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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflection

This seems like a good point to reflect a bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Next Wave

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

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

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

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

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

In summary:

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

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

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

The Single Biggest Change

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

Why, you ask?

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

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

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

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

Synergy.

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

Inheritance

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

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

What’s Hot and What’s Not

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Y DNA – 20 Years and Still Critically Important

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow, just wow.

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

Mitochondrial DNA – Matrilineal Line of Humankind is Being Rewritten

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

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

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

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

Y and Mitochondrial Resources

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

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

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

Click on images to enlarge

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

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

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

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

CentiMorgans – The Word of Two Decades

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

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

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

Chromosome Browser – Genetics Tool to View Chromosome Matches

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

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

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

Triangulation – Science Plus Group DNA Matching Confirms Genealogy

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve written a lot about triangulation recently.

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

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

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

Clustering Matches and Correlating Trees

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

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

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

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

These articles should get you started with clustering.

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

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

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

Painting DNA Makes Chromosome Browsers and Triangulation Easy

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

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

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

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

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

DNA Matches Plus Trees Enhance Genealogy

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

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

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

click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transition to Digital and Online

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot courtesy MyHeritage

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you to Penny Walters for creating this lovely graphic.

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

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

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

Companies and Owners Come & Go

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

Other changes included:

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

Some Companies Reduced Services and Cut Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both Ancestry and MyHeritage provide subscription services for genealogy records.

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

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

Scientific Research Still Critical & Pushes Frontiers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Predictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s it.

That’s the challenge, a gauntlet of sorts.

Who’s going to pick it up?

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

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

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

Stay tuned.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Books

Y DNA Resources and Repository

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

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

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

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

What is Y DNA?

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

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

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

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

Y DNA has Unique Properties

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

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

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

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

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

click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

Step-by-Step – Using Your Y DNA Results

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

What do those words mean? Here you go!

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

Big Y Testing and Results

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

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

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

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

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

Educational Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Piecing together your ancestor’s Y DNA from descendants.

Haplogroups are something like our pedigree charts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tools and Techniques

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

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

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

Science Meets Genealogy – Including Ancient DNA

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

Haplogroup C is found in several North American tribes.

Haplogroup C is found as far east as Nova Scotia.

Test by test, we made progress.

New testers, new branches. The research continues.

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

The press release about the discovery of haplogroup A00.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Compare your own DNA to Vikings!

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

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

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

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

Webinars

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

Success Stories and Genealogy Discoveries

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

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

DNA testing reveals an unexpected mystery several hundred years old.

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

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

What About You?

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

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

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

Share the Love

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

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Books

Most Popular Articles of 2020

We all know that 2020 was a year like no other, right? So, what were we reading this year as we spent more time at home?

According to my blog stats, these are the ten most popular articles of 2020.

2020 Rank Blog Article Name Publication Date/Comment
1 Concepts – Calculating Ethnicity Percentages Jan 11, 2017
2 Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA December 18, 2012
3 Ancestry to Remove DNA Matches Soon – Preservation Strategies with Detailed Instructions Now obsolete article – July 16, 2020
4 Ancestral DNA Percentages – How Much of Them is in You? June 27, 2017
5 Full or Half Siblings? April 3, 2019
6 442 Ancient Viking Skeletons Hold DNA Surprises – Does Your Y or Mitochondrial DNA Match? September 18, 2020
7 Migration Pedigree Chart March 25, 2016
8 DNA Inherited from Grandparents and Great-Grandparents January 14, 2020
9 Optimizing Your Tree at Ancestry for More Hints and DNA ThruLines February 22, 2020
10 Phylogenetic Tree of Novel Coronavirus (hCoV-19) Covid-19 March 12, 2020

Half of these articles were published this year, and half are older.

One article is now obsolete. The Ancestry purge has already happened, so there’s nothing to be done now.

Let’s take a look at the rest and what messages might be held in these popular selections.

Ethnicity

I’m not the least bit surprised by ethnicity being the most popular topic, nor that Concepts – Calculating Ethnicity Percentages is the most popular article. Not only is ethnicity a perennially favorite, but all four major vendors introduced something new this year.

By the way, my perennial caveat still applies – ethnicity is only an estimate😊

While Genetic Groups isn’t actually ethnicity, per se, it’s a layer on top of ethnicity that provides you with locations where your ancestors might have been from and migrated to, based on genetic clusters. Clusters are defined by the locations of ancestors of other people within that genetic cluster.

There’s actually good news at 23andMe. Since this article was published in October, 23andMe has indeed updated the V3 and V4 kits with new ethnicity updates. 23andMe had originally stated they weren’t going to do that, clearly in the hope that people would pay to retest by purchasing the V5 Health + Ancestry test. I’m so glad to see their reversal.

Viewing the older V2 kits, the “updated” date at the bottom of their Ancestry Composition page says they were updated on December 9th or 10th, but I don’t see a difference and they don’t have the “updated” icon like the V3 and V4 kits do.

23andMe made another reversal too and also restored the original matches. They had reduced the number of matches to 1500 for non-Health+Ancestry testers who don’t also subscribe. If you wanted between 1500 and 5000 matches, you had to retest and subscribe for $29 per year. (It’s worth noting that I have over 5000 matches at all of the other vendors.)

To date, 23andMe has restored previous matches and also restored some but not all of the search functionality that they had removed.

What isn’t clear is whether 23andMe will continue to add to this number of matches until the tester reaches the earlier limit of 2000, or whether they have simply restored the previous matches, but the match total will not increase unless you have a subscription.

Consumer feedback works – so thanks to everyone who provided feedback to 23andMe.

Native American Ancestry

The article, Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA, written 8 years ago, only 5 months after launching this blog, has been in the top 10 every year since I’ve been counting.

I created a Native American reference and resource page too, which you can find here.

I’ll also be publishing some new articles after the first of the year which I promise you’ll find VERY INTERESTING. Something to look forward to.

Understanding Autosomal DNA

2020 has seen more people delving into genealogy + DNA testing which means they need to understand both the results and the concepts underlying their results.

Whooohooo – more people in the pool. Jump on in – the water’s fine!

The articles Ancestral DNA Percentages – How Much of Them is in You? and DNA Inherited from Grandparents and Great-Grandparents both explain how DNA is passed from your ancestors to you.

These are great basic articles if you’re looking to help someone new, and so is First Steps When Your DNA Results are Ready – Sticking Your Toe in the Genealogy Water.

I always look forward to the end of January because there will be lots of matches from holiday gifts being posted. Feel free to forward any of these articles to your new matches. It’s always fun helping new people because you just never know when they might be able to help you.

Surprises

With more and more people testing, more and more people are receiving “surprises” in their results. Need to figure out the difference between full and half-siblings? Then Full or Half Siblings? is the article for you.

Trying to discern other relationships? My favorite tool is the Shared cM Project tool at DNAPainter, here.

Vikings

Who doesn’t want to know if they are related to the ancient Vikings??? You can make that discovery in the article, 442 Ancient Viking Skeletons Hold DNA Surprises – Does Your Y or Mitochondrial DNA Match?. Not only is this just plain fun, but I snuck in a little education too.

Of course, you’ll need to have your Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA results, which you can easily order, here. If you’re unsure and would like to read a short article about the different kinds of DNA and how they can help you, 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy is perfect.

Do you think your DNA isn’t Viking because your ancestors aren’t from Scandinavia? Guess again!

Those Vikings didn’t stay home, and they didn’t restrict their escapades to the British Isles either.

This drawing depicts Viking ships besieging Paris in the year 845. Vikings voyaged into Russia and as far as the Mediterranean.

Have a child studying at home? This might be an interesting topic!

Migration Pedigree Chart

Another just plain fun idea is the Migration Pedigree Chart.

I created this migration pedigree chart in a spreadsheet, but you can also create a pedigree chart in genealogy software with whatever “names” you want. This will also help you figure out the estimated percentages of ethnicity you might reasonably expect.

Another idea for helping kids learn at home and they might accidentally learn about figuring percentages in the process.

ThruLines

ThruLines is the Ancestry tool that assists DNA testers with trees connect the dots to common ancestors with their matches. There are ways to optimize your tree to improve your connections, both in terms of accuracy and the number of Thrulines that form.

Optimizing Your Tree at Ancestry for More Hints and DNA ThruLines provides step by step instructions, which reminds me – I need to write a similar article for MyHeritage’s Theories of Family Relativity. I keep meaning to…

Covid

You know, it wouldn’t be 2020 if I didn’t HAVE to mention that word.

I’m glad to know that people were and hopefully still are educating themselves about Covid. Phylogenetic Tree of Novel Coronavirus (hCoV-19) Covid-19 reflected early information about the novel virus and our first efforts to sequence the DNA. Of course, as expected, just like any other organism, mutations have occurred since then.

Goodness knows, we are all tired of Covid and the resulting safety protocols. Keep on keeping on. We need you on the other side.

Stay home, mask up when you must leave, stay away from other people outside your family that you live with, wash your hands, and get vaccinated as soon as you can.

And until we can all see each other in person again, hopefully, sooner than later, keep on doing genealogy.

Locked in the Library

Be careful what you ask for.

Remember that dream where you’re locked in a library? Remember saying you don’t have enough time for genealogy?

Well, now you are and now you do.

The library is your desk with your computer or maybe your laptop on a picnic table in the yard.

DNA results, matches, and research tools are the books and you’re officially locked in for at least a few more weeks. Free articles like these are your guide.

Hmmm, pandemic isolation doesn’t sound so bad now, does it??

We’ll just rename it “genealogy library lock-in.”

Happy New Year!

What can you discover?

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Books

New Discoveries Shed Light on Out of Africa Theory, and Beyond

For many years, the accepted out-of-Africa Y DNA tree branches and calibration, meaning when that exit occurred, have focused on the exit of a single African lineage, CT-M168 which then, after leaving Africa, was believed to have split into three distinct branches:

  • C-M130 – exclusively non-African
  • DE-M145
  • FT-M89 – exclusively non-African (became F-M89)

Not long after, DE split into:

  • D-M174 – exclusively non-African
  • E-M96 – largely African

Obviously, if CT-M168 exited Africa and then branched into the other branches after its exit, either some branches had to have migrated back to Africa, or, there was something we didn’t know.

Turns out, there were multiple “somethings” we didn’t know.

D Divides – Thanks to Men in Nigeria

In August 2019, the paper A Rare Deep-Rooting D0 African Y-Chromosomal Haplogroup and Its Implications for the Expansion of Modern Humans Out of Africa was authored by Haber et al.

I wrote about the haplogroup D split in the article Exciting New Y DNA Haplogroup D Discoveries. 

Haber et al Paper

Abstract from the Haber paper:

Present-day humans outside Africa descend mainly from a single expansion out ∼50,000-70,000 years ago, but many details of this expansion remain unclear, including the history of the male-specific Y chromosome at this time. Here, we reinvestigate a rare deep-rooting African Y-chromosomal lineage by sequencing the whole genomes of three Nigerian men described in 2003 as carrying haplogroup DE* Y chromosomes, and analyzing them in the context of a calibrated worldwide Y-chromosomal phylogeny. We confirm that these three chromosomes do represent a deep-rooting DE lineage, branching close to the DE bifurcation, but place them on the D branch as an outgroup to all other known D chromosomes, and designate the new lineage D0. We consider three models for the expansion of Y lineages out of Africa ∼50,000-100,000 years ago, incorporating migration back to Africa where necessary to explain present-day Y-lineage distributions. Considering both the Y-chromosomal phylogenetic structure incorporating the D0 lineage, and published evidence for modern humans outside Africa, the most favored model involves an origin of the DE lineage within Africa with D0 and E remaining there, and migration out of the three lineages (C, D, and FT) that now form the vast majority of non-African Y chromosomes. The exit took place 50,300-81,000 years ago (latest date for FT lineage expansion outside Africa – earliest date for the D/D0 lineage split inside Africa), and most likely 50,300-59,400 years ago (considering Neanderthal admixture). This work resolves a long-running debate about Y-chromosomal out-of-Africa/back-to-Africa migrations, and provides insights into the out-of-Africa expansion more generally.

