I wrote earlier about my application to the Mayflower Society. My application was approved and I recently received my membership certificate to “The General Society of Mayflower Descendants”. To become a member, I had to document that I was descended from one of the Mayflower passengers. My Mayflower Ancestor was John Howland.
I have a few photos to share, but they are terrible because the Marriott Hotel has really bright lighting. And, I swear, their lights seem to add at least 40 lbs. to the subjects wearing navy blue in each photograph! (ha)
I’ve copied the text below from Wikipedia —
Of the passengers, 37 were members of the separatist Leiden congregation seeking freedom of worship in the New World. The Mayflower launched with 102 passengers, as well as at least two dogs, and a crew of 25-30 headed by Captain Christopher Jones. One baby was born during the trip and named Oceanus Hopkins. Another, Peregrine (meaning “wanderer”) White, was born on the Mayflower in America on November 20, before the settlement at Plymouth. About half of these emigrants died in the first winter. Many Americans can trace their ancestry back to one or more of these individuals who, ‘Saints’ and ‘Strangers’ together, would become known as the Pilgrims.
During the luncheon, a list of the passengers’ names was called. I need to rephrase that to read “a list of the passengers who lived long enough to breed” names were called. When your ancestor’s name was called, you were asked to stand. It was fun seeing the people who shared your ancestor.
One gentleman stood at the calling of almost every name! Plymouth had a very small gene pool in those days and as soon as one Pilgrim died, their spouse remarried another Pilgrim. So it is possible to be related to almost everyone who survived the voyage. Eventually they got some new blood in their community or the Pilgrims would have all ended up looking alike. Sort of like the history of the Hapsburg Dynasty. The Hapsburg’s inbreeding led to the inheritable trait titled the “Hapsburg Lip” or “Hapsburg Jaw” which is medically known as Prognathism.
Again, copied from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hapsburg_Lip#Mandibular_prognathism_.28progenism.29
Prognathism is well recorded as a trait of several historical individuals. The most famous case is that of the House of Habsburg, among whom mandibular prognathism was a family trait; indeed, the condition is frequently called “Habsburg Jaw” as a result of its centuries-long association with the family. Among the Habsburgs, the most prominent case of mandibular prognathism is that of Charles II of Spain, who had prognathism so pronounced he could neither speak clearly nor chew as a result of generations of politically motivated inbreeding.
Poor Charles II, all of the inbreeding had also taken its toll on his mental capacity and his ability to sire offspring and produce an heir (he was impotent). And this led to their downfall. But I digress. . .
Joining a genealogical society such as “The Mayflower Society” is only interesting to me because I was adopted and had no clue what my background was. As it turns out, it I am pretty much a W.A.S.P. (White Anglo Saxon Protestant). I have an occasional Catholic or Reformed Latter Day Saint mixed into the gene pool, but my Haplogroup is H, which includes about 40% of Europeans. I’ve copied this info. below from http://www.familytreedna.com
Mitochondrial haplogroup H is a predominantly European haplogroup that originated outside of Europe before the last glacial maximum (LGM). It first expanded in the northern Near East and southern Caucasus between 33,000 and 26,000 years ago, and later migrations from Iberia suggest it reached Europe before the LGM. It has also spread to Siberia and Inner Asia. Today, about 40% of all mitochondrial lineages in Europe are classified as haplogroup H.
In today’s world of political correctness, the only ethnic or cultural group you can make fun of is the one you belong to — so that gives me the perfect opportunity to segue into a few horrible WASP jokes —
Q: What’s a WASP’s idea of social security?
A: An ancestor on the Mayflower.
Q: How does a WASP propose marriage?
A: “How would you like to be buried with my people?”
Q: How many WASPS does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three. One to call the electrician and two to mix the martinis.
Q: How do you tell the Bride at a WASP wedding?
A: She is the one kissing the golden retriever.
And Finally, a quick look at the Urban Dictionary to get a current definition of WASP — http://www.urbandictionary.com
White Anglo-Saxon Protestant
Descendants of colonial-era immigrants from the British Isles–especially England, but also from Wales and Scotland (irrespective of the fact that Scots and Welsh people are predominantly descended from Celts, not descendants of Angles and Saxons)–who belonged to the Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Episcopalian (Anglican) denominations of Protestantism.
The term is redundant because all Anglo-Saxons are white.
To this day in America, the W.A.S.P.s are the one group about which–in a politically correct atmosphere–jokes can be made with impunity.
A Very Fun Holiday Gift for Anyone — DNA Testing for Genealogy & Family Origins. Come on, you know you are curious!
I’ve tested my DNA at both http://www.familytreedna.com and at http://www.23andme.com Because I am adopted, I used the Family Finder test at familytreedna to verify my paper trail. I waited until I knew who my biological father was and even until I had talked to his son on the phone. In fact, I never had to bring up the subject. His son told me that a DNA test would prove my theory and said that he would be willing to take one. I ordered the test for him and it proved correctly that we are 1/2 siblings.
