RootsTech Connect 2021: Comprehensive DNA Session List

I wondered exactly how many DNA sessions were at RootsTech this year and which ones are the most popular.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t easily view a list of all the sessions, so I made my own. I wanted to be sure to include every session, including Tips and Tricks and vendor sessions that might only be available in their booths. I sifted through every menu and group and just kept finding more and more buried DNA treasures in different places.

I’m sharing this treasure chest with you below. And by the way, this took an entire day, because I’ve listed the YouTube direct link AND how many views each session had amassed today.

Two things first.

Sales Extended

The Family Tree DNA RootsTech Sales prices including upgrades are still available – here.

  • The FamilyTreeDNA autosomal Family Finder testis now only $49. Click here to purchase using coupon code RTCTFF.
  • FamilyTreeDNAis offering the advanced tool unlock for only $9 after a free transfer through March 7th. Click here to sign on, upload your DNA file if you’ve tested elsewhere, and then unlock using code RTCAU10.

MyHeritage has extended their RootsTech deals too.

  • MyHeritage has waived the unlock fee of $29 if you transfer your DNA kit from another vendor between now and March 7th. You can upload, free, here. You’ll get all of the advanced tools for free.
  • The MyHeritage DNA kit is on sale for $79, here.

Neither Ancestry nor 23andMe had show sales, but you can purchase at their regular prices.

All serious genealogists will want to test at or transfer to all 4 major vendors and test their Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA at FamilyTreeDNA.

RootsTech Sessions

As you know, RootsTech was shooting for TED talk format this year. Roughly 20-minute sessions. When everything was said and done, there were five categories of sessions:

  • Curated sessions are approximately 20-minute style presentations curated by RootsTech meaning that speakers had to submit. People whose sessions were accepted were encouraged to break longer sessions into a series of two or three 20-minute sessions.
  • Vendor booth videos could be loaded to their virtual boots without being curated by RootsTech, but curated videos by their employees could also be loaded in the vendor booths.
  • DNA Learning Center sessions were by invitation and provided by volunteers. They last generally between 10-20 minutes.
  • Tips and Tricks are also produced by volunteers and last from 1 to 15 minutes. They can be sponsored by a company and in some cases, smaller vendors and service providers utilized these to draw attention to their products and services.
  • 1-hour sessions tend to be advanced and not topics could be easily broken apart into a series.

Look at this amazing list of 129 DNA or DNA-related sessions that you can watch for free for the next year. Be sure to bookmark this article so you can refer back easily.

Please note that I started compiling this list for myself and I’ve shortened some of the session names. Then I realized that if I needed this, so do you.

Top 10 Most-Viewed Sessions

I didn’t know whether I should list these sessions by speaker name, or by the most views, so I’m doing a bit of both.

Drum roll please…

The top 10 most viewed sessions as of today are:

Speaker/Vendor Session Title Type Link Views
Libby Copeland How Home DNA Testing Has Redefined Family History Curated Session https://youtu.be/LsOEuvEcI4A 13,554
Nicole Dyer Organize Your DNA Matches in a Diagram Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/UugdM8ATTVo 6175
Roberta Estes DNA Triangulation: What, Why, and How 1 hour https://youtu.be/nIb1zpNQspY 6106
Tim Janzen Tracing Ancestral Lines in the 1700s Using DNA Part 1 Curated Session https://youtu.be/bB7VJeCR6Bs 5866
Amy Williams Ancestor Reconstruction: Why, How, Tools Curated Session https://youtu.be/0D6lAIyY_Nk 5637
Drew Smith Before You Test Basics Part 1 Curated Session https://youtu.be/wKhMRLpefDI 5079
Nicole Dyer How to Interpret a DNA Cluster Chart Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/FI4DaWGX8bQ 4982
Nicole Dyer How to Evaluate a ThruLines Hypothesis Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/ao2K6wBip7w 4823
Kimberly Brown Why Don’t I Match my Match’s Matches DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/A8k31nRzKpc 4593
Rhett Dabling, Diahan Southard Understanding DNA Ethnicity Results Curated Session https://youtu.be/oEt7iQBPfyM 4287

Libby Copeland must be absolutely thrilled. I noticed that her session was featured over the weekend in a highly prominent location on the RootsTech website.

Sessions by Speaker

The list below includes the English language sessions by speaker. I apologize for not being able to discern which non-English sessions are about DNA.

Don’t let a smaller number of views discourage you. I’ve watched a few of these already and they are great. I suspect that sessions by more widely-known speakers or ones whose sessions were listed in the prime-real estate areas have more views, but what you need might be waiting just for you in another session. You don’t have to pick and choose and they are all here for you in one place.

Speaker/Vendor Session Title Type Link Views
Alison Wilde SCREEN Method: A DNA Match Note System that Really Helps DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/WaNnh_v1rwE 791
Amber Brown Genealogist-on-Demand: The Help You Need on a Budget You Can Afford Curated Session https://youtu.be/9KjlD6GxiYs 256
Ammon Knaupp Pattern of Genetic Inheritance DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/Opr7-uUad3o 824
Amy Williams Ancestor Reconstruction: Why, How, Tools Curated Session https://youtu.be/0D6lAIyY_Nk 5637
Amy Williams Reconstructing Parent DNA and Analyzing Relatives at HAPI-DNA, Part 1 Curated Session https://youtu.be/MZ9L6uPkKbo 1021
Amy Williams Reconstructing Parent DNA and Analyzing Relatives at HAPI-DNA, Part 2 Curated Session https://youtu.be/jZBVVvJmnaU 536
Ancestry DNA Matches Curated Session https://youtu.be/uk8EKXLQYzs 743
Ancestry ThruLines Curated Session https://youtu.be/RAwimOgNgUE 1240
Ancestry Ancestry DNA Communities: Bringing New Discoveries to Your Family History Research Curated Session https://youtu.be/depeGW7QUzU 422
Andre Kearns Helping African Americans Trace Slaveholding Ancestors Using DNA Curated Session https://youtu.be/mlnSU5UM-nQ 2211
Barb Groth I Found You: Methods for Finding Hidden Family Members Curated Session https://youtu.be/J93hxOe_KC8 1285
Beth Taylor DNA and Genealogy Basics DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/-LKgkIqFhL4 967
Beth Taylor What Do I Do With Cousin Matches? DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/LyGT9B6Mh00 1349
Beth Taylor Using DNA to Find Unknown Relatives DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/WGJ8IfuTETY 2166
David Ouimette I Am Adopted – How Do I Use DNA to Find My Parents? Curated Session https://youtu.be/-jpKgKMLg_M 365
Debbie Kennett Secrets and Surprises: Uncovering Family History Mysteries through DNA Curated Session https://youtu.be/nDnrIWKmIuA 2899
Debbie Kennett Genetic Genealogy Meets CSI Curated Session https://youtu.be/sc-Y-RtpEAw 589
Diahan Southard What is a Centimorgan Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/uQcfhPU5QhI 2923
Diahan Southard Using the Shared cM Project DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/b66zfgnzL0U 3172
Diahan Southard Understanding Ethnicity Results DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/8nCMrf-yJq0 1587
Diahan Southard Problems with Shared Centimorgans DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/k7j-1yWwGcY 2494
Diahan Southard 4 Next Steps for Your DNA Curated Session https://youtu.be/poRyCaTXvNg 3378
Diahan Southard Your DNA Questions Answered Curated Session https://youtu.be/uUlZh_VYt7k 3454
Diahan Southard You Can Do the DNA – We Can Help Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/V5VwNzcVGNM 763
Diahan Southard What is a DNA Match? Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/Yt_GeffWhC0 314
Diahan Southard Diahan’s Tips for DNA Matches Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/WokgGVRjwvk 3348
Diahan Southard Diahan’s Tips for Y DNA Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/QyH69tk-Yiw 620
Diahan Southard Diahan’s Tips about mtDNA testing Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/6d-FNY1gcmw 2142
Diahan Southard Diahan’s Tips about Ethnicity Results Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/nZFj3zCucXA 1597
Diahan Southard Diahan’s Tips about Which DNA Test to Take Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/t–4R8H8q0U 2043
Diahan Southard Diahan’s Tips about When Your Matches Don’s Respond Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/LgHtM3nS60o 3009
Diahan Southard Three Next Steps: Using Known Matches Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/z1SVq8ME42A 118
Diahan Southard Three Next Steps: MRCA/DNA and the Paper Trail Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/JB0cVyk-Y4Q 80
Diahan Southard Three Next Steps: Start With Known Matches Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/BSNhaQCNtAo 68
Diahan Southard Three Next Steps: Additional Tools Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/PqNPBLQSBGY 140
Diahan Southard Three Next Steps: Ancestry ThruLines Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/KWayyAO8p_c 335
Diahan Southard Three Next Steps: MyHeritage Theory of Relativity Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/Et2TVholbAE 80
Diahan Southard Three Next Steps: Who to Test Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/GyWOO1XDh6M 111
Diahan Southard Three Next Steps: Genetics vs Genealogy Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/Vf0DC5eW_vA 294
Diahan Southard Three Next Steps: Centimorgan Definition Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/nQF935V08AQ 201
Diahan Southard Three Next Steps: Shared Matches Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/AYcR_pB6xgA 233
Diahan Southard Three Next Steps: Case Study – Finding an MRCA Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/YnlA9goeF7w 256
Diahan Southard Three Next Steps: Why Use DNA Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/v-o4nhPn8ww 266
Diahan Southard Three Next Steps: Finding Known Matches Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/n3N9CnAPr18 688
Diana Elder Using DNA Ethnicity Estimates in Your Research Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/aJgUK3TJqtA 1659
Diane Elder Using DNA in a Client Research Project to Solve a Family Mystery 1 hour https://youtu.be/ysGYV6SXxR8 1261
Donna Rutherford DNA and the Settlers of Taranaki, New Zealand Curated Session https://youtu.be/HQxFwie4774 214
Drew Smith Before You Test Basics Part 1 Curated Session https://youtu.be/wKhMRLpefDI 5079
Drew Smith Before You Test Basics Part 2 Curated Session https://youtu.be/Dopx04UHDpo 2769
Drew Smith Before You Test Basics Part 3 Curated Session https://youtu.be/XRd2IdtA-Ng 2360
Elena Fowler Whakawhanaungatanga Using DNA – It’s Complicated (Māori heritage) Curated Session https://youtu.be/6XTPMzVnUd8 470
Elena Fowler Whakawhanaungatanga Using DNA – FamilyTreeDNA (Māori heritage) Curated Session https://youtu.be/fM85tt5ad3A 269
Elena Fowler Whakawhanaungatanga Using DNA – Ancestry (Māori heritage) Curated Session https://youtu.be/-byO6FOfaH0 191
Esmee Mortimer-Taylor Living DNA: Anathea Ring – Her Story Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/MTE4UFKyLRs 189
Esmee Mortimer-Taylor Living DNA: Coretta Scott King Academy – DNA Results Reveal Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/CK1EYcuhqmc 82
Fonte Felipe Ethnic Filters and DNA Matches: The Way Forward to Finding Your Lineage Curated Session https://youtu.be/mt2Rv2lpj7o 553
FTDNA – Janine Cloud Big Y: What is it? Why Do I Need It? Curated Session https://youtu.be/jiDcjWk4cVI 2013
FTDNA – Sherman McRae Using DNA to Find Ancestors Lost in Slavery Curated Session https://youtu.be/i3VKwpmttBI 738
Jerome Spears Elusive Distant African Cousins: Using DNA, They Can Be Found Curated Session https://youtu.be/fAr-Z78f_SM 335
Karen Stanbary Ruling Out Instead of Ruling In: DNA and the GPS in Action 1 hour https://youtu.be/-WLhIHlSyLE 548
Katherine Borges DNA and Lineage Societies Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/TBYGyLHHAOI 451
Kimberly Brown Why Don’t I Match my Match’s Matches DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/A8k31nRzKpc 4593
Kitty Munson Cooper Basics of Unknown Parentage Research Using DNA Part 1 Curated Session https://youtu.be/2f3c7fJ74Ig 2931
Kitty Munson Cooper Basics of Unknown Parentage Research Using DNA Part 2 Curated Session https://youtu.be/G7h-LJPCywA 1222
Lauren Vasylyev Finding Cousins through DNA Curated Session https://youtu.be/UN7WocQzq78 1979
Lauren Vasylyev, Camille Andrus Finding Ancestors Through DNA Curated Session https://youtu.be/4rbYrRICzrQ 3919
Leah Larkin Untangling Endogamy Part 1 Curated Session https://youtu.be/0jtVghokdbg 2291
Leah Larkin Untangling Endogamy Part 2 Curated Session https://youtu.be/-rXLIZ0Ol-A 1441
Liba Casson-Budell Shining a Light on Jewish Genealogy Curated Session https://youtu.be/pHyVz94024Y 162
Libby Copeland How Home DNA Testing Has Redefined Family History Curated Session https://youtu.be/LsOEuvEcI4A 13,554
Linda Farrell Jumpstart your South African research Curated Session https://youtu.be/So7y9_PBRKc 339
Living DNA How to do a Living DNA Swab Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/QkbxhqCw7Mo 50
Lynn Broderick Ethical Considerations Using DNA Results Curated Session https://youtu.be/WMcRiDxPy2k 249
Mags Gaulden Importance and Benefits of Y DNA Testing DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/MVIiv0H7imI 1032
Maurice Gleeson Using Y -DNA to Research Your Surname Curated Session https://youtu.be/Ir4NeFH_aJs 1140
Melanie McComb Georgetown Memory Project: Preserving the Stories of the GU272 Curated Session https://youtu.be/Fv0gHzTHwPk 320
Michael Kennedy What Can You Do with Your DNA Test? DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/rKOjvkqYBAM 616
Michelle Leonard Understanding X-Chromosome DNA Matching Curated Session https://youtu.be/n784kt-Xnqg 775
MyHeritage How to Analyze DNA Matches on MH Curated Session https://youtu.be/gHRvyQYrNds 1192
MyHeritage DNA – an Overview Curated Session https://youtu.be/AIRGjEOg_xo 389
MyHeritage Advanced DNA Tools Curated Session https://youtu.be/xfZUAjI5G_I 762
MyHeritage How to Get Started with Your DNA Matches Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/rU_dq1vt6z4 1901
MyHeritage How to Filter and Sort Your DNA Matches Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/aJ7dRwMTt90 1008
Nicole Dyer How to Interpret a DNA Cluster Chart Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/FI4DaWGX8bQ 4982
Nicole Dyer How to Evaluate a ThruLines Hypothesis Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/ao2K6wBip7w 4823
Nicole Dyer Organize Your DNA Matches in a Diagram Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/UugdM8ATTVo 6175
Nicole Dyer Research in the Southern States Curated Session https://youtu.be/Pouw_yPrVSg 871
Olivia Fordiani Understanding Basic Genetic Genealogy DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/-kbGOFiwH2s 810
Pamela Bailey Information Wanted: Reuniting an American Family Separated by Slavery Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/DPCJ4K8_PZw 105
Patricia Coleman Getting Started with DNA Painter DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/Yh_Bzj6Atck 1775
Patricia Coleman Adding MyHeritage Data to DNA Painter DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/rP9yoCGjkLc 458
Patricia Coleman Adding 23andMe Data to DNA Painter DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/pJBAwe6s0z0 365
Penny Walters Mixing DNA with Paper Trail DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/PP4SjdKuiLQ 2693
Penny Walters Collaborating with DNA Matches When You’re Adopted DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/9ioeCS22HlQ 1222
Penny Walters Differences in Ethnicity Between My 6 Children DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/RsrXLcXRNfs 400
Penny Walters Differences in DNA Results Between My 6 Children DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/drnzW3FXScI 815
Penny Walters Ethical Dilemmas in DNA Testing DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/PRPoc0nB4Cs 437
Penny Walters Adoption – Background Context Curated Session https://youtu.be/qC1_Ln8WCNg 1054
Penny Walters Adoption – Utilizing DNA Testing to Construct a Bio Family Tree Curated Session https://youtu.be/zwJ5QofaGTE 941
Penny Walters Adoption – Ethical Dilemmas and Varied Consequences of Looking for Bio Family Curated Session https://youtu.be/ZLcHHTSfCIE 576
Penny Walters I Want My Mummy: Ancient and Modern Egypt Curated Session https://youtu.be/_HRO50RtzFk 311
Rebecca Whitman Koford BCG: Brief Step-by-Step Tour of the BCG Website Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/YpV9bKG6sXk 317
Renate Yarborough Sanders DNA Understanding the Basics DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/bX_flUQkBEA 2713
Renate Yarborough Sanders To Test or Not to Test DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/58-qzvN4InU 1048
Rhett Dabling Finding Ancestral Homelands Through DNA Curated Session https://youtu.be/k9zixg4uL1I 505
Rhett Dabling, Diahan Southard Understanding DNA Ethnicity Results Curated Session https://youtu.be/oEt7iQBPfyM 4287
Richard Price Finding Biological Family Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/L9C-SGVRZLM 101
Robert Kehrer Will They Share My DNA (Consent, policies, etc.) DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/SUo-jpTaR1M 480
Robert Kehrer What is a Centimorgan? DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/dopniLw8Fho 1194
Roberta Estes DNA Triangulation: What, Why and How 1 hour https://youtu.be/nIb1zpNQspY 6106
Roberta Estes Mother’s Ancestors DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/uUh6WrVjUdQ 3074
Robin Olsen Wirthlin How Can DNA Help Me Find My Ancestors? Curated Session https://youtu.be/ZINiyKsw0io 1331
Robin Olsen Wirthlin DNA Tools Bell Curve Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/SYorGgzY8VQ 1207
Robin Olsen Wirthlin DNA Process Trees Guide You in Using DNA in Family History Research Tips and Tricks https://youtu.be/vMOQA3dAm4k 1708
Shannon Combs-Bennett DNA Basics Made Easy DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/4JcLJ66b0l4 1560
Shannon Combs-Bennett DNA Brick Walls DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/vtFkT_PSHV0 450
Shannon Combs-Bennett Basics of Genetic Genealogy Part 1 Curated Session https://youtu.be/xEMbirtlBZo 2263
Shannon Combs-Bennett Basics of Genetic Genealogy Part 2 Curated Session https://youtu.be/zWMPja1haHg 1424
Steven Micheleti, Joanna Mountain Genetic Consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Part 1 Curated Session https://youtu.be/xP90WuJpD9Q 2284
Steven Micheleti, Joanna Mountain Genetic Consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Part 2 Curated Session https://youtu.be/McMNDs5sDaY 742
Thom Reed How Can Connecting with Ancestors Complete Us? Curated Session https://youtu.be/gCxr6W-tkoY 392
Tim Janzen Tracing Ancestral Lines in the 1700s Using DNA Part 1 Curated Session https://youtu.be/bB7VJeCR6Bs 5866
Tim Janzen Tracing Ancestral Lines in the 1700s Using DNA Part 2 Curated Session https://youtu.be/scOtMyFULGI 3008
Ugo Perego Strengths and Limitations of Genetic Testing for Family History DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/XkBK1y-LVaE 480
Ugo Perego A Personal Genetic Journey DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/Lv9CSU50xCc 844
Ugo Perego Discovering Native American Ancestry through DNA Curated Session https://youtu.be/L1cs748ctx0 884
Ugo Perego Mitochondrial DNA: Our Maternally-Inherited Family History Curated Session https://youtu.be/Z5bPTUzewKU 599
Vivs Laliberte Introduction to Y DNA DNA Learning Center https://youtu.be/rURyECV5j6U 752
Yetunde Moronke Abiola 6% Nigerian: Tracing my Missing Nigerian Ancestor Curated Session https://youtu.be/YNQt60xKgyg 494

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Genetic Genealogy at 20 Years: Where Have We Been, Where Are We Going and What’s Important?

Not only have we put 2020 in the rear-view mirror, thankfully, we’re at the 20-year, two-decade milestone. The point at which genetics was first added to the toolbox of genealogists.

It seems both like yesterday and forever ago. And yes, I’ve been here the whole time,  as a spectator, researcher, and active participant.

Let’s put this in perspective. On New Year’s Eve, right at midnight, in 2005, I was able to score kit number 50,000 at Family Tree DNA. I remember this because it seemed like such a bizarre thing to be doing at midnight on New Year’s Eve. But hey, we genealogists are what we are.

I knew that momentous kit number which seemed just HUGE at the time was on the threshold of being sold, because I had inadvertently purchased kit 49,997 a few minutes earlier.

Somehow kit 50,000 seemed like such a huge milestone, a landmark – so I quickly bought kits, 49,998, 49,999, and then…would I get it…YES…kit 50,000. Score!

That meant that in the 5 years FamilyTreeDNA had been in business, they had sold on an average of 10,000 kits per year, or 27 kits a day. Today, that’s a rounding error. Then it was momentous!

In reality, the sales were ramping up quickly, because very few kits were sold in 2000, and roughly 20,000 kits had been sold in 2005 alone. I know this because I purchased kit 28,429 during the holiday sale a year earlier.

Of course, I had no idea who I’d test with that momentous New Year’s Eve Y DNA kit, but I assuredly would find someone. A few months later, I embarked on a road trip to visit an elderly family member with that kit in tow. Thank goodness I did, and they agreed and swabbed on the spot, because they are gone today and with them, the story of the Y line and autosomal DNA of their branch.

In the past two decades, almost an entire generation has slipped away, and with them, an entire genealogical library held in their DNA.

Today, more than 40 million people have tested with the four major DNA testing companies, although we don’t know exactly how many.

Lots of people have had more time to focus on genealogy in 2020, so let’s take a look at what’s important? What’s going on and what matters beyond this month or year?

How has this industry changed in the last two decades, and where it is going?

Reflection

This seems like a good point to reflect a bit.

Professor Dan Bradley reflecting on early genetic research techniques in his lab at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics at Trinity College in Dublin. Photo by Roberta Estes

In the beginning – twenty years ago, there were two companies who stuck their toes in the consumer DNA testing water – Oxford Ancestors and Family Tree DNA. About the same time, Sorenson Genomics and GeneTree were also entering that space, although Sorenson was a nonprofit. Today, of those, only FamilyTreeDNA remains, having adapted with the changing times – adding more products, testing, and sophistication.

Bryan Sykes who founded Oxford Ancestors announced in 2018 that he was retiring to live abroad and subsequently passed away in 2020. The website still exists, but the company has announced that they have ceased sales and the database will remain open until Sept 30, 2021.

James Sorenson died in 2008 and the assets of Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, including the Sorenson database, were sold to Ancestry in 2012. Eventually, Ancestry removed the public database in 2015.

Ancestry dabbled in Y and mtDNA for a while, too, destroying that database in 2014.

Other companies, too many to remember or mention, have come and gone as well. Some of the various company names have been recycled or purchased, but aren’t the same companies today.

In the DNA space, it was keep up, change, die or be sold. Of course, there was the small matter of being able to sell enough DNA kits to make enough money to stay in business at all. DNA processing equipment and a lab are expensive. Not just the equipment, but also the expertise.

The Next Wave

As time moved forward, new players entered the landscape, comprising the “Big 4” testing companies that constitute the ponds where genealogists fish today.

23andMe was the first to introduce autosomal DNA testing and matching. Their goal and focus was always medical genetics, but they recognized the potential in genealogists before anyone else, and we flocked to purchase tests.

Ancestry settled on autosomal only and relies on the size of their database, a large body of genealogy subscribers, and a widespread “feel-good” marketing campaign to sell DNA kits as the gateway to “discover who you are.”

FamilyTreeDNA did and still does offer all 3 kinds of tests. Over the years, they have enhanced both the Y DNA and mitochondrial product offerings significantly and are still known as “the science company.” They are the only company to offer the full range of Y DNA tests, including their flagship Big Y-700, full sequence mitochondrial testing along with matching for both products. Their autosomal product is called Family Finder.

MyHeritage entered the DNA testing space a few years after the others as the dark horse that few expected to be successful – but they fooled everyone. They have acquired companies and partnered along the way which allowed them to add customers (Promethease) and tools (such as AutoCluster by Genetic Affairs), boosting their number of users. Of course, MyHeritage also offers users a records research subscription service that you can try for free.

In summary:

One of the wonderful things that happened was that some vendors began to accept compatible raw DNA autosomal data transfer files from other vendors. Today, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, and GEDmatch DO accept transfer files, while Ancestry and 23andMe do not.

The transfers and matching are free, but there are either minimal unlock or subscription plans for advanced features.

There are other testing companies, some with niche markets and others not so reputable. For this article, I’m focusing on the primary DNA testing companies that are useful for genealogy and mainstream companion third-party tools that complement and enhance those services.

The Single Biggest Change

As I look back, the single biggest change is that genetic genealogy evolved from the pariah of genealogy where DNA discussion was banned from the (now defunct) Rootsweb lists and summarily deleted for the first few years after introduction. I know, that’s hard to believe today.

Why, you ask?

Reasons varied from “just because” to “DNA is cheating” and then morphed into “because DNA might do terrible things like, maybe, suggest that a person really wasn’t related to an ancestor in a lineage society.”

Bottom line – fear and misunderstanding. Change is exceedingly difficult for humans, and DNA definitely moved the genealogy cheese.

From that awkward beginning, genetic genealogy organically became a “thing,” a specific application of genealogy. There was paper-trail traditional genealogy and then the genetic aspect. Today, for almost everyone, genealogy is “just another tool” in the genealogist’s toolbox, although it does require focused learning, just like any other tool.

DNA isn’t separate anymore, but is now an integral part of the genealogical whole. Having said that, DNA can’t solve all problems or answer all questions, but neither can traditional paper-trail genealogy. Together, each makes the other stronger and solves mysteries that neither can resolve alone.

Synergy.

I fully believe that we have still only scratched the surface of what’s possible.

Inheritance

As we talk about the various types of DNA testing and tools, here’s a quick graphic to remind you of how the different types of DNA are inherited.

  • Y DNA is inherited paternally for males only and informs us of the direct patrilineal (surname) line.
  • Mitochondrial DNA is inherited by everyone from their mothers and informs us of the mother’s matrilineal (mother’s mother’s mother’s) line.
  • Autosomal DNA can be inherited from potentially any ancestor in random but somewhat predictable amounts through both parents. The further back in time, the less identifiable DNA you’ll inherit from any specific ancestor. I wrote about that, here.

What’s Hot and What’s Not

Where should we be focused today and where is this industry going? What tools and articles popped up in 2020 to help further our genealogy addiction? I already published the most popular articles of 2020, here.

This industry started two decades ago with testing a few Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA markers, and we were utterly thrilled at the time. Both tests have advanced significantly and the prices have dropped like a stone. My first mitochondrial DNA test that tested only 400 locations cost more than $800 – back then.

Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA are still critically important to genetic genealogy. Both play unique roles and provide information that cannot be obtained through autosomal DNA testing. Today, relative to Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA, the biggest challenge, ironically, is educating newer genealogists about their potential who have never heard about anything other than autosomal, often ethnicity, testing.

We have to educate in order to overcome the cacophony of “don’t bother because you don’t get as many matches.”

That’s like saying “don’t use the right size wrench because the last one didn’t fit and it’s a bother to reach into the toolbox.” Not to mention that if everyone tested, there would be a lot more matches, but I digress.

If you don’t use the right tool, and all of the tools at your disposal, you’re not going to get the best result possible.

The genealogical proof standard, the gold standard for genealogy research, calls for “a reasonably exhaustive search,” and if you haven’t at least considered if or how Y
DNA
and mitochondrial DNA along with autosomal testing can or might help, then your search is not yet exhaustive.

I attempt to obtain the Y and mitochondrial DNA of every ancestral line. In the article, Search Techniques for Y and Mitochondrial DNA Test Candidates, I described several methodologies to find appropriate testing candidates.

Y DNA – 20 Years and Still Critically Important

Y DNA tracks the Y chromosome for males via the patrilineal (surname) line, providing matching and historical migration information.

We started 20 years ago testing 10 STR markers. Today, we begin at 37 markers, can upgrade to 67 or 111, but the preferred test is the Big Y which provides results for 700+ STR markers plus results from the entire gold standard region of the Y chromosome in order to provide the most refined results. This allows genealogists to use STR markers and SNP results together for various aspects of genealogy.

I created a Y DNA resource page, here, in order to provide a repository for Y DNA information and updates in one place. I would encourage anyone who can to order or upgrade to the Big Y-700 test which provides critical lineage information in addition to and beyond traditional STR testing. Additionally, the Big Y-700 test helps build the Y DNA haplotree which is growing by leaps and bounds.

More new SNPs are found and named EVERY SINGLE DAY today at FamilyTreeDNA than were named in the first several years combined. The 2006 SNP tree listed a grand total of 459 SNPs that defined the Y DNA tree at that time, according to the ISOGG Y DNA SNP tree. Goran Rundfeldt, head of R&D at FamilyTreeDNA posted this today:

2020 was an awful year in so many ways, but it was an unprecedented year for human paternal phylogenetic tree reconstruction. The FTDNA Haplotree or Great Tree of Mankind now includes:

37,534 branches with 12,696 added since 2019 – 51% growth!
defined by
349,097 SNPs with 131,820 added since 2019 – 61% growth!

