Friday, August 3, 2012

It's Official - We Have A DNA Project!

Okay, it's pretty exciting - Family Tree DNA has given us the green light to go ahead with our Dual Geographic Project.  We have three participants already signed up!  All three are testing the mitochondrial DNA and are descendants of three different Thacker women.

There are other individuals who have expressed an interest in the project, but have not yet committed themselves to ordering a DNA kit.

Just as testing of Y DNA can indicate the ancestral origins of an individual, so can mtDNA testing.  The map below from Family Tree DNA shows the various Haplogroups and their migration route.  Haplogroups A, B, C and D would indicate Native American origins.  The most common European mtDNA Haplogroup is H.

Paul Heinegg has theorized the Free Colored class came from the union of  Anglo-European females and African American males.  His theory has merit in that a child's status (either free or slave) was determined by the mother. In John Henderson Russell's book, The Free Negro in Virginia, 1619-1865, he makes a strong case that those African Americans brought in after 1640 were considered slaves.  It is, therefore, likely that the majority of African American females would have been slaves and any children born to them would also be considered slaves. If this is true, then our mtDNA probably will not confirm any African American heritage.

However, Dorothy A Mays in her book, Women in Early American: Struggle, Survival and Freedom in a New World, estimates that in colonial Virginia that there were 3.38 males for every 1 female, at times the ratio of male to female may have been higher.  It is not unreasonable to think that because of this some of the European males may have taken Native American women as mates.  Which is why testing of our mtDNA lines is essential.  While it is likely that our mtDNA will show as European there is a chance we might find the Native American link in a Vinton County Group's descendant  mtDNA.

Because all females descend from approximately 20 some Eves, and because mutations happen very slowly in the mitochondrial DNA, some have said that studying mtDNA for genealogical purposes is not useful.  Even with the full sequence panels that our three participants have ordered it still only tells us if they had the same female ancestress in the last 400 years. 

But in our overlapping families, if the results aren't a perfect match that will tell us that they are separate families, which will, if we are able to get enough descendants tested,  enable us to distinguish the various groups more readily.  Not to mention the information on the Haplogroups could prove to be interesting.

If you are interested in participating you can contact me at the email address in the right hand column.  You can now find our project listed at Family Tree DNA.  Look under Project, Dual Geographic, and the letter "V."  We are a small group so far, but it is a start.


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