Back From the Future – Part 3 (With John Rolfe and Pocahontas)


I wish to thank my dear friend, retired College Lecturer, and fellow Pocahontas research enthusiast, Christine Dean, for her ongoing updates about happenings in and around her hometown of  Heacham, Norfolk, England.  From her undaunting energy and perseverance while delving into local legends about Pocahontas and John Rolfe, I am able to bring you new posts that allow us to travel back from the future and into the past based on new details and discoveries provided to me with the help of Christine in our present day.

So let’s begin Part 3 of this journey back from the future in the year 1597.  Here, we find John Rolfe, age 12, living at Heacham Hall with his mother Dorothea Mason Rolfe Redmayne, (who had been widowed in 1594 at the death of John’s father (Sir Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe), and with his stepfather,  Dr. Robert Redmayne (since his mother’s marriage to him in 1595).  Robert Redmayne had been Chancellor at Norwich Cathedral since 1588.  His chancellorship went on to span 37 years and five bishops including a family relative, Bishop William Redman (1595-1602), who chose to spell his name as it sounded. It would be only 12 years later when the U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration records would show that John Rolfe arrived in Jamestown, Virginia.  In fact, pages 15-21 of this reference include the persons aboard the Sea Venture, which left Britain in 1609 for Jamestown but was wrecked off Bermuda. And, specific names appear on pages 16 and 17, with genealogies of some of the passengers on succeeding pages.

Six years later in 1615, biographical histories have documented a visit to Heacham Hall in Norfolk County, England, by John Rolfe, his wife Pocahontas, and their infant son Thomas Rolfe.  This visit lasted nearly two years–from early June 1615 until March 1617.  Unfortunately Pocahontas died in January 1617, leaving her husband, John, a widow with their two-year-old son, Thomas.  Shortly after Pocahontas’ death, John Rolfe departed England to return to Jamestown, Virginia.  John left his son, two-year-old Thomas, in London, in the care of Sir Lewis Stukley.  Upon Sir Lew Stukley’s death in 1620, Thomas’ guardianship was transferred to John  Rolfe’s, two-years’ his junior, younger brother, Henry Rolfe, until Thomas was 21.  And in 1635, passenger and immigration records show that Thomas Powhatan Rolfe arrived in Virginia.

But Wait, Our Story in England Isn’t Yet Finished–We’re Gonna Be Talk’n ‘Trees’

The mulberry tree in the grounds of Heacham Manor (far right of building) Picture: Chris Bishop

The mulberry tree in the grounds of Heacham Manor. Picture: Chris Bishop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heacham Manor Hotel 3

Today’s luxurious Heacham Manor Hotel

A four hundred year old legend exists.  It tells of the Rolfe’s now infamous visit to Heacham Village and adds trees into the mix of our family’s history–and not branches of our ancestry tree. But, literally a living mulberry tree and its branches.  A tree that Pocahontas is said to have planted at Heacham Hall during her stay there.  And today, 400 years later, the manor and villagers say this same mulberry tree  remains and is thriving beside the Heacham Manor Hotel main entrance.  

But wait–what if this mulberry tree could talk–what might it tell us?

Palace of WhitehallPrincess Pocahontas is said to have visited Queen Anne and King James I on Twelfth Night 6th January 1617 at their Palace of Whitehall in London.  They had a garden that had nine mulberry trees and they were giving away 1000+ mulberry seeds to all their noble friends, who they encouraged to plant them to grow trees for medicine, healthy food, drink, and wine and to cultivate silkworms for spinning silk from which new shirts could be made.  So, the question remains “could the Heacham mulberry tree seeds have come from King James I’s and Queen Anne’s Buckingham Palace Gardens?”

Syon House and ParkSyon Park also in London has about 200 acres (Thames-side near Isleworth), and includes the Syon House. This estate has been owned by Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland,  and his ancestors for about 400 years. Syon House was the  home of the 9th Duke of Northumberland’s family and Earl George Percy  was a President /Governor at Jamestown in 1609-1610 and his brother ‘Wizard Earl’ alchemist expert Henry Percy.  Henry Percy remounted  Pocahontas pearl wedding earrings with  silver clasps when she visited him at the Tower of London in 1616. Syon House  has the oldest surviving mulberry tree in England dating back to 1548 and growing in the meadow where Pocahontas stayed in their two cottages close by at Brentford after she became ill in London.  Could this tree be the parent tree to the one in Heacham?

Mulberry Tree Red Lodge Country HouseAnother old mulberry tree grows on the estate of Narford Hall that is situated in the Breckland District of Norfolk County, in the garden at the  Red lodge Country House behind the wooden seat–this was the home of John Rolfe’s  stepfather’s family, the Redmayne’s.  It possibly dates back to a 1643 gift from King Charles 1.  Further, Uncle Edmund Rolfe also lived at Narford Hall with his son Henry and grandson Francis.  Princess Pocahontas’ might had picked up seeds or truncheon twigs from this tree to plant at Heacham Hall.  Princess Pocahontas probably commuted between Heacham and other England vicinities by carriages, possibly changing horses at relatives’ stables in Narford Hall.

The map of England’s Norfolk County from 1658, below, is the best I could find to try to show where the Rolfe and Redmayne farming families would have traded in their ships, horses and carriages along the yellow River Nar that flows from Kings Lynn to several major ports at Waterbeach Cambridge, Huntingdon, Peterborough, Isle of Ely, and the Royal Boston port.  The tidal water is highlighted in  grey.

