The Creeks Murder the Traders – 1760

Colonial and State Records of North Carolina

Letter from Arthur Dobbs to William Pitt, Earl of Chatham

Dobbs, Arthur, 1689-1765

June 14, 1760

Volume 06, Pages 263-264

[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind. Vol. 72.]

Letter from Governor Dobbs.

Brunswick 14th June 1760

Sir, [Secretary Pitt.]

Having wrote to you a long letter the 30th of May of which I have herewith a Duplicate I have only this further to add by this Conveyance, that I have received Dispatches from Lieutenant Governor Bull of the 31st May, that the Upper Creeks have killed our Traders; and declared war against South Carolina and Georgia by the Instigation

——————– page 264 ——————–

of the French; and they fear that the lower Creeks and Cherokees may be also drawn into War; Upon which I summoned a Council to meet me here yesterday, and by their advice have by proclamation summoned the Assembly to meet at Wilmington the 26th instant, and have sent off dispatches by Express with it to avoid Delay; to try if the spreading of the Flame of war will induce them to give a supply and raise Men without Clogs or Delay now the storm approaches; which, I hope, will put a stop to the Attorney General’s Infernal Schemes of inflaming the Province.

By this further proof of our future Danger, if the French continue in Possession of Louisiana, his Majesty must think it necessary to avoid a future war in America, to drive the ffrench from thence; and in case the Spaniards should take Umbrage at our increase of power in their Neighborhood; and it may be prudent at present not to have any Brangles with them, would it not be better to have that settlement entirely vacated by both, or even given up to the Spaniards, than allow it to remain in the hands of the ffrench. I have such an entire Dependance on Providence continuing to protect the Protestant Cause against Papacy, that I make no doubt of an happy Issue to the war in Germany; and by Dispossessing the French of the Northern Continent of Civilizing and Converting these Misled Indian Nations by the Jesuitical French missionaries. Pardon my Zeal and Enthusiasm in predicting these things from your active administration under the best of Kings in support of the Apostolic Religion and cause of Liberty.

I am, with the greatest Respect and highest Esteem,

Sir your most &cp


Letter from Arthur Dobbs to William Pitt, Earl of Chatham

Dobbs, Arthur, 1689-1765

July 21, 1760

Volume 06, Pages 266-267

[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind. Vol. 72.]

Letter from Governor Dobbs

Brunswick, 21st July 1760

Sir, [Secretary Pitt]

I acquainted you in my last of the 13th June, that upon the Creeks killing our Indian Traders, and Lieutenant Governor Bull’s informing me that they apprehended a General Creek war, in which they expected that the Choctaws would join them, by the Instigation of the French; expecting a Supply from this Province I appointed the Assembly to meet at Wilmington on the 26th of June.

The Session is now over, and by the Non-attendance of Mr. Child the Attorney General and his Northern Junto, who staid away, hoping that we could not make up a Sufficient Number to do Business without them; the Assembly have passed an unexceptionable Aid Bill to raise and pay 300 Men, until the 1st of Decr next, for which, and to pay for Scalps, Contingencies, and other Claims, I am to Issue notes for £12000 this Currency: I have a power of sending them out of the Province, or as many as can be spared from the Defence of the Frontiers; but as the Cherokee war is likely to be Bloody upon the Retreat of Colonel Montgomery’s Troops from the ffrontiers I am afraid we can spare few or none to assist our Neighbours. As the ffrench Influence over the Indians seems to Increase in Louisiana, we can never be safe while they possess that part of the Continent, I hope if the war is not over at the End of this Campaign that his Majesty will think of driving the ffrench from this Continent. God grant an Happy Issue to this Campaign in Germany, upon which our safety and American Acquisitions depend.

——————– page 267 ——————–

I heartily wish you Success to your Active Administration, and an Happy conclusion by a Glorious peace.

I am, with due Respect, Sir &c


Hat tip to Sharron for these documents.

Posted in Cherokee, Creek, Military | Leave a comment

The Autosomal Me – Who Am I???

