And so this is Christmas..and what have you done

I think since I’ve moved my Y DNA results to FTDNA, I’ve been able to take advantage of a lot of good testing and research within the FTDNA groups and also take better advantage of what I got from Ancestry.com. Last year, I thought my Y was a pretty obvious dud. Now I have what I think is a clearer picture of where my Y DNA ancestor was from..or at least the journey they took.

I’m pretty resigned that we’re looking at Anglo Saxon England or some later migration from Flanders or Denmark before 1500AD. I think the Anglo Saxon/Frisian thing circa 500AD is most likely at this point but I can’t totally rule out Flemish weavers or Hanseatic League members.

It’s not shocking because I’ve been building this case for a while, initially with a lot of hesitation, but more recently with actual excitement. I feel like I’ve been able to move from a feeling of dread in the beginning that we Thompsons were not exactly like the other Thompsons to acceptance of a sort. Now I’ve moved on to learning about where we may have come from outside of the general mythology of Thompson-ness. I have actually enjoyed learning about these groups of people we call “Germanic”.

I think the last few days have been an enormous success in that I feel like I’m seeing a pattern emerge that incorporates the Knowltons and Elmers that I’ve spent so much time with. I can see in the cluster at “Z18 and subgroups” a broad migration round the bottom of the Balitc Sea and over to England…or maybe what would become England in the future. As I watch this pattern play out I’m seeing a definite area of England for us and it’s southeast England and maybe more specifically East Anglia although a paper trail to Kent wouldn’t be a surprise either.

When I look at autosomal DNA I’m seeing some ties to the area as well, in the many matches that have roots in Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk. By the same token though I can’t ignore my father’s genetic connections to Germany and Ireland which remain a bit of a mystery. I could definitely see Germany through the Finks (Thompsons) family but many Germans have X matches which means it would be carried on the Seelye side, not the Thompson side. There is also a French component that is evident in our paper trail, but not yet making itself apparent genetically.

Clearly the Y DNA move was good for boiling things down and our autosomal DNA tests require similar work. Like the move for the Y, I should transfer autosomal tests over to FTDNA. Gedmatch.com has proven that the FTDNA database holds some clues for us.

In both the Y and autosomal cases my father and I can no longer be the only representatives of our family. We’ll need others beyond the level of my grandparents to help us sort and order matches. Painfully, we’ll need them for both the Y (because the Y is important for continuity) AND autosomal tests (because the Thompsons need help on all their lines) which costs money. For my dad it will become important to have a Seelye representative and a Thompson for autosomal testing. Eventually, if we can establish that the Y carries through to the Indiana Thompsons and we’re not looking at a more recent NPE, we’ll need to look at testing Y candidates from Butler PA..which is a shot in the dark with no guarantee of participation.

It’s easy to forget, in the midst of all my talk about genetic testing, that we’ve made some good advances in paper work too. I think the John B Hollingsworth information is an important clue and gives a good time frame for a move from Butler PA to Madison IN. It’s nice to have someone I CAN follow back to Pennsylvania with clear ties to Indiana. It may mean that I should focus more on the Thompsons in Grant Indiana where the Hollingsworth family settles down. All of that is totally paper trail driven.

I’ve also been able to make good progress on the Hibbard (Thompson/Finks) family totally with photographic evidence and paper trails and made progress on the Finks family itself using census records and oral histories from Finks related people in Virginia. We’ve had excellent success on the Thompson/Williamson front as well and added a wealth of leads for that family just by using the census to leap a missing generation. I know more about the Jeffers/Jeffries family (Thompson/Finks) than I did before and I may have some genetic evidence to support the wishy washy family trees coming out of Kentucky.

So you can’t have just DNA testing alone, you have to be able to find records and connect with people if you’re going to be able to make anything out of this mess. I’m lucky to live in a time where most of this work can be done online and I can take advantage of all the great work done by others to fill in gaps.

I think there are still many discoveries to be made and new cultures and histories to learn about and I’m still excited to see how things unfold and we haven’t been totally backed into a corner yet. Big studies are coming out of England and Ireland that may shed new light on old data and as always, I meet new people all the time who give me great ideas and fresh creative perspectives.

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