Skip to comments.DNA can reveal ancestors' lies and secrets
Posted on 01/18/2009 3:36:53 AM PST by decimon
In a search for their ancestors, more than 140 people with variations of the last name Kincaid have taken DNA tests and shared their results on the Internet.
They have found war heroes, sailors and survivors of the Irish potato famine.
They have also stumbled upon bastards, liars and two-timers.
Much of it is ancient history, long-dead ancestors whose dalliances are part of the intrigue of amateur genealogy. But sometimes the findings strike closer to home.
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
Hey! Some folks are proud to have members of Congress in their family!
Hadn't thought of that. Guess the Congresscritters make the cutthroats and thieves look better.
I, personally, am in favor of finding out as much as possible - and then gently probing relatives to determine if they really want to know.
Giving some thought to, say, European history, gives thought to endless wars, plagues and famines. And a generally high mortality rate among both moms and dads. Leaving aside the hanky-panky, there must have been many informal adoptions and second or third marriages. So what's in a name?
I have often wondered if some cheating going on wasn’t revealed in the DNA search of family trees.
I found that a distant cousin had deserted his position (at least according to the official paperwork of him housed at the Natl. Archives) at the end of the Civil War and headed off to Texas. I sent this info off to a current member of that branch who was also researching him....She quit writing to me.
That's as with people claiming to recall past lives. Always a glamorous past life. Never a coward or the guy who cleaned the stables.
A interesting program.
Should be. But there could be surprises for anyone. For instance, someone of English heritage might actually be from Slavic immigrants to the UK. A simple name change does the trick.
Dude! You're OLD !
The date of the alleged desertion and the official end of the war were so close that possibly soldiers were just saying “let’s go home”....but,we’ll never know.
You are right, though. People for the most part want to think only the best of their forebearers.
True. My DNA is tired and cranky.
I thought of that when I read your post. An official discharge may have been seen as an unnecessary formality.
Unfortunately, part of that 4% roadblock is my surname at the 5g level (approximately 1775). About 18 months ago, I participated in the FTDNA study for my surname, and have not had much luck yet. There have been some great success stories, but not in my case yet.
For those who may be interested here are some key bullet points about using DNA testing for ancestral research:
1. DNA testing can only be used on direct Paternal and Maternal lines. meaning it can only used for linking father's fathers's fathers......etc., and mother's mother's mother's........etc.
2. The premise of paternal DNA testing is that the "Y" DNA remains unchanged from father to son. People who use this system compare the markings of their Y DNA in the report, and find matches. There are some pitfalls. I know of a couple of cases where proven, 3rd cousins, were 3 markers off. What happens, and is a problem, is there are a number of markers that more apt to mutation than others. The proprietors of the test are not in agreement with this, but given the realm of statistical probability, you can't rule anything out.
3. As the article states, all bets are off if there say there is what is known as a paternal mishap within the family line. Also, if there were any adoptions in the direct line, that will deem the test inert. Adoptions were not documented back past say a 100 years ago.
4. Haplogroups- Without any good links for me (yet), I felt the test still provided me some good information. If you do test, make sure that you include getting your Haplogroup tested. I found mine was R1b1c, which is very indicative of Scotland and southern England, which is what I expected.
5. Cost?- Avoid the 12 marker test all together, it won't tell you hardly anything. The 37 marker test is your best bet, and I think it's a couple hundred dollars. The 67 marker test I think is about $100 more, and is only good (IMO) if you have some matches, and need further verification.
One eyed, one horned, flying purple people eater kind of cranky?
Adoptions were not documented back past say a 100 years ago.
That's been my thought. After wars, plagues, etc. there must have been many orphans. Maybe people would then just take in some kid or maybe a religious official would arrange for that. There would be few if any records of these adoptions. Makes sense to me, anyway.
And then there are the rapes that accompany societal upheavals. And the prostitution for survival.
My kangaroo won't be tied down cranky.
