On the Death of Cheryl

Everybody’s existence depends on the actions, interactions and decision trees of the people who came before them. That isn’t unique. What I think is unique is the perspective on existence available to the family historian.

My aunt Cheryl died at the end of August. Her visitation (she didn’t want a funeral) was on the 8th of September. She was 70.

As a genetic family historian (I don’t know if that is a real term, but I get tired of genetic genealogist). I had an opportunity/burden to try to help my aunt find her biological family.

I didn’t particularly like my aunt. In my childhood, she was often a cruel, abusive and bitter person. As an adult, and a parent I came to recognize that she was an abused person herself. She paid the price for existing and existence seems to have been her worst offense. I’ve come to find out that my grandmother saved special torment for her and that makes it all the more heartbreaking that Cheryl was not allowed to know what she was suffering for.

Genealogy is a selfish pursuit, so my lens on Cheryl’s life is pretty self centered. My obligation to help my family changed into compassion for this person when I realized just how much she suffered for this and that I don’t exist unless she exists. My fate has always been wrapped up in her fate, whether I knew it or not.

She is one of those pinch points in the decision tree that make me and my family possible.

Blood Relatives and the Undying Machine

Talking with Cheryl on the phone last year, she placed the planting of the seeds of doubt about her paternity while she was working on blood typing in nursing school. Eventually another family relative would give her a less than helpful clue that there was a guarded secret about her father confirming her suspicions. When my grandfather died in 2006, my dad paid for a paternity test to try to get an answer once and for all. Cheryl is a great example of how everyone has two family trees.

Everybody has Two Family Trees

 

Enter Autosomal DNA and The Downward Spiral of Human Relationships

In 2013, we had Cheryl tested at 23 and me along with her maternal uncle in a dual effort to learn more about the Seelyes and to have another comparison to use as the dark side of the moon for both Cheryl and my father. I bungled it though and ended up having Cheryl’s kit sit too long in storage (nearly a year unclaimed at 23 and me) and getting into a misunderstanding and family conflict about using their uncle’s results (also sitting dormant for nearly a year, claimed but hidden by privacy settings). It eventually devolved from a series of mistakes into an argument about what rights their uncle thought Cheryl had to information about her biological father.

Ultimately, for me it highlighted the flaws in the 23 and me genome sharing scheme, because, at the time, 23 and me made it difficult to get basic information that was available by default at FTDNA. It also highlighted the fractures in a family that is still protecting a world war two era secret.

Thinking About Switching

In 2015, after several years spending hours each night pouring over the various hints and clues and compiled trees in my family searches, I decided to put it down for a while. Cheryl’s search was a big part of that, being the most depressing and limiting because of it’s recentness. It became hard to tell the people who were hostile to us knowing the truth from the people who were just very private, or generally disinterested. Every denial of basic directory information became a sort of hostile act.

 

Autosomal DNA…heavy sigh…I’m kind of tired

I couldn’t put it down for long though because about a month later, I had been pulled back in to autosomal DNA, by the warm fuzzy results of AncestryDNA testing for my wife and I. I had Cheryl test with AncestryDNA as well, hoping to get more results from a bigger database. For a while it was nice to be in the warm glow of easily shared information.

AncestryDNA and the Comforting Feeling of Being Comforted Comfortably

 

I did get more, and bigger matches at AncestryDNA, but I ran into the same stonewalling I had at FTDNA and 23 and me. Even at a site devoted to family trees, I was routinely blocked from family tree information for those genetic relatives that were closest. I had already put together several French Canadian connections for Cheryl, but I couldn’t connect them to these large matching relatives. Effectively trying to find a family from 1947 by their genetic echo in the 1700’s.

That frustration, basically with human interactions and limitations of company policies, had me vent some of my brooding contempt in a series of posts about the conspiracy against people seeking answers.

Conspiracy Part 1

 

The Worm Turns

It would be about 6 months from those dark conspiracy posts before I began to have some breakthroughs, first with the Elmores in my own line (after about six years) and then with Cheryl’s genetic relatives (after about 2 and a half). I figured out some new tactics for hunting down those missing family trees and at the same time a preponderance of larger genetic relatives floated in at AncestryDNA. The popularity and name recognition of the Ancestry tests paid off and I caught some new relatives before they had time or the inclination to hide their trees.

By December of 2016 I had the information that had been painfully out of reach. Ten years after Cheryl’s paternity test, I felt like I had her family (mostly) figured out. The Robert/Robar family had turned out to be more important than I could know and so did that large percentage of Irish in her ethnicity estimates.

Everybody Has Two Family Trees …A New Hope

By April of 2016, I was much more confident about the work done and the luck we had in getting matches. The results were rolling in and, often times, missing trees or not, I could tell where someone fits by clues in their names and shared matches. The indifference had become less hostile and the hostile people could be put on a shelf and forgotten.

I had useful exchanges with Cheryl’s first cousin one time removed on her father’s side. More interesting than life changing because I was actually in a position help them with their research, now that I had some answers for Cheryl.

When Tangled Roots Release a Burning Need Becomes a Hobby Again

After I got the call about Cheryl’s death, I logged in to Family Tree DNA, where I had been tipped off that her Robert related first cousin’s test results would be. It’s a 935cM confirmation that Cheryl did not live to see, but by this point it had become more of a foregone conclusion.

I don’t know if Cheryl understood all the information I sent her about her biological family. I hope it had some impact in the last year of her life. Possibly giving her some amount of comfort.

Raised with a house full of boys, she wanted to know if she had a sister. As far as I can tell, she did not. She had at least one other half brother. I imagine that was a disappointment, but I can also imagine her snorting a laugh at the absurdity of that final insult (which, in my memories, she often did).

In the end, I didn’t really know my aunt as a person. Certainly not the way her brothers, husband, adopted children and grandchildren did. I don’t know that she had particularly warm feelings for me either. This has been my one and only contribution to her life and the subject of the only real conversations we’ve ever had.

I drove for about 4 hours each way to spend time at her visitation. There were pictures and people that were familiar. For her husband and family, the talk was all about moving forward without her as a guiding force and a presence in their daily lives. There were no dark discussions about secrets, no mention of the Roberts, no alternate universe family trees. Just numbness and loss and the redemption that comes with it.

Genealogy is a selfish pursuit. In Cheryl’s life, I can see the decision of my grandmother that leads her to a hidden marriage out of state to a crippled Charles Thompson.  It leads to the birth of my father, and me and my children. It leads to Cheryl’s own children (adopted from her brother) and their children and to Cheryl’s great grandchildren. It leads to two more brothers, their children and their grandchildren.

Cheryl’s existence, so dearly paid for, is the catalyst for a new family. For better and for worse. My family.

Charles thompson with baby Cheryl and his mother Orvetta Finks

Charles thompson with baby Cheryl and his mother Orvetta Finks

 

Ed Elmer, Regular Guy

In my previous post, I came to the conclusion that Edward Elmer was likely a small farmer or a husbandman when he arrived in the Americas. Unlike John Talcott who seemed to be a Yeoman farmer and carried his prominence with him from his family in England. Edward was in a lower class and built on the resources he had and those things he was given in the new world.

I’ve read that every land owner had some say in Puritan civic affairs and that every man was given some portion of land. Edward is listed as one of the names of men who have right in undivided lands, so it would seem he has some resources to furnish himself with 12 acres while his betters may have seen up to 160 acres and men lower on the ladder could see 6 acres.

He was not listed among “The Names of such Inhabitants as were Granted Lots to have only at the towns courtesy, with liberty to fetch wood and keep swine or cows by proportion on the common”. Those men saw 6 acres at the top end and 3 acres at the bottom end, which makes them sound a lot like the class of labourer in 1600s England. Here is one definition of labourer:

Labourer lacked enough land to maintain himself and his family, (though he often had a cottage and garden, and grazing rights for cattle on the local common),  and consequently had to work for wages.

The Puritans giving everyone some land didn’t overturn the apple cart of English social and financial hierarchy in the colonies, but it did create a new class of …I don’t know, landed labourer? They had land to their name and also use of the common. It was probably a better opportunity for everyone involved than they would have seen at home and it gave them some say in the town.

In any case it looks like Ed is one step above that latter group but well below the educated gentry and many of the yeoman farmers.

Trying to Place the Real Ed in England

In my previous post, I talked about how Edward being in the social under-story of the Gentleman and Yeoman farmers in the new world, made him more reachable for me personally.  I also talked a little bit about how I thought his economic standing in the colonies could be used as a guide to his unknown family in England. 
the pillory

The Elmer-Elmore group put together our thoughts on the ancestors of Edward Elmer and agreed that we would need DNA evidence because paper trail evidence is either lacking or has been proven false.

Although family trees currently have, and have had, since the 1800’s many different families assigned to Edward, none can be shown to be correct. Many, with the evidence available to us today, can be shown to be incorrect.

That is a good thing, but it’s not winning us any friends in the world of family genealogy.

As with any group there are several camps. I was in the “Edward Elmer is the grandson of Bishop John Aylmer through his son Sheriff Samuel Aylmer” camp until another member of the group found documentation that proved that connection to be false.

Then I was in the “Elmers of Saint Mary Le Bow” camp, placing Elmer as a wealthy merchant in London, until I ended up finding the documentation that proved that connection to be false.

We then found some records of an Edward Aylmer related to Theophilus Aylmer (archdeacon of London) but cannot connect him to our Edward.

I have a lot of misgivings about that possible connection given what I learned while looking for possible families of Edward’s wife Mary.

 

The Elephant in the Room

Before I get to Edward Elmer from Braintree, I need to talk about the Edward Aylmer related to Theophilus Aylmer listed in the Harleian Society, Volume 50:

theophilus aylmer family showing son Edward Aylmer alive in 1618

Edward Aylmer son of Theophilus Archdeacon of London, legatee of his uncle Zachary, alive in 1618.

Why do we keep picking on the Aylmers? Largely I think it’s because at a certain period in the U.S. it was important to find our colonial roots and documentation was lacking. The Aylmers are easy to find because they were a wealthy landed family and well integrated into the Church of England.

Given the the importance of the Puritans to the U.S. psyche, it’s easy for me to see the need to assign Puritan colonial families to important families in England. Some of them undoubtedly were members of important families in England. The Aylmers fit well with that need. Puritans are religious and Anglican Bishops are religious. Puritans are important and the Sheriff of Suffolk is important.

Overall it seems like a very pious, honorable and direct connection and much easier to find for a person searching in the 1800s because the Aylmers are important people worth documenting and are prolific writers.

Another reason to want to connect them is that Aylmer, Elmer, Elmore, Ellmore, Ellmer, Elmor, Elmar, Almer, Ailmer and Aelmer all seem to be interchangeable. I explored the Elmer surname quite a bit in Elmers, Aylmers and the Normans. Spelling in documents in the 1600’s seems to be phonetic and loose. So it’s possible that an Aylmer might be recorded as Elmer or Ellmer in a court document.

So, Why not Edward Aylmer Grandson of the Bishop?

My first red flag is Edward’s puritanism. It is generally frowned on by Bishops of the Anglican church. John Aylmer apparently hated them on par with Catholics. It doesn’t seem likely to me that the grandson of the Bishop and son of the Archdeacon would choose to leave his life as a gentleman behind and forego the family’s preferred spelling of his name to be a Puritan.

The second red flag is the existence of Justinian Aylmer (grandson of Theophilus, great grandson of John Aylmer) born 1636 who matriculated from Oxford and spent time as a Reverend in Jamestown. He left for the new world, but maintained the tradition of the spelling of his family name, college education and religious duty. Showing that those ties are not easily broken.

The third red flag (and most recent) is Edward Elmer’s social and financial standing in the colonies. He’s low on the totem pole, not befitting the Aylmers who seem to be, at a minimum, landed gentry or professionals.  If Edward was an Aylmer why didn’t he garner the lands and positions afforded their class in the colonies. If he had fallen out with his father in a fit of puritanism, taking exile in the Americas, why did he have any resources in the new world at all?

I’m pushed further away from a connection to the Aylmer family and into the “Edward Elmer of Briantree” hypothesis.

To be clear, I can’t say that Edward Aylmer did not steal his father’s purse and run off with the Puritans, causing the earth’s rotation to slow because of the inertia created by Bishop John Aylmer spinning in his grave. I will say that I now personally think it’s highly, highly, highly unlikely.

The problem is the drive to tie Edward Elmer to the Aylmers is so strong and so long standing, that I would have to disprove the connection by finding documentation for Edward Aylmer showing him to be buried in England..or otherwise not available to take part in the great migration.

That puts me back in the same genealogy boat as proving that we’re not Thompsons, which is an uncomfortable place to be.

