Saturday, November 29, 2008

Common Family Names--DNA can help

As I explained in the first post, although I'm interested in genealogy, the family stories are what really interest me. Several times, the family stories have helped me with the genealogy. And, sometimes they lead me down the wrong path.

My family names are among the worst to try and trace: Dad's great-great grandfather Thomas Long (about 40 in Virginia in the 1700's), Mom's great grandparents James and Mary Williams (several dozen in Kentucky in mid 1800's), Dad's great grandfather William Reed (hundreds in England in mid-1800's).

One of the ways we have approached this problem is with DNA. My brother graciously contributed his DNA to be analyzed to help with the Thomas Long problem. We corresponded with 6-8 people we matched. This helped us all pool our information. Although we haven't found where we are all related, we did discover that we were each independently looking at one family line---the Bromfield Longs (That's not the progenitor, but that's a name common to our family for 7 generations). We match some of the Longs on 67 markers meaning our ancestors were probably brothers in the late 1700's (we can't find a sooner match). We are R1B1 (red on the map above)which is our haplo-type (like our tribal designation). See below for distribution---very heavy in Britain.

Williams cousins also had DNA traced and we learned that we aren't related to any other Williams family that has had their DNA traced. So, hopefully, when someone else pops up in the data base, we can find out more information. Our haplotype is J2 (green on the top map) which is very puzzling for a Welsh name---it's a Mediterranean "tribe". One source suggested:
"J2 Haplotype #18
This haplotype has a wide range, with high frequency matches in Italy, Iran, Hungary, Macedonia, Egypt and Spain.
It appears to be strongly oriented around the Mediterranean, and very likely came to Britain with Roman settlers or troops." See below---heavy in Iran and Turkey with a little darkness in Wales.

So, I was sitting around thinking, "I wonder if I could locate one of the Reed cousins and convince him (has to be a him) to have a DNA test." I'm so glad that I never did that because I got an e-mail which in part encouraged me to create this blog.

So, how is it the DNA for Reed wouldn't have worked and the DNA for Williams doesn't match anyone else? Y DNA is a paternal tracing which works out well because our family names are paternal, too. If the DNA doesn't match the family name, there are several possibilities: adoption, illegitimacy, "confused" paternity, identity theft, name change. We aren't sure on the Williams line, but we think it was probably before family names were assigned---family names were a very late practice in Wales (often the family name wasn't established until the family left Wales) We do, now, know that William Reed changed his name when he emigrated from England. More on that later.

If anyone is interested in getting their DNA tested is the place to go. If you are a Long or a Williams, it's already been done---yours would not be significantly different from ours UNLESS you don't know that you're related. First, you want to see if there is a Surname Project for your surname. You want to apply through them because it's often cheaper.

Finally, for genealogical purposes, only males should apply---the markers needed are on the Y chromosome (women only have 2 X). So, if you're a female, you'll need to find a brother, father, uncle, cousin with the surname you want traced. I did all of the application and most of the payment process, my brother scraped his cheek several times a day---we mailed it off and received results every several weeks for abut 3 months---but we had a pretty comprehensive study with 67 markers on the X and we had the Y chromosome also studied. More on that later, too.


Leah Morgan Korbel said...


Anonymous said...

Jaclyn: Your blog, the photos and your narrative are ab fab! Relating to your surnames. Of course, I am a Williams related to you through our GGrandfathers; as for Watson, could it be that these Watsons you have are descended from Mahala & Malinda Watson Williams?
We have Cates in my(i.e., descended from Thomas Jefferson Williams brother to your James B. Williams) AR; OK; CA families. I have long wondered if they descend from the Cates who were in the same W.KY Counties where our Williams and Watson families were in early 1800's. What do you think?

Jason Williams said...

Thomas Williams is my paternal 3rd great grandfather. I’ve been stuck figuring out who Benjamin’Williams parents were and how Benjamin died. Great stories. I’ve enjoyed them.