Coventry and the Ribble Valley

Are you ready for the next leg of our British DNA journey?  Come along.  We’re leaving Cambridge, visiting historic Coventry and arriving in the Ribble Valley, home of our Speak family ancestors, and the Pendle witches, today!

Did I mention that we had some excitement in the hotel in Cambridge the night before we left?  Aside from a very loud and roudy wedding party, the fire alarm went off about 1:30 in the morning.  Jim leaped out of bed, shouting “what is that?”, grabbed his iPad, tore open the cover and frantically started pushing buttons to make the noise stop, thinking it was his alarm, of course.  I started yelling at Jim that it was the fire alarm and to get dressed quickly.  You can’t make someone with a hearing impairment hear over a fire alarm.  So looking something like the keystone cops, we frantically threw clothes on and just as we were about finished and ready to evacuate, the alarm silenced, thankfully.  Indeed, not before we were wide awake though.  I wondered if the alarm had something to do with the wild wedding party.  But justice was served.  Because as we very sleepily boarded the bus the next morning at 8 AM, the alarm went off again, waking up all of those revelers:)  I swear, I was ON the bus and had nothing to do with that.  I have witnesses!  Although I must admit, I did smile a very big smile.  Ahhh, karmic justice!

This trip was arranged in part by a travel agent, and in part by Susan Sills, the president of the Speaks Family Association, with probably too much help and input from members.  The parts that Susan arranged were wonderful.  The parts that the travel agent arranged were, at best, OK.  I think they decided that we had 2 hours and were going past a landmark and we surely needed to stop at that location.  I’m including some of these stops because they really did turn out to be historically interesting, but have omitted others.

Were any of your ancestors skilled tradesmen?  Tilers, bricklayers, stainers, painters, carpenters or merchants perhaps?  If so, they were members of a guild, and guilds had guild halls.  The men spent a lot of time in those halls.  Have you ever wondered about that?  What were they doing?  What did the halls look like?  Well, come with us today, we’re going to visit a pretty amazing one.  Keep your ancestor in mind as we do, because their hall was probably similar to this one!

After leaving Cambridge, we arrived in Coventry, a city very heavily bombed during WW2. It was Churchill’s home town and had lots of manufacturing, so was a very attractive target to the Germans.                       

Coventry guild hall

After arriving in Coventry, we met up with our walking guide and our first stop was the medieval St. Mary’s Guild Hall in quaint Bayley Lane. The Guild Hall is the tall building on the right with the archway entrances.  Built in the 1300s or so, it’s one of the city’s oldest buildings.  It was the wealthy merchants guild, and also the town council chambers for a very long time.  No undue influence there.

Coventry guild hall 1810

This 1810 painting is looking from the street through the archway into the courtyard of the Guild Hall.  It doesn’t look much different today.  One difference is that the staircase on the left is enclosed today.  See the railing end in the photos below.

Coventry guild hall piazza

It’s a beautiful buildings, nothing even or straight in the entire place.  It was obviously not the carpenters guild.

Coventry guild hall door

I love the old doors and archways.

Coventry guild hall stair

Upon entering the doors from the courtyard today you turn right and climb the stairs, which were open in the original Guild Hall.  Here’s the original carved railing.

Coventry guild hall door 2

The relative worth of doors, and those who lived behind then, and their ability to stand up to battering from invading “evil forces” was determined by the number of metal studs embedded in the door.  Who knew?

Coventry guild hall princes chamber

Never let it be said that I have not visited the Prince’s Chamber:)  This is how family legends get started, by the way.  “I saw a picture of grandma in the Princes Chamber in England.”  In 3 or 4 or 7 or 8 generations, this will be a MUCH better story!!!

Coventry guild hall tapestry

Behind the glass, under that beautiful stained glass window, hangs a stunning woven tapestry.

Coventry guild hall tapestry close

The ‘Coventry Tapestry’ is the highlight of the historic collections at St. Mary’s Guild Hall.

Manufactured about 1495 to 1500, its significance lies not just in its age and remarkable state of preservation, but also in the fact that, incredibly, it remains hanging on the very wall for which it was created more than five hundred years ago.

At more than nine metres wide and three metres high, this magnificent artwork dominates the north wall of the Great Hall, and is testament to both the skill of its Flemish weavers, and the wealth of the city of Coventry at the end of the fifteenth century.

The scene portrayed includes 75 individual characters, principally members of a Royal court, angels, saints and apostles, with an image of the Virgin Mary at its center, and incorporates numerous examples of symbolism and hidden meaning, some of which remain unexplained. It has even been observed that light from the west windows specifically illuminates the head of the Virgin Mary at certain times of the year, either a strange co-incidence or an inspired feature of the original design.

Here’s a better photo.

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In this photo, you can actually get an idea of the size of the hall itself.  It certainly doesn’t look this large from the street.  This is the area directly to the rear as you were entering the piazza.

Coventry guild hall gables

And the Guild Hall ceiling.  I just can’t help myself, I love the medieval architecture.

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And the beautiful mosaic file floors.

Coventry guild hall spiral stairs

One really interesting piece of history is that there is a small room upstairs, very crooked and sloping, and only accessible via a very small, very steep circular stairway. I’m amazed they let people go up there in terms of safety and liability.  Mary Queen of Scots was hidden here at one time.

Coventry guild hall windows

Looking outside into the courtyard and on into the street under the archway though the windows in Mary Queen of Scot’s hidden room.

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They do have some beautiful furnishings, like the original council chamber, shown here, and a rich history.  They also have some medieval armor that you can “try on.”

Jim viking

Now you know me by now well enough to know I could not bypass this opportunity.  This Viking style helmet was Jim’s favorite.

Jim helmet

Oh yea, I like this French Troubador one best!!!  I think he should use it as his Facebook profile photo, don’t you???

Jim troubador

I think Jim was saying, “No, you are NOT going to put this on the blog, are you?”

What do you mean, where are the pictures of me in the hats???  There are no pictures of me in the hats:)  None.  Nada.  Not anymore.

