James Watson TED Talk on How He Discovered DNA

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

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

watson and crick

Above, a picture of Watson and Crick at Cambridge.

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

RNA tie club

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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.

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Emigration to Unexpected Places

This week while working with German records, I came across something very interesting, and as I thought more about this particular document, I realized that there is a deeper message here than is initially evident.

The document is a list of individuals who had obtained permission to emigrate from Wurttemberg, Germany between 1816 and 1822.  At that time, one had to file for permission to emigrate, obtain permission, and the list of those departing was a legal document published to forewarn any debtors.  This list happens to include, in some cases, the destination of the departing German citizen.  It’s obvious that this information was not essential, because at least half of the entries don’t have any destination.  They really didn’t care where you were going.

Some destinations are very specific, particularly if they were moving to another German town outside of Wurttemberg.

Several destinations gave locations like “to America or Russia” and sometimes “to America and Russia” and others “some to America and some to Russia.” Either the emigrants hadn’t yet made up their mind, or the German authorities really didn’t care which of the two destinations.

My ancestors were in the “America” group, but I never thought about Germans migrating to Russia.  In general, my assumption has been that migration was generally westward, and Russia is significantly east of Germany.

Emigration Germany

Even more interesting are the entries that say Kaukasus which is dramatically distant. The Caucasus is just north of the Middle East, in the area considered Eurasia, the dividing line between Europe and Asia, between the Black and Caspain Seas.  In 8 cases, they gave the name of the town, Odessa, which is in the Ukraine on the Black Sea.  So, Russia may not mean the closest portion of Russia – although no part of Russia was close to Germany.  Russia as a location may indeed mean traveling thousands of miles east and south.  Not exactly the direction in which we think of relatively contemporary population migration.

There were 3605 records total, many without additional information. But those that do provide additional information are quite interesting:

  • 327 America (including North America)
  • 501 Russia (some say Georgian, one says Crimea)
  • 112 Kaukasus (one says Russia – Kaukusas)
  • 11 Asia (1 says Russian Asia)
  • 16 Poland
  • 17 Austria
  • 8 say Odessa, which is in the Ukraine on the Black Sea.

Some name other German towns.

A couple of people are noted as Separatist, one is divorced, two are single females with illegitimate children. Several are noted as widows or widowers.  One says “with wife without permission.”

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this list are locations not listed. No other countries are listed, other than what is shown above.  South America is not listed.  No place in southern or western or northern Europe is listed.  Neither is Scandinavia.

I would never have thought about “backward migration.” In genetic genealogy, unless you are one of the Vikings who basically invaded pretty much anyplace in Europe and the Mediterranean that could be invaded, we think of settlement and migration as moving northward and eastward into Europe out of the Middle East, Asia and the Caucasus.  I have never, not once, thought about people from central Europe migrating back into Eurasia, back into the Caucasus from southwestern Germany – over 2000 km or about 1300 miles.  They did, however, and became known as the Black Sea Germans.

Emigration Odessa

Georgia, on the other hand, is even further – about 3680 km or 2300 miles.

Emigration Georgia

At 10 miles a day in a wagon, it would be 230 days to Georgia or 130 days to Odessa. You had to really, really want to go there.

On the other hand, the trip to America was “just” 600 km (370 miles) or so to Rotterdam where you boarded a ship, sailed and waited, probably seasick, for between 2 and 3 months to arrive.  You then climbed aboard a wagon again to your final American destination which was probably relatively close to your port of arrival – at least compared to the Caucasus.

Emigration Rotterdam

We’re not surprised to find “German” DNA in America of course, but finding “German” DNA in the Middle East or the Caucasus could well lead to interpreting the data incorrectly if we adhere to the model of only forward (nearing northward and westward) migration. In these records, we find documentation that significant backwards migration did occur, and relatively recently.  We can’t assume that where DNA is found today is where it originated nor that the expansion area follows the generally accepted direction of population migration.

Of course, we’ve always know that about destination locations, like the British Isles for example, but we don’t often think of places in Russia and the Caucasus which was at that time under Russian rule as immigration locations for European emigrants.  That small stream of Russian emigrants, over time added up to a significant population.  The first Russian census was taken in 1897 and it showed 1.8 million Germans living in Russia.

If you’re interested in further information, there is a very interesting website that includes a history and map of German Russian settlements from the 1700s and 1800s.

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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.

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Memorial Day – All Gave Some, Some Gave All

For Memorial Day, I wanted to take a look at my ancestors and see just how many served our country, or the colonies that would become our country. I was surprised, and a bit overwhelmed, to discover just how many veterans I have for ancestors.

“Our fallen heroes are the reason we live in a privileged nation where we get to sleep safely and soundly in our beds every night. This is one of many reasons they deserve this one day to remember their service and sacrifice.”

Seana Arrechaga, widow of SFC Ofren Arrechaga, killed in the line of duty, March 29, 2011, Kunar Province, Afghanistan, just days before the end of his tour of duty.

When I was young, I thought of Memorial Day as the gateway to summer, and Labor Day as the gate on the other end. Of course, Memorial Day in Indiana was associated with the end of the school year, always a happy occasion, picnics and the Indy 500 Race.  It wasn’t until I got older, much older, that I realized the significance of this day.  That’s odd, in a very strange way, given that I have the triangle shaped flag from my own father’s coffin.  I just never knew or understood its significance…that is…until Vietnam.

Dad's flag

I still, to this day, cannot talk about the human losses in and due to Vietnam. Our men came home, if at all, so broken and to an unsupportive, even hostile, country.  Mental and physical illnesses have plagued them in the decades since, and along with them, their parents, wives and families.  Not all died in Vietnam.  Many died years later from the scars inflicted upon them in Vietnam – both physical and mental.

Perhaps Vietnam was no different from any other war – it’s just that Vietnam was the war I witnessed. Boys going to the recruitment center, proud to enlist, returning months or years later as men, broken and ravaged by an invisible disease, nightmares that woke them screaming from what used to be peaceful sleep, and horrors the rest of us can’t begin to imagine.

I knew Greg growing up, before we dated and married. After he returned from Vietnam, he found a job and tried to pretend all was well, but the mental demons would consume him, inch by inch, day by day, month by month, year by year – until he was gone.

I found a photograph in my former husband’s belongings that explained it all. It was a picture of him and two other men in military fatigues in Vietnam, eating lunch sitting in the front bucket of a bulldozer.  Then I looked closer.  The piles waiting to be bulldozed were human corpses, stacked like cordwood. It is any wonder mental illness consumed him and stole his life?

Then I understood why he hated returning to active duty from leave.  It didn’t have so much to do with what he was leaving as what he was returning to.  What few stories he told me were utterly horrific.  Mostly he didn’t talk about his time in service in the Army’s Green Beret unit.  He never discussed it while it relentlessly ate him alive.  There was no escaping.  Yet, he was proud to serve his country.

He is the first veteran to honor.

Greg Cook

Greg happy times

This picture was taken one Christmas in happier times.

David Estes

Dave uniform for blog

The second veteran is my brother, David Estes, a Marine, shot down as a tail gunner, injured and contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion in Saigon.  Yes, it took him 27 years, but he too succumbed to his injuries.

William Sterling Estes

Dad in uniform for blog

My own father, William Sterling Estes, served three tours in the Army as well, in both WWI and WWII, and he too was injured.  At one point, either during or after his service, he worked at Oak Ridge, TN, on “the bomb,” and he was just never right again.  Alcohol consumed his life.  He died in an automobile accident that we believe was suicide after what would be his final relapse.

John Y. Estes

John Y Estes

My father’s great-grandfather, John Y. Estes, was a Confederate prisoner of war during the Civil War, captured after he was injured and eventually released north of the Ohio River to make his way back to Claiborne County, TN, as best he could.

John R. Estes

John R. Estes restored

John Y. Estes’ father, John R. Estes, served in the War of 1812 out of Halifax County, VA.

George Estes

John R. Estes’ father, George Estes, served three tours of duty in the Revolutionary War, two in Virginia and one in what would become Eastern Tennessee.

Moses Estes

George Estes’ grand-father, Moses Estes, served in the French and Indian War in Amelia County, Virginia.

Henry Bolton

Henry Bolton, my great-great-great-grandfather served in the Revolutionary War in Maryland and may have looked after George Washington’s horse.

William Herrell

William Herrell, my great-great-grandfather served in the War of 1812, walking from Tennessee to Fort Williams in Alabama, and back.  He called this the “War with the Creek Indians.”

