • CTS1843/Z2109+

The exciting part was yet to come.

Dr. Malyshev said:

Under Z2109, Mr. Lentz’s haplotype (his personal results) and 2 other kits form the new branch, KMS67:

  • 442223 (Lentz)
  • 181183
  • 329335

Unlike Lentz, kits 181183 and 329335 are much more closely related to each other. They have 45 common SNPs. Thus, they form an additional subclade of R-KMS67 which is KMS75. The R-KMS67 branch is probably a very rare subclade. 181183 and 329335 belong to Burzyan Bashkir people. The relationships between Lentz and these Burzyan Bashkir men is very ancient. For example, the KMS75 marker was found in ancient DNA samples of the Yamnaya culture.

Ok, now I’m sitting bolt upright and wide awake. And not believing my ears.

The Yamnaya culture, as in 5,000 years ago?? Seriously? This ancient DNA was only recovered about a year ago! In fact, ironically, I wrote an article about the Yamnaya discovery because I found it utterly fascinating. Now that just seems like an uncanny coincidence.

Dr. Malyshev continues:

Thus, the separation of Lentz’s line from the Bashkir line could have occurred even before the Yamnaya culture appearance. At the moment, the distribution of R-KMS67 line in Europe is completely unknown. It will take time to understand it. It is clear that this line is very rare. Germany could be an important place for the Z2109+ people because several different subclades of R-Z2109 were found here. It will be important to check the 14168106 (A/G) marker that was also observed in samples from the Yamnaya culture. This is only possible by using the BAM file.

I ordered the BAM file, sent it to Dr. Malyshev and attempted to wait patiently, which was no small feat, let me tell you. Not being a carrier of the patience gene, I wrote to Dr. Malyshev and asked if he had been able to discern anything in cousin C. Lentz’s BAM file relative to marker 14168106 and the Yamnaya culture?

Dr Malyshev replied:

Yes, 14168106 (a change from nucleotide A to G) is positive for Lentz. I have prepared a special chart combining all data for the R-KMS67 branch.

Next, I had to know if the mutation at 14168106 preceded the Yamnaya culture or did it emerge during the Yamnaya culture, or can’t we tell for sure? In other words, is there any way to know if our Lentz ancestor was part of the Yamnaya, or did his common ancestor with the Yamnaya reach perhaps further back in time?

Dr. Malyshev again:

I think the correct answer on your question is we can’t tell for sure. The problem is that we do not have ancient DNA samples from the Western Yamnaya culture. It occupied a very big territory from the Balkan peninsula to the Severski Donietz and Don rivers in steppes near the Black Sea. We have only ancient DNA samples from the Eastern Yamnaya culture that occupied a territory to East from the Volga river in steppes near the Caspian Sea. At the moment we can only speculate that the Western Yamnaya culture was a source of R-Z2109 for both Europe and Asia. In such case the R-KMS67 branch has appeared in the Black Sea steppes, and then a main part of this branch has migrated in the Eastern direction to the Caspian Sea and formed the Eastern Yamnaya culture. Its descendants can be found around the Caspian Sea in Bashkortostan or even Iraq. However, a second small group of the R-KMS67 branch (including Lentz’s ancestor) could stay near the Black Sea for a while and then migrated to Europe together with the R-CTS7822 and R-Y14414 lines. This is only hypothesis, of course.

Dr. Malyshev mentioned the extensive area covered by the Yamnaya culture, which is shown on the map below, from Eupedia.

JakobLenz yamna culture

Dr. Malyshev is kind enough to allow me to include the chart he created that shows the branch of haplogroup R that our Lentz ancestor belongs to. As you can see, so far, our Lentz family is the only one found in Europe but we distantly match two men from the Burzyan Bashkirs in Russia and one man from Iraq.

JakobLenz Malyshev chart

I wrote about the Bashkir and the Yamnaya and events in history which could have propelled these cultures into the part of Europe that would one day become Germany in the first article about Jacob Lentz, the immigrant.