The Trouble with Braintree

bradford street Braintree

As with many colonial ancestors who may have been from Braintree, the parish records appear to be lost. So the paper trail is non-existent from the standpoint of documented births, deaths and marriages.

Edward is in the Braintree company on his way to Massachusetts, but not everyone on the ship is from Braintree proper. Some were and some weren’t. It becomes a confusing mix of places given that several of the people are just as lost to us as Edward.

The region around Chelmsford seemed to be a collecting point for the Puritans and I’ve read that all of Essex was active with Puritans in the time of Ed. More prominent people tend to be better documented and show a lot of mobility within England, but so many people from the lyon passenger lists have been guessed at by various historians over the years that it is hard to tell what is fact or the best they could come up with at the time.

I decided to look at Essex as a region. Are there definitely Elmers there in the 1600’s? Because of the missing parish records, I went to legal records and bought a single day subscription to the Essex online database.

My search was really general, Elmers and surname variants like Elmore, Ellmore, Aylmer, Ailmer, Almer in documents in Essex between 0 and 1700 AD. In all that time, I got 36 hits. Easier than combing through thousands, but sort of unsettling in it’s own way. So there are historically Elmers with documents in Essex before 1700. As it turned out, not all the documents contained in Essex pertained to Essex.  There were documents from surrounding counties. So, some care is called for in giving a headcount of Elmers.

I want to get this out of the way though. Are there Elmers in Braintree in the 1600s? Yes. At least one.

record for Elmer braintree whipple whitehead

Gad Elmer, labourer from Braintree is found guilty of striking Thomas Whitehead with a sword. In the witness list is another recognizable name, John Whipple. At least two Whipple families also make the trip to Massachusetts. This John may be the John Whipple of Bocking who arrives in Ipswich 6 years after Edward Elmer’s move to the new world.

This is not a smoking gun or…sword, but it goes to the point that although we have little documentation for Elmers in Braintree, there was at least one there before Edward departed in 1632. My guess is that there would likely be more than one, but this is what I have.

Based on this record for Gad Elmer, I think my next steps will be to try to get copies of the Braintree Poll Tax lists from the U.K. National Archives. The Poll tax records aren’t searchable by person, but they sometimes contain personal information and you can search for records that contain people based on the area (like records from Braintree that contain people).

Searching that way in the E 179 Database I was able to see that Braintree has several tax listings between 1620 and 1633 that contain people. Including one from 1629.

It’s a gamble though. I don’t know what the documents contain or even if I can get copies of them. Because they are not already digitized, I need to order a page check first to make sure they can be copied. I also don’t fully understand the nature of these tax listings. I’ve read that they do not always contain everyone in an area, but only those who would be taxed. So some contain people above a certain age and others contain only people who have enough wealth.

I could expect to see John Talcott there based on the family history for him, and possibly others.

The questions I have are, is Ed old enough to be listed and then would he be wealthy enough? Is he really from Braintree or should I look at pages from Bocking or any number of other towns in the area? Are they all included the Hinckford Hundred? The format of the documents is a scroll and it contains five “Rots”. What is a Rot?

listing of poll taxes from 1620 to 1633 in braintree

There is just a lot I don’t know, with the opportunity to nickle and dime myself at $11 per search and then an unknown quoted amount per copy if a copy can be made.

Reading about Puritanism, I get the idea that Essex is a hotbed for the movement, so it makes sense to look at other Elmers, Elmores and Aylmers from Essex.

Yes, Aylmer is in the list. While I don’t think Ed is a main line Aylmer from the wealthy family of the Bishop, he could be from a lower, cadet branch, distantly related to the Bishop and his offspring or a completely unrelated family of Ailmers.  The names really do appear to be interchangeable up to a point.  I’ll have to consider them too.

 

Elmers in Essex…or at least with records there

Back to the Essex online database. again, I also searched for various Elmer (and surname equivalent families) outside of Braintree and found Essex records for Elmers and variants in these areas:

  • John Almer, Earls Colne, 1582 (my screenshot failed)
  • Thomas Elmer in a will dated 1696, Little Coggeshall (interesting because others from Coggeshall are in the braintree company)
  • Samuel Almer, 1612 in Hattfield Peverel. The Churchwardens tried to take his cow.
  • Theophilius Aylmer (apothecary), 1683 in Chelmsford
  • Edward Elmer, 1565 Havering-atte-Bower – not sure if he is related to Edward Elmer, fish monger of London in some way.
  • Thomas Elmer, 1623 labourer in London
  • Mary Elmer, 1606…or 1696, will in Stapleford-Tawney, interesting because she lists a male “Cattlyn” and our Mary Unknown (Edward Elmer of Hartford’s wife) married Thomas Caitlin after Edward’s death.
  • Thomas Aylmer, 1513, Gentleman of Harlow near Thaxted.
  • Rob Elmer, 1578 in Tollesbury
  • John Elmer, 1608 in Tollesbury
  • William Emler 1623 in Tollesbury
  • Robert Elmer, 1644 Seaman. Will from West Mersea
  • Robert Elmer alias Tyler, 1614 and again documented in 1616 from Wivenhoe outside Colchester.

Also in this group are records for the Aylmers of Mowdon (Mugdon) Hall related to the Bishop, but since we’ve already surveyed them pretty well and there are many records for them, I left them off this list.

I want to take a moment to talk about Robert Elmer alias Tyler. At first I thought this was very strange that a person would have a listed alias or that possibly Tyler was his real name and that he was part of some criminal enterprise. What I learned is that people with common names would use an alias name in legal documents to differentiate themselves from others. So a person like myself, Mike Thompson, might use Mike Thompson alias Tyler to differentiate with other Mike Thompsons in the area. I also learned that members of the same family might carry on the alias, almost a second family name. This aliasing, to me, means there may be other regional Elmers around Wivenhoe that the Elmers alias Tyler were trying to differentiate from.

Tollesbury is interesting for a seemingly long history of Elmers who were important enough to leave wills and be recorded in documents. The Elmers in Tollesbury and West Mersea seem persistent and might be good families to target for DNA testing (should any still exist).

Earls Colne, Coggeshall and Braintree are all within a few miles of each other so those records are of interest for the general Braintree Puritan population.

The take away for me in this search is, there are many documented Puritans from Essex, and there are representatives from various 1600’s Elmer families in Essex too. The intersection of those two groups makes Essex a really compelling area for finding non-conformist, yeoman or husbandman class Elmers.

 

A Lot of Ground to Cover

Turning back to the U.K. National Archive online search, I went digging for Elmer families elsewhere in England, paying special attention to wills. The few wills I got from the Essex database were informative for the other people mentioned in them. First sons seem to get the lions share of inheritance, but younger sons, brothers and nephews are often left something.

The opportunity is to learn about Edward Elmer through a relative that might leave him enough money to make his way to America (which I’ve read cost about 5 pounds in the 1600s).

Overall I found some form of documentation of 1600’s Elmers (and variants) in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, London, Middlesex, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Suffolk, Surrey and Sussex.

Some items from the archives are free, but others have a cost. So far, I’ve been able to purchase several wills.

By the way 1600’s script is very hard for me to read. I had to kind of make a translation table in my mind to figure out what a d was or why a capital R in some instances looked like the symbol for the Euro. Some of them had either confusing Latin or French sections as well which can really throw you for a loop when you’re struggling to read them in English.

image of the script from the will of Henry Elmer grocer of London 1617

Some of them, like the will of Richard Elmor, Husbandman of Mursley, Buckinghamshire have exactly the sort of thing I’m looking for. He leaves his son Edward 15 pounds in 1659. Henry Elmer, Grocer of London leaves his brother Edward 5 shillings in 1617…not going to cut it for a trip to the colonies. I also have to wonder if the London Elmers are related to Edward the fish monger. John Elmer (alias Filewood) yeoman from Rushden Northamptonshire leaves his nephew Edward 10 pounds in 1599, but that means that Edward was alive in 1599 which is too old for us.

Others have no Edwards at all. In 1667 and 1670 two Elmers (yeoman John and weaver George) in different towns a few miles from Shillington in Bedfordshire are listed as members of non-conformist congregations. Non-conformist Elmers will always get my attention. The will of Robert Elmer from Shillington in 1619 was a high priority target for me. I had to order a scan of it because it was not already digitized. It mentions two sons, John and Thomas, but no Edwards. Thomas Elmer Gentleman of Weybridge Surrey was similar. He mentions many people in his will in 1657 but no wayward Edwards who ran off to the colonies.

With all of these available records it’s easy to get click happy, which leads to spending a lot of money on digitized documents in $4 to $10 increments. It’s not an incredible amount of money to spend for information that would normally not be available to someone like me in Michigan, but with so many shots in the dark, it does begin to add up. At a certain point, I had to tell myself to stop because it felt too much like a gambling habit.

Each record is a roll of the dice, either looking for a contemporary relative who happens to mention an Edward in the colonies or a possible parent or uncle who leaves him a sum of money before he makes his journey.

Clearly, even with all these resources basically at my fingertips, finding the second or third son, brother, nephew or cousin of a farmer or professional is going to be much harder than finding the descendants of a celebrity family like Bishop John Aylmer’s.

It’s easy to get disheartened but I think this survey will be just as informative in the long run as looking at colonial land records has been, if for nothing more than showing the sheer diversity of Elmer families available to us in the 1600s. Each will and court document gives a better, broader picture of Elmers in England in the time of Edward.

We have a lot more options than we’ve given ourselves previously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Something to Love part 2

Something About Mary

colonial america color print

In the Elmer-Elmore group we have worked quite a bit on Edward. Most of the work has been trying to prove or disprove a family connection to Bishop John Aylmer through one of his sons (commonly listed in many genealogies) or to the Elmer family of London that Charles Banks put forward in his book planters of the commonwealth.

The struggle is that no one really knows much about Edward’s past. All the documentation available is in the new world where he owns land, is married and has all his children.

Recently, one of the group members suggested that we spend a little time on Edward’s wife Mary. We list her as Mary Unknown since we can find no evidence of Edward’s marriage records and her maiden name does not appear in the records we do have.

Since Edward’s children begin to show up around 1646, 10 years after landing in the colonies, we suspect his wife is hidden among the families here in the new world. One of likely many Marys in Puritan New England.

In my previous postings, I’ve talked a little bit about the remoteness of Ed for me. I struggle to find the common ground with him and I wrestle with the appropriateness of my research and taking some ownership of him. I don’t have the same reverence for the puritans that I see coming from others and I find it hard to relate.

Mary though is a puzzle. With her, I can get into data and facts mode. Our DNA can not help us here. Mary is way too far in the past for autosomal DNA and her mitochondrial DNA (only passed through successive generations of daughters) has yet to be researched.  On top of that, women are generally poorly documented and Mary seems to be no exception.

The question for me became, what can I learn about the families surrounding Edward? What families are more likely to contain our Mary?

Newtowne/Cambridge Massachusetts

newtowne mass bay

Not knowing necessarily when Edward was married, I started in Cambridge Massachusetts, where he first settled. He’d have been in his 20’s. I’ve read that unattached young men were assigned to another family in Puritan towns, so I thought I may not see any record of Edward there, but I was wrong.

I’m going to jump forward a little bit here though to show a map of colonial Hartford Connecticut with Edward Elmer’s home plot on it.

edward Elmer and john talcott

You can see Edward there near “centinel” hill. Next to John Talcott. Because of the uniformity of this image, I had assumed that all things were pretty much equal among the colonists, but comparing the Newtowne/Cambridge Massachusetts records to each other it was easy to see they were not.

division of pales in cambridge

First off, several men were Esquires and one is listed as Mister. They have a lot of “rods” defining their “pales” of land. I paid particular attention to John Talcott. 36 rods to Edward’s 2. Further in to the records of Newtowne/Cambridge on page 13 there is another interesting disparity between Ed Elmer and John Talcott.

John (top left) is assigned five and a half acres of land and Ed is assinged half an acre.

I’ve got some nice land records to see which families were active. It’s possible Mary is under one of those heads of household, but I started to become increasingly sidetracked by Ed’s “regularness” when it came to landholding. Clearly, he’s no John Talcott…or John Haynes Esquire.

A sentence for the history of Hartford Connecticut talks about Edward’s holdings in Cambridge:

Richard Webb, Richard Goodman and Edward Elmer had recorded no houses. They are added  upon evidence derived from the Hartford records. 

It makes it sound like Edward had been assigned land, but had no house of his own in Cambridge. Is it possible that he really was living with another family at the time, but had the means to procure a small amount property?

Hartford Connecticut

colonial hartford map 2

Hartford is the estimated place of Edward’s marriage to Mary. It seems most likely that she would be attached to a family here. Again, I wanted to find Edward’s peers to see who a likely match would be and again, I was struck by the disparity of land holdings.