Samuel Claxton or Clarkson

Clarkson, Samuel Civil War

Samuel Claxton, my great-great-grandfather served as a Union soldier in the Civil War, contracted tuberculosis, never recovered and died after the war.

William McNiel

William McNiel, my 4th great-grandfather served in the Revolutionary War from Spotsylvania County, Virginia and fought at the Battle of Brandywine.

Reverend George McNiel

William’s father, the Reverend George McNiel served in the Revolutionary War at the Battle of King’s Mountain, even though he was in his 60s at the time.

John Francis Vannoy

John Francis Vannoy, my 5th great-grandfather, may have served in the French and Indian War.

William Crumley Sr.

William Crumley Sr., my 5th great-grandfather, provided supplies for the Revolutionary Army, gathering supplies in Frederick County, Virginia, and submitted a Publik Service claim.

Edward Mercer

Edward Mercer, my 6th great-grandfather, father-in-law of William Crumley Sr., fought with George Washington and was defeated at the Battle of Fort Necessity in 1754, during the French and Indian War.

Marcus Younger

My 5th great-grandfather, Marcus Younger, provided brandy and other supplies in King and Queen County, Virginia during the Revolutionary War.

Lazarus Dodson

My 4th great-grandfather Lazarus Dodson, served in the Revolutionary War, in the same unit with George Estes in what was then North Carolina, but later became Tennessee.  Their grandchildren would marry in Tennessee.  Their descendants are shown below at the celebration honoring Lazarus by setting his gravestone.

laz descendants

Raleigh Dodson

Lazarus’s father Raleigh Dodson, may also have served in the Revolutionary War. His name is on the same roster.

Jacob Dobkins

My 5th great-grandfather Jacob Dobkins served in the Revolutionary War as a scout.  He is believed to have participated in the Battle of King’s Mountain as well.

John Harrold

William Herrell’s father, John Harrold, my 4th great-grandfather, served two terms in the Revolutionary War out of Botetourt County, Virginia serving in Virginia and North Carolina.

Michael McDowell

My 4th great-grandfather Michael McDowell served three tours of duty in the Revolutionary War out of Bedford County, VA.

James Lee Clarkson/Claxton

James Lee Clarkson/Claxton, my 4th great-grandfather, served in the War of 1812 and died in service in Alabama at Fort Decatur.  He was buried outside the fort, but his grave has been lost to time.

Nicholas Speak

Nicholas Speak, my 4th great-grandfather, fought in the War of 1812.

Joseph Workman

Joseph Workman, my 5th great-grandfather, served in the French and Indian War.

Col. Robert Craven

Col. Robert Craven, my 6th great-grandfather, served in the French and Indian War.

Abraham Workman

My 6th great-grandfather, Abraham Workman, served in the French and Indian War.

Charles Beckwith Speak

Charles Beckwith Speak, my 4th great-grandfather, served in the Revolutionary War in the militia in Maryland.

Gideon Faires

Gideon Faires, my 5th great-grandfather served in the Revolutionary War.

Samuel Muncy

Samuel Muncy served in 1774 on the frontier in Moore’s Fort in what is now Lee or Scott County, VA.

Mother’s Side

On my mother’s side of the family, there are fewer men who served to defend the US or the colonies, in part because many of her ancestors immigrated recently, in the 1800s, from both the Netherlands and Germany.

Some of my mother’s ancestors were Brethren, a pietist religion, opposed to warfare or violence in any format, to the point they would not defend their own family against attack.

One of mother’s lines was Acadian, so spent their lives in Canada, not the US.

Joseph Hill

Joseph Hill, my great-great-great-grandfather may have served in the War of 1812 from Vermont.  There were two Joseph Hills and we have been unable to verify his service.

John Hill

Joseph Hill’s father, John Hill served in the Revolutionary War from New Hampshire.

John Drew

John Drew, my 6th great-grandfather, was a Sergeant in the military organization of New Hampshire in the 1600s.

Capt. Samuel Mitchell

Capt. Samuel Mitchell, my 5th great-grandfather, served in Maine in the 1600s.

Stephen Hopkins

Stephen Hopkins, my 11th great-grandfather, served at Jamestown, returned to England, then sailed on the Mayflower and served in the Plymouth colony.

Militia Service

Many men’s names are omitted from this list, not intentionally, but often due to lack of records. The Revolutionary War was the first war that offered land as pay, or land as a benefit of service, as well as both veterans’ and widows’ pensions.  Therefore, service records become critically important.

In the previous wars, specifically the French and Indian War, the only records we have are county records if the soldiers happened to be recorded.

During this timeframe, and earlier, all men were expected to serve in the local militia which functioned to protect the community as well as serve on the frontier to defend the region, if called upon. Therefore, we can assume that all men prior to the Revolutionary War did in fact serve in some capacity in their local militia and community.  Did they see warfare defending the frontier?  Perhaps, but we’ll never have that documentation because in most cases, there are no lists of militia members, nor records of what types of activities the militia was engaged in, aside from regular drills and practice.

In many cases, we don’t know when, why or how men died, so we don’t know if they died in the service of their country, as a result of that service, or of some unrelated cause.

Thank You

For all of my ancestors whose service goes unmentioned, my apologies, but more importantly, my sincere thank you. Without those hearty men who all served as a normal part of their citizenship, we would not be here today as a nation.  And thank you to the wives, left at home with the children who persevered and carried on, doing both the man’s and woman’s work while the husband was gone.

I am honored to carry the history of such a long list of patriots, stretching from Jamestown and the Mayflower to my brother and father.

My son, while not serving in the military, serves as a public safety officer, providing both fire and police protection for his community, risking his life daily to do so – and has for more than 20 years.

radio in squad car

Thank you, one and all, for your service.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, but don’t forget who made it possible and those in active service today who keep it possible. Many are unable to celebrate with their families this weekend either because they made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, they are currently deployed or because they are working to protect the rest of us.

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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

Back in the Saddle Again – OK, Sidesaddle, Riding Very Slowly

sidesaddle me

Well, I’m pleased to let my readers know that I’m back in the saddle again. Ok, maybe not fully in the saddle.  Maybe I’m riding side saddle and very slowly right now, and gingerly.  According to some in the family, I shouldn’t even be on the horse…but I am.  Or, in my case, perched on a rock.

My husband was gracious enough to make me a temporary office on the main floor of the house – probably because he got sick of me whining about getting texting hand injuries from trying to function entirely on my iphone as I lay flat on my back on ice packs. Let’s just say it has been a very long 5 weeks and my family has been just wonderful – beyond all expectations.

And this walk outside – it was glorious. Being cooped up inside (5 weeks today, not that I’m counting) is so difficult when I know those weeds are growing and needing to be pulled up by the roots!  The beautiful phlox is in bloom, the cherry trees are just finishing, in the background…nothing as beautiful as springtime!  And the sunshine – it just felt SOOOoooo good.

In all seriousness, back injuries are no joke and excruciatingly painful, especially if you cannot take narcotic drugs.

However, ice, heat, rest and time help a great deal (In addition to my wonderful family) and my neurosurgeon has told me that I just need more of the same. I’m improving every day and have informed my husband that the surgeon said that I cannot do yard work nor housework, and I have a witness.  In fact, I’m likely to never be able to do those things again, ever.  Miss Mary, my quilt sister, accompanied me to the appointment and she swears that’s exactly what the doctor said!  She’s got my back, pardon the pun.

Right Miss Mary???

The funniest thing about the doctor visit was when the doctor said, “Well, you can’t change your genetics” and Miss Mary piped right up and said, “Well, if anyone can, she can.” He looked very quizzical of course and we all had a good laugh after discussing how different medicine, including genetics will be in another generation or even another decade.

This of course made me think about the past and wonder what happened when my poor ancestors encountered this type of situation.

The history of spinal cord injury reaches far back into history, with some insight and a lot of myth and mystery – not to mention misery and experimentation.

Spinal surgery had begun in England in the early 1800s, and yes, without anesthetic. It’s no wonder so many patients died.  They wanted to.

The first successful laminectomy which removed a disc which was compressing a nerve which resulted in paralysis from a fall from a horse was performed in Kentucky in 1829 by a doctor who had studied in Philadelphia.

That’s probably because while there was no anesthetic, Kentucky had plenty of moonshine.

In the 1800s, and before, back pain that was not a direct injury was thought to be a form of rheumatism. In fact, according to the book, “Occupation and Disease: How Social Factors Affect the Conception of work-Related Disorders” by Allard Dembe, it wasn’t until about WWI when the US passed the major worker’s compensation laws that back pain was considered to be a result of trauma, meaning an injury, not rheumatism, which was considered to be an illness.