This is Part 3 of a multi-part series.

Part 1 was “The Autosomal Me – Unraveling Minority Admixture” and Part 2 was “The Autosomal Me – The Ancestors Speak.”  Part 1 discussed the technique we are going to use to unravel minority ancestry, and why it works.  Part two gave an example of the power of fragmented chromosomal mapping and the beauty of the results.

This series focuses on answering the questions of identity through autosomal testing, in particular, for minority ancestry.  By minority, I mean any small, elusive amount of any type of ancestry you are seeking to discover in your heritage.  In my case, that’s both Native American and African.

This segment, Part 3, focuses on using pedigree charts to gauge expected results, how autosomal ethnic groups are determined and how fragmented minority admixture mapping is different from other techniques.  This leads us into Part 4 which shows the various results from different testing companies and how they differ.

Part 5 features third party analysis tools and Part 6 begins the analyses of the data that parts 3, 4 and 5 provide.

Let’s hope that with all of this information, we can answer at least part of the question: Who am I?  I was reminded on Christmas day, that I still don’t have the answer to that question.  On Christmas afternoon, our family saw Les Miz, again.  Nothing reduces me to tears as quickly.  In Les Miz, Jean ValJean certainly knew who he was……24601.

His assurance of who he was reminded me that I still don’t’ know.  Who am I really?  I don’t have the conviction that Colm Wilkinson sings with.  And let’s face it, I don’t have his voice either, but I still want to answer that burning question.  Surely there must be better tools today.  I resolved to reevaluate what we can do with current technology and tools.  Hence, this series.

A lot of who I am has to do with who my ancestors were, where they lived, what they did, choices they made.  Did they fight in the American or French Revolution?  On which side?  Were they Native?  Were they African?  Were they slaves?  So, who were they?

One of the reasons I began with genetic genealogy more than a decade ago was to confirm or disprove the persistent family history of Native American heritage that I had been unable to resolve using only traditional genealogy tools.  I have made inroads with that, in unexpected ways and places, because of and in addition to genetic genealogy.  Genetic genealogy and traditional genealogy go hand in hand.

It’s difficult tracking down each line to perform mitochondrial or Yline DNA tests.  Sometimes, it’s beyond difficult and it’s impossible.  Lines die out, people refuse to test or you simply can’t find the right people.  We need other tools.

Enter autosomal genetics. From the beginning, early in genetic genealogy, we had the CODIS type forensic and paternity type tests.  I reviewed the results of those early tests relative to my pedigree chart in a paper I wrote, “Revealing American Indian and Minority Heritage UsingY-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X-ChromosomalTesting Data Combined with Pedigree Analysis,” published in JoGG in the Fall 2010 Issue.  We’ve come a long way since then.

In that article, I dissected my pedigree chart to determine how much of different types of ancestry I carried and how that compared with the testing that had been performed at that time.

Using the end of line ancestors pedigree analysis method described in the paper, which determines the percentage of ethnicity that each end-of-line ancestor contributed to me, my origins totals were follows:

Geographic Origin Chart

Geographic origin chart

(1) The ethnic heritage of several lines could probably be inferred by surname or ethnicity of marriage partner.  However, I have avoided the temptation to make inferences within the United States, as the Native or African ancestry may well lie with one of these ancestors.  These are in fact the perfect candidates and to eliminate them from consideration by inferring origins would be a disservice.

In broader categories, and combining those that are similar, we find:

geographic origin summary

This is a useful exercize, not just for minority admixture, but to help evaluate the results you receive from the various testing companies.  For example, you might notice that there is no Scandinavian showing in my pedigree chart, which makes Ancestry’s 80% British and 12% Scandinavian suspect right off the bat.  It also makes results as high as 25% Native American reported in one of the earlier tests impossible.  This pedigree analysis tool helps you understand what is reasonable to expect in terms of ethnicity breakdown.

Now that we know what the majority ancestry looks like and any minority ancestry that we are aware of, let’s take a look at the various types of autosomal testing available.