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These slot windows were defensive – they were created to shoot arrows through when under siege.

Coventry, like all towns that were once Medieval, has a market space and an open area, usually right in the center of town.

Coventry market square

Lady Godiva rode here.  I wasn’t terribly interested in Lady Godiva, or the statue, but I was extremely interested in the Starbucks on the other side of the square.  So you’ll excuse the fact that I had to go to Wiki to find a Lady Godiva statue photo:)  You know where I was!

Lady Godiva

While I was in Starbucks, I also purchased a salad, because we were running late and I knew that on a Sunday morning trying to find a lunch to eat in half an hour would be impossible.  So Jim and I were about to have another impromptu picnic.  Starbucks coffee and salad in the sunshine under beautiful blue skies on a Sunday morning in a church, or what is left of one.  Truly, what could be better?  How can you improve on that?

Coventry cathedral

Our next stop was the earliest church in Coventry, now in ruins, because the Germans bombed the city so relentlessly.  The bombs burned the church, but the walls still stand. It’s a beautiful skeleton.

Coventry cathedral 2

Our guided tour ended here, and our other family members dispersed to try to find a quick lunch.  Jim and I were left to ourselves, or nearly so, in the beautiful sentry standing mute testimony.  Once again, we began our picnic.  But the church just up the street was letting out and the church bells began to peel.  They were beautiful, and the church bells still function, giving voice to this church we thought was silent.

Coventry cathedral 3

We left Coventry and visited Shugborough Historic Estate.  We did a quick tour, because we were running late, again.

Fake library door

One of the most interesting things I found was all of the secret doors found in all of the old manor houses.  Here’s one example where they took library book ends and made the door look like part of the bookshelves.

Shugborough gardens

I found this house to look more “old” than historic.  Probably because they had restored it to between the 1920s and the 1970s when it was last lived in.  However, from the rear, the formal Victorian gardens were remarkable.  The bush shapes remind me of jelly candies:)  I’m sure that’s not what they had in mind.

Shugborough

From there, we still had about 2 and a half hours to Stirk House, where we are staying in the Ribble Valley.  The Ribble Valley is the land of rolling hills and what I would call moors and low mountains; the land of legends as well.  It’s believed that the Hobbit books, in particular, Middle Earth, was written after the Ribble Valley.  The author spent a great amount of time writing here while his son was in school in the area.  It’s a very distinctive area.  Outside of London it’s very much like Michigan or the US – but when you enter the Ribble Valley, it’s immediately different, remote, otherworldly.  It’s also the land of Robin Hood.  In fact, in the Robin Hood stories, there is a “Guy of Gisburne.” Gisburn is where our Speak ancestors are from.

If you remember, this entire trip to the British Isles all began with DNA testing.  Our Speak(e)(s) family finally connected with the source location of our American family in the British Isles, thanks to our cousin, Doug, from New Zealand.  New Zealand was settled much later than the US and Doug’s family knew where they were from in the UK, exactly, and still had contact with family members there.  The Speak(e)(s) family in the US arrived about 1660 and descendants didn’t know where they were from, in England.  We had been searching for that information for years.  We had suspicions and theories, but no proof.

The Speak(e)(s) Family Association meets yearly, and in 2011, I presented the results of the Y DNA testing to our group, ending my surprise presentation with pictures of Gisburn and the throw-away comment of, “I don’t know about you, but I want to go there.  I want to stand in that churchyard.”  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, because planning began for the 2013 homecoming in Lancashire, England.

Rainbow

The excitement on the bus grew as we traveled. It was palpable.  You could feel it. After all, we had all traveled thousands of miles from around the globe to step back in time, not only figuratively, but literally as well in the Ribble Valley.  On the way, we were graced with a beautiful rainbow,  Getting a picture of the rainbow was a challenge through the bus windows.  We interpreted this incredible rainbow as a welcome from our ancestors.

Turning off the main roads, we began to see signs for places we had researched.  The names began to look familiar, Whalley, Gisburn, Clitheroe.  We knew we were close.

Pendle hill fog

This photo is of Pendle Hill, a local landmark that you can see from anyplace in the Ribble Valley.  To the right is the east end of Longridge Fell. Mist lies in the Ribble valley between them.

Pendle hill panoramic

This panoramic view of Pendle Hill is not from the Ribble Valley, but from Newchurch on the other side of the hill.

Ribble Valley first view

Here is our first view of the Ribble Valley.  These hills are high enough that they are moors on the hill.  Pendle Hill towers over the entire Ribble Valley, along with a ridge and cliffs.  Below was our first view of Pendle Hill.

Pendle Hill first view

The Pendle Hills are full of legends, and sheep.  One of the legends is of the Pendle Witches.  England did not escape the witchcraft craze and several women were executed here in the Pendle area for witchcraft in 1612.  One test of being a witch was to be held underwater for 30 minutes.  If you were dead, you were innocent.  If you were alive, you were then tortured and killed for being a witch.  Talk about being dead right.

One of the issues we had with the travel agent was where to stay in the Ribble Valley.  There aren’t any Holiday Inns.  In fact, the agent wanted the bus driver to take us back each evening to Manchester, 40 miles distant to a sterile Best Western.  We wanted to stay in the Ribble Valley, to be where our ancestors had been.  Susan found a conference/meeting facility, literally, in the middle of the valley, that was a restored manor house.  We wanted to stay there, but the travel agent didn’t have a “working relationship” with the Stirk House.  The day came when we simply told them to figure it out or we would, without them, because we were staying at the Stirk House.

Our cousin, Steve Speak, could not join us in the Ribble Valley, but he did meet us in Cambridge for dinner.  Steve is from the Gisburn area and told us that the Stirk House was purchased in the 1930s or 40s by a Peter Speak and he took the next 20 years to restore the manor house which had deteriorated into a terrible state.  On the way, in the bus, Susan took a look at the Gisburn Church records, and sure enough, a Speak woman died in the 1940s, is buried in Gisburn at the church and her residence was listed as “Stirkhouse, Gisburne.”  Now how uncanny is that.  So regardless of exactly where in this beautiful valley our original Speak ancestor lived, we are indeed staying on historic Speak land at the Stirk House.