Here is an excerpt from the history of Hartford. The numbers are acres of land:

John Haynes, Esq., 160; George Wyllys, Esq., 150;
Mr. Edward Hopkins, 120; Mr. Mathew Allyn, 110; Mr.
Thomas Welles, 100; Mr. John Webster, 96; Mr. William
Whiting, 96; John Talcott, 90; Andrew Warner, 84; Mr.
Thomas Hooker, 80; William Pantry, 80; William West-
wood, 80; James Olmsted, 70; Thomas Hosmer, 60; Na-
thaniel Ward, 60; William Wadsworth, 52; John \Miite,
50; John Steele, 48; Thomas Scott, 42; Mr. William
Goodwin, 42; Thomas Stanley, 42; Mr. Samuel Stone, 40;
Stephen Hart, 40; William Spencer, 40; John Moody, 40;
William Lewis, 38; William Ruscoe, 32; Timothy Stanley,
32; Jonathan Ince, 30; Richard Webb, 30; William An-

drews, 30; Samuel Wakeman, 30; Jeremy Adams, 30;
Richard Lyman, 30; William Butler, 28; Thomas Lord,
28; Mathew Marvin, 28; Gregory Wolterton, 28; Andrew
Bacon, 28; Richard Goodman, 26; Nathaniel Richards,
26; John Pratt, 26; Thomas Birch wood, 26; George Steele,
26; John Barnard, 24; James Ensign, 24; John Hopkins,
24; Stephen Post, 24; Edward Stebbins, 24; George
Grave, 24; John Clarke, 22; William Gibbons, 20; John
Crow, 20; Thomas Judd, 20; William Hills, 20; George
Stocking, 20; Joseph Mygatt, 20; Nathaniel Ely, 18;
Richard Lord, 18; William Hyde, 18; William Kelsey,
16; John Arnold, 16; William Blumfield, 16; Richard
Butler, 16; Arthur Smith, 14; Robert Day, 14; John
Maynard, 14; Seth Grant, 14; William Hayden, 14;
Thomas Spencer, 14; Thomas Stanton, 14; John Baysey,
14; John Wilcox, 13; John Marsh, 12; William Parker,
12; Nicholas Clarke, 12; Thomas Bull, 12; John Higginson,
12; William Holton, 12; Edward Elmer, 12; Francis
Andrews, 12; Richard Church, 12; James Cole, 10; Zachary
Field, 10; John Skinner, 10; Joseph Easton, 10; Thomas
Hale, 10; Richard Olmsted, 10; Samuel Hale, 8; Richard
Risley, 8; Thomas Olcott, 8; Robert Bartlett, 8; Thomas
Selden, 6; Thomas Root, 6; William Pratt, 6. — Total, 95.

John Talcott, 90 acres. Edward Elmer, 12 acres. Again at the top of the list are Esquires. It seems obvious that the bold new world still has social and financial tiers held over from England.

I’m familiar with the class system in the U.S. My family has had its ups and downs over the past few generations and most recently clawed it’s way back into the middle class. Class often determines who is eligible for marriage. What class system did Ed live under?

The Class of 1636

I found an interesting reference online: https://faculty.history.wisc.edu/sommerville/361/361-02.htm

First, the Esquires and Mrs listed at the top. These fall into the class of gentlemen:

It was said that “gentlemen are made good cheap in England;” anyone with a master’s degree from one of the two universities (Oxford and Cambridge) counted as a gentlemen, as did any member of a profession (physician, lawyer). The means of gentlemen varied enormously, from small farmers to extremely wealthy landowners. Gentlemen held political power locally as Justices of the Peace and nationally as Members of Parliament. Gentry made up approximately 2% of the English population in 1600, but owned 50% of land (the nobility owned about 15%; church & crown owned most of the remainder).

The richest merchants were very wealthy, for example, aldermen of London were richer than almost all landed gentlemen.

Our group’s previous searches of records from Oxford an Cambridge had shown that our Edward Elmer was not among the Aylmers who graduated there and went on to be Bishops and Apothecaries ..etc. We’ve also been able to say based on a newer index of records, that Edward Elmer was not the Fishmonger with rents in London in Saint Mary Le Bow: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Ancestors_of_Edward_Elmer…_Pending_DNA

Edward had no Esquire on his name. He was not a part of the “Gentry” or a wealthy merchant, and neither was his neighbor John Talcott.

Edward and John both had some means to make it to the new world and purchase land. So we move down to the next class of “other commoners”.

Yeomen were prosperous farmers, (i.e. with incomes in excess of £40 per annum in 1600).
Below yeomen were husbandmen, (earning about £15 pounds per annum in 1600).
A Labourer lacked enough land to maintain himself and his family, (though he often had a cottage and garden, and grazing rights for cattle on the local common), and consequently had to work for wages.
The going rate for day labor in 1600 was roughly 1s per day when work was available, but agricultural work was seasonal, and many labourers would only have been able to find work for six months in the year.
With an annual income of about £9 pounds, labourers barely earned enough to get by.

It seems most likely that John Talcott falls into the class of Yeomen. He may not have the same education or standing as the Gentry, but he’s from a good family and has more resources than others. He seems like a prosperous farmer.

To me that leaves Ed at “husbandman” or somewhere between husbandman and labourer. He has less resources than John Talcott, but enough resources not to be at the very bottom rung on the landholding ladder. He had no house in cambridge, but he seems to pick up a slightly better chunk of Hartford than others of his ilk. Husband in this context means house holder.

old new england published in the times union

This contradicts to some extent the idea of Ed as the son of and Archdeacon and the grandson of a Bishop. For one, he’s not an Anglican like the Bishops were, he’s a Puritan and a non-conformist. Second, he’s not among the alumni of Oxford and Cambridge like other Aylmers. Third, he doesn’t seem to be a large landowner like the Aylmers in Hertfordshire, Ulting and Suffolk. Finally he doesn’t have the resources or standing in the community in the colonies that you’d expect for someone with such a high rank in England. He seems to have the resources and standing of a small yet prosperous farmer.

Edward’s past is unknown, but this is not true for everyone in Hartford. John Talcott is traced back to a prosperous family in Braintree. It’s possible his inherited station and land holdings afforded him quite a bit more documentation than Edward had. It also seems that John held positions of public prominence early in New Towne and Hartford which would befit his higher social standing.

The Edward Elmer I’m seeing in these records is not preordained for success. He’s not without means, but he’s definitely still under the thumb of a class system. The playing field is not level. He’s a small fish in a small pond surrounded by bigger more important fish in the new world.

In my previous postings, I talked about not being able to relate to Ed, but it turns out, I cannot relate to John Talcott. Puritans were not all cut from the same cloth. Edward Elmer, “fair to middlin” regular guy trying to improve his lot in life, has become someone I can relate to.

Perhaps his family had recently clawed its way into the small farmer class. Maybe the move to the new world and Hartford meant opportunity beyond what he could have in England.

It seems then like we could weed out the Esquires and Mr. families from the possible marriage pool for Edward. I suspect marrying down would not be allowed for a prominent Mary. We could lessen the scope of our search by looking at “husbandman” level families.

Podunk/Windsor

From the History of Hartford, Edward Elmer is mentioned as an example of what had become the norm for an English farmer and improved land.

In 1655, the Elmer lot, having passed to Colonel
John Allyn, was still bounded west by the hill.

When John Allyn, in 1655, bought Edward Elmer’s home-
lot, it was particularly described as having “outhoufes,
barn, yards, orchards & gardens therein.” Orchards and
gardens are frequently added in later records. They be-
came adjuncts of most homes.

It seems that the Allyns were already wealthy landowners with Matthew as a Mr. My guess is that John is Matthew’s son.

I’m not sure what took place between this sale and Edward’s move to the area of Podunk (South Windsor). I believe somewhere in there Edward sells 12 or 15 acres of land when he leaves for Windsor, although I don’t have a record handy to back that up.

After reading some of the history of Windsor,  what I’m seeing in the move to Windsor is Ed making a high risk/high reward decision. He is allotted 550 acres of land in Podunk. Amazingly larger than previous listings I’ve seen. It’s three miles of land across the river.

There is the risk. These families are across the river from Hartford and I think other families in Windsor. It’s hostile territory for several reasons. There is some amount of isolation. I get the feeling that this is Edward’s play into the big time. He’s decided to go for broke. This is where the Elmer family will size up to their Gentleman and Yeoman neighbors and become a source of pride for later successful generations of Elmers and Elmores. By taking this risk, Edward, the man who doesn’t have a past,  can ensure the future for his family. It will cost him his life.

And there, really having been completely derailed from finding Edward’s wife by examining his community, I finally see a man who didn’t have it all handed to him. His gains were hard won. He struggled. He had to play the long game to make a better life. His time ran out.

I can identify with that.

I wonder, in those last years, on his land, did he finally feel that he was living in his place? Did he feel connected to it? Did he leave his soul there in Podunk or is it wandering in some unknown location in England?

 

 

 

 

 

Finding something to love

My sister takes a drag on her cigarette and lets out a deep sigh of smoke, “So…I have no roots”.

“You have very deep roots. They just aren’t here”, I say.

“Here” is a rural cemetery outside of Mesick Michigan. We’re cemetery hopping to get pictures, but we aren’t related to anyone here. We’ve got relatives in other cemeteries but they are all people we’ve met in our lifetime. We’re recent transplants. Our history in Michigan is only as long as our history of being Thompsons, 92 years and counting.

What you may not understand is that, this area is, hands down, the best place in the world. It is home. Our souls are there and we have to return every so often to catch up with them. It’s not a house or a particular landmark we’re drawn to. It’s everything. We feel this region in our bones. Like vampires, we have to come back to our earth.

So, there I am in the windy uplands of our home turf, telling my sister that we weren’t carved out of the stones of this place with 200 years or more under our belt. We’re there, by accident, within the lifetime of a single person.

For someone who can count the trees as lifelong friends, being untethered from your place is really an unacceptable thing.

I decide to go for broke. I talk about the bad land deal near Traverse City in 1924 that led to the move to Cadillac and our grandfather’s birth in 1925. I move backwards and tell her about the Finks family moving north and meeting up with Ray Thompson because of the railroad. I move back farther and talk about the Elmores in Peoria, then the Elmores in New York and finally to show just how deep those roots are, I throw out Edward Elmer, a Puritan founder of Hartford and, right now, the genetic all-father for our family. I blow out the vast scope of 400 years of movement that leads to this moment and our very existence in about 10 seconds of breathless shrieking.

I realize what a misstep that is, but I can’t undo it. I can’t take it back and feed her the small bites of information she needs.

She walks away, silently flicking ashes.

It’s Not You, it’s Me

Tangled tree roots in wexford county michigan

When it comes to facts and data and genome analysis, I’m like Lennie petting the mouse. I mean well, but, it never ends well.

When I think about these things, especially with my family, I think about identity. There is a gulf to be crossed because we’re Thompsons, but we’re not Thompsons. So that easy tie in is lost. We’re Elmores, but we’re not tied to them either except through blood. It’s hard to get excited about that. I’m excited about facts and data and puzzle solving, but am I excited about their story? Can I identify with these people?

I think, to a certain extent, I can’t sell this “truth in our genes” because I’m not sold on the connection. I can’t make a connection because I’m missing the common ground.

I have to make this person, Ed Elmer, acceptable to me before he’ll be acceptable to anyone else.

 

A Visit to New York

My Elmore family is from New York, but it would probably be easier for me to get to them by way of Canada. This visit to New York doesn’t concern them. This is a visit to my wife’s existing relatives near Peekskill.

hay bales near fishkill NY

We decide to stay in the town of Pawling because it’s a good middle ground between several friends and family members we’re going to visit. For Annette, this is coming home.

What you may not understand is that this area of New York is, hands down, the best place in the world. For my wife and her family, this is home. Their souls are there and they are compelled to return to their earth.

Rock wall outside Pawling NY

 

I can feel it too. The windy hills, rocks, trees, farm fields and streams remind me of home. The town reminds me of my own home town. The kids never want to leave.

morning in pawling ny

 

A Visit to Hartford

We drove 700 plus miles to be in New York and drove through parts of Connecticut to get to friends and family, so spending another couple of hours getting to Hartford Connecticut seems very reasonable.

It is time for me to make a physical connection to Ed. I need to touch something so I can carry that feeling back with me. I need to see it.

We hit construction and tack another hour or so onto the trip. It’s getting dark. Hartford is a modern city. The historic church and ancient burial ground seem to be lost in a banking and commerce district. Ed Elmer’s old plot may be a parking ramp.

hartford connecticut glass building

We park and hurry over to the cemetery with buses honking and people shouting in their daily grind. I’ve become determined to lay a hand on that obelisk. I know Ed is not there, but I waant to make that connection. Dusty and road weary we walk up to the cemetery gates. I have my sons with me. This is my chance to make a connection for them as well. Part of this man lives on in them both figuratively and physically.