You can see the region where the Yamnaya people are found, and the Yamna culture. The river transecting the middle of the yellow region North to South, passing between the n and the a on the map below, is the Volga.

JakobLenz Yamna

Now that we know a little more about the Yamnaya as a whole, I had to ask where, in Russia, are the excavations that produced the remains that match our Lentz ancestors? On the map above, the locations are just above the last a in Yamna, on the Volga.

However, we can be much more specific in terms of the locations of the Yamnaya burials.

JakobLenz Samara

The burials were found in close proximity to the city of Samara in Russia. Samara, today Russia’s 6th largest city, was home to “nests of pirates” before 1586, at the bend around the island on the map above. Samara was a frontier post that began with a fortress on the island that protected the eastern-most boundaries of Russia from forays of nomads. Samara was the gateway between east and west, a crossroads of many trade routes. The Yamnaya were likely early inhabitants and could have been traders as well, some 3500 years before the first written records of Samara appear.

Maybe our ancestors were early pirates or perhaps the equivalent of toll takers, assuring safe passage for traders needing to cross the Volga or pass by the island on the waterway. Maybe they were soldiers or traders, or all of the above at different times.

This website tracks the locations where ancient DNA has been retrieved, and the maps below show the locations of the ancient burials from this website.

Three of the 4 Yamnaya burials are found on this map and all were from about 5,000 years ago, or about 3,000 BC.

JakobLenz ancient 1

The first burial was located just above the curve in the Volga River, above the island, on the River Sok, shown above.  The mileage legend on the maps is in the lower left hand corner.

JakobLenz ancient 2

The second burial is shown just east of the Volga River bend, above.

JakobLenz ancient 3

The third burial is shown just below the bend in the Volga River, just below the island. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there’s a theme here. I surely wonder about the importance of that island, perhaps a neutral ground for trade or a fortified island that was easy to defend? A settlement site perhaps, or a village maybe? All of the above at one time or another?

JakobLenz ancient4

There were additional burials found on the River Sok, above, but the quality of the DNA recovered wasn’t sufficient to determine if they are a match to our Lentz line and to the other burials.

JakobLenz ancient 5

Dr. Malyshev indicates that site 370 (above) can’t be eliminated either, although it is a bit further south and east.

JakobLenz ancient 6

Looking at the region as a whole, we can see the cluster of burials, above.

JakobLenz Stuttgart

Our Lentz line eventually settled in Beutelsbach, near Stuttgart, Germany, shown above on the same ancient burial map. Need I mention that Stuttgart is no place close to Samara, Russia? In fact, it’s more than half way across the entire Eurasian continent, as you can see on the map below.  That’s a massive distance interrupted by mountain ranges and inhospitable territory.

JakobLenz Eurasia

Looking at Google maps, you can see that it’s nearly an 8 hour plane ride.

JakobLenz Samara to Beutelsbach

This trip translates into about 3,500 miles, or the distance across the US diagonally from Key West, Florida, the furthest Southeastern point to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada which is in essence the end of the driving road in the Northwest.

jakobLenz Key West to Vancouver

I don’t know about you, but I have no desire whatsoever to make either one of those journeys, let alone by horseback, or chariot, or even perhaps on foot. If armies of that day and time moved at the same rate wagon trains did in the early US, they covered about 10 miles a day, on average. Of course, armies may well have stopped to fight and hunt and pillage and such – so their progress may have been much more sporadic and slower. One could not expect to travel for 3,500 miles through unknown terrain unimpeded and without being challenged by whomever the current residents were. People are funny that way – they don’t take kindly to invaders – especially not invaders that might have their eye on either their food or their women – or both. And an army has to eat!

That epic migration might not have been a single event, but a series of migration events separated by a significant amount of time, even generations.

Genetics and genetic genealogy, even though with our Yamnaya discovery we’re far beyond lineages we can track through paperwork back in time, isn’t much different than regular genealogy. You find one answer and it opens the door to hundreds of new questions. Genealogy and genetic genealogy are the pursuits that never end.