There was also considered to be difference between a debilitating spinal injury, from something specific, like falling from a horse, or a building, and an injury from something like working in the field, or the garden. The latter was rheumatism.  In fact, I still remember the old people talking about their “rheumatism flaring up” and rubbing their backs when I was younger.  I didn’t understand then, but now it makes perfect sense.

The term rheumatism in the current sense has been in use since the late 17th century, as it was believed that chronic joint pain was caused by excessive flow of rheum or bodily fluids into a joint.

The term rheumatism is somewhat older, adopted in the early 17th century  from Late Latin rheumatismus, ultimately from Greek ῥευματίζομαι “to suffer from a flux”, i.e. any discharge of blood or bodily fluid.

Before the 17th century, joint pain thought to be caused by viscous humours seeping into the joints was named gout, a word adopted in Middle English from Old French gote “a drop; the gout, rheumatism.”

Now, the good news, if there was any for those 17th and 18th century sufferers, is that opioid medications were readily available “over the counter” at that time, so hopefully, while our ancestors were in pain, they truly didn’t suffer terribly.

I know for a fact that my bootlegging ancestors had their own brand of pain-killer, and I doubt that some of them did enough manual labor to hurt their backs in the first place.

Still, I’m very glad to be living today, because if I do need surgery again one day, I want anesthetic, and I’m very grateful for modern medicine, especially after reading that article titled, “A Brief History of Therapy for Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury” by Jason Lifshutz and Austin, Colohan, M.D.s. In many cases, it looked to me like the treatment was worse than the injury.  If I were you, I’d just skip that article and take my word for it, or better yet, maybe just go and get yourself some of that moonshine and you won’t care anymore about what’s in that article, and you won’t remember that your back was hurting either!

Thanks to one and all for your kind words of support, prayers, flowers, e-mails, cards, chocolate (that’s a medicine, didn’t you know) and the cookies too – not to mention lunch visits, smoothie runs, fabric cupcakes (no calories and cat approved), rides to the doctor and two turtles. Don’t ask about the turtles.  That’s a story for another day – and yes, that too involves Miss Mary!!!

fabric cupcake

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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

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Aisha Tyler – Who Do You Think You Are – Which John Hancock???

The TLC series, “ Who Do You Think You Are?” returns for a new season this Sunday, April 3 at 9/8c on TLC, premiering with Aisha Tyler.

Aisha 1

Aisha Tyler uncovers the astonishing tale of a prominent ancestor whose struggle to keep his illegitimate son a secret made the papers.

Aisha 2

Aisha discovers the impressive tale of her two times great-grandfather, who dove headlong into controversy, took a stand for his people, and left a mark so great that he is commemorated today by one of America’s capital cities.

Actress and producer Aisha Tyler knows very little about her mother’s side of the family, and wants to know if it has any connection to her unstoppable drive and ambition. She’s reached out to her great aunt and family historian, Sheila Gregory Thomas, who Aisha hopes can provide some clues about her maternal side. Sheila is the sister of Aisha’s grandfather, Eugene Gregory, who died when Aisha was in her 20s.

Aisha receives a letter from Aunt Sheila and learns the name of her 2 x great-grandfather, Hugh Hancock; and that he attended school in Oberlin, Ohio, and died when Sheila’s mom, Hugh Ella, was just a teenager. Sheila writes that although she has done a lot of research into their family history, that is as far as she got. Armed with this information, Aisha heads to Oberlin, Ohio to see what she can find out about her 2x great-grandfather Hugh Hancock.

Aisha arrives at Oberlin College to meet with a sociologist. Aisha learns that her 2x great-grandfather attended Oberlin’s college preparatory school between 1872 & ’73, and to her surprise, hailed from Austin, Texas. In 1835, Oberlin began accepting Black students on an equal basis, one of the few contemporary institutions to do so. This move made Oberlin a hub for racial equality at a time when slavery still reigned in half of the United States and very few African Americans had access to education.

To learn more about Hugh in Oberlin, Aisha tracks him down on an 1860 census, which shows he is 5 years old, attending school, and listed as “mulatto,” and living with no family members. Christi explains that “mulatto” was essentially a designation based on how white an African American person looked. This means that Hugh was born Black in Texas in 1855 – because of Texas law, he almost certainly would have born a slave.

Wondering how a 5 year old from Texas made it to Oberlin and who his parents were, Aisha finds a newspaper clip from 1880, which reveals that a reporter from Cleveland had investigated Hugh Hancock’s paternity, and narrowed it down to two people; a politician from Texas or a another politician who was a candidate for president, both with the same name – John Hancock! Aisha is shocked to see an article centering on her 2x great-grandfather’s paternity and heads off to another archive in Ohio to see if she can determine who her 3x great-grandfather was.

At the archive, Aisha finds the entire article about her 2x great-grandfather’s paternity, and discovers that her 3x great-grandfather was a white Southern politician from Texas named John Hancock, who gave his son money – but would not allow him to acknowledge him in public. Both John Hancock’s were famous, or infamous men, one known as General John Hancock and the other as Old John Hancock. But which one was Hugh Hancock’s father?  Where is Y DNA testing when we need it!!!

Unfortunately, a 1900 census reveals that Hugh is living in Evanston outside of Chicago with his wife Susie and four daughters. Among them is Aisha’s great-grandmother Hugh Ella.  Without a male to test, Y DNA would not be helpful, so that tool is not available.  Additionally, we don’t know if General John Hancock and Old John Hancock shared a common ancestor, but without a male from Hugh’s line, it’s a moot point.

In order to find out more about John Hancock’s politics and the relationship with his son Hugh, Aisha heads to Austin, Texas.

At the Texas State Archives, Aisha discovers that her 3 x great-grandfather was a prominent southern unionist who opposed rights for black people. Aisha is disturbed to uncover the great hypocrisy of her ancestor who fathered and financially supported a black child, but actively worked against his kin’s rights.

Digging back into her 2x great-grandfather’s story, Aisha comes across an article that reveals Hugh Hancock moved back to Texas as an adult and was charged for assault!

In order to find out more, Aisha heads to the Travis County Archives.  At the archives, Aisha is unable to uncover more details about the assault charge, but is able to review an 1890 court case file for Hugh Hancock. Aisha discovers that Hugh was indicted for running an entire gambling set-up, and was the owner of a bar in Austin called “The Black Elephant.”

The elephant had become the symbol of the Republican Party by the 1870s, so the saloon’s name could indicate it was a gathering place for Republicans of color. While saloons were a place for gambling, drinking, and relaxing, they were also crucial centers for community organization and political participation – saloons in the 19th century were the places where voting, campaigning, and other political activities took place. For the Black community in particular, saloons and churches were places to organize against racial injustice..

Curious about her 2x great-grandfather’s involvement in politics, Aisha uncovers an 1896 article which reveals something very unexpected about Hugh – but you’ll have to watch the episode to discover that detail.  No spoiler here!  In a very real way, Hugh Hancock was one of the last men standing.

Finally, Aisha reads a 1910 Obituary for Hugh which proclaims that he was a well-regarded man held in high esteem by his community in Austin. As a final part of her journey, Aisha heads to a local address the historian has recommended she visit.

Aisha approaches a home in Austin and reads a Texas historical marker commemorating this former home of her 2x great-grandfather Hugh Hancock, a successful black businessman of the city. Aisha contemplates Hugh’s accomplishments in Austin, despite the challenges he faced to get there. She’s proud to have found the origins of her drive and passion in her blood.

Aisha’s ancestor’s story is both fun and educational with a lot of unexpected twists and turns. Tune into TLC Sunday evening at 9/8 central.

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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

Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners

Forgotten Slave Owners

Thomas Thistlewood arrived in Jamaica in 1750 from England, having failed at farming, at age 29.  He met with a plantation owner for dinner shortly after his arrival, and 2 months later became an overseer on that plantation.

Thomas kept an extensive journal of his entire life in Jamaica beginning with the day he arrived – including the horrific brutality that he inflicted on enslaved people, along with the other overseers in the same position he held.  Thomas’s behavior does not appear to be unique.

As genetic genealogists, we sometimes wonder at the extent of sexual interaction between plantation owners, their overseers and enslaved women.

Thomas’s diary details his sexual encounters – over 4000 in total, mostly with enslaved women, over a period of 37 years.  If you’re doing the math, that means that he had 108 encounters with women every year, on average, which is one approximately every 3.38 days.