But DNA testing can show so much more. It seems like everyone I talk to believes that they have some Native American blood. I thought I did also as I have dark hair and eyes. And my complexion is “olive” or “ruddy”. I had to look up the definition of ruddy to make sure I was using it correctly & I am. But I found that my ancestry composition is 99.9% European and .1% East Asian & Native American.
(of a person’s face) Having a healthy red color.
At 23andme, it is about finding your relatives, but also about your health & how your genes determine your chances for disease. Under “My Health”, 23andme has the following categories — disease risk, carrier status and drug response.
One of the most interesting things I discovered is that 3.1% of my DNA is from Neanderthals. That puts me in the upper 98% percentile. Average Northern Europeans on their site have an average of 2.6% Neanderthal. Being in the upper 2% is like being in an exclusive group like Mensa, only with much more hair. I always wondered why my toes made my feet look like they belonged to a Hobbit. 23andme also sells t-shirts that correspond with the correct Neanderthal percentage.
23andme recently acquired new financing that allows them to permanently lower their test from $290.00 to $99.00. This is an incredible bargain. Their goal is to attract one million new customers this year. That will make matching with relatives so much easier.
I’ve copied the following from 23andme’s Press Release of Dec. 11, 2012.
23andMe Raises More Than $50 Million in New Financing
Company Sets Growth Goal Of One Million Customers, Reduces Price to $99 from $299
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – December 11, 2012 – 23andMe, Inc., the leading personal genetics company, today announced it has raised more than $50 million in a Series D financing. Participants in the financing include Yuri Milner, a new investor, as well as existing investors Sergey Brin, 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki, New Enterprise Associates, Google Ventures and MPM Capital. This investment will help the company achieve its growth goal of one million customers.
The Power of One Million People
Expanding the company’s ability to reach and serve one million individuals supports 23andMe’s goal to revolutionize health and wellness. It also will accelerate 23andMe’s ability to create a powerful platform that enables researchers around the globe to make meaningful discoveries significantly faster than is currently possible. With this expansion, 23andMe, which currently has more than 180,000 customers, will aim to:
- Enable groundbreaking research by creating an exponentially larger collective of actively engaged, genotyped individuals;
- Help accelerate development of new treatments;
- Improve understanding of wellness and disease prevention; and
- Broaden access for people seeking to manage their health and well-being through direct access and greater understanding of their own genetic data.
“A community of one million actively engaged individuals will be transformational for research. A community of this magnitude will improve researchers’ ability to quickly answer questions about genetic function and the role of environmental factors. In addition, it will enable researchers to understand medication efficacy and side effects, in both medications that exist today and medications are that are in development,” Wojcicki added.
Broadening Access: Lowering Price to $99
The Series D investment, combined with rapidly decreasing costs associated with genetic testing technologies, enables 23andMe to reduce the price of its Personal Genome Service to $99, effective immediately. The company will continue to evaluate optimal pricing strategies.
The investment also enables 23andMe to expand the necessary infrastructure to support growth in its research and operational capabilities, including product development, genetic research, software development, recruitment and marketing.
copied from the Wall Street Journal online —
THE GOOD LIFE
Finding a Few Hundred Cousins
Tools that can trace your roots are becoming more advanced—and less expensive
By ANNE TERGESEN
Searching for your roots? Tools that help compare your genetic makeup with others’ are getting more sophisticated and more affordable.
In recent decades, DNA tests were mainly used to prove paternity. But since 2000, a handful of companies have commercialized tests that connect a wider array of relatives, sometimes going back centuries to find common ancestors.
As recently as 2007, such tests cost as much as $1,000. Today, they generally run between $100 and $300 and offer users more information. In May, Ancestry.com Inc., a publisher of genealogical records and a site where people can track their family trees, started selling a DNA test that identifies relatives up to and including fifth cousins.
The tests are easy to take: Swab the inside of your cheek or spit into a tube and mail the results to a lab. Two to six weeks later, you can log into an online account for the results. You will generally see your ancestors’ regional ties; the migration paths of your ancient ancestors; and people in the company’s database (usually identified by a user name) who share some of your DNA. At that point, you typically have the option of contacting those individuals who have agreed to share their results.
Three main types of DNA tests are on the market. Until recently, most focused on DNA in the Y chromosome that’s handed down virtually unchanged from father to son. (Because only males have a Y chromosome, women must ask male relatives to take this test for them.)
Kelly Wheaton, 58, recently relied on a so-called Y-DNA test to resolve a genealogical mystery that had frustrated her for years. “I traced my husband’s family’s history back to 1750, but couldn’t get any further,” says the Napa Valley, Calif., resident. While Ms. Wheaton had a hunch her husband, Michael, 65, was descended from a Robert Wheaton who came to Salem, Mass., in 1636, it wasn’t until Michael took a Y-DNA test in 2011 that she obtained proof.