The Tudor manor house known as the Stirk House was built in 1635, using stones from
the former Sawley Abbey which had been dismantled a century earlier under the
orders of Henry VIII.

The Stirk House was everything we could have imagined and more.  Beautiful facility, wonderful gardens and nature area, good food and a spa if you’re interested.

Stirk House

Welcome home!

Stirk House gardens

I love the moss and ferns growing on the rock walls.

Fern on walls

We had planned this event with the intention of meeting any Speak family members who might remain in the area, whether they carried the Speak surname or not.  We ran ads in regional genealogy/historical publications as well as in the local newspaper.  We also had an English contact which we thought might have made local people more comfortable.

Several Speak family members joined us for dinner.  The Stirk House had a private dining room for us, beside a meeting room.

Stirk House dinner

We had dinner together in the dining room here, an English country dinner, and then moved on to the evening’s agenda.

Some of our Speaks relatives joined us for the evening. It was nice to meet some of our cousins, no matter how distant.  Three different male Speaks brought their families, David, Stan and Gary.  David brought photos of his family and shared information about his family history and the area.  And yes, all three did a DNA test.  They felt certain that they were not related to each other.

Speak cousin

We are probably at least 15 generations removed, but still, we are indeed cousins.  It’s interesting that even after all of these generations two of our English cousins do share segments of DNA with some of us.  Not all of the results are back.

Now that I think of it, we’re probably related to all of the Pendle witches too.  That makes sense, because they were convicted of talking to cats and dogs and one was convicted because her children testified that she was a witch.  Heavens, that could have been me:)  I need a Pendle Witches t-shirt!

We moved to the meeting room and two local people gave historic presentations about the area, which were really quite interesting.   We ended the evening, finally, at 11:45 PM following a DNA presentation and update as to how our DNA brought us to the Ribble Valley.

Stirk house DNA

I must say, this all seemed very surreal to me, especially after a long day following a short night interrupted both by that loud wedding party and the fire alarm.  If I have one piece of advice, it’s don’t pack too much into a day, and don’t do a DNA presentation late in the evening.  Ok, that was 2 pieces of advice.  Pick on me about it and I’ll put a spell on you:)

Pendle witch

Cherokee Mother of John Red Bank Payne

John Red Bank Payne

There is nothing I love more than a happy ending.  Second to that perhaps is to know that my blog or work helped someone, and in particularly, helped someone document their Native heritage.  In doing so, this confirms and unveils one more of our elusive Native people in early records.

I recently received a lovely thank you note from Shawn Potter.  We had exchanged notes earlier, after I wrote “The Autosomal Me” series, about how to utilize small segments of Native American (and Asian) DNA to identify Native American lines and/or ancestors.  This technique is called Minority Admixture Mapping (MAP) and was set forth in detail in various articles in the series.

Shawn’s note said:  “I’ve been doing more work on this segment and others following your method since we exchanged notes.  I’m pretty sure I’ve found the source of this Native American DNA — an ancestor named John Red Bank Payne who lived in North Georgia in the late 18th and 19th centuries.  Many of his descendants believe on the basis of circumstantial evidence that his mother was Cherokee.  I’ve found 10 descendants from four separate lines that inherited matching Native American DNA, pointing to one of his parents as the source.”

Along with this note, Shawn attached a beautiful 65 page book he had written for his family members which did document the Native DNA, but in the context of his family history.  He included their family story, the tales, the genealogical research, the DNA evidence and finally, a chapter of relevant Cherokee history complete with maps of the area where his ancestors lived. It’s a beautiful example of how to present something like this for non-DNA people to understand.  In addition, it’s also a wonderful roadmap, a “how to” book for how to approach this subject from a DNA/historical/genealogical perspective.  As hard as it is for me to sometimes remember, DNA is just a tool to utilize in the bigger genealogy picture.

Shawn has been gracious enough to allow me to reprint some of his work here, so from this point on, I’ll be extracting from his document.  Furthermore, Elizabeth Shown Mills would be ecstatic, because Shawn has fully documented and sourced his document.  I am not including that information here, but I’m sure he would gladly share the document itself with any interested parties.  You can contact Shawn at shpxlcp@comcast.net.

From the book, “Cherokee Mother of John Red Bank Payne” by Shawn Potter and Lois Carol Potter:

Descendants of John Red Bank Payne describe his mother as Cherokee. Yet, until now, some have questioned the truth of this claim because genealogists have been unable to identify John’s mother in contemporary records. A recent discovery, however, reveals both John Red Bank Payne and his sister Nancy Payne inherited Native American DNA.

Considering information from contemporary records, clues from local tradition, John’s name itself, and now the revelation that John and his sister inherited Native American DNA, there seems to be sufficient evidence to say John Red Bank Payne’s mother truly was Cherokee. The following summary describes what we know about John, his family, and his Native American DNA.

John Red Bank Payne was born perhaps near present-day Canton, Cherokee County, Georgia, on January 24, 1754, married Ann Henslee in Caswell County, North Carolina, on March 5, 1779, and died in Carnesville, Franklin County, Georgia, on December 14, 1831.

John’s father, Thomas Payne, was born in Westmorland County, Virginia, about 1725, and owned property in Halifax and Pittsylvania counties, Virginia, as well as Wilkes County, North Carolina, and Franklin County, Georgia.  Several factors suggest Thomas travelled with his older brother, William, to North Georgia and beyond, engaging in the deerskin trade with the Cherokee Nation during the mid 1700s. Thomas Payne died probably in Franklin County, Georgia, after February 23, 1811.

Contemporary records reveal Thomas had four children (William, John, Nancy, and Abigail) by his first wife, and nine children (Thomas, Nathaniel, Moses, Champness, Shrewsbury, Zebediah, Poindexter, Ruth, and Cleveland) by his second wife Yanaka Ayers.  Thomas married Yanaka probably in Halifax County, Virginia, before September 20, 1760.

