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The HAM DNA Project began with Family Tree DNA in the summer of 2005. I am the current Administrator of the HAM DNA Project.
DNA is a relatively new tool for genealogists. This Project is the first time DNA has been used in an organized study for the HAM Surname. It was the first time that a DNA Y-Search had been performed to predict the ancestral homeland. This was the first time that a DNA study had been performed to study the HAM immigrants from England to Virginia. The Y-Search study had been performed on my own line in an effort to determine the immigrant homeland. Until the presentation, genealogy rumors an myths were running rampant, including the relatively widespread story of German origins. The prevailing myth being that all HAM lines in Virginia descended from one man, Jerome HAM.
The problem with traditional genealogy research in Virginia is that many genealogical records have been destroyed.
The HAM DNA Project presentation was given in Jefferson, North Carolina on April 21, 2007. At that time, we had not yet obtained a matching kit for any HAM DNA group from anybody in Europe. I had performed a Y-Search study of my DNA group (HAM DNA Group #1), and had located matching DNA samples from England. Three locations bubbled to the top of the list - Yorkshire, London, and Crewkerne.
Up to that time, many years of traditional genealogy work had been performed, culminating in our book "A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC," using tradition genealogical methods. Original source material was sought out, with visits to the Archives in the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. Professional genealogists were hired in Virginia, the UK, and France. However, I could not positively identify my immigrant ancestor, using traditional research. I was thrilled to see matching DNA samples in England. The theory of German origins was beginning to become debunked.
The HAM DNA Project had been underway for some two years by 2007. This was the first time that DNA had been used to aid our traditional genealogy research. This was the first time a Y-Search study had been published (on January 14, 2007) for our HAM DNA Group. Using limited DNA data, this was the first time any genealogist had attempted to determine what the Y-DNA may have looked like some 700 years ago. The Y-Search report returned a most likely immigrant homeland in three areas in England, Yorkshire, London, and Crewkerne (see map).
Using only the DNA data, I was able to construct a phylogenetic chart of the ancient DNA using Dean McGee's Y-DNA Utility and the PHYLIP software package:
At the time of the HAM DNA Presentation in North Carolina, the tiny HAM DNA Project (for all groups) graphed out like this:
By November, 2007 the Y-Search report had been confirmed. New participant Tony Ham was a relative recent immigrant to America, with immigrant ancestors from the area of South Brent, County Somerset in England. Tony was a good match for my DNA Group, and South Brent is about 25 miles away from Crewkerne. The Y-Search study had been a spectacular success!
The National Genographic Project had identified my Y-DNA Haplotype group as "I1a," which is of Viking origins. Family Tree DNA has identified the "I1a" haplotype group in England and northern France. In northern France, we find Normandy. The Vikings had settled in Normandy circa 800 AD, and was known to protect the coast for France. At that time, the Danes had also invaded Yorkshire. In 1066, we had the famous invasion of England by the Normans, in particular by William the Conqueror. The difference between the Danes of 800 AD in Yorkshire and the Norman Conquest is that whereas the Danes were confined to the area of Yorkshire, the distribution of Normans was more complete with the conquest of England. That is, you would expect to find the Normans in County Somerset, protecting the border area from Wales but you not expect to see the same for the Danes.
This presentation was given April 21, 2007 as part of the Ashe County Family History Weekend in Jefferson, North Carolina.
The HAM DNA Project 2007
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