If one can assume that he did not choose to engage in sexual activity with women who were menstruating, and that he probably did not select for women who were pregnant, that means that the women he was having sex with were fertile women who could have potentially conceived as a result of the encounter.

If we eliminate the one quarter of the month a woman is menstruating – that leaves 3 weeks.  Of that, a woman is fertile for about 6 days per month, or about one third of the time she was not menstruating.  Therefore, Thistlewood perhaps impregnated one women every three encounters, or about one female impregnated every 10 days, or 3 per month.  If this is anyplace near accurate, Thomas Thistlewood could have had approximately 1333 children, roughly half of which would have been male, and all of whom would have been enslaved.

Not all of the children would have survived birth or infancy.  In fact, the harsh and fatal discipline methods Thistelwood so routinely describes may have killed some of his own offspring on the plantation where he was overseer.  The mortality rate of slaves at every point in life was exceedingly high.  But some of those male children would likely have survived and reproduced, having direct line males living today.  When they DNA test, they will match Thistlewood males from England.  And they will wonder why.

Now, they need wonder no more.  The answers are in the British Archive records listing slave owners and the records in the Caribbean.  And not just for Thistlewood, but for other British surnames as well.  Many, many other British and Scottish surnames.  You can search at this link to find those records and they are also available on Ancestry.com.  For once, I was very relieved to not find my family surnames included in a set of records.

In 1834, the British government recorded payments to British slave owners when Great Britain abolished slavery and owning slaves entirely.  This effectively freed the slaves after they served another 6 years working for their former masters for free.

These records include more than 40,000 British who owned slaves, most of whom had never seen a Caribbean plantation where their slaves were located.  These slaves were managed by overseers, like Thistlewood.  There were more than 800,000 individual slaves named in 1834, which means the average number of slaves owned per British slave owner was about 20.  Of course, the real numbers ranged from 1 slave owned to thousands for the most wealthy.

Before I watched this documentary, I never realized the massive extent of either British involvement in slavery into the 1800s, nor the level of abuse of power of slave-owners and overseers exploiting slave women.  Seeing these almost unbelievable numbers and realizing that this sexual behavior lasted, for one man, for 37 years – and multiplying that behavior by thousands of other men – the level of chronic, systemic nonconsensual sexual exploitation is almost beyond comprehension.  Of course, today we can expect to see the results in Y DNA testing.

You can watch the BBC documentary at this link.  Part 2 is available at this link.

Professor Catherine Hall lectures on “Britain and the Legacies of Slavery” and the project that produced the results upon which the documentaries above were based.

All three of these videos are eye-opening and well worth watching.

If you want to read more about the history of slavery in the British Isles, click here and here.

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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.

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Josh Groban – Who Do You Think You Are – “A Desperate Need”

josh germany

Courtesy TLC

Josh’s new World Premier Video says it all – “I can’t regret what I did for love.”

Before you watch Josh’s TLC episode, I really encourage you to watch the trailer for Josh’s new album, Stages, in the lower right hand corner of this link.  You’ll see why.

Oh Josh, you couldn’t have known about your ancestor,  JZ, when you filmed this new song ….could you?  Did you?

It’s only fitting that Josh, one of the world’s most inspirational musicians with a voice powerful enough to touch the souls of the dead…it’s only fitting that his ancestors would be so….so….so….committed.  Devoted…and fittingly, a musician, among other amazing things.

I have to make a confession, right here and now.  This episode of Who Do You Think You Are is my favorite – ever – hands down – bar none.  And that includes any other similar programs too.

And now I have another confession to make – I’ve seen the episode already – yes – in full.

It’s a press courtesy provided by TLC to those in the media.  The good news is that I receive some pre-release info and I can share it with you.

So, when I tell you this is a wonderful can’t-miss-it-episode, take my word for it – it really is.  If you can’t see it, record it.

Josh starts in LA, where he was born, of course, but it doesn’t take long for him to find his ancestor in Pennsylvania.  You know how that works with these shows – Josh’s pedigree chart magically grows by 3 or 4 generations like a vine on steroids.  However, Josh’s Pennsylvania ancestor in question was a she, and she had young children with her when she immigrated, alone.  Where was her husband?  What happened?

The answer is – should I tell you????

Maybe not.

But, let’s say this….Josh traveled back to Germany, tracking his ancestor to the village of Bietigheim, sat in the pews of the very church where his ancestor preached.  Yes, preached.  Stood at that very lectern….oh my, the history.

josh church

Courtesy TLC

I can see Josh’s ancestor, singing, passionately singing in that church….and I can see Josh, singing the historical songs from his new album, Stages…the song from Lez Miz.  Sharing that same passion, more than 330 years and several generations removed – but still so unquestionably connected.

Then Josh climbed the rickety wooden stairs to the top of the church tower where that same ancestor, also an astronomer, saw and measured the passing of Haley’s Comet on the cold night of November 23, 1682.

josh stairs 2

Courtesy TLC

Josh’s ancestor trod these same steps on that fateful night – as he climbed to his destiny.

josh stairs

Courtesy TLC

That night changed his life – and the fate of Josh’s family.  It was that comet, that darned comet, that would unravel his mind…..

Josh visited the University where his ancestor studied, not for 4 years, but for 8 – because at that time in Germany, theology was the foundation for higher skills and studies, like math and astronomy…and music.  But God, and the church, were the foundation for everything in life.

Math and astronomy were believed at that time to be a better way of understanding God.  And music, we know it feeds the soul and was heavily incorporated into churches at that time.

But Josh’s ancestor didn’t understand God in the same way everyone else did, certainly not like the Lutheran church of the time did.  He became a rather free thinker.  And Josh’s ancestor interpreted the comet and other events to predict a rather grim future…that of cataclysmic doom.

You see, he was, what what we would call today, a “seer,” and he wrote under a pen name as such.

But then, his activities came to the attention of the church hierarchy……

If you like religious history or just a good mystery, if you had ancestors from Germany in the 17th century, if they became pietists, if you are interested in astronomy, if you love old churches – and especially, if you are a Josh Groban fan…this is a must see.

You can see and feel this ancestor in Josh today.

I think my favorite scene in this entire episode was the one where Josh was holding the actual music book his ancestor taught from.  I don’t know if Josh wanted to cry, but I surely did.

josh music book

Courtesy TLC

This made Josh very happy, gave him cold chills.

“I’m so excited to know that he was passionate about music….that he was a music teacher at the time when there were no music teachers.”

josh smile

Courtesy TLC

Josh, you definitely found your ancestor.  I wonder if there is a music gene.  You have clearly both excelled and bring the same depth of passion to everything you do.

What did Josh have to say about all of this?

Upon embarking on his journey: “I’m excited, a little scared, but excited.”

“My imagination is going wild.”  Mine was too at that point, Josh.  Whoever would have guessed???

“A desperate need.”  Things were getting dicey!

“It is a little strange, isn’t it.”

Uh, yes, to put it mildly…..that part gave me cold chills.  Wait until you see what happened in 1693, the year of the prophecy of doom.

I wonder if Josh’s ancestor ever regretted his decisions.  You’ll have to let me know what you think.  Would you like a sneak peak?  Here you go.

One thing is for sure, if JZ can see Josh today, he can see that same love of music, passion and strength of character – and he could never regret the steps that he took that led to Josh.

Don’t forget, TLC, Sunday, March 15th, at 10, 9 central.

josh playing

Courtesy TLC

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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.

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Cultural Footprints

I was recently corresponding with a descendant of Valentine Collins, one of the Melungeon families of mixed race found in and nearby Hawkins County, Tennessee in the 1800s.

Here’s what he had to say.

When I first started looking into my Collins’ family history, I realized very early this was going to be a real adventure. What I did was set up a system to look at different aspects of their lives/history. I call it ‘cultural footprints’. I have those foot prints broken down as:

  • Religion
  • The Table (food)
  • Music
  • Language

Most of the data I’ve mined are based on these four Cultural Footprints. But I would have to say Genetic Genealogy provided the biggest breakthroughs, the best tool by far.

Well, obviously I liked his commentary about genetic genealogy, which gives us the ability to connect and to prove, or disprove, connections.  But as I looked at his list, I thought about my own ancestors.  Those of you who follow my blog regularly know that I love to learn about the history during the time that my ancestors were living – what happened to and near them and how it affected them.  But his commentary made me wonder what I’ve been missing.