In just one year, 207,536 SNPs were discovered and assigned FT SNP names. These SNPs will help define new branches and refine existing ones in the future.

The tree is constructed based on high coverage chromosome Y sequences from:
– More than 52,500 Big Y results
– Almost 4,000 NGS results from present-day anonymous men that participated in academic studies

Plus an additional 3,000 ancient DNA results from archaeological remains, of mixed quality and Y chromosome coverage at FamilyTreeDNA.

Wow, just wow.

These three new articles in 2020 will get you started on your Y DNA journey!

Mitochondrial DNA – Matrilineal Line of Humankind is Being Rewritten

The original Oxford Ancestor’s mitochondrial DNA test tested 400 locations. The original Family Tree DNA test tested around 1000 locations. Today, the full sequence mitochondrial DNA test is standard, testing the entire 16,569 locations of the mitochondria.

Mitochondrial DNA tracks your mother’s direct maternal, or matrilineal line. I’ve created a mitochondrial DNA resource page, here that includes easy step-by-step instructions for after you receive your results.

New articles in 2020 included the introduction of The Million Mito Project. 2021 should see the first results – including a paper currently in the works.

The Million Mito Project is rewriting the haplotree of womankind. The current haplotree has expanded substantially since the first handful of haplogroups thanks to thousands upon thousands of testers, but there is so much more information that can be extracted today.

Y and Mitochondrial Resources

If you don’t know of someone in your family to test for Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA for a specific ancestral line, you can always turn to the Y DNA projects at Family Tree DNA by searching here.

The search provides you with a list of projects available for a specific surname along with how many customers with that surname have tested. Looking at the individual Y DNA projects will show the earliest known ancestor of the surname line.

Another resource, WikiTree lists people who have tested for the Y DNA, mitochondrial DNA and autosomal DNA lines of specific ancestors.

Click on images to enlarge

On the left side, my maternal great-grandmother’s profile card, and on the right, my paternal great-great-grandfather. You can see that someone has tested for the mitochondrial DNA of Nora (OK, so it’s me) and the Y DNA of John Estes (definitely not me.)

MitoYDNA, a nonprofit volunteer organization created a comparison tool to replace Ysearch and Mitosearch when they bit the dust thanks to GDPR.

MitoYDNA accepts uploads from different sources and allows uploaders to not only match to each other, but to view the STR values for Y DNA and the mutation locations for the HVR1 and HVR2 regions of mitochondrial DNA. Mags Gaulden, one of the founders, explains in her article, What sets mitoYDNA apart from other DNA Databases?.

If you’ve tested at nonstandard companies, not realizing that they didn’t provide matching, or if you’ve tested at a company like Sorenson, Ancestry, and now Oxford Ancestors that is going out of business, uploading your results to mitoYDNA is a way to preserve your investment. PS – I still recommend testing at FamilyTreeDNA in order to receive detailed results and compare in their large database.

CentiMorgans – The Word of Two Decades

The world of autosomal DNA turns on the centimorgan (cM) measure. What is a centimorgan, exactly? I wrote about that unit of measure in the article Concepts – CentiMorgans, SNPs and Pickin’ Crab.

Fortunately, new tools and techniques make using cMs much easier. The Shared cM Project was updated this year, and the results incorporated into a wonderfully easy tool used to determine potential relationships at DNAPainter based on the number of shared centiMorgans.

Match quality and potential relationships are determined by the number of shared cMs, and the chromosome browser is the best tool to use for those comparisons.

Chromosome Browser – Genetics Tool to View Chromosome Matches

Chromosome browsers allow testers to view their matching cMs of DNA with other testers positioned on their own chromosomes.

My two cousins’ DNA where they match me on chromosomes 1-4, is shown above in blue and red at Family Tree DNA. It’s important to know where you match cousins, because if you match multiple cousins on the same segment, from the same side of your family (maternal or paternal), that’s suggestive of a common ancestor, with a few caveats.

Some people feel that a chromosome browser is an advanced tool, but I think it’s simply standard fare – kind of like driving a car. You need to learn how to drive initially, but after that, you don’t even think about it – you just get in and go. Here’s help learning how to drive that chromosome browser.

Triangulation – Science Plus Group DNA Matching Confirms Genealogy

The next logical step after learning to use a chromosome browser is triangulation. If fact, you’re seeing triangulation above, but don’t even realize it.

The purpose of genetic genealogy is to gather evidence to “prove” ancestral connections to either people or specific ancestors. In autosomal DNA, triangulation occurs when:

  • You match at least two other people (not close relatives)
  • On the same reasonably sized segment of DNA (generally 7 cM or greater)
  • And you can assign that segment to a common ancestor

The same two cousins are shown above, with triangulated segments bracketed at MyHeritage. I’ve identified the common ancestor with those cousins that those matching DNA segments descend from.

MyHeritage’s triangulation tool confirms by bracketing that these cousins also match each other on the same segment, which is the definition of triangulation.

I’ve written a lot about triangulation recently.

If you’d prefer a video, I recorded a “Top Tips” Facebook LIVE with MyHeritage.

Why is Ancestry missing from this list of triangulation articles? Ancestry does not offer a chromosome browser or segment information. Therefore, you can’t triangulate at Ancestry. You can, however, transfer your Ancestry DNA raw data file to either FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, or GEDmatch, all three of which offer triangulation.

Step by step download/upload transfer instructions are found in this article:

Clustering Matches and Correlating Trees

Based on what we’ve seen over the past few years, we can no longer depend on the major vendors to provide all of the tools that genealogists want and need.

Of course, I would encourage you to stay with mainstream products being used by a significant number of community power users. As with anything, there is always someone out there that’s less than honorable.

2020 saw a lot of innovation and new tools introduced. Maybe that’s one good thing resulting from people being cooped up at home.

Third-party tools are making a huge difference in the world of genetic genealogy. My favorites are Genetic Affairs, their AutoCluster tool shown above, DNAPainter and DNAGedcom.

These articles should get you started with clustering.

If you like video resources, here’s a MyHeritage Facebook LIVE that I recorded about how to use AutoClusters:

I created a compiled resource article for your convenience, here:

I have not tried a newer tool, YourDNAFamily, that focuses only on 23andMe results although the creator has been a member of the genetic genealogy community for a long time.

Painting DNA Makes Chromosome Browsers and Triangulation Easy

DNAPainter takes the next step, providing a repository for all of your painted segments. In other words, DNAPainter is both a solution and a methodology for mass triangulation across all of your chromosomes.

Here’s a small group of people who match me on the same maternal segment of chromosome 1, including those two cousins in the chromosome browser and triangulation sections, above. We know that this segment descends from Philip Jacob Miller and his wife because we’ve been able to identify that couple as the most distant ancestor intersection in all of our trees.

It’s very helpful that DNAPainter has added the functionality of painting all of the maternal and paternal bucketed matches from Family Tree DNA.

All you need to do is to link your known matches to your tree in the proper place at FamilyTreeDNA, then they do the rest by using those DNA matches to indicate which of the rest of your matches are maternal and paternal. Instructions, here. You can then export the file and use it at DNAPainter to paint all of those matches on the correct maternal or paternal chromosomes.

Here’s an article providing all of the DNAPainter Instructions and Resources.

DNA Matches Plus Trees Enhance Genealogy

Of course, utilizing DNA matching plus finding common ancestors in trees is one of the primary purposes of genetic genealogy – right?

Vendors have linked the steps of matching DNA with matching ancestors in trees.

Genetic Affairs take this a step further. If you don’t have an ancestor in your tree, but your matches have common ancestors with each other, Genetic Affairs assembles those trees to provide you with those hints. Of course, that common ancestor might not be relevant to your genealogy, but it just might be too!

click to enlarge

This tree does not include me, but two of my matches descend from a common ancestor and that common ancestor between them might be a clue as to why I match both of them.

Ethnicity Continues to be Popular – But Is No Shortcut to Genealogy

Ethnicity is always popular. People want to “do their DNA” and find out where they come from. I understand. I really do. Who doesn’t just want an answer?

Of course, it’s not that simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s not disappointing to people who test for that purpose with high expectations. Hopefully, ethnicity will pique their curiosity and encourage engagement.

All four major vendors rolled out updated ethnicity results or related tools in 2020.

The future for ethnicity, I believe, will be held in integrated tools that allow us to use ethnicity results for genealogy, including being able to paint our ethnicity on our chromosomes as well as perform segment matching by ethnicity.

For example, if I carry an African segment on chromosome 1 from my father, and I match one person from my mother’s side and one from my father’s side on that same segment – one or the other of those people should also have that segment identified as African. That information would inform me as to which match is paternal and which is maternal

Not only that, this feature would help immensely tracking ancestors back in time and identifying their origins.

Will we ever get there? I don’t know. I’m not sure ethnicity is or can be accurate enough. We’ll see.

Transition to Digital and Online

Sometimes the future drags us kicking and screaming from the present.

With the imposed isolation of 2020, conferences quickly moved to an online presence. The genealogy community has all pulled together to make this work. The joke is that 2020’s most used phrase is “can you hear me?” I can vouch for that.

Of course while the year 2020 is over, the problem isn’t and is extending at least through the first half of 2021 and possibly longer. Conferences are planned months, up to a year, in advance and they can’t turn on a dime, so don’t even begin to expect in-person conferences until either late in 2021 or more likely, 2022 if all goes well this year.

I expect the future will eventually return to in-person conferences, but not entirely.

Finding ways to be more inclusive allows people who don’t want to or can’t travel or join in-person to participate.

I’ve recorded several sessions this year, mostly for 2021. Trust me, these could be a comedy, mostly of errors😊

I participated in four MyHeritage Facebook LIVE sessions in 2020 along with some other amazing speakers. This is what “live” events look like today!

Screenshot courtesy MyHeritage

A few days ago, I asked MyHeritage for a list of their LIVE sessions in 2020 and was shocked to learn that there were more than 90 in English, all free, and you can watch them anytime. Here’s the MyHeritage list.

By the way, every single one of the speakers is a volunteer, so say a big thank you to the speakers who make this possible, and to MyHeritage for the resources to make this free for everyone. If you’ve ever tried to coordinate anything like this, it’s anything but easy.

Additonally, I’ve created two Webinars this year for Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Geoff Rasmussen put together the list of their top webinars for 2020, and I was pleased to see that I made the top 10! I’m sure there are MANY MORE you’d be interested in watching. Personally, I’m going to watch #6 yet today! Also, #9 and #22. You can always watch new webinars for free for a few days, and you can subscribe to watch all webinars, here.

The 2021 list of webinar speakers has been announced here, and while I’m not allowed to talk about something really fun that’s upcoming, let’s just say you definitely have something to look forward to in the springtime!

Also, don’t forget to register for RootsTech Connect which is entirely online and completely free, February 25-27, here.

Thank you to Penny Walters for creating this lovely graphic.

There are literally hundreds of speakers providing sessions in many languages for viewers around the world. I’ve heard the stats, but we can’t share them yet. Let me just say that you will be SHOCKED at the magnitude and reach of this conference. I’m talking dumbstruck!

During one of our zoom calls, one of the organizers says it feels like we’re constructing the plane as we’re flying, and I can confirm his observation – but we are getting it done – together! All hands on deck.

I’ll be presenting an advanced session about triangulation as well as a mini-session in the FamilySearch DNA Resource Center about finding your mother’s ancestors. I’ll share more information as it’s released and I can.

Companies and Owners Come & Go

You probably didn’t even notice some of these 2020 changes. Aside from the death of Bryan Sykes (RIP Bryan,) the big news and the even bigger unknown is the acquisition of Ancestry by Blackstone. Recently the CEO, Margo Georgiadis announced that she was stepping down. The Ancestry Board of Directors has announced an external search for a new CEO. All I can say is that very high on the priority list should be someone who IS a genealogist and who understands how DNA applies to genealogy.

Other changes included:

In the future, as genealogy and DNA testing becomes ever more popular and even more of a commodity, company sales and acquisitions will become more commonplace.

Some Companies Reduced Services and Cut Staff

I understand this too, but it’s painful. The layoffs occurred before Covid, so they didn’t result from Covid-related sales reductions. Let’s hope we see renewed investment after the Covid mess is over.

In a move that may or may not be related to an attempt to cut costs, Ancestry removed 6 and 7 cM matches from their users, freeing up processing resources, hardware, and storage requirements and thereby reducing costs.

I’m not going to beat this dead horse, because Ancestry is clearly not going to move on this issue, nor on that of the much-requested chromosome browser.

Later in the year, 23andMe also removed matches and other features, although, to their credit, they have restored at least part of this functionality and have provided ethnicity updates to V3 and V4 kits which wasn’t initially planned.

It’s also worth noting that early in 2020, 23andMe laid off 100 people as sales declined. Since that time, 23andMe has increasingly pushed consumers to pay to retest on their V5 chip.

About the same time, Ancestry also cut their workforce by about 6%, or about 100 people, also citing a slowdown in the consumer testing market. Ancestry also added a health product.

I’m not sure if we’ve reached market saturation or are simply seeing a leveling off. I wrote about that in DNA Testing Sales Decline: Reason and Reasons.

Of course, the pandemic economy where many people are either unemployed or insecure about their future isn’t helping.

The various companies need some product diversity to survive downturns. 23andMe is focused on medical research with partners who pay 23andMe for the DNA data of customers who opt-in, as does Ancestry.

Both Ancestry and MyHeritage provide subscription services for genealogy records.

FamilyTreeDNA is part of a larger company, GenebyGene whose genetics labs do processing for other companies and medical facilities.

A huge thank you to both MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA for NOT reducing services to customers in 2020.

Scientific Research Still Critical & Pushes Frontiers

Now that DNA testing has become a commodity, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that DNA testing is still a scientific endeavor that requires research to continue to move forward.

I’m still passionate about research after 20 years – maybe even more so now because there’s so much promise.

Research bleeds over into the consumer marketplace where products are improved and new features created allowing us to better track and understand our ancestors through their DNA that we and our family members inherit.

Here are a few of the research articles I published in 2020. You might notice a theme here – ancient DNA. What we can learn now due to new processing techniques is absolutely amazing. Labs can share files and information, providing the ability to “reprocess” the data, not the DNA itself, as more information and expertise becomes available.

Of course, in addition to this research, the Million Mito Project team is hard at work rewriting the tree of womankind.

If you’d like to participate, all you need to do is to either purchase a full sequence mitochondrial DNA kit at FamilyTreeDNA, or upgrade to the full sequence if you tested at a lower level previously.

Predictions

Predictions are risky business, but let me give it a shot.

Looking back a year, Covid wasn’t on the radar.

Looking back 5 years, neither Genetic Affairs nor DNAPainter were yet on the scene. DNAAdoption had just been formed in 2014 and DNAGedcom which was born out of DNAAdoption didn’t yet exist.

In other words, the most popular tools today didn’t exist yet.

GEDmatch, founded in 2010 by genealogists for genealogists was 5 years old, but was sold in December 2019 to Verogen.

We were begging Ancestry for a chromosome browser, and while we’ve pretty much given up beating them, because the horse is dead and they can sell DNA kits through ads focused elsewhere, that doesn’t mean genealogists still don’t need/want chromosome and segment based tools. Why, you’d think that Ancestry really doesn’t want us to break through those brick walls. That would be very bizarre, because every brick wall that falls reveals two more ancestors that need to be researched and spurs a frantic flurry of midnight searching. If you’re laughing right now, you know exactly what I mean!

Of course, if Ancestry provided a chromosome browser, it would cost development money for no additional revenue and their customer service reps would have to be able to support it. So from Ancestry’s perspective, there’s no good reason to provide us with that tool when they can sell kits without it. (Sigh.)

I’m not surprised by the management shift at Ancestry, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see several big players go public in the next decade, if not the next five years.

As companies increase in value, the number of private individuals who could afford to purchase the company decreases quickly, leaving private corporations as the only potential buyers, or becoming publicly held. Sometimes, that’s a good thing because investment dollars are infused into new product development.

What we desperately need, and I predict will happen one way or another is a marriage of individual tools and functions that exist separately today, with a dash of innovation. We need tools that will move beyond confirming existing ancestors – and will be able to identify ancestors through our DNA – out beyond each and every brick wall.

If a tester’s DNA matches to multiple people in a group descended from a particular previously unknown couple, and the timing and geography fits as well, that provides genealogical researchers with the hint they need to begin excavating the traditional records, looking for a connection.

In fact, this is exactly what happened with mitochondrial DNA – twice now. A match and a great deal of digging by one extremely persistent cousin resulting in identifying potential parents for a brick-wall ancestor. Autosomal DNA then confirmed that my DNA matched with 59 other individuals who descend from that couple through multiple children.

BUT, we couldn’t confirm those ancestors using autosomal DNA UNTIL WE HAD THE NAMES of the couple. DNA has the potential to reveal those names!

I wrote about that in Mitochondrial DNA Bulldozes Brick Wall and will be discussing it further in my RootsTech presentation.

The Challenge

We have most of the individual technology pieces today to get this done. Of course, the combined technological solution would require significant computing resources and processing power – just at the same time that vendors are desperately trying to pare costs to a minimum.

Some vendors simply aren’t interested, as I’ve already noted.

However, the winner, other than us genealogists, of course, will be the vendor who can either devise solutions or partner with others to create the right mix of tools that will combine matching, triangulation, and trees of your matches to each other, even if you don’t’ share a common ancestor.

We need to follow the DNA past the current end of the branch of our tree.

Each triangulated segment has an individual history that will lead not just to known ancestors, but to their unknown ancestors as well. We have reached critical mass in terms of how many people have tested – and more success would encourage more and more people to test.

There is a genetic path over every single brick wall in our genealogy.

Yes, I know that’s a bold statement. It’s not future Jetson’s flying-cars stuff. It’s doable – but it’s a matter of commitment, investment money, and finding a way to recoup that investment.

I don’t think it’s possible for the one-time purchase of a $39-$99 DNA test, especially when it’s not a loss-leader for something else like a records or data subscription (MyHeritage and Ancestry) or a medical research partnership (Ancestry and 23andMe.)

We’re performing these analysis processes manually and piecemeal today. It’s extremely inefficient and labor-intensive – which is why it often fails. People give up. And the process is painful, even when it does succeed.

This process has also been made increasingly difficult when some vendors block tools that help genealogists by downloading match and ancestral tree information. Before Ancestry closed access, I was creating theories based on common ancestors in my matches trees that weren’t in mine – then testing those theories both genetically (clusters, AutoTrees and ThruLines) and also by digging into traditional records to search for the genetic connection.

For example, I’m desperate to identify the parents of my James Lee Clarkson/Claxton, so I sorted my spreadsheet by surname and began evaluating everyone who had a Clarkson/Claxton in their tree in the 1700s in Virginia or North Carolina. But I can’t do that anymore now, either with a third-party tool or directly at Ancestry. Twenty million DNA kits sold for a minimum of $79 equals more than 1.5 billion dollars. Obviously, the issue here is not a lack of funds.

Including Y and mitochondrial DNA resources in our genetic toolbox not only confirms accuracy but also provides additional hints and clues.

Sometimes we start with Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA, and wind up using autosomal and sometimes the reverse. These are not competing products. It’s not either/or – it’s *and*.

Personally, I don’t expect the vendors to provide this game-changing complex functionality for free. I would be glad to pay for a subscription for top-of-the-line innovation and tools. In what other industry do consumers expect to pay for an item once and receive constant life-long innovations and upgrades? That doesn’t happen with software, phones nor with automobiles. I want vendors to be profitable so that they can invest in new tools that leverage the power of computing for genealogists to solve currently unsolvable problems.

Every single end-of-line ancestor in your tree represents a brick wall you need to overcome.

If you compare the cost of books, library visits, courthouse trips, and other research endeavors that often produce exactly nothing, these types of genetic tools would be both a godsend and an incredible value.

That’s it.

That’s the challenge, a gauntlet of sorts.

Who’s going to pick it up?

I can’t answer that question, but I can say that 23andMe can’t do this without supporting extensive trees, and Ancestry has shown absolutely no inclination to support segment data. You can’t achieve this goal without segment information or without trees.

Among the current players, that leaves two DNA testing companies and a few top-notch third parties as candidates – although – as the past has proven, the future is uncertain, fluid, and everchanging.

It will be interesting to see what I’m writing at the end of 2025, or maybe even at the end of 2021.

Stay tuned.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Books

Y DNA Resources and Repository

I’ve created a Y DNA resource page with the information in this article, here, as a permanent location where you can find Y DNA information in one place – including:

  • Step-by-step guides about how to utilize Y DNA for your genealogy
  • Educational articles and links to the latest webinars
  • Articles about the science behind Y DNA
  • Ancient DNA
  • Success stories

Please feel free to share this resource or any of the links to individual articles with friends, genealogy groups, or on social media.

If you haven’t already taken a Y DNA test, and you’re a male (only males have a Y chromosome,) you can order one here. If you also purchase the Family Finder, autosomal test, those results can be used to search together.

What is Y DNA?

Y DNA is passed directly from fathers to their sons, as illustrated by the blue arrow, above. Daughters do not inherit the Y chromosome. The Y chromosome is what makes males, male.

Every son receives a Y chromosome from his father, who received it from his father, and so forth, on up the direct patrilineal line.

Comparatively, mitochondrial DNA, the pink arrow, is received by both sexes of children from the mother through the direct matrilineal line.

Autosomal DNA, the green arrow, is a combination of randomly inherited DNA from many ancestors that is inherited by both sexes of children from both parents. This article explains a bit more.

Y DNA has Unique Properties

The Y chromosome is never admixed with DNA from the mother, so the Y chromosome that the son receives is identical to the father’s Y chromosome except for occasional minor mutations that take place every few generations.

This lack of mixture with the mother’s DNA plus the occasional mutation is what makes the Y chromosome similar enough to match against other men from the same ancestors for hundreds or thousands of years back in time, and different enough to be useful for genealogy. The mutations can be tracked within extended families.

In western cultures, the Y chromosome path of inheritance is usually the same as the surname, which means that the Y chromosome is uniquely positioned to identify the direct biological patrilineal lineage of males.

Two different types of Y DNA tests can be ordered that work together to refine Y DNA results and connect testers to other men with common ancestors.

FamilyTreeDNA provides STR tests with their 37, 67 and 111 marker test panels, and comprehensive STR plus SNP testing with their Big Y-700 test.

click to enlarge

STR markers are used for genealogy matching, while SNP markers work with STR markers to refine genealogy further, plus provide a detailed haplogroup.

Think of a haplogroup as a genetic clan that tells you which genetic family group you belong to – both today and historically, before the advent of surnames.

This article, What is a Haplogroup? explains the basic concept of how haplogroups are determined.

In addition to the Y DNA test itself, Family Tree DNA provides matching to other testers in their database plus a group of comprehensive tools, shown on the dashboard above, to help testers utilize their results to their fullest potential.

You can order or upgrade a Y DNA test, here. If you also purchase the Family Finder, autosomal test, those results can be used to search together.

Step-by-Step – Using Your Y DNA Results

Let’s take a look at all of the features, functions, and tools that are available on your FamilyTreeDNA personal page.

What do those words mean? Here you go!

Come along while I step through evaluating Big Y test results.

Big Y Testing and Results

Why would you want to take a Big Y test and how can it help you?

While the Big Y-500 has been superseded by the Big Y-700 test today, you will still be interested in some of the underlying technology. STR matching still works the same way.

The Big Y-500 provided more than 500 STR markers and the Big Y-700 provides more than 700 – both significantly more than the 111 panel. The only way to receive these additional markers is by purchasing the Big Y test.

I have to tell you – I was skeptical when the Big Y-700 was introduced as the next step above the Big Y-500. I almost didn’t upgrade any kits – but I’m so very glad that I did. I’m not skeptical anymore.

This Y DNA tree rocks. A new visual format with your matches listed on their branches. Take a look!

Educational Articles

I’ve been writing about DNA for years and have selected several articles that you may find useful.

What kinds of information are available if you take a Y DNA test, and how can you use it for genealogy?

What if your father isn’t available to take a DNA test? How can you determine who else to test that will reveal your father’s Y DNA information?

Family Tree DNA shows the difference in the number of mutations between two men as “genetic distance.” Learn what that means and how it’s figured in this article.

Of course, there were changes right after I published the original Genetic Distance article. The only guarantees in life are death, taxes, and that something will change immediately after you publish.

Sometimes when we take DNA tests, or others do, we discover the unexpected. That’s always a possibility. Here’s the story of my brother who wasn’t my biological brother. If you’d like to read more about Dave’s story, type “Dear Dave” into the search box on my blog. Read the articles in publication order, and not without a box of Kleenex.

Often, what surprise matches mean is that you need to dig further.

The words paternal and patrilineal aren’t the same thing. Paternal refers to the paternal half of your family, where patrilineal is the direct father to father line.

Just because you don’t have any surname matches doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because of what you’re thinking.

Short tandem repeats (STRs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) aren’t the same thing and are used differently in genealogy.

Piecing together your ancestor’s Y DNA from descendants.

Haplogroups are something like our pedigree charts.

What does it mean when you have a zero for a marker value?

There’s more than one way to break down that brick wall. Here’s how I figured out which of 4 sons was my ancestor.

Just because you match the right line autosomally doesn’t mean it’s because you descend from the male child you think is your ancestor. Females gave their surnames to children born outside of a legal marriage which can lead to massive confusion. This is absolutely why you need to test the Y DNA of every single ancestral line.

When the direct patrilineal line isn’t the line you’re expecting.

You can now tell by looking at the flags on the haplotree where other people’s ancestral lines on your branch are from. This is especially useful if you’ve taken the Big Y test and can tell you if you’re hunting in the right location.

If you’re just now testing or tested in 2018 or after, you don’t need to read this article unless you’re interested in the improvements to the Big Y test over the years.

2019 was a banner year for discovery. 2020 was even more so, keeping up an amazing pace. I need to write a 2020 update article.

What is a terminal SNP? Hint – it’s not fatal😊

How the TIP calculator works and how to best interpret the results. Note that this tool is due for an update that incorporates more markers and SNP results too.

You can view the location of the Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA ancestors of people whose ethnicity you match.

Tools and Techniques

This free public tree is amazing, showing locations of each haplogroup and totals by haplogroup and country, including downstream branches.

Need to search for and find Y DNA candidates when you don’t know anyone from that line? Here’s how.

Yes, it’s still possible to resolve this issue using autosomal DNA. Non-matching Y DNA isn’t the end of the road, just a fork.

Science Meets Genealogy – Including Ancient DNA

Haplogroup C was an unexpected find in the Americas and reaches into South America.

Haplogroup C is found in several North American tribes.

Haplogroup C is found as far east as Nova Scotia.

Test by test, we made progress.

New testers, new branches. The research continues.

The discovery of haplogroup A00 was truly amazing when it occurred – the base of the phylotree in Africa.

The press release about the discovery of haplogroup A00.

In 2018, a living branch of A00 was discovered in Africa, and in 2020, an ancient DNA branch.

Did you know that haplogroups weren’t always known by their SNP names?

This brought the total of SNPs discovered by Family Tree DNA in mid-2018 to 153,000. I should contact the Research Center to see how many they have named at the end of 2020.

An academic paper split ancient haplogroup D, but then the phylogenetic research team at FamilyTreeDNA split it twice more! This might not sound exciting until you realize this redefines what we know about early man, in Africa and as he emerged from Africa.

Ancient DNA splits haplogroup P after analyzing the remains of two Jehai people from West Malaysia.

For years I doubted Kennewick Man’s DNA would ever be sequenced, but it finally was. Kennewick Man’s mitochondrial DNA haplogroup is X2a and his Y DNA was confirmed to Q-M3 in 2015.

Compare your own DNA to Vikings!

Twenty-seven Icelandic Viking skeletons tell a very interesting story.

Irish ancestors? Check your DNA and see if you match.

Ancestors from Hungary or Italy? Take a look. These remains have matches to people in various places throughout Europe.

The Y DNA story is no place near finished. Dr. Miguel Vilar, former Lead Scientist for National Geographic’s Genographic Project provides additional analysis and adds a theory.

Webinars

Y DNA Webinar at Legacy Family Tree Webinars – a 90-minute webinar for those who prefer watching to learn! It’s not free, but you can subscribe here.

Success Stories and Genealogy Discoveries

Almost everyone has their own Y DNA story of discovery. Because the Y DNA follows the surname line, Y DNA testing often helps push those lines back a generation, or two, or four. When STR markers fail to be enough, we can turn to the Big Y-700 test which provides SNP markers down to the very tip of the leaves in the Y DNA tree. Often, but not always, family-defining SNP branches will occur which are much more stable and reliable than STR mutations – although SNPs and STRs should be used together.

Methodologies to find ancestral lines to test, or maybe descendants who have already tested.

DNA testing reveals an unexpected mystery several hundred years old.