In 2003, five Nigerian men were sequenced yielding haplogroup DE, but the sequencing technology since that time has improved dramatically. In 2019, those early samples were resequenced by Haber and analyzed in combination with information not available in 2003.

Resequencing yielded a new ancient clade, branching from the DE lineage close to the divergence of the D and E split. The lineage formed by the Nigerian sample was named D0 (D zero) by the authors to avoid needing to rename the downstream branches. It should be noted that the authors used the older letter-number-letter naming method coined as “nomenclature by lineage” from the first YCC paper, rather than the SNP naming method called “Nomenclature by mutation,” aks shorthand – hence their concern about renaming branches. Having said that, typically the base branch names are retained for reference, regardless, and D0 is clearly a base haplogroup.

The Nigerian samples were narrowed from 5 to 3 quality samples. Those three samples had been collected from unrelated men in different villages from different cultures who spoke different languages. Their Y DNA estimated date of convergence, meaning their most recent common ancestor (MRCA,) is about 2500 years ago.

The results of full genome sequencing are far more robust today and the theories about the exit of mankind from Africa are informed by Neanderthal genomic information. All people worldwide have about 2% Neanderthal genome, but African peoples do not – other than the North African region where back-migration has occurred.

This split in the tree increases the early lineages from 4 to 5 with DE now including the following three branches:

  • D0 – exclusively African (became D2-FT75)
  • E – mainly African
  • D – exclusively non-African (became D1-M174)

Out of Africa Theories

The three out of Africa theories proposed by Haber are illustrated below with Figure 2 from their paper. Please note that dates are estimates and different calculation methodologies produce different date ranges.

click to enlarge

Haber et al put forth the above three theories in their paper.

You’ll note that:

  • Option B shows haplogroup CT exiting Africa as was originally believed, but with D0 and E back-migrating, and E-M35 eventually leaving again, with other E haplogroups remaining.
  • Option C shows CT splitting in Africa with C, DE and FT exiting Africa about the same time, with D0 and E back migrating and E-M35 leaving again.
  • Option D shows CT and DE both splitting in Africa, with only C, D and FT exiting out of Africa initially, together, in one single event, with E-M35 following later.

Option D, of the above options, is the most parsimonious model, meaning the fewest amount of complex items needs to occur and is, therefore, most likely to have actually happened. Option D does not include or require any back-migration to occur and accommodates all of the haplogroups found exclusively in Africa along with those found only outside of Africa.

Dr. Miguel Vilar, anthropologist and former Lead Scientist for National Geographic’s Genographic Project provides the following comment about Option D and introduces Option E.

  • Option E – Haplogroup CT splits into two branches CF and DE within Africa, then haplogroups D and E split followed by CF and D leaving Africa. However, this requires C and F to split after D and E have already split, which is not the current calculated sequence of events. This sequence would constitute a new Option E scenario, where haplogroups CF and D (or pre-D1) leave Africa, with E following later.

Neanderthal

It turns out that the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome appears to be the tie-breaker between scenarios B, C, and D.

All non-Africans carry about 2% Neanderthal in their genomes, worldwide. This means that the Neanderthal had to have interbred with the migrants who left Africa before they dispersed widely. They carried that Neanderthal DNA with them as they dispersed throughout the world, indicating that the entire population that existed at that time, shortly after the exit from Africa, and survived, was intermixed between the two populations.

African peoples do not carry Neanderthal admixture. Therefore, had there been back-migration of haplogroups D0 and E, African peoples would also carry some Neanderthal, and they do not which effectively removes the options of B and C.

To date, scenario D, which also includes other archaeological evidence, is the best fit between the three Haber models, plus Dr. Vilar’s Option E. The Haber paper is short and a good read.

Y Haplotree Updates

FamilyTreeDNA included the changes to haplogroup D, incorporating their own findings.

Michael Sager, the phylogeneticist at Family Tree DNA who is responsible for the Y DNA tree gave a great presentation in early 2020 at Genetic Genealogy Ireland, which you can view here.

The latest tree at Family Tree DNA looks like this, with haplogroup D split into Asian and African lineages.

New Haplogroup F Lineages

So where did the haplogroup F lineage go after having left Africa? New discoveries at FamilyTreeDNA provide some clues.

Before the new haplogroup F branches were added, the haplogroup F tree looked like this. There were known basal F lineages, but FamilyTreeDNA did not have any Big Y testers that belonged to those branches of haplogroup F and were not at that time making use of NGS results from academic studies to define tree branches.

Since then, among the thousands of new Big Y test results, a few haplogroup F lineages have been identified.

click to enlarge

The view of the Y DNA tree at FamilyTreeDNA shows the locations of the various test results. Please note that people in the F-M89 haplogroup may simply have not tested beyond that level today, and would benefit from the Big Y test.

The Y tree now includes the new branch F-F15527 (F1) with four immediate subclades with samples from Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the southern border of China, as shown on this map.

What Does This Mean???

Goran Runfeldt, the head of Research and Development at Family Tree DNA says:

Finding F1 exclusively in Southeast Asia is significant because it represents the first split of haplogroup F.

Additionally, it gives some clues about where haplogroup F was before it split between F1 and GHIJK, which represents all the haplogroups F through T.

It is also significant that they all belong to different branches, four immediate subclades of F1, dated to circa 48,000 years ago. This shows a rapid expansion where several lineages quickly diverged then and survived for tens of thousands of years until present day. It is very likely that we will discover other ancient lineages in this part of the tree as more people from this part of the world take a high coverage Y-DNA test.

Michael Sager adds:

We have many distinct lineages close to the root of F (F1a, F1b, F1c, F1d, G, H, IJK.) All of these (and more) arose within a couple thousand years. All of these descendants in conjunction provide excellent support for the theory that F was long out of Africa. We did not have that clear support for haplogroup D as we had a ~20ky bottleneck to account for as well as Ds closest relative, E, being in Africa.

I asked Dr. Vilar for his opinion about the expansion of haplogroup F.

The discovery of new F1 lineages in Southeast Asia suggests that there was both a rapid and a broad expansion of paternal lineages across Eurasia some 55,000 years ago. Rapid because we see F lineages in China and Southeast Asia shortly after modern humans leave Africa some 60,000 years ago.

The pattern in haplogroup F is similar to that of its “cousin lineages” in haplogroup C, which likely moved through South Asia to Southeast Asia and even Australia shortly after its exodus from Africa.

Unlike F, haplogroup C is also found in Central Asia and the Americas, so the two paths may not have been exactly the same.

However, the range of F was also broad, since it gave rise to an older son (GHIJK) years earlier, and much further west. GHIJK likely arose in western Asia, where descendants G, H, and IJ were all born in the following millennia.

Acknowledgments

Thank you to the following individuals for their review of and input to this article:

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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

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DNA Tidbit #5: What’s Your Goal?

You probably see this all the time on social media:

“I just got my DNA results. Now what?”

No further information is given.

The answer is, “What is your goal?”

Why did they test and what are they hoping to learn?

DNA Tidbit Challenge: Define goals for answering genealogy questions, allowing you to focus your efforts.

Your DNA testing goal depends on a number of factors including:

  • What test you took, meaning Y DNA, mitochondrial or autosomal.
  • Where you tested and the tools they offer.
  • What you’re hoping to achieve. In other words, why did you test in the first place?

For a short article about the difference between Y, mitochondrial, and autosomal DNA, please click here.

For more seasoned genealogists, we may have taken all the tests and answered many questions already, but still, our research needs to be guided by goals.

I regularly check my matches. I still think I may have had a half-sibling that is yet to be located. After I confirm that no, I don’t have any new close matches, I then look at the rest, making notes where appropriate.

Recently, late one night, I thought to myself, “why am I doing this?” Endlessly scrolling through new matches and randomly seeing if I can figure out where they fit or which ancestor we share.

But why?

Originally, I had two broad goals.

  • I wanted to find Y line males in each line and other males from the same supposed line to confirm that indeed the ancestral line is what the paper trail had identified.
  • To confirm that I am indeed descended from the ancestral lines I think I am, meaning no NPEs. As a genealogist, the only thing I’d hate worse than discovering that I’ve been researching the wrong line for all these years is to keep doing so.

Given that I’ve confirmed my connection to ancestors on most lines back several generations now, what are my goals?

Broad and Deep

I’ve realized over the years that goals are both broad and deep.

Broad goals are as I described above, in essence, spanning the entire tree.

My broad goals have changed a bit over time. I’ve located and tested descendants of many Y lines, but I’m still working on a few. I’ve confirmed most of my lineage back several generations by matching the DNA from other children of the same ancestor and using tools like triangulation and DNAPainter to confirm the segment is actually from the ancestral couple I think it is.

I’ve added the goal of breaking down brick walls.

This means that I need to look deep instead of broad.

Deep means that I need to focus on and formulate a plan for each line.

Looking Deep

I’ve identified three specific deep goals and put together a plan with action steps to achieve those goals.

  • Deep Goal #1 – Collecting and Using Y and Mitochondrial DNA

I like to “collect” the Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA results/haplogroups of my ancestors for different reasons. First, I’ve discovered surprises in where their DNA originated. For both Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA, you can identify their continent of origin as well as confirm ancestors or break down brick walls for that one specific line through matches and other tools at Family Tree DNA.

Looking at my tree, my closest ancestor whose Y DNA or mtDNA I don’t have is my great-grandmother, Evaline Miller (1857-1939) who had 4 daughters who all had daughters. You wouldn’t think it would be this difficult to find someone who descends to current through all daughters.

How do I go about achieving this goal? What are some alternatives?

  • Track and ask family members, if possible.
  • Find descendants using MyHeritage, Ancestry and Geneanet (especially in Europe) trees. Bonus – they may also have photos or information that I don’t, especially since this isn’t a distant ancestor.

click to enlarge

Ancestry’s ThruLines shows your matches by ancestor, so long as the connection can be made through trees. Unfortunately, in this case, no one descends correctly for mitochondrial DNA, meaning through all females to the current generation which can be male. BUT, they might have an aunt or uncle who does, so it’s certainly worth making a contact attempt.

  • I can also use WikiTree to see if someone has already tested in her line. Unfortunately, no.

However, I don’t know the profile manager so maybe I should click and see how we might be related. You never know and the answer is no if you don’t ask😊

Deep Goal #2 – Confirming a Specific Ancestor

I want to confirm that a specific ancestor is my ancestor, or as close as I can get.

What do I mean by that?

In the first couple of close generations, using autosomal DNA, we can confirm ancestral lines and parentage. We can confirm our parents and our grandparents, but further back in that, we have to use a combination of our tree and other tools to confirm our paper genealogy.

For example, as we move further back in time, we can’t confirm that one particular son was the father as opposed to his brother. In closer generations, autosomal DNA might help, but not beyond the first couple of generations. Second cousins always match autosomally, but beyond that, not so much.

Using Y DNA, if we can find a suitable candidate, I can confirm that my Estes ancestor actually does descend through the Estes line indicated by my paper trail.

I need to find someone in my line either to test or who has already tested, of course.

click to enlarge

If they do test and share their match information with me, and others from that same line have tested, I can see their earliest known ancestors on their Y DNA match page.

If someone from that line has already tested and has joined a surname project, you can see their results on the public project page if they have authorized public project display.

click to enlarge

This is also one way of determining whether or not your line has already tested, especially if you have no Y DNA matches to the expected surname and ancestor. If others have tested from that ancestor, and you don’t match them, there’s a mystery to be unraveled.

To see if projects exist for your surnames, you can click here and scroll down to the search box, below.

Please note that if someone else in your family takes the Y DNA test, that doesn’t guarantee that you descend from that ancestor too unless that person is a reasonably close relative and you match them autosomally in the expected way.

Confirmation of a specific ancestor requires two things without Y DNA testing:

  • Sharing autosomal matches, and preferably triangulated segments, with others who descend from that ancestor (or ancestral couple) through another child.
  • Eliminating other common ancestors.

Of course, Ancestry’s ThruLines are useful for this purpose as are MyHeritage’s Theories of Family Relativity, but that only works if people have linked their DNA results to a tree.

