Monday, April 16, 2012
The Proof of the Pudding IS in the DNA!
No matter how meticulously we trace our roots using the traditional forms of documentation, the paper trail, as we call it, using birth, marriage, and death certificates, land transactions, census records, and court proceedings, the real proof of the pudding is in the DNA. I have just discovered how true this statement is.
Recently, after contacting one of my Family Finder DNA matches (a DNA assessment which provides cousin matches across paternal and maternal lines), we found that we are probably 4th cousins 1X removed with our most recent common ancestors being Richard Ferguson and Verlinda Triplett of Wilkes County, North Carolina. They are my 4th great grandparents and his 3rd great grandparents. These individuals have been traced with the traditional paper trail and also with DNA testing.
What a surprise I had after making contact with this genetically matched cousin, a male with the Ferguson surname. He has discovered that he does NOT match with any Ferguson in the Ferguson Y-DNA Project (a male surname project) who descends from Thomas Ferguson, the here-to-fore presumed father of Richard Ferguson. Of course, he would most likely match with other male Fergusons descending from Richard Ferguson. Apparently, none of these male individuals descending from Richard Ferguson and Verlinda Triplett have participated in Y-DNA testing.
In the final analysis, the Y-DNA of my distant cousin actually matches the Y-DNA of a group of other male individuals who are not in his family tree but who match with the descendants of a male individual with the Allison surname who lived in Wilkes County the year of Richard’s birth.
My cousin and other Allison researchers believe that a non-paternal event occurred resulting in Richard’s genetic disposition being different from those of the descendants of Richard’s brothers. Such a non-paternal event could have been one of three events: the adoption of Richard by Thomas Ferguson; a pregnancy prior to marriage resulting in Richard’s birth; or an extra-marital affair resulting in Richard’s birth. Therefore, those of us who descend from Richard Ferguson and Verlinda Triplett are really not Fergusons even though their descendants carried and still carry the Ferguson name. We are most likely of the Allison lineage. I am certain that this revealing information will be a surprise to many.
As genealogical researchers, we must be open to and accepting of such discoveries. As one delves into his past, he is bound to find some “skeletons in the closet.” Therefore, he must learn to be objective, remembering that no one is perfect and that all make mistakes. And, he must recognize that, obviously, he would not be here if certain events had not occurred in his past.
An example such as the one I have described illustrates how significant the field of genetics is becoming in understanding one’s ancestral background. In today’s world, DNA is the only proof of the pudding!