When I write each of my “52 Ancestor” stories, I include genetic information, for the ancestor and their descendants, when I can. Jacob was special because, in addition to being able to identify his autosomal DNA, his Y DNA matches the ancient DNA of the Yamnaya people. You can read about his Y DNA story in Jakob Lenz (1748-1821), Vinedresser.

Please feel free to add your success stories in the comments.

What About You?

You never know what you’re going to discover when you test your Y DNA. If you’re a female, you’ll need to find a male that descends from the line you want to test via all males to take the Y DNA test on your behalf. Of course, if you want to test your father’s line, your father, or a brother through that father, or your uncle, your father’s brother, would be good candidates.

What will you be able to discover? Who will the earliest known ancestor with that same surname be among your matches? Will you be able to break down a long-standing brick wall? You’ll never know if you don’t test.

You can click here to upgrade an existing test or order a Y DNA test.

Share the Love

You can always forward these articles to friends or share by posting links on social media. Who do you know that might be interested?

_____________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Books

10 Ways I Wish I Had Organized My Research Library

library.png

No, I don’t quite have that many books – it just feels that way. Nor are my books that neatly organized, believe me. In fact, that’s the problem.

My organizational lament isn’t so much about the physical locations of my books, but about the organizational tools and methods of finding the correct book when I need it. I know I’m missing things in my research as a result.

Let me explain.

My bookshelves today are organized by county and state, sort of. Keep in mind that I’ve been accumulating books and resources for decades, and I’ve moved during this period, more than once.

Accumulation over time tends to outgrow the originally allotted space. And no, Marie Kondo and books should not even be in the same article. ALL of my books bring me joy – and that’s that.

However, organizing books usefully for genealogy research has been challenging. How is “usefully for genealogy research” defined? Genealogy is in some ways different than library systems and books for pleasure reading.

Let’s take a look.

My Library

To begin with, genealogists often deal with published resources that aren’t published in the traditional manner.

This is (a small) part of my area for Tennessee county records.

library spiral.png

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to shelve or even see the names of spiral bound resources. I also ran out of space, so some books are stacked on top of others. Notice how few names I can see.

library 3 ring.png

Then of course, those 3-ring binders. Real libraries don’t have to deal with 3-ring binders either, but they are an organizational staple for genealogists.

I have bookshelves, but not enough shelf space. Who does?? Some things that probably belong in spiral binders are in filing cabinets, and vice versa. I actually Marie Kondoed something and threw away the printed 1790 NC census (yes, seriously) because it’s available online in lots of places.

My shelving resources were not all created at the same time. It’s kind of like a house that has been added onto for years. I did not redo my shelving plan with each addition. I just started using the added shelf space. So some things are in separate rooms from others. These county and state resources are intermixed.

library place books.png

Another problem is that some books have information that doesn’t really “go” in any one place. For example, the Virginia records could have information for many families and counties. How do I remember to check them for each family that they might/would pertain to?

Some books are even less specific – about Native American, Acadian or Scotch-Irish people, or women of a particular genre. And what is “Lethal Encounters” about, anyway? If I take it off the shelf to look, I may get nothing else done for the rest of the day.

library leftovers.png

Now add into that mixture technical and academic papers about genetics, labels that fell off, misfiled resources (why is Tinkling Springs in with the haplogroup binders?), ebooks that I own but are not on a shelf and therefore, easy to lose or forget about, papers on my computer along with physical overflow – and I’m sunk.

Yes, ahem, I do have two copies of the same book in those pictures. I just noticed. Another reason why I need a better system and to check it before I make purchases.

I know I should be embarrassed to even publish these pictures – but it’s the truth and I’d wager every one of you has something similar.

And I haven’t even gotten to that thing called pleasure reading. Those books are overflowing off of a different shelf in another room with little organization other than by general topic. For the most part, I haven’t touched them with the exception of historical stories, including novels, especially juicy ones. My pleasure reading tends to be something about my ancestors or genetics although I have a shelf full of good intentions.

My Solution

Several years ago, I paid one of my college-student offspring to help me set up a spreadsheet to track my holdings. You can use Excel in MSWord or if you have a Google account, Sheets is free under Google Docs.

Library Docs.png

Library Sheets.png

That student-labor approach worked great for a while, at least until said child no longer needed extra income. The project wasn’t complete, and I didn’t complete or continue the project myself. My bad. I’d rather work on genealogy, genetics or write blog articles.

Library spreadsheet.png

As you can see, this spreadsheet is a good start. Because it’s in spreadsheet format, it’s sortable. This helps immensely, but I’ve discovered it’s not enough.

What I Wish I Had Done

  1. I actually wish I had numbered the books and numbered the shelves too. In essence, similar to a library system, just not as complex. Then the books could be assigned to a shelf and I would know where to look for them. You might notice that I have a general location, but nothing more. If I knew where to look, even if the book was spiral bound, I’d see that in a note, know what I was looking for, and find the location between the shelf number and county affiliation or topic.
  2. I wish I had added a column for geography, probably counties, that the resource pertains to. I could add several in one cell, but that means I’d have to search, not sort, for the county name, like Wilkes, North Carolina. The state would need to be a second column, because county names repeat between states.
  3. Another alternative, of course, would be to work with a database instead of a spreadsheet because databases allow multiple entries for a single field. I could have Wilkes, Ashe, Surry and several more counties and states for a single book. In a different spreadsheet for another topic, I entered a duplicate row for each separate resource. In this case, I would have the book entered once for Wilkes County and once for Ashe County, which negates the need for a database in a bit of a clunky way.
  4. I wish I had added a column for the surname lines that each resource would or might pertain to in my genealogy. For example, I have several surnames in the same county, because that’s what happens when your ancestors stay in the same place for a few generations. When I discover a new surname, or need to recheck something, I need to be able to find the resources that are available for that location, and then add the new surname to all books that could be useful for that ancestral line.
  5. I wish I had added a column to track which resources I’ve used for a particular surname and person. For example, did I search in the 1787 Lunenburg County census for all of the surnames and people, or do I need to review that resources for people I’ve found more recently?
  6. I wish I had recorded when I added that resource to my library which might help me remember who I have and have not used it for.
  7. I have not added any resources that I don’t own, but that are available for counties elsewhere. I use FamilySearch and FamilySearch wiki for county information, but it’s not complete. Generally, it also doesn’t list more general resources that might pertain to that county. For example, I just discovered transcribed court notes for Wilkes County on Lulu.com. Now I need to search at Lulu for all of the rest of my research counties and surnames. Who knew?
  8. I wish I had made notes. For example, what exactly is “The 10,000 Year Explosion” about, and how might it pertain to my research, either genealogy or anthropological? I don’t remember if I read it.
  9. I need to add a disposition (de-accessioning) field. Yes, although the thought is traumatizing for me, I will be passing some books on before I pass on, hopefully, and have already begun that process. I need to know when the books left and who they are now living with. Having said that, it might be nice to note where I got the book in the first place and how much it cost. I do have a few rare books and some that are first edition signed collectors’ items. I fear those being sold at a garage sale after my death for a dime. (I think I might have an unnatural attachment to my books😊)
  10. The ever-changing DNA testing landscape and multiple (kinds of) tests providing DNA matches from multiple vendors needs to be recorded, somehow, as a resource too. For example, did I search for a Y DNA tester for my John Combs (1705-1762) line? If so, are they in the Combs surname project at Family Tree DNA? Did I send an Ancestry or MyHeritage message to someone to see if they would take a DNA test, or about their results? Have I used DNAGedcom.com to search for specific target surnames in my match list or GeneticAffairs to look for ancestral clusters? You get the idea.

DNA is a resource by line, surname, individual ancestor, both known and unknown, as well as location because sometimes that’s all we have to work with. I actually have two separate spreadsheets for DNA which I’ll share in a separate article – but DNA results are also a research resource that needs to be tracked along with various tools applied, and when.

What Have You Done?

Have you addressed this research organization problem, and if so, how?

What resources are you using?

What works for you, what didn’t, and why?

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Share the Love

You can always forward these articles to friends or share by posting links on social media. Who do you know that might be interested?

______________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

  • Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items

DNA Day 2020: 9 Great Ways to Celebrate an Amazing 20-Year Journey

DNA Day 2020.jpg

DNA Day 2020, celebrated officially on April 25th, is a “big deal” anniversary for genetic genealogy.

In the Beginning – Family Tree DNA 

It was 20 years ago that Family Tree DNA was born and began doing business – in collaboration with Dr. Michael Hammer whose lab ran the DNA samples at the University of Arizona.

Bennett Greenspan, a genealogist and entrepreneur teamed up with his business partner, Max Blankfeld, and launched Family Tree DNA, never no idea, of course, what their startup would one day become. That would have required a crystal ball.

Bennett just wanted to solve his own genealogy brick wall and knew that Y DNA had been used to prove, or disprove, a patrilineal genetic relationship between 2 men with the same or similar surnames.

Dr. Hammer, who was weary of calls from genealogists asking for exactly that, said to Bennett, “You know, someone should start a company doing DNA testing for genealogy.” What fateful words those turned out to be.

Family Tree DNA went from being a business run from a cellphone out of the spare bedroom to a multi-national company, now one of four subsidiary businesses under the Gene by Gene umbrella. Gene by Gene owns a 10-story building that includes a world-class genetics lab, the Genomics Research Center, in Houston, Texas.

FTDNA sign crop

Never doubt the ability of passion and persistence.

And never, ever, doubt a genealogist.

That First 12-Marker Test

In March 2000, Family Tree DNA began offering the then-revolutionary 12-marker Y DNA test, the genesis of what would progress to 25, then 37, 67, 111 and now the Big Y-700 test. The Big Y-700 offers more 700+ STR markers along with a research-grade SNP test providing testers with the very latest haplogroup information. This level of sophistication and testing wasn’t even dreamed-of 20 years ago. The human genome hadn’t even been fully sequenced, and wouldn’t be until April 2003. DNA Day is celebrated in April to commemorate that event.

That 12-marker Y DNA test was revolutionary, even though it was a but a baby-step by today’s standards. Consumer Y DNA testing had never been done before, and was the first step in a journey I could never have imagined. The butterfly effect in action.

I didn’t know I had embarked when I pushed off from that shore.😊

That journey of 10,000 miles and 20 years had to start someplace.

The Journey Begins

Twenty years ago, I heard a rumor about a company testing the Y chromosome of men for genealogy. Suspecting that it was a scam, I called Family Tree DNA and spoke with Bennett, expecting something quite different than what transpired.

I discovered a genealogist who understood my problem, explained how the technology had solved the same quandary for him, and how Y DNA testing worked for genealogy. Y DNA could help me solve my problem too, even though I didn’t have a Y chromosome. Bennett even offered to help me if I needed assistance.

An hour later, I had ordered five tests for Estes men who I knew would jump at this opportunity to prove they all descended from a common progenitor.

Along with Bennett, and other genealogists with similar quests, I now had permission to dream – and to push the limits.

I Had a Dream

I dreamed that one day I could prove even more.

Where did my Estes ancestors come from?

Did all of the Estes men in the US descend from one line? Were they from the Eastes line in Kent, England? We would discover that both of the Estes immigrant lines, indeed, did hail from the same ancestor in Deal, England.

Were those much-loved and oft-repeated rumors true?

Before arriving as fishermen on coastal England, did the Estes family actually descend from an illegitimate son of the wealthy House of Este, hailing from Padua, Italy?

The family had spent decades chasing rumors and speculating, even visiting Italy. Finally, science would answer those questions – or at least that potential existed. At long last, we had an amazing opportunity!

Bennett explained that surname projects existed in order to group men who shared a common surname, and hopefully a common ancestor too, together. I formed the Estes DNA Project and mailed those fateful DNA kits to 5 of my male Estes cousins who were genealogists and chomping at the bit to answer those questions.

I began educating myself, adding genetics to my genealogical arsenal.

In future years, I would push, or perhaps “encourage” Bennett to expand testing, harder and faster than he sometimes wanted to be pushed.

I had fallen in love with discovery.

Dr. Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza

While we were able to confirm that the Estes men descended from a common ancestor in England, we could not find anyone to test from the d’Este line out of Italy.

I knew that Dr. Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, hailed as the father of population genetics, had done a significant amount of testing in Italy where he had begun his career, before retiring from Stanford in 1992. I had read his books – all of them.

Frustrated, I was hopeful that if I contacted Dr. Cavalli-Sforza, he might be able to compare the Estes DNA to Y DNA samples in his lab that he might have from earlier genetics studies.

If Bennett Greenspan could ask Dr. Michael Hammer at the University of Arizona, I could ask Dr. Luigi Cavalli-Sforza. Made perfect sense to me. The worst that could happen was that he might ignore me or say no. But he didn’t.

Dr. Cavalli-Sforza was very kind and engaged in discussion, explaining that no, he did not know of any males descended from the d’Este line, and no, he did not have a representative sample of Y DNA from that region of Italy. He indicated that I needed far more than he had.

We discussed what level of sampling would be required to create a survey of the Y DNA from the region to see if the Estes Y DNA was even of the type that might be found in Italy. If we were incredibly lucky, he opined, we might, just might, find a match.

In his early 80s at the time, Dr. Cavalli-Sforza was interested, engaging and sharp as a tack.

After several back-and-forth emails, we determined that I didn’t have the resources to recruit and fund the research which would have been significantly more expensive than consumer testing at Family Tree DNA. I had hoped for academic funding.

We both wondered aloud how long it would take, if ever, for there to be enough testing to reasonably compare the Estes Y DNA to other males from Italy in a meaningful way. Neither of us anticipated the DNA testing explosion that would follow.

I didn’t appreciate at the time how fortunate I was to be having these discussions with Dr. Cavalli-Sforza – an iconic giant in this field. We all stand upon his shoulders. Luigi was willing to speculate and be proven wrong, a great academic risk, because he understood that push-and-pull process was the only way to refine our knowledge and discover the truth. He will never know how much our conversations inspired and encouraged me to forge ahead into uncharted waters as well.

Dr. Cavalli-Sforza passed away in 2018 at the age of 96. He altered the trajectory of my life, and if you’re reading this, he changed yours too.

Estes Answers

The answers didn’t arrive all at once. In fact they dribbled in little by little – but they did arrive – which would never have happened if the necessary people hadn’t tested.

The Italy DNA Project didn’t exist twenty years ago. Looking at the results today, it’s evident that the majority of the results are haplogroups J and E, with a smattering of R.

My Estes cousins’ Y DNA doesn’t match anyone remotely connected with Italy, either utilizing STR markers for genealogical matches nor the Big Y-700 matches for deeper haplogroup matching.

That, combined with the fact that the wealthy illegitimate d’Este son in question “disappeared” into Europe, leaving a gap in time before our poor mariner Estes family emerged in the records in England made it extremely unlikely that there is any shred of truth in that rumor.

However, the d’Este male line does still exist in the European Royal House of Hanover, in the person of Ernst August, Prince of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg, husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco. Ernst is a direct descendant of Albert Azzo I d’Este, born about 970, so there’s actually hope that eventually, we will actually know what the real d’Este Y DNA looks like, assuming no biological break in the line. As of 2017, the Hanover line has not been tested.

While Ernst is in poor health today, he does have two sons to carry on the Y DNA genetic line.

9 Great Ways to Celebrate DNA Day

We have so very much to celebrate today. DNA testing for genealogy has become a juggernaut. Twenty years ago, we had to recruit people of the same surname to test or realize our wait might be forever – that’s not the case today.

Today, upwards of 30 million people have tested – and probably significantly more.

The Big Y test, born two decades ago of that 12 marker test, now scans millions of DNA locations and provides testing and matching in both the genealogical and historical timeframes, as does the mitochondrial full sequence test. In February, The Million Mito Project was launched, a science initiative to rewrite the tree of womankind.

We’ve made incredible, undreamed-of strides. We haven’t just “moved the ball,” we kicked it out of the ballpark and around the world.

Here are some fun and beneficial ways you can celebrate DNA Day!

  • If you’ve already tested, or you manage kits for others who have – check your results. You never know what might be waiting for you. Be sure to click on trees, look at locations and do the genealogy work yourself to extend trees back in time if necessary.
  • Upload your tree to DNA testing sites to help others connect to your genealogy. If we all upload trees, everyone has a better and more productive experience. If a match doesn’t have a tree, contact them, ask and explain why it’s beneficial.
  • Join relevant projects at Family Tree DNA (click myProjects on top of your dashboard page), such as surname projects, haplogroup projects, geographic projects (like Italy), and special interest projects (like American Indian.)
  • Purchase a mitochondrial DNA upgrade to the full sequence level for only $79 if you’re already tested at the HVR1 or HVR2 level. Not only does the full sequence test provide you with your full haplogroup and more refined matching, it helps advance science too through The Million Mito Project. Click here to sign in and upgrade by clicking on the shopping cart or the mtFull icon.

dna day 2020 mtdna.png

  • Test your mitochondrial DNA, your mother’s mother’s mother’s direct line for only $139 for the full sequence test. Should I tell you that this test cost $900 when I first ordered mine? $139 is an absolutely amazing price. I wrote step-by-step instructions for how to use your mitochondrial results, here. Click here to order your test.

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Today, we have the opportunity to document history in ways never before possible.

Celebrate DNA Day by finding your ancestors!

_____________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

  • Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items

DNA Testing Sales Decline: Reason and Reasons

If you’re involved in genetic genealogy, you’ve probably noticed the recent announcements by both 23andMe and Ancestry relative to workforce layoffs as a result of declining sales.

Layoffs

In January, 23andMe announced that it was laying off 100 people which equated to 14% of its staff.

Following suit, Ancestry this week announced that they are laying off 100 people, 6% of their work force. They discuss their way forward, here.

One shift of this type can be a blip, but two tends to attract attention because it *could* indicate a trend. Accordingly, several articles have been written about possible reasons why this might be occurring. You can read what TechCrunch says here, Business Insider here, and The Verge, here.

Depending on who you talk to and that person’s perspective, the downturn is being attributed to:

  • Market Saturation
  • No Repeat Sales
  • Privacy Concerns
  • FAD Over

Ok, So What’s Happening?

Between Ancestry and 23andMe alone, more than 26 million DNA tests have been sold, without counting the original DNA testing company, FamilyTreeDNA along with MyHeritage who probably have another 4 or 5 million between them.

Let’s say that’s a total of 30 million people in DNA databases that offer matching. The total population of the US is estimated to be about 329 million, including children, which means that one person in 10 or 11 people in the US has now tested. Of course, DNA testing reaches worldwide, but it’s an interesting comparison indicating how widespread DNA testing has become overall.

This slowing of new sales shouldn’t really surprise anyone. In July 2019, Illumina, the chip maker who supplies equipment and supplies to the majority of the consumer DNA testing industry said that the market was softening after a drop in their 2019 second quarter revenue.

Also last year, Ancestry and MyHeritage both announced health products, a move which would potentially generate a repeat sale from someone who has already tested their DNA for genealogy purposes. I suspected at the time this might be either a pre-emptive strike, or in response to slowed sales.

In November 2019, Family Tree DNA announced an extensive high-end health test through Tovana which tests the entire Exome, the portion of our DNA useful for medical and health analysis.

In a sense, this health focus too is trendy, but moves away from genealogy into an untapped area.

23andMe who, according to their website, has obtained $791 million in venture capital or equity funding has always been focused on medical research. In July of 2018 GlaxoSmithKline infused $300 million into 23andMe in exchange for access to DNA results of their 5 million customers who have opted-in to medical research, according to Genengnews. If you divide the 300 million investment by 5 million opted-in customers, 23andMe received $60 per DNA kit.

That 5 million number is low though, based on other statements by 23andMe which suggests they have 10 million total customers, 80% of which opt-in for medical research. That would be a total of 8 million DNA results available to investors.

Divide $791 million by 8 million kits and 23andMe, over the years, has received roughly $99 for each customer who has opted in to research.

We know who Ancestry has partnered with for research, but not how much Ancestry has received.

There’s very big money, huge money, in collaborating with Big Pharma and others. Given the revenue potential, it’s amazing that the other two vendors, Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage, haven’t followed suit, but they haven’t.

Additionally, in January, 23andMe sold the rights to a new drug it developed in-house as a potential treatment for inflammatory diseases for a reported (but unconfirmed by 23andMe) $5 million.

It’s ironic that two companies who just announced layoffs are the two who have partnered to sell access to their opted-in customers’ DNA results.

My Thoughts

I’ve been asked several times about my thoughts on this shift within the industry. I have refrained from saying much, because I think there has been way too much “hair on fire” clickbait reporting that is fanning the flames of fear, not only in the customer base, but in general.

I am sharing my thoughts, and while they are not entirely positive, in that there is clearly room for improvement, I want to emphasize that I am very upbeat about this industry as a whole, and this article ends very positively with suggestions for exactly that – so please read through.

Regardless of why, fewer new people are testing which of course results in fewer sales, and fewer new matches for us.

My suspicion is that each of the 4 reasons given above is accurate to some extent, and the cumulative effect plus a couple of other factors is the reason we’re seeing the downturn.

Let’s take a look at each one.

Market Saturation

Indeed, we’ve come a very long way from the time when DNA was a verboten topic on the old RootsWeb mailing lists and boards.

Early DNA adopters back then were accused of “cheating,” and worse. Our posts were deleted immediately. How times have changed!

As the technology matured, 23andMe began offering autosomal testing accompanied by cousin matching.

Ancestry initially stepped into the market with Y and mitochondrial DNA testing, but ultimately destroyed that database which included Y and mitochondrial DNA results from Relative Genetics, a company they had previously acquired. People in those databases, as well as who had irreplaceable samples in Sorenson, which Ancestry also purchased and subsequently took offline permanently have never forgotten.

Those genealogists have probably since tested at Ancestry, but they may be more inclined to test the rest of their family at places like Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage who have chromosome browsers and tools that support more serious researchers.

I think a contributing factor is that fewer “serious genealogists” are coming up in the ranks. The perception that all you need to do is enter a couple of generations and click on a few leaves, and you’re “done” misleads people as to the complexity and work involved in genealogical research. Not to mention how many of those hints are inaccurate and require analysis.

Having said that, I view each one of these people who are encouraged for the first time by an ad, even if it is misleading in its simplicity, as a potential candidate. We were all baby genealogists once, and some of us stayed for reasons known only to us. Maybe we have the genealogy gene😊

But yes, I would agree that the majority, by far, of serious genealogists have already tested someplace. What they have not done universally is transferred from 23andMe and Ancestry to the other companies that can help them, such as MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA and GEDmatch. If they had, the customer numbers at those companies would be higher. We all need to fish in every pond.

Advertising and Ethnicity

The DNA ads over the last few years have focused almost exclusively on ethnicity – the least reliable aspect of genetic genealogy – but also the “easiest” to understand if a customer takes their ethnicity percentages at face value. And of course, every consumer that purchases a test as a result of one of these ads does exactly that – spits or swabs, mails and opens their results to see what they “are” – full of excited anticipation.

Many people have absolutely no idea there’s more, like cousin matching – and many probably wouldn’t care.

The buying public who purchases due to these ads are clearly not early adopters, and most likely are not genealogists. One can hope that at least a few of them get hooked as a result, or at least enter a minimal tree.

Unfortunately, of the two companies experiencing layoffs, only Ancestry supports trees. Genealogy revolves around trees, pure and simple.

23andMe has literally had years to do so and has refused to natively support trees. Their FamilySearch link is not the same as supporting trees and tree matching. Their attempt at creating a genetic tree is laudable and has potential, but it’s not something that can be translated into a genealogical benefit for most people. I’m guessing that there aren’t any genealogists working for 23andMe, or they aren’t “heard” amid the vervre surrounding medical research.

All told, I’m not surprised that the two companies who are experiencing the layoffs are the two companies whose ads we saw most often focused on ethnicity, especially Ancestry. Who can forget the infamous kilt/leiderhosen ad that Ancestry ran? I still cringe.

Many people who test for ethnicity never sign on again – especially if they are unhappy with the results.

Ancestry and 23andMe spent a lot on ad campaigns, ramped up for the resulting sales, but now the ads are less effective, so not being run as much or at all. Sales are down. Who’s to say which came first, the chicken (fewer ads) or the egg (lower sales.)

This leads us to the next topic, add on sales.

No Repeat Sales

DNA testing, unless you have something else to offer customers is being positioned as a “one and done” sale, meaning that it’s a single purchase with no potential for additional revenue. While that’s offered as a reason for the downturn, it’s not exactly true for DNA test sales.

Ancestry clearly encourages customers to subscribe to their records database by withholding access to some DNA features without a subscription. For Ancestry, DNA is the bait for a yearly repeat sale of a subscription. Genealogists subscribe, of course, but people who aren’t genealogists don’t see the benefit.

Ancestry does not allow transfers into their database, which would provide for additional revenue opportunity. I suspect the reason is twofold. First, they want the direct testing revenue, but perhaps more importantly, in order to sell their customer’s DNA who have agreed to participate in research, or partner with research firms, those customers need to have tested on Ancestry’s custom chip. This holds true for 23andMe as well.

Through the 23andMe financial information in the earlier section, it’s clear that while the consumer only pays a one time fee to test, multiple research companies will pay over and over for access to that compiled consumer information.

Ancestry and 23andMe have the product, your opted-in DNA test that you paid for, and they can sell it over and over again. Hopefully, this revenue stream helps to fund development of genetic genealogical tools.

MyHeritage also provides access to advanced DNA tools by selling a subscription to their records database after a free trial. MyHeritage has integrated their DNA testing with genealogical records to provide their advanced Theories of Family Relativity tool, a huge boon to genealogists.

While Family Tree DNA doesn’t have a genealogical records database like Ancestry and MyHeritage, they provide Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA testing, in addition to the autosomal Family Finder test. If more people tested Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA, more genealogical walls would fall due to the unique inheritance path and the fact that neither Y nor mitochondrial DNA is admixed with DNA from the other parent.

Generally, only genealogists know about and are going to order Y DNA and mtDNA tests, or sponsor others to take them to learn more about their ancestral lines. These tests don’t provide yearly revenue like an ongoing subscription, but at least the fact that Family Tree DNA offers three different tests does provide the potential for at least some additional sales.

Both MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA encourage uploads, and neither sell, lease or share your DNA for medical testing. You can find upload instructions, here.

In summary of this section, all of the DNA testing companies do have some sort of additional (potential) revenue stream from DNA testing, so it’s not exactly “one and done.”

Health Testing Products

As for health testing, 23andMe has always offered some level of health information for their customers. Health and research has always been their primary focus. Health and genealogy was originally bundled into one test. Today, DNA ancestry tests with the health option at 23andMe cost more than a genealogy-only test and are two separate products.

MyHeritage also offers a genealogy only DNA test and a genealogy plus health DNA test.

In 2019, both Ancestry and MyHeritage added health testing to their menu as upgrades for existing customers.

In November 2019, FamilyTreeDNA announced an alliance with Tovana for their customers to order a full exome grade medical test and accompanying report. I recently received mine and am still reviewing the results – they are extensive.

It’s clear that all four companies see at least some level of consumer interest in health and traits as a lucrative next step.

Medical Research and DNA Sales

Both Ancestry and 23andMe are pursuing and have invested in relationships with research institutions or Big Pharma. I have concerns with how this is handled. You may not.

I’m supportive of medical research, but I’m concerned that most people have no idea of the magnitude and scope of the contracts between Ancestry and 23andMe with Big Pharma and others, in part, because the details are not public. Customers may also not be aware of exactly what they are opting in to, what it means or where their DNA/DNA results are going.

As a consumer, I want to know where my DNA is, who is using it, and for what purpose. I don’t want my DNA to wind up being used for a nefarious purpose or something I don’t approve of. Think Uighurs in China by way of example. BGI Genetics, headquartered in China but with an Americas division and facilities in Silicon Valley has been a major research institute for years. I want to know what my DNA is being used for, and by whom. The fact that the companies won’t provide their customers with that information makes me makes me immediately wonder why not.

I would like to be able to opt-in for specific studies, not blindly for every use that is profitable to the company involved, all without my knowledge. No blank checks. For example, I opted out of 23andMe research when they patented the technology for designer babies.

Furthermore, I feel that if someone is going to profit from my DNA, it should be me since I paid for the sequencing. At minimum, a person whose DNA is used in these studies should receive some guarantee that they will be provided with any drug in which their DNA is used for development, in particular if their insurance doesn’t pay and they cannot afford the drug.

Drug prices have risen exponentially in the US recently, with many people no longer able to afford their medications. For example, the price of insulin has tripled over the last decade, causing people to ration or cut back on their insulin, if not go without altogether. It would be the greatest of ironies if the very people whose DNA was sold and used to create a drug had no access to it.

Of course, Ancestry and 23andMe are not required to inform consumers of which studies their DNA or DNA results are used for, so we don’t know. Always read all of the terms and conditions, and all links when authorizing anything.

