Then we’ll do this “The Hard Way”

The Y DNA test results came in for the other male Thompson branch and we’re not a match.

What does that mean? Well, at the most basic Y test we’re very dissimilar. My results are odd and as I’ve been told there are 10s of men like me. My distant cousin has one of the most popular patterns in Y DNA, at 12 he has a thousand plus of matches. We’re both members of R1b, which is very popular in Europe but that is probably the end of our shared Y time together as it’s likely we’re separated by thousands of years.

Yes, but what does that mean. Well that is both simple and complex. Very simply, I was hoping to confirm our Y line with a distant relative match. In this case we share common ancestors Albert Thompson and Ida Williamson who were born around 1870 and 1874 respectively. Albert would be the person confirmed. So on the simple side, somewhere between Albert and both testers (me and my cousin) there is a break in the Y  line. A non paternal event. With only two of us tested it’s not possible to show where that happened, but I do know, without at doubt that my father and I cannot genetically represent the Thompson family with scientific  certainty.

That’s the simple part.

Now the complex part. Counting Albert’s children, there are three generations of Thompsons where the break could occur. I don’t count because I know from 23 and me that my dad is a match for me. So I can eliminate that as a possibility.

What I can’t eliminate is that our DNA may not represent Albert Thompson or Ida Williamson at all. Since I’ve tried to make use of DNA in finding answers…well..there may not be the kind of answers I was looking for there.

At every generation then, you have to wonder if something went a bit off.

That, of course, is the reason I’m here at all. ABSOLUTELY something was a bit off! What I’ve found and documented here is a generational fifty two card pickup. These people were all over the place, disappearing, reappearing, moving to Arkansas…that’s right Arkansas (It’s Kansas for pirates…try it out). It’s like trying to track leaves in the wind. So, yes, I was hoping for an easy move forward here, but in the typical fashion of my family, we’ll do this “the hard way”.

What have I got going for me? Well, my grandfather had no not much on this end. I need to shore up the Michigan Thompsons by testing someone closer to home for me, like a first cousin or better an uncle. Basically, that would be verifying my grandfather. Since he has no siblings we couldn’t go much further. If there was no match there, then we have a beer.

The Indiana Thompsons have a couple of male lines off of Francis, so we would set about matching them up to verify Francis. If they don’t match each other then…beer.

Since we know my Y signature has no matching Thompsons, we could also just follow up on a Y test for the Indiana Thompsons, refining them to see that they maintain their Thompson matches among the thousands of others in the mix. Thereby identifying Levi Thompson’s family..Goal!

Also, since I have not been able to identify likely Thompson matches at 23 and me, but I do have several that I believe to be really decent Williamson matches. I have to consider that the break in the Y line happened right there with Albert and his sons. In that case, the testing at 23 and me should move forward and I would think of the Indiana Thompsons, not just as my Thompson family, but also as my closest Williamson family and the most likely people to have large genetic overlaps for Williamson matches.

The hard way.

Over the past years, on this blog, I’ve tried to keep track of success and failure. It’s a place to keep notes and ideas and might be useful to someone else on a journey. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if we really do represent a Thompson line at all or if we’ve got a name of convenience or some other random thing.  My point is that I’ve had time to become accustomed to not being very Thompson-ish genetically.

When I found that I fairly closely matched with the Knowltons, I worked with them to try to identify possible Knowltons who could have provided my Y. I was asked what I would do if I found out I was a secret Knowlton. I thought about that, what it would mean, and I decided that I would be excited to learn about my  Knowlton roots, but then I would go right back to following the Thompsons and trying to figure them out.

It’s because, life is both simple and complex. I could be a secret Knowlton, but you would have to dig to find those genetic influences in my life. The Thompsons are my family, whatever befell them also was passed to me in common language, tone, humor and culture. Without knowing it, we have things in common, inherited through the shared experiences of grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and children that have an impact on our daily lives in ways that cannot be scientifically measured.

Trying to fill in these gaps and identify these families, is one way I honor them. I have to believe that I can get up and face the world because on some level, they did too. Whether they were good, bad or worse, I feel like they deserve to be known. It’s a cruel mean world and what we’ve been given, through years of pain and suffering, is an ability to look at our certain doom, and laugh at how stupid it all is.

I told my son that the idiot British bar song tubthumping was our Thompson family song. Not just because of the references to rampant drinking, but because we get knocked down and we get up again. He got excited and said “it’s because we’re hard to knock down right dad!” and I said “No! Man, I get knocked down all the damn time. It’s easy to knock me down. I get knocked over by the cat..I get UP again…you see. You’ll get knocked down, but you get up again…that’s the part that matters…you get up..never mind”.

Anyway, we don’t match. Am I shocked? No. The hard way is the Thompson way. Of course I don’t match up with hardly anyone and he matches up with all of Europe. That’s the Thompson way..if it wasn’t uphill, both ways …you know, what would I do?

I have to continue to be a Thompson because I don’t know what else to be. I don’t know how to be a Knowlton or an Elmer. I only know how to do things the hard way.


Defining Boundaries…or the Blind Men and the Elephant



Ordered a Test for a Known Thompson


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