Norfolk England Map 1658

Cottrell Joan

Dr. Joan Cottrell

Dr Kevn Burgess Columbus St Univ GA

Dr. Kevin Burgess

In just a few weeks, (sometime in May 2017), when the fresh mulberry leaves at the luxury country house Heacham Manor Hotel (formerly Heacham Hall) are mature enough, Dr. Joan Cottrell of the Forest Research, Northern Research Station, Roslin, Midlothian, UK, and Dr. Kevin Burgess of Columbus State University, Georgia, USA will take a six-inch branch from this tree to conduct DNA testing of it and compare it to branches from three other very old mulberry trees.  It is hoped this will lead to finding a DNA connection between the Heacham Manor Hotel’s tree and three other very old mulberry trees identified in the UK – at Buckingham Palace, Syon House in West London and Narford Hall, Swaffham, Norfolk, where it is thought Pocahontas might have visited and collected seeds from one of them.  This research could establish whether any of these three other trees are forebears of the Heacham tree–which today is still producing delectable fruit that is served on the menu at Heacham Manor.

As I understand it (in very lay persons terms), one chromosome passes from a mother tree to a child tree.  By analyzing clippings, scientists can sometimes detect a matching digital DNA barcode.  Ultimately, this process might identify and connect a species of seeds to this mulberry tree to help corroborate the story of Pocahontas’ mulberry tree planting in Heacham Village!

Adding “Genetic Communities” to My DNA Results


Evaluating My DNA Testing Results

It has probably been three or more years since I first received my DNA test results that I ordered through Ancestry.com.  Initially, I was very disappointed with the look and feel of Ancestry’s DNA feature–it merely showed (based upon my DNA sample test), that I descended from Europeans who had migrated to the New World.  Now, the only way I wouldn’t have already known this was if I had been an ostrich with its head buried in the sand for the past 400 or so years.

Over the past 18 months or longer, Ancestry has continued to add, or in its opinion, improve to its list of features like its “lifestory” option which assimilated facts from my collected documentation in my family tree to general historic timeline narratives of events in close proximity with a given fact.  It was a good try, but, in my opinion, something I preferred to research and narrate on my own with more specificity, if and when I chose to do a write about an individual.

Ancestry Releases Another New Feature

Then, this week, Ancestry sent me an email announcing more new features to help me better connect my people and my places to historical details and migration paths.  It seems AncestryDNA™ has become the largest consumer genetic testing company with 3,000,000 people tested; 80,000,000 trees; and 19,000,000,000 records.  And this time, Ancestry uses its vast collection of DNA results to tap into its family history resources and create an all-new feature “Genetic Communities™,” which in turn helps me fill in missing pieces about my family’s story and how it inter-relates to the geography, times, and stories of other families.

Earlier results broke down my ethnicity origins into a mere four regions of the world. With today’s results (that will continue to grow over time, since this feature is in its Beta version), I can browse over 300 Genetic Communities using MapBox open source geospatial maps that Ancestry integrated into this new feature.

So Just What Is A “Genetic Community”?  

Ancestry describes a genetic community as a group of AncestryDNA members who are connected through DNA most likely because they descend from a population of common ancestors, even if they no longer live in the area where those ancestors once lived.  The image below shows that my ancestors and I are part of two genetic communities in which our connection is very likely or possible:  Early Settlers of Lower Midwest & Virginia and Early Settlers of Tennessee and the Deep South.

And further,  below is just one of six time-line examples within the “Early Settler of the Lower Midwest & Virginia” Genetic Communities™: (1700-1775 “Into the Back Country,” 1775-1825 “Kentucky Fever,” 1825-1850 “Along the Mississippi,” 1850-1875 “War Hits Home,” 1875-1900 “The South Industrializes, 1900-1950 “An Urban Life,” in this new feature. Although, not shown as links, you can click on each name from your tree and it will display this person on the MapBox map, (which you can zoom in or out of for greater or less geographic detail); and you can also click another link that will allow you to view each person’s profile details from inside your Ancestry family tree.

“Into the Backcountry 1700-1775”

By 1700 flourishing towns and small cities dotted the eastern seaboard from Massachusetts to North Carolina. Many new immigrants from England and Germany, and Scots-Irish from northern Ireland, pressed into the rugged country to the west where they could find land, religious tolerance, political freedom, and economic opportunity. They faced threats from the French on the other side of the Appalachian Mountains and native peoples who resisted encroachment on their lands.