Both companies indicate that your DNA results are anonymized before being shared, but we now know that’s not really possible anymore, because it’s relatively easy to re-identify someone. This is exactly how adoptees identify their biological parents through genetic matches. Dr. Yaniv Erlich reported in the journal Science November 2018 that more than 60% of Europeans could be reidentified through a genealogy database of only 1.28 million individuals.

I think greater transparency and a change in policy favoring the consumer would go a long way to instilling more confidence in the outside research relationships that both Ancestry and 23andMe pursue and maintain. It would probably increase their participation level as well if people could select the research initiatives to which they want to contribute their DNA.

Privacy Concerns

The news has been full of articles about genetic privacy, especially in the months since the Golden State Killer case was solved. That was only April 2018, but it seems like eons ago.

Unfortunately, much of what has been widely reported is inaccurate. For example, no company has ever thrown the data base open for the FBI or anyone to rummage through like a closet full of clothes. However, headlines and commentary like that attract outrage and hundreds of thousands of clicks. In the news and media industry, “it’s all about eyeballs.”

In one case, an article I interviewed for extensively in an educational capacity was written accurately, but the headline was awful. The journalist in question replied that the editors write the headlines, not the reporters.

One instance of this type of issue would be pretty insignificant, but the news in this vein hasn’t abated, always simmering just below the surface waiting for something to fan the flames. Outrage sells.

For the most part, those within the genealogy community at least attempt to sort out what is accurate reporting and what is not, but those people are the ones who have already tested.

People outside the genealogy community just know that they’ve now seen repeated headlines reporting that their genetic privacy either has been, could be or might be breached, and they are suspicious and leery. I would be too. They have no idea what that actually means, what is actually occurring, where, or that they are probably far more at risk on social media sites.

These people are not genealogists, and now they look at ads and think to themselves, “yes, I’d like to do that, but…”

And they never go any further.

People are frightened and simply disconnect from the topic – without testing.

If, as a consumer, you see several articles or posts saying that <fill in car model> is really bad, when you consider a purchase, even if you initially like that model, you’ll remember all of those negative messages. You may never realize that the source was the competition which would cause you to interpret those negative comments in a completely different light.

I think that some of the well-intentioned statements made by companies to reassure their existing and potential customers have actually done more harm than good by reinforcing that there’s a widespread issue. “You’re safe with us” can easily be interpreted as, “there’s something to be afraid of.”

Added to that is the sensitive topic of adoptee and unknown parent searches.

Reunion stories are wonderfully touching, and we all love them, but you seldom see the other side of the coin. Not every story has a happy ending, and many don’t. Not every parent wants to be found for a variety of reasons. If you’re the child and don’t want to find your parents, don’t test, but it doesn’t work the other way around. A parent can often be identified by their relatives’ DNA matches to their child.

While most news coverage reflects positive adoptee reunion outcomes, that’s not universal, and almost every family has a few lurking skeletons. People know that. Some people are fearful of what they might discover about themselves or family members and are correspondingly resistant to DNA testing. Realizing you might discover that your father isn’t your biological father if you DNA test gives people pause. It’s a devastating discovery and some folks decide they’d rather not take that chance, even though they believe it’s not possible.

The genealogical search techniques for identifying unknown parents or close relatives and the technique used by law enforcement to identify unknown people, either bodies or perpetrators is exactly the same. If you are in one of the databases, who you match can provide a very big hint to someone hunting for the identify of an unknown person.

People who are not genealogists, adoptees or parents seeking to find children placed for adoption may be becoming less comfortable with this idea in general.

Of course, the ability for law enforcement to upload kits to GedMatch/Verogen and Family Tree DNA, under specific controlled conditions, has itself been an explosive and divisive topic within and outside of the genealogy community since April 2018.

These law enforcement kits are either cold case remains of victims, known as “Does,” or body fluids from the scenes of violent crimes, such as rape, murder and potentially child abduction and aggravated assault. To date, since the Golden State Killer identification, numerous cases have produced a “solve.” ISOGG, a volunteer organization, maintains a page of known cases solved, here.

GEDmatch encourages people to opt-in for law-enforcement matching, meaning that their kit can be seen as a match to kits uploaded by law enforcement agencies or companies working on behalf of law enforcement agencies. If a customer doesn’t opt-in, their kit can’t be seen as a match to a law enforcement kit.

Family Tree DNA initially opted-out all EU kits from law enforcement matching, due to GDPR, and provides the option for their customers to opt-out of law-enforcement matching.

Neither MyHeritage, Ancestry nor 23andMe cooperate with law enforcment under any circumstances and have stated that they will actively resist all subpoenaes in court.

ISOGG provides a FAQ on Investigative Genetic Genealogy, here.

The two sides of the argument have rather publicly waged war on each other in an ongoing battle to convince people of the merits of their side of the equation, including working with news organizations.

Unfortunately, this topic is akin to arguing over politics. No one changes their mind, and everyone winds up mad.

Notice I’m not linking any articles here, not even my own. I do not want to fan these flames, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the topic of law enforcement usage itself, the on-going public genetic genealogy community war and resulting media coverage together have very probably contributed to the lagging sales. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that while a great division of opinion exists, and many people are opposed, there are also many people who are extremely supportive.

All of this, combined, intentionally or not, has introduced FUD, fear, uncertainty and doubt – a very old disinformation “sales technique.”

In a sense, for consumers, this has been like watching pigs mud-wrestle.

As my dad used to say, “Never mud-wrestle with a pig. The pig enjoys it, you get muddy and the spectators can’t tell the difference.” The spectators in this case vote with their lack of spending and no one is a winner.

DNA Testing Was A FAD

Another theory is that genealogy DNA testing was just a FAD whose time has come and gone. I think the FAD was ethnicity testing, and that chicken has come home to roost.

Both 23andMe and Ancestry clearly geared up for testers attracted by their very successful ads. I was just recently on a cruise, and multiple times I heard people at another table discussing their ethnicity results from some unnamed company. They introduced the topic by saying, “I did my DNA.”

The discussion was almost always the same. Someone said that they thought their ethnicity was pretty accurate, someone else said theirs was awful, and the discussion went from there. Not one time did anyone ever mention a company name, DNA matching or any other functionality. I’m not even sure they understood there are different DNA testing companies.

If I was a novice listening-in, based on that discussion, I would have learned to doubt the accuracy of “doing my DNA.”

If most of the people who purchased ethnicity tests understood in advance that ethnicity testing truly is “just an estimate,” they probably wouldn’t have purchased in the first place. If they understood the limitations and had properly set expectations, perhaps they would not have been as unhappy and disenchanted with their results. I realize that’s not very good marketing, but I think that chicken coming home to roost is a very big part of what we’re seeing now.

The media has played this up too, with stories about how the ethnicity of identical twins doesn’t match. If people bother to read more than the headline, and IF it’s a reasonably accurate article, they’ll come to understand why and how that might occur. If not, what they’ll take away is that DNA testing is wrong and unreliable. So don’t bother.

Furthermore, most people don’t understand that ethnicity testing and cousin matching are two entirely different aspects of a DNA test. The “accuracy” of ethnicity is not related to the accuracy of cousin matching, but once someone questions the credibility of DNA testing – their lack of confidence is universal.

I would agree, the FAD is over – meaning lots of people testing primarily for ethnicity. I think the marketing challenge going forward is to show people that DNA testing can be useful for other things – and to make that easy.

Ethnicity was the low hanging fruit and it’s been picked.

Slowed Growth – Not Dead in the Water

The rate of growth has slowed. This does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that genetic genealogy or DNA testing is dead in the water. DNA fishes for us 365x24x7.

For example, just today, I received a message from 23andMe that 75 new relatives have joined 23andMe. I also received match notifications from Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage.  Hey – calorie-free treats!!!

These new matches are nothing to sneeze at. I remember when I was thrilled over ONE new match.

I have well over 100,000 matches if you combine my matches at the four vendors.

Without advanced tools like triangulation, Phased Family Matching, Theories of Family Relativity, ThruLines, DNAPainter, DNAgedcom and Genetic Affairs, I’d have absolutely no prayer of grouping and processing this number of matches for genealogy.

Even if I received no new matches for the next year, I’d still not be finished analyzing the autosomal matches I already have.

This Too Shall Pass

At least I hope it will.

I think people will still test, but the market has corrected. This level of testing is probably the “new normal.”

Neither Ancestry or 23andMe are spending the big ad dollars – or at least not as big.

In order for DNA testing companies to entice customers into purchasing subscriptions or add-on products, tools need to be developed or enhanced that encourage customers to return to the site over and over. This could come in the form of additional results or functionality calculated on their behalf.

That “on their behalf” point is important. Vendors need to focus on making DNA fun, and productive, not work. New tools, especially in the last year or two, have taken a big step in that direction. Make the customer wonder every day what gift is waiting for him or her that wasn’t there yesterday. Make DNA useful and fun!

I would call this “DNA crack.” 😊

Cooking Up DNA Crack!

In order to assist the vendors, I’ve compiled one general suggestion plus what I would consider to be the “Big 3 Wish List” for each of their DNA products in term of features or improvements that would encourage customers to either use or return to their sites. (You’re welcome.)

I don’t want this to appear negative, so I’ve also included the things I like most about each vendor.

If you have something to add, please feel free to comment in a positive fashion.

Family Tree DNA

I Love: Y and Mitochondrial DNA, Phased Family Matching, and DNA projects

General Suggestion – Fix chronic site loading issues which discourage customers

  • Tree Matching – fix the current issues with trees and implement tree matching for DNA matches
  • Triangulation – including by match group and segment
  • Clustering – some form of genetic networks

MyHeritage

I Love: Theories of Family Relativity, triangulation, wide variety of filters, SmartMatches and Record Matches

General – Clarify confusing subscription options in comparative grid format

  • Triangulation by group and segment
  • View DNA matches by ancestor
  • Improved Ethnicity

Ancestry

I Love: Database size, ThruLines, record and DNA hints (green leaves)

General – Focus on the customers’ needs and repeated requests

  • Accept uploads
  • Chromosome Browser (yes, I know this is a dead horse, but that doesn’t change the need)
  • Triangulation (dead horse’s brother)

23andMe

I Love: Triangulation, Ethnicity quality, ethnicity segments identified, painted and available for download

General – Focus on genealogy tools if you’re going to sell a genealogy test

  • Implement individual customer trees – not Family Search
  • Remove 2000 match limit (which is functionally less after 23andMe hides the people not opted into matching)
  • DNA + Tree Matching

Summary

In summary, we, as consumers need to maintain our composure, assuring others that no one’s hair is on fire and the sky really is not falling. We need to calmly educate as opposed to frighten.

Just the facts.

Other approaches don’t serve us in the end. Frightening people away may “win” the argumentative battle of the day, but we all lose the war if people are no longer willing to test.

This is much like a lifeboat – we all succeed together, or we all lose.

Everybody row!

As genealogists, we need to:

  • Focus on verifying ancestors and solving genealogy challenges
  • Sharing those victories with others, including family members
  • Encourage our relatives to test, and transfer so that their testing investment provides as much benefit as possible
  • Offer to help relatives with the various options on each vendor’s platform
  • Share the joy

People share exciting good news with others, especially on Facebook and social media platforms, and feel personally invested when you share new results with them. Collaboration bonds people.

A positive attitude, balanced perspective and excitement about common ancestors goes a very, very long was in terms of encouraging others.

We have more matches now than ever before, along with more and better tools. Matches are still rolling in, every single day.

New announcements are expected at Rootstech in a couple short weeks.

There’s so much opportunity and work to do.

The sky is not falling. It rained a bit.

The seas may have been stormy, but as a genealogist, the sun is out and a rising tide lifts us all.

Rising tide

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

  • Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items

In Search of the Lost Colony of Roanoke – History Channel Documentary

I hope you’ll join me this Friday, October 18, 2019 at 10 PM for “In Search of the Lost Colony,” a documentary on the History Channel. Here’s the schedule.

Lost Colony History Channel

If you can’t see the episode on Friday, past “In Search Of” episodes are available for viewing and The Lost Colony episode will be available here too after airing. You can watch it on your computer after it airs if you don’t have access to The History Channel.

If you’d like more background, you can read my article, The Lost Colony of Roanoke: Did They Survive? – National Geographic, Archaeology, Historical Records and DNA.

A Little History

In 2007, I became involved in the search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke, a group of settlers who sailed to what is now Roanoke Island, NC in 1587 with the intention of establishing an English Colony.

Luck was not in their favor. Many elements were against them. The supply ship with their food was wrecked on the shoals during one of the notorious hurricanes that plague the North Carolina Outer Banks.

Adding even more drama, the captain of the lead ship in the voyage was supposed to transport the colonists on to the Chesapeake, but refused to do so, in essence, stranding them. Did I mention that the notorious captain just happened to be a pirate, rescued from the gallows by a man who was scheming for the colony to fail?

You might be guessing by now that there are layers upon layers of drama – and you’d be right.

The transport ships themselves were headed back to England after depositing the colonists and agreed to carry only one person from the colony with them. The colonists elected their “governor,” John White as their representative to return to England and request resupply. Somehow, somehow, the colonists, White’s daughter among them, would try to survive half a year, until about Easter 1588, when crossing the Atlantic would once again be safe. At that time in history, winter crossings were not undertaken.

However, the Spanish Armada and the war between England and Spain interfered with the resupply plan. It wasn’t until 1590 that John White was able to return, on yet another pirate ship, to attempt to resupply or rescue the colonists.

A Big Mystery

He found…nothing.

The colonists were gone – disappeared – but they left White a one-word message – Croatoan – carved into a post at their fort and “Cro” carved into a tree.

Croatoan tree

Dawn Taylor (left) and Anne Poole beside a reproduction of the carving White discovered upon his 1590 return to Roanoke Island.

Croatoan was the name of the friendly Indians who lived on Hatteras Island, just south of Roanoke Island.

Another hurricane arose, preventing White from visiting Hatteras, but their ships had sailed within sight of Hatteras on their way to Roanoke.

Were the colonists gone?

Had they survived?

Did they perish?

Or move on?

Inland perhaps?

What do we know?

What is yet to be discovered?

The Documentary

Along with others involved in the search, I filmed a segment for the History Channel in June. My portion was recorded at the Family Tree DNA lab in Houston, Texas. As you might guess, my portion involves DNA testing.

Lost Colony, Dr Connie Bormans and Roberta Estes

Here’s a sneak peek, Dr. Connie Bormans, Lab Director, at left, with me in the dark lab coat, at right, during the filming. You’ll enjoy a lovely tour of the genetics lab while walking a test through the process, assuming that portion is included in the documentary.

This is the first production of this type that I’ve been involved with. I’ve declined several other invitations because of concerns about sensationalism.

I’ve enjoyed programs on the History Channel before and hoped that they would be less inclined to fall into that trap.

The DNA Projects

Regardless, the DNA part of this story is mine to tell, and I wasn’t about to forego that opportunity.

I founded the Lost Colony DNA projects in 2007.

The Lost Colony Y DNA Project for males who carry the Lost Colony surnames AND whose families are found in early eastern North Carolina OR among the Native people is here, and the Lost Colony Family Project for those interested but aren’t male who carry the colonist surnames is here.

How Does Filming Work?

I’ve always wondered how this works, so I’m sharing with you.

It’s interesting to note that people in the episodes don’t know what the other people said or who else is involved.

In my case, I did happen to know about two other people, Anne Poole, Director of the Lost Colony Research Group and Andy Gabriel-Powell. The three of us along with Dawn Taylor and others have worked on solving the mystery together for a dozen years now, focused on archaeological excavations in various locations on the Outer Banks along with historical records in the US, England, Spain and Portugal.

Lost colony dna

Anne and I sifting during one of the digs.

Andy, the former mayor of historic Bideford, England, home of Richard Grenville, authored the book Richard Grenville and the Lost Colony of Roanoke which you can view, here.

I know the production crew interviewed other people as well, but I’ll find out who they are and what everyone says right along with you.

It might not surprise you to learn that numerous people have been involved in the search for the Lost Colony over the ensuing 432 years – and not all of them ethical. Like anything else high-profile, the Lost Colony has attracted its share of bad actors along with some fantastic researchers.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what or whom to believe, so Anne, Andy and I, along with our colleagues working alongside us, committed to document and source all information independently. Our goal was and is to excavate the truth, regardless of where that truth leads.

In 2007, Anne and I founded the loosely organized, all-volunteer, Lost Colony Research Group to facilitate various types of research and coordinate archaeological excavations.

The LCRG sponsored half a dozen digs and committed to making our finds public, allowing future researchers access to our research, artifacts and DNA results when technology has improved and perhaps more is known or can be discovered. It’s the only responsible approach.

People interviewed during the filming are not actors and are not paid, nor are they afforded the opportunity to review and approve any footage or anything in the segment before it’s aired.

Other than clarifying a couple of questions after the filming and being informed of the date and time when the episode will air, we had no communications with the production crew or staff after filming.

None of us knows what the segment contains or how it will be portrayed. We don’t actually even know if we are IN the segment, just that we were filmed. The segment at the lab with Dr. Bormans took about a day and a half of filming, plus several days of preparation, as did Andy’s and Anne’s portions, respectively. Most of what is filmed winds up on the cutting room floor. That’s the nature of the beast.

I have my fingers crossed that the resulting program is scientifically sound as well as entertaining. The Lost Colony is, after all, one of America’s oldest mysteries.

One thing is for sure – I’ll be watching. I hope you do too.

If you have ancestors in the US or in the British Isles – you or your family might just have that critical piece of information needed to solve the mystery!

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

William Tully Brown, USMC Navajo Code Talker, Passes Over

Veteran USMC William Tully Brown, Navajo Code Talker

Photo courtesy Vee F. Browne-Yellowhair.

USMC Veteran, William Tully Brown, Navajo Code Talker, wearing his uniform for the last time when he swabbed to provide his DNA for posterity. What a legacy this man leaves, literally from the beginning of his life to the very end.

William Passes Over

This isn’t the article I was supposed to be writing. 

My flight was booked for Wednesday, June 5th. On the afternoon of the 5th and the 6th, I was supposed to be meeting William Brown. Explaining his DNA results to him in a way that a 96-year-old man can understand and thanking him for his service. I was preparing a little booklet for William so he could show visitors.

I was looking forward to hearing the stories of this incredible man who made history.

William reminds me of my father and was born exactly 2 months before my mother. I referred to him as “Cheii,” or “Grandfather” in Navajo. In the Native culture where I was raised, Grandfather is an honorary way of addressing someone older and for whom you have great respect.

William was incredibly proud of his Navajo heritage as well as his service to his country as a Code Talker.

William passed over early this morning, “walking on” to the next world. You can read more about his passing, here. I honored William on Memorial Day with a special article, here.

My condolences to William’s family and especially his daughter, Vee, who has become my sister-of-heart.

The Code Talker Quilt

As we were arranging the trip to Arizona, I knew I needed to make William a quilt, and quickly. It had to be a very special quilt – fitting for a true American hero, one of very few who had received the Congressional medal of honor.

Code Talker Quilt

I was incredibly honored to be able to provide this gift of love and comfort to one so richly deserving. The person in the star part of the quilt is a Native American wearing a Congressional Medal of Honor. Could there be a more fitting image?

Thankfully, everything worked perfectly, and the quilt went together seamlessly (pardon the pun), albeit mostly in the middle of the night. My special friend, Pam, quilted it the next night, and the following day, the quilt was photographed, boxed and on its way. Record time!

Roberta Estes with Code Talker Quilt

As William’s quilt was winging its way to Arizona, his DNA was winging its way to the Family Tree DNA lab in Houston for advanced Y and mitochondrial DNA testing thanks to Vee.

My husband overnighted the quilt on Friday before Memorial Day when we realized that William might not live until my visit on the 5th. Plus, I wanted William to be able to enjoy the quilt for as long as possible, given that his time on earth was limited. But, ironically, the Memorial Day holiday interfered.

I was looking forward to taking a picture with William and the quilt this week. Sadly, that wasn’t to be.

The quilt will now be used by William’s family to honor him Thursday at his funeral.

Unfortunately, I cancelled my travel plans when William was so gravely ill, not wanting to be intrusive at a difficult and private time, so I won’t physically be there with them – only in spirit. His family was very generous with their invitation.

William’s Legacy

William left an incredible legacy, stretching over three quarters of a century. First, saving our Nation in our time of desperate need followed by his final act 74 years later being that of a humanitarian. Contributing his DNA to unknown generations in the future – connecting them through the threads of time. Vee said that he loved everyone, and it showed.

Veteran, patriot, hero, humanitarian.

Ahee’hee

Rest in Peace, William Tully Brown.

Semper fi

USMC Navajo Code Talker patch

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The Lost Colony of Roanoke: Did They Survive? – National Geographic, Archaeology, Historical Records and DNA

The Lost Colony of Roanoke – what an enduring mystery – for 431 years it has remained unsolved and fascinated Americans and the British, alike.

An entire tourist industry has sprung up around the mystery of the Lost Colony along the Outer Banks in North Carolina. An open-air theater tells the story every summer on Roanoke Island near where Fort Raleigh was established. Tourists drift south to Hatteras Island across a long bridge that today connects Roanoke Island to Hatteras Island, the location where the colonists themselves indicated they were moving when they left the Fort Raleigh on Roanoke Island.

Then.

Nothing.

Hints, rescue missions, old entries in yellowed records that refer to the colonists, or might…but nothing factual or definitive about what happened to those colonists.

I joined the search for those elusive colonists in 2007 by co-founding The Lost Colony Research Group (LCRG) and establishing the Lost Colony DNA projects. Our small group of volunteers would contract with archaeologists and team with local residents to host archaeological excavations. We undertook research, compiled relevant records and publications as well as attempted to solve the mystery through genetics.

Just in case you’re wondering, the Lost Colonists haven’t yet been renamed the Found Colonists!

National Geographic Magazine

In 2017, Andrew Lawler, a journalist who was writing an article for National Geographic about the Lost Colony contacted me for an interview. Over the next several weeks, we would talk as well as exchange e-mails, discussing the story of the colony, the archaeological digs, and the DNA efforts to solve the mystery of whether any of the colonists survived.

Andrew’s article appears in the June 2018 issue of National Geographic Magazine. It’s exciting to garner a small place in history through National Geographic, a magazine I’ve loved since childhood.

(Full disclosure: I’ve been a volunteer member of the National Geographic Genographic Design team since 2012 and a Genographic affiliate researcher since 2015. Those activities are entirely unrelated to and separate from the Lost Colony article and DNA project.)

Andrew did a great job with a difficult story that resembles the best murder mystery with subplots upon twisting, turning, subplots. In fact, in many ways, the Lost Colony is the oldest known cold case in what would become America just shy of two centuries later.

Did the colonists live or did they die? Do they have descendants today? What happened?

The Back Story

The Lost Colony of Roanoke is an enduring romantic mystery that the history books haven’t treated very kindly, or at least, not terribly accurately.

Most people think of a young, loving mother, Eleanor White Dare, holding a newborn daughter, and then the picture fades to grey, oblivion, because we don’t know what happened next. That surely tugs at your heartstrings and makes you want to believe that Eleanor and her baby survived.

You’re not alone.

Almost everyone has their own idea of what transpired, and there are almost as many theories as people who are interested in the topic of the Lost Colony. A few scammers have made up stories of their own and attempted to sell them, one way or the other. Books have been written and stories told, but the facts and truth remain maddeningly elusive.

Indeed, Virginia Dare, born August 18th, 1587, was the first English person to be born on the land that would one day become the United States. Her grandfather, John White, left shortly thereafter to return to England for supplies – and that’s the last piece of actual factual information we have about either Eleanor or Virginia.

Virginia Dare has survived into infamy, the mystery of a fragile newborn child that refuses to be solved. Did she live? Did she marry? Is she the legendary “White Doe?” Was she the maiden reported to have escaped from the Powhatan slaughter nearly 20 years later in Virginia, near Jamestown? Does Virginia Dare have living descendants today? And what about the other colonists? Do they?

What does history tell us about the Lost Colony of Roanoke? The official version is very neat and clean. Sir Walter Raleigh sent an exploratory expedition in 1584 followed by a larger military expedition in 1585 that stayed until the early summer of 1586, built a fort, but then went back to England.

In 1587, a group of men, women and children arrived in what was then Virginia, now North Carolina, to establish a permanent “Cittie of Raleigh.” John White, the Governor and the grandfather of Virginia Dare, born days after arrival, returned to England for supplies but was unable to return to Roanoke Island until 1590. When White did return, the colonists were gone, the fort deserted, and he was unable to find them even though they had left him a message – the word “Croatoan” carved on a fortified palisade that had been constructed after White had departed. Croatoan was the name of Hatteras Island, the location where an Indian, Manteo, that had befriended the colonists lived. White, forced by a hurricane, returned to England and was unable to return again to search for the colonists, which included his son-in-law, daughter and grandchild. The colonists were presumed slain by Indians, which certainly could be true.

As far as the official “history book” version of the Lost Colony…that’s the end of the chapter and the book. But in reality, it’s only the beginning, or perhaps more accurately, a short extract from the middle of a book that’s more like a juicy murder mystery combined with a cliff-hanger soap opera than a history book.

There is more to the story, much more. When I heard about the colony settling on Roanoke Island, I asked myself what brought 117 people to an “unsettled” wilderness, unlike anything they knew, with people they considered savages living adjacent to and grossly outnumbering them? Who would undertake such a risky journey, and why? There had to be more to the story.

The story of the Lost Colony is like a large knit sweater, once you start to pull on one loose thread, slowly the entire sweater starts to unravel, and eventually, that small raveling is much larger than you ever expected. So, let’s tug a little bit and see where we wind up.

Characters in the Roanoke Drama

The story of Roanoke really begins long before 1584. It begins in 1493 actually, when Pope Alexander divided the world into two portions, half for Spain and half for Portugal, excluding all others. This action would set the stage for the next century of conflict, not only between the excluded countries, in particular, England, and the included counties, but also between Catholics and Protestants.

The players in this intrigue read like a Who’s Who of 16th Century Europe.

Sir Walter Raleigh was born in 1552 in Hayes Barton in Devon, the youngest of 5 sons. He subsequently attended Oxford and led the life of a wealthy adventurer. Walter Raleigh, or Ralegh as he spelled his name, was not knighted until after he established the “Cittie of Raleigh,” so he was born simply “Walter Raleigh,” the Sir being appended later after being knighted by Queen Elizabeth. Ironically, Raleigh himself never set foot in his colony.

In 1556 King Philip, married to Mary, Queen of England and Ireland, a Catholic, ascended the throne of Spain, controlling half of Europe, per the Catholic Pope.

In 1558, Queen Elizabeth, a Protestant, ascended the English throne, shown in her coronation robes above, having inherited the throne from her half-sister, Queen Mary Tutor (known as Bloody Mary), wife of Prince Phillip of Spain.

Queen Elizabeth, known as the Virgin Queen because she never married, was born in 1533, 19 years before Sir Walter Raleigh.

By 1568, a decade after Elizabeth’s ascent to the throne, the Inquisition was in full swing, and King Philip overran the Protestant Netherlands, condemning the entire country to death. The people in the Netherlands rebelled, and King Philipp had to send reinforcements and money to attempt to subdue the rebellion. However, French Huguenots chased the Spanish ship carrying gold into an English Harbor. Elizabeth, suffering from financial difficulties, viewed this much as we would view winning the lottery. That was her lucky day indeed and she confiscated the ship and its cargo. Elizabeth’s action caused a “furious rage” in Spain.

1568 and 1569 continued to be trying times in England. In 1568 Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Sir Walter Raleigh’s half-brother, crushed a revolt in Catholic Ireland instigated by the Spanish. Later, Mary Queen of Scots was taken into custody and confined after repeated attempts on the life of Queen Elizabeth, her first cousin once removed. In 1569, Catholics in northern England revolted.

In 1570, Pope Pius excommunicated Protestant Queen Elizabeth and encouraged her overthrow. Elizabeth must have found this humorous on some level, because Catholic excommunication has no punitive effect on a Protestant.

On August 22, 1572, the horrific event known to history as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre occurred in Paris where Catholics massacred an estimated 30,000 Protestant Huguenots. All Protestants were ordered to leave the country within 20 days or be condemned to death. Protestants were unable to sell their land or possessions, because everyone who might be interested knew that in 20 days or less, they could simply take the land and whatever was left. Raleigh left Oxford and fought in France for the Protestants.

In 1577 we find the first mention of John White, a Native of Bristol and the man who would become the eventual Governor of the Cittie of Raleigh. Ironically, even though White was an artist, we have no portrait or self-portrait of him.

Also in 1577, we meet another player in our real-life drama, Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s closest advisor.

Walsingham, a Machiavellian spy had formed an entire underground network of lowlife scoundrels to feed him information, was not above torture, and willing to do whatever it was he needed to do to achieve his ends. Elizabeth believed him to be her most trusted resource. In 1577, for reasons unknown, Walsingham saved Simon Fernandez, a pirate, from the gallows for murdering Portuguese sailors. In essence, Walsingham purchased his life and loyalty, and Fernandez became “Walsingham’s man.”

