Saturday, July 14, 2012


While I am still waiting to hear back from Family Tree DNA, I thought now might be a good time to point out the benefit for the Vinton County Group in having YDNA tests done.  


If you are one of the many descendants of Sally Napper aka Gibson, you know that there has been some speculation on the father of her children.  Many researchers believe the father was David Lemay, the son of John Lemay and Annis Branham Lemay.  

None of the researchers has shared their theory with me, but it definitely has merit. 

1.      1.  We find Sally and David Lemay living together in Vinton County in the 1850 census.

2.      2.    Richard Napper’s death certificate indicates that his father was a Napper and him mother was a Lemay.  It would be natural for the informant to mix the surnames of Richard’s parents or even the clerk taking down the information, since the natural assumption would be that the father’s surname would match the deceased. 

3.       3.  We know that by the 1800 census the Gibson’s were considered “white.”  So why were the Napper children considered Free Colored or mulatto?  It would follow that their father had to be nonwhite, and we know that John Lemay’s children with Annis Branham were considered nonwhite. 

So the benefit in an YDNA test would be the possibility of finding a genetic surname match.  There is not a current Lemay surname project at Family Tree DNA, but it would be still be possible that a Lemay was tested and is in the database.  If not, we could work at finding a willing Lemay participant to see if the Napper males match. 

Because there is no record of Sally Napper and David Lemay marrying, we can’t be sure that all of the children had the same father.  At the time, it was against the law for a white individual and a nonwhite individual to marry, so Sally and David could not marry regardless of how many children they had together. 

If we tested the DNA from the descendants from Wetherfoot Napper, Peter Napper, and Levi Napper and they all matched, it would not prove that all the children had the same father, but there would certainly be a much stronger case for this assumption. 

Finally, there is the matter of Richard Napper.  It is thought by some (me included) that the missing Uncle Dick from Lizzie Dorton’s recollection might actually be William Napper father of Irena Dolby’s children. 

One of Irena’s children lists Richard as the father on her death certificate.  If DNA of a descendant from William Napper matches, the DNA of the other three sons of Sally Napper that would go a long way in proving the theory that William Napper was a son of Sally and possibly the same individual as Richard Napper.


Theoretically, all of the Thacker men should have, if not matching DNA, than a close match.  That of course, assumes that all of these men have the Thacker name through their father’s line and not their mother’s line.  It’s possible that some, or maybe even all, are not genetic Thackers but actually have different genetic surname.  The only way to tell is to have each of the descendants of the Thacker males tested.  Once that is done, we will have a better idea of the Thacker relationships. 

My hunch is you will find that they are a match for other surnames and not all of them match each other.  Since there are Gibson, Branham and Dalton surname projects it would not be surprising to see some matches to these groups.


It’s clear if you look at Malachi’s census records that he had more than the three children ascribed to him and Mahala Thacker.  My hunch is if we test a descendant of James Dorton and some of the Thackers, we will find a match.


Because the Y chromosome passes from father to son without recombining, it is possible to trace your ancestor’s migrations to a geographic region thousands of years ago.  So for example, when my father’s DNA was tested it showed that his Haplogroup R1b1a2.  

R1b1 is the most common Haplogroup found in Western Europe.  Because of migration patterns to the US, it is also the most common group in the US. 

The added designation of a2 on the end of my father’s group indicates that the group originated about 9500 years ago, and that the most prevalent ancient group was “European, Centum & Anatolian branches of Indo-European speakers”

Someone within my father’s surname project had additional testing done which further revealed R1b1a2a1a1b.  This group came into existence about 5300 years ago and was found in Western European and their ancient group was considered “Italo-Celtic.” 

So, fine, Terry, very nice, but what does it matter to me?  Well, when the YDNA is tested, we will get a Haplogroup listing for it.  This will give us another piece to our puzzle.  If for example, the test shows a Q Haplogroup that would indicate Native American Heritage. 

Thanks to the Gibson surname project, those of us who descend from Gilbert Gibson know one  Haplogroup of a branch from our family tree.  

Someone from the group had further testing so that we know that Haplogroup for Gilbert Gibson and his descendants is R1b1a2a1a1b4.  That group formed about 4000 years ago.  They were found in Ireland, Britain, Northwest France, south-west Norway. 

Who in the Vinton County Group descends from Gilbert Gibson?  Anyone who descends from the following: 

1.      Sally Gibson aka Napper who was the daughter of William Gibson and Mary Adams Napper.  William was the son of George Gibson and Susannah unknown.  George was the son of Gilbert Gibson and first wife (name unknown.)

2.       David Lemay said to be the common law husband of Sally Gibson aka Napper.  David was the son of John Lemay and Annis Branham.  Annis was the daughter of Frances Gibson and Benjamin Branham.  Frances was the daughter of Gilbert Gibson and first wife (name unknown.)

3.      David Thacker, Robert Thacker, and Malachi (Dalton) Dorton who, according to a deed drawn in 1833, descend from Mary Branham Dalton.  Mary was the wife of  John Dalton and the sister of Annis Branham Lemay .  She descends from Frances Gibson Branham.