People in Your Tree

  1. Elizabeth Williams Settle  B:1661 D:1724
  2.  Elizabeth Frances Triplett B:1670 D:1710
  3. Deborah Hearn B:1670 D:1731
  4. John Powell B:1670 D:1731
  5. John Bourne B:1672 D:1720
  6. Ethelred Taylor B:1675 D:1716
  7. William George Wharton B:1675 D:1740
  8. Elizabeth Johnson B:1676 D:1760
  9. Elizabeth Duke B:1677 D:1725
  10. Susan Alvis B:1680 D:1735
  11. William Kinchen B:1681 D:1735
  12. Thomas Chowning B:1684 D:1782
  13. Elizabeth Ruffin B:1685 D:1761
  14. Sarah Davis B:1686 D:1721
  15. William Taptico II B:1690 D:1719
  16. Elizabeth Barrick B:1690 D:1724
  17. Sarah or Mary Ann Lee B:1690 D:
  18. William Elliott B:1692 D:1750
  19. Frances Rachel Riley B:1692 D:1751
  20. Lettice Bourk B:1693 D:1727
  21. Mary Fellows B:1693 D:1747
  22. Capt. John Higginbotham B:1695 D:1742
  23. Benjamin Asbury B:1695 D:1750
  24. John Jett B:1695 D:1771
  25. William Guttery B:1697 D:1723
  26. Frances Brown B:1698 D:1755
  27. Etheldred Taylor B:1699 D:1755
  28. Ann Elizabeth Wells B:1700 D:1770
  29. Robert Kyle B:1702 D:1774
  30. Benjamin Bowling B:1704 D:1767
  31. Betty Ann Campbell B:1704 D:1779
  32. Mary Williams B:1705 D:1735
  33. Samuel S McGehee B:1706 D:1788
  34. William Tapp B:1707 D:1791
  35. Christian Bourne B:1708 D:1791
  36. Mary Elizabeth Bland Blair Bolling B:1709 D:1775
  37. Thomas Wharton B:1711 D:1748
  38. Robert “Chowning” Chewning B:1711 D:1843
  39. Mary Elizabeth Elliot B:1714 D:1745
  40. Moses Higginbotham B:1714 D:1790
  41. James Whitlock B:1715 D:1749
  42. Aaron Garrison B:1715 D:1758
  43. Patience Kinchen B:1715 D:1765
  44. Agnes Christmas B:1715 D:1768
  45. Elizabeth Birdwell B:1717 D:1816
  46. Betty Guttery B:1718 D:1743
  47. Jane Sparks Miller B:1720 D:1756
  48. William Balum Dempsey B:1720 D:1777
  49. John Asbury B:1720 D:1812
  50. William Brown B:1722 D:1793
  51. Jonathan Stanford B:1723 D:1792
  52. Jean Bolling B:1724 D:1795
  53. Elender Nellie Last B:1725 D:1760
  54. Susanna Watson B:1728 D:1751
  55. Vincent Tapp B:1729 D:1791
  56. Mary Mollie Meadows B:1729 D:1800
  57. Robert Bolling B:1730 D:1775
  58. James Powell B:1733 D:1816
  59. Frances Kyle B:1734 D:1825
  60. Benjamin Bolling B:1734 D:1832
  61. Mary Leavette B:1735 D:1791
  62. Mary Mollie Jett B:1736 D:1823
  63. Mildred “Millie” Stephens B:1739 D:1781
  64. Charles Whitlock B:1739 D:1814
  65. Charles “Chowning” Chewning B:1739 D:1816
  66. John Wharton B:1741 D:1816
  67. Esther B:1742 D:1811
  68. Samuel C Mcgee McGhee B:1744 D:1814
  69. Rhoda Morris B:1745 D:1827
  70. William Garrison B:1746 D:1824
  71. Winifred “Winnie” Elizabeth Garrison B:1747 D:1835
  72. Grace Brown B:1748 D:1789
  73. Mary Elizabeth Stanford B:1749 D:1828
  74. Jane Bowling B:1750 D:1809
  75. James Bartholomew Warren B:1750 D:1813
  76. Samuel Young B:1751 D:1800
  77. Susan B:1752 D:
  78. George Asbury B:1756 D:1819
  79. Sarah Jane Yancey B:1756 D:1820
  80. Daniel Dempsey B:1759 D:1846
  81. James Moses “Old Moses” Higginbotham B:1760 D:1826
  82. Elizabeth Betsy Dempsey B:1760 D:1840
  83. Eleanor Garrison B:1762 D:1856
  84. Jarrett Bowling B:1762 D:1857
  85. James Tapp B:1764 D:1860
  86. Elizabeth “Betsy” Garrison B:1765 D:1826
  87. Ptolemy Powell B:1767 D:1843
  88. Wiley L McGee B:1769 D:1845
  89. Sarah “Sallie” Chewning B:1771 D:1834
  90. Andrew Austin Wharton B:1773 D:1835
  91. Frances Withers B:1774 D:1850
  92. Elizabeth Leavette B: D:1771
  93. Thomas Leavitt B: D:1771
  94. Thomas Whitlock B: D:1832

MapBox Time Period View of Ancestral BirthplacesB

Bottom line, I am enjoying browsing and navigating the “Genetic Communities” feature because I always wanted to geographically place my ancestors together along a timeline to see their proximity to each other and how their lives might have been the same or dissimilar. If you are an Ancestry.com customer, who hadn’t yet heard about Ancestry’s newest feature and its options, I hope you will check it out and let me know what you think.

From Spit to SNPs: Decoding My DNA


A few years ago I spit a small amount (about two tablespoons) of my saliva into a specimen collection tube provided in a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) testing kit that I ordered through Ancestry.com. My goal was to learn about my ancestors’ through their genealogical beginnings and follow a familial chain of genetic links from generation to generation. Initially, I was disappointed with my scant results and what to me were already obvious findings. That is, that 77 percent of my ancestors originally hailed from Great Britain and Ireland–something I already had discerned from handed down family history and my own 35+ years of genealogical research looking back and identifying family branches across many generations of ancestors. Next came Ancestry.com’s sharing of likely genetic family matches through their own standards for confidence ratings based upon thousands of DNA tests purchased. As the growing number of persons getting tested grew, genetic scientists were busy decoding DNA into SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), which occur normally throughout a person’s DNA. In fact, they occur once in every 300 nucleotides on average, which means there are roughly 10 million SNPs in the human genome.

Recent and rapid scientific, forensic, and technological advances in DNA analysis and the increased understanding and use of these DNA studies has brought forth even more relevant and interesting information about me and my family that goes beyond the former traditional genealogical links to my past.  In fact, studying these SNPs that make up genetic differences has proven to be very important to broadening my understanding of our family’s health issues. These studies also have helped medical geneticists discover how SNPs can help predict individual’s responses to certain drugs, susceptibility to environmental factors such as toxins, and risks of our developing particular diseases. SNPs also can be used to track the inheritance of disease genes within families.  Along this short but fast-paced trek into DNA I have been given new proof of more familial relationships than I had ever been unaware of and have discovered some family members that I hadn’t seen or heard from in years.

Before these new DNA discoveries, when visiting doctors or discussing family health conditions among others, I relied upon personal histories and documentation of conditions, diseases, and  causes of death.  Now, moving forward I can potentially use these new genomic analysis results to look at calculations of risks for genetic health conditions and potentials to increase my quality of life and have a clearer understanding of my inherited conditions and propensities to specific diseases.

So, a few days ago, I simply Googled “advanced analysis of genetic data,” which led me to:  www.impute.me.  Next, I attached my DNA test results from Ancestry.com that I received a couple of years back to their form and emailed them.  Just two days later, free of charge, I received a return email that gave me a web site address so I could download my personal imputed genome analysis file.  They also provided their web site address to modules that would help me explore specific findings of my genome analysis.  Absolutely interesting and amazing data!