Probably the most dramatic, was a little old lady, who new to tracing her ancestry. I found her grandmother listed in the 1880 census as "ad-daughter". Which translated to adopted of course. The lady slung her three ring binder at me, and accused me of lying to her as she stormed out. Bottom line, is if you get into this hobby far enough, I guarantee that there will be at least one bit of unpleasantry (if you are in that frame of mind).
Of the I have much more pleasure of seeing the people who I have helped. I helped one gentleman find his grandfather who he had been searching for off and on during his whole life. His comment was "I am dying of Luekemia, I had given up hope of finding out what happened to him". I teared up, and knew that my help was worthwhile.
You are right there. But probably the biggest generator of orphans back then was disease. If both parents died, the children usually went with an Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, or very good family friend.
I see that you are in Texas. That was once frontier country. Men once went into such territories with prostitutes following. Those prostitutes are in family trees. Has that turned up in your research?
And likely picked up the new family name, no? Outside of royalty, I don't think surnames were as cherished in the past as they are now.
Hard to believe too, but the guy was an MD.
Physician, heal thyself.
I’m the family genealogist & had my brother do an Y-dna (paternal) test & we found out that my dad’s side was R1a & Jewish. No one was aware of it & in checking Ashkenazi Jews I found that they are at an increased risk of having colon cancer. I regret not knowing this information way back in the 70’s as my father died at age 54 of colon cancer in 1981. Having this information was too late for my family but maybe it will help someone in the future.
I stay cranky because Me boomerang won't come back, I have to take a cold 'tater and wait and then I have to sleep at the end of the bed.
My mom was from the South and was heavily into the genealogy bit. On our living room wall we had two frames with coats of arms in them, denoting that we came from some great European bloodline. We heard about that day and night until we were SICK of that stuff.
One day my brother called me and said that he did some digging on his own and found that one of our relatives on her side was hung as a horse thief. I felt better about our bloodline after that - we were, after all, just regular folks.
As a sidebar, my dad got off the boat from Germany back in the '20s. He claimed he had enough of "class", having been with a bunch of "von this and von that" at the naval academy and thought them all cretins - just living off their heritage. He loved America because "You start with a clean slate. They don't care who or what you were in the Old Country - they want to see what YOU can do."
I don't know that that's still true. Now you are what credentials you've accumulated.
Here’s something else. If some ancestor came in through Ellis Island then there are records at ellisislandfoundation.org. There may be similar sites for other immigration cities but I don’t know.
80% of the Jewish immigrants to the US are the Ashkenazi variety.
As a group, they have the highest IQ's in the world.
To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
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A bunch of my cousins are no blood relation at all, because their grandparents adopted a boy whose parents both died of the 'flu. His dad was a doctor and caught it tending his patients, and his mom caught it from him. My relations had no children of their own, so they just adopted him and I'm not sure it was ever in any official record.
I know his original birth name and have a note to that effect in my genealogy research, but it's not generally known outside the immediate family, and nobody really cares from a personal standpoint.
Another branch of the family has 2-3 instances of taking in children whose parents had died, much further back than 1918. That information could easily be lost in a century or two.
Point is, records were a lot looser back then, and many have been lost, so don't assume your ancestors were engaging in any hanky-panky. They may have been doing a noble deed instead.
Naturally she was somebody famous -- a Roman courtesan I think but I can't remember which one.
I pointed out that her Latin was faulty and that everybody was always somebody famous, nobody was ever just a slave who pulled the fan cord in the triclinium.
Of course, that was when I was an Episcopalian. I haven't met anybody quite that silly in the Catholic choir . . . .
But if everybody who said their ancestor was one of General Lee's honor guard had actually HAD an ancestor there, the South would have won the war by sheer numbers. And don't even get me started on all the people who claim their ancestor was one of George Washington's personal bodyguard, or Bonnie Prince Charlie . . . .
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If you know how European heraldry works, nobody's entitled to those armorial bearings but the eldest son and his lineal descendants in the primary line. Who mostly didn't emigrate, because they had no reason to . . . .
About the only exception to this is the Scottish clan system -- descendants who can trace to the clan territory are entitled to use the crest of the clan coat of arms only, encircled with a strap and buckle to show that they are clansmen, not direct lineal descendants. But that is unique to the clan system.