My favorite tool for ancestor confirmation is DNAPainter where you can paint your segments from FamilyTreeDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage and GEDmatch, either individually or in bulk. You can’t use Ancestry DNA information for this purpose, but you can transfer your Ancestry DNA file to those other vendors (except 23andMe) for free, and search for matches without retesting. (Step-by-step transfer instructions are found here.)

Here’s an example of a group of my matches from various companies painted on one of my chromosomes at DNAPainter. You can read all about how to use DNAPainter, here.

I identify every match that I can and paint those segments to that ancestor. Ancestors are identified by color that I’ve assigned.

In this case, I have identified several people who descend from ancestors through my paternal grandmother’s side going back four generations. We have a total of 12 descendants of the couple Henry Bolton and Nancy Mann (burgundy), even though initially I can only identify some people back to either my grandparents (mustard color) or my grandmother’s parents (grey) or her grandparents (blue). The fact that several people descend from Henry and Nancy, through multiple children, confirms this segment back to that couple. Of course, we don’t know which person of that couple until we find people matching from upstream ancestors.

What about that purple person? I don’t know how they match to me – meaning through which ancestor based on genealogy. However, I know for sure at least part of that matching segment, the burgundy portion, is through Henry Bolton and Nancy Mann, or their ancestors.

Deep Goal #3 – Breaking Down a Brick Wall

Of course, the nature of your brick wall may vary, but I’ll use the example of not being able to find the parents of an ancestral couple.

In the above example, I mentioned that each segment goes back to a couple. Clearly, in the next generation, that segment either comes from either the father or mother, or parts from both perhaps. In this case, that oldest burgundy segment originated with either Henry Bolton or Nancy Mann.

In other words, in the next generation upstream, that segment can be assigned to another couple.

Even if we don’t know who that couple is, it’s still their DNA and other people may have inherited that very same segment.

What we need to know is if the people who share that segment with us and each other also have people in their trees in common with each other that we don’t have in our trees.

Does that make sense? I’m looking for commonality between other testers in their trees that might allow me to connect back another generation.

That common couple in their trees may be the key to unlocking the next generation.

Caveat – please note that people they have in common that we don’t may also be wives of their ancestors downstream of our common ancestor. Just keep that in mind.

Let’s shift away from that Bolton example and look at another way to identify clusters of people and common ancestors.

In order to identify clusters of people who match me and each other, I utilize Genetic Affairs autocluster, or the AutoCluster features incorporated into MyHeritage or the Tier 1 “Clusters” option at GEDmatch.

Based on the ancestors of people in this red cluster that I CAN identify, I know it’s a Crumley cluster. The wife of my William Crumley (1767/8 – 1837/40) has never been identified. I looked at the trees of the people in this cluster that I don’t know and can’t identify a common ancestor, and I discovered at least two people have a Babb family in their tree.

Babb was a near neighbor to William Crumley’s family, but I’ve also noticed that Babb married into this line downstream another 3 generations in Iowa. These families migrated from Frederick County, VA to Greene County, TN and on, together – so I’ll need to be very careful. However, I can’t help but wonder if my William’s wife was a Babb.

I need to see if any of my other matches have Babb as a common name. Now, I can search for Babb at any of the testing vendors to see what, if anything, I can discover.

Genetic Affairs has a combined AutoCluster and AutoTree/AutoPedigree function that compares and combines the trees of cluster members for you, here.

Goals Summary

Now, it’s your turn.

  • What are your genealogy goals that DNA can assist with?
  • Are those goals broad or deep?
  • What kind of DNA test can answer or help answer those questions?
  • What tools and research techniques fit the quandary at hand?

I suggest that you look at each ancestor, and in particular each end-of-line ancestor thinking about where you can focus to obtain answers and reveal new ancestors.

Happy ancestor hunting!

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Books

Ancient Ireland’s Y and Mitochondrial DNA – Do You Match???

Ancient Ireland – the land of Tara and Knowth and the passage tombs of New Grange. Land of legend, romance, and perchance of King Arthur, or at least some ancient king who became Arthur in legend.

The island of Ireland, today Ireland and Northern Ireland, was a destination location, it seems, the westernmost island in the British Isles, and therefore the western shore of Europe. Anyone who sailed further west had better have weeks of food, water, and a great deal of good luck.

But who settled Ireland, when, and where did they come from? How many times was Ireland settled, and did the new settlers simply mingle with those already in residence, or did they displace the original settlers? Oral history recorded in the most ancient texts speaks of waves of settlement and conquest.

According to two papers, discussed below, which analyze ancient DNA, there were two horizon events that changed life dramatically in Europe, the arrival of agriculture about 3750 BC, or about 5770 years ago, and the arrival of metallurgy about 2300 BC, or 4320 years ago.

The people who lived in Ireland originally are classified as the Mesolithic people, generally referred to as hunter-gatherers. The second wave was known as Neolithic or the people who arrived as farmers. The third wave heralded the arrival of the Bronze Age when humans began to work with metals.

Our answers about Irish settlers come from the skeletons of the people who lived in Ireland at one time and whose bones remain in various types of burials and tombs.

The first remains to be processed with high coverage whole genome sequencing were those of 3 males whose remains were found in a cist burial on volcanic Rathlin Island, located in the channel between Ireland and Scotland.

In 795, Rathlin had the dubious honor of being the first target of Viking raiding and pillaging.

Rathlin Island is but a spit of land, with a total population of about 150 people, 4 miles east to west and 2.5 miles north to south. Conflict on the island didn’t stop there, with the Campbell and McDonald clan, among others, having bloody clashes on this tiny piece of land, with losers being tossed from the cliffs.

The island is believed to have been settled during the Mesolithic period, according to O’Sullivan in Maritime Ireland, An Archaeology of Coastal Communities (2007). The original language of Rathlin was Gaelic. Having been a half-way point between Ireland and Scotland, it’s believed that Rathlin served as an important cog in the Dalriada diaspora with Dalriada people taking their language, through Rathlin, into Scotland from about 300 AD, or 1700 years ago.

The first Irish remains whose DNA was sequenced at the whole genome level are from those three men and a much earlier Neolithic woman.

  • Three men from a cist burial in Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim (2026-1534 BC) with associated food vessel pottery.
  • A Neolithic woman (3343-3030 BC) from Ballynahatty, County, Down, south of Belfast, found in an early megalithic passage-like grave

Megalithic tomb at the centre of the Giant’s Ring in Ballynahatty, Ireland, photo by robertpaulyoung – [1], CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3221494

The female is clearly older than the three Rathlin males. According to Cassidy, et al, 2016, she clusters with 5 other Middle Neolithic individuals from Germany, Spain, and Scandinavia, while the males cluster with early Bronze Age genomes from central and northern Europe, reflecting a division between hunter-gatherer and early farmer individuals.

The males reflect genetic components of the Yamnaya, early Bronze Age herders from the Pontic Steppe, along with an equal level of Caucasus admixture.

The threshold between the Neolithic and Bronze Age fell at about 3750 BC in western Europe and Ireland, right between these two burials.

Even Earlier Burials

In 2020, Cassidy et al sequenced another 44 individuals from Irish passage grave burials ranging in age from 4793 to 2910 BC, or about 3000 to 7000 years ago. All of the men are members of haplogroup I, except two who are Y haplogroup H.

The Rathlin males, all haplogroup R1b, combined with evidence provided by later genetic analysis of passage grave remains point decisively towards a population replacement – with haplogroup R males replacing the previous inhabitants of both Europe and the British Isles.

In far western Ireland, haplogroup R and subgroups reach nearly 100% today.

I would encourage you to read the two papers, linked below, along with supplemental information. They are absolutely fascinating and include surprises involving both the history between Ireland and continental Europe, along with the relationships between the people buried at Newgrange.

Not only that, but the oral history regarding an elite sibling relationship involving the sun was passed down through millenia and seems to be corroborated by the genetics revealed today.

The most recent 2020 paper includes extensive archaeological context revolving around passage graves and megalithic tombs. When I visited New Grange in 2017, above, I was told that genetic analysis was underway on remains from several ancient burials.

I’m incredibly grateful that Dr. Dan Bradley’s ancient DNA lab at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics in Dublin, which I was also privileged to visit, was not only working on these historical treasures but that they were successful in obtaining high-quality results for Y DNA, autosomal and mitochondrial.

Dr. Dan Bradley in his ancient DNA lab in Dublin.

Take a look at these fascinating papers and then, see if you match any of the ancient samples.

Papers

Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlantic genome by Cassidy et al 2016

This paper included the Ballynahatty female and the three Rathlin Island males.

Significance

Modern Europe has been shaped by two episodes in prehistory, the advent of agriculture and later metallurgy. These innovations brought not only massive cultural change but also, in certain parts of the continent, a change in genetic structure. The manner in which these transitions affected the islands of Ireland and Britain on the northwestern edge of the continent remains the subject of debate. The first ancient whole genomes from Ireland, including two at high coverage, demonstrate that large-scale genetic shifts accompanied both transitions. We also observe a strong signal of continuity between modern-day Irish populations and the Bronze Age individuals, one of whom is a carrier for the C282Y hemochromatosis mutation, which has its highest frequencies in Ireland today.

Abstract

The Neolithic and Bronze Age transitions were profound cultural shifts catalyzed in parts of Europe by migrations, first of early farmers from the Near East and then Bronze Age herders from the Pontic Steppe. However, a decades-long, unresolved controversy is whether population change or cultural adoption occurred at the Atlantic edge, within the British Isles. We address this issue by using the first whole genome data from prehistoric Irish individuals. A Neolithic woman (3343–3020 cal BC) from a megalithic burial (10.3× coverage) possessed a genome of predominantly Near Eastern origin. She had some hunter–gatherer ancestry but belonged to a population of large effective size, suggesting a substantial influx of early farmers to the island. Three Bronze Age individuals from Rathlin Island (2026–1534 cal BC), including one high coverage (10.5×) genome, showed substantial Steppe genetic heritage indicating that the European population upheavals of the third millennium manifested all of the way from southern Siberia to the western ocean. This turnover invites the possibility of accompanying introduction of Indo-European, perhaps early Celtic, language. Irish Bronze Age haplotypic similarity is strongest within modern Irish, Scottish, and Welsh populations, and several important genetic variants that today show maximal or very high frequencies in Ireland appear at this horizon. These include those coding for lactase persistence, blue eye color, Y chromosome R1b haplotypes, and the hemochromatosis C282Y allele; to our knowledge, the first detection of a known Mendelian disease variant in prehistory. These findings together suggest the establishment of central attributes of the Irish genome 4,000 y ago.

A Dynastic elite in monumental Neolithic society by Cassidy et al, 2020

Poulnabrone Dolmen, County Clare, where disarticulated remains of 35 individuals have been excavated and two, approximately 5500-6000 years old, have resulting haplogroups.

This second article includes a great deal of archaeological and burial information which includes caves, reefs, cist burials, boulder chambers, peat bogs, dry-stone walls, portal tombs (think Stonehenge style structures), megalithic tombs such as the Giant’s Ring, court tombs, and passage tombs, including Newgrange.

Abstract

The nature and distribution of political power in Europe during the Neolithic era remains poorly understood1. During this period, many societies began to invest heavily in building monuments, which suggests an increase in social organization. The scale and sophistication of megalithic architecture along the Atlantic seaboard, culminating in the great passage tomb complexes, is particularly impressive2. Although co-operative ideology has often been emphasized as a driver of megalith construction1, the human expenditure required to erect the largest monuments has led some researchers to emphasize hierarchy3—of which the most extreme case is a small elite marshalling the labour of the masses. Here we present evidence that a social stratum of this type was established during the Neolithic period in Ireland. We sampled 44 whole genomes, among which we identify the adult son of a first-degree incestuous union from remains that were discovered within the most elaborate recess of the Newgrange passage tomb. Socially sanctioned matings of this nature are very rare, and are documented almost exclusively among politico-religious elites4—specifically within polygynous and patrilineal royal families that are headed by god-kings5,6. We identify relatives of this individual within two other major complexes of passage tombs 150 km to the west of Newgrange, as well as dietary differences and fine-scale haplotypic structure (which is unprecedented in resolution for a prehistoric population) between passage tomb samples and the larger dataset, which together imply hierarchy. This elite emerged against a backdrop of rapid maritime colonization that displaced a unique Mesolithic isolate population, although we also detected rare Irish hunter-gatherer introgression within the Neolithic population.

