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Family Lore vs. YDNA, Please Advise

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  • Family Lore vs. YDNA, Please Advise

    My first trace of my direct male ancestors dates to 1723 in Delaware. In the 1800's, one member of the family asked other relatives for information on the original nation or group. It was written in a family tree that our family originated in southern Normandy, (Mayenne), and fled to the Palatinate in the 1500's, as they were religious nonconformists. Eventually unable to own land as they were not germans, my ancestor fled to America through the Netherlands and settled near a colony of Labadists on the Chesapeake Bay.

    I took the YDNA test up to 111. At the 37 level, I have a variant of my family name with a genetic distance of 2. He has not taken the 67 or 111. He lives in Alsace, France, but traces his family back to Switzerland and the Mennonites and other nonconformists. My ancestor was not a Mennonite. He did not marry one or settle with them. His son helped found Methodism on the DelMarVa peninsula.

    What are the possibilities to reconcile this? Is my family history just plain wrong? Alsace and Mayenne are at least 400 miles apart.
    Ancestry says I have a 90% chance of a common male ancestor with the Alsatian no more than 12 generations ago, and a 95% chance no more than 14 generations ago. Is this "ironclad"? I can trace 8 direct male ancestors here in America.
    Any advice would be much appreciated!

  • #2
    Ancestry in the Alsace region is very mixed, due to a number of historical events such as the 30 Years' War, the wars of religion and the later expulsion of the protestants in France, various machinations by the feudal families, etc. Along the way, it is not always the case that family names were passed down ONLY from father to son, especially before the 17th Century. Surnames can be misleading. Among other reasons for this, illegitimate children (baptized as such) often took the surnames of their mothers.

    A Y-37 match with a distance of 2 MIGHT be significant, or it might not -- pay attention to the TIP report on your match list. But don't discount the possibility that someone from Normandie could end up in Alsace -- it has happened! The parts of Alsace and adjacent territories that were severely depopulated as a result of the 30 Years' War attracted settlers from many distant places (the local nobles actively sought new settlers to rebuild their tax base). Parts of Alsace were also relatively safe havens during the wars of religion. The first advice I ever had from a Swiss genealogist was "in the 16th Century, people can turn up anywhere" -- and he was definitely correct! I have documented 16th Century families from many parts of France, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, even one from Italy, and then followed them over half of Europe, including some through Alsace and others through the Netherlands. The old-time advice, that your European ancestors probably stayed within 15 miles of where they were born, turns out not to be true for my ancestral families!

    20 years ago, it would have been extremely difficult to find documentation for your family story from Normandie through the Palatinate and the Netherlands. Today most of the church records and many other documents are digitized (France and the Netherlands, especially), and some important records have been published. Well worth the effort, in my opinion, while waiting for additional genetic evidence to turn up.

    Ultimately, a Y-37 match at a distance of 2 will probably not constitute proof one way or the other. But it should raise your curiosity and maybe lead to other discoveries.

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    • #3
      As to Alsace and lower Normandie...

      The French actor Jean Marais was born in Avranches, Cotentin, western Normandie, but his mother was from Alsace
      https://translate.google.com/transla...is&prev=search
      People in France have always had a tendancy to move around a lot within their country, and religious non-conformists especially tended to move quite frequently. The Camisard Jean Cavalier was born in the Cevennes (southern central France) but he died in Chelsea, London England.
      Last edited by Rhonda Hatton; 4th February 2018, 06:28 PM. Reason: incorrect sentence spacing

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      • #4
        Is the variant of your family name "Hershey"?

        I don't think it took much to get kicked out of the Mennonites. Maybe your line was Mennonite somewhere in the past.

        Jack
        Last edited by georgian1950; 4th February 2018, 07:56 PM.

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        • #5
          Conversions went to Anabaptist

          It is not really correct to assume the root of a Mennonite line was always Mennonite. First they were Catholic and probably went Lutheran/Reformed Lutheran before getting moved to more radical forms including Mennoism.

          My line has 2 known Mennonite branches and one Amish and at least one Reformed Lutheran. It is almost certain that the Reformed Lutheran branch represents the primary ancestral root for the family.