The Italian nobility didn't follow the rule of primogeniture, but most don't even use their titles any more. Devaluation by overwhelming supply and very little demand . . . .
The things you related in those posts are just what I’ve had in mind. Thanks.
If I could know who were my ancestors then I’d of course be interested but, like Popeye, I am what I am and that’s all what I am.
It's a little more difficult to do in the South, because people are a little obsessive about genealogy (she says, glancing up at the shelf with 9 notebooks full of genealogy) . . . although it's a great secret weapon for kids who get picked on in school. My daughter went to a prep school where most of the kids had a lot more money than we do, but she could always shut the mean girls up by pointing out that SHE was descended from the brother of a Signer (we are Old Blood and Not Much Money, but that trumps No Blood and New Money any day of the week when the girls begin putting on airs.)
And it can also be useful for instilling manners. As Florence King's aunt whispered to her in Southern Ladies and Gentlemen, "Remember your grandmother was a Talbot!" (or a Byrd, or somebody. Don't exactly recall which family.)
My grandfather and my great-aunt were the only children of a lady who unfortunately died of early-onset Alzheimer's back in the days before anybody knew what it was. What's more, she was the youngest child of a very large family, and her parents and many of her oldest siblings were long dead by the time her children were of an age to take an interest in such things.
When my great-aunt was a very elderly lady, long after my grandfather had died, I was talking with her one day about genealogy, and she related all these facts to me and said rather plaintively that she didn't even know her grandfather's name. "Well, Aunt Ruth," I said, "I think I can fix that. Just give me a couple of weeks . . . ."
I hit the National and State Archives like a linebacker - I was between jobs and had plenty of time to spend. I came up with my great-grandfather's name, his birthplace, the names of his brothers and sisters and his wife's brothers and sisters, and the names of all his children. I found out just about every place he lived (or at least owned land) and where he was buried.
My great-aunt was SO happy -- she confirmed the names of some of his children and remembered visiting them in South Carolina when she was a very small girl. She said, "You've given me back my family!" I was glad I was able to do that favor for her before she died.
My 5x great grandfather was a MacGregor (the Mafia of Scotland) who left Scotland one jump ahead of the law and changed his name when he got here (or before he left - at one point in Scotland they tried to fix the problem by outlawing the name MacGregor -- kind of like the Atlanta city fathers trying to solve the crime problem on Stewart Avenue by renaming it Metropolitan Parkway).
And one of my Civil War ancestors was accused of stealing a horse -- although he denied it and nothing ever came of it. He said he found it loose on the battlefield, and he probably did. Another of my Civil War ancestors actually DID steal horses -- in one of his letters he remarked to his wife, "I didn't let the captain see the horse this time." Although maybe he figured he had just as much right to it as the captain . . . .
“About the only exception to this is the Scottish clan system — descendants who can trace to the clan territory are entitled to use the crest of the clan coat of arms only, encircled with a strap and buckle to show that they are clansmen, not direct lineal descendants. But that is unique to the clan system.”
Septs included in this practice? (Like Sterrett, a sept of Clan Douglas)
also spelled Sterritt, Starratt, Starrat, Sterret, and several others.
From village in Ayreshire called Stair, thence to County Derry, thence New England, thence Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Minnesota, California.
My mother’s maiden name—truly Scottish origin.
And the records were so bad in the Confederacy, particularly towards the end of the war, that somebody might have been marked as “deserted” just because somebody else lost the muster roll, or couldn’t be bothered to complete it . . . . I could see it happening easily, I went through acres of those records when I was writing my thesis, and the standard of bookkeeping just got lower, and lower, and lower (not to mention the quality of the ink and paper).
RIMMER: I'll tell you something. Something I've never told anyone. When I was fifteen, I went to Macedonia on a school trip, to the site of Alexander The Great's palace. And for the first time in my whole life, I felt ... I felt I was home. This place was where I belonged. Years later, I got friendly with a hypnotherapist -- Donald -- and told him about the Alexander the Great thing, and he said that he'd regress me back through my past lives. I was dubious, but I let him put me under. It turned out my instincts were absolutely correct -- I had lived a past life in Macedonia. That palace was my home. Because, believe it or not, Lister, he told me that, in a past incarnation, I was Alexander the Great's chief eunuch.
