23 and Me Male and Female Haplgroups

I just spent the evening reviewing the male and female haplogroups of Benjaman’s 23 and Me matches that are predicted to be at the 3rd and 4th cousins levels.  I was hoping to find a geographical pattern that might indicate his origins. 

Unfortunately, the haplogroups of his matches do not reveal too much information because of their variety.  His male haplogroups are mostly R1b1b2a and its downstream subclades, with one I1* [European], one Q1a3a [Native American], one E1b1a8a [African America], and one G2a [Turkey and the Mediterranean].  His female haplogroups are quite varied.  These include HV0 and various subclades of H1, H5, and H7, also subclade U2, various subclades of U5, one T1, two T2b, one L3e5, and subclades of both K1 and V.  It is curious to me why his male haplogroups should be relatively similar, but his female haplogroups should consist of such a wide variety.

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Benjaman’s Powell and Davidson Matches

In February 2009, Jim Barrett, Group Administrator of the Powell Surname DNA Project, contacted me regarding 34/37 marker matches Benjaman Kyle had with members of the study.  For about a year, I researched how these Powells might be related to Benjaman.

In the Spring of 2010, however, while I was reviewing Benjaman’s matches in the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation Y-database, I noticed a 27/28 marker match with a Davidson that I had not taken too seriously.  This match did not appear to be competitive with the matches with the Powells. But on closer examination I discovered the Davison match was just as important because of the way Sorenson scores its markers.  Whereas DNA Heritage and Family Tree DNA score each component of a multicopy marker separately, Sorenson counts them as a single marker.  This normalized the Sorenson match to 33/34, with a single mismatch on DYS458, one of the fastest moving markers on the test panel.  The Davidson Y-DNA results were very different from other Davidsons who had been tested.

The Sorenson site does not give you information on living family members, but the pedigree of the Davidson who matched Benjaman indicated that he was a descendant of Thomas Davidson who came to the US with a group of other Scottish LDS converts in 1852.   Very few members of the family moved away from Utah.  One of the exceptions was John McNeil Davidson, who moved to Wyoming in about 1905, then to Idaho, and finally settling at least between 1912-1915 in Central Point, OR.

When I compared the Davidson history with the history of the Powells, I found that both families were in Western Oregon in about 1915.  The map shows the locations of the two families around this time.  They were not that distant from each other along what is now I-5.  Further comparison of the families indicated that the Powells are descended from three Powell brothers who were preachers along the Oregon trail in the 1850s, about the same time the Davidsons were making their way west to Utah.  The story of John, Alfred, and Noah Powell can be read here.

Locations of Powells and Davidsons in about 1915

There were many opportunities for the Davidsons and the Powells to be in the same area, so that it is possible that there was a nonpaternity event where a genetic Powell carried the Davidson family name.  A nonpaternity event can be an illegitimacy, an adoption, or a name change.  So far, we have not been able to determine when such an event occurred, but it is the most logical explanation why Benjaman matches a Davidson who is closer to Powells than he is to people with the Davidson name.

To illustrate the relationship, see the cladogram on the right.  Yellow circles represent a Y-DNA haplotype (profile).  The larger the circle the most people with that haplotype.  The lengths of the lines joining the yellow circles are proportional to the number of mismatches between those haplotypes, and the red lables are the markers these mismatches occur on.

Cladogram Showing the Relationship between Benjaman Kyle and his closest matches.

The cladogram has been constructed on the bases of 32 markers because this is the number of markers the Sorenson database overlaps with that of FTDNA.

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The Hand in the Snow

The Hand in the Snow

Our blog would not be complete without a mention of The Hand in the Snow.  This was our first big military identification case with the Armed Forces DNA ID Laboratory, performed with a dream team of top forensic scientists.  Our successful identification of the frozen arm and hand found in the Alaska glacier as belonging to crash victim Francis Joseph van Zandt was featured in 300 newspapers worldwide, and will be published as a feature article in  Scientific American in the next few months.

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Attendees at the Memorial Service on Yap Island, July 2010

Identifinders has been assisting History Flight and Missing Air Crew in their efforts to locate family references of MIAs for DNA identification. On July 24-28, U.S. Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia Peter A. Prahar travelled to Yap State to participate in the dedication ceremony of the Ensign Joseph E. Cox Memorial, named in honor of a U.S. naval pilot whose F6F-5 Hellcat fighter plane was shot down over Yap Island on September 6, 1944.  Thanks to the efforts of Identifinders, members of the family of Howard Holding were present; Holding was killed during the same mission.  Identifinders located his niece, Terri Trick, who with her brother Brent Jacob, traveled to Yap to attend the ceremony.  To read the Press Release issued by the Embassy of the United States of America Kolonia Public Affairs Section, click here.

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Identifinders Locates Family of Harry Dugan Brown

Pat Ranfrantz at the Yap Island Crash Site of Lt jg Harry Dugan Brown

Our first success working with History Flight and Missing Air Crew was the location of the Jenny, the sister of Harry Brown, who was killed while flying his VF-20 F6F-5 Hellcat on a routine mission over Yap Island on September 6, 1944.  Jenny is the ideal mitochondrial family reference for Harry’s future DNA identification.

Harry’s family was very challenging to locate, considering how much time had elapsed since his death and the fact that his family name is one of the most common in the US. Another difficulty was that his father was listed with a different family name in Harry’s casualty records, implying that Harry had been adopted. 

Nevertheless, Identifinders was able to locate Harry’s sister and her family, who had never been told the details about what happened to him.  We hope to be able to perform the same miracle for the families of other servicemen, bringing them much needed closure after so many decades of not knowing what happened to their loved ones.

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Western Hospitality Expo

We are on our way to the Western Hospitality Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center on August 12-14 to speak with representatives of the restaurant industry about Benjaman. Since he worked in this industry, we hope we will find someone among the attendees who recognizes him.  To read more about Benjaman, see his Wikipedia article.

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BBC World Service Interviews Benjaman Kyle

Benjaman Kyle, Mystery Man

The BBC World Service interviewed Benjaman Kyle in August 2010.  You can listen to the interview by clicking here.  For the full story, please see his Wikipedia page.

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