On impute’s site appears a GWAS (genome-wide association study) Calculator module, among other modules.  The GWAS module focuses on associations between SNPs and traits like major human diseases. By just entering my assigned unique genome ID, I was able to see if any variant within my SNPs was associated with a trait; in this instance: Acne. The results showed 13 SNPs in my genome (from Navarini AA et al (PMID 24927181), which were reported to be associated with severe Acne.  And, the narrative included a genetic risk score for this trait that “was higher than 36% of the general population. This is a fairly average score.”  The chart below shows 5 of the 13 SNPs examples present in my DNA that present a risk for severe Acne.  I filtered the SNP-score column (fifth column) to display in descending order so you could see my first four SNP scores and reported genes (last column) that resulted in this risk for Acne. Note the fifth row (and, similarly, the remaining 8 rows not shown) indicated a “0” SNP-score.  This is the kind of presentation given throughout this module to describe my risks among about hundred traits provided in the GWAS calculator.

Looking more closely at my GWAS Calculator and appearing before my eyes were confirmations of the presence of specific diseases that exist(ed) among various family members and the higher risk percentages of my having these same diseases. For example, I have a 76 percent higher than the general population risk of being within the Autism spectrum disorder, adhd, bipolar, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia–some family members have suffered from some of these maladies, but I can’t say that I have personally; a 52% higher than the general population risk of having Cardiovascular Disease; an 82% higher than average risk of food addictions; a 99% higher than average risk of having freckles (if you know me, you know I do or did); then there were the risks of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma and allergies, restless leg syndrome, and hip osteoarthritis (75% higher risk than the general population–all me! And the list continued.

BUT . . . Just how much of who we are, our strengths, capabilities, and limitations is determined by our DNA and genetics?

The newest studies of DNA suggest that both genetic and environmental factors play a role in who I am, what I look like, my singularities or uniqueness, and my biological, mental, intellectual and physical conditions and capabilities.  Studies suggest that multiple genes are involved, so our inheritance patterns are not straightforward. For example:

  • A person’s fingerprints are unique as you know and are based on the patterns of skin ridges (called dermatoglyphs) on the pads of the fingers. Dermatoglyphs develop before birth and stay the same throughout life. The ridges begin to develop during the third month of fetal development, and they are fully formed by the sixth.The basic size, shape, and spacing of dermatoglyphs seem to be influenced by genetic factors. Studies suggest that multiple genes are involved, so an inheritance pattern is not straightforward.
  •  A child’s eye color often can be predicted by the eye colors of his or her parents and other relatives.   In fact, both my parents and my siblings have blue eyes; my grandparents had blue eyes; and most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins (direct relatives) have blue eyes.   Yet, genetic variations sometimes produce unexpected results.  There are several disorders that can affect the color of our eyes.  One of these examples is ocular albinism characterized by severely reduced pigmentation of the iris.  This causes very light-colored eyes and significant problems with vision.
  • Another condition called oculocutaneous albinism affects the pigmentation of the skin and hair in addition to our eyes. Both ocular albinism and oculocutaneous albinism result from mutations in genes involved in the production and storage of melanin.
  • Hand preference is the tendency to be more skilled and comfortable using one hand instead of the other for tasks such as writing or throwing a ball. It was initially thought that a single gene controlled handedness. However, more recent studies suggest that multiple genes, perhaps up to 40, contribute to this trait. Although the percentage varies by culture, in Western countries 85 to 90 percent of people are right-handed and 10 to 15 percent of people are left-handed and then there are those who have this uncommon trait and are known to be ambidextrous.  They interchange hand preferences depending upon a task.  All the people in my family are right-handed–except for me!  I may have been right-handed at birth, but when I was 18 months old I received second and third degree burns all over my body from a spill of hot bacon grease.  The only part of me that wasn’t bandaged for months on end was my left hand.  I guess like other creatures, I adapted to my situation.  Or, just maybe my left-hand preference is related to differences between my right and left halves (hemispheres) of my brain. Our right hemisphere controls movement on the left sides of our body, while the left hemisphere controls movement on the right sides of our body.  These same studies on hand preference suggest that at least some of these genes help determine the overall right-left asymmetry of the body starting at our earliest stages of development.
    • For example, the PCSK6 gene has been associated with an increased likelihood of being right-handed in people with the psychiatric disorder schizophrenia. Another gene, LRRTM1, has been associated with an increased chance of being left-handed in people with dyslexia (a condition caused by a defect in the brain’s processing of graphic symbols and causes difficulty with reading and spelling).

Is the probability of having twins determined by genetics?

The likelihood of conceiving twins is a complex trait. It is probably affected by multiple
genetic and environmental factors, depending on the type of twins. The two types
of twins are classified as identical and fraternal.  My genealogical research shows twins and even triplets go back generations on both my paternal and maternal sides of my family.  My maternal great-grandmother had three sets of twins among the 13 children she birthed –extremely rare and perhaps unprecedented.  And, yes, I am happy to say that our grandson is a fantastic father of 5-year-old twins – a girl and a boy.

So, did I get my blue eyes and freckles from my mother or my dad? Where did I get my fearless personality and the absence of a talent for singing, as much as I love to sing? Did my intellect come from my mom’s two X chromosomes, or was it predetermined by my genes? It’s still not clear to me how many of my physical characteristics are purely hereditary, and my genetic waters get even murkier when it comes to nature vs. nurture factors like behavior, intelligence, and personality. This argument has never really been won.  So, let’s leave it at this:  we do not yet know how much of what we are is determined by our DNA and how much is contributed by our life experiences. But we do know that DNA and life experiences each plays a part.