Tests and Population Markers

In the paper, I reviewed the older results from companies using either CODIS or proprietary markers.  These low resolution tests are out of date now (although many are still being sold) and have been replaced by the much more thorough wide spectrum tests using chip based technology, allowing hundreds of thousands of DNA locations to be tested and evaluated.  Of course, the word evaluated is the loose cannon in that sentence, because the quality of the evaluation is key here.  And the evaluation is dependent upon accurate and widespread data bases to compare DNA results against to determine which populations have higher and lower frequencies of specific alleles (markers) occurring in their populations.

For example, let’s compare a population in Siberia that shows 100% of a specific marker value, let’s say a value of 10 at marker location ZZZ.  Now let’s compare that result to a population from Africa at that same marker location, but with a value never found in Siberia, let’s say a value of 7.  Each of thousands of markers are evaluated this way, creating patterns.  Now, you have a tester who doesn’t know where their ancestors are from, whose results at marker location ZZZ have a value of 10.  Would you say they are more likely to have ancestry in Siberia or Africa?

This participant’s marker results for ZZZ go in the “very strongly Siberia” bucket.  Of course, other markers they carry might indicate Africa, or Europe, or elsewhere, because we are a Heinz 57 mix of all of our ancestors.  But this is, in essence, how our ethnicity is determined by autosomal DNA testing.  Needless to say, you can be a lot more accurate with thousands of markers than with the 15 or 21 CODIS markers, or even the 300+ in some of the proprietary tests.

BGA Testing

Using autosomal results to determine ethnicity is called BGA testing, or Biogeographical Ancestry testing.  It has been used for years to determine percentages of ethnicity.  So, how is what I’m doing different and what makes it unique and new to genetic genealogy?

1. Traditional BGA testing deals in percentages of ethnicity, meaning generally 1% or more.  Small amounts are difficult to track in the best of circumstances.  When dealing with small amounts of admixture, not all tests will be able to identify the minority ethnicity in question.  We’re using these tests, plus additional BGA chromosomal painting tools combined with some spreadsheet comparison techniques to cross that 1% threshold.

2.  The prevailing winds in this industry have been that anything smaller than 1% was undetectable, and that any amount of admixture less than 7cM, 5cM or 3.5cM (depending on the source) was usless.  While this is relatively accurate (but not always) when determining a genealogical relationship within the past few generations, it’s not true when looking beyond the accepted 6 to 7 generation threshold where the 1% ethnicity issue comes into play.  At that point, we know we can’t identify the minority ancestor genealogically, so we have to identify them by their membership in a minority population group.  I am using a variety of tools and techniques to reach across that threshold.

3.  Instead of using these various tools to try to establish a genealogical relationship with another tester (such as we share a common great-grandfather), I am using these tools to attempt to identify which line or lines carry minority admixture.  If you already know who in your family tree contributes that admixture, you don’t need this technique.  If you are looking to confirm minority admixture below 1%, searching for the minority admixture contributing line, or trying to figure out which of your known ancestors contributed minority admixture, then this technique is for you.

Typically these tools have been used to track segments from known ancestors, like a Jewish grandmother, for example.  These segments are large and evident.  That’s not the case with small amounts of minority admixture.  Using several BGA tools together helps to eliminate the possibility of one tool picking up on these small segments and another one missing it.  We are bringing all of the resources from various camps together to bear on the situation.  This is the ultimate form of recycling, using the shreds that were left on the cutting room floor and deemed to be usless when in actuality, they are diamonds in the rough.  We’re reassembling them and looking at them from a different perspective.  It’s a new kind of quilting!

A New Name

As I’ve worked through this process, it seems that Minority Admixture Mapping best suits what we are doing, so MAP it is.  It makes sense and you can say it.

I still want to know who I am, so in Part 4, we begin our data analysis by looking at the autosomal ethnicity results of the various testing companies and how they compare.