As I think back, one of the biggest and most useful clues to one of my ancestral lines was an accidental comment made by my mother about her grandmother. She mentioned, in passing, “that little white hat that she always wore.”  I almost didn’t say anything, but then I thought, “little white hat, that’s odd.”  So I asked and my mother said something like, “you know, those religious hats.”  I asked if she meant Amish or Mennonite, given the context of where they lived and she said, “yes, a hat like that.”  Then, when questioned further, it turns out that the family didn’t drive, even though cars were certainly utilized by then.  My mother never thought about it.  Turns out that the family was actually Brethren, also one of the pietist faiths similar to Amish and Mennonite, but that hint sent me in the right direction.

How could my mother have been unaware of something that important, well, important to me anyway?  Easy.  It was, ahem, not discussed in the family.  You see, it was somewhat of a scandal.

My mother’s father had married outside the Brethren religion, so was rather ostracized from the family for his choice to marry a Lutheran. Then the family became, horror of horrors, Methodist.  So, I would add clothing to my friend’s list of cultural footprints as well.  Sometimes, like in my case, dress will lead you to religion.  In the photo below, my mother’s grandmother is the female in the middle back row.  If you look carefully, you can see that both she and her mother are wearing a prayer cap.

John David Miller Photo

I know the religion of many of my ancestors. Whatever their religious choice, it was extremely important to many.  I have 1709ers, Acadians, Brethren, Mennonites, Huguenots, fire and brimstone Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians in my family line.  I always try to find their church and the church records if possible.  Some are quite interesting, like Joseph Bolton who was twice censured from the Baptist church in Hancock County, Tennessee.  Many of my ancestors made their life choices based on their faith.  In particular, the Huguenots, 1709ers, Brethren and Mennonites suffered greatly for their beliefs.  Conversely, some of my ancestors appear to never have set foot in a church.  I refer to them as the “free thinkers.”

Well, in one case, my ancestor was a bootlegger in the mountains of Kentucky. What the hey…every family has to have some color, and he was definitely colorful….and free thinking.

Most of us are a mixture of people, cultures and places. All of them are in us.  Their lives, culture, choices and  yes, their DNA, make us who we are.  If you have any doubt, just look at your autosomal ethnicity predictions.

Language of course is important, but more personally, local dialects that our ancestors may have spoken. In the US, every part of the country has their own way of speaking.

Here’s a YouTube video of a Louisiana Cajun accent. Many Acadians settled in that region after being forcibly removed from Nova Scotia in 1755.

Acadian-Cajun language, music and early homes in Louisiana

Here’s a wonderful video of Appalachian English. In my family, this is known as “hillbilly” and that is not considered a bad thing to be:)  In fact, we truthfully, all love Jeff Foxworthy, well, because he’s one of us.  I’m just sure if we could get him to DNA test, that we’d be related!

There are regional and cultural differences too.

Here’s a video about Lumbee English. The Lumbee are a Native American tribe found in North Carolina near the border with South Carolina.

Going further east in North Carolina, the Outer Banks has a very distinctive dialect.

What did your ancestor’s speech sound like?   What would it have sounded like in that time and place?

That, of course, leads to music. Sometimes music is the combination of speech and religion, with musical instruments added.  Sometimes it has nothing to do with religion, but moves us spiritually just the same.  Music is the voice of the soul.

Here’s Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. If you can get through this dry-eyed, well, then you’re not Scottish…just saying.  This connects me to my Scottish ancestors.  It was played at both my mother’s and my brother’s funerals.  Needless to say, I can’t get through it dry eyed!

Amazing Grace isn’t limited to bagpipes or musical instruments. The old “hardshell” Baptists didn’t utilize musical instruments, and still don’t, in their churches.  Listen to their beautiful voices, and the beautiful landscape of Kentucky.  This is the land, voices and religion of some of my people.

A hauntingly and sadly beautiful Negro Spiritual. Kleenex box warning.  This, too, is the music of my family.

Yeha – Noha – a Native American song by Sacred Spirit. One of my favorite music pieces.

Bluegrass gospel – Swing Low Sweet Chariot. Bet you can’t keep your foot from tapping!!!

Appalachian fiddle music. Speaks directly to my heart.  And my hands.  I just have to clap my hands.

Acadian music. This would be very familiar to my Acadian ancestors.

At this link, you can hear samples of Acadian folk songs by scrolling down and clicking on the track listing.

Moving a little closer in time. This is the official state song of Tennessee – one of my all-time favorites.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve danced to this.  This just says “home” to me and I can feel my roots.

What kind of music did your ancestors enjoy? Did they play any musical instruments?  Can you find the music of the time and place in which they lived?  YouTube has a wide variety and the videos are an added benefit, bringing the reality of the life of our distant ancestors a little closer.

Now that you know what fed their souls, let’s look at what fed their bodies.  Along with regional speech and musical differences, the diet of our ancestors was unique and often quite different from ours of today.

On the Cumberland Gap Yahoo group, we often exchange and discuss regional recipes, especially around the holidays. Same on the Acadian rootsweb group.  Although this year we’ve been talking about deep fried turkeys.  Maybe in another couple hundred years that will be considered representative of our time.  Hopefully it’s not McDonalds!

The Smithsonian sponsors a website about Appalachian foods.  Let me share with you what I remember about my childhood.  We made do with what we had, whatever that was.  Some things were staples.  Like biscuits, with butter, or honey, or jam, or apple butter…whatever you had on hand that was in season.

biscuits

Chicken fried in bacon grease was for Sunday, or company, which usually came on Sunday.

fried chicken

We wasted nothing, ever, because you never knew when you might not have enough to eat. So, we ate leftovers until they were gone and we canned. Did we ever can.  Lord, we canned everything.  Mason jars in huge boiling kettles in the hottest part of summer.  Let’s just say that is not my favorite memory of growing up.  But green beans at Christmas time were just wonderful, and you couldn’t have those without canning in the August heat.

cans

Different areas have become known for certain types of cuisine. In North Carolina, they are known for their wood-fired BBQ.  In western North Carolina, they use a red, slightly sweet, tomato based BBQ sauce, but in eastern NC, they use a vinegar based BBQ sauce.  Want to start a fight?  Just say that the other one is better on the wrong side of the state:)

BBQ pit

Creole cuisine is found in the south, near the Mississippi Delta region and is from a combination of French, Spanish and African heritage.

creole

Jambalaya is a Louisiana adaptation of Spanish paella.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soul food is the term for the foods emanating from slavery.  When I looked up soul food on wiki, I found the foods my family ate every day.  When I think of food that we didn’t eat, but that my African American cousins did eat, I think of chitlins.  Yes, I know I didn’t spell that correctly, but that’s how we spelled it. And the chitlins we had were flowered and fried too, not boiled.  Maybe that is a regional difference or an adaptation.

chitterlings

Another “out of Africa” food is sorghum, used to make a sweet substance similar to molasses, used on biscuits in our family. Sorghum is an African plant, often called Guinea Corn, and arrived with slaves in colonial days.

sorghum

Native American cuisine varies by where the tribe lived, and originally, they lived across all of North and South America. Originally, the Native people had the three sisters, corn, squash and beans.  Hominy is Native, as is grits, a southern staple today.  I’m drooling now…

grits

Today, however, one of the signature Native American dishes is FryBread. Fried and seriously unhealthy, the lines at powwows are longer for frybread and a derivative, Indian Tacos, than anything else.

frybread

In many places, the settlers, slaves and Native people assimilated and the food their descendants ate reflected all three cultures, like Brunswick Stew.  Even Brunswick Stew varies widely by location as do the origin stories.  Many foods seems to have evolved in areas occupied by European settlers, Native people and slaves, to reflect ingredients from all three groups.

Brunswick stew

That’s the case in my family, on my father’s side. We didn’t know any differently, or where that particular type of food originated.  However, sometimes by looking at the foods families ate, we can tell something of their origins.

In marginalized populations, and by that, in the US I mean mixed race or descendants of enslaved people, it’s often very difficult to use traditional genealogical records because they didn’t own land or leave other records. Many of them spent a lot of time trying to make themselves transparent and didn’t want to attract any attention.

Often, it’s the DNA that unlocks the doors to their heritage, and after making that discovery, we can then look the cultural footprints they left for us to follow.

I’m starving. I’m going to eat something unhealthy and listen to some wonderful music!  How about grits with butter and Indian tacos for lunch along with powwow music?  Oh yeahhhhhh…….