Local North Georgia tradition identifies the first wife of Thomas Payne as a Cherokee woman. Anna Belle Little Tabor, in History of Franklin County, Georgia, wrote that “Trader Payne” managed a trading post on Payne’s Creek, and “one of his descendants, an offspring of his Cherokee marriage, later married Moses Ayers whose descendants still live in the county.”

Descendants of John Red Bank Payne also cite his name Red Bank, recorded in his son’s family Bible, as evidence of his Cherokee heritage.  Before the American Revolution, British Americans rarely defied English legal prohibitions against giving a child more than one Christian name.  So, the very existence of John’s name Red Bank suggests non-English ethnicity. On the other hand, many people of mixed English-Cherokee heritage were known by their Cherokee name as well as their English first and last names during this period.

Furthermore, while the form of John’s middle name is unlike normal English names, Red Bank conforms perfectly to standard Cherokee names.  It also is interesting to note, Red Bank was the name of a Cherokee village located on the south side of Etowah River to the southwest of present-day Canton, Cherokee County, Georgia.

While some believe the above information from contemporary records and clues from local tradition, as well as John’s name Red Bank, constitute sufficient proof of John’s Cherokee heritage, recently discovered DNA evidence confirms at least one of John’s parents had Native American ancestry. Ten descendants of John Red Bank Payne and his sister Nancy Payne, representing four separate lineages, inherited six segments of Native American DNA on chromosomes 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and 18 (see Figure 1 for the relationship between these descendants; Figures 2-7 for images of their shared Native American DNA; and https://dna-explained.com/2013/06/02/the-autosomal-me-summary-and-pdf-file/ for an explanation of this method of identifying Native American chromosomal segments).

Upon careful reflection, there seems sufficient reason to believe John Red Bank Payne’s mother truly was Cherokee.

Roberta’s note:  I have redacted the surnames of current testers.

Payne chart

Chromosome 2, Segment 154-161

In this segment, Bert P, Rosa P, Nataan S, Cynthia S, and Kendall S inherited matching Native American DNA described as Amerindian, Siberian, Southeast Asian, and Oceanian by the Eurogenes V2 K15 admixture tool, and as North Amerind, Mesoamerican, South America Amerind, Arctic Amerind, East Siberian, Paleo Siberian, Samoedic, and East South Asian by the Magnus Ducatus Lituaniae Project World22 admixture tool. Since their common ancestors were Thomas Payne and his wife, the source of this Native American DNA must be either Thomas Payne or his wife. See Figures 2a-2g.

Note: Since Native Americans and East Asians share common ancestors in the pre-historic past, their DNA is similar to each other in many respects. This similarity often causes admixture tools to interpret Native American DNA as various types of East Asian DNA. Therefore, the presence of multiple types of East Asian DNA together with Native American DNA tends to validate the presence of Native American DNA.

Payne graph 1

Payne graph 2

Payne graph 3

Payne graph 4

Payne graph 5

Roberta’s Summary:  Shawn continues to document the other chromosome matches in the same manner.  In total, he has 10 descendants of Thomas Payne and his wife, who it turns out, indeed was Cherokee, as proven by this exercise in combination with historical records.  These people descend through 2 different children.  Cynthia and Kendall descend through daughter Nancy Payne, and the rest of the descendants descend through different children of John Red Bank Payne.  All of the DNA segments that Shawn utilized in his report share Native/Asian segments in both of these family groups, the descendants of both Nancy and John Red Bank Payne.

Shawn’s success in this project hinged on two things.  First, being able to test multiple (in this case, two) descendants of the original couple.  Second, he tested several people and had the tenacity to pursue the existence of Native DNA segments utilizing the Minority Admixture Mapping (MAP) technique set forth in “The Autosomal Me” series.  It certainly paid off.  Shawn confirmed that the wife of Thomas Payne was, indeed Native, most likely Cherokee since he was a Cherokee trader, and that today’s descendants do indeed carry her heritage in their DNA.

Great job Shawn!!  Wouldn’t you love to be his family member and one of the recipients of these lovely books about your ancestor! Someone’s going to have a wonderful Christmas!

Haplogroup Q and C Fundraising Report

Thank you all 3

I just can’t say a big enough thank you to everyone who contributed in so many ways to the haplogroups Q and C fundraising effort to purchase several Big Y tests.

This fundraising was really kind of a last minute desperation effort.  As administrators, Rebekah Canada and Marie Rundquist had e-mailed and encouraged appropriate participants in the C and Q projects to order the Big Y test.  Many were able to do so, but some very critical kits still needed to be tested.

On Thanksgiving, we discussed what to do, and on the 29th, very late, after 2 days of company, with a massive headache and never ending refrains of the cartoon “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” reverberating through my head, I wrote and posted the blog about our fundraising effort.  I’m amazed it was coherent.  Yes, I have young grandchildren!

We were hoping against hope to fund 2 tests in each of those haplogroup projects, for a total of 4.  Some participants had coupons available, some didn’t.  Truthfully, almost $2000 is a huge amount of money to try to raise in 2 days, especially right after Black Friday when everyone is busy with both family and then shopping, and I wasn’t terribly hopeful that we would be able to raise the entire amount.  But hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

You folks have proven me wrong…in spades.

Between the two projects, we raised a total of $3335 in less than 2 days and we have funded 7.5 tests, 3 in haplogroup C and 5 in haplogroup Q.  Yes, as the admins, we “tipped it over the edge” of course to fund the rest of the partially funded test.

Thanks goes to lots of people.  Of course, in addition to the efforts of my tireless co-admins and their lists and blogs, Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, wrote a fine article for us as her weekly DNA offering.  I must say, I think Judy’s article and the folks who reposted, reTweeted and blogged is what gave us that final push to fund the final 2, if not 3, tests.  Thank you Judy and the rest of the blogging/tweeting community.  You guys are absolutely awesome!