Posted in DNA, Education | 3 Comments

Fort Dobbs and the Indian Attack – 1760

fort dobbs

Twenty-seven miles west of modern-day Salisbury, North Carolina, Fort Dobbs is located in Iredell County.  In 1756, colonial Governor Arthur Dobbs commissioned the construction of the fort to protect Piedmont settlements during the French and Indian War (1754-1763).  At that time, Fort Dobbs was North Carolina’s only frontier fort; all others were on the coast.

Captain Hugh Waddell led forty-six soldiers in constructing Fort Dobbs so that colonists could be protected from possible French, Cherokee, and Catawba attacks.  Francis Brown and Richard Caswell were sent by the Legislature to inspect Ft. Dobbs in December 1756.  They reported that the fort was a “good and Substantial Building . . . it contains three floors, and there may be discharged from each floor at one time and the same time about one hundred Musketts.”

The drawing depicts Fort Dobbs and you can read more at the following link.

On February 27, 1760, the Fort was attacked by the Cherokee.  What follows is Hugh Waddell’s letter to Arthur Dobbs describing the attack.

Colonial and State Records of North Carolina

Letter from Hugh Waddell to Arthur Dobbs [Extract]

Waddell, Hugh, 1734?-1773

February 29, 1760

Volume 06, Pages 229-230

[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind. Vol. 72.]

Extract of Major Waddell’s Letter 29 Feby 1760

In Return to your Excellency’s News I shall give you a little nigher home, for several Days I observed That a small party of Indians were constantly about the fort, I sent out several small parties after them to no purpose, the Evening before last between 8 & 9 o’clock I found by the Dogs making an uncommon Noise there must be a party nigh a Spring which we sometimes use. As my Garrison is but small, and I was apprehensive it might be a Scheme to draw out the Garrison, I took out Capt Bailie who with myself and party made up ten: We had not marched 300 yds from the fort when we were attacked by at least 60 or 70 Indians I had given my party Orders not to fire until I gave the word, which they punctually observed: We recd the Indian’s fire: When I perceived they had almost all fired, I ordered my party to fire which We did not further than 12 Steps each loaded with a Bullet and 7 Buck shot, they had nothing to cover them as they were advancing either to tomahawk or make us Prisoners: They found the fire very hot from so small a Number which a good deal confused them; I then ordered my party to retreat, as I found the Instant our skirmish began

——————– page 230 ——————–

another party had attacked the fort, upon our reinforcing the Garrison the Indians were soon repulsed with I am sure a considerable Loss, from what I myself saw as well as those I can confide in they cou’d not have less than 10 or 12 killed and wounded, and I believe they have taken 6 of my horses to carry off their wounded; The next Morning we found a great deal of Blood and one dead, whom I suppose they cou’d not find in the night. On my side I had 2 Men wounded one of whom I am afraid will die as he is scalped, the other is in a way of Recovery, and one boy killed near the Fort whom they durst not advance to scalp. I expected they wou’d have paid me another visit last night, as they attack all Fortifications by Night, but find they did not like their Reception.

To His Ecy Govr Dobbs.

Thanks to Sharron for the Hugh Waddell letter.

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The Autosomal Me – The Ancestors Speak

This is Part 2 in the series, “The Autosomal Me.”  Part 1 was “The Autosomal Me – UnRaveling Minority Admixture.”

Every Sunday, I write something called a Sunday Story.  I’ve done this for years.  I send them to my kids and I delude myself into thinking they read them.  I’m really writing them for my grandkids someday and hopefully, some as yet unborn descendants I’ll have that will care about finding out about the life and times of their a-few-greats grandmother who lived along with the dinosaurs in the last half of the 1900s and first half of the 2000s.  I know, I’m optimistic.

I decided that perhaps I would share this weeks Sunday story with all of you.  This way, I know that at least someone will read it.  Actually, aside from my husband, it’s my daughter-in-law who comments the most often.  So welcome to my Sunday Story!  You are all honorary cousins!