The gate is locked. My wife snaps a picture.

Hartford Disappoint

What you see there is disappointment. The cemetery is closed. I’m 18 minutes too late to complete my 400 year and 800 mile journey and I can’t come back tomorrow.

I decide to go for broke. I talk about the bad land deal near Traverse City in 1924 that led to the move to Cadillac and their great grandfather’s birth in 1925. I move backwards and tell her about the Finks family moving north and meeting up with Ray Thompson because of the railroad. I move back farther and talk about the Elmores in Peoria, then the Elmores in New York and finally to show just how deep our roots are, I present the obelisk we can’t touch,which presumably carries the name of Edward Elmer, a Puritan founder of this city, their genetic all-father. I blow out the vast scope of 400 years of movement that leads to this moment and our very existence in about 10 seconds of breathless shrieking.

I realize what a misstep that is, but I can’t undo it. I can’t take it back.  I’m losing them.

My oldest says “Well…okay then” my youngest asks his mother if we can go back to Pawling now. Annette explains that this is special to daddy, so we’re going to wait. She snaps a few more pictures between the bars of the cemetery fence.

There is plenty of awkward silence on the way back to the car to think about how I’m traumatizing my sons with genealogy after a four hour side trip to nothing.

The selfishness of my pursuit rears it’s head. The kids are curious, they want to know things, but they need to have some connection to it. I have dragged them to Hartford looking for that physical link. Thinking that it could be a special event. Maybe something in the earth here would speak to us the way other places do.

Hartford court house downtown

The thing is, it didn’t speak even though I was straining hard to listen. I have no need to return to Hartford. There is nothing for me there. I can’t identify with the bustling city of today and I can’t identify with the stodgy Puritans of the past.

Identity and the Past

A group of Cambridge educated men from well to do families settle in the new world. These aren’t the Pilgrams. These guys had more resources. Some were English gentleman. They were higher up the social ladder. They were religious extremists looking for a place in the world that they could micro-manage. That is my idea of these Puritans.

samuel stone statue hartford

The Puritans were radical Christians. So tight that their social order couldn’t stand up to the growth of their own towns. Ed Elmer would roll in his grave if he knew about me. I feel like I can document him and define him genetically, but I don’t know if I can identify with him.

We’re too culturally different.

The puritans are too remote, too “well to do” and too “pure” to be relatable. I feel like I have more in common with the natives than these country gents.

samuel e elmore obituary

Above is an example. Samuel Edward Elmore is a successful business man. His point of pride in two different articles is the 550 acres of land Edward Elmer owned just before he died. Samuel Edward Elmore is a prominent person who descends from prominent people who have a lot of resources. He can identify with that place (because he still had a house there) and with Edward (because he was also very successful in gaining all that land). Success would seem to be preordained.

There’s nothing wrong with Samuel. He did well. I think his success would help him to personally identify with a prominent land owner. Or at least it helped other people identify him with a prominent land owner.

Meanwhile, my grandfathers were construction workers or farmers. One bought a small plot in the woods and literally built his house from collected sticks. The second built his house from the leftovers on a job site. The third survived polio and worked on farm land that was not his own. Success was measured differently. It was smaller and hard won after a lifetime of struggle. They fought poverty and hunger and illness. They each had to overcome obstacles to reach the modest success of climbing into the middle class. With a roof over their heads, they lived in their chosen place. They hunted and gathered blueberries. They planted tidy gardens in the short northern growing season. They had a life in the wind and the water and the trees and the loose sandy soil.

They left their souls there.

That is a story I can relate to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ed Elmer updates

Updated Y Testing Tree

We’ve had a lot of successful Y testing in the branches of the descendants of Edward Elmer. Through Y triangulation of two men in each line we’ve been able to assign some previous singleton Y SNPs to specific men in the line within the genealogical time frame.

You may (or may not) recall my disappointment 7 years ago that the closest I seemed to get to other men in Y DNA testing was in the time of cave painting and mammoths, so it’s very exciting to have concrete designations for men who can be documented!

We were able to get three good outcomes from this testing.

The first two are defining SNPs for branches: We have a line of men under Edward’s son Samuel. They share a common ancestor in Samuel’s grandson David Elmer born in 1725. That line is defined by the SNP (previously a singleton) R-A6928.  We also have a line of men under Edward’s son Edward 2. They share a common ancestor in Edward 2’s grandson Samuel Elmer born in 1732. That particular Samuel (a son of Hezekiah) is defined by a previous singleton SNP, R-A5920.

The third outcome is a confirmation of the absence of R-A2284 in the line of Edward’s son Samuel. We can then definitively assign it to Edward’s son Edward 2.  We have been effectively working under that assumption, but it’s good to have the confirmation.

Here is a link to the Ed Elmer blogspot posting with the new Y testing chart for Ed Elmer branches: http://edelmer.blogspot.com/2017/07/y-dna-testing-in-branches.html

 

Sorting Out the Paperwork

As a group, we’ve spent a few years periodically going over the available documentation and various conjectures for Edward Elmer and decided to come out with an overview of what we found looking at the various sources and a statement of our intent to pursue DNA testing to try to get beyond Ed (and the borders of the U.S.) in some definitive way.

Looking through the old books, records and analysis of other researchers was made much easier by the availability of documents on the internet. We were able to find almost everything we needed through online searches. That gave us a powerful set of tools, and worldwide access, that previous researchers didn’t have.  Someone searching by hand through paper in London in the 1930’s may only have come upon a single census record for a family to try to build theories from, while we can see the records for that entire family play out from birth until death, for generations, in searchable records online.

Probably the biggest revelation for the group was that being closer to the source in time did not make people more accurate. We, ironically more distant relatives, have better access to records than researchers did even a few decades ago.

http://edelmer.blogspot.com/2017/07/ancestors-of-edward-elmer-pending-dna.html

 

A Fraud with a Capital T

As this site is really my open journal, I have to admit that it is a strange feeling to be researching Ed Elmer in a serious way. Growing up in a “patrilineal naming” society, as a “Thompson”, I feel like I have no business digging at Edward “Elmer”.

The story in my genes brings me finally back to Ed, my unintentional ancestor. I can only describe the feeling as “imposter syndrome”. Here I have been accepted by my most distant genetic relatives on the male line, and allowed to participate in their research (both genetic and paper trail), and yet I am nervous about taking too much ownership of Edward Elmer.

The man is literally coded into my DNA, but when I visited the ancient burying ground in Hartford, I was waiting for some authority on B-list puritans to come out and shew me away.  As if I had not somehow earned the right to experience this physical link to the past without the appropriate paperwork.

No one earns their DNA. Edward could no more choose to be related to me than I could to him. We are linked, he and I, for better or worse. My sons will carry his living DNA into the future even as I try to use it to figure out his past.

My internal challenge continues to be accepting the reality in my genes as others have, and accepting that I have something to offer my distant cousins in continuing to research Ed.

When Tangled Roots Release a Burning Need Becomes a Hobby Again

A person I met through genetic genealogy circles said to me once that the ancestors were speaking to me. I wished at the time and for years after that they would speak more clearly. I think around this time last year, I was still deep into the mystery of the Elmores and no closer to figuring out my Aunt’s paternal family.

With those ghosts no longer haunting me, I feel like I can enjoy genetic genealogy as a hobby. Maybe I should have titled this “when a full time becomes a pastime”.

In December, having filled in a lot of information for my Aunt, I said “Maybe, I can treat this more as an enjoyable hobby now rather than the painful dismantling of my recent ancestor’s great and terrible machines”. For the most part that has been the case.

I’ve poked in on ancestryDNA and FTDNA with their various blessings and curses. I’ve stacked up the people with their common matches and checked out segments when I have that information available. Many times, I can get a good idea of where someone fits. I’ve looked around some blind corners and put together deeper trees based on the half-hearted trees left by genetic matches. I’m still surprised by the complete lack of family tree information for most matches at Ancestry.com. At the same time I’m  happy that ancestry pulls such a large audience that most of our biggest and closest matches are there and usually not hard to place, now that I know which families to look at.

As I suspected in those last months of 2016, more matches have rolled in for both our Elmore family (picked up a new Elmore/Waughtel relative today on my account at Ancestry) and my Aunt’s Robert family (A brand new Robert/Bahan relative at FTDNA today too).

Because these people are not active partners, and often don’t return contacts, I am not going to have all the best information, but because they leave little stub trees, share triple digits of centimorgans and 12 to 24 segments, it’s not such a mystery how they fit.

On the known sides of the family, I’m content to put together the trees I have with simple “in common with” matches and to let my large second cousin level matches do the heavy lifting and sorting.

There are still some unknowns. Where do the Winters family members fit for my aunt?  With another large, likely Bolton related match to my grandfather pulled in at FTDNA today, will I ever know how we are connected to that family?

There are those mysteries still on all sides, but I don’t feel like the clock is ticking on them any more. The Ancestors have stopped speaking to me for the moment and I’m really enjoying that.

 

Elmers, Aylmers and the Normans

Although I haven’t posted about it much here and I haven’t updated the Ed Elmer blogspot site in a while, we’re continuing to recruit members and add evidence and to shore up our discoveries using Autosomal and Y DNA. We have a broad range of interests in our small group. We have members whose Y DNA shows a clear connection to Ed Elmer but are struggling with brick walls in documenting that connection. We have members trying to push beyond Ed to clear up some of the mysteries surrounding his family in England (something a lot of good researchers have not been able to do) and we have another small subset that is interested in the story of what made these Elmers…”Elmers”.

This post is generally for that last small group, although I suppose it might be applicable to others.

I’ve been ruminating the last few days on various discussions with with different groups as most of us are trying to use Y DNA to push our family trees back and to test out our family mythologies. Particularly conversations in our Ed Elmer focused elmer-elmore google group and with the Lunsfords.

Given our Y DNA results we’re all looking at a common male ancestor around 950 AD, but our family myths have us coming from various different dispersed areas in Southeast England. Namely Norfolk (Elmers), Sussex (Lunsfords) and Kent (Knowltons). Some of those family myths stretch back to 1066 AD which is getting very close to our meeting point. A question raised was, why don’t we see more cross over between these families?

The Blessing and Curse of Surnames

Because I’m a Thompson, I’ve had to accept a few basic truths about surnames. They do not always indicate related families. The spellings of them do not always follow the rules. They are pretty easily modified, picked up or dropped by any individual at any time.

I’ve actually spent a lot of time trying to hash out what it means to be a Thompson and how reality differs from the Thompson mythology. The minimum requirement for a Thompson or Thomson is to be the son of  some Thomas or another. End of story.  Having said that, you will find a lot of Thompsons who don’t meet even that very liberal requirement because Thompson is also a name you pick to make life easier in an English speaking country.

It took me a while to break out of the mythology surrounding Thoms. You can see me jumping through those hoops in early posts here. No one should be surprised that I apply that same experience to the other surnames in my family.

I have found that people with rare surnames or in rare surname DNA projects, often struggle with those basic truths and how fluid surnames can be. People with generic job based or paternity/maternity based surnames are usually forced to face that fluidity head on. Think of all the Smith and Jones families out there. No one expects that every village blacksmith in europe shared the same male ancestor, but we will still try to shoehorn people with rarer surnames into the same paternity over and over again. That thinking is especially dangerous in genetic genealogy because it can lead to project admins saying your DNA doesn’t look like a “Sammons” or a “Rose”. The mythology of common ancestry becomes hurtful to both the people involved and the research of the surname.

Surname Bias

In the course of my research into my own paternal family, I’ve moved from a very common surname “Thompson” to a more uncommon surname “Elmer” and surname tradition and mythology and the focus on subtle differences become more powerful barriers. Surname bias gets stronger as there are fewer of you.

Forget for a minute that I’m a Thompson and consider that my great grandfather was an Elmore. I say that name El-more. Like “May I have some more”.  At a certain point farther back in my tree, the spelling Elmore was chosen over the spelling Elmer. When I say Elmer I say it like “El-mur”, like the “mer” in “mermaid”. In my neck of the woods those two pronunciations are very different and for a lot of people like me, that is a full-stop wall. Elmers are completely different from Elmores.  There are people in the world for whom Elmers becoming Elmores is not acceptable, let alone Thompsons becoming Elmores becoming Elmers.

Now imagine you are trying to work with people who may be related to Ed Elmer and you contact male Elmores to see if they will run a few Y tests? Your likelihood of success drops a good amount in that transition from Elmer to Elmore and recruiting those Elmores becomes nigh impossible if you’re a Thompson.