On June 11, 1578, Walter Raleigh’s half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert was granted a patent by Queen Elizabeth to discover and occupy North American lands not occupied by Spain. This patent expired in 6 years, in 1584, if occupation had not occurred.

In 1579, Raleigh and his brother Carew Raleigh captained a reconnaissance mission funded by Gilbert with Simon Fernandez, described by Raleigh as “a thorough-paced scoundrel.” In 1580, leaking ships, storms and desertion caused the mission to fail and Gilbert’s fortune was lost.

Also in 1580, no longer happy with just “half the world,” Spain invaded and captured Portugal in just 70 days. Spain had become a very powerful European aggressor.

We find John White in 1580 joining the Painters and Stainers Company in London. The now famous watercolors from the 1584 and 1585-1586 Roanoke reconnaissance trips were John White’s work.

White’s paintings are extremely valuable historically as they are the first visual records of Native American life and villages and when compared with the various journals that exist from this timeframe, his paintings appear to be very accurate.

About this time, Raleigh hired an artist in London named Jacques Le Moyne to draw the Timucan Indians in Florida. White’s style is very similar to Le Moyne’s and White may have been studying under Le Moyne.

In 1581, Raleigh, age 29 and described as a “tall, handsome and bold man” is summoned to London by Queen Elizabeth, age 48, who seeks his opinion about Irish politics, quickly becoming her favorite. His rise at court was meteoric, causing a great deal of jealousy and creating enemies among those who had spent years “paying their dues” and slowly rising in the social ranks, only to be bypassed by Raleigh in the fast lane.

Raleigh’s ascent was viewed as a type of oracle by some. Elizabeth was quite smitten, giving him the pet name of “her Water” and “her Shepherd of the Ocean.” He is called the “Darling of the English Cleopatra” by others, not so affectionately. Rumors of a different type of relationship between Raleigh and the Queen were rampant. He lived at the Queen’s palace and she eventually financed his Roanoke expeditions.

In 1583, having again found financing through Raleigh, Gilbert planned to settle a colony of Catholic dissidents in Newfoundland. His fleet sets sail on June 11, 1583 but on September 9th, Gilbert drowned, “swallowed up by the sea” along with his frigate and crew.

1584 – Walter Raleigh Obtains a Patent and Launches an Exploratory Trip

Walsingham, seeing an opportunity, made a bid for Gilbert’s patent which, due to his death, was once again available. Unexpectedly, Queen Elizabeth gave Gilbert’s patent to Raleigh, forever pitting Walsingham against Raleigh and causing Walsingham to seek every opportunity to cause Raleigh’s failure. Walsingham’s schemes are not evident, straightforward or above-board, as we will see.

Raleigh, anxious to begin, sent a reconnaissance mission to seek out a favorable location for his colony. On July 4th, 1584, Roanoke Island was selected as headquarters. The island is protected from the open ocean, shielded from the enemy Spaniards by the Outer Banks, relatively easy to defend since it is an island, and has a fresh water source.

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

This map, drawn in 1590 or 1591 by White and deBry, a mapmaker, shows the area in rather amazing detail. Pay close attention to the three circles on Croatoan Island, present day Hatteras Island, the location of three Indian villages.

The sailors stayed a few weeks, evaluating the area and interacting with the native people. When they returned to England, two Indians accompanied them, Manteo and Wanchese. Manteo was from the island immediately south of Roanoke, present day Hatteras Island where his mother was chief. Wanchese appeared to be the advisor of Wingina, chief of the village on Roanoke Island along with its sister village across the sound on the mainland.

The ship arrived back in England in October 1584 and during the next few months, the Indians were treated quite royally, visiting palaces and castles and learning English. They were also used to drum up support for a permanent colony in Virginia, as the merchants needed to see some reason to invest in the project and the Indians, describing their abundant natural resources, provided the perfect enticement. Little did Manteo and Wanchese know they were signing their people’s death warrant.

1585 – The Military Expedition

After their return to Virginia in 1585, Wanchese turned against the English.

On January 6, 1585, Queen Elizabeth knighted Walter Raleigh, so he officially became Sir Walter Raleigh.

On April the 9th, a military expedition of 600 men commanded by Raleigh’s cousin, Sir Richard Grenville, departed for Roanoke, along with Manteo and Wanchese who were being returned home. Not all 600 men reached Roanoke however. Some men became ill and died, and some decided that pirating in the West Indies was a much more attractive option. Some ships were lost in storms. About 200 men actually arrived on Roanoke Island in five ships. However, the ship carrying food wrecked on the Outer Banks shoals among allegations of incompetence between Ralph Lane, Captain of the ship Tiger, and Simon Fernandez, captaining another ship. It’s unclear, but it may be that during the salvage efforts another officer named Butler killed about 20 members of an Indian nation who lived 60 miles inland who were enemies of the Hatteras. This is the point at which Wanchese distanced himself from the English.

Meanwhile across the Atlantic, in May of 1585, King Philip of Spain placed an embargo on all English merchant ships in Spanish ports, subjecting the stranded English sailors to the Inquisition, a torturous death sentence. The situation between Spain and England escalated towards open war. In retaliation, Elizabeth issued letters of reprisal to privateering vessels to recoup her losses.

The difference between a pirate and a privateer? The blessing of the Queen. That’s it.

The Queen shared in the profits of any prize, meaning a captured ship and cargo, brought home to England; 20% to her and the rest to the ship’s owner, captain and crew. In essence, this action constituted undeclared war.

Unaware of any of these developments of course, the group of men on Roanoke built a fort and proceeded to explore inland, accompanied by Manteo. The men were particularly interested in finding gold, copper and silver. They were also scouting for sites for the permanent settlement, looking at the availability of farmland and the ability to defend a fort.

On July the 11th, 4 vessels with 50 men and Manteo as their interpreter ventured inland and visited the Secotan people.

John White drew a picture of the village and the chief’s wife and child carrying a doll given as a gift to the child.

Four days later, the men reached the town of Secota, Wingina’s capital city, after visiting the village of Aquascogoc the previous day. Upon arrival at Secota, they discover that a silver chalice was missing and they returned to Aquascogoc to seek the chalice, believing that someone there stole it during their visit. The chalice was not forthcoming, and the soldiers burned the village. The residents were confused by the change in behavior, friendly one day and clearly enemies the next.

Unprepared for this turn of events, the Native people fled and no resistance was offered. However, given the time of year, their fields would have been ruined, eliminating their ability to harvest corn to tide them over the winter, causing a hardship on the entire Indian community in the area – perhaps even starvation.

The above drawing by John White is an Algonkin Indian Chief, and may have been Manteo, Wingina or Wanchese.

Later in July, the soldiers asked Wingina if they could stay over the winter on Roanoke Island. He begrudgingly agreed, but only under the condition that they did not ask for food or help. Wingina said that the 1584 expedition depleted their food supplies and so had the burning of Aquascogoc.

On August 17th, the men complete a larger fort on the island and prepare for the upcoming winter. Five days later, the ships sailed for England, leaving 107 men and their commander, Ralph Lane, with no supplies and no food and a promise to the Indians that they won’t ask them for any. This lack of planning and foresight was amazing. However, Richard Grenville captured a Spanish ship on the way home and arrived in October, a hero.

An additional problem in Virginia was that 1585 was a year of severe drought. Scientists today indicate that it may have been the worst drought in 800 years. In the midst of this drought, a comet streaked across the sky on September 27th and the Indians began to die. Many perished, including Wingina’s brother and another important man in the village.

Some Indians blamed the colonists, but others felt that the tribe was being punished by angry Gods because they were not helping the colonists. Still others felt that the colonists were Gods, or were those who had died previously had come back and were now immortal, because the colonists were not perishing like the Indians. Today of course we understand that the colonists had immunity against European illnesses that the Indians simply didn’t possess. From the Indian’s perspective, however, this disparity seemed supernatural.

Winter 1585-1586

Over the winter of 1585/1586, journals tell us that at least one soldier was hung, although his crime is unrecorded. We know that only 3 things were hanging offences; falling asleep on guard duty, disobeying a direct order or raping a woman. If his offense was rape, the only women would have been Native women and that would, of course, have eroded relationships even further.

We also know that the soldiers went on reconnaissance missions as far as “140 miles into the main” in search of copper. The Indians in White’s drawings often wear copper ornaments and the English were convinced that there must be a rich source of copper and other minerals if they could simply locate the mine.

In February of 1586, a second epidemic further devastated the Native people.

In the spring, while in search of gold in a local village, a Native boy was kidnapped and all who resisted were killed. Relationships between the English and the Native people deteriorated further.

Finally, in June, as a preemptive strike, Lane and his men massacred the people in Wingina’s village across the sound from Roanoke Island, and they beheaded Wingina. At this point, the only friendly Indians towards the English were Manteo’s village on Croatoan Island. The English had not only alienated the others but turned them into enemies seeking revenge. It’s amazing that the Englishmen survived the winter.

1586 – Sir Francis Drake

Far to the south in June, Sir Francis Drake was privateering in the Caribbean, “visiting” several islands.

For good measure, Drake attacked and destroyed the Spanish stronghold of St. Augustine shown below, on his way north to stop at Roanoke Island, arriving in Roanoke in a hurricane on June the 8th.

Drake may or may not have brought captured Indian and African slaves with him, along with Moors and 100 Turks that we know he had on board because they were subsequently ransomed to the Turkish empire after their return to England. We do know that 3 escaped slaves stated that they were being taken to Roanoke to work. Of course, Drake had no idea that it wasn’t labor they desperately needed, but food.

Drake’s arrival in a hurricane and the subsequent sinking of several ships on the shoals on the Outer Banks in the hurricane is significant. Drake was attempting to offload food and supplies to the military colonists, when the ship, half unloaded, was lost to the storm. If Drake did have slaves with him, they were likely unloading the ship, and Drake would not have risked the lives of his soldiers, nor his boats, to offload the slaves to the mainland. Given that the supply ship was lost, it’s probable that the slaves unloading the supplies were lost too.

The geography of the outer banks requires that the larger ships unload to smaller ships, canoes or pinnaces as the water is too shallow inside of the outer banks islands for the larger vessels. This meant that goods, supplies and men all had to transfer to smaller boats to get from the barrier islands to Roanoke Island across the sound. In a hurricane, the barrier islands are extremely unsafe. They shift, disappear and are created during storms. The area on the outside of the islands for a distance of 100 miles or so is called the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” for a reason.

Some of Drake’s men mutinied, in fear for their lives on the shoals, and headed with their boats for England. Drake offered to leave his smaller boats for the military colonists, but after 6 days, the decision was made for all of the men to leave with Drake for England. On June 19th, having devastated the Native population with disease, warfare and famine, they left for England, taking Manteo with them once again along with a second Indian, Towaye.

Unfortunately, 3 men who were inland on a reconnaissance mission were left behind. Imagine the surprise of those men when they returned to find that their comrades had departed and they were left to fend for themselves among openly hostile Indians. I’m thinking this is the definition of a very bad day.

These men become the first three “lost colonists” although we don’t know their names.

1586 – The Grenville 15

Sir Richard Grenville, another privateer, was involved in multiple voyages to the New World. One of the captains of the 1585 expedition, he led the crew that burned the village of Aquascogoc. Embroiled in a bitter battle with the Ralph Lane, another ship’s captain and general of the expedition, Grenville was criticized by Lane for his “intolerable pride and insatiable ambition.”

However, Grenville’s most memorable feat, aside from the terror he rained on Aquascogoc, is a description given of Grenville dining with Spanish ship captains while raiding the Azores Islands on his return to England in 1586:

“He would carouse three or four glasses of wine, and in a bravery take the glasses between his teeth and crash them in pieces and swallow them down, so that often the blood ran out of his mouth without any harm at all unto him…”

Just a few days after the men departed for England with Drake, Raleigh’s supply ship captained by Sir Richard Grenville, Raleigh’s cousin, arrived and found the fort deserted. Unaware of the events that had transpired, Grenville left 15 men behind to “hold the fort.” These men are known as the “Grenville 15.” Grenville left to return to England.

These men disappeared and are the next 15 “lost colonists,” for a total of 18, so far.

During this time in England, Queen Elizabeth had appointed Raleigh “Captain of the Guard,” the person who was physically closest to her always. He slept outside her quarters, protecting her. Two very powerful men became jealous enemies of Raleigh; Walsingham, of course, and now the Queen’s rumored former lover, Sir Richard Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

1587 – The Colonists Embark

Wasting no time, Raleigh appointed John White Governor of the Cittie of Raleigh on January 4, 1787 and began preparations for his settlers to leave for Virginia. Each settler would receive, among other enticements, 500 acres of land. Land was impossible to purchase in England, so for anyone who was not in the line of inheritance, meaning a first son of a family with land, the only hope for land ownership was outside of England. 500 acres was a massive amount of land, by English standards.

John White later said that he personally recruited many of these people, and because of that he felt a great deal of responsibility for their predicament after they became stranded.

John White may have been related to Cuthbert White a colonist, and he may have been related to the Paynes as well. In 1788 an original collection of White’s paintings turned up in the hands of Thomas Payne, a London bookseller. How they managed to be in Payne’s possession 200 years after the colony was “lost” has never been determined.

On April 26th, 1587, the colonists left for Roanoke. On July 27th, three months later, they arrived on “Hatterask Island” to leave their Indian friend, Manteo and to inquire about the 15 men left by Grenville the previous year on Roanoke. Towaye had died in England.

1587 – Arrival!!!

Note the wrecked ships along the Outer Banks island in White’s map of the arrival of the Englishmen. Is this a warning, or does White know that shipwrecks lie there? Ships wrecked before the colonists arrival might explain some Native American/European admixture that is not as a result of the colonists’ survival.

When the colonists first arrived in Manteo’s home village, Croatoan, on Hatteras Island, the people were fearful and seemed to want to fight until Manteo called to them. Initially pleased to see Manteo, they then recognized Stafford, a man who was along in 1584 and had plundered their food supplies. They became afraid and begged the English not to “gather or spill” any of their corn, because they had but little. The English were then told that the “Grenville 15” were set upon by Wingina’s men and men from the village they had burned, that two of the men were killed and the rest escaped in a boat from Hatterask Island. This of course raises the question of where they obtained a boat, or if they quickly built something resembling a raft. Maybe Grenville left a small boat with the 15 men.

This means that the total of lost colonists (so far) is reduced to 16, assuming that the 13 who left in a boat had some prayer of survival.

White tried to repair the relationship with Manteo’s people and they debate what to do about the damage done the previous year by Ralph Lane whose men destroyed the two villages.

About August first, the colonists decided to continue north “for the Bay of Chesepiok where we intended to make our seat and fort, according to the charge give us among other directions in writing under the hand of Sir Walter Raleigh.” This translates to the Chesapeake Bay, not Roanoke. In other words, they never intended to actually settle on Roanoke Island.

The ships stopped at Roanoke at the fort and indeed find the skeleton of one person and the fort quite abandoned and overgrown, but not destroyed or burned. They stayed for a few days.

On August 7th, one of the colonists, George Howe was on the beach, alone, crabbing and was brutally killed by the remnants of Wingina’s men.

The next day, August 8th, 24 colonists, Stafford and John White set out for the village of Dasamonquepeuc, Wingina’s village directly across from Roanoke Island on the shore of the mainland, to seek revenge for the death of Howe. In a nighttime raid, after killing one man, they discovered that they have killed their friend, a Croatoan Indian, not Wingina’s men after all. After killing Howe, Wingina’s men had retreated inland and Manteo’s people had been scavenging in their deserted village.

Virginia Dare is Born and the Colony is Stranded

Ten days later, on August 18th, Virginia Dare was born, granddaughter of John White and a few days later, another child, a Harvie, was born as well.

The colonists needed to sail for the Chesapeake Bay because their food had been destroyed in route and supply ships would be arriving in the Chesapeake, where the colonists were expected to settle.

Our old friend, Simon Fernandez, a captain of one of the ships, announced that he was stranding the colonists on Roanoke Island, that he would not take them further and he will not return them home. What better way to assure that the colony fails? Stranded with no food among enemy Indians in a place no one will look.

Why John White, the Governor, did not override Fernandez is unknown. Perhaps he knew he could not win a fight with the pirate, who physically controlled the ships and the sailors, and decided to make the best of the situation at hand.

All three trips, the 1584, the 1585-86 and now this venture have had their food destroyed in route. On this trip, the Indians are hostile and without much food themselves, and the supply ship in route will never look for the colonists on Roanoke Island, but will instead search the Chesapeake.

Finally, Fernandez relents a bit and says he will transport one person to England to seek resupply, leaving the rest on Roanoke Island, full well knowing that by the time he arrives in England, it will be too late in the year to send a supply ship until late the following spring and the colonists will likely have perished by then of starvation or at the hands of the hostile Indians.

The colonists persuaded White to return to England as the “one person,” although White was reluctant, wanting to remain with the colonists. Fernandez puts White on the slowest boat which arrived weeks after the rest of the fleet, and not in England, but in Ireland. In the mean time, Stafford and Fernandez reported to Raleigh that his colonists are in their “wished seate.” An amazingly blatant outright lie.

War!

In October 1587, just as the ships arrived in England and as John White was trying to arrange for the resupply of the colonists, the undeclared war between England and Spain escalated. The Queen who had no British Navy conscripted all vessels regardless of their type, so fishing and merchant vessels were impressed into service and a moratorium was placed on shipping so that all vessels remained in port and available to defend England against the anticipated attack of the Spanish Armada.

In March of 1588, Grenville, having obtained permission, was ready to leave on a rescue or resupply voyage when the rumors of Spain and the Pope’s alliance to attack England were combined with a lunar eclipse and an alleged earthquake at Glastonberry Abbey that supposedly revealed Merlin’s prophesy of the end of the world. Walsingham of course reported these events to Queen Elizabeth, strongly advising her to prepare for imminent war. She revoked the permission given for Grenville to leave, at Walsingham’s insistence.

French Pirates and the Spanish Armada

A month later, White obtained the services of two small ships, recruited 15 new colonists and prepared to leave. In May, after departure, they were attacked by French pirates, robbed, their food stolen, but their lives spared. White was injured in the battle. The ship limped home, the passengers nearly starved. These colonists are the lucky ones, for they aren’t “lost.”

English and Spanish ships engaged in the 1588 sea battle.

In July of 1588, the long anticipated and feared Spanish Armada inched up the English coastline in a frightening arc.

Raleigh’s flagship attacked “thunderously and furiously” and he destroyed the Armada with the help of heavy seas. The painting above looks tranquil, but the descriptions of the battle was anything but. The panoramic painting below which includes watchtowers and Queen Elizabeth’s address at Tilbury conveys more of the confusion and heavy seas, conditions endured for days by both the Spanish and English leading up to the sea battle at Gravelines which signaled the beginning of the end for the Spanish fleet.

The English were both lucky and resourceful. The English set ships afire and launched them into the Spanish galleons. Heavy winds blew the burning ships into the Spanish, forcing them against the European coastline.

The Search for the Colonists

That battle was over, but the colonists were still without supplies and the Spanish were humiliated and angry. They set their sights on revenge.

In 1588, the Spanish settled in Florida to search for the English settlement up and down the coastline, not to rescue them, but to destroy the colony. Capt. Vicente Gonzalez found the fort on Roanoke Island, but it was deserted, and the Spanish only found casks buried in the sand, which is how fresh water was collected and stored. The English had clearly been there but had departed by that time. A year had elapsed since White had left Roanoke for England. It must have seemed like an eternity.

In March of 1589 Raleigh recruited 19 merchants to fund a new venture to Roanoke, but no trip was forthcoming. Scandal and slander haunted Raleigh.

In February of 1590, another Spanish scare in England brought shipping once again to a halt, but in March, Queen Elizabeth approved Raleigh’s request to send one ship to Roanoke. Ironically, the only ship Raleigh can find is a pirate ship, the Hopewell, who is leaving for the Caribbean under the guidance of the notorious pirate (and eventual Lord Mayor of London,) John Watts. The pirates agree to allow John White to join them, but he can only bring one chest, and they are going to privateer first. Given that this is his only option, White reluctantly agreed.

As the summer wanes, White became frantic as the men pirate in the Caribbean and petitioned the captain daily to leave for Roanoke. White knew that they needed to leave the Outer Banks by mid-August as Atlantic winter crossings had not yet at that time been attempted. 

Hurricane

On August 12th, the Hopewell finally arrived at the end of Croatoan Island in the midst of a hurricane. By the 15th they had inched their way further to Hattorask Island, then on to Port Fernando where they could see Roanoke Island itself.

They saw smoke, which White jubilantly assumed was the colonists, but it was probably just a natural fire. The ships set off artillery hoping to attract the attention of the colonists or Manteo’s tribe, but no one responded. Another fire was spotted in the opposite direction on Hattarask Island. They set out in that direction, found the location, but no people were there. Something was very wrong.

On August 17th, anchored on the Outer Banks in very rough seas, they decided to try for Roanoke Island. Two smaller boats left the larger ship, the first boat to hunt for fresh water. That boat returned to the main ship as White’s boat left. The second boat followed, but had waited too long and the seas were too rough.

“Directly into the harbour so great a gale, the sea breaks extremely.”

The Captain made a mistake, left his mast up, and was swamped. Of the 15 men in his boat, 11 drown and 4 were rescued. As amazing as it sounds, most sailors didn’t know how to swim. The rest of the men watched in horror. White said he felt particularly badly, because one of the men who drown was not a sailor, but was Robert Coleman, family member of Thomas Coleman and his wife, two colonists.

At that point, the superstitious sailors no longer wanted to go to Roanoke Island to look for the colonists, but White and Capt. Cocke persuaded them. The group arrived on Roanoke after dark, overshot their destiny, then tromped around in the dark backtracking a quarter mile. They saw a fire and headed in that direction, finding nothing. They sang English songs, they chanted, they did anything they could think of to attract the attention of the colonists. Finally, they slept in their boats, awaiting morning when they found bare footprints in the sand, but no colonists.

Gone!

The next day, in the daylight, White found the location of the fort where he had left the colonists, but the village was removed. Disassembled, not destroyed. But gone nonetheless.

On a tree, White found the letters “CRO” carved, and further on, to the right of the entrance to the fort on the palisade, he found the word “CROATOAN” carved.

The photo above shows a reproduction at Roanoke Island Festival Park, flanked by Dawn Taylor and Anne Poole, LCRG volunteers, as the original tree and stockade post no longer exist.

White agreed with the colonists before he left that if they were to move, they would carve the location where they were going where he could find it. White said they were discussing moving “50 miles into the main,” although neither he nor anyone else tells us that location. That distance would adequately protect them from the marauding Spanish.

Furthermore, White made a secret pact with the colonists that if they were distressed or in danger when they left, they were to carve a “cross formee,” similar to a Maltese cross, above the word.

There were no crosses and furthermore, the village was not destroyed, but taken apart and moved, so there was no sign of a hurried departure or distress. The pinnace left for the colonists was also gone, and only heavy useless items remained. White was overjoyed because he knew the colonists had moved to be among their friends the Croatoan, Manteo’s village, which he interpreted to mean that they were safe. He had to be thinking of his daughter.

Bad Luck Turns Even Worse

By this time, the weather was again worsening, and the men returned to the Hopewell anchored on the Outer Banks. White said they were afraid their anchors and cables would not hold, and indeed they were right. Three of four broke during what must have been a terrifying night, nearly wrecking the ship on the shoals. The men soundly refused to go to Roanoke Island again, or to Croatoan Island to look for the colonists. The men who would brave privateering would not brave the Outer Banks islands.

White, being a smart man suggested that they go back to the West Indies for the winter and privateer, returning in the spring to Hatteras, a strategy which would allow them to return to the Outer Banks 60 days earlier than if they had to sail from England. The men quickly agreed, but Mother Nature had something else in mind. By now a full-fledged hurricane, the ship was literally blown back to England, against the will of the crew.

Raleigh’s fortunes were not improving in England. In February of 1592 he was charged with being an atheist. Worse yet, in July of 1592, Raleigh was rumored to be betrothed to Elizabeth Throckmartin, one of Queen Elizabeth’s maids of honor. Enraged, Elizabeth threw the couple into the Tower of London. She may have been the Queen, but she was still a woman spurned – and a very powerful one.

In October, Raleigh was released from the Tower but banned from court. Walsingham did not live to see this day, as he had died in 1590, although he surely would have thoroughly enjoyed this turn of events.

White’s Final Letter

On February 4, 1593, John White, in Ireland, wrote one last letter to historian Richard Hakluyt detailing the 1590 rescue attempt. White says:

“Thus may you plainly perceive the success of my fifth and last voyage to Virginia which was no less unfortunately ended that forwardly begun, and as luckless to many, as sinister to myself. I leave off from prosecuting that whereunto I would to God my wealth were answerable to my will. This committing the relief of my discomfortable company the planters in Virginia to the merciful help of the Almighty, whom I most humbly beseech to help and comfort them, according to his most Holy will and their good desire, I take my leave from my house at Newtowne in Kyulmore the 4 of February 1593.”

White had clearly given up any hope of rescuing the colonists and is never heard from again. His letter was not published until 1600.

White clearly wanted to believe that his daughter, son-in-law and grandchild were still alive.

Seven Years Later

In the spring of 1594, 7 years after White’s son-in-law, Ananias Dare left for Roanoke, his estate was probated in London, as it appears that Ananias was presumed to be dead or at least unresponsive. This is particularly interesting in light of White’s 1593 letter. You would think that if White had information that the colony or his son-in-law had perished, his letter would have read differently.

Ananias Dare had a son, John, from a previous marriage for whom a guardian was appointed.

England: Canterbury – Administrations in the Prerogative Court of
Canterbury, 1596-1608, Index to Acts of Administration in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1596 – 1608 County: General – Country: England:
Dare, Ananias, St. Bride, Lond. To Jn. Nokes, k., dur. min. of Jn. D., s.,
(by Decree), (prev. Gnt. Apr 1594, p 95), Jun 1597 p213

Robert Satchfield and John Nokes were named as “next of kin” to Ananias Dare in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury Probate Acts of 1594 and 1597 respectively.  They wanted to also become administrators of John’s estate and guardians of Ananias’ his son John. The outcome is unknown, as is what happened to Ananias’ son, John Dare. Neither is the “next of kin” relationship of Nokes and Satchfield to Ananias Dare described.

Also in 1594, Florida Governor Gonalo Mendez de Cancio reported that two relief boats went to Roanoke with planters, clothing, supplies and tools. If this is indeed true, they too were lost.

In May of 1597, 5 years after his “transgression” with Elizabeth Throckmartin, Raleigh was forgiven by the Queen and returned to court. However, the rumors were true, and indeed Raleigh and Elizabeth had married and Raleigh had a young son.

Rescue Missions, Treason and Jamestown

By 1602, 5 rescue attempts had been undertaken and Raleigh outfited a 6th. In May of 1603, two more expeditions were launched, for a total of 8 attempts, one to the Chesapeak and one that missed Hattorask Island completely. If the colonists were still alive, Virginia Dare would have been 15 years old.

One school of thought suggests that these aren’t actual “rescue attempts,” but that the colony location is known and the colonists were producing products for trade, such as silkgrass and sassafras. The ships were visiting to load the products, not rescue the colonists.

In March of 1603 Queen Elizabeth died and King James became King of England. James was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth’s cousin whom she had executed when Mary threatened Elizabeth’s right to the throne. Mary Queen of Scots held the Scottish throne for James as he was underage at the time. Queen Elizabeth’s death with no heir reverted the crown to James, but left Raleigh in a terrible predicament.

In July, Raleigh was arrested for High Treason. Subsequently convicted without evidence or witnesses, Raleigh was eventually executed for his “crime,” but not until 1618 and only then after a failed 1617 expedition to South America during which his son was killed.

In January of 1606, the London Company was formed by Chief Justice Popham, the man who convicted Raleigh and in April 1607, the London Company settled Jamestown with 115 colonists, just a few months shy of the 20th anniversary of the Lost Colony’s settlement on Roanoke Island.

Hints of Survival

Did the Colonists survive? They may have. Several tidbits of information exist that suggest that they did, but we have no proof.

From the paper, “Where Have All The Indians Gone? Native American Eastern Seaboard Dispersal, Genealogy and DNA in Relation to Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony of Roanoke,” published in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy in the fall 2009 issue, I discussed information that points to the possible survival of the colonists. In addition, I prepared a timeline which is included as well.

A surveyor, John Lawson, worked on Hatteras Island and on the coastline of North Carolina in the late 1600s and early 1700s when the area was first being settled. Lawson reported that the Hatteras Indians were the tribe living on Hatteras Island in 1701, 110 years after the colony disappeared, and they included light skinned, light-haired, grey-eyed people who claimed to descend from white people. 110 years is roughly 5 generations.

The oral history of the Hatteras included stories of Raleigh’s ships and a ghost ship that regularly appeared looking for the colonists.