I know that a great deal of what I do with genetics is lost on my friends and family members.  That’s OK, because it’s very specialized.  However, I wanted to take a little bit of time to share with you an aspect of the genetics I work with that I think is very beautiful in both a literal and a spiritual way.

The point of genetic genealogy, of course, is to learn about our ancestors, who they were and our connection to them.  There are various ways to do this, but most of the time it’s through various matches to other people who share a common ancestor either recently or perhaps further back in time.

Of course, therein lies the rub – how long ago are two people related and who was their common ancestor?  Some people who carry minority ancestry are at a distinct disadvantage, because the testing that provides matches and ethnicity generally relies on amounts in excess of 1%, which equates to about 6 or 7 generations.  While many of us know that we carry minority ancestry, we would be hard pressed to say that our “pure” Native (or other minority) ancestor fell into that 6 or 7 generation bracket.  Six or 7 generations equates to about 150-175 years before our birth, or about 1775-1800 for most of us.  By then, many Native people were already admixed and many already lived outside of a traditional tribal unit.  Some people carry Native heritage from multiple lines, but since it comes from multiple ancestors, it too is often quite fragmented, so it doesn’t really improve the situation much unless some of those fragments happen to fall together to make larger segments.

Therefore, we are looking for very small amounts of admixture that often don’t show on traditional tests, or if they do, it’s in miniscule amounts.

Enter chromosome painting.

Without going in to boring detail, I’ve recently been working with a new methodology of identifying these fragmented and very small segments.  I am using several chromosome painting tools.  I’ll be blogging soon enough about how all of this is done, but I just wanted to share with you a couple of beautiful pieces of DNA, through which our ancestors are speaking, and we can see them, in a manner of speaking.

On the graph below, which is my chromosome painting of one a small part of one of my chromosomes on the top, and my mother’s showing the exact same segment on the bottom, the various types of ethnicity are colored, or painted.  You can see that both of us have a primary ethnicity of North European, shown by the teal.

ancestors speak

The grid shows location 120 on the chromosome.  Think of this number as a house number on a street.  It’s numbered so we can keep track of where we are on the chromosome.  For genealogy purposes, the smallest segment normally considered as relevant is 7 mb or marker segments long.  Each tick mark equals one segment or address, so a segment 7 mb long would be from 120-127 which takes you right over to the legend.  As you can see, the primary ethnicity has no problem reaching way beyond the contiguous 7 threshold, but the minority ethnicity would not be counted because it’s too small.

However, by the very definition of what minority ancestry is, these small segments are not only present, providing critical information, they are essential in our search and very informative.  Let’s see what they are saying to us.

First, let’s talk for a minute about ancestry.  There is no line in the sand very often between populations.  There are generally only degrees of difference.  So in the case of Native American, which is yellow on this chart, we also expect to see it “drift back in time” by being found in conjunction with Siberian (putty), South Asian (red) and East Asian (emerald green).  Native Americans were not dropped from alien spaceships, they evolved over time from these other Asian populations, so we would expect to see some of their genetics in Native American people.

So let’s take a look at what we do actually see in the DNA.

The first brightly colored segment in the top band is mine.  It includes Native American (yellow), South Asian (red), a big chunk of East Asian (emerald Green), a little bit from the Caucus (ginger) which is the Middle East area, and a piece of West African (light green).

There are two messages from the ancestors in this piece of DNA.  First, this segment absolutely, positively does NOT come from mother.  We can see this clearly because she has nothing but North European (teal) in that section of her DNA.  So, this little gem came from Dad.

The second piece of information is that the ancestor who provided this DNA to Dad was very likely admixed, Native and African.

Of course, if you’re thinking ahead at this point, you’ll be asking, “Which one of your Dad’s other relatives has this same segment?” because, yes, that’s exactly how we will tell which of his lines contributed the Native ancestry.  But you’re getting ahead of the story, and well, that is a story for another time.  This story today, is about the direct messages of the ancestors and the beauty of our DNA itself.