The inverse of that is explaining to two groups of Y tested Elmores in Kentucky that one of them is related to these Elmers from Connecticut, while the others are related to Elmores from Virginia and the two are completely unrelated on the paternal line.

That is the curse of surnames. They are given too much weight.

The blessing is, especially for Y DNA in our patriarchal society, they can be an important clue to relatedness. Elmers, Elmores and Ellmars from upstate New York can really benefit from comparing Y DNA results because their similar surnames and proximity to each other, might be a clue to shared paternal ancestry. Once you’ve determined shared paternal ancestry it can become easier to go beyond the surname bias and find actual documentation of a surname evolving within a genetic family.

So far, people we can prove are related to Ed Elmer carry the surname Elmer and Elmore but I imagine there are untapped surname variants out there. The other side of that coin is that there are a lot of unrelated but perfectly good Elmer and Elmore families out there too as you can see at the Elmore Y DNA project.

Aylmers and Aelmer

Please don’t be offended by the word mythology here. I use it lovingly because “cherished traditional story” is just too long.

The pervasive mythology of Edward Elmer’s ancestors is that he is really an Aylmer and that he is actually related to Bishop John Aylmer. You can see in John’s painting in the wikipedia article, the Elmer cross with the little black birds called choughs (part of the crow family mentioned for both Aylmers and Elmores in some arms books).

The next leap of faith for the name is that Aylmer is a form of Aelmer, a personal name of Saxon origin which occurs in the Domesday book (I’m sure I’ve mentioned them before connected to Knowlton in Devon).

You’ll see the Aylmer as Aelmer repeated in books about Bishop John Aylmer and they note his preference for the Saxon spelling of it.

segment of biography of Bishop John Aylmer

A couple of things bother me about this. The name Aelmer is definitely saxon and you can find it in the Domesday book for lords before 1066. I don’t think this text is technically wrong and our Y DNA would support a Saxon conclusion, but there are always zero Aelmers in charge of land after 1086. Saxon Aelmers lost the war and were replaced on their lands.

Aelmers Under Norman Rule and the Common Use of Surnames

Surnames came into common use in England with (and after) the Normans and lots of people have saxon names, especially in the trades like Baker. It makes sense for tax purposes if John the Baker is different than John the Smith. That makes sense whether they assumed the name or were assigned it.

People with patronymic names like “Thompson” can assume a Thomas in their past. Maybe a Thomas of local significance. Someone you want to be associated with.

If Aylmer is Aelmer after the Saxon given name from Domesday and the Aelmers in the Domesday were run off their holdings by incoming Normans, what would cause a person to want to associate with a deposed Saxon lord when the incoming regime is Norman? What benefit would there be in proudly maintaining that Saxon given name? It would be like a black mark on a family singling you out for Norman punishment.

Although Bishop John Aylmer was born in the 1520s and that seems like a long time ago and we might equate that with the Saxon/Norman transition because both are “old”, John was about the same distance from the end of Saxon rule as we are from him today. If he preferred the Saxon spelling of the name it may have had more to do with what he knew about the Saxons or maybe even knowledge of the previous Saxon clergy carrying the given name Aelmer, rather than some underlying knowledge of his own heritage.

Here is what the Oxford dictionary of British and Irish names has for Aylmer and Elmer:

Aylmer oxford dictionary section 1

Aylmer Oxford dictionary continued.

We’ll focus on the English name from the dictionary: “Variants: Aylmore, Elmore, Elmer, Ellmore, Elmar, Elmers, Helmore. English relationship name from the middle English personal name Ailmer, from old english Aethelmaere composed of the elements aethel “noble” and maere “famous”. See also Aymer.

In the list of variants you can see the Domesday Aelmers, but also post Norman given name Ailmers like Haelmerus from the Danelaw documents or Ailmerus le Bercher from 1212 AD or Godwinus filias Elmari 1115 AD.

So it seems that the given name Elmer survives the Normans and (in the case of Godwin there) is worth continuing as a patronymic. Again though, how is paying homage to a Saxon name of any benefit to a Norman land owner? I think the key there is “middle English”. Middle English is Norman English. The name Aelmer exists in old English, but it’s not just an old English anglo-saxon name. It’s older than that. It belongs to the continent.

Here is what surname DB has:

This interesting and long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from the Middle English male given name “Ailmar”, itself coming from the Olde English pre 7th Century “Aethelmaer”, a compound of the elements “aethel”, noble, and “maer”, famous, which was reinforced after the Norman conquest of 1066 by the introduction of “Ailmer”, from a Continental cognate.

Read more: http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/aylmer#ixzz4VwSSBQw4

The part I had to repeat there is the “reinforced after the Norman conquest of 1066 by the introduction of “Ailmer” from a Continental cognate.” The same given name, Ailmer, also comes over with the Normans from the continent.

Forgetting for a moment that Elmer is a perfectly good place name in Sussex or a nice enough descriptive name for a place where elms grow, this idea that the name spans continental culture grabbed me and made me think about my Y DNA and migration assumptions (yet again).

Our family is best understood by examining our other close (950 AD -1000 AD) paternal relatives the Lunsfords and Knowltons.

De Lundresford

Note: Entering dangerous ground here where powerful family mythology is concerned. I’m not a Lunsford expert, but I’m in a spot where I need to consider their family history, so my perspective is as a relative outsider unaware of all the work that has come before me. 

Conversations with our medieval Y cousins the Lunsfords (estimated common ancestor in 950 AD based on big Y) turned to earliest known ancestors, because we don’t see a lot of crossover between the Lunsfords, Knowltons and Elmers. Our real earliest provable is Ed Elmer 1610 AD, but the conversation was really about the mythological roots. For the Lunsfords the story is that they are related to Ingelramus De Lundresford who was an Anglo-Saxon and lost his land after the Norman invasion because he battled William at Hastings.

Neither of us could find the Lundresford or Lunsford farm in the Open Domesday site. So that was disappointing.

Two things came to bother me about Ingelramus De Lundresford. For one, he’s got a French surname. Since Normans pretty much start the surname boom, how did he get that in the time of the Saxons? Also, De Lundresford, in that age, denotes ownership or titles. If he was a saxon land owner, could I find him associated with some other property in 1066?

I could not, but it led me to the second bothering. I looked up Ingelramus and it appears it’s also a continental name, sometimes shortened to Ingram. All the Ingelranns and Ingrams in the Domesday are there replacing previous Saxon Lords. They fought on the side of the Normans, not against them.

I started looking around for references to the De Lundresford family and found this google book on Sussex:

Description of the holdings of Hugo De Lundresfordpart two of he Lunsford donations

 

There are places near Etchingham in the Domesday like Salehurst which show Robert the count of Eu as tenant. Or Drigsell (also part of Henhurst like Salehurst), also under Robert count of Eu with a lord of Cana in 1066 but under Aelfric after the Normans. The De Lundresford family tree has Aelric as the son of Ingelramus. Maybe that is him. Hard to say because no other name is listed than Aelfric.

The thing here again is that the De Lundresfords seem to be doing pretty well in post Norman England. Well enough to donate land.

Then I found another book on genealogy that is just swamped with Latin, the Collectanea topographica et genealogica. It mentions the De Lundresfords and Lunsfords. It does begin with Ingelramus De Lundresford in the time of Edward the confessor and then moves on from there, but the sentence above the charters regarding those entries in the family tree is pretty dire:

Charters intended as proofs of the preceding pedigree. The four first are in the original written in imitation of the Saxon characters, and are palpably forgeries, as not improbably, are some of those that follow.

The first four forgeries takes us from Edward through Harold Godwinson and the end of Saxon England.

There are a lot of De Lundresford charters again in Latin, one with a David, but you don’t really see any dates until you get to Hugo De Lundresford in the early 1200s. Those charters are followed by this bit which I’m going to include as an image because it’s pretty long:

De Lundresford possibly De Lodenesford from Kent

The basic idea in that image is that David De Lundresford in the fabricated Charters might actually be Daniel de Lodenesford who owned property in Yalding Kent. The Hamlet referred to as Lodingford is called Laddingford today and the author believes the De Lundresford family probably got their name from that town in Kent.

If you go to the open Domesday, Yalding Kent is under Richard, the son of Count Gilbert. Count Gilbert is the count of Brionne in Normandy. Gilbert is the son of Geoffrey…the count of Eu (see above about Hugo De Lundresford and his lands adjacent to the forest of the Count of Eu and Aelfric who is in charge of Henhurst in 1086 under the Count of Eu a hundred years and some before the De Lundresfords decide to donate to the church).

What is interesting about Richard son of Count Gilbert is that he spent time with Baldwin V. Count of Flanders. It turns out there was a decent Flemish contingent in the Norman army. The Norman army was not all Normans I guess.

Chenolton Knolton Knowlton

Note: Again, here there be dragons. The Knowltons are doing a lot of work on their own family lines and may come to completely different conclusions than past Knowlton researchers, in this I’m looking at common Knowlton mythology and am probably missing the finer points of their latest research.

Most discussion of Knowltons in history begins with Charles Stocking who did his best to put all the pieces together and organized a lot of the Knowlton families. I envy that organization when looking at our Elmers.

Stocking talks about Knowlton Dorset but quickly shifts to Knowlton in Kent where there were apparently more people carrying the surname Knowlton generally to research. Since we’re most interested in the paternal lines involved in the Knowlton family it’s helpful to note that ownership of Knowlton passed from a father to a daughter very early on. The daughter married William De Langley or De Longly and their son picked the name William Knowlton. We have the beginning of one paternal line in the 1300s.

The general sense I get from most Knowltons is that Kent is their home turf. Paternally William de Langley in whatever internet sources I’ve been able to find, appears to be related to his brother Richard Middleton who took his name from Middleton in Lancashire with the Langleys also tied to county Durham. Quite a distance from Knowlton Hall in Kent. Which makes me think that these families were much more mobile than I have previously imagined.

Stocking’s text is kind of confusing to me but it appears that Knowlton Hall changed hands several times through marriage with various lines of men going extinct. It is hard to imagine which if any of these families our Knowltons might be related to.  Stocking picks a Richard Knowlton 1553 as the first Knowlton in the line of American Knowltons, calling him Richard of Kent, but I’ve struggled to find records for Richard outside of other family trees.

I did find a list of “extinct” families that contained several of the Langley-Knowltons and Peytons etc associated with Kent. In the 1700s Knowlton Hall and the baronetcy changed over to a family from Flanders. The D’aeth family and they too added Knowlton to their name, but that seems too young for the triangulated DNA of the descendants of John Knowlton (who are our Y matches).

The Knowltons have discovered some great new documents about Knowltons in Middlesex in the 1600s which is around the time they would expect of the father of their last Y triangulated relative John. Stocking mentions Middlesex as a repository for Knowltons, but focuses on Kent. Uxbridge has an interestingly named neighbor “Hillingdon” which is mentioned in the Domesday. Knoll being a small hill..eh? eh? Get it?

Still it seems like we’re talking about a pretty recent surname based on a place or landscape feature and we would have to consider that the name of that area has changed or that the landscape feature may not exist anymore.  So as far as surnames go, the Knowltons are in no better shape than the Elmers. 

Norfolk to Essex, Aelmer to Arnulf and Ranulf the Rabbit Hole

I tried to bridge the gap between the 1500s and the Domesday which turned into a pretty good goose chase, but in the end was informative.

I know that the Aylmers are traditionally located in Norfolk, but Ed Elmer seems tied to Essex most often because he was listed in the Braintree Company of Reverend Hooker. Bishop John Aylmer also owned land in Essex at Mugden or Mowden Hall in Hatfield-Peverel. Essex seems like a reasonable place to look for Aylmer/Elmers.

Also, with the Lunsfords in Sussex or Kent and the Knowltons in Kent or middlesex, what if Norfolk is too far “North”? What if it was just the recent home of the much more mobile Aylmers in the 1500s? Should I be looking for the Aylmers farther south?

As I was looking for Aylmer references, I ran across this document listing the medieval village at Sheering, about 22 miles west of Hatfield-Peverel. There is an English Aylmers manor owned by Thomas Aylmer in the 1400s.

“The manor of SHEERING or HUTTONS or AYLMERS lay in the south-west, near Ealing bridge. It originated as a free tenement of 60 a. which in 1241 was granted by the lords of Sheering Hall manor to Ralph Gobion. Thomas Aylmer, who was holding it in 1427, was succeeded c. 1429 by his infant son William. In 1465 William Aylmer sold it to Thomas Colte.”

The Aylmer activity in the area got me back over to the Domesday book to look at Hatfield Peverel. It turns out it is one of the areas that passed from one of the Aelmers in the Domesday over to several Norman Lords.  One of them caught my eye, Arnulf of Hatfield. Mainly because he was of Hatfield, but was still somehow in with the Normans.