 

‘Great Surprise’—Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins


November is National Native American Heritage Month.  In honor of this occasion, below I share with you National Geographic’s article from November 2013:

“Great Surprise”—Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins

Photo of a Native American mounted on his horse.

Native Americans may have a more complicated heritage than previously believed.

PHOTOGRAPH BY ROLAND W. REED, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Brian Handwerk

National Geographic

PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 20, 2013

Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought, according to a newly sequenced genome.

Based on the arm bone of a 24,000-year-old Siberian youth, the research could uncover new origins for America’s indigenous peoples, as well as stir up fresh debate on Native American identities, experts say.

The study authors believe the new study could also help resolve some long-standing puzzles on the peopling of the New World, which include genetic oddities and archaeological inconsistencies. (Explore an atlas of the human journey.)

“These results were a great surprise to us,” said study co-author and ancient-DNA specialist Eske Willerslev, of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

“I hadn’t expected anything like this. A genome related to present-day western Eurasian populations and modern Native Americans as well was really puzzling in the beginning. How could this happen?”

So what’s new?

The arm bone of a three-year-old boy from the Mal’ta site near the shores of Lake Baikal in south-central Siberia (map) yielded what may be the oldest genome of modern humans ever sequenced.

DNA from the remains revealed genes found today in western Eurasians in the Middle East and Europe, as well as other aspects unique to Native Americans, but no evidence of any relation to modern East Asians. (Related: “Is This Russian Landscape the Birthplace of Native Americans?”)

A second individual genome sequenced from material found at the site and dated to 17,000 years ago revealed a similar genetic structure.

It also provided evidence that humans occupied this region of Siberia throughout the entire brutally cold period of the Last Glacial Maximum, which ended about 13,000 years ago.

Why is it important?

Prevailing theories suggest that Native Americans are descended from a group of East Asians who crossed the Bering Sea via a land bridge perhaps 16,500 years ago, though some sites may evidence an earlier arrival. (See “Siberian, Native American Languages Linked—A First [2008].”)

“This study changes this idea because it shows that a significant minority of Native American ancestry actually derives not from East Asia but from a people related to present-day western Eurasians,” Willerslev said.

“It’s approximately one-third of the genome, and that is a lot,” he added. “So in that regard I think it’s changing quite a bit of the history.”

While the land bridge still formed the gateway to America, the study now portrays Native Americans as a group derived from the meeting of two different populations, one ancestral to East Asians and the other related to western Eurasians, explained Willerslev, whose research was published in the November 20 edition of the journal Nature.

“The meeting of those two groups is what formed Native Americans as we know them.” (Learn more about National Geographic’s Genographic Project.)

What does this mean?

Willerslev believes the discovery provides simpler and more likely explanations to long-standing controversies related to the peopling of the Americas.

“Although we know that North Americans are related to East Asians, it’s striking that no contemporary East Asian populations really resemble Native Americans,” he said.

“It’s not like you can say that they are really closely related to Japanese, Chinese, or Koreans, so there seems to be something missing. But this result makes a lot of sense regarding why they don’t fit so well genetically with contemporary East Asians—because one-third of their genome is derived from another population.”

The findings could also allow reinterpretation of archaeological and anthropological evidence, like the famed Kennewick Man, whose remains don’t look much like modern-day Native American or East Asian populations, according to some interpretations.

“Maybe, if he looks like something else, it’s because a third of his ancestry isn’t coming from East Asia but from something like the western Eurasians.” (Read about history’s great migration mysteries.)

What’s next?

Many questions remain unanswered, including where and when the mixing of west Eurasian and East Asian populations occurred.

“It could have been somewhere in Siberia or potentially in the New World,” Willerslev said.

“I think it’s much more likely that it occurred in the Old World. But the only way to address that question would be to sequence more ancient skeletons of Native Americans and also Siberians.”

Intriguing questions also exist about the nature of the advanced Upper Paleolithic Mal’ta society that now appears to figure in Native American genomes.

The Siberian child “was found buried with all kinds of cultural items, including Venus figurines, which have been found from Lake Baikal west all the way to Europe.

“So now we know that the individual represented with this culture is a western Eurasian, even though he was found very far east. It’s an interesting question how closely related this individual might have been to the individuals carving these figurines at the same time in Europe and elsewhere.”

More Than a Few Names or Mere Numbers


As an addendum to this week’s post What’s InTop 50 Family Surnames a Name?, I revised my Surname Report in Family Tree Maker™. This report shows that our family’s tree (including my spouse’s family) has 10,772 persons in it.  Of those persons (living and dead), 52 percent of them are male; making my database’s percentage of males three percentage points higher than the gender ratio in the 2010 U.S.Census of Population and Housing.  And, those 10,772 persons are related within the 2,170 surnames.

Largest Family Based Upon Surname

The largest number of families within the surname report originated within my maternal grandmother’s family.  The majority of  this family branch spelled their name as “Lathrop.”  Although, there were two other variations of this surname spelling (“Lothrop” and “Lathrope”) presented among the various data collections included in our tree of facts.  There were, in fact, 478 Lathrop families; 53 percent of these family members were male.  The Lathrop family name spans the years:  1450-1929 in our family’s history.

Similarly, the “Bowling” name, or the other 12 versions of its spelling dated from as early as 890 AD in France, where the family was known as the DeBoulogne’s.  Our most recent family members who spelled their name “DeBoulogne” date back to 1863.  This spelling spanned the years 891 AD – 1863:  972 years–just shy of a century!  The other spelling variations included among our tree of facts:   Baroling, Billung, Bolding, Boling, Boleine, Bollyng, Boulding, Bouldinge; Boulogne,  Bowlding, Deboulogne, and De Bolling.

Earliest and Newest People

The earliest entries of people in this report date back to 8 A.D. to Charlemagne (my 43rd great grandfather) and his son Louis the Pious of France (my 43rd great uncle).  The newest member of our family, Alaina Hazel, part of the Dickinson clan, blessed us with her appearance in April 2014–our third great grandchild.