“His Y-DNA matched people with a perfect paper trail back to Robert Wheaton,” she says.
CeCe Moore, 43, used another test, of the mitochondrial DNA that mothers transmit virtually unchanged to children, to explore her great-grandmother’s Finnish ancestry. “My great-grandmother never told my grandmother anything about her family,” says Ms. Moore, of San Clemente, Calif., who writes a blog about genetics and genealogy. After the database linked Ms. Moore to cousins in Finland, she learned why her great-grandmother had cut off ties to her country of origin: She was pregnant out-of-wedlock when she came to the U.S.
Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA can connect people whose common ancestors lived recently or hundreds of years ago. But to find out how closely you are related—and to locate relatives besides those on your direct maternal or paternal lines—you will need an autosomal DNA test.
This relatively new test deciphers the amount of DNA shared between those whose common ancestors lived within the last half-dozen or so generations, says Megan Smolenyak, author of “Hey America, Your Roots Are Showing,” which includes information about DNA testing.
In general, the more DNA two people share, the closer their connection.
Among the companies that sell DNA tests for genealogy purposes, FamilyTreeDNA, a division of Gene by Gene Ltd. of Houston, maintains the largest Y-DNA database, populated by 250,000 people. A Mountain View, Calif., company, 23andMe Inc., has the largest autosomal DNA database, with more than 180,000 people. Clients of 23andMe also can get information about their genetic predispositions to more than 200 health conditions.
Ancestry.com of Provo, Utah—in addition to a push into autosomal DNA testing—offers genealogical records and tools to help long-lost relatives link family trees.
And this fall, the nonprofit National Geographic Genographic Project, with more than 500,000 participants, unveiled a technology that maps users’ genetic ties to specific regions.
Ms. Tergesen is a Wall Street Journal staff reporter in New York. She can be reached at email@example.com.
A version of this article appeared December 10, 2012, on page R7 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Finding a Few Hundred Cousins.
Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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Both of my biological parents are dead. I wish I had met one of them to hear the story of how they met, why Grace Britt took the train to Kansas City to give birth to me and much more. The one thing that I know they had in common was drinking. Unfortunately, it was also the cause of both of their deaths.
My bio. father, Bill Engle, was born on April 1, 1919 in Montana and died on December 27, 1966 in Bay Head, NJ. I’ve talked to my 1/2 brother and 1/2 sister on the Engle side and, although they didn’t know that I existed, they weren’t terribly surprised. Their (& my) father was an avid horseman and polo player. He could even ride a horse standing on its’ back. Bill was a pilot, was in the Masonic Lodge and a character. His son volunteered to have his autosomal DNA tested. I had already had my DNA tested at http://www.familytreedna.com and the test proved our 1/2 sibling relationship.
When Grace met Bill, he was married and had a family. Whether she knew about his family or learned about it later, I’ll never know. Bill’s wife has also passed away. If she was alive, I’d never write this in a post. But it certainly explains Grace’s going to Kansas City on the train. Men aren’t always honest and, as the saying goes, “all is fair in love and war”.
Bill Engle was a military man and served in both WWII and the Korean War. During Korea, he was in the armored tank division and was hit by a tank tread. After coming back to New Jersey, he started a successful real estate agency called “Town & Country”.
I wish I knew more about him as he was a character. It was his wish to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Below is a photo of Bill Engle taken from a Graceland College yearbook.
I’ve been a lot more researching than just looking for records online. I’ve also sent my DNA to be analyzed at http://www.familytreedna.com and http://www.23andme.com. Both of these sites will match your particular DNA with others & predict how closely you are related.
Familytreedna calls their test “Family Finder” and 23andme calls their test “Relative Finder”.
They both use autosomal DNA (inherited from both the mother and father, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc.) to provide you a breakdown of your ethnic percentages and connect you with relatives descended from any of your ancestral lines within approximately the last 5 generations.
And, if you wish to share your DNA ancestry with people who haven’t tested with either of these companies, you can go to http://www.gedmatch.com and upload your autosomal DNA data in order to compare it with a broader audience.
All of that said — I got a message one day from Wendy saying something to the effect, “Hi, we are related as Distant Cousins.” At that time I didn’t know as much as I do know about my biological family, so I replied that I was adopted at birth and didn’t have a lot to share.
Wendy replied that she was adopted also — and expressed how ironic it was that two adopted people with no knowledge of family background would match! Wendy has a powerful blog — it is about her search for her biological background, adoption and all that she has done to try to uncover her past. The text copied below is from Wendy’s blog
I began looking for my birth mother on the day that I turned 18 in Columbus Ohio. When I entered the court I had thought that I would leave with my adoption records in hand. After the clerk laughed at my request she informed me that Ohio is a closed records state, and that I would be leaving with no such file.
It was 14 and a half years later, with the help of Reunite of Ohio Inc. that I was given my first mothers name.
The following day I found out that she had died in a car accident in 1973, and I was also given the name of my sister.