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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

Peopling of Europe 2014 – Identifying the Ghost Population

Beginning with the full sequencing of the Neanderthal genome, first published in May 2010 by the Max Planck Institute with Svante Paabo at the helm, and followed shortly thereafter with a Denisovan specimen, we began to unravel our ancient history.

neanderthal reconstructed

Neanderthal man, reconstructed at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo

The photo below shows a step in the process of extracting DNA from ancient bones at Max Planck.

planck extraction

Our Y and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups take us back thousands of years in time, but at some point, where and how people were settling and intermixing becomes fuzzy. Ancient DNA can put the people of that time and place in context.  We have discovered that current populations do not necessarily represent the ancient populations of a particular locale.

Recent information discovered from ancient burials tells us that the people of Europe descend from a 3 pronged model. Until recently, it was believed that Europeans descended from Paleolithic hunter-gatherers and Neolithic farmers, a two-pronged model.

Previously, it was believed that Europe was peopled by the ancient hunter-gatherers, the Paleolithic, who originally settled in Europe beginning about 45,000 years ago. At this time, the Neanderthal were already settled in Europe but weren’t considered to be anatomically modern humans, and it was believed, incorrectly, that the two groups did not interbreed.  These hunter-gatherers were the people who settled in Europe before the last major ice age, the Younger Dryas, taking refuge in the southern portions of Europe and Eurasia, and repeopling the continent after the ice receded, about 12,000 years ago.  By that time, the Neanderthals were gone, or as we now know, at least partially assimilated.

This graphic shows Europe during the last ice age.

ice age euripe

The second settlement wave, the agriculturalist farmers from the Near East either overran or integrated with the hunter-gatherers in the Neolithic period, depending on which theory you subscribe to, about 8000-10,000 years ago.

2012 – Ancient Northern European (ANE) Hints

Beginning in 2012, we began to see hints of a third lineage that contributed to the peopling of Europe as well, from the north. Buried in the 2012 paper, Estimating admixture proportions and dates with ADMIXTOOLS by Patterson et al, was a very interesting tidbit.  This new technique showed a third population, referred to by many as a “ghost population”, because no one knew who they were, that contributed to the European population.

patterson ane

The new population was termed Ancient North Eurasian, or ANE.

Dienekes covered this paper in his blog, but without additional information, in the community in general, there wasn’t much more than a yawn.

2013 – Mal’ta Child Stirs Excitement

The first real hint of meat on the bones of ANE came in the form of ancient DNA analysis of a 24,000 year old Siberian boy that has come to be named Mal’ta (Malta) Child. In the original paper, by Raghaven et al, Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans, he was referred to as MA-1.  I wrote about this in my article titled Native American Gene Flow – Europe?, Asia and the Americas.   Dienekes wrote about this paper as well.

This revelation caused quite a stir, because it was reported that the Ancestor of Native Americans in Asia was 30% Western Eurasian.  Unfortunately, in some cases, this was immediately interpreted to mean that Native Americans had come directly from Europe which is not what this paper said, nor inferred.  It was also inferred that the haplogroups of this child, R* (Y) and U (mtDNA) were Native American, which is also incorrect.  To date, there is no evidence for migration to the New World from Europe in ancient times, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still looking for that evidence in early burials.

What this paper did show was that Europeans and Native Americans shared a common ancestor, and that the Siberian population had contributed to the European population as well as the Native American population.  In other words, descendants settled in both directions, east and west.

The most fascinating aspect of this paper was the match distribution map, below, showing which populations Malta child matched most closely.

malta child map

As you can see, MA-1, Malta Child, matches the Native American population most closely, followed by the northern European and Greenland populations. The further south in Europe and Asia, the more distant the matches and the darker the blue.

2013 – Michael Hammer and Haplogroup R

Last fall at the Family Tree DNA conference, Dr. Michael Hammer, from the Hammer Lab at the University of Arizona discussed new findings relative to ancient burials, specifically in relation to haplogroup R, or more specifically, the absence of haplogroup R in those early burials.

hammer 2013

hammer 2013-1

hammer 2013-2

hammer 2013-3

Based on the various theories and questions, ancient burials were enlightening.

hammer 2013-4

hammer 2013-5

In 2013, there were a total of 32 burials from the Neolithic period, after farmers arrived from the Near East, and haplogroup R did not appear. Instead, haplogroups G, I and E were found.

hammer 2013-7

What this tells us is that haplogroup R, as well as other haplogroup, weren’t present in Europe at this time. Having said this, these burials were in only 4 locations and, although unlikely, R could be found in other locations.

hammer 2-13-8

hammer 2013-9

hammer 2013-10

hammer 2013-11

Last year, Dr. Hammer concluded that haplogroup R was not found in the Paleolithic and likely arrived with the Neolithic farmers. That shook the community, as it had been widely believed that haplogroup R was one of the founding European haplogroups.

hammer 2013-12

While this provided tantalizing information, we still needed additional evidence. No paper has yet been published that addresses these findings.  The mass full sequencing of the Y chromosome over this past year with the introduction of the Big Y will provide extremely valuable information about the Y chromosome and eventually, the migration path into and across Europe.

2014 – Europe’s Three Ancient Tribes

In September 2014, another paper was published by Lazaridis et al that more fully defined this new ANE branch of the European human family tree.  An article in BBC News titled Europeans drawn from three ancient ‘tribes’ describes it well for the non-scientist.  Of particular interest in this article is the artistic rendering of the ancient individual, based on their genetic markers.  You’ll note that they had dark skin, dark hair and blue eyes, a rather unexpected finding.

In discussing the paper, David Reich from Harvard, one of the co-authors, said, “Prior to this paper, the models we had for European ancestry were two-way mixtures. We show that there are three groups. This also explains the recently discovered genetic connection between Europeans and Native Americans.  The same Ancient North Eurasian group contributed to both of them.”

The paper, Ancient human genomes suggest three ancestral populations for present-day Europeans, appeared as a letter in Nature and is behind a paywall, but the supplemental information is free.

The article summary states the following:

We sequenced the genomes of a ~7,000-year-old farmer from Germany and eight ~8,000-year-old hunter-gatherers from Luxembourg and Sweden. We analysed these and other ancient genomes1, 2, 3, 4 with 2,345 contemporary humans to show that most present-day Europeans derive from at least three highly differentiated populations: west European hunter-gatherers, who contributed ancestry to all Europeans but not to Near Easterners; ancient north Eurasians related to Upper Palaeolithic Siberians3, who contributed to both Europeans and Near Easterners; and early European farmers, who were mainly of Near Eastern origin but also harboured west European hunter-gatherer related ancestry. We model these populations’ deep relationships and show that early European farmers had ~44% ancestry from a ‘basal Eurasian’ population that split before the diversification of other non-African lineages.

This paper utilized ancient DNA from several sites and composed the following genetic contribution diagram that models the relationship of European to non-European populations.

Lazaridis tree

Present day samples are colored purple, ancient in red and reconstructed ancestral populations in green. Solid lines represent descent without admixture and dashed lines represent admixture.  WHG=western European hunter-gatherer, EEF=early European farmer and ANE=ancient north Eurasian

2014 – Michael Hammer on Europe’s Ancestral Population

For anyone interested in ancient DNA, 2014 has been a banner years. At the Family Tree DNA conference in Houston, Texas, Dr. Michael Hammer brought the audience up to date on Europe’s ancestral population, including the newly sequenced ancient burials and the information they are providing.

hammer 2014

hammer 2014-1

Dr. Hammer said that ancient DNA is the key to understanding the historical processes that led up to the modern. He stressed that we need to be careful inferring that the current DNA pattern is reflective of the past because so many layers of culture have occurred between then and now.

hammer 2014-2

Until recently, it was assumed that the genes of the Neolithic farmers replaced those of the Paleolithic hunter-gatherers. Ancient DNA is suggesting that this is not true, at least not on a wholesale level.

hammer 2014-3

The theory, of course, is that we should be able to see them today if they still exist. The migration and settlement pattern in the slide below was from the theory set forth in the 1990s.

hammer 2014-4

In 2013, Dr. Hammer discussed the theory that haplogroup R1b spread into Europe with the farmers from the Near East in the Neolithic. This year, he expanded upon that topic that based on the new findings from ancient burials.

hammer 2014-5

Last year, Dr. Hammer discussed 32 burials from 4 sites. Today, we have information from 15 ancient DNA sites and many of those remains have been full genome sequenced.

hammer 2014-6

Information from papers and recent research suggests that Europeans also have genes from a third source lineage, nicknamed the “ghost population of North Eurasia.”

hammer 2014-7

Scientists are finding a signal of northeast Asian related admixture in northern Europeans, first suggested in 2012.  This was confirmed with the sequencing of Malta child and then in a second sequencing of Afontova Gora2 in south central Siberia.