I noticed that Elizabeth Shown Mills posted on Facebook about our project as well.  Family Tree DNA featured our Q and C projects over the weekend on Facebook too.  Thank you FTDNA and Elizabeth for your votes of confidence.

Not only that, but Janine Cloud,  the Customer Support Supervisor at Family Tree DNA availed herself not only to us, but to the other admins too who were trying to place orders this holiday weekend.  Thank you Janine for going way above and beyond.

Bennett Greenspan gets a special thank you for being so very supportive of genetic genealogists as a whole, and for making a generous contribution himself.  He was also available over the holiday weekend for questions.  Bennett is just like that.

But the real stars of this show are those of you who contributed funds to get this done as well as those who purchased their own tests.  We had 4 contributed coupons by people who did not order the Big Y but who had previously taken the WTY test.  Thank you to all of those folks.  Between both projects, we received a total of $3335 in contributions by 45 different people, with several donating to both projects, plus $200 worth of coupons.  With that we were able to purchase 8 additional tests.  This brings the total number of Big Y tests ordered in the haplogroup Q project to….drum roll please…..27….  and the total haplogroup C project Big Y orders to 5.  I know this doesn’t compare to the large haplogroup R projects, but for our smaller projects, this is a huge number and the results hold so much promise for these more obscure and unique haplogroups that include Asian, European and Native people.

You folks really rallied to the cause and supported our efforts tremendously.  Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.  You can’t even begin to imagine what this level of support from within our community means to us.

We will be reporting back with results as soon as we have something to report.  It’s going to be a great February, with very little sleep!!!

Roberta Estes, Rebekah Canada and Marie Rundquist

Be Still my H(e)art…

You’re not going to believe this.  I’m not sure I believe it.

Remember, I closed my article on the Younger family yesterday by saying that I was hopeful that I might solve the mystery of who Marcus Younger’s wife, Susanna, was?  Well, I said that, but I had no real expectation that it would really happen, not after one already huge breakthrough.  I began working through cousin Larry’s matches, sending e-mails, and within six hours or so, I had several replies, one of which was this:

“Hello my name is Andrea. Thank you for sending me this email. I am new to genealogy and have a large interest in my family history. Younger is not a known surname for me, although Hart is. My oldest known Hart ancestor is Anthony Hart born in Oct 1755 in King and Queen, Virginia. He was my 5th great grandfather. He lived in Halifax Virginia in 1840 with his children and grandchildren. How is the surname Hart related to Younger?”

Oh Andrea, let me tell you.  You have made my day, my decade, my 30 years, and yes, indeed, this is the second jackpot hit in two days in the same family line.  I shoulda bought a lottery ticket but I think I’d rather have this:)

It has always been speculated that Marcus Younger’s wife, Susanna, was a Hart.  In fact, it was speculated that she was the possible sister of that one and the same Anthony Hart in Halifax County, Virginia, based on this tax record from King and Queen County, Va. just before Marcus Younger moved to Halifax County.  Robert Hart is believed to be Anthony’s father, but that is unproven.

1785

Alterations of land in King and Queen County

Proprietor’s Name                     QT Land                     of whom had

Anthony Hart                               190a                         Robert Hart

Anthony Hart                                94a                          Marcus Younger

There are a couple of other records in which they appear together too.

Unfortunately, King and Queen County is a burned county.

Now, we have a couple of pretzel twists that need to be considered.  In Larry’s line, Marcus’s son John married Lucy Hart who is mentioned in Anthony Hart’s Revolutionary War pension application in 1832.  So Larry could be expected to match Andrea regardless of who Marcus’s wife was.

However, I don’t descend from the same line as Larry and Andrea matches me as well.  I descend from Marcus through his daughter, Mary, sister to John who married Lucy Hart.  So, I should NOT match Andrea unless I too carry some Hart DNA.  But I do, in two distinct places where I also match Larry.  On the chromosome browser below, Andrea is orange, I am blue and we are being compared to Larry.  You can see that we all 3 match on the same segments on chromosomes 1 and 8.

younger hart 1

Additionally, Andrea matches other cousins descended from my Younger line.

Furthermore, Andrea and David (from the previous article whose pedigree proved that Marcus and Thomas Younger are related) both match Lawson, but they don’t match each other.  This makes perfect sense.  David descends from Thomas Younger, who has no known Hart connection.  So David matches Larry because of the Younger line and Andrea matches Larry because of the Hart line.

You can see in the chromosome browser view below that indeed, both Andrea, orange, and David, blue match Larry, but in no location do they match each other in addition to matching Larry.  No place does their DNA show one under the other, overlapping, when compared to Larry.

younger hart 2

Turning now to the spreadsheet where I can see all of the people who match both Larry and David together, I want to know who else Andrea matches.

First, I confirmed that Andrea does not match anyone else from the Alexander Younger line through sons Thomas and James, and she does not.  If she had, that would put a very big fly in the ointment and would prevent any conclusion about Marcus’s wife.  But since she doesn’t, that obstacle is removed.

Andrea does match the following people on several segments:

  • Me
  • Loujean, our newly found adoptee cousin whose closest autosomal match is Larry
  • Larry
  • Buster, my cousin, who also descends through Marcus’s daughter, Mary

We are all four descended from the Marcus line and she doesn’t match anyone who descends from the Thomas or Alexander lines, which makes perfect sense since Anthony Hart looks to be the probable brother of Marcus Younger’s wife, Susannah, based on the historical records and some relationship is now confirmed by the DNA.

Am I ready to call this a positive match yet and Susannah a Hart?  Technically, I probably could, but I’m rather conservative and I’m just not quite ready to give an unconditional thumbs up.  To make myself feel entirely warm and fuzzy, I’d love to see another Hart match for me or my cousins not descended through John’s line. I’d also love to be able to reconstruct the Hart family back in Queen and King and Essex Counties and have some additional paper document to go along with the results.  That would certainly be easier to accomplish were the Queen and King records not burned.  This family lived on the border between the two and had records in both counties.