Y DNA Analysis at FamilyTreeDNA

Fortunately, the minimum coverage threshold for the Bradley lab was 30X, meaning 30 scanned reads. Of the 37 males sequenced, the lab was able to assign a Y DNA haplogroup to 36.

Family Tree DNA downloaded the BAM files and Michael Sager analyzed the Y DNA. The results split about 8 Y DNA lines, resulting in a total of 16 different haplogroup assignments. There are a couple more that may split with additional tests.

Cassidy et al report that the Y DNA results in several geographic locations, using the ISOGG tree (2018) for haplogroup assignment, although in some cases, I did find some inconsistencies in their haplogroup and SNP names. I would recommend reading the paper in full for the context, including the supplementary information, and not simply extracting the SNP information, because the context is robust as is their analysis.

If your family hails from the Emerald Isle, chances are very good that these people represent your ancestral lines, one way or another – even if you don’t match them exactly. The events they witnessed were experienced by your ancestors too. There appears to have been a vibrant, diverse community, or communities, based on the burials and history revealed.

Of course, we all want to know if our Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA haplogroups, or that of our family members matches any of these ancient samples.

Thank you to Michael Sager, phylogeneticist, and Goran Runfeldt, head of R&D at Family Tree DNA for making this information available. Without their generosity, we would never know that an ancient sample actually split branches of the tree, nor could we see if we match.

Do You Match?

I explained, in this article, here, step-by-step, how to determine if your Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA matches these ancient samples.

If you only have a predicted or base haplogroup, you can certainly see if your haplogroup is upstream of any of these ancient men. However, you’ll receive the best results if you have taken the detailed Big Y-700 test, or for the mitochondrial DNA lines, the full sequence test. You can upgrade or order those tests, here. (Sale started today.)

Sample: Rathlin1 / RM127 (Cassidy et al. 2016)
Sex: Male
Location: Glebe, Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland
Age: Early Bronze Age 2026-1885 cal BC
Y-DNA: R-DF21
mtDNA: U5a1b1e

Sample: Rathlin2 / RSK1 (Cassidy et al. 2016)
Sex: Male
Location: Glebe, Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland
Age: Early Bronze Age 2024-1741 cal BC
Y-DNA: R-DF21
mtDNA: U5b2a2

Sample: Rathlin3 / RSK2 (Cassidy et al. 2016)
Sex: Male
Location: Glebe, Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland
Age: Early Bronze Age 1736-1534 cal BC
Y-DNA: R-L21
mtDNA: J2b1a

Sample: Ballynahatty / BA64 (Cassidy et al. 2016)
Sex: Female
Location: Ballynahatty, Down, Northern Ireland
Age: Middle to Late Neolithic 3343-3020 cal BC
mtDNA: HV0-T195C!

The above 4 samples were from the original 2016 paper, with the additional samples from 2020 added below

Sample: Ashleypark3 / ASH3 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Ashleypark, Tipperary, Ireland
Age: Early-Middle Neolithic 3712-3539 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: Ashleypark3, Parknabinnia186, Parknabinnia2031, Parknabinnia672, Parknabinnia675, Parknabinnia768 and Poulnabrone06 split the I2-L1286 (S21204+/L1286-) branch. These samples, along with SBj (Gunther 2018), I1763 (Mathieson 2018), Ajv54 (Malmström 2019) and Ajv52, Ajv58 and Ajv70 (Skoglund 2012) form the branch I-FT344596. All Cassidy samples form an additional branch downstream, I-FT344600. There is further evidence that SBj, Ajv58 and Ajv52 might form an additional branch, sibling to I-FT344600
mtDNA: T2c1d1

Sample: Killuragh6 / KGH6 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Killuragh, Limerick, Ireland
Age: Mesolithic 4793-4608 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-V4921
FTDNA Comment: Joins ancient samples Loschbour, Motala12, Motala3 (Lazaridis 2015) and Steigen (Gunther 2018) at I2-V4921
mtDNA: U5b2a

Loschbour Man is from present-day Luxembourg, Motala is from Sweden and Steigen is from Norway.

Sample: Parknabinnia186 / PB186 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3518-3355 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: See Ashleypark3
mtDNA: X2b-T226C

Sample: Parknabinnia2031 / PB2031 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3632-3374 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: See Ashleypark3
mtDNA: K1a2b

Sample: Parknabinnia672 / PB672 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3626-3196 cal BC; 3639-3384 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: See Ashleypark3
mtDNA: T2c1d-T152C!

Sample: Parknabinnia675 / PB675 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3263-2910 cal BC; 3632-3372 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: See Ashleypark3
mtDNA: H1

Sample: Parknabinnia768 / PB768 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3642-3375 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: See Ashleypark3
mtDNA: H4a1a1

Sample: Poulnabrone06 / PN06 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3635-3376 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: See Ashleypark3
mtDNA: H

Sample: Sramore62 / SRA62 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Sramore, Leitrim, Ireland
Age: Mesolithic 4226-3963 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-S2519
FTDNA Comment: Split the I2-S2519 branch. Pushes Cheddar man and SUC009 down to I-S2497. Other relevant pre-L38s include I2977 (I-Y63727) and R11, I5401, I4971, I4915 I4607 (I-S2599)
mtDNA: U5a2d

This branch is ancestral to Cheddar Man who dates from about 9000 years ago and was found in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England. S2497 has 141 subbranches.

Sample: Annagh1 / ANN1 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Annagh, Limerick, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3638-3137 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3712
FTDNA Comment: One of 15 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: K1a-T195C!

Men from Germany and Ireland are also found on this branch which hosts 47 subbranches.

Sample: Annagh2 / ANN2 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Annagh, Limerick, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3705-3379 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3712
FTDNA Comment: One of 15 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: H4a1a1

Along with men from Germany and Ireland, and 47 subbranches.

Sample: Ardcroney2 / ARD2 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Ardcrony, Tipperary, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3624-3367 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT354500
FTDNA Comment: Ardcroney2 and Parknabinnia443 split the I2-Y13518 branch and form a branch together (I-FT354500). Additional ancient samples residing on I-Y13518 include I2637, I2979, I6759, and Kelco cave
mtDNA: J2b1a

Kelco Cave is in Yorkshire, England.

Sample: Ashleypark1 / ASH1 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Ashleypark, Tipperary, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3641-3381 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3712
FTDNA Comment: One of 15 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: K2a9

Sample: Baunogenasraid72 / BG72 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Baunogenasraid, Carlow, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3635-3377 cal BC
Y-DNA: H-FT362000
FTDNA Comment: Baunogenasraid72 and Jerpoint14 split the H-SK1180 branch and form branch together (H-FT362000). Several other additional ancient samples belong to this branch as well including FLR001, FLR002, FLR004, GRG022, GRG041 (Rivollat 2020), and BUCH2 (Brunel 2020)
mtDNA: K1a4a1

Y haplogroup H is hen’s-teeth rare.

Sample: Carrowkeel531 / CAK531 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Carrowkeel, Sligo, Ireland
Age: Late Neolithic 2881-2625 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT380380
FTDNA Comment: Joins ancient sample prs013 (Sánchez-Quinto 2019)
mtDNA: H1

Sample: Carrowkeel532 / CAK532 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Carrowkeel, Sligo, Ireland
Age: Late Neolithic 3014-2891 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: J1c3

One current sample from Portugal.

Sample: Carrowkeel534 / CAK534 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Carrowkeel, Sligo, Ireland
Age: Neolithic None
Y-DNA: I-M284
mtDNA: X2b4

This branch has several subclades as well as people from Ireland, Scotland, England, British Isles, Germany, France, Denmark, Northern Ireland and Norway.

Sample: Carrowkeel68 / CAK68 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Carrowkeel, Sligo, Ireland
Age: Late Neolithic 2833-2469 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: H

Sample: Cohaw448 / CH448 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Cohaw, Cavan, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3652-3384 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-L1498
mtDNA: H1

This branch has 129 subbranches and men from England, Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Norway, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Sample: Glennamong1007 / GNM1007 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Glennamong, Mayo, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3507-3106 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3713
FTDNA Comment: Joins VK280
mtDNA: K1a-T195C!

Branch has 42 subbranches and men from Ireland, England, Scotland, France, and Germany. I wrote about VK280, a Viking skeleton from Denmark, here.

Sample: Glennamong1076 / GNM1076 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Glennamong, Mayo, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3364-2940 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: H1c

Sample: MillinBay6 / MB6 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Millin Bay (Keentagh Td.), Down, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3495-3040 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-L1193
FTDNA Comment: One of 6 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: J1c3

Branch has 51 subbranches and men from Ireland and England.

Sample: Jerpoint14 / JP14 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Jerpoint West, Kilkenny, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3694-3369 cal BC
Y-DNA: H-FT362000
FTDNA Comment: Baunogenasraid72 and Jerpoint14 split the H-SK1180 branch and form branch together (H-FT362000). Several other additional ancient samples belong to this branch as well including FLR001, FLR002, FLR004, GRG022, GRG041 (Rivollat 2020), and BUCH2 (Brunel 2020)
mtDNA: T2c1d1

Sample: Newgrange10 / NG10 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Newgrange, Main Chamber, Meath, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3338-3028 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: U5b1-T16189C!-T16192C!

Sample: Parknabinnia1327 / PB1327 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3631-3353 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3712
FTDNA Comment: One of 15 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: T2b3

Sample: Parknabinnia443 / PB443 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3636-3378 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT354500
FTDNA Comment: Ardcroney2 and Parknabinnia443 split the I2-Y13518 branch and form a branch together (I-FT354500). Additional ancient samples residing on I-Y13518 include I2637, I2979, I6759, and Kelco_cave
mtDNA: K1b1a1

Sample: Parknabinnia581 / PB581 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3631-3362 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-L1193
FTDNA Comment: One of 6 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: T2b

Sample: Poulnabrone02 / PN02 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early-Middle Neolithic 3704-3522 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3712
FTDNA Comment: One of 15 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: U5b1c1

Sample: Poulnabrone03 / PN03 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3635-3376 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: K1a1

Sample: Poulnabrone04 / PN04 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early Neolithic 3944-3665 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: H1-T16189C!

Sample: Poulnabrone05 / PN05 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early Neolithic 3941-3661 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-L1193
FTDNA Comment: One of 6 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: K1a-T195C!

Sample: Poulnabrone07 / PN07 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3629-3371 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT370113
FTDNA Comment: Forms a branch with Raschoille_1 (Brace 2019) and I3041 (Olalde 2018). Other relevant ancient samples are Carsington_Pasture_1, I3134, I7638 at I-BY166411, and Coldrum_1 and I2660 at I-BY168618. These 8 ancients all group with two modern men, 1 from Ireland and 1 of unknown origins.
mtDNA: U5b1c

Sample: Poulnabrone107 / PN107 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early Neolithic 3926-3666 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: U4a2f

Sample: Poulnabrone112 / PN112 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early-Middle Neolithic 3696-3535 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: U5b2b

Sample: Poulnabrone12 / PN12 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3621-3198 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: H

Sample: Poulnabrone13 / PN13 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early-Middle Neolithic 3704-3536 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-S2639
mtDNA: V

Branch has 172 subclades.

Sample: Carrowkeel530 / CAK530 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Carrowkeel, Sligo, Ireland
Age: Late Neolithic 2883-2634 cal BC
mtDNA: W5b

Sample: Carrowkeel533 / CAK533 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Carrowkeel, Sligo, Ireland
Age: Late Neolithic 3085-2904 cal BC
mtDNA: H

Sample: NewgrangeZ1 / NGZ1 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Site Z, Newgrange, Meath, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3320-2922 cal BC
mtDNA: X2b-T226C

Sample: Parknabinnia1794 / PB1794 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3647-3377 cal BC
mtDNA: J1c6

Sample: Parknabinnia357 / PB357 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early-Middle Neolithic 3640-3381 cal BC; 3774-3642 cal BC
mtDNA: U8b1b

Sample: Parknabinnia754 / PB754 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3617-3138 cal BC
mtDNA: U5b2a3

Sample: Poulnabrone10_113 / PN113 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early Neolithic 3940-3703 cal BC
mtDNA: H4a1a1a

Sample: Poulnabrone16 / PN16 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3633-3374 cal BC
mtDNA: K1b1a1

So, how about it? Do you match?