I couldn’t find much on Arnulf of Hatfield, but did accidentally click on Arnulf of Hesdin and found a nice article about him. I had to wonder if Arnulf of Hesdin was Arnulf of Hatfield. Arnulf had a pretty full life including titles and lands in Normandy under the overlordship of the count of Flanders.

Ranulf Peverel (it’s right in the name: Hatfield, Peverel) turned out to be the maternal half brother of William the Bastard’s bastard. No one seems to know where Peverel comes from although the wikipedia article mentions that they think Ranulf’s family was possibly from Flanders.

I became daunted by this diversion as you can literally get lost trying to decipher all the ways these people are related and even though the Normans are usually considered the starting shot of static surnames in England, the new Norman Lords seem to be pretty nonchalant about surname standards.

Back to Oxford Surnames for Elmers in Sussex

Elmer surname Oxford Dictionary

Here we have a listing of Elmers beginning in the 1500s with a pretty broad range and contemporary with John Aylmer. I became interested in Elmer as a place name, so I looked into Elmer in Middleton Sussex. Middleton is listed in the Domesday, but Elmer is not. It seems most notable for recent resort development and as a coast guard station.

I did find a note about it on a historical site for middleton:

“The reputed manor of ELMER, which was not apparently called a manor before 1590, perhaps originated in the four hides and five yardlands which three Frenchmen held of Middleton in 1086; since Felpham manor’s hidation had been reduced by about the same amount since 1066  the estate may have been detached from that. At the division of the d’Aubigny inheritance in 1243 the overlordship passed with the share of Robert Tattershall.  William de Montfort held five fees in Elmer and elsewhere between 1303 and his death in 1310,  and William Elmer at his death c. 1325 held a house and six yardlands there of Barpham manor in Angmering; his heir was his son, also William. ”

So generally there are Elmers in Sussex earlier than the 1500s and that might one day prove to be a tie in with the Lunsfords.

Chasing Godwin son of Elmar

Aylmer Oxford dictionary continued.

How about Godwinus Filius Elmari 1115, Winton Domesday (Hants)? It turns out “Hants” is the short name for Hampshire and is related to Southampton through some translation of an anglo-saxon name for the area. I looked up Winton in Hampshire and found that it was a new town built in the 1800s and named after a castle in Scotland?

I couldn’t find Godwinus Filius Elmari online in the Open Domesday, but at 1115 AD it might be too new for the Open Domesday?

I did find the location of  Winkton in the Open Domesday about 20 miles from Southampton near Bournemouth and thought maybe it could be the “winton” for Godwin son of Elmar. Winkton’s tennant in chief under the Normans was Waleran the Hunter.  I looked him up and found a nice website with some descendants and a nice explanation of the name Waleran:

“Prior to 1066, Fifehead Neville was held by an unnamed English thegn (nobleman), but by the time of the completion of the Domesday Book in 1087, the manor of Fifehead Neville is recorded as being in the possession of Waleran Venator. The name Waleran (meaning Wall or ‘Strong’ Raven the Huntsman) is Germainic, and was introduced to Britain by the Anglo-Saxons in the eighth century, but was also re-introduced at the Conquest by the Norman-French. Waleran could possibly have been a native Englishman, but it is more likely that he was a Norman invader, who accompanied William I on his Conquest, and as a favourite was rewarded with huge hunting estates. His under-tenant in Fifehead Neville was Ingelrann, who also held land in Somerset after the Conquest (see Domesday Fifehead). …”

This particular entry is interesting because it mentions one of the Ingelranns in the Domesday. Ingelrann of course of interest because of the Lunsfords Ingelram or Ingelramus (latinized I suppose). On a side note, Ingelrann’s fifehead neville land is about 20 miles from Knowlton in Dorset. Just another in an endless series of connections we could make.

The Takeaway

There are a lot of options for being an Elmer in the 1100s and 1200s and 1300s, the only limiting factor seems to be our imagination.

What got my attention during These searches in Hampshire is the use of Germanic names among Normans. Names that had matching anglo-saxon equivalents but have been reintroduced by the Normans and are used by people who do well under Anglo-Norman rule.

Flanders…

Searching through the Open Domesday and looking at various entries often led to connections with Flanders (Like Eustace of Boulogne or Arnulf of Hesdin). Many Germanic names were re-introduced by the Normans from the continent and given Flanders position in the low countries and other English Y DNA matches that seem to have either Belgian or French derived names like “Dameron” and “Franklin” I decided to check for medieval Flemish names.

Eventually I found a site devoted to  several centuries of given names in the low countries before 1150 that included Flanders. I’m going to recreate part of a table of names from the site here:

low countries names before 1150 including Ailmer

Of course I’ve got Athelmar up top as a companion to the Anglo Saxon Aethelmaer. Ingelramnus as a companion for the Lunsford Ingelramus. Walramus…just for the heck of it because of that guy named Walramus in the domesday and Arnulf again just for the heck of it. Athalmar isn’t as popular as others but it seems to be recorded more in the later centuries.

Here is Flanders in light pink:

I think Medieval Flanders was larger than that, but you get the idea.

It doesn’t have to be Flanders of course, but they just kept grabbing me and forcing me to look at them.  I found a few sites devoted to Norman given names.

Here is a wiktionary page of Norman given names that contains Edelmir which I’m certain is also a cognate for Aethelmaer.

Here is another page devoted to Norman names borrowed from the Franks that also contains Ingelramus, but doesn’t specifically call out Elmer or a variant…although it does have Aylard and Aymer.

A Genetic Case for Norman Era Continental Ancestors

I’ve mentioned the Damerons before, but it bears bringing them up here too. Consistent matches to the Elmers at Y37, the Damerons are also speculatively, from England. They have found records for a Lawrence Dameron in Ipswich in the early 1600s that would be in keeping with their Virginia ancestor.  The surname Dameron has a few different origin stories on the Dameron family site they give the origin as Flanders with the Germanic reading of the name.

Ancestry.com lists this:  “French: nickname for a foppish or effeminate young man, Old French dameron, a derivative of Latin dominus ‘lord’, ‘master’ plus two diminutive endings suggestive of weakness or childishness.”

Either way we’re looking at a continental surname which could mean roots in the continent or that the people naming you spoke a continental language. The Dameron site gives the age of the surname in the 1400s which would make it a younger name, like Knowlton and might also suggest closer ties to the continent.

STR results suggest that the Damerons are more closely related to the Elmers than some other families, but without Big Y or other next generation Y testing it’s hard to tell exactly how close. They do have our DYS458.2 value placing them closer than about 400 BC but they don’t have all of the other distinctive values the Lunsfords, Knowltons and Elmers seem to share.

Big Y has placed the Knowltons, Lunsfords and Elmers in a group currently defined best by the SNP ZP124. The U106 group ages the common ancestor for that group around 950 AD. All three families claim England. The Elmers and Knowltons continue on for one more named SNP, ZP129 aged around 1000 AD (meaning at least one more generation together).

We have a brother branch that is defined by ZP125 which I’ve mentioned before. It has more members. One family claims England, one claims Netherlands, one Belgium and another claims Poland.  The English family, Wright, is the most distantly related in the group and has not been given an age estimate. The Winne, DeBurghgraeve and Stanuszek families continue on to another named SNP ZP150 which is aged to around 1200 AD. Winne and Deburghgraeve continue on together at least one more SNP beyond that.

ZP150 is interesting because (at 1200 AD) it fits well with a migration event that included people from the Netherlands and Flanders moving to Poland. Stanuszek provided some surname information that would fit with that assessment, so we have a nice historical precedent for that west to east migration.

This from a wikipedia article on the history of Germans in Poland: “The civil strife and foreign invasions, such as the Mongol invasions in 1241, 1259 and 1287, weakened and depopulated the many small Polish principalities, as the country was becoming progressively more subdivided. The depopulation and the increasing demand for labor in the developing economy caused a massive immigration of West European peasants, mostly German settlers, into Poland (early waves from Germany and Flanders in the 1220s).”

Concerning the Wright family, it’s hard to make a lot of headway. They are likely on a siginificantly older branch than the other men in the Belgian/Dutch ZP125 with no real clue other than a Saxon job surname. Well, the word Wright itself is a Saxon word, but the Surnamedb has a listing for the first record of the name as Patere le Writh in 1214 AD in Sussex. The use of Wright as a surname started to come together quite a while after the Norman invasion.

In any case, we might be splitting hairs as this wikipedia article section on 7th century Flanders shows that the place was populated by the descendants of Saxons and Franks and by people from the Netherlands and Germany.

Both the ZP124 (Elmer etc) group and the ZP125 (DeBurghgraeve etc) group meet up at ZP121 which is a cluster of SNPs estimated to have a common ancestor around 600 AD which places our common ancestor within the time of the Germanic migrations.

Although I’ve always favored the Danes as the source of our widespread Y DNA, I have to admit that closer to home from 600 AD on, we Elmer/Knowlton/Lunsfords match more closely with people who lived just across the channel than we do with our friends from Norway.

An Administrative Case for a Post Norman ZP124 Diaspora

Two questions that kicked off my Norman travelogue were how can we (in the ZP124 group) be so closely related 950AD but be so distributed in England and why don’t we see more overlap between the families?

Previously, I’ve used these same dates and ideas to propose a Saxon source or a Viking source for our Y DNA but now I think a Norman conquest source is probably just as likely to explain the dispersed nature of our families in southeast England.

As I was reading up on the Flemish contribution…kind of painfully laid out in this essay. I was particularly struck by something that I had also noticed looking at the Domesday book. Some Normans had very widespread holdings in different counties. The final paragraph of the essay talks about this and how it may have been purposefully done to weaken the Flemish tenants in chief. Basically they cannot consolidate power (even among their own holdings) because they are spread all over the place to begin with.

I’m pretty sure the Normans brought people with them that they felt they could trust. They had to rule a large Anglo-Saxon-Danish population.

One could imagine members of a Flemish or Norman family following a lord, maybe from their area back home, and being spread around his many estates. It’s not like we have a list of all the rank and file Norman or Flemish people that fought with William. With only a hundred years or so between the three ZP124 families in England, it’s easy to imagine them as first cousins being placed in various fiefs scattered around a nobleman’s holdings.

After the conquest, several of the families I searched through, seem to do pretty well for themselves and show quite a bit of mobility as lands and titles change about. As the essay points out, the Flemish seem to blend in and don’t form a cohesive power group in Norman England. My guess would be that they became just as Anglo-Norman as the Normans and that within a few generations that Flemish identity was gone even though wealth, land or titles may have given later generations the power to move about adding to that earlier forced mobility and dispersal of Y DNA around various counties.

That last bit doesn’t really require being Flemish of course, but they are a particular example of people spread around on purpose. People with some wealth and power coming out of the Norman conquest are much more likely to want to venerate a parent by taking their given name “Ailmer” as a surname.

If the Normans were so Good to us…Why Give it all up?

So why would John Aylmer prefer the Saxon spelling of Aelmer and why would the De Lundresfords have a fudged pedigree back to the last Saxon king?

Is it possible that at a certain point in England there was a revival of Saxon heritage, like people looking back on a bygone age, that caused people to identify with their Saxon names (like Aelmer over Ailmer or Aylmer) or to chose a Saxon story to complete their lines back to pre-conquest England (like it appears the De Lundresfords did)? Did it become less fashionable to be associated with the Norman invaders and their French connections and more fashionable to look back to Alfred the Great and the Saxon kings as a source of national unity?

Perhaps I should read this book to find out. It’s description certainly suggests so: The Elizabethan Invention of Anglo-Saxon England. This from the description:

Full of fresh and illuminating insights into a way of looking at the English past in the sixteenth century… a book with the potential to deepen and transform our understanding of Tudor attitudes to ethnic identity and the national past.” Philip Schwyzer, University of Exeter. Laurence Nowell (1530-c.1570), author of the first dictionary of Old English, and William Lambarde (1536-1601), Nowell’s prot g and eventually the first editor of the Old English Laws, are key figures in Elizabethan historical discourses and in its political and literary society; through their work the period between the Germanic migrations and the Norman Conquest came to be regarded as a foundational time for Elizabethan England”

….

“Their studies took different strategies in demonstrating the role of early medieval history in Elizabethan national — even imperial — identity, while in Lambarde’s legal writings Old English law codes become identical with the “ancient laws” that underpinned contemporary common law. Their efforts contradict the assumption that Anglo-Saxon studies did not effectively participate in Tudor nationalism outside of Protestant polemic; instead, it was a vital part of making history “English”.

 

People in Elizabethan England and probably later had their own family mythology too and the authority we give them because they are “old” and their preferences for Saxon England as a standard for Englishness, may color our research today.