Let’s look at the next segment of minority DNA.  It starts about location 123.  Mom’s is much more pronounced than mine and much richer.  This tells us that I didn’t receive much of Mom’s.  Instead I received mostly North European (teal), along with some East Asian (emerald).

Mom has almost a perfect Native segment here.  By perfect, I mean we find a progression from Native back through time through all 4 categories I would expect to find.  I consider this entire segment “Native” because it indicates Native heritage.  You can see the emerald green (East Asian), putty (Siberian), red (South Asian) and yellow (North American Indian and Arctic) nestled together with no other minority ancestry in close proximity.  This means it’s not part of a different kind of Asian segment.  Remember, part of Europe was settled by the Mongol Hordes and the Huns, so we do see Asian and western Asian DNA in Europe, along with DNA from the Caucus, but we don’t see isolated segments like this, with just eastern Asian DNA and Native American.  So this little beauty is the perfect Native indicator, positively, even though it is only about 4 segments long.

Now take a look at my DNA in that same region in the top row.  It’s kind of hard to see the emerald green against the teal, but I only inherited the East Asian (emerald) segments from Mom.  Of note, however, is that I also have an East Asian (green) segment that Mom doesn’t have.  My East Asian starts about 122 where hers doesn’t begin until 123.  So good old Dad contributed a bit here as well.  Again, we know this because Mom only has North European at that segment.

And now of course for the kicker.  Your DNA looks this same way.  How boringly teal it is, or how beautifully rainbow multi-colored depends on how much minority ancestry you have, from how many different lines, and which of your parents you received it from.

I hope you can see why I’m so excited to be developing this new technique to work with highly fragmented DNA to find our ancestors.  They are there, they have a voice, and they are speaking to us.  All we have to do is figure out how to listen.

I am simply in awe of the beauty of this technique, literally as well as figuratively.  While I certainly understand and appreciate logically that matching other people means we’re related, there is something awe-inspiring and tangible about being able to see the painted graphs and view the layers of ancestry nestled together, life forces reaching through time, protecting that DNA with its precious message for us over many generations.  All this time, just waiting for us to be able to understand the most personal message from our ancestors, delivered, from them, in our genes, to each of us.  This is the voice of our ancestors.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

When Did Humans Come to the Americas?

cactus hill virginiaThis article (and photo of a Cactus Hill, Va. archaeology dig) in the current Smithsonian online magazine proves quite interesting.  It has been widely accepted for a number of years that the Clovis point people were the original inhabitants of America and that they crossed over Beringia about 12,000 or 13,000 years ago.  Some people push that date somewhat earlier, but not by much.  DNA evidence collected in contemporary Native people from the Americas also indicates a common ancestor about that same time, from Asian, so that information confirms the Clovis data as well.  So we have a nicely tied package….or do we?

There has always been a fringe of people who believe or at least proposed that another group of people, called the Solutreans, who arrived from Europe 10,000 years or so before the Clovis people were the first “Native people.”  Their artifacts are found in pre-Clovis sites, meaning before the Clovis were here, or at least before we believe they were here, based on numerous kinds of archaeology dating from known Clovis sites.

That theory is getting a new review as more sites come to light and dating technology develops into a more exacting science.

The Smithsonian wrote what I feel is a very balanced article on this matter.  This topic really isn’t resolved and the jury is clearly still out.  Emotions in the scientific field and in some Native communities run very strong regarding this topic, and many viewpoints have been set forth that are biased in their information presented and opinions.

I look forward to new information which will help us better understand our ancestors and the landscape in which they lived.

Be sure to click on the photo gallery in this story for artifact, location and map images.

Posted in Clovis | 3 Comments

George Washington Letter to Tuscarora

French Indian War map

The French and Indian War took place from 1754 to 1763.  During this time, a significant amount of land was disputed, and fighting took place primarily in these regions and in borderlands.  The Native American tribes were key players, often because they already lived in these regions, understood the lay of the land, and had been recruited through promises of their lands being returned if the French won.  Ironically, that’s the same promise the British made to recruit the Native people as warriors during the Revolutionary War.