Truly, I’m left speechless about my good fortune this weekend.  I’m happy dancing a hole in the floor.

happy dance 2

But I’m also left wondering how many other answers are really there, in the DNA of the people we match and I just haven’t worked with the matches effectively.  Maybe those walls are just waiting to fall….waiting for me to notice them.  Maybe yours are too.

Lovin’ My Cousins

lovin hands

I use DNA every day of my life.  Not only do I use it personally, but I utilize it for my clients.  I love what it can do for us – but DNA is only a tool.  A tool on a path – a path to your ancestors.  But ancestors lead us to cousins.  DNA is about cousins, finding them, getting to know them and then, yes, loving them.  I know, you guys are all cringing now about the L-word and searching for the little X to close this screen.  But it’s true – it’s about people – connecting to other people – both dead and alive.

My immediate family is small.  I didn’t know my father’s family growing up and my mother had only one sibling.  My own siblings are gone and the few children they had are scattered to the winds.  It’s hard enough to keep up with my own kids.  Many people are too busy to be interested in family, often until it’s too late.  As one old woman in my family so succinctly once said, “If you can’t bother to come and see me while I’m alive, don’t bother when I’m dead.”

Maybe I discovered early the value of cousins since my own immediate family was so small.  To connect, I had to reach out.  I’ve been so very fortunate.

lovin mary

This past month, on a trip made possible by DNA (which I will be writing about shortly), here I am in the churchyard in England where our Speak ancestor’s family lived in the 1600s, with my cousin Mary.  I love her, dearly.

lovin daryl

And this is my cousin, Daryl, my sister of heart and my research travel companion.  I met her through genealogy too, about a decade ago.  Here, we’re wading in the creek descending from the Cumberland Gap, running through the Dodson ancestral land, on a very hot summer day during a research trip.  DNA has taken us on an amazing  journey that we never expected.  We connect through the Dodson line.

lovin los and denise

And here in a slightly out of focus picture are my cousins Los, his beautiful daughter Landrii, and our cousin, Denise, of whom I’m extremely proud.  Just look how happy we are.  We were giddy with delight that day when we finally met.

This photo was taken in June 2011 at the Cumberland Gap Homecoming, coordinated by the Cumberland Gap DNA project members.  Our Herrell family lived near the Cumberland Gap where we met face to face for the first time.  A wonderful event, and Los drove from Louisiana alone with two toddlers to be able to attend.  Bless his heart.  (That’s the southern in me coming out.)  Denise flew in from the west coast.  Unfortunately, we live far apart but I can keep up with Los, his beautiful kids, and Denise electronically and via Facebook.

And this is only the beginning of the “I Love My Cousins” list – it goes on – and I meet new cousins almost every day now.  I’m amazed at how many people I’m related to, how large my extended family really is.  Fortunately, love isn’t a limited commodity!

Indeed, I’m grateful every single day for genealogy and DNA which connected me, and connects me, with my cousins.   They pop up in the most unexpected places.  Just this week, for example, I discovered when doing a DNA report for a client that I’m related to them, not once, but twice.  My quilt group, related to 2 of 5 people.  Someone I worked with on a special project a couple years ago, we recently DNA matched and discovered that we share a common Lemmert line out of Germany.  And Yvette Hoitink, the Dutch professional genealogist I hired to help me with the Dutch records, yep, we’re related genetically on our mother’s sides.  Reach out – you’ll find cousins too!  You never know who just might be one.

5,500 Year Old Grandmother Found Using DNA

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Members of the Metlakatla First Nation Community near Prince Rupert, BC who collaborated with an international team of scientists in a genetic study of aboriginal people, including excavated remains that link them to their 5,500 year old Grandmother.  Photograph/handout courtesy of the Metlakatla Treaty Office.

Over the past decade or so, there has been a lot of debate about tribal participation in DNA testing.  Without getting into the politics of the situation which is deep and dangerous water, many tribes see absolutely no possibility that DNA testing could help them, and a significant potential that it might hurt them, one way or another.

For example, we know that the Eastern tribes were heavily admixed with Europeans quite early and we know that the Southwest tribes are equally admixed with the Spanish.  Yet, they are still Native tribes, carrying on the Native customs and cultures, including their own creation and other sacred stories.

Let’s say that a few tribal members test, and their DNA turns out not to be Native, but is European, or African.  Granted, the DNA would only be representative of one genealogical line, either the direct paternal (surname) line for males and the direct maternal line for both males and females, but still, if you expect Native and you get something else – it could be bothersome, and perhaps troublesome.  Add to that a historical situation filled with distrust for a government that routinely broke treaties and you have a situation where tribes would just as soon not open Pandora’s box, thank you very much.

However, not all tribes think this way.  For the past several years, people from Canada’s First Nations tribes have been working with scientists not only to test their DNA, but that of their ancestors as well.  Recently, a paper was published detailing the findings, but those findings didn’t really say much about the effects of the results on the currently living people and tribes involved.

The Vancouver Sun recently carried a human interest story focused on the Metlakatla First Nation Community and the people who were found to be related to the 5,500 year old bones that DNA was extracted from.

The people involved who descend from either this woman or a common ancestor with her are thrilled to be able to make that connection from some 220 generations ago, to be able to honor her as their Grandmother, and the connection cements the fact that these people’s ancestors were indeed on this same land at least 5,500 years ago, not far from where they live today.

This kind of information has great potential to help the tribes involved with land claims and treaty rights.  These deep rooted links to the region simply cannot be denied.  So the First Nations people stand to benefit, the people who match the Grandmother are thrilled, science benefits and they have the ability to confirm their own stories told by the Ancestors for centuries, indeed, for thousands of years.  Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Congratulations to these First Nations people for this wonderful link to a Grandmother, for their brave participation and leadership role in scientific study, and for not being afraid of finding the truth, whatever it is.  The Ancestors would be proud of you!