          It is not unknown to find Lutheran or Catholic branches of Mennonite lines. Some, under pressure, reverted to the religion of the region to keep their heads. Here in the US as descendants of original immigrants relocated and new religions, such as Methodists, came in some converted..... Also note that not all children in a family marry within the community and religion.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks!

            Originally posted by georgian1950 View Post
            Is the variant of your family name "Hershey"?

            I don't think it took much to get kicked out of the Mennonites. Maybe your line was Mennonite somewhere in the past.

            Jack
            Yes, Hershey or Hirschy. It seems to be Hirschy in Alsace, where my closest match lives. Hershey in the Pfalz and Switzerland. I hired Ancestry to work in Delaware and in the village of Herce, near Mayenne, in France. The Herce name is found concentrated in that area, (and Sarthe) but seems to have dispursed sometime after 1300. My ancestor's given name was Isaac. I am told that this was another sign of nonconformity, as Old Testament names were popular with non-Catholics. His son was Solomon, and his grandson Benjamin. At various times, my Delaware immigrant ancestor's name was written as "Hershe" as well as Hersey. Thanks Again!

            Comment


            • #7
              "Ancestry says I have a 90% chance of a common male ancestor with the Alsatian no more than 12 generations ago, and a 95% chance no more than 14 generations ago. Is this "ironclad"?"

              I have a very dim view of the accuracy of TMRCA (time to most recent common ancestor) calculators, including TiP. The probabilities are just numbers that an algorithm pops out. There are lots of different ways to calculate TMRCA (time to most recent common ancestor), some better than others. Generally the more sophisticated algorithms result in TMRCA's that are more distant than less sophisticated algorithms, up to 2x more distant. See https://file.scirp.org/Html/3-1590553_70004.htm However, all of them (even the most sophisticated) are pretty crude because they assume things such as: (i) that the mutation rates used by the algorithm for individual STRs are accurate (there are actually not a lot of great studies on this and the studies differ in their results), (ii) that the mutation rates in both your particular line and the other male's were the same as the overall assumed mutation rates, (iii) that back mutations occur at the same rate as forward mutations in each of the STRs (assuming the TMRCA calculator even takes back mutations into account, which it should), (iv) that any STR with a 0 value is the result of a single mutation (if the algorithm doesn't treat them like that, the TMRCA calculation will be way off if either person has a 0 value), (v) that every other STR difference was the result of a number of mutations equal to the difference in values. Since at least some of these assumptions are almost certainly incorrect to a greater or lesser degree in a particular case, the probabilities produced will generally be inaccurate to a greater or lesser extent.

              Subjectively, from what I've seen, TMRCA calculators frequently grossly overestimate the probabilities of relatedness between people who are only very distantly related, at least in certain haplotypes where one gets a lot of "false" matches (eg R-M269).

              As an example, my surname is Ashley. Here are my matches at 37 STRs, with the genetic distances and TiP's calculation of the probability of a common ancestor within 8 generations, listed in order of highest to lowest probability.
              McAdam - 3 - 89%
              Boyd - 3 - 89%
              Kennedy - 4 - 89%
              Young - 4 - 88%
              Carpenter - 4 - 72%
              Dill - 4 - 72%
              Anderson - 4 - 72%
              Cantrell - 4 - 71%
              Oliver - 4 - 50%
              Ashley - 4 - 31% (well documented common ancestor 7 generations ago)

              Things didn't improve much going up to 67 markers:
              McGarvey - 7 - 70%
              Diffley - 6 - 51%
              Kennedy - 7 - 51%
              Mullins - 7 - 51%
              McElhaney - 7 - 51%
              Cadden - 6 - 50%
              O'Kane - 7 - 50%
              Fox - 7 - 50%
              Rogers - 7 - 50%
              Ashley - 5 - 33% (well documented common ancestor 7 generations ago)
              Smith - 7 - 33%
              Stewart - 7 - 17%

              At 67 markers, the other Ashley and I have the smallest genetic distance but the third lowest TiP probability. In my case, raw genetic distance did a much better job at showing closeness of relationship than TiP -- ie, all the detailed science/math that went into the TiP calculation was worse than useless.