Now, of course, I want to know more about the Yamnaya and more about ancient Yamnaya burials with their ceremonial red ochre.

JakobLenz Yamnaya skull

More about these mysterious tall steppe-dwelling people who may well have developed the gene for and introduced lactose tolerance into the European population as they migrated westward, probably as unwelcome invaders.

More about men who will be found in eastern Europe who will carry our terminal SNP of KMS67, shared with the current day Burzyan Bashkirs and one man in Iran.

More about that intriguing DNA location 14168106, the location of an unnamed SNP just waiting to be named. Our SNP, our very own SNP, the one that belongs to us and some, but not all, of the Yamnaya, our relatives for sure and our probable ancestors. So far, that unnamed SNP belongs to no one else! No other living person so far discovered. No one else in the world except for our Lentz men and the ancient Yamnaya – reaching back some 5,000 years into the mists of time on the Volga River.

By Eternal Sledopyt – ru:Файл:Волга у Жигулей осенью.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19028715

 

Native American Haplogroup X2a – Solutrean, Hebrew or Beringian?

I was very pleased to see the article, “Does Mitochondrial Haplogroup X Indicate Ancient Trans-Atlantic Migration to the Americas? A Critical Re-Evaluation” by Jennifer Raff and Deborah Bolnick.

This is one of those topics that gets brought up over and over again and is often presented in the form of an urban legend with some level of bias based up on the agenda, exuberance or opinion of the person who is presenting the evidence. In other words, it makes for good click-bait.

Personally, I don’t have a horse in this race. I care about the truth, whatever it is, being discovered and unraveled.  I think the authors of this paper have done a good job of presenting the evidence in both directions then drawing conclusions based on scientific data as we know it.  There has been new evidence emerge in the recent past and there is likely to be more in the future which, depending on the evidence, could cause a re-evaluation of this topic.

Why has haplogroup X2 been so contentious and controversial when the other Native American haplogroups have not?

There are two primary reasons:

  1. There is no clear-cut genetic path across Beringia to the New World for X2a, meaning that X2a is not found in Siberia in the areas bordering Beringia. The ancestral form of the other Native American haplogroups are found there, indicating a clear migration path. Having said that, haplogroup X2a and subgroups is very clearly the rarest of the Native American mitochondrial DNA haplogroups and it’s certainly feasible that not enough testing has been performed on living or ancestral people to discover X2 or X2a directly ancestral individuals. It is also possible that line has died out, but hopefully we will still find examples in skeletal remains as more are DNA typed.
  2. Many of the early carriers of haplogroup X2a were found in eastern maritime Canada, a prime theoretical landing location for Solutreans.  This certainly fanned the Solutrean flame.  However, more recent discoveries of haplogroup X2a and subgroups have been more widely geographically dispersed.  Neither is there a path or ancestral form of X2a found in Europe or the Middle East.

Looking at the X2a subgroups (X2a, X2a1, X2a1a, X2a1b, X2a1c, plus three forms of X2a2) in the haplogroup X project at Family Tree DNA, the American Indian project, GenBank and various academic papers, we find the following locations identified for X2a and subgroups, moving west to east:

  • Saskatchewan
  • Pasadena, California
  • Chihuahua, Mexico
  • Edmonton, Alberta
  • Selkirk, Manitoba
  • Manitoba (2)
  • La Pointe, Wisconsin
  • Ontario
  • Ontario border with Michgan (Manitoulin Island)
  • St. Ignace, Michigan (near border with Ontario)
  • Manawan, Quebec
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Newfoundland (Island) 2
  • Cape Breton, Canada
  • Nova Scotia, Canada

Although not in the haplogroup X project, X2a2 has also been found among the Navajo and Jemez in the American Southwest and in Kennewick Man found in Kennewick, Washington. Other tribal affiliations include the Chippewa, Ojibwa and Sioux.  Given the Newfoundland and Canadian seaboard locations, the Algonquian speaking Micmac and Beothuk populations would clearly be involved as well.