“A farther Confirmation of this [Lost Colony ancestry] we have from the Hatteras Indians, who either then lived on Ronoak-Island, or much frequented it. These tell us, that several of their Ancestors were white People, and could talk in a Book, as we do; the Truth of which is confirm’d by gray Eyes being found frequently amongst these Indians, and no others. They value themselves extremely for their Affinity to the English, and are ready to do them all friendly Offices.” – John Lawson, (1709) A New Voyage to Carolina, page 43-44.

Lawson further stated: “Hatteras Indians these are them that wear English dress.”

Lawson was given chickens by the Hatteras, which are not native to America.

Lawson’s Indian guide, Enoe Will, told Lawson he knew about “talking books and speaking papers” and that some of his ancestors, the Hatteras, were white.

Various records indicate that the Hatteras Indians integrated with the Mattamuskeet Indians who lived on the mainland directly across the sound from Hatteras Island. During this timeframe, significant tribal “reorganization” and warfare was taking place. The tribes divided and many moved to other locations, further inland to safer swamplands that were also less desirable to Europeans. By this time, post 1650, land and other records begin to be kept and are available for research. In addition, oral histories of the various tribes and the history of several families exist independently who claim to be descended from the colonists.

Circumstantial evidence suggests that some of the Colonists did survive. If they did, their only opportunity for survival was to assimilate into the Native culture. They could not remain as separate “colonists.”

In 1888, 1891 and 1914, historians and North Carolina legislators determined that the Lumbee were likely the descendants of the Colonists based upon their own oral history, the Lumbee language which incorporated 300 years old English (Elizabethan) words, their last names and their countenance. However, there was also political motivation for doing so and no records have been found prior to McMillan’s 1888 mention of a Lumbee/Lost Colony connection.

Some of the colonists may have been victims of warfare and killed by the Powhatan just before Jamestown was settled, or became slaves, or both. There were several reports from those in Jamestown who were searching for the colonists that some yet survived.

Sightings

While the Jamestown fort was being built, in 1607, George Percy reported: “We saw a savage boy about the age of 10 years which had a head of hair of a perfect yellow and a reasonable white skin, which is a miracle amongst all the savages.” Jamestown and Roanoke Island are roughly 150 miles apart, with Hatteras Island being another 50 miles south.

Percy’s report was only 20 years after the Lost Colony was left in 1587, so if this were in fact a child of (or related to) the colonists, he would surely have told his parents or other colonists that he had indeed seen non-Native strangers and perhaps their rescue was imminent. If this wasn’t a child of the colonists, who was this child?

It should also be noted that the colonists weren’t the only white people in the region:

  • There was at least one other failed settlement on the James River in 1570 by the Jesuits
  • There were earlier shipwrecks
  • The Spanish were sailing the coastline
  • European vessels were fishing off of Nova Scotia. The typical sailing path was south with the trade winds to the Caribbean and up the Atlantic Coast. As early as 1474, the Portuguese and Danish had discovered and were fishing “the land of Codfish” which has been interpreted to mean Newfoundland. The way to Newfoundland was typically up the Atlantic coastline and ships had to stop to resupply, especially for water.
  • Raleigh’s two military expeditions in 1584 and 1585/86 could have been responsible for fathering children

The Hatteras Indians were already using metal tools salvaged from a shipwreck that occurred about 20 years before Raleigh’s expeditions. Maritime traffic wasn’t new and European sailors could easily have left their DNA behind.

According to a Jamestown report, the Powhatan chief eventually “confessed” that he did killed most of the colonists just prior to the settlement of Jamestown in 1607/8. The colonists had, according to the Powhatan chief, been living with the Chesepian tribe who refused to join the Powhatan confederacy. There is other information that conflicts with this and indicates that the colonists had split, or had been split, and colonists elsewhere still survived, some as slaves.

Some scholars believe that the chief’s confession was either fabricated or enhanced by Powhatan to intimidate the Jamestown colonists. Although Powhatan did display a musket and other artifacts from the colonists, supposedly from the massacre, he could also have obtained those items through trade or other means.

More than three dozen of these survival reports exist, including maps.

A clandestine map, known as the Zuniga Map was sent to the Spanish king through an intermediary spy but originated in Jamestown in 1608. (North is not at the top. I believe it’s to the right.)

The map was later found in the Spanish archives and translated. A redrawn version shown below showed 3 colonist locations, one at Jamestown and two further south.

Reports suggesting colonist survival include:

  • 1588 – The Spanish governor in Florida reports to the King that the British are living on an island at 43 degrees.
  • 1599 – Recounting his time while captive in the hands of the Spanish, David Glavin claims that two additional Spanish ships were provisioned to go to Jacan (Roanoke Island) in 1594, carrying supplies of people, ammunition, clothes, implements, axes and spades for the settlers there. A report from the Florida governor to the king confirms his report, but the outcome is unknown.
  • 1603 – Captain Martin Pring sailed to North America and returned with holds full of sassafras. They were reported to have landed north of Roanoke Island. At the same time, many accounts that Sir Walter Raleigh’s colony had again been contacted were reported from several sources in England.
  • 1603-1604 – David Beers Quinn (1985) reports a 1603 rumor in England that contact with the colony was made. Capt. Mace was sent to Virginia in 1603 and again in 1604 to obtain sassafras along with a French-English expedition.
  • 1604 – George Waymouth presented a treaty called “Jewel of Artes” to King James because he thought the Lost Colonists had been contacted. It appears that Waymouth assumed that King James was already familiar with that information.
  • 1605 – Waymouth led a rescue expedition but by accident or design was not reported to have gone to Croatoan.
  • 1605 – In England the play “Eastward, Ho,” produced by George Chapman, Ben Johnson and John Marston stated “a whole country of English is there, men bred of those who were left there in “79.” Yes, the 79 is confusing but artistic license perhaps?
  • John Smith at Jamestown reports survivors at Panawioc, Pakerakanick and Ocanahowan.
  • 1608 – John Smith returns to Jamestown from a meeting with the Pamunkey Indians. Of his meeting, he reported, “What he knew of the dominions he spared not to acquaint me with, as of certaine men clothed at a place called Ocanahonan, clothed like me.”
  • 1608 – Later in Smith’s travels into the interior at a place called Weramocomoco, the local Indian chief or “Emperour” as Smith described him gave still more information. “Many kingdoms hee desribed mee…The people cloathed at Ocamahowan, he also confirmed; and the Southerly countries also as the rest that reported us to be within a day and a halfe of Mangoge, two dayes of Chawwanock, 6 from Roonock to the south part of the backe sea: he described a countrie called Anone, where they have abundance of brasse and houses walled as ours.” It was thought to be about 10 days or 100 miles through the swamp.
  • 1608 – As a result, Smith pursued the lead and the King agreed to provide guides. Unfortunately, the results were as follows: “We had agreed with the king of Paspahegh to conduct two of our men to a place called Panawicke beyond Roonok where he reported many men to be appareled. Wee landed him at Warraskoyack where playing the villaine and deluding and for rewards, returned within 3 or 4 days after without going further.”
  • John Smith made yet another reference to the search for the lost colony in his Description of Virginia, published in 1612. “Southward they went to some parts of Chanwonock and the Mangoages, to search them there left by Sir Walter Raleigh; for those parts of the towne of Chrisapeack hath formerly been discovered by M. Harriot and Sir Ralph Layne.”
  • 1609 (Dec. 14) .… “Intelligence of some of our nation planted by Sir Walter Raleigh, (yet alive) within 50 miles of our fort…as is verified by two of our colony sent out to seek them, who, though denied by the savages speech with them, found crosses and letters, the characters and assured testimonies of Christians newly cut in the barks of trees.” Note that crosses were a sign of distress, per White’s agreement with the colonists. Had that information not been shared with the Jamestown colonists?
  • 1609 – A Spanish expedition by Captain Francisco Fernandez de Ecija on the eastern seaboard ransoms a Frenchman and carries on trade and social interaction with the Indians south of current day Roanoke/Hatteras Island. An Indian woman named Maria de Miranda, who is married to a Spaniard, translates for the Spanish/Indians and tells them that she knows where the French and English are settled but she does not state the location.
  • One of the most telling pieces of information was contained in a series of instructions sent from England in May 1609 by the council of the Virginia Company to the governor at Jamestown that clearly indicates the belief that at least four of the colonists are alive. The council proposed establishing a “principal and chiefe seate or headwaurters” of the permanent Virginia colony near “a towne called Ohonahorn seated where the River of Choanock devideth itself into three branches and falleth into the sea of Rawnocke.” Extolling the virtues of this site, generally conceded to have been on the west side of the Chowan River in what is now Bertie County, NC, the council concluded as follows; “besides you are neere to riche cooper mines of Ritanoc and may passe them by one braunche of this River and by another Peccarecamicke where you shall finde foure of the englishe alive, left by Sir Walter Rawely which escaped from the slaughter of Powhatan of Roanocke, upon the first arrivial of our colonie, and live under the proteccon of a wiroance called Gespanocon, enemy to the Powhatan, by whose consent you shall never recover them, one of these were worth much labour.”
  • Another clue in the literature of the Jamestown settlement appeared in a report prepared by several leaders of the colony and published in 1612 under the title “The Proceedings of the English Colony in Virginia.” In referring to one of Capt. Smith’s journeys mention is made of his dealings with an Indian chief. “The Captain thanked him for his good counsel, yet the better to try his love, desired guides to Chowanoke where he would send a present to that king to bind him his friend. To perform this journey was sent Michael Sicklemore, an honest, valiant and painefull soldier, with him, two guids, and directions howe to search for the lost company of Sir Walter Rawley and silke grasse.” The results of Michael Sicklemore’s journey are given later in the report, together with reference to yet another search party. “Mr Sicklemore well returned from Chawanock but found little hope and lesse certainetie of them that were left by Sir Walter Rawley.” And then he goes on to say…
  • “So that Nathanell Powell and Anas Todkill were also, by the Quiyoughquohanocks, conducted to the Mangoages to search them there. But nothing could we learne but they were all dead.”
  • The Powhatan told John Smith to search among the Chowanoc for the colonists.
  • The Powhatan say the colonists settled at Ohanoac, in Chowanoc territory, slightly more than 50 miles inland.
  • Powhatan’s servant named Weinock told William Strachey that “Houses are built like ours, which is a ten days march from Powhaten.”
  • A notation in the margin of a volume entitled Hakluytus, Posthumus or Purchas His Pilgrimes. “Powhatan confessed that he had been at the murder of the colony and showed a musket barrel and a brass mortar, and certain pieces of iron which had been theirs.”
  • Gates (at Jamestown) was instructed to find the colonists who “escaped from the slaughter of Powhaton of Roanoke.” It is believed that the Mandoag, a hostile tribe, attacked the Powhatan and took some colonists as slaves.
  • 1612 – Strachey’s report: “At Peccarecamick and Ochananoen by the relations of Machumps, the people have howes built of stone walls, and one story above the other so taught them by those English who escaped the slaughter at Roanoke…At Ritanoe, the Weroance Eyanoco preserved 7, of the English alive, fower men, twoo boyes and one young maid (who escaped and fled up the River of Chanoke) to beat his copper of which he hath certain mynes at the said Ritanoe.” Ritanoc may be the mines of Chaunis Temoatan, controlled by the Mandoag, 20 days journey overland.
  • Arrohattoc (Powhatan confederacy) was reported to have one boy.
  • Panawiock was reportedly housing many lost colonists.
  • English, a man and woman, are rumored to be alive among the Tuscarora. North of the Roanoke, it is noted that men have beards and the people have copper. (Native men generally can’t grow beards and have very little body hair.)
  • 1614 – A group of deserters from Jamestown head for the Tuscarora village of Ocamahawan, where the inhabitants had built two-story stone houses, raise tame turkeys, and used brass utensils.
  • 1621 – Expedition to the Potomac River, in a native King’s house a china box is seen. The King says it was sent to him from “a king that dwelt in the west, over the great hills, some 10 days journey away, he having that box from a people as he said that came thither in ships, that wear clothes, crooked swords and somewhat like our men, dwelt in houses and were called Acanack-China.”
  • 1622 – John Pory of Jamestown, brother to Anne who married colonist Robert Ellis, continued to look for the colonists. He was told they live “10 days journey westward” but Pory cannot pursue the lead due to fighting between the Powhatan and the English.
  • 1650 – Merchant Edward Bland acting upon a rumor that Englishmen are alive to the south deep in the interior in a village called Hocomawanank hires an Appamattoc guide. This could possibly be the location of the Occaneechi trading village located on the Roanoke River. This is now 63 years after the colony was left, so these Englishmen, if they were related to the colonists, had to have been their children or descendants.
  • 1669 – Historian James Sprunt says, “The Cape Fear Coree Indians told the English settlers of the Yeamans colony in 1669 that their lost kindred of the Roanoke colony, including Virginia Dare …had been adopted by the once powerful Hatteras tribe and had become amalgamated with the children of the wilderness. It is believed that the Croatans of this vicinity are descendants of that race.” This is 32 years before Lawson reports about the Hatteras having light hair and being descended from the colonists.
  • 1671 – First expedition to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Tutelo Indian Territory, initials MA and NI (or J which was an indistinguishable letter from I at that time) are found carved into trees. Morris Allen and Nicholas Johnson? Five days to the west they again find MA and other scratchments on the trees.
  • 1701 – John Lawson reports the Keyauwee to be a “nation of bearded men.” Native men have little or no facial or body hair. It is believed that this location is near current day Ashboro, NC. These bearded men were first described by Lederer in 1670 but not encountered until 1701 by Lawson. These individuals could also have been descendants of early Spanish explorers in the 1500s that traversed the southeastern US.
  • The Cora (or Core) tree, 1000 years old, stands in Frisco on Hatteras Island with another message engraved. Cora or Core is thought by some to be another message from the colonists as to where they were relocating on the mainland.

If some of the colonists did survive to reproduce, it would have been within a predominantly matrilineal Native culture. Given that there were only 17 female colonists and 97 males, the balance of 80 males would have taken Native wives. What results would be expected when Y-line DNA of the descendants is sampled today?

The first thing that might be expected is that not all of the surnames survived, but some may have. It’s unlikely that after 5 generations, or more, of living in a Native matrilineal culture without surnames that colonist surnames were once again adopted intact, meaning down the direct paternal line. However, it’s also not impossible. If John Lawson (1709) was correct, the Indians took pride in their English heritage.

Just who are we looking for?

How Many Colonists Were There?

You’d think with a readily available roster, there would be agreement on how many colonists there were, but numbers from different sources vary from 110 to 117. One of John White’s own records says there were 150 men, but the roster certainly doesn’t reflect 150 people in total, let alone 150 men.

The roster itself includes 115 individuals, excluding the ship’s captains who were not expected to remain. Two infants were born before John White left for the return trip to England, Virginia Dare and a Harvie child whose name and gender were not recorded. So that’s 117. John White was recorded on the roster, and he returned to England, so now we’re down to 116. George Howe was on the roster but was killed by Indians while crabbing alone along the beach, so he wasn’t “lost.” This brings us to 115.

The number of colonists who were left on Roanoke Island during the 1587 voyage was 115. However, we know they were not the only folks who were lost.

Who Else Was Lost?

At least 3 men were left behind when the military colony abruptly left for England with Sir Francis Drake in 1586. Sir Richard Grenville left 15 men behind a month or so later to “hold the fort.” Skeletal remains of one individual was found and the Indians tell us of between 2 and 4 others who were killed. Another source says Grenville actually left 18, not 15. In any event, we know that at least 18 men, possibly 21 in total were “left” from these expeditions, and that at least one was killed.

Sources from the Spanish archives hint that Captains Amadas and Lane may have left two English hostages as an exchange of good will with the Natives in 1584 when they returned with Manteo and Wanchese to England. If so, we have no record of what happened to these men.

The Spanish archives also state that at one time 2 hanged bodies were found, one Indian and one English. Was this one of the men left behind? The record isn’t clear about when this event occurred. Native people typically didn’t execute by hanging.

During the Grenville expedition of 1584, Captain Stafford “set down” thirty two men on Croatoan Island and a month later, two of them were brought to Roanoke Island. What happened to the other 30? Were they lost too? Did they stay behind of Croatoan to be retrieved later, did they die, or did they remain forever?

In case you’ve lost track, we have the following:

We know that at least 133 Europeans were left, abandoned in one form or another on the Outer Banks. There may have been as many as 158.

In addition, we haven’t even discussed the possibility that Sir Francis Drake did in fact deposit some of his South American Indians, slaves and Moors that he had “rescued” during his privateering with every intention of leaving them on Roanoke Island with the military colonists. Instead he found the colonists in desperate straits, not having enough food for themselves, let alone additional individuals. I doubt that Drake would have expended the resources in a hurricane to put the Indians, slaves and Moors into a boat and risk both the boat and his men to transport them to the mainland from the shoals. Not to mention, the Moors were valuable as ransom to exchange for Englishmen being held captive in Moorish jails after being captured by Barbary pirates.

The only record we have of Drake’s bounty of humans is that the Turks were returned to England and ransomed back to their home country. The rest are unaccounted for. Some scholars feel that the majority of Drake’s captives drowned during the hurricane. Others feel that some or many were deposited on either Roanoke or Hatteras Island, although just five days after Drake’s departure, Raleigh’s relief voyage arrived, found the area deserted, and left. Grenville arrived another three weeks or so later and found the area completely devoid of humanity, including Indians. That’s when he left his 15 men to “hold the fort,” meaning that they would count towards inhabiting the area to preserve Raleigh’s patent.

Who Were the Colonists?

We don’t have a complete list of names of the English who were left on the shores of Roanoke and the mainland.

We have 3 or 4 surnames of the Grenville 15:

  • Chapman
  • Cofer/Coffin
  • Stucley

The first three were reported by Pedro Diaz, a Spanish pilot who was with Grenville, who said the number of men left behind was eighteen, not 15, two of whom were called Cofar (Coffin) and Chapman, and as his recollection is direct evidence, it may be the more reliable. Diaz said that Grenville left with them four pieces of artillery and supplies for eighteen men for one year.

Andy Powell, during research in England for his book, Grenville and the Lost Colony of Roanoke, discovered the surname of Stucley. Andy’s research further revealed three previously unknown colonists as well.

I am particularly grateful to the now deceased Dr. William S. Powell for contributing his research from his research trips to England and Ireland that were focused on identifying the colonists.

Other historical record researchers over the years contributing to the body of colonist evidence in England have been Andy Powell (not related to Dr. Powell), Nelda Percival and Nancy Frey.

We have at least partial names of 122 colonists and men from the exploration expeditions who were left behind. Of those, two were children born in 1587 shortly after arrival. I have included any information or hints about the identity of the colonists in the comments field. Keep in mind that spelling was not standardized at this time, so surname research is particularly difficult.

  Surname First Name Gender Position Comments
1 Allen Morris male
2 Archard Arnold male Archard’s lived in the riverside parish of St. Mary-at-the-Hill in London and are found in the All-Saints-Barking records within sight of the Tower of London.
3 Archard Thomas male child Thomas Archard is born in 1575 at St. Mary-at-the-Hill in London. Dr. Powell – In the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White.
4 Archard Joyce female See above
5 Arthur Richard male
6 Bailie Roger male assistant Bailey surname found in All-Saints-Barking records. A Roger Bailey is born 1578 in St. Clement Danes in Westminster, London to Francis Bailey. Dr. Powell – In the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White.
7 Bennet Marke male Some Bennetts are members in the tile and bricklayers guild.
8 Berde William male Possibly a Devon family, also Berd and Burd are found in St. Andrews Parish, Somerset.
9 Berrye Henry male Devon families, but none that connect so far. Presumed brother of Richard.
10 Berrye Richard male Presumed to be brother of Henry Berrye.
11 Bishop Michael male
12 Borden John male Dr. Powell – In the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White.
13 Bridger John male
14 Bright John male
15 Brooke John male
16 Browne Henry male Possible related to William Browne.
17 Browne William male Common surname, but a William Brown was a London goldsmith prior to 1587. William Brown married in 1572 and 1580 at St. Michael Cornhill, London. Possibly related to Henry Browne.
18 Burden John male
19 Butler Thomas male
20 Cage Anthony male Anthony Cage had been sheriff of Huntington in 1585. The Cage family was large, prominent in a number of endeavors, and wealthy. Anthony was a favored name for many generations. Anthonys lived and had businesses in Friday Street and were members of St. Matthew’s Parish there. They appear to have been related to the Warren family with lost colony connections, and Ananias Warren was Cage’s grandson, suggesting a Cage/Dare association. Later there were also Cage connections with Jamestown and New England.
21 Chapman John male Bideford shipbuilding family. Presumed to be married to Alis. Dr. Powell – In the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White.
22 Chapman Alis female Also found in the parish register of All-Saints-Barking. Dr. Powell – In the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White.
23 Chapman male Grenville 15 Probably related to John and Alis. Dr. Powell – In the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White.
24 Cheven John male May be Chavis today.
25 Clement William male Omitted on many rosters, present in McMillan’s 1888 roster taken from Hawk’s history of NC and also from Hakluyt, Vol 3, p 280. Dr. Powell – James Hynde and William Clement, according to contemporary manuscripts in the Essex Records Office, had been in prison together in Colchester Castle near London, a general jail, for stealing. This should not be unexpected as Ralph Lane referred to his company as “Wylde menn of myne owne nacione”.
26 Cofer/Coffin male Grenville 15
27 Colman Thomas male Robert Coleman, related to Thomas, was with White and drown in 1590.
28 Colman unknown female Presumed wife of Thomas.
29 Cooper Christopher male assistant Lived in St. Dunstan’s Stephney, a large parish east of London, possibly a relative of John White’s wife, 3 children under 5 and 2 teenage sons (Horne). Dr. Powell – Surname in the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London.
30 Cotsmur John male
31 Dare Ananias male assistant Married John White’s daughter, Eleanor, January 24, 1583 at St. Clements Dane. Presumed or confirmed dead in 1594, guardian assigned to his son, John. Daughter Thomasin left in London and buried in 1588. Tiler, bricklayer.
32 Dare Elyoner female Daughter of John White, wife of Ananias Dare.
33 Dare Virginia female child Born on Roanoke a week after landing.
34 Darige Richard male
35 Dimmock Humphrey male Added per Andy Powell’s research from Raleigh’s Assignment of 1589 which lists the colonists in Virginia. Dr. Powell – In the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White.
36 Dorrell Henry male
37 Dutton William male Dr. Powell – May well have been the William Dutton, Esq., whose license to marry Anne Nicholas of St. Mildred, Bread Street, was issued October 2, 1583. She was the daughter of Sir Ambrose Nicholas, sometime Lord Mayor of London. William Dutton, armiger, of Gloucester, possibly the father of the lost colonist, contributed 25 pounds toward the defense of England on the eve of the expected attack by the Spanish Armada.
38 Earnest John male
39 Ellis Robert male child A Robert was born in November 1576 in St. Clement Dane, son of Thomas Ellice. See below.
40 Ellis Thomas male Lived in St. Clement Dane’s parish in London, near Ananias Dare (Horne). Horne speculated that perhaps the wife stayed back and planned to join him later. He traveled with what is probably a son. Dr. Powell – One phase of my study which I have yet had only an opportunity to think about is to consider any possible relationships which may have existed between the Roanokers and the settlers at Jamestown twenty years or so later. One instance of a possibility, I will cite, however. John Pory, secretary of the Virginia colony, came down into what is now Gates County in 1622. I had often wondered just why he made the journey and I have now discovered that his sister was married to a man named Ellis and that Thomas and Robert Ellis, the latter a boy, were among the Lost Colonists. I’d like to establish that a relationship existed between the various Ellises concerned. Before leaving home in Exeter Thomas Ellis had been a member of the vestry of his parish church, St. Petrock, which still stands on the main business street of Exeter. The boy Robert Ellis is likely his son. The apparently unattached boy, William Wythers was possibly the vestryman’s nephew as one Alice Withers had married a Hugh Ellis in 1573. An infant William Withers was christened in St. Michael Cornhill on March 25, 1574, making him 13 at the time of the lost colony. The plot further thickens however. Adjacent to St. Michael Cornhill was St. Peter’s, the parish of the prominent Satchfeilde family of bakers and grocers and next of kin to Ananias Dare. Moreover, John Withers, a merchant-tailor of St. Michael’s who died in 1589 was the son-in-law of John Satchfeilde of Guildford, Surry. This there appears to be a viable three or even four family connection between Dare, Ellis, Satchfeilde and Withers.
41 English Edmond male
42 Farre John male
43 Florrie Charles male Lived in St. Clement Dane parish in London near Ananias Dare.
44 Gibbes John male
45 Glane Elizabeth female
46 Gramme Thomas male
47 Harris Thomas male Thomas Harris was a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, from 1579 to 1586. He held the master’s degree from the same college.
48 Harris Thomas male
49 Harvie Dyonis male assistant Possibly a relative of Sir James Harvey, a former Lord Mayor of London and ironmonger per Horne’s book. Dr. Powell – Surname in the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years. See below.
50 Harvie Margery female Andy Powell – Dyonis born 1562* Margery born 1567* married 1584* (*=LDS submitted), Harveys records found at St. Michael Cornhill and in Kent.
51 Harvye unknown unknown child Born a few days after arrival on Roanoke. Parents are Dyonis and Margery, above.
52 Hemmington John male
53 Hewet Thomas male Shown as Hewett in McMillan’s 1888 list taken from Hawks History of NC and Hakluyt vol 3 p 280. Dr. Powell – Thomas Hewet may have been the Lost Colonists’ lawyer. At any rate he held the degree of Bachelor of Civil Law from Oxford.
54 Howe George male assistant Dr. Powell – George Howe was one of the “Gentlemen of London” who was made an assistant in the government of the Cittie of Raleigh in the 1587 Lost Colony. Also present was a boy George Howe, most likely his son and certainly not yet of age. The senior Howe was killed by Indians on July 28, 1587 just 6 days after the arrival of the colonists, when he was crabbing and strayed away from the settlement. One George Howe was a member of the painter-stainer company as was Gov. John White, which suggests that had events developed more favorably, there might have been even more watercolors to delight us. An interesting possible family connection is that one of the Lane colonists, Thomas Rattenbury was married to one Elizabeth Howe. Howe’s born in Derby, Suffolk and Devon of the age to be the father or son, also at St. Mary Cornhill.
55 Howe George male child
56 Humfrey Thomas male child IGI – Thomas Humphrey (christened 20 Oct. 1573 – Saint Clement Danes, Westminster, London, England), son of Christopher Humphry. See St. Clement Danes records for several Humphreys, including a Thomasin, which is the same first name as John White’s purported wife and the daughter of Ananias and Eleanor Dare.
57 Hynde James male Born in St. Giles Cripplegate per Horne. Dr. Powell – James Hynde and William Clement, according to contemporary manuscripts now in the Essex Records Office, had been in prison together in Colchester Castle near London, a general jail, for stealing. This should not be unexpected as Ralph Lane referred to his company as “Wylde menn of myne owne nacione”.
58 Johnson Henry male Johnson surname records found at St. Michael Cornhill, including a 1588 Johnson/Withers marriage.
59 Johnson Nicholas male
60 Jones Griffen male Jones records found at St. Michael Cornhill.
61 Jones John male
62 Jones Jane female
63 Kemme Richard male
64 Lasie James male Possibly Lacey?
65 Lawrence Margaret female
66 Little Peter male Birth record for a Peter Little in 1553 in London
67 Little Robert male Birth records for a Robert Little in 1547 and 1550 in Wiltshire and London.
68 Lucas William male
69 Mannering Jane female Dr. Powell – All I can find is that Jane was a common given name in the Mainwaring family of Peover and Newton and that the grandmother of Humfrey Newton, another of the Lost Colonists, was named Katherine Mainwaring. Were Jane and Humfrey related? Perhaps first cousins, grandchildren of Katherine.
70 Martyn George male Surname shown as Martin in McMillan’s 1888 list taken from Hawks History of NC and Hakluyt vol 3 p 280.
71 Merrimoth Emme female Shown as Emma in McMillan’s 1888 list taken from Hawks History of NC and Hakluyt vol 3 p 280. Andy Powell – London born 1558* (*=LDS submitted)
72 Myllet Michael male Dr. Powell – In 1590 Henry Millett was with White and undoubtedly hoped to find Michael Myllet.
73 Mylton Henry male Mylton surname records found at St. Michael Cornhill.
74 Newton Humfrey male Dr. Powell – All I can find is that Jane was a common given name in the Mainwaring family of Peover and Newton and that the grandmother of Humfrey Newton, another of the Lost Colonists, was named Katherine Mainwaring. Were Jane and Humfrey related?
75 Nicholes William male Possibly related to John Nichols. Shown as Nichols on McMillan’s 1888 list taken from Hakluyt vol 2 p 280 and Hawks History of NC. Dr. Powell – Lost Colonist William Nicholes may have been a tailor. A “clothworker” of that name was married in London in 1580 and in 1590 we find the grant of a license to someone else “to occupy the trade of a clothier during the minority of George Nicholles, son of Wm. Nicholles.” I wonder if a place was being held for the orphaned son of a lost colonist. William Dutton was one of the lost colonists. He may well have been the William Dutton, Esq., whose license to marry Anne Nicholas of St. Mildred, Bread Street, was issued October 2, 1583. She was the daughter of Sir Ambrose Nicholas, sometime Lord Mayor of London. William Dutton, armiger, of Gloucester, possibly the father of the lost colonist, contributed 25 pounds toward the defense of England on the eve of the expected attack by the Spanish Armada. In the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White.
76 NIchols John male Added per Andy Powell research from Raleigh’s Assignment of 1589 which lists them in Virginia. Possibly related to William Nichols. Dr. Powell – In the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White.
77 Pattenson Hugh male
78 Payne Henry male Lots of Paine records including a marriage to a Drake. Many at St. Clement Dane and some at St. Michael Cornhill.
79 Payne Rose female
80 Phevens Thomas male
81 Pierce Jane female Peers, Pearce, lived in St. Clement Dane’s Parish in London near Ananias Dare (Horne). Dr. Powell – What can we say about the single woman Jane Pierce? In Ireland, Henry Piers who died in 1623 was the husband of one Jane Jones. Could this Jane Pierce have been their daughter and therefore related to Griffin, Jane and John Pierse who were also along the same body of colonists? Yet another possibility exists. In 1568 one Jone Pierse a Portuguese was registered as an alien in London. She was identified as the sister of men named Simon and Fornando and the tenant of one Frauncis White. When we see the names Simon, Fornando and White in connection with the Roanoke colonists, they immediately suggest a relationship. This Pierce woman lived within sight of the Tower of London in the parish of All Saints Barking. Andy Powell – London born 1560* (*=LDS submitted)
82 Powell Edward male On McMillan’s 1888 list spelled Winifred, taken from Hawks History of NC and Hakluyt vol 3 p 280. Edward and Winifred Powell married Jan. 10, 1585 in Deptford (Horne). Dr. Powell – Another member of the Lane colony was Thomas Philips, chief agent of Walsingham, and Beale’s and Philip’s names are included together in the list of colonists. To add further to the interest in association is the fact that pilot Simon Fernandez was described as “Mr. Secretary Walsingham’s man.” This all remains to be sorted out, but I have a feeling that in time we’re going to have a lot of new things to say about the significance of the Roanoke ventures. The question has been raised as to whether some of these people might have been “spies” for Walsingham. In 1587 a Roger Beale married Agnes Powell and Edward and Wenefrid Powell became lost colonists. What kind of network might have been laid? Is the answer to the riddle of the Lost Colony concealed in family or business relationships? In cases where a man and woman bore the same surname it has been assumed that they are husband and wife. Edward and Wenefrid Powell are examples. The baptism of one Edward Powell is recorded in the register of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, Jan. 2, 1563 and another baptism of an Edward Powell occurred at St. Martin-in-the-Field, Westminster, on March 13, 1569. The marriage of Edward Powell and Wenefred Gray is recorded in St. Nicholas Church, Deptford, Kent, just outside London on Jan. 10, 1584. While Edward is a common 16th century name, Wenefrid is not and the combination of Edward and Wenefrid Powell makes it rather likely that they are indeed the Lost Colonists. An Edward Powell was with Sir Francis Drake on the West Indian voyage of 1585-1586 that stopped at Roanoke Island to relieve the Lane colony. Edward Powell was the scribe and recorder of the Tiger journal and was probably in the personal service of its captain, Christopher Carleill, who just happened to be Sir Francis Walsingham’s stepson. Perhaps Edward decided in 1586 that he liked America and returned in 1587. Powell surname is in the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years.
83 Powell Wenefrid female Assumed to be wife of Edward. Dr. Powell – In the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White. See above.
84 Prat John male child Dr. Powell – Surname is in the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70. Prat record found in Kent. Possible son of Roger Prat.
85 Prat Roger male assistant Possible father of John Prat. Dr. Powell – Surname is in the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White.
86 Rufoote Henry male On McMillan 1888’s list shown as Rufotte taken from Hawks History of NC and Hakluyt vol 3 p 280.
87 Sampson John male assistant Surname found in records of St. Michael Cornhill and All-Saints-Barking
88 Sampson John male child Dr. Powell – In the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White.
89 Scot Thomas male
90 Shaberdge Richard male Also spelled Shabedge on McMillan’s 1888 list taken from Hawks History of NC and Hakluyt vol 3 p 280. Dr. Powell says this person is not British. Andy Powell shows LDS submitted born in London in 1556.
91 Smart Thomas male child
92 Smith Thomas male Smith surname found at St. Michael Cornhill
93 Sole William male
94 Spendlove John male Dr. Powell – John Spendlove, later a Lost Colonist, was described on a 1585 muster list as a “gentleman” and reported present with his horse.
95 Stafford Edward master Added per Andy Powell research from Raleigh’s Assignment of 1589 which lists the colonists in Virginia. Stafford was also on the earlier expeditions too.
96 Starte John male
97 Stevens Thomas male assistant Bailie and Stevens surname records at St. Clement Dane and a Stevens with a William Nichols in Shropshire. Dr. Powell – In the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White.
98 Stilman John male
99 Stucley male Grenville 15
100 Sutton Martyn male Shown as Martin on McMillan’s 1888 list taken from Hawks History of NC and Hakluyt vol 3 p 280. Andy Powell shows LDS submitted born 1560 in Plymouth.
101 Tappan Audry female Thomas and Audrey Tappan were from All Hallows, Lombard Street in London (Horne). Dr, Powell – Two of the single women among the Lost Colonists are interesting as they have surnames very much like those of two of the men. Because of the absence of uniformity in handwriting and spelling it may be that Audrey Tappan and Thomas Topan were husband and wife as were Joan Warren and Thomas Warner. Further support for the latter case exists in the 1584 marriage record of a mariner named Thomas Warner and Johanna Barnes.
102 Taverner Richard male
103 Taylor Clement male Dr. Powell – John Taylor, with White in 1590, who surely knew the country well from his stay of a year with Lane, must have been deeply moved to have to turn away without finding Clement and Hugh Taylor, and perhaps the boy, William Wythers, who might also have been a relative. The boy William Wythers may have been associated with the Tayler (Taylor) family. John and Thomas Taylor had been with the Lane colony. Clement and Hugh were with the Lost Colony and John returned in 1590 with John White to search for the Lost Colony. The implied family association continued in 1592 when one Robert Taylor married Elizabeth Wythers. William Taylor was a ship builder in Bideford in early 1800s. There may have been some prior connection or at least acquaintance among the members of the two families.
104 Taylor Hugh male William Taylor ship builder in Bideford in early 1800s. Taylor surname records found at St. Clement Dane. See above.
105 Tomkins Richard male
106 Topan Thomas male Thomas and Audrey Tappan were from All Hallows, Lombard Street in London (Horne). Dr. Powell – Two of the single women among the Lost Colonists are interesting as they have surnames very much like those of two of the men. Because of the absence of uniformity in handwriting and spelling it may be that Audrey Tappan and Thomas Topan were husband and wife as were Joan Warren and Thomas Warner. Further support for the latter case exists in the 1584 marriage record of a mariner named Thomas Warner and Johanna Barnes.
107 Tydway John male
108 Viccars Ambrose male child Perhaps also Vickers. See below.
109 Viccars Ambrose male Ambrose Viccars married Elizabeth Phillips on 23 Apr 1582 – Saint Clement Danes, Westminster, London, England [IGI Batch No. M041608], Andy Powell – Ambrose born 1556* married 1582; Ambrose born 1583 (*=LDS submitted). Surname found at St. Clements Dane as well as elsewhere.
110 Viccars Elizabeth female
111 Warner Thomas male mariner
112 Warren Joan female
113 Waters William male
114 White Cutbert male White surname records found in Devon, also at St. Clements Dane. Possibly related to John White.
115 White John male governor John White did not stay in Virginia and was not lost. Dr. Powell – In the parish register of All Saints Barking, within sight of the Tower or London, regularly for between 30 and 70 years will be found the following names represented among the Roanoke Colonists: Archard, Backhouse, Bailey, Borden, Chapman, Constable, Cooper, Deane, Dymoke, Evans, Fullwood, George, Platt, Pratt, Hardin, Harvye, Harriott, Ireland, Nichols, Powell, Sampson, Sares, Snelling, Stone, Stevens, Wade, Wright, John White.
116 Wildye Richard male Dr. Powell – It is also possible that one of Lane’s men did a bit of recruiting for his alma mater. Both William White and Richard Wildye were graduates of Brasenose College, Oxford, and we find that young Thomas Hulme, a member of the same expedition, entered the same college the year following his return home. Hulme later studied law. Another young man in the same group, Richard Ireland, entered Christ Church, Oxford, two years later and eventually was Headmaster of Westminster School.
117 Wilkinson Robert male
118 Willes William male John and William Wyles (Willes) were twins from Christ Church Greytfriars, Newgate (Horne).
119 Wood Agnes female Dr. Powell – Let’s look at some of the other and more obviously single women, however. Agnes Wood. In 1549 one Robert Woode of St. Bride’s Church, London, to which at least one other member of the colony also belonged, married Johanna Toppam. Was our Agnes their daughter and therefore related to the Tappans? Or was she perhaps the Agnes Traver who married John Wood in London in 1577? John Wood had come to Roanoke in 1584. There may have been some reason for his wife to come. Several Agnes Wood records, including one particular interesting marriage at St. Clements Dane.
120 Wotton Lewes male
121 Wright John male Wright surname found in All Saints Barking parish records.
122 Wyles Brian male Shown as Bryan on McMillan 1888’s list taken from Hawks History of NC and Hakluyt vol 3 p 280. Possibly related to John Wyles. See below.
123 Wyles John male John and William Wyles (Willes) were twins from Christ Church Greyfriars, Newgate (Horne). Possibly related to Brian Wyles. See above.
124 Wythers William male child Note the many Withers records at St. Michael Cornhill and the connections with many other Lost Colony surnames there.