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Longobards Ancient DNA from Pannonia and Italy – What Does Their DNA Tell Us? Are You Related?

The Longobards, Lombards, also known as the Long-beards – who were they? Where did they come from? And when?

Perhaps more important – are you related to these ancient people?

In the paper, Understanding 6th-century barbarian social organizatoin and migration through paleogenomics, by Amorim et al, the authors tell us in the abstract:

Despite centuries of research, much about the barbarian migrations that took place between the fourth and sixth centuries in Europe remains hotly debated. To better understand this key era that marks the dawn of modern European societies, we obtained ancient genomic DNA from 63 samples from two cemeteries (from Hungary and Northern Italy) that have been previously associated with the Longobards, a barbarian people that ruled large parts of Italy for over 200 years after invading from Pannonia in 568 CE. Our dense cemetery-based sampling revealed that each cemetery was primarily organized around one large pedigree, suggesting that biological relationships played an important role in these early medieval societies. Moreover, we identified genetic structure in each cemetery involving at least two groups with different ancestry that were very distinct in terms of their funerary customs. Finally, our data are consistent with the proposed long-distance migration from Pannonia to Northern Italy.

Both the Germans and French have descriptions of this time of upheaval in their history. Völkerwanderung in German and Les invasions barbares in French refer to the various waves of invasions by Goths, Franks, Anglo-Saxons, Vandals, and Huns. All of these groups left a genetic imprint, a story told without admixture by their Y and mitochondrial DNA.

click to enlarge

The authors provide this map of Pannonia, the Longobards kingdom, and the two cemeteries with burial locations.

One of their findings is that the burials are organized around biological kinship. Perhaps they weren’t so terribly different from us today.

Much as genealogists do, the authors created a pedigree chart – the only difference being that their chart is genetically constructed and lacks names, other than sample ID.

One man is buried with a horse, and one of his relatives, a female, is not buried in a family unit but in a half-ring of female graves.

The data suggests that the cemetery in Pannonia, Szolad, shown in burgundy on the map, may have been a “single-generation” cemetery, in use for only a limited time as the migration continued westward. Collegno, in contrast, seems to have been used for multiple generations, with the burials radiating outward over time from the progenitor individual.

Because the entire cemetery was analyzed, it’s possible to identify those individuals with northern or northeastern European ancestry, east of the Rhine and north of the Danube, and to differentiate from southern European ancestry in the Lombard cemetery – in addition to reassembling their family pedigrees. The story is told, not just by one individual’s DNA, but how the group is related to each other, and their individual and group origins.

For anyone with roots in Germany, Hungary, or the eastern portion of Europe, you know that this region has been embroiled in upheaval and warfare seemingly as long as there have been people to fight over who lived in and controlled these lands.

Are You Related?

Goran Rundfeldt’s R&D group at Family Tree DNA reanalyzed the Y DNA samples from this paper and has been kind enough to provide a summary of the results. Michael Sager has utilized them to branch the Y DNA tree – in a dozen places.

Mitochondrial DNA haplogroups have been included where available from the authors, but have not been reanalyzed.

Note the comments added by FTDNA during analysis.

Many new branches were formed. I included step-by-step instructions, here, so you can see if your Y DNA results match either the new branch or any of these samples upstream.

If you’re a male and you haven’t yet tested your Y DNA or you would like to upgrade to the Big Y-700 to obtain your most detailed haplogroup, you can do either by clicking here. My husband’s family is from Hungary and I just upgraded his Y DNA test to the Big Y-700. I want to know where his ancestors came from.

And yes, this first sample really is rare haplogroup T. Each sample is linked to the Family Tree DNA public tree. We find haplogroups G and E as well as the more common R and I. Some ancient samples match contemporary testers from France (2), the UK, England, Morocco, Denmark (5), and Italy. Fascinating!

Sample: CL23
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: T-BY45363
mtDNA: H

Sample: CL30
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-P312
mtDNA: I1b

Sample: CL31
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: G-FGC693
FTDNA Comment: Authors warn of possible contamination. Y chromosome looks good – and there is support for splitting this branch. However, because of the contamination warning – we will not act on this split until more data is available.
mtDNA: H18

Sample: CL38
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: E-BY3880
mtDNA: X2

Sample: CL49
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-CTS6889

Sample: CL53
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-FGC24138
mtDNA: H11a

Sample: CL57
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-BY48364
mtDNA: H24a

Sample: CL63
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-FT104588
mtDNA: H

Sample: CL84
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-U198
mtDNA: H1t

Sample: CL92
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-S22519
mtDNA: H

Sample: CL93
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-S22519
mtDNA: J2b1a

Sample: CL94
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-DF99
mtDNA: K1c1

Sample: CL97
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-L23

Sample: CL110
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-L754

Sample: CL121
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-BY70163
FTDNA Comment: Shares 2 SNPs with a man from France. Forms a new branch down of R-BY70163 (Z2103). New branch = R-BY197053
mtDNA: T2b

Sample: CL145
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-S22519
mtDNA: T2b

Sample: CL146
Location: Collegno, Piedmont, Italy
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-A8472
mtDNA: T2b3

Sample: SZ1
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Study Information: The skeletal remains from an individual dating to the Bronze Age 10 m north of the cemetery.
Age: Bronze Age
Y-DNA: R-Y20746
mtDNA: J1b

Sample: SZ2
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-Z338
FTDNA Comment: Shares 5 SNPs with a man from the UK. Forms a new branch down of R-Z338 (U106). New branch = R-BY176786
mtDNA: T1a1

Sample: SZ3
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-BY3605
mtDNA: H18

Sample: SZ4
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-ZP200
FTDNA Comment: Splits R-ZP200 (U106). Derived (positive) for 2 SNPs and ancestral (negative) for 19 SNPs. New path = R-Y98441>R-ZP200
mtDNA: H1c9

Sample: SZ5
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-BY3194
FTDNA Comment: Splits R-BY3194 (DF27). Derived for 19 SNPs, ancestral for 9 SNPs. New path = R-BY3195>R-BY3194
mtDNA: J2b1

Sample: SZ6
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-P214

Sample: SZ7
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-S8104
FTDNA Comment: SZ13, SZ7 and SZ12 share 2 SNPs with a man from Denmark, forming a branch down of I-S8104 (M223). New branch = I-FT45324. Note that SZ22 and SZ24 (and even SZ14) fall on the same path to I-S8104 but lack coverage for intermediate branches.
mtDNA: T2e

Sample: SZ11
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-FGC13492
FTDNA Comment: Shares 1 SNP with a man from Italy. Forms a new branch down of R-FGC13492 (U106). New branch = R-BY138397
mtDNA: K2a3a

Sample: SZ12
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-S8104
FTDNA Comment: SZ13, SZ7 and SZ12 share 2 SNPs with a man from Denmark, forming a branch down of I-S8104 (M223). New branch = I-FT45324. Note that SZ22 and SZ24 (and even SZ14) fall on the same path to I-S8104 but lack coverage for intermediate branches.
mtDNA: W6

Sample: SZ13
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century 422-541 cal CE
Y-DNA: I-S8104
FTDNA Comment: SZ13, SZ7 and SZ12 share 2 SNPs with a man from Denmark, forming a branch down of I-S8104 (M223). New branch = I-FT45324. Note that SZ22 and SZ24 (and even SZ14) fall on the same path to I-S8104 but lack coverage for intermediate branches.
mtDNA: N1b1b1

Sample: SZ14
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-CTS616
FTDNA Comment: SZ13, SZ7 and SZ12 share 2 SNPs with a man from Denmark, forming a branch down of I-S8104 (M223). New branch = I-FT45324. Note that SZ22 and SZ24 (and even SZ14) fall on the same path to I-S8104 but lack coverage for intermediate branches.
mtDNA: I3

Sample: SZ15
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-YP986
mtDNA: H1c1

Sample: SZ16
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-U106
mtDNA: U4b1b

Sample: SZ18
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: E-BY6865
FTDNA Comment: Shares 1 SNP with a man from Morocco. Forms a new branch down of E-BY6865. New branch = E-FT198679
mtDNA: H13a1a2

Sample: SZ22
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-Y6876
FTDNA Comment: SZ13, SZ7 and SZ12 share 2 SNPs with a man from Denmark, forming a branch down of I-S8104 (M223). New branch = I-FT45324. Note that SZ22 and SZ24 (and even SZ14) fall on the same path to I-S8104 but lack coverage for intermediate branches.
mtDNA: N1b1b1

Sample: SZ23
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-S10271
mtDNA: H13a1a2

Sample: SZ24
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-ZS3
FTDNA Comment: SZ13, SZ7 and SZ12 share 2 SNPs with a man from Denmark, forming a branch down of I-S8104 (M223). New branch = I-FT45324. Note that SZ22 and SZ24 (and even SZ14) fall on the same path to I-S8104 but lack coverage for intermediate branches.
mtDNA: U4b

Sample: SZ27B
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century 412-538 cal CE
Y-DNA: R-FGC4166
FTDNA Comment: Shares 1 SNP with a man from France. Forms a new branch down of R-FGC4166 (U152). New branch = R-FT190624
mtDNA: N1a1a1a1

Sample: SZ36
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: T-Y15712
mtDNA: U4c2a

Sample: SZ37
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century 430-577 cal CE
Y-DNA: R-P312
mtDNA: H66a

Sample: SZ42
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: R-P312
mtDNA: K2a6

Sample: SZ43
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Age: Longobard 6th Century 435-604 cal CE
Y-DNA: I-BY138
mtDNA: H1e

Sample: SZ45
Location: Szólád, Somogy County, Hungary
Study Information: ADMIXTURE analysis showed SZ45 to possess a unique ancestry profile.
Age: Longobard 6th Century
Y-DNA: I-FGC21819
FTDNA Comment: Shares 2 SNPs with a man from England forms a new branch down of FGC21819. New branch = I-FGC21810
mtDNA: J1c

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Johann Georg “Jerg” Kirsch (c1620- 1677/1695), Co-Lessee of the Josten Estate Provides 400 Year Legacy for his Descendants – 52 Ancestors #309

Jerg, or Johann Georg Kirsch, was my 10th generation ancestor, my 8 times great-grandfather, born about 1620 someplace in Germany, probably in the Pfalz region during the first part of the Thirty Years War.

Jerg was the nickname for Georg and all German boys in that time and place whose name wasn’t Johannes were named Johann plus a middle name by which they were called. Hence, Jerg, an affectionate name for Georg.

Actual records involving Jerg are few and far between. The history of the region and what was happening at that time help us flesh out his life. Unfortunately, we don’t know where the Kirsch family came from before we find Jerg in Durkheim, marrying Margretha Koch on September 9, 1650.

Marriage

My friend Tom found the marriage record and provided the translation too.

On the same day (9 Sept 1650) Hans Georg Kirsch and Margretha, legitimate dau of M Steffan Koch, former pastor in Fussgonheim.

Tom, a retired German genealogist, said that the M might be a sign of respect for Steffan Koch being a minister.

Wow, talk about a bonus – not only Margretha’s father’s name, but his occupation and the fact that the Koch family came from Fussgoenheim.

Durkheim and Fussgoenheim

This Gazetteer shows both Durkheim and Fussgoenheim. The map was created to represent every German location mentioned between 1871 and 1918.

click to enlarge

Fussgoenheim is only about 6 miles from Durkheim. While the distance isn’t far, even walkable, how the Koch family arrived in Durkheim was a function of the Thirty Years’ War.