Getting Past the Mere Numbers

Getting past the discussion of mere numbers, my somewhat random method for subject posts suddenly gets very logical. That is, my nearly 200 posts to date have focused on surnames that appear within the Top 50 Family Surnames in my word cloud, above.  [To create the word cloud I used wordle.net (advanced) with some simple word ratios (exported from my Family Tree Surname report into Excel).]

Estimated Ethnicity

Based upon my DNA testing, a map of today shown below, displays the countries from which my families migrated: Great Britain, Ireland, Europe West, and West Asia.

DNA Estimated Ethnicity

However, if we look back at a map of nearly 1,000 years ago to where many of my ancestors were before they migrated, we find ourselves near the end of the High Middle Ages (967 – 1050).   The world was divided into Kingdoms, Territories, Empires, and Dominions,Europe 1050 AD crusades abounded, and the Catholic Church in Europe was expanding its power base.  Here’s where the real stories first began.

For a detailed timeline that includes European history with interactive maps, I encourage you to visit worldology.com

 

Genetically Speaking, Could We Be Cousins?


Genetic RelationshipsHard to believe, but we just might be near or distant cousins, or cousins once or more removed.  When I started my genealogy research about 35 years ago we may never have been able to answer my question about being cousins with any certainty in a single lifetime.

However, 11 years after (on August 6, 1991), my initial genealogical research, the launch of the internet, known as the world-wide-web, changed information management and information mining dramatically as never before when historical documents and information were first digitized, published, and made available to the public for free.

What is Genetic Genealogy?

DNA assignmentIn the past, genealogy for me has been simply the study of my ancestry via a family tree. To date, I have documented my paternal and maternal sides of my family, and traced documentation back to the first century even.  However, genetic genealogy uses DNA testing to determine the genetic relationship between individuals.  So now, I am starting a new approach to my genealogy by moving forward from this expansive family tree compilation (about 10,000 people), to explore my ancestry through genetic research. Genetic genealogy begins with first understanding deoxyribonucleic acid, aka DNA, and then using resources available to map it and learn even more about my family history.

You might ask yourself, why would I want to use DNA for my genealogy research?

Here’s a few of my reasons:

  • To learn more about my ancestry
  • To prove that my family tree reflects my actual ancestry
  • To prove or disprove relationships between two people
  • To prove or disprove theories about where people came from
  • To break down a brick wall in my genealogy research
  • To find relatives for those who were adopted or gave up a child for adoption
  • To learn from which ancestor(s) I inherited certain traits

DNA chromosonesTherefore, in future posts I plan to share with you some stories about my exploration and discoveries through my DNA testing and genetic research.  To launch this project I first purchased a set of 50 presentations on video made at the 2014 International Genetic Genealogical Research Conference that was held August 15-17, 2014, in Washington, DC.

To get us started, I included below Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D.’s 10 DNA Testing Myth Busters:

10 DNA Testing Myths Busted
Posted by Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D.
(c) 25 October 2007

1. Genetic genealogy is only for hardcore genealogists. Wrong! If you’ve ever wondered about the origins of your DNA, or about your direct paternal or maternal ancestral line, then genetic genealogy might be an interesting way to learn more. Although DNA testing of a single line, such as through an mtDNA test, will only examine one ancestor out of 1024 potential ancestors at 10 generations ago, this is a 100% improvement over 0 ancestors out of 1024. If you add your father’s Y-DNA, this is a 200% improvement. Now add your mother’s mtDNA, and so on. However, with this in mind, please note the next myth:

2. I’m going to send in my DNA sample and get back my entire family tree. Sorry. DNA alone cannot tell a person who their great-grandmother was, or what Italian village their great-great grandfather came from. Genetic genealogy can be an informative and exciting addition to traditional research, and can sometimes be used to answer specific genealogical mysteries.

3. I would like to try genetic genealogy, but I’m terrified of needles. Good news! Genetic genealogy firms don’t use blood samples to collect cells for DNA testing. Instead, these companies send swabs or other means to gently obtain cells from the cheek and saliva.

4. I would like to test my ancestor’s DNA, but they died years ago. You don’t always need your ancestor’s DNA to get useful information from a genetic genealogy test. If you are male, you contain the Y-chromosome (Y-DNA) that was given to you by your father, who received it from his father, and so on. Both males and females have mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which was passed on to them by their mother, who received it from her mother, and so on. Everyone of us contains DNA (Y-DNA and/or mtDNA) from our ancestors that can be studied by genetic genealogy.

5. I want to test my mother’s father’s Y-DNA, but since he didn’t pass on his Y-chromosome to my mother, I’m out of luck. Wrong! There is a very good chance that there is another source of that same Y-DNA. For instance, does your mother have a brother (your uncle) who inherited the Y-DNA from his father? Or does your mother’s father have a brother (your great-uncle) who would be willing to submit DNA for the test? Sometimes there might not be an obvious source of “lost” Y-DNA, or no one in the family is willing to take a DNA test. The secret to solving this problem is to do what every good genealogist does – use traditional genealogical research (paper records, census information, etc) to “trace the DNA”. Follow the line back while tracing descendants in order to find someone who is interested in learning more about their Y-DNA. This applies to finding a source of mtDNA as well.

6. Only men can submit DNA for genetic genealogy tests, since women do not have the Y-chromosome. Wrong! Most genetic genealogy testing companies also offer mtDNA testing. Both men and women have mtDNA in their cells and can submit that DNA for testing. In addition, women can test their father’s, brother’s, or some other male relative’s Y-DNA to learn more about their paternal ancestral line, even though they did not inherit the Y-chromosome.