Record Problems

Searching for the Lost Colonists uses the same methodologies as any other genealogical research. The goal is to gather enough information to prove that an individual found in records in England is the same individual that became a colonist.

This could be achieved in myriad ways. Ideally we would find documents such as wills or estates saying that the colonist had disappeared, was presumed or confirmed dead, and their assets were distributed to relatives in England. This would do two things – identify the colonist and tell us who their family members were.

To date, we have only one of those types of records, that of John Dare, son of Ananias Dare, who had a guardian appointed in 1594 and shortly thereafter disappears from the records.

One of the reasons for the lack of records is likely that the colonists expected to settle in Virginia permanently. They were encouraged to take enough supplies for a year, anticipating of course that within a year they would be farming and crops would be forthcoming. This meant that the colonists did not anticipate returning to England, as they were establishing a “Cittie.” They sold their goods and liquidated their resources to finance their existence in Virginia. Therefore, they wouldn’t be expected to have any assets remaining in England. If the colonists prepared wills or legal documents, they have remained stubbornly elusive.

This is particularly frustrating, because, for DNA testing to be utilized as a genealogical resource to prove that the colonists survived, we need to identify the correct families in England and find a direct line male descendant carrying the colonist surname to test.

Birth or christening records could be compelling resources as well, especially if the surname is somewhat unusual and/or we have more than one individual on the roster with the same surname that matches the birth records.

Unfortunately, we have few of those. The ones we do have can’t be confirmed as a colonist, meaning that the person in the birth record is actually the colonist. In many cases, we can find nothing that ties them to their family. The best we could do, with unlimited resources, would be to prove that the person doesn’t appear in further records of that family in that location, including death records. It would be helpful if the colonists were from one location, but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case.

Perhaps our biggest problem is lack of records. Some records have perished over time through loss, destruction, natural disasters, and warfare. Some still exist, scattered throughout parishes and archives in England, not indexed and not available unless you actually visit, by appointment, and know where to look.

Given that the colonists arrived on Roanoke Island in 1587, that means the adults were born before 1566.

Records of births, baptisms, marriages and deaths were not kept in early England. In 1538, King Henry VIII issued an order that records were to be kept of every wedding, christening and burial in a box with two locks. Unfortunately, this wasn’t always done. When it was, the records were often kept on loose sheets, with no organization, and written from memory, sometimes long after the event happened. In 1558, upon ascending the throne, Queen Elizabeth issued a duplicate order which resulted in better compliance, but the records were considered the property of the minister and often left with him.

Finally, in 1597, ten years after the colonists were stranded on Roanoke, Queen Elisabeth issued another more explicit edict that registers were to be kept on parchment and maintained in books, not as loose papers. Copies were to be sent to the bishops annually, which today are known as the Bishops Transcripts which give us two opportunities to find that elusive record. Unfortunately, in some places, the earlier documents were then destroyed.

While some records do exist before 1597, they tend to be sporadic and incomplete.

DNA

When I began this journey of exploration in 2007, I felt that DNA held the potentially of solving the riddle of whether the colonists survived, at least if they survived to present day.

After all, we have people with the same surname in various Native American tribes and locations that claim descent from the colonists. How tough can this be? Right.

Tough.

Very. Very. Tough.

There are three types of DNA that can be utilized for historical research, although all 3 are not useful in this project.

In the graphic above, the Y DNA follows the blue paternal line, the mitochondrial DNA follows the red matrilineal line and the autosomal DNA follows all lines, including the Y and mitochondrial DNA paths.

Think of Y and mitochondrial DNA as deep and of autosomal DNA as wide.

Y DNA

The Y chromosome, which is what makes males male, is passed intact from father to son without being mixed with any DNA from the mother.

The Y chromosome also tracks the paternal surname, meaning that if we had been able to find direct paternal line male descendants of John Dare, Ananias Dare’s son, we could test their Y DNA and their Y DNA would be the same, or very nearly, as the Y DNA of Ananias Dare and any other Dare men who descend from any direct Dare male line of this family.

In other words, the Y DNA of Ananias Dare’s paternal male descendants would continue to match (perhaps with a few mutations) many generations into the future.

Lost Colony DNA Project

I established the Lost Colony Y DNA project in 2007 at Family Tree DNA with the intention of identifying male colonist lines in England, testing two men descended from different sons to confirm that their Y DNA is the same and an adoption has not taken place. That would form the baseline for that English family surname line.

The project hoped to attract men with the colonist surnames that were found in eastern coastal North Carolina in the earliest records or from the Native groups claiming or suspecting descent from the colonists.

Of course, one of the challenges is that if the colonist did survive, they would have had to assimilate with the Native people. There was no other way to survive, not to mention that the men would have wanted wives. Therefore, the English surnames may have faded from memory, or at least from usage, because the Native people did not utilize surnames when later contact was made with the tribes. This means that today, a Native man with the surname of Smith could be a direct male line descendant of Ananias Dare. If we could find a direct line Dare male descended from Ananias’s son, John, his Y DNA would match that of the Native Smith male. The surname change doesn’t matter – the DNA recognizes the descendant. Conversely, males with the same surname that don’t match can be eliminated as descending from the same paternal ancestor.

DNA alone is not enough in this case, because it’s also possible that an unknown descendant of Ananias Dare (or his brother, uncle, grandfather, etc.) immigrated and settled in Virginia or North Carolina after the colonists. The paternal line Dare descendants of that man would match both John Dare’s descendants and the descendants of any male child born to Ananias Dare, regardless of their surname.

Therefore, IF we find a colonist family line in England, and IF they have a direct line male or males to test, and IF they match someone in coastal NC in the US, we can’t automatically presume that they descend from the colonist. We would have to take other factors into consideration and research their potential colonist line thoroughly to look for other ancestor candidates – meaning other early settlers in North Carolina or Virginia. In other words, the GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard) needs to be utilized in this research. Unfortunately, we haven’t found any colonist line in England to bring forward in time to test, so at this point it time, it’s a moot point.

For several years, I researched the Jamestown settlers because it has been reported that at least a few had connections to the colonists. Specifically, a Pory colonist was reported in Jamestown to search for his sister, the wife of Lost Colonist Robert Ellis. I was certainly open to any avenue or hints to identify our colonist families in England.

While Y DNA could be extremely useful in identifying matches in male lines because it never mixes with any DNA from the mothers – autosomal DNA which is diluted by half in each generation, doesn’t share that same promise. Autosomal DNA is great at finding relatively recent cousins, but poor at deep ancestry.  Y and mitochondrial DNA are great at deep ancestry and telling you who you match in common on those lines, but has few tools to determine time and is only relevant to one particular line.

Autosomal DNA

Autosomal DNA, which tests DNA from all of your chromosomes, not just the Y, is used to match people with their cousins. This type of DNA does not have the capability to reliably reach back far in time. We know today that all second cousins share enough DNA from a common ancestor to match each other on at least some segments. Third cousins will match about 90% of the time, fourth cousins 70%, and so forth. By the time you’re back to 6th cousins, only about 10% of 6th cousins match each other. Using 4 generations per hundred years, today’s male Dare descendants would be approximately 16 generations removed from each other, or 14th cousins.

There is a small possibility that 14th cousins could match autosomally, but autosomal DNA matching is complicated by the need to have trees proven to each generation to rule out that a match is from a different ancestor in common. That’s not difficult to do in closer generations, but by the time you are a few generations removed, even the best and most thorough genealogists have holes in their tree with unidentified individuals. Therefore, utilizing autosomal DNA for the Lost Colony is a very unlikely proposition.

I did establish a Lost Colony Family DNA Project at Family Tree DNA several years ago in order to facilitate discussion and participation among individuals who don’t descend directly through Y DNA so that they can be included. Plus, when working with DNA – you truly don’t know what you don’t know – so having the Lost Colony Family DNA Project as a resource as a “genetic Lost Colony library” may eventually prove useful.

Mitochondrial DNA

Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mothers to all of their children, but only females pass it on. Therefore the mitochondrial DNA of every male colonist died with them, meaning there is no mitochondrial DNA of the male colonist lines to test, even if they survived.

The female colonists would also need to be identified, along with their families, and an individual descended through all females to the current generation, which could be male, would have to be located for DNA testing. This research is complicated, of course, by surname changes in each generation which makes utilizing mitochondrial DNA for colonist descendant identification even more difficult.

The only mitochondrial DNA known to have potentially survived would be that of Virginia Dare, the female child born on Roanoke Island. If the Harvie child born within days of Virginia was a female, that person would be a candidate too, but only if we could find the family in England to test for comparison.

Of course, if the colonists survived and any of the females had female children, their mitochondrial DNA could potentially be used as one piece of evidence to identify a colonist descendant today. The chances are fewer, because there were fewer women colonists, and the required genealogical research to find an appropriate family line descendant to test is more complex.

What About the Archaeology?

If the colonists told us that they were going to Croatoan, which is present day Hatteras Island, why don’t we look there?

Good question.

We did.

For several years, beginning in 2009, The Lost Colony Research Group sponsored archaeological digs on Hatteras Island in cooperation with the local residents, Dr. Steve Claggitt, now retired Director of the North Carolina Department of Archaeology and the University of Bristol.

Some of the area on Hatteras Island is still quite rugged and infested with ticks and other wildlife like alligators. A machete was standard operating equipment, required to chop through the jungle-like vines and undergrowth. (Not the wildlife, however, a few ticks did die.)

Over the period of a decade, we excavated several locations on Hatteras Island. To protect the locations and property owners from looters and treasure hunters, the dig locations have never been publicly identified.

The land, above, which stood atop a significant midden was for sale and we knew that if we didn’t dig it while we could, the opportunity would forever be gone.

Middens are trash heaps, full of wonderful clues. The one above held lots of shells and bones which told us that the Indians on the island did not only inhabit island seasonally, but year-round.

Other areas are now developed, precluding archaeological digs, although some residents were very welcoming of excavations in their yards. Still, much history has been destroyed in the construction process.

While the area is stunningly beautiful and inviting, Mother Nature also reminded us of exactly how dangerous the elements can be with these photos. The location above and below were taken a little more than 24 hours apart. What a difference a day makes.

The photo below from a webcam was the morning after an unseasonal mid-November hurricane that rearranged the sand dunes, closing the single road and with it, all access off of the island. In places, the road was covered entirely by shifted dunes of sand, requiring road graders and front end loaders, and in other places, the road was gone entirely, swallowed by the sea. In many locations, this threadlike road is only separated from the sea on both sides by a few feet of sand that is very vulnerable to erosion. “Washouts” happen regularly, but where there is only one road, the effect is devastating.

My rental car had the paint finish sand-blasted off of the seaward side of the car by the sand-filled abrasive winds the evening before as I evacuated. The drive after dark was terrifying. By that time, sane people were already off the island or hunkered down for the duration. Many couldn’t leave for weeks until the road and bridge were repaired or the ferry service to the mainland resumed service. Hatteras residents take this in stride, as it’s a regular occurrence. Not so much for anyone else.

Over the years, during our archaeological digs, we weathered two hurricanes and a third which was reduced to “only” a tropical storm when it hit. These misadventures instilled in us great respect for what White and crew endured in those ships on the shoals – not to mention the Indians and the colonists. I have to wonder if the colony perished someplace in a hurricane. There is little warning, certainly not enough for the colonists to do anything, and the island flooding is intense, with waves often washing entirely over parts of the island – destroying everything in their path.

Some days on Hatteras, you feel like you’ve been cursed, but others are incredibly productive and you feel blessed, both in terms of artifacts and Mother Nature. The Outer Banks is a land of extremes.

These homes are built on stilts to withstand storms, breaking monster waves, flooding, tidal surges and they sway in storms, not crumble – a feeling I never got used to. My land-lover brain thinks that houses should not sway back and forth. If the flooding gets too bad, you open the doors and windows so the water will run through the house, not wash it away. You’ll find circular holes about an inch across drilled in the floorboards for that exact reason.

Taking the above photo, I’m standing on the deck of the house where we hunkered down to withstand the storm that was downgraded from a hurricane to “only” a tropical storm. The house swayed back and forth for three days (and sleepless nights) and was extremely unnerving. That rainbow was certainly a welcome sight! The flooding was minimal, although we took our vehicles to the “highest” place on that end of the island, just a few feet above sea level, as a precaution.

In 2012, the Lost Colony Research Group changed university partners and formed an alliance with Eastern Carolina University (ECU) in part because they have experts with a variety of specialties along with three archaeological laboratories where artifacts are properly inventoried, evaluated, preserved, documented and available for future researchers.

Over the years, many artifacts were unearthed, some potentially relevant to the colonists, and many that were more contemporary in nature.

Some pottery from various digs could be identified as to the source of it’s manufacture, but even pottery manufactured pre-1587 when found in a dig doesn’t mean that it arrived with the colonists. It could have arrived with the Jamestown colony, for example, and was subsequently traded to the Native people, or kept for generations by the settlers themselves until they settled on Hatteras Island. It could have arrived on a shipwreck and was scavenged by whoever the local residents were at the time, or simply washed ashore to be discovered years later.

All dirt had to be sifted to assure that we didn’t miss anything. Anne Poole, co-founder of the Lost Colony Research Group and me, sifting.

Andy Powell fitting two pieces of a broken tobacco pipe discovered during the excavations back together. Tobacco pipes were made by both the Native people and the English.

More than once, we excavated human remains, at which point we immediately contacted the State Archaeologist, asking for guidance, per protocol.

A small round musket ball was discovered inches away from these remains. Is this how this individual died?

The remains consisted only of fragmented bones, including a partial cranium, but were badly degraded. There were, however, some teeth that we had hoped to utilize for DNA testing.

An abandoned hand-dug well was found within a few feet of the remains. The age of the well was determined to be later than the remains based on construction techniques, indicating that the family who dug the well was unaware that they were digging a well in an earlier cemetery. These burials and well were not known to local families, and even the earliest cemeteries have been identified and inventoried when any headstones remain. This burial location predates Hatteras land ownership.

This area was clearly someone’s home, before early maps would have noted either a village, residences or a cemetery. There is a older home on this property today, but not on or near this location, nor do early maps show a homestead or cemetery here. The same family has owned this property for generations and were also unaware of the well or former homestead.

Wattle and daub, shown above, found in this same excavation level is clearly a building technique of the early English settlers and would have been used by colonists building homes.

This tiny thimble tells us the women were among the earliest people who lived in this location.

Contemporary records begin on Hatteras Island in the 1690s in the Frisco area, not the Buxton area where the remains and well were excavated. However, Buxton is where one of the Native villages was located according to the earliest maps, and where the military colonists are believed to have camped, based on the discovery of their fire pits in earlier archaeological digs.

John Lawson’s visit to the Hatteras Indians occurred in 1701 where they told Lawson that their ancestors were white. Ancestors in this context likely would not have meant parents, but at least 2 to 3 generations prior, if not earlier. An adult in 1701 would have been about 30 years old, born in roughly 1670, prior to European land ownership on Hatteras Island. Two generations before that would have been roughly 1630 which would have been the birth year of the grandparents of the adult being interviewed in 1701. Admixture between the two groups, Native Americans and European colonists would have occurred sometime between 1587 and 1701 and probably between 1587 and 1630. Men who took Native wives would have begun having admixed children probably by 1590, roughly 110 years before Lawson’s visit.

If the Hatteras Indians’ statements to Lawson were accurate about their ancestors being white, confirmed by his observation about their lighter hair and grey eyes, there would have been no Europeans other than the descendants of colonists, shipwrecked sailors, or people journeying outwards from Jamestown by about 1630. However, there was still plenty of time to have white “ancestors” between 1630 and 1650 when grandparents of the adult Native people living on Hatteras Island when Lawson visited would have been being born.

According to another archaeological dig by Dr. David Phelps in 1998, Europeans and Native people were participating in the manufacture of trade goods in the Buxton area between 1650 and 1720, so yet another admixture opportunity exists before European land ownership on Hatteras began.

The excavated human remains were transported to the State Archaeological Department in Raleigh where Anne Poole and I requested that they be evaluated by an anthropologist. We hoped to receive permission to perform DNA extraction and analysis on the bones to determine the age of the burial as well as any haplogroup or matching information that could be extracted.

If the remains were Native, the Y and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups would be Native as well. If the age of the burial was before Hatteras was settled, but post-Lost Colony, and either of the haplogroups were European, that information would tell us that either the Y or mitochondrial lineage was European, not Native, and admixture had in some way occurred.

The musket ball tells us that whether or not the person died of a gunshot wound, the ball itself acts as a time marker telling us that the burial was after European contact. However, the musket ball itself was not conducive to dating.

If we were lucky enough to be able to extract Y DNA STR markers, we would be able to see if the remains matched anyone with a colonist surname or one of the early settlers, perhaps the first landowner.

If we were win-the-lottery lucky, we would find that the remains dated from maybe 1610 and carried a Native American mitochondrial haplogroup along with European Y DNA matching a colonist surname. That would have told us that the colonists survived at least for some period of time and didn’t perish immediately.

The anthropological analysis by Dr. Billy Oliver indicated that the remains were in very fragile condition and male based on the large square mandible.

Furthermore, and much to our surprise, Dr. Oliver also found evidence of bones from at least two adults mixed in with the remains of a child who was less than 10 years of age when they died. We did not find separate burials, so this tells us that these individuals were literally buried together, possibly in one grave at the same time. They were not buried in a fetal position, typical of many Native burials of this time. We don’t know the circumstances of the burial, but there was no evidence of any type of formal positioning of the bodies, such as the European prone on the back “coffin” position in separate graves. This jumble of combined bones suggests a mass grave of some sort, perhaps dug hurriedly, or perhaps multiple burials in the same location, on top of each other.

Based on the teeth present, Dr. Oliver concluded that one of the adult teeth that was shovel shaped belonged to an individual “of Native American ancestry.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that everyone in the gravesite was Native American, nor does it mean that the tooth owner was 100% Native – only that they had a Native American ancestor.

A second anthropologist that we retained to review the remains suggested that at least one of the individuals was probably admixed.

Strontium isotope testing of the teeth would have been able to tell us where the individuals lived as children. If the answer was England, the age was right, and Y DNA testing matched a colonist surname, then we very likely had solved at least one of the Lost Colony mysteries – meaning where the colonists went after Roanoke.

However, that wasn’t to be.

Permission Denied

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was passed in 1990 with the goal of ending the desecration of Native graves and returning artifacts and burials to the affiliated tribes. While it was a much-needed law, there are issues.

Burials found in a specific location may or may not be affiliated with modern-day tribes in that same area. In the case of the Hatteras Indians, the original tribe is believed to be extinct, and historical records indicate that indeed they were, but today a group of individuals who believe themselves to be descended from the Hatteras exist and have attempted to reestablish the tribe.

There’s a difference between a tribe, which is a specific social construct and/or a legal entity being extinct and the descendants of Native people who may have once belonged to that tribe being extinct.

