GENEALOGY-DNA-L ArchivesArchiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2003-03 > 1048364417
From: Charles <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] The Gene in Genealogy
Date: Sat, 22 Mar 2003 15:20:53 -0500
References: <200303221001.h2MA1KnM032081@lists5.rootsweb.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Good point. We should note that the word "gene" is the first four
letters of genealogy. :-) Most of us are using all this new science as
just another tool in our genealogy research.
> Perhaps we are losing sight of what most, if not all of us, are trying to
> accomplish here. It is all about the genealogy and the only genealogy that
> makes sense are the biological connections to the ancestors in the subject
> family. More precisely we are most interested in who the father of subject
> 'X' was. Not who it might have been. Not who the father "of record"
> was. Not who the stepfather or adopted father was. But who the biological
> father actually was.
> Given the limitation of the current DNA science we can only determine
> whether the DNA of subject "X" matches the DNA of other "proven"
> descendents of a specific common ancestor and then only if we examine male
> descendents. The issue of "non-paternal event" only comes into play in the
> event that the DNA of subject "X" does not match that of the other "proven"
> descendents of the common ancestor. When it does not match there are only
> a few possible explanations. Among them is one of the male ancestors of
> subject "X" was not the man the female ancestor appeared to have married
> and by whom she had children. As we know this may be because the female
> ancestor had a child by a man she was not married to while being married to
> the documented ancestral father, the child in question was adopted either
> from outside the marriage or was brought into the marriage by the
> documented ancestral mother or the child has been linked to the wrong
> parents via incorrect genealogy. Add to that the daughter who gets
> pregnant by a neighbor boy and the parents decide to raise the child as
> their own.
> Only in these cases do we have a non-paternal event. In the case of the
> daughter who later marries the boy next door but never takes custody of the
> first child we may never discover the actual scenario even when the child
> is discovered to be living with his actual parents, especially if he
> carries the grandfather's name and is assumed to be a younger brother.
> There is always a possibility that defective genealogy has led to the
> "proven" descendents actually being connected to a wrong common ancestor
> and that subject "X" who does not match them is REALLY the correct
> connection. Tough one to detect and figure out.
> There is also a finite possibility of error when a child who is in fact
> biologically related to the documented ancestor has been adopted or taken
> into the family when the man's brother, first cousin, uncle or even father
> dies. The paper records show the child as an apparent son. In these cases
> there is no way to prove the actual connection if there is no supporting
> documentation. But this effect only lasts at most one or two generations
> before they merge back to a common ancestor. In most cases we will never
> figure it out anyway and will be totally unaware there is an error.
> There is really no utility in trying to predict the number of possible
> non-paternal events in a family. They will only be discovered if a
> descendent (or the actual result of the event) is tested and discovered to
> not match. At that point you have a 100% probability. If you never test
> every male descendent of the rest of the branches, you will never become
> aware of the occurrence. It is mostly impractical, impossible or too
> costly to go out and test every male descendent of a family to discover if
> there were non-paternal events or for any other purpose. It is also
> unnecessary. We are really only trying to prove out our own ancestry in
> the end. If we can identify sufficient DNA consistency to effect this, the
> number of possible non-paternal events down other branches, while possibly
> academically interesting, will not impact our actual research needs. If
> the other branches later take an interest and we have documented the DNA
> pattern for the family they at least will be able to discover something
> happened in their branch and will have the challenge of trying to work it out.
> Even when we do discover a non-paternal event, it is unlikely we are going
> to get lucky enough to discover the actual individual involved. Take, for
> example, a situation where your documented ancestor went off to fight in
> the Revolution. A year into the absence some fellow happens by the
> homestead looking for work. The female ancestor invites him to stay and
> help with the harvest for a few weeks. One thing leads to another and you
> discover 230 years later you don't match descendents of the other children
> of that woman. The best you can hope for is your DNA will be found to
> match some other surname. Even then you are unlikely to ever find the
> specific individual, or in some cases, even the family if they didn't live
> close by.
> Orin R. Wells
> Wells Family Research Association
> P. O. Box 5427
> Kent, Washington 98064-5427
> Subscribe to the "Wells-L" list on RootsWeb
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