7. My genetic genealogy test will also reveal my propensity for diseases associated with the Y-chromosome and mtDNA. Wrong, thank goodness. Most of the information obtained by genetic genealogy tests has no known medical relevancy, and these firms are not actively looking for medical information. It is important to note, however, that some medical information (such as infertility detected by DYS464 testing or other diseases detectable by a full mtDNA sequence) might inadvertently be revealed by a genetic genealogy test.

8. I don’t like the thought of a company having my DNA on file or my losing control over my DNA sample. This is, of course, an understandable concern. However, most testing firms give a client two options: the DNA is either immediately destroyed once the tests are run, or it is securely stored for future testing. If the DNA is stored, the firm will typically destroy the DNA upon request. If the long-term storage of DNA is a concern, be sure to research the company’s policy before sending in a sample.

9. If my test reveals Native American ancestry, I plan to join a particular Native American affiliation group. Although genetic genealogy can potentially reveal Native American ancestry (for instance, my mtDNA belongs to the Native American haplogroup A2), it is incredibly unlikely that this information will be sufficient to positively identify the specific source of the lineage (such as a tribe) or allow membership in a particular Native American affiliation.

10. My DNA is so boring that genetic genealogy would be a waste of time and money.Very wrong! A person’s DNA is a very special possession – although everyone has DNA, everyone’s DNA is different (okay, except identical twins – if your identical twin has been tested, you should think twice about buying the same test!). As humans settled the world, Y-DNA and mtDNA spread and mixed randomly. As a result, it is impossible to guess with 100% assurance that a person’s Y-DNA or mtDNA belongs to a particular haplogroup (a related family of DNA sequences) without DNA testing.

BONUS MYTH: My genetic genealogy test says that my mtDNA belongs to Haplogroup A2.Juanita the Ice Maiden, a frozen mummy discovered in the Andes Mountains in Peru also has Haplogroup A2 mtDNA. Therefore, she must be my ancestor!

Unfortunately, although genetic genealogy can reveal that a person is RELATED to an ancient DNA source, it cannot prove that a person is a DESCENDANT of an ancient DNA source. For instance, perhaps you are descended from Juanita’s sister, or her 5th cousin. Thus, although Juanita might be your great-great-great-great…great-grandmother, she might instead be your great-great-great-great…great-aunt. And since Juanita died when she was just 12 to 14, it is unlikely she has any descendants.

If you understand the risks associated with genetic genealogy (such as the detection ofnon-paternal events and other risks) and are ready and willing to embrace the results to learn more about your genetic ancestry, then genetic genealogy might be for you. I recommend that you read archived posts here at The Genetic Genealogist, and do some online research through one of the many companies that offer genetic genealogy testing.

Irish-American Heritage Month: March 2014


DNA Test Reveals 10% Irish Ancestry

From my ancestry.com dna report–A Look Into My Irish Ancestry – Primarily in: Ireland, Wales, Scotland, but some lived in France, and England:

Emerald IsleI guess the DNA results that revealed my blood lineage as 10 percent Irish, allow me to legitimately wear green today to honor my Irish heritage.  Ireland, called the Emerald Isle for its rolling green hills, is the second largest island in the British Isles, just off the west coast of Britain. Along with Wales, Scotland and a handful of other isolated communities in the area, it is a last holdout of the ancient Celtic languages that were once spoken throughout much of western Europe. Though closely tied to England, both geographically and historically, the Irish have fiercely maintained their unique character throughout the centuries.

My family’s Irish Surnames:

Irish Ancestry 1Irish Ancestry 2

People of prehistoric Ireland and Scotland

After the Ice Age glaciers retreated from northern Europe more than 9,000 years ago, hunter gatherers and farmers spread north into what is now Great Britain and Ireland. Around 500 B.C., the Bronze Age culture spread across all of western Europe, including the British Isles. These new people originated in central Europe, near what is Austria today. Many tribes existed, but they were collectively known as the Celts.

Population expansion

From around 400 B.C. to 275 B.C., Celtic tribes expanded to the Iberian Peninsula, France, England, Scotland and Ireland—even as far east as Turkey. As the Roman Empire expanded beyond the Italian peninsula, it began to come into increasing contact with the Celts of France, whom the Romans called “Gauls.”

A Tribe of Gauls on an Expedition by Alphonse De Neuville

Roman invasions

The Romans eventually conquered the Gauls and then invaded the British Isles in 43 A.D. They conquered most of southern Britain and occupied it over the course of a few decades. Those Celts who were not assimilated into the Roman Empire and retreated to other areas that remained under Celtic control, such as Wales, Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Brittany. The Roman presence largely wiped out most traces of Celtic culture in England—even replacing the language. Since the Romans never occupied Ireland or Scotland in any real sense, they are among the few places where Celtic languages have survived to this day.

Another thing the Romans brought was Christianity. During the few hundred years that the Romans occupied Britain, they promoted Christianity with varying degrees of force. Many missionaries traveled to the area and succeeded in converting the Celts from their pagan Druidism, though pagan religions resurfaced after the Roman Empire’s collapse.

Viking invasions

Beginning in the late 8th century, Viking raiders began attacking the east coast of England and the northern islands off Scotland.  During the next few centuries, they controlled parts of the islands, exacting tribute, pillaging villages and monasteries, and occasionally setting up trade outposts. During the 9th century, the Vikings established Dublin in western Ireland as a trade port. Vikings controlled this area of Ireland for nearly 300 years, but their power diminished after heavy losses at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.

Norman invasions

During the 12th century, Ireland consisted of a number of small warring kingdoms. When Diarmait Mac Murchada, the petty king of Leinster, was deposed by the Irish High King, he turned to England for help. Henry II, the Norman ruler of England, sent Norman mercenaries who assisted Mac Murchada and he regained control of Leinster, though shortly thereafter he died. In 1171, Henry II landed with a large army and seized control of Ireland. With the support of Pope Adrian IV, Henry II took the title “Lord of Ireland” and the Emerald Isle became part of the English Kingdom.