X2a map

Note on the X2a map above reflecting the oldest known ancestral locations, that no locations appear outside of North America.

Haplogroup X2a is believed to have developed in Beringia during the period of isolation of approximately 8,000 years experienced by the people who were to become the “First Nations” and “Native Americans” in North America. This is the reason, not just for X2a, but for other haplogroups as well, that some subgroups exist only in Native people in the New World and not in Asia from whence they came.  Those haplogroup identifying mutations occurred during their long stay in Beringia.

We know from archaeological excavations along with genetic analysis in some cases that the Native people by roughly 14,000 years ago had emerged from Beringia, trekked southward and were in Monte Verde in Chile. The Native population seems to have diverged into two groups, one in South America who likely arrived via a western coastal route, and one who migrated more eastwardly, the ancestors of Anzick Child who lived about 12,500 years ago in Montana and whose DNA has been tested.

Kennewick Man who carries the oldest form of haplogroup X2a yet found in the Americas was dated to be about 9,000 years old and was found in Washington State, so clearly X2a was present in the Native population 9,000 years ago and on the western side of the continent.

You will note that in the list of X2a results given above, none of the locations are any further south than Chichuhua, Mexico.  Based on the locations of these most distant ancestors, a primary west to east migration path just north of the present day border between the US and Canada is suggested, along with a secondary path southward along the Pacific coast or western corridor.

Here are the salient points listed by Raff and Bolnick in support of haplogroup X2a and subgroups originating in Asia, along with the other Native American haplogroups, and arriving together in the same settlement wave:

  1. Haplogroup X2a is present in the Americas in pre-European contact skeletal remains confirming is it not a result of post-contact admixture.
  2. While the Altai, considered to be the original Asian homeland of today’s Native American people, do carry haplogroup X2, the linking mutations between X2 and X2a have not been found in that or any other population group today. Haplogroup X itself originated in the Middle East before X2 evolved, but that is not indicative of Hebrew or European ancestry.
  3. X2a is not found in the Middle East, and therefore could not have been part of a theoretical Hebrew migration from the Middle East 2500 years ago. Haplogroup X2a was found in Kennewick man who lived 9000 years ago, in Washington State, so X2a in the Americas predates the proposed Hebrew migration by some 6,500 years.
  4. The oldest and deepest rooted X2a result, relative to the haplotree, is Kennewick man whose remains were found in the western US. If X2a was the result of a Solutrean migration during the Pleistocene 23,500 to 18,000 years ago with a landing base in Newfoundland or someplace on the east coast, the oldest and deepest lineages should be found in the eastern population, not on the west coast.
  5. Based on coalescence dates and demographic history, X2a is likely to have originated in the same population as the other American founder haplogroups.
  6. Kennewick Man was explicitly tested for his affinity with European and Polynesian populations and that hypothesis was rejected.
  7. Studies have indicated that a population found in central Asia contributed strongly to both the Native American population and the European population by moving from central Asia into both Europe and Siberia, but that does not equate to Europeans being ancestral to Native Americans. Instead, a common ancestral population often referred to as the “ghost population” was part of the founding group of both Europeans and Native Americans as described here and here. This means that later European populations, such as Germanic people who do show small amounts of “Native American” admixture are probably more closely related to Native Americans than earlier populations from before the central Asian people arrived and settled en masse in Europe.
  8. No Solutrean skeletal remains have been recovered in Europe in order to facilitate a direct comparison. However, if Solutrean people did arrive in the New World on the east coast, one would not expect to find a European/Solutrean signature equally distributed among all native people, but instead distributed in a gradient pattern with the highest levels closest to where the Solutrean people lived, meaning their landing point.  In other words, it would radiate outward like ripples from a rock thrown into water.  However, the genetic signature of West Eurasian ancestry in Native American people is found equally in all Native American genomes tested to date, and as such, predates the evolution of regional genetic structure within North and South America as reflected in migration patterns.