The Thirty Year’s War, which I wrote about here, began in 1618 and officially ended in 1648. By 1622, this area of the Pfalz was depopulated, with the residents taking shelter in one of three cities; Durkheim, Frankenthal, or Speyer. The villages were decimated, completely burned, the fields destroyed. Thirty years later, around 1650, a few people began to very slowly return to some of the villages – or better stated – where the villages had been.

A neighbor village, Seckenheim, only saw 5 families return. Two-thirds of the population was killed during the war plus the people who would have naturally died during a thirty-year period. That meant that minimally, one of two parents in every family died, and 6 or 7 of 10 children. Virtually everyone past child-bearing age at the beginning of the war wasn’t alive to see the end.

Of course, that’s assuming that 10 children survived in each family, which generally wasn’t the case either. Many families would have lost all their children, and many children would have lost both parents and perhaps all of their siblings. The trauma of this war would have haunted survivors and their descendants for generations.

A male marrying in 1650 would have been born, most likely, between 1620 and 1625. In other words, in the worst part of the Thirty Years’ War when his family was seeking refuge, with absolutely nothing more than they could carry with them. His mother could have been, literally, on the run while heavily pregnant.

Jerg Kirsch would have probably been born in Durkheim, to refugee parents, grew up and married there.

St. John’s Church in Durkheim

This 1630 drawing of St. John’s church is exactly what Jerg would have seen, and probably Margretha as well. The Latin School was located across the church yard which would have been filled with tombstones of parishioners, already passed over. The children probably wove between them, perhaps playing hide and seek.

The history of the church itself reaches back to the year 946, before the present structure, minus the spire, was built. The spire was added during an 1800s renovation.

The current gothic St. John’s Church, now known at the Castle Church, was begun in 1300 and completed in 1335, so was already 350 years old in 1650.

This church contains many artifacts that shaped what Jerg would have seen every Sunday as he attended services in the beautiful Protestant church, probably approaching up the hill from behind the church in the residential area. This same street remains today.

Between 1504 and 1508 Count Emich (d 1535) IX built a burial chapel with an inaccessible crypt, attached to the south-eastern aisle of the church.

This late Gothic Leininger Burial Chapel has two gables, a saddle roof, ribbed vault and is spatially connected to the church. The “rulers box,” a private viewing area from which the count followed the service is on the right with the smaller window. This division is also visible from the outside. To the west, you can see the burial chapel with its three-part pointed arch window. To the east, a small pointed arch window lets light into the ruler’s box and a separate outer door allows access directly outside.

Von Altera levatur – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53096264

Several Gothic tombstones and Renaissance epitaphs have been preserved, many inside. One, the stone of the Limburg Abbot, above, who died in 1531, was moved outside.

The most important internal monument is the double epitaph of Count Emich XII. von Leiningen-Hardenburg and his wife Maria Elisabeth von Pfalz-Zweibrücken, daughter of Duke Wolfgang von Pfalz-Zweibrücken.

The Speyer sculptor David Voidel created this masterpiece around 1612 and you can see behind the princely figures a relief that shows the buildings of the Hardenburg castle, shown below in 1630, now in ruins.

There are also the grave slabs of the builder, Count Emich IX, in the chapel. von Leiningen and his wife Agnes geb. von Eppstein-Münzenberg (died in 1533), below, as well as remains of Gothic wall paintings.

Jerg would have seen all of this routinely. Did he touch the engraved letters and gaze up at the praying stone figures beneath the crucifix? Or maybe he was so used to seeing them that they didn’t even register anymore.

Baptism

Jerg would have been baptized in this now-orange baptismal font that dates from 1537. Then, it would simply have been carved stone.

This font would have stood silently in the church as Jerg and Margretha repeated their vows to each other, in front of family and God, nearby. This font patiently waited for them to return with their first child a year or 18 months later. This baptismal font would have wetted at least three generations of Kirsch family members, and perhaps more.

Those baptismal records don’t exist today, but assuredly Jerg and Margaretha’s first children were baptized here, in the same font where they were both likely baptized too. Her father, Steffan, may have even been the minister to baptize them!

Their first 5 children were probably baptized here, but in 1660, it appears that Jerg and Margretha moved back to Fussgoenheim.

Co-Lessee of the Jostens Estate

On January 12, 1660 a feudal letter was written naming Jerg as co-lessee of the Josten estate in Fussgoenheim – in other words, a tenant of the church lands.

Of course, as tenant, Jerg and family would have moved the 6 miles down the road to what was left of Fussgoenheim and set about rebuilding – something. There was likely nothing left.

We don’t know who the other co-lessee was, but there were at least two. The church obviously wanted the land to be worked again. A lease of this type was typically hereditary in nature. In other words, this was the family’s ticket to stability and prosperity – perhaps leaving the hunger and strife of life during and after the Thirty Years’ War behind, permanently.

This move would have represented a lot of work, but also opportunity. It would have been a happy family that walked the 6 miles to Fussgoenheim, dreaming of and chattering about the future.

Yes indeed, things were looking up for Jerg!

Children

We know of 7 children, all boys. We discover most of these children in their own records later, or those of their children, in Fussgoenheim. Plus, there’s the matter of the 1743 attempted land grab of Jerg’s hereditary land rights – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We have to estimate the ages of Jerg’s sons, and all but one was probably born after 1660. That means that his older children born in Durkheim, with one possible exception, were daughters, or died young. If they perished before the family left Durkheim, they may reside eternally in that churchyard beside the church.

Based on the ages of his children, we know that Jerg and Margretha were still having children in roughly 1677 which would have put Margretha’s age at about 47, somewhat on the old side to still be bearing children. Of course, we’re assuming that she was Jerg’s only wife and that she was age 20 when they married. That might not have been the case.

In a 1717 document, their son Adam was mentioned as having been born about 1677. If Margretha was born in 1620, she would have been 47 in 1677. Perhaps she was a couple years younger and perhaps his age was misremembered.

Nevertheless, we know Jerg had at least 7 living children with son Johann Adam born about 1677. They probably had 12 or 13 children over the 27 years between 1650 and 1677, with some being daughters and likely, some passing away at birth or as children.

But Then…

Just when it seems like everything was going so well, suddenly, it wasn’t.

In 1673, the King of France declared war on this part of Germany, annexing the lands between France and the Rhine, including Fussgoenheim and all villages in this region.

In 1674, this area was once again ravaged by the French army.

We don’t know where Jerg and his family were during this time. Did they evacuate? If so, how soon? Did they try to stay? Did they stay until their homes were burned again?

We just don’t know. Clearly, the population was in dire straits – no food, not even clothes. You can’t trade if you can’t farm. You can’t eat with no crops in the field.

In the midst of this, their youngest son Adam was born about 1677. The next younger surviving child was born about 1670, before the French incursion.

The Bishop wrote on January 9, 1679.

The town of Lauterburg and the villages around there are in such a desolate and pitiful state that the people don´t even have anything to wear. Some have run away, and those who remain do not even have bread to eat.

Things became even worse in 1688.

In 1688, the French King sent nearly 50,000 men with instructions “that the Palatinate should be made a desert,” launching what would become known as the Nine Years’ War or the War of the Palatine Succession.

The French commander gave the half-million residents a 3-day notice that they must leave their homes, causing thousands to die of cold and hunger. Many who survived became beggars on the streets of other European cities. Again, in a bloody campaign of carnage, France devastated the area, annexing it for their own.

click to enlarge

This etching shows the city of Speyer before and during the fire of 1689 when the French methodically burned almost every town and village in the Palatinate. Speyer was one of the locations where refugees from the villages and farms had sought refuge. Once again, they would have to seek safety elsewhere – the city of Speyer almost totally destroyed.

We know two definitive things about the Kirsch family, and about Jerg.

We know that the family once again sought refuge in Durkheim, although we don’t know when they left Fussgoenheim. And we know that Jerg was dead by 1695.

Jerg’s Death

Jerg’s son, Johann Wilhelm Kirsch married Anna Maria Borstler on February 22, 1695 in Durkheim. That marriage record tells us that Jerg had died.

Marriage: 22 Feb 1695

Were married by the pastor J. Darsch? Joh. Willhelm Kirsch, surviving son of the late Joh. Georg Kirsch with Anna Maria, surviving legitimate dau of the late John. Adam Borsler, former resident and kirchengeschworener from here.

The “late Joh. Georg Kirsch” tells us that sometime, in the horrific years between 1777 when Adam was born and 1695 when Johann Wilhelm was married, Jerg had succumbed.

The upheaval in the Pfalz began before Adam was born, assuming 1677 is accurate – so we know that Jerg survived the 1674 attacks. We know the family survived, someplace, with at least 6 children before Adam’s birth.

That means that at least 7 of Jerg’s children survived to adulthood.

So, if there are no church records in Fussgoenheim, few records elsewhere, with the exception of the two Kirsch records, one in 1650 and one in 1695, found in Durkheim, then how do we know that Jerg had 7 surviving children?

Good question!

Jerg’s Legacy

The Kirsch sons, at least four of them, Johann Jacob, Johann Michael, Johann Wilhelm and Johann Adam returned to Fussgoenheim. Two sons, Johannes and Andreas lived in Ellerstadt, and Johannes died there. We know that Daniel lived to adulthood, but we don’t know more about him.

How do we know this?

The records within Fussgoenheim are scant, but a few do exist.

In 1701, Adam Kirsch is noted as being the mayor. Clearly, with the war having just ended a couple of years before, very few families would have returned, and those who did needed to have some reason, meaning some potential way of earning a living.

The number of families that had returned by 1701 was probably only a handful. It had been nearly a quarter century since they had left – again – after only living in Fussgoenheim about 15 years after returning after the 30 Years’ War. Altogether, in the 100 years between 1618 and 1718, the Kirsch family had lived elsewhere for about 66 years.

Of course, we don’t know if the Kirsch family originated in Fussgoenheim before the Thirty Years War. We only know that Jerg married a wife whose father was the pastor in Fussgoenheim before the war, and that Jerg was the co-lessee of the Josten estate in 1660.

In 1717, we know that both Johann Wilhelm Kirsch and Johann Adam Kirsch participated in a reconstruction of the social customs and morays lost during the century of warfare. Some records of that testimony do exist.

By 1720, the entire village only consisted of 150-200 people, according to village records, or about 15-20 homes by my estimate. Of those, we know that at least four of those residences would have been Kirsch homes. Those Kirsch sons were entitled to Jerg’s “ownership” of the leasehold rights of the Jostens estate. That’s what would have brought Jerg’s family back to Fussgoenheim. They had the right to farm the land that Jerg had the right to farm before the war. The war didn’t change those rights – and those rights were all that his sons had.

In 1733 and 1734, once again, the French sought to invade this part of Germany in the War of Polish Succession. Their military map shows the region, with Fussgoenheim labeled as Fugelsheim. Ellerstadt as Elstatt and Durkheim as Durckeim. You can see that Durckeim, far left, is walled with corner turrets.

Enlarging this map of Fussgoenheim shows that there are about 9 buildings, clustered around the crossroads at the center of town.

In 1729, the fuedal lord, Jacob Tilman von Hallberg attempted to resurvey the land, meaning that the residents’ rights were dramatically reduced by as much as two-thirds.

Hallberg submitted his redrawn property map to the village elders for a rubber stamp of approval in 1743. None of Jerg’s sons sat on the council by this time, but his grandsons did. By 1743, Jerg’s grandsons had inherited his co-lessee rights, and one, Johann Michael Kirsch was mayor. The village elders, Michael Kirsch included, soundly rejected Hallberg’s revisionist history – and as a result, the Kirsch men and several others were all kicked out of Fussgoenheim.

The Kirsch family had nothing – their homes and belongings left behind and auctioned by Hallberg. They became serfs in nearby Ellerstadt. They had no choice.

However, Jerg would have been proud of his grandsons because, even as impoverished peasants, they stood up and fought – for a decade. In courts across the land. Hallberg ignored the courts’ verdicts ordering him to accept the Kirsch families back into Fussgoenheim and return their homes and land. Hallberg turned an entirely deaf ear, requiring the Kirsch families to return to court, again. I think Hallberg hoped he would simply wear out their resolve, but that didn’t happen.