hammer 2014-8

We have complete genomes from nine ancient Europeans – Mesolithic hunter gatherers and Neothilic farmers. Hammer refers to the Mesolithic here, which is a time period between the Paleolithic (hunter gatherers with stone tools) and the Neolithic (farmers).

hammer 2014-9

In the PCA charts, shown above, you can see that Europeans and people from the Near East cluster separately, except for a bridge formed by a few Mediterranean and Jewish populations. On the slide below, the hunter-gatherers (WHG) and early farmers (EEF) have been overlayed onto the contemporary populations along with the MA-1 (Malta Child) and AG2 (Afontova Gora2) representing the ANE.

hammer 2014-10

When sequenced, separate groups formed including western hunter gathers and early european farmers include Otzi, the iceman.  A third group is the north south clinal variation with ANE contributing to northern European ancestry.  The groups are represented by the circles, above.

hammer 2014-11

hammer 2014-12

Dr. Hammer said that the team who wrote the “Ancient Human Genomes” paper just recently published used an F3 test, results shown above, which shows whether populations are an admixture of a reference population based on their entire genome. He mentioned that this technique goes well beyond PCA.

hammer 2014-13

Mapped onto populations today, most European populations are a combination of the three early groups. However, the ANE is not found in the ancient Paleolithic or Neolithic burials.  It doesn’t arrive until later.

hammer 2014-14

This tells us that there was a migration event 45,000 years ago from the Levant, followed about 7000 years ago by farmers from the Near East, and that ANE entered the population some time after that. All Europeans today carry some amount of ANE, but ancient burials do not.

These burials also show that southern Europe has more Neolithic farmer genes and northern Europe has more Paleolithic/Mesolithic hunter-gatherer genes.

hammer 2014-15

Pigmentation for light skin came with farmers – blue eyes existed in hunter gatherers even though their skin was dark.

hammer 2014-16

Dr. Hammer created these pie charts of the Y and mitochondrial haplogroups found in the ancient burials as compared to contemporary European haplogroups.

hammer 2014-17

The pie chart on the left shows the haplogroups of the Mesolithic burials, all haplogroup I2 and subclades. Note that in the current German population today, no I2a1b and no I1 was found.  The chart on the right shows current Germans where haplogroup I is a minority.

hammer 2014-18

Therefore, we can conclude that haplogroup I is a good candidate to be identified as a Paleolithic/Mesolithic haplogroup.

This information shows that the past is very different from today.

hammer 2014-19

In 2014 we have many more burials that have been sequenced than last year, as shown on the map above.

Green represents Neolithic farmers, red are Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, brown at bottom right represents more recent samples from the Metallic age.

hammer 2014-20

There are a total of 48 Neolithic burials where haplogroup G dominates. In the Mesolithic, there are a total of six haplogroup I.

This suggests that haplogroup I is a good candidate to be the father of the Paleolithic/Mesolithic and haplogroup G, the founding father of the Neolithic.

In addition to haplogroup G in the Neolithic, one sample of both E1b1b1 (M35) and C were also found in Spain.  E1b1b1 isn’t surprising given it’s north African genesis, but C was quite interesting.

The Metal ages, which according to wiki begin about 3300BC in Europe, is where haplogroup R, along with I1, first appear.

diffusion of metallurgy

Please note that the diffusion of melallurgy map above is not part of Dr. Hammer’s presentation. I have added it for clarification.

hammer 2014-21

Nothing is constant in Europe. The Y DNA was very upheaved, as indicated on the graphic above.  Mitochondrial DNA shifted from pre-Neolithic to Neolithic which isn’t terribly different from the present day.

Dr. Hammer did not say this, but looking at the Y versus the mtDNA haplogroups, I wonder if this suggests that indeed there was more of a replacement of the males in the population, but that the females were more widely assimilated. This would certainly make sense, especially if the invaders were warriors and didn’t have females with them.  They would have taken partners from the invaded population.

Haplogroup G represents the spread of farming into Europe.

hammer 2014-22

The most surprising revelation is that haplogroup R1b appears to have emerged after the Neolithic agriculture transition. Given that just three years ago we thought that haplogroup R1b was one of the original European settlers thousands of years ago, based on the prevalence of haplogroup R in Europe today, at about 50%, this is a surprising turn of events.  Last year’s revelation that R was maybe only 7000-8000 years old in Europe was a bit of a whammy, but the age of R in Europe in essence just got halved again and the source of R1b changed from the Near East to the Asian steppes.

Obviously, something conferred an advantage to these R1b men. Given that they arrived in the early Metalic age, was it weapons and chariots that enabled the R1b men who arrived to quickly become more than half of the population?

hammer 2014-23

The Bronze Age saw the first use of metal to create weapons. Warrior identity became a standard part of daily life.  Celts ranged over Europe and were the most dominant iron age warriors.  Indo-European languages and chariots arrived from Asia about this time.

hammer 2014-24

hammer 2014-25

hammer 2014-26

The map above shows the Hallstadt and LaTene Celtic cultures in Europe, about 600BC. This was not a slide presented by Dr. Hammer.

hammer 2014-27

Haplogroup R1b was not found in an ancient European context prior to a Bell Beaker period burial in Germany 4.8-4.0 kya (thousand years ago, i.e. 4,800-4,000 years ago).  R1b arrives about 4.6 kya and is also found in a Corded Ware culture burial in Germany.  A late introduction of these lineages which now predominate in Europe corresponds to the autosomal signal of the entry of Asian and Eastern European steppe invaders into western Europe.

hammer 2014-28

Local expansion occurred in Europe of R1b subgroups U106, L21 and U152.

hammer 2014-29

hammer 2014-30

A current haplogroup R distribution map that reflects the findings of this past year is shown above.

Haplogroup I is interesting for another reason. It looks like haplogroup I2a1b (M423) may have been replaced by I1 which expanded after the Mesolithic.

hammer 2014-31

On the slide above, the Loschbour sample from Luxembourg was mapped onto a current haplogroup I SNP map where his closest match is a current day Russian.

One of the benefits of ancient DNA genome processing is that we will be able to map current trees into maps of old SNPs and be able to tell who we match most closely.

Autosomal DNA can also be mapped to see how much of our DNA is from which ancient population.

hammer 2014-32

Dr. Hammer mapped the percentages of European Mesolithic/Paleolithic hunter-gatherers in blue, Neolithic Farmers from the Near East in magenta and Asian Steppe Invaders representing ANE in yellow, over current populations. Note the ancient DNA samples at the top of the list.  None of the burials except for Malta Child carry any yellow, indicating that the ANE entered the European population with the steppe invaders; the same group that brought us haplogroup R and possibly I1.

Dr. Hammer says that ANE was introduced to and assimilated into the European population by one or more incursions. We don’t know today if ANE in Europeans is a result of a single blast event or multiple events.  He would like to do some model simulations and see if it is related to timing and arrival of swords and chariots.

We know too that there are more recent incursions, because we’re still missing major haplogroups like J.

The further east you go, meaning the closer to the steppes and Volga region, the less well this fits the known models. In other words, we still don’t have the whole story.

At the end of the presentation, Michael was asked if the whole genomes sequenced are also obtaining Y STR data, which would allow us to compare our results on an individual versus a haplogroup level. He said he didn’t know, but he would check.

Family Tree DNA was asked if they could show a personal ancient DNA map in myOrigins, perhaps as an alternate view. Bennett took a vote and that seemed pretty popular, which he interpreted as a yes, we’d like to see that.

In Summary

The advent of and subsequent drop in the price of whole genome sequencing combined with the ability to extract ancient DNA and piece it back together have provided us with wonderful opportunities.  I think this is jut the proverbial tip of the iceberg, and I can’t wait to learn more.

If you are interested in other articles I’ve written about ancient DNA, check out these links:

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Anzick (12,707-12,556), Ancient One, 52 Ancestors #42

anzick burial location

His name is Anzick, named for the family land, above, where his remains were found, and he is 12,500 years old, or more precisely, born between 12,707 and 12,556 years before the present.  Unfortunately, my genealogy software is not prepared for a birth year with that many digits.  That’s because, until just recently, we had no way to know that we were related to anyone of that age….but now….everything has changed ….thanks to DNA.