More relevant to the excavation is the fact that since 1888 when politician Hamilton McMillan wrote a book titled “The Lost Colony” in an attempt to prevent the Lumbee from having to attend “black schools,” the Lumbee have claimed that they descend from the Lost Colonists. McMillan did successfully argue that the Lumbee, being Native and white through the colonists should have their own schools. The Lumbee live in Robeson County, NC, about 235 miles distant from the closest mainland location to Hatteras Island, after crossing the sound between Hatteras Island and the mainland.

Documents do exist that indicate that the few remaining Hatteras in 1756 had intermarried with the Mattamuskeet Indians that lived by Lake Mattamuskeet in Hyde County, below. However, the Mattamuskeet male lived on Hatteras Island with the Hatteras female, not the opposite.

Given that the Lumbee’s descent from the colonists would come through their English ancestors, if in fact they do descend from the people of Hatteras Island where the burial was found, it’s unclear as to whether NAGPRA would apply to these remains in relation to the Lumbee. Furthermore, the remains were excavated on private property, not public land, so technically, NAGPRA didn’t pertain to these remains. However, if the Native tribes that believe that the Hatteras Indians were their ancestors granted permission to proceed, the details wouldn’t matter and no one would be unhappy.

Dr. Claggett reached out to Gregory Richardson, the North Carolina Director of the Commission of Indian Affairs, who reached out to the Lumbee, who expressed concern with DNA testing, in essence disallowing any scientific evaluation of the remains.

While I fully support the NAGRPA act, I find this decision extremely disheartening, given the items found in and near the remains in the burial and the fact that analysis, if successful, could potentially have provided insight into the fate of the colonists. Additionally, if the Y DNA extraction had been successful, it’s also possible that the legend of the Lumbee descent from the colonists could be one step closer to being proven. The Lumbee do carry some of the colonist surnames.

No amount of logic had any persuasive effect, although Mr. Richardson was very cordial. At that point, our only recourse for reconsideration would have been legal proceedings based on the fact that the burial was on private land, which would have been expensive and painful, at best, and non-productive at worst.

Furthermore, after evaluating the remains, the degraded condition seemed to preclude a successful DNA extraction, so we were concerned that even if we could raise the funds for a legal challenge, and won, that eventually, it would be for naught.

Did the Colonists Survive?

I’ve spent more than a decade trying to answer this question with a team utilizing a number of tools, including:

  • DNA
  • Historical records in England
  • Historical records in the US
  • Family history
  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Genealogy

The answer to the question of whether the colonists survived is really three questions.

  • First, did they survive until when?
  • Second, does the question mean survive as a colony, or survive as an individual?
  • Third, does survive mean having descendants today?

Not surprisingly, there are probably different answers to these questions, so let me share my opinion and corresponding research.

I believe that the colonists did survive at least initially. The fact that the houses in the fort on Roanoke Island were systematically removed, the fort wasn’t burned, the carved message was present for White, and there were no crosses tells me that the colonists planned and executed an orderly move.

I believe that the colonists, or at least some of them, went to Hatteras Island, known then as Croatoan, at least for awhile. It’s where they said they were going, and it would have been considered safer than other locations. Croatoan may have been a way-station while they waited.

The wattle and daub structure in Buxton suggests strongly that early English people lived there, as do the burials in a previously unknown cemetery, buried in a hurried fashion. Further evidence is that the early Hatteras maps do show a Native village in Buxton, and do not show a cemetery (ever) nor settler houses until significantly later and not in the location of the well. Land grants of where the excavation and burials were found did not begin until 1738 and 1740. By that time, no Indians lived there in the Buxton location.

Maritime historian, Baylus Brooks spent a significant amount of time with the Lost Colony Research Group reconstructing the early land grants, patents, surveys, cemeteries and homes on Hatteras Island. Working with Baylus, we were able to reconnect the pieces of the earliest European habitation of Hatteras Island, and identify the locations of the three Native American villages identified on the 1591 White/DeBry map by three circles, also reflected later by Lawson’s 1709 map and Moseley’s 1733 map which may not have been based on an actual visit to the island.

On White’s map, note the three Native villages on Hatteras Island, then called Croatoan, indicated by circles. Note that North is at right. The circles today correspond today to Buxton, Brigand’s Bay and near the Village of Hatteras.

Transcribing every early land transaction for Hatteras Island further revealed the history of the land where the Native villages were located.

Working with marriage, court and estate records, we found no indication that the European population had intermarried with the Native people, despite many family stories to the contrary. Tracking the families back in time in a project called the Hatteras Neighborhood Project, by utilizing various types of records, we were able in most cases to track the lines back to the mainland and often, back to Virginia.

Many stories of Hatteras families founded by shipwrecked sailors taking Native wives were disproven as well – at least the part about the men being initially shipwrecked on the island. Many early wives are unidentified and could be from the local Native population.

The Last Hatteras

A 1759 land grant was made from the state of North Carolina to one sole Indian man, Thom King Elks, who was still living in the Brigand’s Bay area, the location of the middle circle on White’s map. At that time, Elks had a daughter who was married to a Mattamsukeet man. In a report by a Hatteras islander to the governor, Job Carr reported that “Thomas Elks (is not) intitled to the royalty for he is but a son in law to the late King Elks desesed and part of the Maromosceat (Mattamsukeet) line of Indians for the true line of the Hatteras Indians are mostly dead.” Elks wife was Hatteras.

In other words, not long after the English began to settle the island, the Native population was entirely either dead or displaced. The reason stated by Elks that he had requested a patent is because his European neighbors were in fact encroaching on his land and the only way Elks knew to prevent that was to request to the government to grant him the land that included the village of his people.

Archaeological digs in multiple locations in the Brigand’s Bay area found no trace of the colonists.

Archaeological digs up the road about 3 miles in the Buxton area, where the Native people were no longer living by 1738, did produce relics of pottery, wattle and daub and other items, including the burial with the musket ball that indicates death after European contact. We know who lived there according to land grants, and no Native people were involved or present in that location at that time the land was granted.

The last reference to more than one Native village was in William Reed’s land grant of 1712 along a ridge between Buxton and Brigands Bay which mentions that it is located between the two Indian towns.

The Tuscarora War occurred in 1711 and 1712, and the Colonial Records of North Carolina state that the war had reduced the Hatteras Indians to great poverty and they were petitioning the government for corn, as they did again in 1720. The Hatteras had sided with the settlers, not the Tuscarora.

Baylus’s paper titled John Lawson’s Indian Town on Hatteras Island, North Carolina, available here, details many of the findings along with the history of the archaeological digs. He overlaid the original surveys onto a contemporary GIS map.

Baylus Brooks Hatteras reconstruction from deeds showing land grants prior to 1760. In the Buxton area, where Phelps excavated the workshop, was the one of the Indian towns, the second being the location at King’s Point, today Brigand’s Bay.

The Buxton area, where the cemetery, wattle and daub homestead and well were excavated is near the location of the a workshop site where the Europeans and Native people had cooperated to produce trade goods between 1650 and 1720, excavated in 1998 by archaeologist David Phelps. Whaling may have occurred in that area as early as 1663, but these activities would not have led to permanent settlements that included European women, as suggested by the thimble discovered in the remains of the wattle and daub homestead.

The Hatteras, between 1650 and 1701 when Lawson appeared on the scene could indeed have intermarried or had children with the European whalers or men involved with the manufacture of trade goods. We have no knowledge of when the Indian Village in Buxton disappeared entirely, but based on land grants, there is no question that the primary and only village was near Brigand’s Bay by 1738, not Buxton. The Buxton location had clearly been settled by whites on the original Indian town there, sometime between 1712 and 1740.

If the Native people on Hatteras island intermarried with the European settlers who were the ancestors of the current day population, one of two things has happened:

  • The male colonist/native female lines that intermarried have not descended through a direct paternal line to current day as evidenced by Y DNA testing.
  • The lines do descend to current day, but have not yet Y DNA tested.

There are candidate families found near the old Indian town, two of which were labeled in the 1790 census as “mulatto,” one of which has DNA tested and does not carry a European Y DNA haplogroup.

I believe it’s quite possible that at least some of the colonists did survive and did intermarry with the Hatteras Indians. However, by the time that the Europeans arrived sometime after 1650 to produce trade goods and whale, the original colonists would have been dead and their descendants would probably have been considered Indian.

Assimilation Opportunities

There would have been three distinct periods of opportunity for European male intermarriage with the Hatteras.

  • If the colonists survived, then English/Native intermarriage would have occurred from 1587 until about 1630 when the last totally “European” person had probably died. The next two generations, by 1630-1650 would have been significantly admixed. Depending on the size of the tribe, there could have been more English than Native people. The males from this admixture would carry the Y DNA of the male colonists.
  • The second period when admixture could have occurred was during the period from 1650 to 1720 when Phelps dig revealed that trade goods were being produced in Buxton by both Natives and Europeans. These Europeans were likely all men, so they would have intermarried with the Native women. If the Hatteras were already admixed, this would have created further admixture. The males from this admixture would carry the Y DNA of the Europeans.
  • The third period when admixture could have occurred was during the period from about 1700 until 1756. We know that the Hatteras fought for the English in the Tuscarora War, and that the English grants on Hatteras Island began in 1711/1712. From that time forward until the Hatteras were extinct, the European men could have taken Native wives. The Hatteras may have been so admixed by this time that they looked more European than Native. The males from this admixture would carry the Y DNA of the Hatteras Island families.

It’s possible for all three events, above to have occurred, meaning that it’s also possible for each successive “wave” of admixture to appear in the shrinking Hatteras male population.

Timeframe Admixture Whose Y Surname Matches
1587-1630 Colonist males with Native females Colonist Y DNA surname matches
1650-1720 Unknown European males with Native females Unknown European males, unknown surnames
1712- circa 1750 Hatteras Island males with Native females Hatteras Island Y DNA surname matches

By the time Europeans actually settled Hatteras Island around the time of the Tuscarora War (1711-1712,) the colonists had been dead for 80 years, if they lived out their lives on Hatteras Island, and their descendants 4 or 5 generations later were viewed as Indians, not Englishmen. Many Native people were killed during the Tuscarora War, and the Hatteras suffered greatly during that time. Their population shrank, their lands were settled by whites and between 1712 and 1756, they were diminished to two men, one woman and a child who were Mattamuskeet, not Hatteras.

It’s certainly probable that some of the Hatteras had intermarried with the European settlers after 1712 and before 1756, but if that occurred, it isn’t noted in any of the records.

If that did occur, it’s likely that the female Indians married the male settlers, and not vice versa. That means that their male offspring would carry the Y DNA of the Hatteras Island families arriving after 1712.

With the diminishment and eventual extinction of the Hatteras Indians in the 1750s, if the colonists on Hatteras Island did assimilate, those male lines may have died out, leaving only colonist lineages through female “Indians” who had colonist ancestors. The Hatteras land records tell us that there are no male Hatteras left. If that’s the case, we can’t detect those colonist lines through either Y or autosomal DNA today, at least not through the Hatteras.

As we’ve already discussed, mitochondrial DNA doesn’t confer the advantage of being recognizable immediately by being associated with a surname, not to mention that there were few females among the colonists, and most of those were probably married to other colonists.

For Y DNA to be useful, we need to be able to connect the lineage with records in England.

As more people test their DNA, I continue to be hopeful that within a known, proven Native or Hatteras family, a Y DNA match to a colonist surname will appear, with a known location in England that we can search for records.

Safety in Numbers?

Some people who study the Lost Colonists believe or at least hope that the colonists split into multiple groups. Splitting up would improve the odds that one of group might survive, and would have been easier to feed, but it also means that there was less safety with fewer people to defend the group. Splitting into groups could account for the reports of colonists near Jamestown who were massacred as well as colonist reports in other locations.

There is no actual evidence of colonists in another location, with one exception. The reason I feel this one record is specifically important is because, after the Croatoan message on Roanoke, this is the only other direct communication that may well be from the colonists themselves.

While we do have evidence that the colonists survived long enough to leave Roanoke, we have nothing concrete after that except for the December 1609 Jamestown record in which during an expedition to find the colonists, they were told that colonists survived, but they were not allowed to speak with them. However, the men found initials and crosses carved into the trees outside of where the Lost Colonist survivors were supposedly held, which they misinterpreted as “assured testimony of Christians newly cut in the barks of trees,” not signs of distress from their fellow countrymen. In 1609, many colonists could still have been alive, 22 years after being stranded. Virginia Dare, if alive, would have been 22 years old.

If at least some of the colonists were being held within 50 miles of the fort, they died in captivity, because they were never “found” and rescued.

50 Miles into the Main

Another possibility is that the colonists did move 50 miles into the main, and not as captives.

White’s map also contained a fort that was covered as if in error on his map, and speculation abounds that this fort is actually the site where the colonists settled, 50 miles into the main. The distance is about right.

John White’s original map above and the same map with the covered fort location revealed, below. Comparison from the First Colony Foundation report.

First Colony Foundation sponsored archaeological digs at what has become known as Site X, producing this report. Pottery was found, but pottery could also have been trade goods.

No compelling evidence that the colony settled here has emerged.

What’s Next?

We’ve learned a lot about DNA and genetic genealogy over the past 11 years. I’m equally as sure that we will learn even more in the next decade.

Today, the Lost Colony DNA projects will continue to build membership, waiting on that break we need. I’m hopeful with every new person that joins the Y DNA project that they are the one!

I anticipate that English records will continue to be transcribed and be added to online databases, becoming accessible to everyone through services like Ancestry, MyHeritage and FindMyPast which focuses exclusively on British and Irish genealogy.

Identifying the colonists and their families in England remains the key to solving the mystery of the fate of the Lost Colony. Those records won’t do it alone, but without that information to use in order to track descendants forward in time, at least today, we probably can’t solve the mystery.

However, there is one possibility. Given that the colonist surnames are reported among the Lumbee, it’s possible that the Y DNA of those families could point the way back to their English roots. That road sign just might tell us exactly where to look in England for those missing records, which of course might lead us right to the colonists themselves.

Is this wishful thinking? Of course, but it’s also possible.

Of the various Hatteras, eastern North Carolina and Native associated families who have tested, to date, there are a few interesting finds, but not yet compelling.

  • The Berry family remains promising although several distinct Berry lines have been identified to date.
  • A descendant of Jonas Squires born about 1705 in Hyde County matches a Topham at 37 markers with 4 mutations. Given that Jonas Squires is first mentioned owning a mill in Hyde County in 1728 and as a “planter” in 1738, it’s very unlikely that this man originated in the impoverished Native community. The Topham match is probably simply circumstantial.
  • The Gaskill line, found on Ocracoke Island by 1787, but not earlier, matches a Bright male at 37 markers with three mutations. This could be nothing or could be significant. We need additional Gaskill men from the Outer Banks line to test. The Gaskill line is found in early records in Carteret County and likely migrated to the Outer Banks from that earlier location.

For Hatteras Island families and their descendants only, we have established a Y DNA project at Family Tree DNA.

Right now, I’m waiting for Y DNA test results for a man with the hope that maybe, just maybe, his DNA will shine a light into the crevice we need to chip a hole into at least one family line in that 400-year-old brick wall!

If you would like to contribute to the Lost Colony Y DNA Project to enable testing, please click here.

Are You The One???

If you are (or know of) any of the following:

  • A male with a colonist surname with early roots in eastern coastal North Carolina
  • A male descended from Hatteras Island or the Outer Banks and carrying a Hatteras Island surname
  • A male affiliated with a Native American tribe from North Carolina, Virginia, or the Tuscarora
  • A pre-1800 Lumbee surname and match Y DNA at 37 markers or above to a colonist surname.
  • A male with a family oral history of descent through your paternal line from the Lost Colonists
  • A male in England with one of the colonist surnames

Please purchase a 37 Y DNA test at Family Tree DNA through this link or contact me if you have reason to think you’re a colonist descendant.

You never know, you may be just the person who solves the mystery!

References and Resources

Bolnick et al (2006) Asymmetric Male and Female Genetic Histories among Native Americans from Eastern North America

Brace, Sharron (April 2013) Journal of Spangenberg’s Voyage to North Carolina, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Brace, Sharron (January 2014) Berry Project Compiled Records, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Brasser, T. J. (1978) Early Indian-European Contacts by Bruce G. Trigger (editor) of Northeast, Volume 15 of the Handbook of North American Indians published by the Smithsonian Institute

Britt, Morris (2008) Implosion, the Secret History of the Origins of the Lumbee Indians by Morris Britt (unpublished)

Brooks, Baylus (September 2010) Hatteras Place Names Map, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Brooks, Baylus (February 2011) The Hatteras Snaphaunce Find (Phelps 1998), Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Brooks, Baylus (September 2011) From Roanoke to Hatteras: A Two-Day Hunt for Clues to the Lost Colony, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Brooks, Baylus (December 2011) Hatteras Island 1704 Visitor, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Brooks, Baylus (March 2012) Col. Thomas Bryd, the Hatteras Indians and More Quakers, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Brooke, Baylus (April 2014) “John Lawson’s Indian Town on Hatteras Island, North Carolina,” North Carolina Historical Review

Brown, Kathleen M., Associate Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania, Virtual Jamestown Essay, Women in Early Jamestown at http://www.virtualjamestown.org/essays/brown_essay.html (2009) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamestown,Virginia (2009)

Bureau of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Indian, The Pamunkey Indians of Virginia, Published June 2011 in the Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Byrd, William L. III (2002) Villainy Often Goes Unpunished, Indian Records from the North Carolina General Assembly Sessions 1675-1789

Byrd, William L. III (2007) Against the Peace and Dignity of the State, North Carolina Laws Regarding Slaves, Free Persons of Color and Indians

Byrd, William (1728) Histories of the Dividing Line betwixt Virginia and North Carolina first published as a portion of the Westover Manuscripts available electronically at http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/byrd/byrd.html (2009)

A second book which includes Byrd’s “Secret History of the Dividing Line” publishes William Byrd’s secret journal alongside the “official” published version in the book “William Byrd’s Histories of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina”, by William Byrd, contributor William Byrd and Percy G. Adams, published by Courier Dover, 1987

Dial, Dr. Adolph and David Eliades (1996) The Only Land I Know

DeLuna Expedition Information http://www.de-luna.com/pal.html (2009)

DeMarce, Virginia, (1992) “Verry Slitly Mixt, Tri-Racial Isolate Families of the Upper South, A Genealogical Study”, Genealogical Society Quarterly 80.1 (March 1992): [5]-35.

Dobyns, Henry F. (1983) Their Number Become Thinned by Henry F. Dobyns with the assistance of William R. Swagerty, University of Tennessee Press

Duffy, John (1951) Smallpox and the Indians in the American Colonies, Bulletin of the History of Medicine Volume 25: 324-341

Eirlys Mair Barker (1993) Much Blood and Tears: South Carolina’s Indian Traders, 1670-1775, (a thesis)

Estes, Roberta (2009) Where Have All The Indians Gone? Native American Eastern Seaboard Dispersal, Genealogy and DNA in Relation to Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony of Roanoke, published Journal of Genetic Genealogy, Fall 2009

Estes, Roberta (2011) Following the Croatoan

Estes, Roberta (2009) Beechland: Oral History versus Historical Records

Estes, Roberta (2009) Lost Colony Indigenous Groups

Estes, Roberta (May 2009) Dare Records, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (May 2009) Dr. William Powell’s Papers, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (May 2009) Berry and Payne Families, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (May 2009) Buxton Research, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (September 2009) How Many Colonists Were There? Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta, (September 2009) Who Else Was Lost? Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (September 2009) The Problem with Surnames, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (September 2009) Needle in the Haystack – Finding the Colonists in England, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (December 2009) Land Patents Including Machepungo and Mattemuskeet, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (January 2010) Origins of the Lost Colonists Intro, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (January 2010) Hamilton McMillan’s Lumbee/Colonist Surname List, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (May 2010) Hatteras Island Family Reconstruction Project, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (June 2010) Archaeology Dig – April 2010, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (August 2010) Jamestown Colonist Pory and the Lost Colony Ellis Family, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (August 2010) Who Was at Jamestown? Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (September 2010) Roanoke Island’s First Post-Jamestown Visitor – Francis Yeardley, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (September 2010) Earliest North Carolina Exploration and Settlement, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (January 2011) The Pierce Family of Tyrrell County, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (February 2011) Dr. David Phelps Hatteras Island Excavations, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (February 2011) Hurricanes Reshape the Outer Banks, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (February 2011) The Chowan Indians, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (March 2011) Dr. Arwin Smallwood’s Tuscarora Research – Another Lost Colony Scenario, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (April 2011) Frank Speck’s Remnants of the Machapunga Indians, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (April 2011) James Sprunt, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (April 2011) Range of the Mattamuskeet and Coree Indians, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (April 2011) Archaeology Dig 2011, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (May 2011) Old Time Hatteras, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (May 2011) Colonists Found, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (June 2011) Where Are We Going? How Are We Getting There?, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (August 2011) The Kinnekeet Bible, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (August 2011) The Kendall Ring, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (September 2011) Croatoan Barber, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (October 2011) Casting the Net Wider – The Jamestown Charters, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta with Kay Midgett Sheppard (December 2011) Whibey-Midgett Headright Records, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (December 2011) Hatteras Island in the 1750s, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (January 2012) The Dare Stones, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (January 2012) The Inglis Fletcher Dare Stone Letter, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (January 2012) “The Lost Rocks” by David La Vere, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (February 2012) ECU and LCRG Collaboration, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (March 2012 Special Edition) Lost Colonists – Found, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (April 2012) Missing Colonist Families in England, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (May 2012) The Meherrin and the Susquehanna Indians, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (June 2012) Does CRO = Chowan, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (June 2012) Raleigh’s Lost Fort Found? Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (June 2012) More About the Chowan Fort on the John White Map, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (August 2012) Riven Coffins, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (September 2012) What’s in a Name? The Tuscarora in Transition, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (October 2012) Bertie County Potential Fort Location, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (October 2012) The 2012 Dig, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (November 2012) Lost Colony, Hyde County and Lumbee Berry Families, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (January 2013) Acanahonan Found on Jamestown Map in Dutch Archives, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (January 2013) 1606 Hondius Mercator Map of “Virginia and Florida”, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (January 2013) Tom King, Woccon Indian, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (March 2013) The Lost Colony in Clarksville, Virginia???, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (March 2013) The Colonists and Edward Bland’s 1650 Expedition, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta and Brace, Sharron (April 2013) Indians in North Carolina in 1754, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (May 2013) Yardley Sees Raleigh’s Fort, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (May 2013) Where Did the Colonists Come From? Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (May 2013) Lost Colonist Sightings, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (August 2013) Lost French Manuscript Found, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (September 2013) The Meherrin in 1728, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (October 2013) William Edward Fitch – Raleigh’s Colony Was Not Lost, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (November 2013) McMillan Revisited, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Estes, Roberta (March 2014) Lost Colony Found? Dig at Avoca, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Flores, Milagros (2008) Spain and Roanoke Island Voyages (unpublished)

Florida State Archives (Florida Memory) (2009)   http://www.floridamemory.com/floridahighlights/mapstaug.cfm

Freeman, Fletcher (June 2012) Chowan Indians, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Freeman, Fletcher (June 2012) John and Thomas Hoyter, the Chowan Indian Chiefs, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Freeman, Fletcher (December 2012) William Taylor, Tuscarora Indian?, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Fullam, Brandon (2017) The Lost Colony of Roanoke: New Perspectives

Fullam Brandon (August 2013) “The Slaughter at Roanoke” Reconstructing William Strachey, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Fullam, Brandon (August 2013) Lost Colony Clues and Early 17th Century Powhatan-Algonquian Oral Tradition, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Fullam, Brandon (December 2013) Simon Fernandez: Master Pilot, Convenient Scapegoat, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Fullam, Brandon (April 2014) The Lost Colony: Departure from Roanoke, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Fullam, Brandon (May 2014) The Lost Colony: Searching for Oconohonan in Martin Co., NC, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Fullam, Brandon (June 2014) The Lost Colony: Roanoke and Croatoan in 1590, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Fullam, Brandon (June 2014) The Lost Colony and the Intriguing CORA Tree on Hatteras Island, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Frey, Nancy (April 2011) Conditions in England Before the Departure of the Lost Colonists, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Frey, Nancy (August 2011) The Parish of St. Clement Danes in the City of Westminster, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Frey, Nancy (April 2013) Governor White of Roanoke, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Garrow, Patrick H. (1975) The Mattamuskeet Documents: A Study in Social History http://www.ncgenweb.us/hyde/ethnic/MATTA1.HTM (2009)

Grey, Edward and Fiery, Norman (2001) The Language Encounter in America 1492-1800

Harriott, Thomas (1588) A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia by Thomas Hariot, 1588.

Hatteras Island Y DNA Project

Horn, James (2011) A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke

Hudson, Charles (1990) The Juan Pardo Expeditions, Exploration of the Carolinas and Tennessee, 1566-1568

Kupperman, Karen Ordahl (2000) Indians and English

LaVere, David (2011), The Lost Rocks: The Dare Stones and the Unsolved Mystery of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony

Lawson, John (1709) New Voyage to Carolina Containing the Exact Description and Natural History of that Country Together with the Present State thereof and A Journal of a Thousand Miles, Travel’d thro’ several Nations of Indians Giving a particular Account of their Customs Manners, etc. by John Lawson, Gent. Surveyor-General of North Carolina, London, Printed in the Year 1709.

Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter, Roberta Estes, Editor, 2007-2014

Lost Colony Y DNA Project

Lost Colony Family DNA Project

Lumbee Tribe and tribal history,http://www.lumbeetribe.com/index.html (2009), http://www.lumbeetribe.com/History_Culture/100_year_quest.pdf (2009)

Mann, Rod and Estes, Roberta (March 2013), Purported Gravestone of Ananias Dare Found, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

McMullan, Philip Jr., (undated, unpublished) A Search for the Lost Colony in Beechland by Philip McMullan, Jr.

McPherson, O.M. (1915) Indians of North Carolina, Senate Document 677, 63d Congress, 3d Session, Washington, DC, 1915.

Miller, Lee (2001) Roanoke, Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony

Native Tribal History http://www.sciway.net/hist/indians/keyauwee.html (2009)

Northern Plains Archive Project, www.hiddenhistory.com (2009)

Oberg, Michael Leroy (2000) Between ‘Savage Man’ and ‘Most Faithful Englishman’ Manteo and the Early Anglo-Indian Exchange, 1584-1590

Pilford-Allen, Mary (August 2012) Virginia Dare, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Powell, Andy (2011) Grenville and the Lost Colony of Roanoke

Powell, Andy (2009) Colonist Family Locations, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Powell, Andy (January 2010) Origins of the Lost Colony, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Powell, Andy (January 2010) English Demographic Summary by Colonist Surname, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Powell, Andy (December 2010) Sir Richard Grenville, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Powell, Andy, (March 2011) The Harveys and the Greenwich Connection, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Powell, Andy (March 2011) Survivors from the Ship John Evangelista Alive and Well on Hatteras Island…?, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Powell, Andy (May 2013) In Search of John White, Governor of the Lost Colony in Roanoke, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Powell, Andy (June 2013) Andy Powell on “Where Did the Colonists Come From?”, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Powell, Dr. William S. (1920-2015) Generously provided his research notes from his research trips to England to search for the Lost Colonist.

Parramore, Thomas C., (1983) Lost Colony in Fact and Legend

Quinn, David Beers (1985) Set Fair to Roanoke: The Voyages and Colonies of 1584-1606

Sauer, Carl Ortwin (1971) Sixteenth Century North America: The Land and the People as Seen by the Europeans

Sheppard, Kay Lynn (March 2013) Hyde, Beaufort and Pasquotank County, NC Records Pertaining to Indians and Surnames of Suspected Indian Origin, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Smithsonian Papers, http://www.smithsoniansource.org/display/primarysource/viewdetails.aspx?PrimarySourceId=1182. (2009)

Smithsonian (1978) The Handbook of North American Indians (a multivolume set published over a period of several years)

Sprunt, James (1896) Tales and Traditions of the Lower Cape Fear

Sprunt, James (1896) First White Settlement

Sprunt, James (1896) Cape Fear Indians

Stannard, David E. (1993) American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World

Stewart, Alexander (March 2013) Attamuskeet, Hatteras and Roanoke Indians Baptized – 1763, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter

Stick, David (1983) Roanoke Island, the Beginning of English America

Strachey, William (1612) The Historie of Travel into Virginia Britania

Swanton, John (1953) Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 145

Swanton, John (1985) Final Report of the United States DeSoto Expedition Commission

Thomas, Robert K. (January 2013) A Report of Research on Lumbee Origins, Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter (Extract from his original publication.)

Thornton, Russell (1987) American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492

Tribal History and Maps (2009) http://www.hiddenhistory.com/PAGE3/swsts/virgnia1.HTM#Saponi

Virginia Indian Tribes (2009) http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/virginia/index.htm

Wright, Leitch J. Jr. (1981) The Only Land They Knew: The Tragic Story of the American Indians in the Old South

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