Eventually, the families did return, but they never reclaimed their original lands. They did however retain the redrawn lands shown on the 1743 map – some of which remained in the Kirsch family beyond WWII.

However, between 1660 when the feudal letter stated that Jerg was the co-lessee of the Jostens estate, and 1753 when the families were allowed back into the village – 93 years has passed, along with at least two entire generations. The third, fourth and fifth generation were living by then. The lines of succession – who was entitled to what portion of Jerg’s leasehold rights were unclear – so an accounting occurred in 1753.

Cousin Walter Schnebel obtained those accounting documents. Now deceased, he lived beside the Kirsch home in Fussgoenheim as a child and spent many years attempting to reconstruct the various family members – many carrying the same names generation after generation. Who was born to whom?

The church records, although incomplete, began in 1726. Large parts are missing altogether and the ones that do exist are often frustratingly sparse with gaping black-holes of time with years unaccounted for.

We know that in 1733, the church was complete because von Hallberg complained that the residents had refused to pay for the church. However, a church is not specifically shown on the 1733/34 French military map.

In that 1753 accounting, according to Walter, and from other information, we glean quite a bit about Jerg’s sons. Some grandchildren are mentioned in the accounting, but the families have been reassembled in part from other church records as well.

  • Daniel (probably Johann Daniel) Kirsch born circa 1660, died before 1723 – nothing more is known. This could mean that he didn’t live in Fussgoenheim, so had no citizenship rights that would have descended from Jerg. He may have had children elsewhere.
  • Johannes Kirsch born about 1665 and died in 1738, single, in Ellerstadt. This was before the 1743 eviction, so he was living in Ellerstadt by his own choice.
  • Andreas (probably Johann Andreas) Kirsch born about 1666 and died in 1734, lived in Ellerstadt and Oggersheim and had no children in Fussgoenheim. This means no one from his line had any rights to Jerg’s leasehold rights. He may have had children elsewhere.
  • Johann Jacob Kirsch, the oldest known son, born about 1655 and died before 1723. He had children:
    1. Maria Catharina Kirsch born about 1695.
    2. Johann Andreas Kirsch born about 1700 died 1774.
    3. Johann Martin Kirsch born about 1702 died 1741, widow Anna Elisabetha Borstler mentioned in the 1753 accounting. He is shown on the 1743 map.
    4. Anna Barbara Kirsch born about 1705 died 1771.
    5. Johann Adam Kirsch born about 1710, widower in 1735.
    6. Johann Wilhelm Kirsch born about 1710 died 1741/42.
  • Johann Michael Kirsch born about 1668, died in 1743. Anna Margaretha Spanier, his widow was mentioned in 1753. They had children:
    1. Johann Daniel Kirsch born about 1700 died 1737.
    2. Johann Jacob Kirsch born 1703 died 1762 in Durkheim.
    3. Johann Georg Kirsch born 1704, mentioned in 1753 accounting.
    4. Johann Michael Kirsch, the baker, born about 1705, died after 1753, mentioned in the 1753 accounting.
    5. Johann Nicolaus Kirsch born about 1710, mentioned in 1753 accounting along with a possible son, Johann Adam born in 1731, died in 1777. Johann Adam in the 1753 accounting is possibly the son of Johann Jacob Kirsch.
    6. Anna Catharina Kirsch born in 1717, confirmed in 1730, nothing more is known.
  • Johann Wilhelm Kirsch (my ancestor) born about 1760, died after 1717 and before 1723. (Clearly, there is a 1723 demarcation of some sort that Walter found, but I have no idea what it was, or where he found those records.)
    1. Maria Catharina Kirsch (my ancestor) born about 1700 married Johann Theobald Koob in 1730.
    2. Anna Catharina Kirsch born about 1705 – nothing more known.
    3. Johann Andreas Kirsch born in 1716 and died before 1745.
    4. Anna Margaretha Kirsch born in 1718.
    1. Johann Michael Kirsch, the Mayor, (my ancestor) born about 1700 died in 1759. Mentioned in the 1753 accounting. On the 1743 map with three houses.
    2. Johann Wilhelm Kirsch born about 1706. On the 1743 map, shown adjacent the church on the south side.
    3. Johann Jacob Kirsch born about 1710.
    4. Maria Catharina Kirsch born about 1715.
    5. Johann Peter Kirsch born in 1716 died before 1760. Mentioned in the 1753 accounting and is on the 1743 map living across from Michael Kirsch.

The 1743 Map of Fussgoenheim

As you can see on the 1743 map, above, the Kirsch property was scattered throughout the village at locations 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 22, 24 and possibly a couple more locations that are illegible.

If Jerg was a co-lessee, where was the land of the other lessee, or lessees? The leasehold rights of Jerg’s descendants are scattered across the northern portion of the village, with one house below the church which was considered the line in the sand between the upper and under mayor’s bailiwicks.

Jerg’s Legacy

Jerg may have died sometime after evacuating from Fussgoenheim around 1674 and before his son’s 1695 wedding, but his legacy reached far beyond. In 1753, the court was unraveling his leasehold estate. I don’t know how Jerg initially obtained those leasehold rights, but they were likely the reason the Kirsch family returned to Fussgoenheim. That leasehold may have been why they survived – giving them at least roots from which to grow – a place they could make their home. That’s far more than most peasants could claim.

Jerg did right by his children – but he likely had no idea the magnitude of the gift he was actually bestowing upon future generations.

The home, above, constructed probably not long after the family’s 1690 return and owned by Johann Michael Kirsch, the mayor, in 1743, wrapped the Kirsch family, standing in front in the 1940s, in warmth and safety for another 250+ years.

The Kirsch home, in fact, still stands today, some 300 years later.

We don’t know what the village of Fussgoenheim looked like before the Thirty Year’s War, or before the reconstruction following the return to the area after the Nine Years’ War ended in 1697. Jerg lived in Fussgoenheim in the period between 1660 and 1684. He was deceased by 1695. We know from the records that the church was rebuilt sometime between 1726 and 1733, and the existing homes probably in the same timeframe.

German farm homes then, as now, were arranged such that the houses were close together, generally connected. The farm fields stretched out behind the houses. This view, today, includes the farm area, several homes and the church in the distance.

The 1743 map that emerged from the 1729 resurvey shows Jerg’s sons’ 8 residences/properties scattered throughout the northern portion of the village called the Unterdorf. William Kirsch lived adjacent the church on the south side which was the border between the Unterdorf and Oberdorf which was administratively separate from the Unterforf, having different mayors and councils. The cluster of Kirsch homes in the Unterdorf, combined with the statement that Jerg was co-lessee of the Josten estate in 1660, causes me to  wonder if Jerg had the right to farm, and live on, the entire Unterdorf with the other lessee farming the Oberdorf.

The entire village, according to the 1729 resurvey by Hallberg totaled 532 acres, of which he confiscated 386 for himself, leaving only 146.75 acres in private hands, including the Kirsch families.

While the Oberdorf and Unterdorf, shown approximately in the red square, above, may not have been equal in size, half would be 266 acres. Large for a German farm, but certainly earning the Kirsch family the reputation of being “wealthy farmers” which lasted in family lore into the 20th century. You can still see the farm fields, stretching out behind the homes today. The home of Michael Kirsch, the Mayor in 1743, is noted with a star. This was assuredly at least one of the properties left by Jerg to his sons, and through them, grandsons as well.

Fussgoenheim remains a farming center, albeit expanded somewhat, surrounded by world-class vineyards. You can view beautiful Fussgoenheim, here , here and here.

I can’t help but wonder if this is what Jerg saw, minus the church spire, of course. Fussgoenheim represented hope for Jerg in 1660, and hope that his children would one day return when the family had to leave once again in the 1670s.

This stunning photo as well as this one was taken by Jurgen Kirsch, whom I would love to contact. I wish there was an option to leave a message for the photographers who upload photos to Google maps, but I can’t find any way to contact the photographer.

Is Jergen a cousin, also descending from Jerg Kirsch? Jerg’s namesake all these generations later? I’m dying to know. Perhaps Jergen will be googling one day and find me😊. He has certainly taken a lot of photos of Fussgoenheim, including a short video of a local band in a parade that seems to be taken from an upper window.

Hmmm, it appears that Fussgoenheim has an Oktoberfest. But of course it does – it’s a German village, after all!

Jerg’s legacy reaches far, far beyond anything he could ever have imagined, many generations into the future.

Looking Back

Unless a miraculous record somehow escaped the devastation of the Thirty Years’ War, we’ll never know where Jerg came from.

However, we do have a couple of general clues, such as they are.

First, the Kirsch surname. I don’t know when surnames were adopted in the Pfalz region of Germany, but I know they were in use before 1600, based on the few remaining tombstones, one of which has been preserved in the churchyard in Fussgoenheim from before the Thirty Years’ War.

When surnames were first adopted, they were generally either professions like millers or blacksmiths, or some defining word that would separate that particular man from another man of the same first name.

Kirsch translates to cherry. The Pfalz is the fruit basket of Germany. The Black Forest area of Germany, not terribly far away, traditionally made a lovely cherry brandy called Kirschwasser.

Based on Jerg’s surname, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to speculate that his ancestors might well have raised cherries.

Today, Lindt makes a Kirschwasser chocolate. I might just have to do some tasting – in the name of genealogy of course.

Oh good heavens – as an act of self-preservation, do NOT Google Kirschwasser chocolate. Hmmm, looks like Kirschwasser is also in Black Forest cake. Excuse me for a bit while I excavate this rabbit hole!

Y DNA

It will be the Y DNA of Jerg Kirsch that transports us further back in time, if anything does.

Today, Jerg’s descendant who has Y DNA tested has no matches above 25 markers. His Big Y-500 tells us that Jerg’s haplogroup is R-A6706, but that he has no Big Y (SNP only) matches within 30 mutations, or about 1500 years, today. The one other person who falls into haplogroup R-A6706 does not provide a location. There are several downstream branches which suggests that perhaps if we upgraded my Kirsch cousin’s test to the Big Y-700, we would gain additional information and he might fall actually reside on one of those branches. Eleven other German men have placed beneath R-A6706.

click to enlarge

Sub-branches of R-A6706 appear to have split about 52 generations ago, or roughly 5000 years, and are found across Europe.

I maintain hope that indeed, the various Kirsch lines, other than Jerg’s, weren’t all destroyed during the century of warfare that defined the 1600s.

To date, no Y DNA matches are forthcoming, but the great news is that indeed, DNA is the gift that fishes forever.

In the meantime, I think I’ll find some black forest cake and sip some lovely German wine, relishing my Kirsch heritage and pondering what life must have been like for Jerg.

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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.

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DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

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Free Y DNA Webinar at Legacy Family Tree Webinars

I just finished recording a new, updated Y DNA webinar, “Wringing Every Drop out of Y DNA” for Legacy Family Tree Webinars and it’s available for viewing now.

This webinar is packed full of information about Y DNA testing. We discuss the difference between STR markers, SNPs and the Big Y test. Of course, the goal is to use these tests in the most advantageous way for genealogy, so I walk you through each step. There’s so much available that sometimes people miss critical pieces!

FamilyTreeDNA provides a wide variety of tools for each tester in addition to advanced matching which combines Y DNA along with the Family Finder autosomal test. Seeing who you match on both tests can help identify your most recent common ancestor! You can order or upgrade to either or both tests, here.

During this 90 minute webinar, I covered several topics.

There’s also a syllabus that includes additional resources.

At the end, I summarized all the information and show you what I’ve done with my own tree, illustrating how useful this type of testing can be, even for women.

No, women can’t test directly, but we can certainly recruit appropriate men for each line or utilize projects to see if our lines have already tested. I provide tips and hints about how to successfully accomplish that too.

Free for a Limited Time

Who doesn’t love FREE???

The “Squeezing Every Drop out of Y DNA” webinar is free to watch right now, and will remain free through Wednesday, October 14, 2020. On the main Legacy Family Tree Webinar page, here, just scroll down to the “Webinar Library – New” area to see everything that’s new and free.

If you’re a Legacy Farmily Tree Webinar member, all webinars are included with your membership, of course. I love the great selection of topics, with more webinars being added by people you know every week. This is the perfect time to sign up, with fall having arrived in all its golden glory and people spending more time at home right now.