Drawing of Diarmait Mac Murchada, from W.R. Wilde’s A Descriptive Catalogue of the Antiquities in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. 1 (Dublin & London, 1863), page 310.
King Henry II by unknown artist. Nation Portrait Gallery, London.
Pope Adrian IV

The Norman kings, ruling primarily from France, gave rise to the House of Plantagenet, a line of kings who began to merge and modernize the kingdom of England. Beginning in 1277, Edward I put down a revolt in Wales and led a full-scale invasion of the country, bringing it under control of the English crown. He then seized political control of Scotland during a succession dispute, leading to a rebellion there. Edward’s campaign against the Scots was less successful and remained unresolved at his death. By decisively defeating Edward’s son at Bannockburn in 1314, the Scots assured their independence.

The Great Plague of the 14th century devastated the Norman and English leadership in Ireland. This destruction of outside authority promoted a renewal of Irish political power, culture and language.

Early modern Ireland

Beginning in 1537 and for the next 70 years, the English monarchy reconquered Ireland. The English attempted to force acceptance of Protestantism among the Irish people, who had mostly remained Catholic. When forced conversion failed, the British Crown replaced the Irish landowners with thousands of Protestant colonists from England and Scotland. England also sold Irish prisoners and “undesirables” to Caribbean plantations as slaves.

The Irish diaspora

Two famines, one in 1740-41 and the second in 1845-52, decimated Ireland. They brought widespread death from starvation and disease and created a massive exodus of refugees. The first famine, caused by severe winter weather, led to the deaths of some 400,000 people; about 150,000 Irish left the country. The second, called the “Great Famine,” was the result of potato blight, killing 1 million people by starvation. Another million Irish fled the country, most immigrating to England, Australia, Canada and the United States, creating a worldwide Irish diaspora.

Victims of the Irish Potato Famine immigrate to North America by ship
The Irish Famine: Interior of a Peasant’s Hut by H. Werdmuller

And, from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features

Percentage of U.S. Residents with Irish AncestryOriginally a religious holiday to honor St. Patrick, who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a celebration for all things Irish. The world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred on March 17, 1762, in New York City, featuring Irish soldiers serving in the English military. This parade became an annual event, with President Truman attending in 1948. Congress proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month in 1995, and the President issues a proclamation commemorating the occasion each year.

From the U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features

MARCH MADNESS/Sports Celebration of Irish Heritage

100,003

Population of South Bend, Ind., home to the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame. About 10.4 percent of South Bend’s population claims Irish ancestry.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/DP02/1600000US1871000>

24.1%

Percentage of the Boston metropolitan area population that claims Irish ancestry, one of the highest percentages for the top 50 metro areas by population. Boston is home of the Celtics of the National Basketball Association.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/DP02/310M100US14460>

78,390 and 16,167

Population of New Rochelle, N.Y., and Moraga, Calif., home to the Gaels of Iona University and St. Mary’s College of California, respectively. During college basketball’s March Madness, you will typically see these universities compete on the court, no doubt rooted on by some of the 8.4 percent of the New Rochelle population and 15.5 percent of the Moraga population that claim Irish ancestry.
Sources: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/DP02/1600000US3650617>
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_5YR/DP02/1600000US0649187>

Population Distribution

34.1 million

Number of U.S. residents who claimed Irish ancestry in 2012. This number was more than seven times the population of Ireland itself (4.6 million). Irish was the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry, trailing only German.
Sources: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>
Ireland Central Statistics Office
<http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/releasespublications/documents/statisticalyearbook/2013/c1population.pdf>

22.6%

Percentage of the population in Massachusetts that claims Irish ancestry, which is among the highest in the nation. New York has 2.5 million people claiming Irish ancestry, which is among the most of any state.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/DP02/0100000US.04000>

153,248

Number of people with Irish ancestry who were naturalized citizens in 2012.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>

39.2 years old

Median age of those who claim Irish ancestry, which is higher than U.S. residents as a whole at 37.4 years.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>

Irish-Americans Today

34.2%

Percentage of people of Irish ancestry, 25 or older, who had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In addition, 93.4 percent of Irish-Americans in this age group had at least a high school diploma. For the nation as a whole, the corresponding rates were 29.1 percent and 86.4 percent, respectively.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>

$59,220

Median income for households headed by an Irish-American, higher than the $51,371 for all households. In addition, 7.4 percent of family households of Irish ancestry were in poverty, lower than the rate of 11.8 percent for all Americans.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>

41.1%

Percentage of employed civilian Irish-Americans 16 or older who worked in management, professional and related occupations. Additionally, 25.9 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 15.9 percent in service occupations; 9.3 percent in production, transportation and material moving occupations; and 7.7 percent in natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>

68.9%

Percentage of householders of Irish ancestry who owned the home in which they live, with the remainder renting. For the nation as a whole, the homeownership rate was 63.9 percent.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>

Places to Spend the Day

16

Number of places in the United States that share the name of Ireland’s capital, Dublin. The most recent population for Dublin, Calif., was 47,156.
Source: 2012 Population Estimates
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/PEP/2012/PEPANNRES/0400000US06.16200>

If you’re still not into the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day, then you might consider paying a visit to Emerald Isle, N.C., with 3,669 residents.
Source: 2012 Population Estimates
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/PEP/2012/PEPANNRES/0400000US37.16200>

Other appropriate places in which to spend the day: the township of Irishtown, Ill., several places or townships named Clover (in South Carolina, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) or one of the seven places that are named Shamrock.

The Celebration

25.9 billion

U.S. beef production in pounds in 2012. Corned beef is a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
<http://www.ers.usda.gov/news/BSECoverage.htm>

$21.5 million

Value of potted florist chrysanthemum sales at wholesale in 2012 for operations with $100,000 or more sales. Lime green chrysanthemums are often requested for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
<http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/FlorCrop/FlorCrop-04-25-2013.pdf>