We often don’t think of George Washington as a player in the French and Indian War, more often in conjunction with the Revolutionary War, but he was clearly involved.  In the letter below, he wrote to the Tuscarora Indians of North Carolina asking for their support.  I transcribed this letter, below the document itself.  An underscored word means I couldn’t read it clearly, or at all in some cases.

Tusc letter

George Washington Papers, 1741-1799

To King Blount, Capt Jack and the rest of the Tuscarora Chiefs.

Brothers and Friends.  This will be delivered you by our brother Tom, a warrior of the Nottoways who with others of that nation have distinguished themselves in our service this summer against our great and perfidious enemies.

The intent of this is to assure you of our real friendship and love and to confirm and strengthen that chain of friendship which has subsisted between us for so many years past….a chain like ours founded on sincere love and friendship must be strong and lasting and will I hope endure while the sun and stars give light.

Brothers you can be no strangers to the many murders and cruelties committed on our countrymen and friends by that false and faithless people the French who are constantly endeavoring to corrupt the minds of our friendly Indians and Lord have stirred up the Shawnee and Delaware with several other nations to take up the hatchet against us and at the head of many of their Indians have invaded our country, laid waste our lands, plundered our plantations, murdered defenseless women and children, burnt and destroyed wherever they came….which has enraged friends the Six Nations, Cherokees, Nottoways, Cattawbas, and all our Indian allies and prompted them to take up the hatchet in our defense against these disturbances of the common peace.

I hope Brothers you will likewise take up the hatchet against the French and their Indians as our other friends have done and send us some of your young men to protect our frontiers and go to war with us against our notiss and ambitious Frenchmen and to encourage your warriors, I promise to furnish them with arms, ammunition, clothes, provision and ever necessary for war…and the sooner you send them to our assistance the greater ___ will give us of your friendship and the better shall we be enabled to take just revenge on the cruelties.

May you live a happy prosperous people and may we act with sincere love and friendship and while rivers run and trees grow is the sincere wish of your friend and Brother.

Signed with George Washington’s signature

In confirmation of the above and in hopes of your compliance with my request…I give you this string of wampum.

Hat tip to Chris for this document.

Posted in Catawba, Cherokee, Delaware, Military, Nottoway, Shawnee, Six Nations, Tuscarora | Leave a comment

The Autosomal Me – Unraveling Minority Admixture


You’re invited to come along with me on a journey.  It’s an epic event, a journey into the deepest recesses of our cells, into the smallest pieces of our DNA, into the part previously thought to be useless because it’s so tiny.  It’s the journey to find minority admixture.  Minority in this case means small amounts of admixture.  In my personal situation, this means both Native American and African.

People who have larger amounts of admixture don’t necessarily have to do this, although it can still provide useful information.  If your autosomal percentages are uniformly recognized and reported by most or all of the testing companies, meaning over 1%, you probably know which of your relatives contributed your minority heritage and you don’t need to look for that proverbial needle in a haystack.  Not everyone is that fortunate.  I’m not.  I know of Native heritage through my mother’s Acadian ancestors, but the ones in my father’s side have consistently eluded identification.  It’s there, but where?  It’s haystack time for me!

This past year or two, genetic genealogy has been hallmarked by advances in autosomal DNA and the supporting technologies using tools like 23andMe and Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder tests.  In order to figure out how people are related to you, what level of cousins they are, and which genealogical line they come from, we’ve been using independent tools like phasing, where you compare your DNA to that of your parents or other close known relatives to see who gave you which pieces, or segments, of DNA.  Then, when someone matches you on that segment, you can tell which side of yoru family it came from, and sometimes which genealogical line it came from.  This sets the stage for one day being able to have this conversation with someone:

“Hi John, I see that we are 117th cousins and we have a match at location 17,387,426 on chromosome 3.”  Beth

“Hi Beth, why yes, we are indeed cousins, but we’re actually 115th cousins, 11 times removed instead of 117th cousins.  Our match is through Attilla the Hun’s 37th concubine.”  John

Ok, so maybe I’m dreaming a bit…but this conversation is not just a possibility, it’s a certainty 10 years from now, but perhaps with less dramatic cousinships:)

To date, the rule of thumb for finding ancestors has been that small matches should be disregarded because they are probably identical by state (IBS), not identical by descent (IBD), meaning not useful genealogically.