Pérez, Peres, Paries, Perica, Perry and Paris on PBS, Oh My

perez signatureYou know, it’s amazing the things you learn filming a PBS documentary.

You learn that no matter what you do, light is going to reflect off of your glasses.

You learn that you can indeed hear an unhappy cat who has been banished to the 3 seasons room through two closed doors.  That same unhappy cat begs to go out there any other time.

You learn that while you are filming, the phone, will, unfailingly ring every time, even if it hasn’t rung in 3 days.

You learn that if you take your phone off the hook, AT&T, now a smarter phone company, figures this out, assumes you made a mistake, and lets the phone ring again anyway.  Sigh….

You learn that if you get one of those annoying recorded sales calls, if you just lay the phone down (or bury it under a pillow), it will play forever and effectively takes the phone “off the hook.”  YES!!!

You learn that if you are a young man in the late 1800s from Guam, you sign on to a whaling ship, and the guys can’t pronounce your name, Dimitrio, they call you John.  Eventually you begin to call yourself John too.  It’s contagious apparently.  You do, however, give two of your children Dimitrio as a middle name, just to torment your descendants with hidden clues.

And you learn that the surname Perez which is pronounced in the US like the word pear with the beginning of the word Ezmerelda is pronounced like the city in France, Paris, in Guam.

You also learn that a man named Juan Perez, also known as Dimitrio Perez can mix his multiple first names and about 6 different ways of spelling Perez in an indefinite number of ways.  His signature as John Paris is shown above.

Indeed, maybe this is a clue to our mystery.

A mystery?  What mystery?  I love a good mystery!!!

The Mystery

Well, Jillette Leon-Guerrero has a fine mystery on her hands with all of the requisite red herrings and twists of fate included.  And she’s making a PBS documentary of her process of finding the answer.  Check out her website, Across the Water in Time.

It’s hard enough to track people whose surnames are misspelled, but to change countries, change pronunciations, change surnames, change first names….and to still be able to be identified…well, now we’ve entered the realm of DNA sprinkled with a little fairy dust for good luck.

So, here is the fundamental question.  Is Juan Perez, aka Dimitrio Perez aka John Paris, who was born in 1843 and died in 1928 in Hawaii related to the Perez family on Guam?

The descendants of John Paris on Hawaii carry an oral history that he was from Guam, then a Spanish colonial colony.  Jillette, from Guam herself, discovers later that they also had an oral tradition that he changed his name from Dimitrio to John.  How she wished she had known that sooner.  Dimitrio is a much easier name to search for than generic apparently-one-size-really-does-fit-all-men-on-a-whaling-ship Juan.

DNA Testing

In order to answer the question, DNA testing was performed, ultimately on three groups of people.  What we wanted to know was whether these people were related and if so, how and how far back in time?

Group 1 – In Hawaii, known descendants of Juan Perez/John Paris, his great-granddaughter Yolanda and her brother, Benjamin Paris.

Group 2 – From Guam, Jillette and her father.

Group 3 – From Guam, Jose Perez.  Jose ultimately tested to be a second cousin of Jillette’s father, but that was unknown prior to DNA testing.

Two different kinds of DNA testing can be utilized to answer the question.  These two types of tests answer fundamentally different questions.

The Perez/Paris Y Tests

The Y DNA test tests only the Y chromosome, handed from father to son, unmixed with the DNA of the mother, so it stays mostly intact generation to generation, except for an occasional mutation.  The inheritance path of the Y chromosome is shown on the following chart in blue.

Perez yline

The Y-line gives us a great deal of information about the direct paternal line, but no information about any other line.  Comparing the Y-line results of 2 men tells us whether they descend from a common ancestor.

In order to determine whether or not the Paris family on Hawaii is genetically the same as the Perez family of Guam, Benjamin Paris, great-grandson of John Paris of Hawaii, and Jose Perez, descendant of the Perez family of Guam, tested.  Indeed, their Y chromosomes do match, with one mutation difference, which would be expected to occur over time.  Initially, only 12 markers were tested, which included the mutation difference, so the tests were expanded to 37 markers each to confirm the match.  The two men match perfectly on the rest of the markers, so at 37 markers, they still have one mutation difference.

Family Tree DNA provides a tool called TIP which estimates the time to a common ancestor between men whose DNA matches based on the mutation rates of different markers and the known generational distance between the men.  For example, we know that these families aren’t related in the past three generations, since Juan Perez came to Hawaii.

The TIP tool estimates that at the 50th percentile, these men are likely to be share a common ancestor between 4 and 5 generations ago.  So it’s very likely that either the father of Juan Perez who immigrated to Hawaii was their common ancestor, or his father.  One thing we know for sure, it was after the adoption of Spanish surnames on Guam.  Guam was colonized in the 17th century after the Spanish claimed it in 1565 and the first Catholic missionaries arrived in 1568 and began to baptize people with Spanish given and surnames.

Therefore, if Juan Perez was born in 1843, his father would have been born approximately 1813 and his father approximately 1783, allowing for the average 30 year generation.

This means that the common ancestor of these two families was probably 5 or 6 generations ago, and possibly more.

Autosomal Tests

The second type of test utilized was autosomal testing which tests all of the DNA passed from both parents to a child, not just the direct Y DNA of the paternal line.  The reason to use this type of test is that it shows you who your cousins are as measured by the amount of DNA that matches.

perez autosomal

DNA is passed to descendants in a predictable way, allowing us to mathematically calculate how closely related two people are – at least roughly.

Each parent gives half of their DNA to a child.  Different children don’t get the same “half” of the parents DNA, so each child inherits somewhat differently.  Therefore,  siblings share approximately half of their DNA.

perez cousins

You can see in the above chart that people receive 50% of their parents DNA, 25%, approximately of each grandparent’s DNA, and so forth up the tree.  By the time we reach the great-great grandparents level, you only inherited about 6.25% of your DNA from each grandparent.