LISTER: Do you know something? I believe you.
RIMMER: He didn't say that I was Alexander himself, which is obviously what I wanted to hear. But it explained everything: I'd lived a previous life alongside one of the greatest generals in history. No wonder the military's in my blood.
LISTER: No wonder you're such a good singer.
RIMMER: Well, maybe it's rot, I don't know. But it's funny -- to this day, I can't look at a pair of nutcrackers without wincing. And why is it, whenever I'm with a large group of women, I have this overwhelming urge to bathe them in warm olive oil?
LISTER: I have that urge, Rimmer. It's got nothing to do with past lives.
RIMMER: Well, why is it, then?
And of course, my cousins are still interested in the family genealogy despite being no blood kin -- they go to all the family reunions and have a great time talking families. After all, their grandfather was CHOSEN to be part of the family . . . .
Really the whole modern sept thing is a result of the Great Tartan Nonsense (as author Clifford Hanley calls it) that began with George IV's state visit to Edinburgh in the 1820s, and continued under Queen Victoria and her friendship with the goofy Sobieski Stuarts. The canny Scots woolen manufacturers were happy to ride on the wave and find a clan name and tartan for EVERYBODY. Many Lowland and Border families suddenly became "clans" and even more surnames were gathered under clan names as "septs" so that you could buy your very own sett of MacWhoever tartan.
But before the Great Tartan Nonsense, the great Border families would have laughed themselves silly if anybody called them a "clan". Highlanders were considered to be dirty, unlettered savages who spoke a weird unwritten language and stole everybody blind. If you read the 16th c. Scots poets (a quick cheat is to read C.S. Lewis's masterful volume of the Oxford History of English Literature), the Highlander was the butt of the Polack jokes of the time, except he was thieving and murderous as well as ignorant and dirty. As one Lowlander remarked to somebody who asked if his family had a tartan, "No. Thank God my family could always afford to wear trousers!"
Ayrshire is very definitely Lowlands - home of Robert Burns, who never wore tartan in his life probably and certainly never a kilt. They were respectable trousered farmers who spoke broad Scots, not Gaelic. And there is no chief of Clan Douglas, because the title is extinct and was granted to the Hamiltons, who cannot use it because their surname isn't Douglas!
BUT - my advice is, if you like the Douglas crest (it's a pretty one - a salamander in flames, with the motto "Jamais arriere" - "never behind") or the Douglas tartan, and there are several attractive ones to choose from, have at it! It does no harm, everybody has a good time, and there's no real objection to it. Especially since there IS no chief of Clan Douglas, so you're not stealing anybody's crest!
We do it too -- my husband's father's mother has a Scottish surname and her family really is from Scotland, but the tartan is ugly as homemade sin and my husband is a very large man, so although his mother is Irish her surname is listed as a sept of the Gordons, so my husband wears hunting Gordon tartan for day wear and Dress Gordon for evening wear -- which is a douce respectable dark green and blue that is a little less shocking than 6'6" of the hideous orange-and-slime-green Dunbar sett would be.
And I just don't like the MacGregor tartan, too gaudy, so I wear MacKay, which sounds like a family name although we're actually no relation.
My kangaroo won't be tied down cranky.
Good grief, you're both as old as I am.
I am an R1b with the same haplogroup as the Mahoneys, Pickerings and Nichols. Scotch-Irish, it seems...
I’m from the same clan. Our new name was Gregg when we got here.
My maternal grandfather was a hobby geneologist in his retirement. He traced my family through the male line back 12 generations in America. Fortunately, they stayed in the same place (Maine) until the mid 1800s. My Texas aunt used it as documentation for DAR purposes.
Luckily my Dad also caught the bug and did his back to the early 1800s when they migrated.
So I know the areas where many of my ancestors came from in England, Ireland and Germany. I think it’s kind of neat, but my kids aren’t curious about it.
OOPs, I was trying to post to #1, sorry.
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