 

 

Everybody Has Two Family Trees …A New Hope

Previously in Everybody has Two Family Trees…which in hind sight, I should have called “Revenge of the Undying Machine”. I went through some of the back story of how, while I was hunting down the Thompson Elmores, I was also trying to hunt down a Thompson…(fill in the blank) with my aunt’s own NPE. Her search was much more painful than the search for my grandfather’s paternal family because I didn’t have Y DNA to help me out, it’s so close in time that there are living people involved and my aunt has a time limit imposed by the late stages of kidney disease. Those additional stress elements made the usual suspects that get in the way of a genetic genealogy search a lot more disconcerting.

I’ll pick up here, nearer in time, with a helpful and unexpected helping hand.

Winters Gives me some Direction

First off, although my aunt’s top match at 23 and me (possible second cousin of some sort) was silent, he did leave some clues in his profile. He left a partial tree for his mother’s side of the family. I think his father’s side ended with his father or grandfather. That is okay. Not everyone is interested in every branch of their tree. He was more focused on his maternal Italian relatives. So I assumed he was trying to build out their tree and didn’t want to be bothered with his paternal side.

Although I hate using them, the ethnicity estimates actually helped me out there. Some of my aunt’s other matches had Italian heritage at the grandparent level and I was able to see what that looked like. It definitely showed up. Comparing that to my aunt, who showed no Italian ethnicity and to Winters who had close Italian relatives, led me to believe I needed to follow up on Winters’ absent paternal family tree.

So I built a family tree for him and found that it was invested in Iron Mountain, Calumet, Houghton and other areas of the U.P. It was also heavily English and Scottish with a branch from Austria. Again, my aunt’s ethnicity estimates also ran high in the Isles. Particularly with Irish populations. She was somehow more “British isles” than my dad and I were. She also showed a substantial input from continental Europe…a blob that represents France and Germany, etc.

Winters also had Hungarian ancestry, and I pursued that because my aunt showed several matches who were also recently Hungarian or Austrian. So I thought maybe Austrian mixed with some French Canadian might explain her continental ethnicity blob.

I built a huge “Winters” related tree to explore all the relationships. What I struggled with was connecting Winters to other matches at 23 and me, FTDNA and AncestryDNA (through Gedmatch.com). Without sharing genomes, your 23 and me research is crippled because you cannot see exactly where someone matches anyone else and so you cannot triangulate segments to find common ancestors.

Michigan’s upper peninsula saw a lot of recent immigration from all over the world. So there is a very recent mix of Italians, French, Irish, Germans etc. Ironically, the variety wasn’t as helpful as it might be because it seemed everyone was the same mix of Italians, French, Irish, Germans etc. So that information did not help me sort matches and nothing was as obvious as the Quebec matches (which are the bulk of my aunt’s matches).

I really needed to know how Winters matched my aunt. So I periodically begged for access using examples from his family tree as possible directions for research.

After a year or more of silence, Winters quietly shared his DNA. The family tree I have for him, again, contains no real genetic input for him from Quebec but large amounts of input from the U.P. where my aunt has many matches. I expected his DNA segments to show the same and that he would fill in different parts of my aunt’s genome than those dominated by the French Canadians. Possibly matching other British or Hungarian families. I actually expected the Hungarians to shine through because I had some good Hungarian/French Canadian cross overs.

I was wrong.

Not only did he match the French Canadian matches, he matched the biggest of them in multiple places. In fact, he ONLY matched the French Canadians. His genetic family tree did not match the paper trail family tree I had for him. Winters (apparently judging from the triangulated segments I did have) was also a Robert/Robar descendant. All the research I had put into his extended paternal family looking for French Canadians who may have married in, was useful to me, but more as a process of elimination than of discovery.

Without any real conversation to give further direction, I had to think back to the his profile. It did not contain his paternal family beyond a certain generation. Perhaps it was not a lack of motivation in his family research, but a genetic brick wall like I had in my own family with my grandfather that had kept him from filling in his tree.

That sounds bitter, but really, it’s helpful to know when you’re barking up the wrong tree and I like to think that maybe he silently shared his DNA so I could figure that out. It’s nice to know that you’ve been trying to put the square peg in the round hole because you can quit trying it.

I went back to mapping the Robert family, but paid special attention to the branches that moved from Quebec to the U.P. assuming the unknown connection for my aunt and Winters (and other matches who also had ties to the Houghton area) most likely happened there.

I informed him of my findings and thanked him for sharing. No response was returned. That could be because 23 and me was in transition and my message didn’t go through, or it could be because he was just giving me a boost and was not really interested. Either way, I will not know what he knows about their shared family.

Dumb Luck Strikes Again

I should probably make “Dumb Luck” a category of this site. Hopefully, if you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know that I spend a lot of time doing my (and a lot of other people’s) homework. I really do put hours and hours into this, but often the real breakthroughs are driven by the unseen hand of fate. All my hard work, ends up giving me insight into what chance provided.

Here again, evidence falls into my lap.

Although I have struggled to get basic information from many of the top matches for my aunt at Ancestry.com, and I routinely throw my hands up in disgust at further road blocks and dead end leads, this past week, I got a solid.

A brand new 2nd cousin level match. I will call him “PureLuck” for having fallen into my lap.  In his family tree, I see a recent “Roberts”. Thanks to Ancestry’s addition of Michigan death records, I find out that John Roberts from Ontonagon Michigan is really Jean Robert from Quebec. He and his parents already exist in my research tree for the Robert/Robar family although I had no idea he changed his name and moved to Michigan or that he was married and had children.

John Roberts fits perfectly into the genetic picture with descendants in the U.P. that could coincide with Winters family (possibly adding the Robert DNA to them) and sons that move to Flint Michigan, which is where my grandmother worked and my aunt was born.

John’s wife Mary Bayhan is the daughter of two Irish immigrants, which brings me back to my aunt’s penchant for Isles ancestry. John’s father Amable Robert is married to Melanie Ledoux which coincides with Ledoux related matches at AncestryDNA and 23 and me (finally making sense of some of the earliest matches my aunt had).

Overall, John Roberts fits very well and layers into the existing evidence in the right spot.

He has two sons that move to Flint. One son appears to have left before 1940, but the other (Irving Roberts) is there in Flint and I can find his place of employment in 1946, about a mile from Hurley Medical Center where my grandmother is in school.

Irving also has a son, who would be a good candidate and is 10 years older than my grandmother. I still suspect Irving though because being born around 1890, as our unhelpful relative pointed out, he would be “some old man” in 1946. He’s in a position to spend time within proximity of my grandmother.   My aunt’s match to her brand new second cousin level person, PureLuck, is bigger than you’d expect for a second cousin at 344cM. If Irving is her biological father, then that would make my aunt a 1st cousin 1 time removed for PureLuck (one generation closer to their shared common ancestors). I also cannot find a lot of compelling evidence for a connection to Irving’s wife who is the daughter of German immigrants who live in Idaho.

After a process of elimination for other Roberts descendants related to John, I think Irving is the best possible person given the evidence I have. I can’t write off his son, or his brother for that matter, but he seems like the most reasonable choice.

What could go wrong?

Well, for one thing, this is about confidence levels not absolute proof. I’m not getting a lot of good information on these matches that are close to home. Simple conversation might turn up some interesting facts and possibilities I’m not considering. I don’t know what information I’m missing because all of the closest matches (so far) are completely mute.

I feel really confident about Irving because a lot of pieces fit, but there are some caveats. That new PureLuck match is about 100cM bigger than ISOGG lists as a rough guide to second cousins, but he’s also about 80cM smaller than what ISOGG lists as a rough guide to a first cousin 1x removed (which is where I place him in the family tree).

Irving ties up the loose ends on many Robert/Robar matches and Ledoux matches, but he doesn’t (so far) help me tie up all of the matches my aunt has from the U.P. Including some pretty big ones.

Probably the most troubling of those are large Winters related matches. As of this writing (part way through actually), she now has two Winters family matches. They are first cousins of each other and given the triangulation I’ve done on the one at 23 and me (as I wrote earlier), most likely very recent Robert family members. I just have no clear idea how. These two cousins share a male ancestor born around 1900 in Calumet Michigan and that man’s wife who is the daughter of Austrian immigrants, also born around 1900 in Iron Mountain.

Because of the strong Robert family ties in their DNA, neither of those ancestor’s family trees fits. I suspect that one of those ancestors is really a Robert, but I couldn’t say which one. I have read a lot into the original Winters match’s missing paternal tree and, for the record, the new Winters related match chose to leave his Winters family off his tree as well.  On a gut check I think it’s the Winters patriarch whose story is more complicated, but again…what do they know that I don’t I know?

These Winters matches bookend my aunt’s brand new match PureLuck with the documented Robert family. One Winters sits at 280cM and the other at 366cM, you could expect them to have nearly the same relationship level as PureLuck. which would mean they most likely tie up to the Robert family right there around 1900.

Comparing the tests at AncestryDNA, I know the Winters there shares PureLuck as a match.  Since I’m dealing with AncestryDNA, I don’t really know how big of a match they are to each other. I only have the perspective of my aunt, which makes these matches practically equidistant. I would have to suspect that everyone in the scenario is descended from John Roberts somehow.

Also eerily, among these three matches, each man is larger than you’d expect for a second cousin and smaller than you’d expect for a first cousin one time removed. Making me question whether I’ve got my aunt situated in the family tree correctly. Being off a generation here or there can be a big deal.

If I was dealing with PureLuck alone, my confidence level would be high given our dumb luck and triangulating homework done specifically with the Robert family. I just can’t seem to escape the gravity of the Winters family. I am certain this uncertainty around them will continue to haunt me and leave doubts to gnaw at my confidence until more second cousin level relatives outside the Winters family begin showing up in my aunt’s matches.

What has gone right?

Even with those nagging doubts, I think I’ve got the right family and I’m most confident that I have the right man in that family.

Come Hell or high water, at the cost of not being invited to family reunions anymore and alienating my own relatives as well as total strangers, I feel I have answers for my aunt’s basic questions.

I used four different databases of autosomal matches and spent three…nearly four years putting together clues and triangulating DNA segments with matches and their family trees. I had luck on my side, but luck favors the prepared. I feel like I beat the clock of kidney disease to provide the best answers I can, which is much better than the answers she had before.

I can’t say that I never gave up, because I gave up all the time, but I do feel like I kept giving it chances to work (once enough time…and bitterness had passed). Now, I think I can take a step back and wait for yet more confirming matches to roll in (the way they did with my Elmores).

Maybe, I can treat this more as an enjoyable hobby now rather than the painful dismantling of my recent ancestor’s great and terrible machines.

 

Everybody has Two Family Trees

 

Everyone has two family trees. One is a paper trail tree. That tree lives in documentation, court records, land ownership, family bibles and the almighty census. The other tree is a genetic tree, built from the DNA of your ancestors that lives on in you. The two trees may or may not coincide for various reasons.

That bit of insight comes from the DNA Newbie forum which I recommend for anyone who is interested in genetic genealogy.

If you’re feeling down about your genetic genealogy searches and are looking for some moderate good news on that front to keep you going, these next two posts are for you.

First up, I need to go over some back story that I’ve been walking around poking at in posts, but don’t think I’ve directly tackled in the past.

I’ve spent most of the years in this online diary discovering, researching and documenting the divide in my paternal Thompson family between the Michigan branch and Indiana branch of our paper trail tree. As it turned out, although our papers are in order, the Michigan branch has a different genetic tree beginning with my grandfather and an NPE in Illinois. So, we’ve been Thompsons for less than 100 years and genetically at least, we are not related to the Thompsons from Indiana.

I’ve mentioned in autosomal DNA posts that there is another speed bump in the Thompson genetic road. This one belongs to my aunt who, genetic testing at 23 and me showed, is also not a Thompson and not even an Elmore/Thompson like the rest of us.  Just like in the case of my grandfather, I could show that she was related to her mom, but not her dad. Unlike my grandfather, I haven’t had Y DNA to give me any clues.

Sorting out an NPE for my grandfather in 1925 was a years long, difficult process that was uncomfortable and unacceptable for a lot of people, starting with me. Sorting out my aunt from 1947 has been bitter and lonely work.  I often find that the stone walls around her information are built higher and stronger and that the participants in the conspiracy to hide her ancestry are more willing to conspire by being less willing to help.

In the spirit of “never quit quitting”, I’ve dropped any serious research on my aunt’s paternal family for months at a time while waiting for the disappointment and anger to wear off. I’ve quit over and over again. Of course the quitting is a double edged sword because my aunt is dying from kidney disease. Time wasted on lies, stonewalling and misdirection or on being sulky and frustrated by these things is that much more painful. The clock really has been ticking on fulfilling her really basic request for summary directory information that most people take for granted.