More than 4000 viewers have enjoyed this webinar since yesterday, and I think you will too. Let’s hope lots of people order Y DNA tests so everyone has more matches! You just never know who’s going to be the right match to break down those brick walls or extend your line back a few generations or across the pond, perhaps.

You can view this webinar after October 14th as part of a $49.95 annual membership. If you’d like to join, click here and use the discount code ydna10 through October 13th.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Ancient Icelandic Viking Settlers Expand the Y DNA Tree

The harsh yet starkly beautiful volcanic island of Iceland was only settled about 1100 years ago, between 870 and 930 CE (current era). Obviously, the original settlers had to originate in locations where populations were already established. During this time, Vikings had been raiding islands and coastal regions of Ireland, Scotland, and England.

Their DNA, now unearthed, tells their tale.

This 2018 paper, Ancient genomes from Iceland reveal the making of a human population by Ebenesersdóttir et al, along with the supplementary material, here, provides insight into the genomes of 27 ancient Icelanders who are a combination of Norse, Gaelic and admixed individuals. The Irish Times wrote a non-academic article, here.

Unequal contributions of the ancient founders, plus isolation resulting in genetic drift separates the current Icelandic population from the founder populations. These ancient Icelandic genomes, autosomally, are more similar to their founding populations than today’s Icelanders.

While autosomal DNA recombines in each generation, Y and mitochondrial DNA does not, revealing the exact DNA of the original founding members of the population. This, of course, allows us to peer back in time. We can see who they match, historically, and where. Today, we can see if our Y and mitochondrial DNA matches them as well.

The authors of the paper selected 35 ancient individuals, believed to be first-generation founders, to have their whole genomes sequenced, of which 27 were successful. Sometimes the ancient DNA is just too degraded to sequence properly.

Nineteen of these burials are pre-Christian, 2 from Christian burials and one that is “Early Modern,” dated to 1678 CE. Ages are expressed, as follows:

  • Pre-Christian <1000 CE
  • Pre-Christian 950-1050 CE
  • Early modern Born 1678 CE
  • Pre-Christian <1050 cal CE

Dates that say “cal CE” mean that they were carbon 14 dated and calibrated and CE (alone) means that those dates are based on the archaeological context of grave goods, other remains, and environmental indicators such as volcanic ash.

As he did with the 442 ancient Viking genomes that I wrote about, here, Goran Runfeldt who heads the research department at FamilyTreeDNA downloaded the Icelandic genomes, extracted and aligned the mitochondrial and Y DNA results.

Michael Sager analyzed the Y DNA and those results, once again, have refined, enhanced or split at least 8 branches of the Y DNA tree.

For instructions about how to see if your mitochondrial or Y DNA results match any of these ancient genomes, please click here. If you haven’t yet tested, you can order or upgrade a Y or mitochondrial DNA test, here.

The Graves

This map, provided in the paper by the authors, shows the burial locations of the remains, noted by sample numbers. Circles are females, squares are male. Light gray was later excluded from the author’s study.

Some of these burials and grave goods are fascinating. For example, note the horse and dog burials.

Goran and Michael have been kind enough to share their analysis, below, along with comments. Thanks, guys!

Sample: DAV-A9
Location: Dalvík (Brimnes), North, Iceland
Study Information: One of the largest and most studied pre-Christian burial sites in Iceland. Thirteen human skeletal remains, six horse skeletons, and the remains of three dogs were found at the site. In one of the graves, the deceased individual had been placed in a sitting position at the rear of a boat
Age: Pre-Christian 900-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-FGC21765
FTDNA Comment: Likely splits this branch
mtDNA: H1

Sample: DKS-A1
Location: Öndverðarnes, West, Iceland
Study Information: Grave goods included a sword, a spearhead, a knife, a shield-boss, a bone-pin, and fragments of iron. According to a morphological analysis, the skeletal remains show evidence of developmental delay that could be explained by hypogonadism caused by Klinefelter syndrome, testicular disorder or castration.
Age: Pre-Christian 850-1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-YP6099
mtDNA: U5a1h

Sample: FOV-A1
Location: Fossvellir, East, Iceland
Study Information: The remains are thought to have been placed at the site after the individual was deceased. The bones had been carefully arranged on top of each other and were surrounded by stone slabs and turf.
Age: Christian 1246-1302 CE
Y-DNA: R-DF23
mtDNA: HV17a

Sample: GRS-A1
Location: Grímsstaðir, North, Iceland
Study Information: Three pre-Christian burials were found in close proximity to each other near the site of a farmstead. We analysed one of the skeletal remains (GRS-A1), which were excavated in 1937. No grave goods were found at the site.
Age: Pre-Christian <1050 cal CE
Y-DNA: R-BY92608
mtDNA: K1a1b1b

Sample: GTE-A1
Location: Gilsárteigur, East, Iceland
Study Information: In 1949, field-leveling exposed a pre-Christian burial site near an old farm site. The remains of two skeletons were excavated in 1957. Both burials contained grave goods.
Age: Pre-Christian <1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-CTS4179
mtDNA: H4a1a4b

Sample: HSJ-A1
Location: Hrólfsstaðir, East, Iceland
Study Information: A comb, knife, and pieces of charcoal were found in the grave.
Age: Pre-Christian <1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-BY202281
FTDNA Comment: forms a branch with 2 men (Scotland and England). I-BY202281. The two modern samples share an additional 11 markers that HSJ-A1 is ancestral for
mtDNA: H3g1

Sample: KNS-A1
Location: Karlsnes, South, Iceland
Study Information: Grave goods included a spearhead, a knife, two lead weights, three beads, and a small stone.
Age: Pre-Christian 950-1050 CE
Y-DNA: R-Z290
mtDNA: H5

Sample: KOV-A2
Location: Kópavogur, West, Iceland
Study Information: Two skeletal remains. Based on archaeological evidence, the remains were identified as a female, born 1664, and a male, born 1678. According to historical records, they were executed in 1704 for the murder of the female’s husband. The male was beheaded, and his impaled head publicly exhibited, whereas the female was drowned. Their remains were buried in unconsecrated ground at a site called Hjónadysjar.
Age: Early modern Born 1678 CE
Y-DNA: R-L151
mtDNA: H1

Sample: MKR-A1
Location: Viðar (Másvatn), North, Iceland
Study Information: The remains date to <1477 C.E. based on volcanic ash chronology, and are thought to be from a pre-Christian burial site.
Age: Pre-Christian <1050 cal CE
Y-DNA: R-YP1258
mtDNA: K1c1b

Sample: NNM-A1
Location: Njarðvík, East, Iceland
Study Information: A human skull (NNM-A1) was found at a site considered to be a badly damaged pre-Christian burial.
Age: Pre-Christian <1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-BY56981
mtDNA: H2a2b5a

Sample: ORE-A1
Location: Ormsstaðir, East, Iceland
Study Information: Pre-Christian site near an old farmstead was excavated after being exposed during field leveling. One human skeleton (ORE-A) was found, along with an axe, a knife, and three lead weights. A single human bone from another individual was found nearby.
Age: Pre-Christian 900-1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-PH93
mtDNA: K1a3a

Sample: SBT-A1
Location: Smyrlaberg, North, Iceland
Study Information: Pre-Christian burial site in an old gravel quarry. Two years later its excavation revealed a male skeleton (SBT-A1) and an iron knife. Another grave, badly damaged, was found nearby, but only fragments of bone were recovered.
Age: Pre-Christian <1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-FGC74518
FTDNA Comment: Shares 6 SNPs with a man from England. Forms a branch down of I-BY46619 (Z140). Branch = I-FGC74518
mtDNA: H3g1a

Sample: SSG-A2
Location: Sílastaðir, North, Iceland
Study Information: A cluster of four pre-Christian graves. Based on morphological analysis, three of the skeletons were deemed male, and one female.
Age: Pre-Christian 850-1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-BY41282
FTDNA Comment: Split the R-BY23441 block – derived only for BY41282 (Z246)
mtDNA: J1c3g

Sample: SSG-A3
Location: Sílastaðir, North, Iceland
Study Information: A cluster of four pre-Christian graves. Based on morphological analysis, three of the skeletons were deemed male, and one female.
Age: Pre-Christian 850-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-FGC9493
mtDNA: T2b2b

Sample: SSJ-A2
Location: Surtsstaðir, East, Iceland
Study Information: The remains of two individuals were found at the site, along with grave goods.
Age: Pre-Christian 850-1000 CE
Y-DNA: I-Y129187
mtDNA: U5a1a1

Sample: STT-A2
Location: Straumur, East, Iceland
Study Information: Pre-Christian burial site was excavated, which included the remains of four individuals (one child, one male, one female, and another adult whose sex could not be determined by morphological analysis). Grave goods included a horse bone, a small axe, thirty boat rivets, a lead weight, two pebbles, and a knife.
Age: Pre-Christian 975-1015 cal CE
Y-DNA: R-FT118419
FTDNA Comment: Shares 22 SNPs with a man from Wales. They form the branch R-FT118419 (Z251)
mtDNA: U4b1b1

Sample: SVK-A1
Location: Svínadalur, North, Iceland
Study Information: Human skeletal remains were brought to the National Museum of Iceland. They had been exposed for many years near an old farmhouse. There were no grave goods found at the site, but the remains are thought to be pre-Christian.
Age: Pre-Christian <1050 cal CE
Y-DNA: I-FGC21682
FTDNA Comment: Joins VK110 and VK400 as an additional I-FGC21682* (P109)
mtDNA: I2

Sample: TGS-A1
Location: Tunga, North, Iceland
Study Information: Human skeletal remains (TGS-A1) were excavated in 1981 by inhabitants at a nearby farm. They were classified at the National Museum of Iceland as having unknown temporal origin. The remains were radiocarbon dated for this study, indicating that they date from the 10th century C.E.
Age: Pre-Christian 943-1024 cal CE
Y-DNA: R-Y10827
FTDNA Comment: Likely R-BY4659. Also PH1220+, but this is a C>T mutation also present in hg I ancient samples R7 and Carrowkeel531.
mtDNA: T2e1

Sample: TSK-A26 / ÞSK-A26
Location: Skeljastaðir, South, Iceland
Study Information: Christian cemetery at Skeljastaðir in Þjórsárdalur. The remains are dated to before 1104 C.E., as the site was abandoned in the wake of a volcanic eruption of Mount Hekla in that year.
Age: Christian 1120 cal CE
Y-DNA: R-Y77406
FTDNA Comment: Shares 2 SNPs with a man from Norway. Forms branch down of R-BY30235 (L448). New branch = R-Y77406
mtDNA: J1b1a1a

Sample: VDP-A6
Location: Vatnsdalur, West, Iceland
Study Information: Boat grave with seven skeletal remains (three females and four males), along with a dog skeleton. Grave goods included a knife, thirty beads, a silver Thor’s hammer, a fragmented Cufic coin (ca. 870–930 C.E.) and jewelry.
Age: Pre-Christian 850-1050 CE
Y-DNA: R-YP1120
mtDNA: H1c3a

Sample: VDP-A7
Location: Vatnsdalur, West, Iceland
Study Information: Boat grave with seven skeletal remains (three females and four males), along with a dog skeleton. Grave goods included a knife, thirty beads, a silver Thor’s hammer, a fragmented Cufic coin (ca. 870–930 C.E.) and jewelry.
Age: Pre-Christian 850-1050 CE
Y-DNA: R-FT209682
FTDNA Comment: Shares 7 SNPs with a man from Sweden. Forms branch down of R-BY71305 (Z18). New branch = R-FT209682
mtDNA: H4a1a1

Sample: YGS-B2
Location: Ytra-Garðshor, North, Iceland
Study Information: The site included the disturbed remains of nine human skeletons (four males, two females, one child and two individuals whose sex could not be inferred based on morphological analysis). There were grave goods in all graves.
Age: Pre-Christian <1000 CE
Y-DNA: R-Y98267
FTDNA Comment: Split the R-Y84777 block (L238). Derived only for Y98267
mtDNA: J1c1a

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