What’s IBS you ask?  It’s a segment that is typically too small to be counted as an IBD, or identical by descent, segment.  This means that you and the person you match on this small segment descend from a common population, not necessarily that you share a common ancestor within the past several generations.  Genealgoically relevant segments are recognizable because they are larger.  To understand why and how this works, refer to my article, “Autosomal Results, the Basics.”

There is no absolute line in the sand, but generally segments smaller than 7cM (centimorgans) or 700 SNPs (some say 5cM and 500 SNPs) fall into this category.  Dr. Tim Janzen, the genealogical “father of phasing” discards all matches in his spreadsheets less than 3.5cM.  That’s because he’s looking for positive genealogical matches and does not want the data to be cluttered up by possible IBS matches.

However, when you have small amounts of minority ancestry, it stands to reason that these small tidbits could be very useful in identifying which of your genealogical lines produced these small amounts of admixture.  If you can identify which lines provided this minority admixture, then you’re well on the way to identifying which ancestor contributed the minority admixture.

When looking for minority admixture in two related people, finding these small segments in the same location should provide meaningful information and confirm minority heritage.  Said another way, if you both have less than 1% Native heritage, both share a common ancestor, and both carry your less than 1% on the same segment….one might say it’s not likely to be coincidence, especially if there is a pattern across multiple chromosomes/segments.  Identifying the common segments of your common ancestor can lead to identifying the specific family line, especially if you match others as well.  In essence, this is the genetic equivalent of “surround and conquer.”

Let me give a very short example here.

Let’s say I match my mother on part of chromosome 1 that is Native.

Then let’s say I match her cousin (my second cousin) on mother’s mother’s side on a smaller piece of that same segment.  This immediately tells me that this particular bit of Native heritage is not from mother’s father’s side.

autosomal Hill

Another match to a more distant Hill cousin further defines the path of Native ancestry,  showing that the Native heritage came through mother’s grandfather’s mother’s line.  You can see how we track this ancestry and whittle down the possible sources.

So, I’ve set out to test this minority ancestry tracking theory.  Because we are dealing with such small segments of DNA, “rooting around in the weeds,” as Bennett Greenspan so aptly put it, and have no mechanized tools, this journey is long, tiresome and tedious.  It’s also thrilling.

As with all experiments, I have wondered many times if I was wasting my time.  I’ve completed steps and then redone them a different way when I realized there was a better or more revealing method.  More than once.  That comes with the territory.

I debated about how to share this new technique.  In the past, I would have published this as an academic paper, but with the delays surrounding the publication of JoGG, and the fact that the last paper through JoGG took 18 months to get out the door, much of this information would be stale by then.  I thought about publishing as an e-book as well, but I finally settled on my blog.  I feel that I can reach more people in a much more timely fashion this way.  I also really like the blog because I can write in a more relaxed fashion than I could in any other venue and it gives you the opportunity to interact as well.

I also don’t know what to call this new methodology.  I have just been referring to it as the weeds method, but that’s not very scientific.  I considered the APM technique – Ancestry Population Mapping.  Sounds too nonspecific.  The PTM – Personal Torture Method – nah – puts people off even if it is true.  MAT – Minority Ancestry Tracking – that’s a possibility but isn’t very specific.  Fragmented Chromosome Mapping, FCM, has possibilities.  So, I’m open to suggestions.  If at the end of this series, it’s still the weeds method….well, then weeds it is.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about this journey, my discoveries, and sharing techniques with step by step instructions so that you can use the same tools.  Join me for the multi-part series, “The Autosomal Me.”

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