As per usual, we’re down the NPE rabbit hole of genetic genealogy and, as the Mad Hatter said, we need to begin at the beginning.

1946

The 23 and me test is how we discovered that my aunt is my father’s half sister. By WE, I mean everyone but my aunt. She already knew and the test was, for her, a way to learn more about her biological family. It was not the first test she had run, but twists of fate and human emotion would keep the results of that first test in the shadows for most of us.

As I look back here, what you have to realize is that this is information we’ve put together over the last couple of years.  Some of it came in fits and snatches of conversation.

My aunt was born in June of 1947 so for genetics, 1946 is the important year. Fall of 1946. 1946 is of course, then, important for my grandmother, so important and scary that it must be hidden forever.

If you read my grandmother’s obituary, you would see this:

Daughter of Lloyd and Mae (Campbell) Seelye. She married Charles Paul Thompson on April 5, 1946 in Rushton, Ind.

It’s quick, concise and a fabrication. It’s part of the machinery put in place to protect the family. It should read April 5, 1947. A couple of months before my aunt was born. The real information on their wedding was easily found at ancestry.com (including the original document from Indiana), but the narrative is so pervasive that most family trees ignore the actual documentation even when using it as a source.

My grandparents are not the first people to have a “shotgun” wedding rushed because of out of wedlock pregnancy, but our story is more complex now that we know that Charles Thompson is not my aunt’s biological father.

I’m going to pause a moment because when I talk about conspiracy and machinery put in place for protection it really sounds like an indictment. Hind sight makes me want to avoid that. I prefer to think of my grandmother in much the same way as my great grandmother, Orvetta Finks. Not a saint by any means, but a regular woman living in a time in the U.S. when there were harder and fewer choices and less honest ways to deal with unwanted pregnancy. Humans did then exactly what they do now, but society could not live with the truth of human sexual needs and reproduction or rape or incest. Society was kind of a pussy then now that I think about it.

I believe my grandmother made the choices she could make and began constructing the machine that still tries to protect us from the really quite mundane truth all these years after she has died.

 

A Tale of Two Nurses

My grandmother was a nurse. This again from her obituary matches the story I heard growing up:

She graduated from the Hurley School of Nursing in Flint and had worked as a registered nurse at Hurley Hospital, Flint Osteopathic Hospital. 

My grandmother was at Hurley in 1944 as a cadet nurse in the Women’s Army Air Corps. Her graduation date is listed as March 1947 she marries my grandfather about a month later and two months from giving birth to Cheryl.

Hurley dealt with Polio, which is what paralyzed my grandfather. I have been told that my grandmother was my grandfather’s nurse when he was being treated for polio and that is how they met. Although Hurley looms large as a location for her given the timing and her training schedule, I don’t have a lot of records for her in 1946.

My aunt followed through with her own run at nursing school. It’s the nursing school that leads to the next oddity and the reason my aunt already knew something was up. Blood typing.

What my aunt has said is that she typed my grandfather’s blood and her own blood for school and found that he could not be her father. She talked to my grandmother about it and my grandmother told her that she had “done it wrong”.

There in the shared experience of nursing is the seed of doubt set between mother and daughter.

 

Some Old Guy

Keep in mind, this is my perspective. These are things I’ve been told.

At one family event or another, my aunt is pulled aside by a family member who tells her that her father…is not really her father. When this family member is pressed on the identity of the father she says “some old guy”. Not exactly helpful. Since my grandmother worked for various county health organizations and hospitals, the idea is that it’s some old guy she was taking care of.

I don’t know if that is the case because clearly she was still in nursing school in 1946.

What is important to me here is that the relative is not in this game to be helpful. There is no real information passed along that is of use. This exchange is likely meant to cause pain for the sake of entertainment.

Again, that is the perspective I have or have been handed by others. I wasn’t there. The lack of real usable information just seems more hurtful. The doubt planted with blood typing takes root.

 

The Undying Machine

I was there when my grandmother died. We sat there for several days through the slow process. My aunt was in attendance. No deathbed confessions took place. My grandmother passed away peacefully without addressing anything.

My grandfather was questioned after my grandmother’s death and maintained the story of my aunt’s birth for the rest of his days. The machinery that was in place since the forties continued to click along. The people who could have dismantled it, chose not to.

The…now, shrubbery, of doubt, did not go away at their deaths.

So a paternity test was done after my grandfather died in 2006. We would end this doubt once and for all. My aunt is sent the results in the mail. She reported that it he could not be her father (98% certain or something like that) and then she destroyed the results.

For my aunt, the answer was concrete. For the rest of us, it was something we did not really want to believe. With my grandparents in the ground, there is really nothing anyone could do. Those kinds of paternity tests are either positive or negative. They didn’t give her any more information than she already had.

Pausing again because you would think that paternity test result would be the end of the machine, but these kinds of golems are social structures. They live and are fed by friends, family and maybe even complete strangers who continue to bolster them, unwittingly, with misinformation or a blind eye. We want the lie to be true so bad that we will do almost anything to see it continue. The shadow monster they made continues it’s work, finally harming the very people it was created to protect.The initial will of the person who created the new reality continues on with a life of its own, even after their death.

This created a cold war zone of distrust in our family. We had some stories, some clues and a malevolent (but socially acceptable) revenant whose sole purpose was to see us fail at learning more about my aunt’s paternity. It had, at it’s finger tips, any number of recruits from within the family who were much happier with the sanitized version of life it presented, even though it meant harming their own living flesh and blood.

After several years stewing in that environment with the biological clock of kidney disease ticking, my dad suggested that my aunt should do some of the DNA testing he and I were doing.

 

2013 and Beyond

Two years into not being able to figure out the issues with my paternal line autosomal tests, we ordered a test for for my aunt. This presented a few opportunities. Half siblings are great for comparisons. They are close relatives, but represent the genetic material from only one parent. So my aunt’s results in comparison to my dad would help her with her paternal family and help me with mine.

At the same time we ordered a test for their maternal uncle. His comparison to both my dad and my aunt would shed more light on their mother and reveal DNA segments the two of them inherited from her, but don’t share with each other.

By mapping their mother’s segments, I can find the shadow regions of their father’s contributions. You can see that best illustrated in the autosomal DNA mile marker post.

With the fuse lit on that kidney disease, we quickly lost an entire year to my poor communication skills and the thwart festival that is 23 and me privacy and sharing.  By the end of it, I had nearly lost access to the results from their maternal uncle who no longer trusted my motives and disagreed with the idea that my aunt needed to know who her biological father was. He was on team “undying machine” and refused to release his results for further research (which is his right). The rest of my comparisons to him were crippled by that. This prompted me to move my base of operations away from 23 and me and over to family tree dna.

Not that the 23 and me matches were bad. I WAS jealous of my aunt’s 23 and me matching results. She had one very close and very big match, within the range of a second cousin or first cousin one time removed, probably someone you would see at a family reunion. Winters. He did not match her brother so I knew he must represent her father.

Again though, I was thwarted by 23 and me’s sharing system. I could not run any real comparisons on this kit without first sharing DNA which just sounds scary as hell and requires participation from someone who may be dead for all I know. He was the absolute best lead we had (her genetic relatives at FTDNA were much smaller) but there was little I could do with the match.

I spent the next year and more working with her many French Canadian matches and triangulating segments to several generations of the Robert/Robar family from Quebec. The international upgrade to Ancestry.com was required for that research.

Although I felt I met my own confidence level through triangulation, I was still effectively stuck in the 1700s.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to map an entire family backwards from the 1700s. It’s a nightmare. Because I didn’t have Y DNA as any sort of guide, I had to find every person related to that Robert/Robar family that was alive in 1946. 200 years of generations of humans from colonial Canada. I don’t speak French, so I struggled with hand written French baptism records the best I could.

Somewhere in this mix I ordered an AncestryDNA test for my aunt with the hope that AncestryDNA testers would be more likely to have a family tree even though the matching system was opaque. I eventually followed suit with my own test there which helped to sort hers out a little.

 

AncestryDNA and Genetic Go Fish

The promise of AncestryDNA is really opportunity. More people are more likely to test with AncestryDNA because they are interested in genealogy (as opposed to health or ethnicity) and they are more likely to already have a family tree. Ancestry has kept their actual DNA results hidden and the tools for comparison are very limited (and sometimes misleading).

You can see me finding the immediate benefits of an AncestryDNA test for my wife and myself in the warm mug of cocoa post. You can see me immediately hitting the wall of their tools and the frustration of a close, but hidden match in the awful feeling of awfulness.

In a system without any real tools for DNA comparison, hidden family trees burn like a thousand hot needles. Follow that pain with the totally missing family trees and you’ve defeated the purpose of an AncestryDNA test. It’s surprisingly common, and, true to form I ran into it a lot with my aunt’s test there.

Interestingly, I could usually find my way around a hidden tree if a person was communicative at all and gave me the “go fish” list of surnames or if there were enough clues in their username and among shared matches. So hiding trees 98% of the time only really succeeded in eating up more of my time. In the end I would get the information anyway and often have very detailed conversations with genetic matches about the people in their STILL hidden trees.

The major problem is that, having won the victory of getting basic directory information from a genetic match (even a close one), I often struggled to make any connection to other genetic matches.

Some of that is not really knowing what I’m looking for and that people from Quebec are highly interrelated, but some of it is also that everyone has two family trees.  I’m getting their paper tree, but I really need their genetic tree and the two may not line up for them either.

You can end up in a weird situation where you are researching your NPE comparing to people who may or may not know that they have an NPE and you don’t really have all the genetic information to help you make good assessments.

That, pretty much brings us up to this past year and should fill in the back story on what was a pretty disappointing autosomal experience with the added pressure of impending death for my aunt.

I’m going to split this long book into two here with a part two to follow.


Next: Everybody has Two Family Trees…a New Hope

 

 

And Then There Were Two

If you take a look at my previous posts on DF95 and the Cumberland Cluster, you’ll see that Big Y showed us to be a lone line of men straight from Z18, among other lone lines of men also coming directly form Z18. All our branches (save one) died out around the tail end of the Nordic Bronze age. That makes us a relatively small group and both young (all related to someone who lived around 500BCE give or take a few hundred years) and very old ( the next ancestor in line after 500 BCE is about 2100 BCE with 14 SNPs worth of generations in between).

On the one hand, that removes a lot of the arguments that revolve around the bronze age movements of different Y groups. On the other hand, you’re stuck on an island.

A lot of the ideas in my previous posts are based on discussions I’ve had in the Z18 facebook group along with things I’ve learned from the age estimates and SNP spreadsheets from the U106 group Forum. All the groups and analysis verify that the Cumberlands are basically alone on their island branching directly off Z370/Z18.

Then maybe a month or so ago, Alex Williamson posted a link to his work in progress U106 Big Tree in the U106 Forum. This is his independent work. Normally he focuses on R1b-P312 (the bigger sibling of U106) and that is basically the content of the Big Tree, but he must have heard the cries of the many U106 people asking for their own version of the Big Tree and began to plug away at one.

It’s based on Big Y or FGC tests that Alex has access to, so panel results and individual SNP tests will be missing, but it’s a great start.

When I clicked the link to go look at it I was shocked by two things. One…there we were, the Cumberlands front and center!

Big U106 tree

And two, The Cumberlands were not alone anymore. Apparently, Alex looks for specific SNPs that occur in the palindromic regions. of the Y. Each ZZ prefix represents two possible SNP locations. If you look at the top you’ll see two ZZ SNPs 61 and 62. They are two sides of a coin (if I have things straight), the third SNP was more trouble and is only listed by reference number.

What you will notice is that these ZZ SNPs fall below the R-Z18/Z370 parent of all Z18 men which was our original connection point. You’ll see DF95 there below this new SNP set. You may also notice then that another group shares those SNPs. That group is the East Anglia group marked by ZP24.

Cumberland has a new parent and a brother?!!

Brothers Gotta Hug

It was unbelievable. I contacted Alex to ask about it. He said that they are real SNPs, but they cannot be tested in the traditional way (Sanger Sequencing), so they may not be offered by FTDNA for testing. They do show up in Big Y or FGC Y tests though.

The group just to the right of that (the next straight line going down not connected to ZZ61 etc.) contains men from the Poland cluster and from the Swede cluster. I’m guessing these are just unfinished at the moment.

Until new discoveries come along, DF95 Cumberland shares a common ancestor with ZP24 East Anglia…likely a few hundred years after the formation of Z18 around 2300 BCE. So, In that 2000 BCE range is one man our two groups are related to. Then we split and have a really crappy time through the Bronze age (as evidenced by those long runs of SNPs) and come out as two survivors in the pre-roman iron age.


 

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DF95 Do Over