In the case of 5th or 6th generation descent, as in our case, we’re looking at each descendant carrying about 3.12% of the DNA at the 5th generation, and 1.56% at the 6th generation.  Two individuals descended from these common ancestors would both carry an estimated 3.12%, but not necessarily the same 3.12%.  In fact, you only share .78% of common DNA with a third cousin and .195% with a 4th cousin.

I’ve said “on average” and this means that after the parents’ generation, the DNA of each preceding generation is not passed in exactly 50% packets.  In other words, you might not get exactly 25% of the DNA of each of your grandparents, but might receive 20%, 30%, 24% and 26%.

Autosomal testing is a powerful tool, but it’s less and less specific in terms of exactly how closely people are related, the further back in time relationships and common ancestors reach.

Because of this, it’s important to use the oldest generation available for testing.

We tested 4 individuals using the Family Finder autosomal test at Family Tree DNA; Jillette’s father, Jose Perez from Guam and both Yolanda and Benjamin Paris who are siblings from Hawaii.

The results were that Jillette’s father matched Jose Perez from Guam as a second cousin, suggesting that they share a common great-grandfather, and at the third cousin level with both Benjamin and Yolanda, suggesting that they share a common great-great-grandfather with Jillette’s Dad.

Match Name Relationship Range Suggested Relationship Shared cM Longest Block
Jose Perez 2-3rd   cousin 2nd   cousin 222.83 29.77
Yolanda   Paris 2-4th   cousin 3rd   cousin 56.58 22.55
Benjamin   Paris 2-4th   cousin 3rd   cousin 67.52 21.10

Family Tree DNA utilizes the 5cM (centiMorgan) threshold to indicate a match, where we can see to the 1cM threshold on the raw data.  I did this breakout for all parties, and indeed, they did show as related.

On the graph below, each of the three individuals is being compared to Jillette’s Dad.  Notice that in many cases, both Yolanda (blue) and Benjamin (orange), together, match Jillette’s Dad, which would be expected because they are siblings.  There are other cases through where either Yolanda or Benjamin match Jose (green) on the same segment where they both match Jillette’s Dad.  For example, on chromosome 2, you can see the blue stacked on top of the green.  We also see examples of orange and green as well, but no place to we have orange, blue and green together.  This illustrates how differently siblings (Yolanda and Benjamin) inherited DNA from their parents.

perez chromosomes

The Question that Remains

We’ve now proven that the Paris/Perez family is one and the same on Guam and Hawaii utilizing Y-line DNA and that these people are all related at some level.  Of course, in genealogy, answers generally produce more questions.

Jillette will have to utilize genealogy records in Guam to determine who the father of Jose (aka Dimitrio) Perez was, and indeed, she has made inroads in doing so.

The second question is just how is the Perez family related to Jillette’s family?  We know that her father is likely a second cousin to Jose Perez, meaning they share a common great-grandparent, but who?  Keep in mind that these are estimates based on the percentage and length of shared DNA, and the cousin estimate could also fall a generation or half-generation (once removed) in either direction.

Leen tree - Jillette

Jillette’s father’s 8 great-grandparents are as follows:

  • Vincente de Leon Guerrero Y Santos and Maria de Las Nieves Gregario
  • Unknown Fejerang and unknown Guzman
  • Francisco de la Torre and Maria Acosta
  • Fabian de la Cruz and Juliana Ada

You’ll notice, there’s not a Perez among them.  Now what?

This is both a genealogical and a genetic question, and can be approached in both ways simultaneously.  Obviously, were Jillette to discover that the next generation included a Perez, then the mystery would be solved.  However, using genetics can narrow the scope of this hunt.

Jillette needs to utilize known relationships to narrow the scope of which line descends from the Perez family.

The best way to do this is to test another relative of her grandparents, assuming both grandparents are deceased.  The best bet here is to test a sibling of a grandparent.  If you test a sibling of both grandparents autosomally, one of them should match Jose Perez.  That immediately eliminates half of Jillette’s Dad’s ancestors.  If a sibling of Jillette’s Dad’s grandparents isn’t available, then test their children.

Let’s say, by way of example, that we have now limited the search to Jillette’s Dad’s paternal line.  That consists of two grandparents, Rita Guzman Fejerang and Justo Gregario de Leon-Guerro.  The next step, genetically, is to test people who descend from the parents of Rita and Justo, but not the children of Rita and Justo.  So, Jillette needs to find siblings of Rita and Justo and test their siblings oldest descendants.  Again, one line should match Jose Perez.

Utilizing this technique, it’s possible to “walk up the tree,” so to speak.  In the meantime, this technique will help Jillette focus on where to concentrate her genealogical efforts.

ICW – In Common With

Another tool that Jillette can use is the ICW, or “in common with” tool at Family Tree DNA.  This tool is underutilized, as many people don’t realize what it can do.

If you mark a match as a known relative, you can then see matches you have in common with that person.  If you both match an individual, you should contact that individual to see if they have a piece of genealogical information that links to either or both of you.  In Jillette’s case, the mystery of how her family connects to the Perez family in Guam could well be held in the genealogy records of one of the ICW matches.

You can see that Jillette has confirmed the relationship for two matches below.

Perez match

To view your common matches, in the drop down box, select “in common with” and in the box directly below, you’ll see the people you’ve confirmed with a known relationship.  Select the person you want to see your common matches with, and click on the orange “filter” button.

perez in common with

The display you will see are the people who match both of you.  In this case, there are two common matches between Jillette’s father and Jose Perez that are not among the group tested above.  That’s exciting, because we know they are related to both men – the only question is how.  Jillette is working on these questions.

Follow the Story

So if you are a Perez, Paris or anything similar from Hawaii or Guam, please, contact Jillette through her website.  If you are a Leon-Guerrero, contact Jillette.  And if you want to see how this episode of Genetic Genealogy Reality TV turns out, you’ll have to follow Jillette’s blog on her webpage.  Perhaps the PBS special will be widely available or uploaded to YouTube and we’ll all be able to share in the final chapter of this exciting mystery!

7-7-2013 Update – A newspaper article talking about the documentary. Hat tip to Howard for this link.