              So NO, I would not view the 95% chance of a common ancestor with 14 generations as "ironclad." Since the surname of your match is a variant of yours, I think there is a reasonably good chance you are related within the last 12 generations or so, but I wouldn't put too much weight on the probabilities or time frame estimates that any TMRCA calculator spits out.
              Last edited by TwiddlingThumbs; 5th February 2018, 12:02 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Hersey33 View Post
                My first trace of my direct male ancestors dates to 1723 in Delaware. In the 1800's, one member of the family asked other relatives for information on the original nation or group. It was written in a family tree that our family originated in southern Normandy, (Mayenne), and fled to the Palatinate in the 1500's, as they were religious nonconformists. Eventually unable to own land as they were not germans, my ancestor fled to America through the Netherlands and settled near a colony of Labadists on the Chesapeake Bay.

                I took the YDNA test up to 111. At the 37 level, I have a variant of my family name with a genetic distance of 2. He has not taken the 67 or 111. He lives in Alsace, France, but traces his family back to Switzerland and the Mennonites and other nonconformists. My ancestor was not a Mennonite. He did not marry one or settle with them. His son helped found Methodism on the DelMarVa peninsula.

                What are the possibilities to reconcile this? Is my family history just plain wrong? Alsace and Mayenne are at least 400 miles apart.
                Ancestry says I have a 90% chance of a common male ancestor with the Alsatian no more than 12 generations ago, and a 95% chance no more than 14 generations ago. Is this "ironclad"? I can trace 8 direct male ancestors here in America.
                Any advice would be much appreciated!
                Most 37 marker matches are no longer a Y67 or Y111 match when they have had a Y111 test which means that the most distant common ancestor in the direct paternal line is from many thousands of years ago. The only way you can know if the common ancestor is from less than 2,000 years ago is if you were to convince your match to upgrade or if you paid for his upgrade. If he is a match at Y111 then you can get with a haplogroup admin to help get a better estimate on when the common ancestor likely lived.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Hersey33 View Post
                  Yes, Hershey or Hirschy. It seems to be Hirschy in Alsace, where my closest match lives. Hershey in the Pfalz and Switzerland. I hired Ancestry to work in Delaware and in the village of Herce, near Mayenne, in France. The Herce name is found concentrated in that area, (and Sarthe) but seems to have dispursed sometime after 1300. My ancestor's given name was Isaac. I am told that this was another sign of nonconformity, as Old Testament names were popular with non-Catholics. His son was Solomon, and his grandson Benjamin. At various times, my Delaware immigrant ancestor's name was written as "Hershe" as well as Hersey. Thanks Again!
                  We are probably real distance cousins. I have an Hershey line that goes back through Lancaster PA to Switzerland, but it is not my paternal line. I think I see your kit on the Hershey Project, but I do not see one that is part of my group though. I'll keep an eye open for males who have the paternal line for Hershey and encourage any that I find to take a Y-DNA test if they already have not done so.

                  Jack

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks!

                    Thanks for your kindness! This is my set of postings on this site and am amazed at the number of helpful and educated responses in such a short time!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I am considering sponsoring an upgrade of the test from 37 to 67 for my Alsatian relative with a genetic distance of 2 at 37 markers to see if I can gain more specific details about our relationship. Is this worth my while or a wast of time? Thanks!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hersey33 View Post
                        I am considering sponsoring an upgrade of the test from 37 to 67 for my Alsatian relative with a genetic distance of 2 at 37 markers to see if I can gain more specific details about our relationship. Is this worth my while or a wast of time? Thanks!
                        In my view, I think it would be worthwhile. The additional points would help clarify how closely you are related. If the additional markers have a lot of mutations, the subject may fall off of your close match list, while fewer may make the estimation of when you had a common ancestor closer.

                        Jack

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thank You Jack!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Update:

                            A person that FTDNA identified as a close male relative, with a similar surname at 111, and I have encouraged two others with closely similar name and genetic distances of 2 and 3 at 67 to take the 111 test. We have found that both of these people are at distance 3 at 111. One lives in Switzerland, one in Alsace. We all signed up for the Big Y500 Test in late December and were pleased to be informed by FTDNA that we were being upgraded, free of charge, to the new Big Y 700, since our results have not yet come in. So 4 of us, with close genetic distances at 111 and similar last names, only a letter or two apart, are awaiting what the 700 test will provide. To be continued .....

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Wow, appreciate the update.

                              Comment

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