4.      Sally Lemay Thacker  who was the wife of David Thacker and sister of David Lemay.  She is, therefore, another descendent of Frances Gibson Branham.

What about the other Thackers of Vinton County?

 I don’t know the answer to that question but with YDNA testing, we may find the answer. 

There is a lot to be learned from YDNA testing.  If you are a father to son descendant from one of the Vinton County Thackers, Nappers or Dortons, please consider having the test done at FamilyTree DNA. 
Right now, there is a special going on until July 15. 

If you read this after that date and are interested in participating, please leave a comment or write to the email in the right hand column.  I will send you a notice the next time Family Tree has a sale. 

Note:  Information on R1b1 Haplogroups from  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Announcing (I hope) The Vinton County DNA Project

Okay, this is a little premature, but I have applied to Family Tree DNA to do a geographic project for The Vinton County Group.  We will be looking at YDNA and mtDNA of the original members of the group trying to answer the following questions:

1. How are we related?
2. What is our ethnic background?
3. What is our genetic surnames?
4. Do we share common ancestors with any of the other so called triracial groups? 

Unfortunately, not all of us who descend from "the group: would have the "right stuff" to be tested. 

For the YDNA test you have to be male. You also have to have an unbroken father to son descent from the original members of the group, meaning you probably have the last name Thacker, Dorton or Napper. 

For the mtDNA testing it is a little trickier.  Mitochondrial DNA is pasted down from mother to child. A female child will pass it on to her children but a male child cannot.  So for example if my grandfather was alive (he is not), he could be tested because his mother was Elizabeth Cope Smathers.  Her mother was Frances Thacker Cope whose mother was Clarinda Thacker Marcum, whose mother was Frances Thacker Thacker. 

Frances is one of the individuals we want to find the mtDNA for, so while my grandfather would have Frances's mtDNA and would be a candidate for the test, his children would not.  However, one of my grandfather's sisters would not only be a candidate for the the test but so would her children. Have I confused you?

If you are interested in doing the test, but aren't sure if you qualify just email at the address in the right hand column of this page.  We'll chat. :)

Why am I telling you this now, before the project has been approved? Well, Family Tree DNA is having their summer sale from now through June 15th.  Below are the prices for New Kits.

New Kit Prices during the special:

New kits

Y-DNA12 : $59 instead of $99

Y-DNA37 : $129 instead of $149

Y-DNA67 : $199 instead of $238

mtFullSequence : $219 instead of $299

Family Finder : $199 instead of $289

Family Finder + Y-DNA37 : $328 instead of $438

Family Finder + mtDNAPlus : $328 instead of $438

SuperDNA : $428 instead of $518

Comprehensive (FF + FMS + Y-DNA67) : $617 instead of $797

The following are individuals whose YDNA we hope to find:

Nimrod Thacker
Holman Thacker
Chapman Thacker
Edwell Thacker
Ivory Thacker
Thomas Thacker
John A Thacker
Ellis Thacker
Robert Thacker
David Thackeer
Ambrose Thacker
George W. Thacker
Malachi Dorton
Levi Napper
Wetherfoot Napper
Peter Napper
William Napper (who may be Richard Napper)

The following are individuals whose mtDNA we hope to find:

Emma Jane Dorton, wife of Peter Napper, daughter of Mahala Thacker Dorton
Mildred Jane Thacker wife Wetherfoot Napper
Frances Thacker wife of Nimrod Thacker
Patsy Ann Thacker  wife of Levi Napper, Daughter of Sally Lemay Thacker
Permelia Jane Thacker wife of Joseph McKinnis and Levi Shiflet, Daughter of Sally Lemay Thacker
Peachy Thacker or Napper? wife of Moses Freeman
Martha Thacker wife of Chapman Thacker
Sally Thacker wife of Austin Pattison
Catherine Thacker wife James Jordon, Daugher of Nancy Dalton Thacker
Nancy Thacker wife of John Vest, Daughter of Nancy Dalton Thacker
Louisa Thacker wife of James Hollis, Daugher of Nancy Dalton Thacker
Polly Ann Napper, wife of Edwill Thacker, Daugher of Sally Napper (Gibson)
Roxanne Napper, wife of Holman Thacker, Daugher of Sally Napper (Gibson)
Lucinda Napper, wife of Sanford Smith, Daughter of Sally Napper (Gibson)
Virginia Napper, wife of James Dorton, Daughter of Sally Napper (Gibson)
Patsy Ann Napper, wife Ivory Thacker, Daughter of Sally Napper (Gibson)

Some of these are redundant.  For example Roxanne, Polly Ann, Lucinda, Virginia and Patsy Ann should all have the same mtDNA.  (But does Peachy?)

Theoretically all the Nappers should be the same and all of the Thackers should be the same, but are they?

Should we look for mtDNA for Sarah Evans wife George W. Thacker? What about Ann Vaughn wife of Thomas Thacker.  Should we include Moses Freeman or Levi Shiflet?

Lots of questions, and your input is wanted.  If you are interested, you can contact me through the comments or the email address over in the right hand column.  Maybe, together we will solve some of the mysteries.

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