Actually, Anzick himself is not my direct ancestor.  We know that definitively, because Anzick was a child when he died, in present day Montana.

anzick on us map

Anzick was loved and cherished, because he was smeared with red ochre before he was buried in a cave, where he would be found more than 12,000 years later, in 1968, just beneath a layer of approximately 100 Clovis stone tools, shown below.  I’m sure his parents then, just as parents today, stood and cried as the laid their son to rest….never suspecting just how important their son would be some 12,500 years later.

anzick clovis tools

From 1968 until 2013, the Anzick family looked after Anzick’s bones, and in 2013, Anzick’s DNA was analyzed.

DNA analysis of Anzick provided us with his mitochondrial haplogroup,  D4h3a, a known Native American grouping, and his Y haplogroup was Q-L54, another known Native American haplogroup.  Haplogroup Q-L54 itself is estimated to be about 16,900 years old, so this finding is certainly within the expected range.  I’m not related to Anzick through Y or mitochondrial DNA.

Utilizing the admixture tools at GedMatch, we can see that Anzick shows most closely with Native American and Arctic with a bit of east Siberian.  This all makes sense.

Anzick MDLP K23b

Full genome sequencing was performed on Anzick, and from that data, it was discovered that Anzick was related to Native Americans, closely related to Mexican, Central and South Americans, and not closely related to Europeans or Africans.  This was an important discovery, because it in essence disproves the Solutrean hypothesis that Clovis predecessors emigrated from Southwest Europe during the last glacial maximum, about 20,000 years ago.

anzick matches

The distribution of these matches was a bit surprising, in that I would have expected the closest matches to be from North America, in particular, near to where Anzick was found, but his closest matches are south of the US border.  Although, in all fairness, few people in Native tribes in the US have DNA tested and many are admixed.

This match distribution tells us a lot about population migration and distribution of the Native people after they left Asia, crossed Beringia on the land bridge, now submerged, into present day Alaska.

This map of Beriginia, from the 2008 paper by Tamm et all, shows the migration of Native people into (and back from) the new world.

beringia map

Anzick’s ancestors crossed Beringia during this time, and over the next several thousand years, found their way to Montana.  Some of Anzick’s relatives found their way to Mexico, Central and South America.  The two groups may have split when Anzick’s family group headed east instead of south, possibly following the edges of glaciers, while the south-moving group followed the coastline.

Recently, from Anzick’s full genome data, another citizen scientist extracted the DNA locations that the testing companies use for autosomal DNA results, created an Anzick file, and uploaded the file to the public autosomal matching site, GedMatch.  This allowed everyone to see if they matched Anzick.  We expected no, or few, matches, because after all, Anzick was more than 12,000 years old and all of his DNA would have washed out long ago due to the 50% replacement in every generation….right?  Wrong!!!

What a surprise to discover fairly large segments of DNA matching Anzick in living people, and we’ve spent the past couple of weeks analyzing and discussing just how this has happened and why.  In spite of some technical glitches in terms of just how much individual people carry of the same DNA Anzick carried, one thing is for sure, the GedMatch matches confirm, in spades, the findings of the scientists who wrote the recent paper that describes the Anzick burial and excavation, the subsequent DNA processing and results.

For people who carry known Native heritage, matches, especially relatively large matches to Anzick, confirm not only their Native heritage, but his too.

For people who suspect Native heritage, but can’t yet prove it, an Anzick match provides what amounts to a clue – and it may be a very important clue.

In my case, I have proven Native heritage through the Micmac who intermarried with the Acadians in the 1600s in Nova Scotia.  Given that Anzick’s people were clearly on a west to east movement, from Beringia to wherever they eventually wound up, one might wonder if the Micmac were descended from or otherwise related to Anzick’s people.  Clearly, based on the genetic affinity map, the answer is yes, but not as closely related to Anzick as Mexican, Central and South Americans.

After several attempts utilizing various files, thresholds and factors that produced varying levels of matching to Anzick, one thing is clear – there is a match on several chromosomes.  Someplace, sometime in the past, Anzick and I shared a common ancestor – and it was likely on this continent, or Beringia, since the current school of thought is that all Native people entered the New World through this avenue.  The school of thought is not united in an opinion about whether there was a single migration event, or multiple migrations to the new word.  Regardless, the people came from the same base population in far northeast Asia and intermingled after arriving here if they were in the same location with other immigrants.

In other words, there probably wasn’t much DNA to pass around.  In addition, it’s unlikely that the founding population was a large group – probably just a few people – so in very short order their DNA would be all the same, being passed around and around until they met a new population, which wouldn’t happen until the Europeans arrived on the east side of the continent in the 1400s.  The tribes least admixed today are found south of the US border, not in the US.  So it makes sense that today the least admixed people would match Anzick the most closely – because they carry the most common DNA, which is still the same DNA that was being passed around and around back then.

Many of us with Native ancestors do carry bits and pieces of the same DNA as Anzick.  Anzick can’t be our ancestor, but he is certainly our cousin, about 500 generations ago, using a 25 year generation, so roughly our 500th cousin.  I had to laugh at someone this week, an adoptee who said, “Great, I can’t find my parents but now I have a 12,500 year old cousin.”  Yep, you do!  The ironies of life, and of genealogy, never fail to amaze me.

Utilizing the most conservative matching routine possible, on a phased kit, meaning one that combines the DNA shared by my mother and myself, and only that DNA, we show the following segment matches with Anzick.

Chr Start Location End Location Centimorgans (cM) SNPs
2 218855489 220351363 2.4 253
4 1957991 3571907 2.5 209
17 53111755 56643678 3.4 293
19 46226843 48568731 2.2 250
21 35367409 36761280 3.7 215

Being less conservative produces many more matches, some of which are questionable as to whether they are simply convergence, so I haven’t utilized the less restrictive match thresholds.

Of those matches above, the one on chromosomes 17 matches to a known Micmac segment from my Acadian lines and the match on chromosome 2 also matches an Acadian line, but I share so many common ancestors with this person that I can’t tell which family line the DNA comes from.

There are also Anzick autosomal matches on my father’s side.  My Native ancestry on his side reaches back to colonial America, in either Virginia or North Carolina, or both, and is unproven as to the precise ancestor and/or tribe, so I can’t correlate the Anzick DNA with proven Native DNA on that side.  Neither can I associate it with a particular family, as most of the Anzick matches aren’t to areas on my chromosome that I’ve mapped positively to a specific ancestor.

Running a special utility at GedMatch that compared Anzick’s X chromosome to mine, I find that we share a startlingly large X segment.  Sometimes, the X chromosome is passed for generations intact.

Interestingly enough, the segment 100,479,869-103,154,989 matches a segment from my mother exactly, but the large 6cM segment does not match my mother, so I’ve inherited that piece of my X from my father’s line.

Chr Start Location End Location Centimorgans (cM) SNPs
X 100479869 103154989 1.4 114
X 109322285 113215103 6.0 123

This tells me immediately that this segment comes from one of the pink or blue lines on the fan chart below that my father inherited from his mother, Ollie Bolton, since men don’t inherit an X chromosome from their father.  Utilizing the X pedigree chart reduces the possible lines of inheritance quite a bit, and is very suggestive of some of those unknown wives.

olliex

It’s rather amazing, if you think about it, that anyone today matches Anzick, or that we can map any of our ancestral DNA that both we and Anzick carry to a specific ancestor.

Indeed, we do live in exciting times.

Honoring Anzick

On a rainy Saturday in June, 2014, on a sagebrush hillside in Montana, in Native parlance, our “grandfather,” Anzick was reburied, bringing his journey full circle.  Sarah Anzick, a molecular biologist, the daughter of the family that owns the land where the bones were found, and who did part of the genetic discovery work on Anzick, returns the box with his bones for reburial.

anzick bones

More than 50 people, including scientists, members of the Anzick family and representatives of six Native American tribes, gathered for the nearly two-hour reburial ceremony. Tribe members said prayers, sang songs, played drums and rang bells to honor the ancient child. The bones were placed in the grave and sprinkled with red ocher, just like when his parents buried him some 12,500 years before.

Participants at the reburial ceremony filled in the grave with handfuls, then shovelfuls of dirt and covered it with stones. A stick tied with feathers marks Anzick’s final resting place.

Sarah Anzick tells us that, “At that point, it stopped raining. The clouds opened up and the sun came out. It was an amazing day.”

I wish I could have been there.  I would have, had I known.  After all, he is part of me, and I of him.

anzick grave'

Welcome to the family, Anzick, and thank you, thank you oh so much, for your priceless, unparalleled gift!!!

tobacco

If you want to read about the Anzick matching journey of DNA discovery, here are the articles I’ve written in the past two weeks.  It has been quite a roller coaster ride, but I’m honored and privileged to be doing this research.  And it’s all thanks to an ancient child named Anzick.

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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