Thursday, June 25, 2015

Genetic Genealogy for Irish and Scots

My recent book Finding the McCains, a Scots-Irish Odyssey has garnered excellent reader reviews and peer reviews, of which I am very pleased.  There is an aspect of the book that is important to family historians and genealogist that I would like to highlight.  I receive many emails asking me about how to begin a genetic genealogy project.  Many people are not familiar with genetic genealogy; how does it work?  What can it do for our family history?
Finding the McCains  has good tales, lots of stories, Irish and Scottish history, and all that, but it is also a very good account and How-To guide for those interested in genetic genealogy.  The book goes into great detail into how I found our kinfolk in Ireland and Scotland and how I used the DNA results to discover the family's point of origin and eventually locate them in the primary sources of the district where they lived prior to 1600.
This was no easy task.  Our family left Ireland in 1718.  They were Gaelic and Lallans speaking.  There were no records prior to that date only oral histories.  So, how does one go from that little amount of data to finding one's family in the old countries, going over to visit them and reconnecting the family after almost three centuries of separation.  And how does one uncover the story of the family's progenitor from the 1400s? 
We can use genetic genealogy to do this.   In Finding the McCains I go through each stage of the journey that I made, how I used the DNA results to test each family origin theory, how I used DNA results to disprove various theories until I came down to the one that proved correct and success followed. 
You can find your family in the old countries and you can recover lost family history.  And, best of all, you can go over to visit them.  That moment when you walk into a room, full of your kinfolk that stayed in the old country is the golden moment.  It makes all those years of genealogy research all come together in a moment of perfection.  
 Finding the McCains is available through Amazon and can be ordered through your local book shop.

The Scots-Irish DNA Project

Here is a link to the Scots-Irish DNA Project which has information on the project and links to both the 'Join' page and the 'Results' page.   I post this in response to several hundred inquiries I had asking for this.  The Scots-Irish DNA project has grown very fast and is approaching 1,000 participating families.  A lot of very good information there for family historians and genealogists.  Most of the participating families list the oldest known ancestor of their family.  This allows of researchers to use this data and cross reference to see if a connection can be made. 
Many families discover cousins they did not know they had.  Then they will triangulate their data. Often a very complete history of a family will emerge from this process.  Many participating families have located their kinfolk in Ireland and Scotland and reconnected their families. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Scots-Irish Surnames; a list of families in the Scots-Irish DNA Project

The Scots-Irish DNA Project now has 761 participating families.  Below is a roster of the participating families.  As you can see the families are a combination of Lowland and Highland Scottish surnames with a few native Irish surnames.  All these families self identify as being Scots-Irish.  Most of these families participated in the 18th Century Ulster Migration to English Colonies and early Republic, or in the 19th Century Ulster migration into Canada.

The majority of the Lowland Scottish families are from Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, and Gallowayshire, and most of these families migrated to Ireland during the Ulster Plantation (1609-1720).  The Highland Scottish surnames from Argyll, Lennox, and the Southern Hebrides; many of these families migrated to Ulster circa 1550-1600).

The dominate haplogroups are Insular Celts (85%) and there is about 12% of the haplogroups of Norse/Norman ancestry.   The native Irish surnames come from certain families that converted to the reformed faith and became part of the Protestant Irish community in the 1600s. 

Click on image to enlarge:


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Autosomal DNA Test Sale

Autosomal DNA tests utilize DNA from the 22 pairs of autosomal chromosomes. Autosomal DNA is inherited from both parents. Therefore, an autosomal DNA test may be taken by either a male or a female. 

The Family Finder test is designed to trace all of your ancestral lines (5 generations and beyond) using your autosomal DNA. It will confidently identify relationships for five generations. Family Finder tests thousands of data points on your 22 autosomal chromosomes. Your results are then compared to others in the Family Finder database. The Family Finder software detects linked blocks (segments) of DNA that indicate a common ancestor. The number and size of these segments is used to determine how recently any two people are related.

The strengths of the Family Finder test are that it may be used with equal success by both men and women and its ability to find connections on any of your family lines. The challenge is determining which branch of your family tree you share with your cousin. This can be accomplished with traditional genealogical records and by utilizing other types of DNA tests.
The Family Finder test also includes the FREE myOrigins tool. The myOrigins analysis provides informative analysis matching to world population groups.
The preferred test for surname studies is the Y-Chromosome test, which only men can do as this chromosome is only passed from father to son, however, the autosomal test can be used very effectively to confirm kinship, locate cousins, etc., and often this allows a participant to use a male relative's Y chromosome results in a family research project.
Dear Valued Customer,

Celebrate this Father's Day with a Family Finder test.  Click here to purchase Family Finder for $89!

Act now, this offer is valid beginning Friday, 6/19/2015 at 12:01 am CST and ending Sunday, 6/21/2015 at 11:59 pm CST.

Why Family Finder?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Increasing Use of SNPs in Genetic Genealogy

This update will address the growing importance of SNP testing in genetic genealogy.  We have now reached the point that SNPs are relative to genetic genealogy in addition to providing data on deep ancestry.
Many of the new SNP haplogroups have origins of 1000 years ago or less and as the geneticists discover new downstream haplogroups we have arrived in some cases at the genealogical time frame.  Just like STRs, SNPs can mutate at any time.  Anywhere from 20,000 years ago to only 100 years ago.  The geneticists are now identifying the more recent SNP mutations.  And this is where it gets interesting... not only are the more recent downstream SNPS being located, but mutations on those SNPs are also being discovered.
A mutation on the Haplogroup identifying SNP is called a ‘private SNP’ or some prefer the term ‘Family SNP' or a 'Unique SNP’  A Private SNP occurs at such a low level that it is not used to define a Haplogroup.  But, it is the unique genetic signature of a particular family or kinship group.  These Private SNP mutations are extremely useful for genealogists and family historians, especially among Irish and Scottish families that use patronymic surname traditions.  Usually, these Private SNPs produce small cluster of surnames, two to four or so.
What this means to us we have a tool to identify clan and sept groups and the linked geographic area. From this data we can locate primary sources to unlock the history of that match group.  Many of our members have already done extensive SNP testing and even the Big-Y test and know their Private SNP.   Those results are very detailed and so large that they are not posted on the public results page.  Participants of the higher level SNP test download the data and share with other private scholars and genetic genealogists.
Family Tree DNA has some education material on SNP testing on their website.  I urge family groups to appoint one person in their kinship group to ‘read up’ on SNP testing.  Having the data is one thing, but one must also know how to use it.