Friday, December 18, 2009

UK Family Name Origins Project Launched

Largest Ever UK Family Name Origins Project Launched

December 18, 2009

The University of the West of England is preparing to launch the largest ever study of family surname origins from the British Isles. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, headed up by Linguistics Professor Richard Coates, with lead researcher Dr. Patrick Hanks (lexicographer).
The goal of the project is to gather reliable information on up to 150,000 UK surnames, and enter them into a database available on a public website. They hope to use published and unpublished resources dating back to the 11th century. The goal is to obtain more reliable information than found in current epytomological dictionaries on the subject.

For the purpose of comparison, I am obligated to say that the "Origins" volume of "A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC" dates the use of the word "Ham" back to the third century in Europe, and the HAM DNA Project is helping to pinpoint the exact location of origin of the HAM Surname in England. Those of you that follow this blog probably already know that the "Ham" is a place name meaning a homestead, or a variation thereof.

For example, in the "Origins" volume, you will find the use of the HAM surname dating from the 11th century in about two dozen towns in County Somerset alone. And aside from County Somerset, the book also mentions more than a dozen other Counties in England. (Information regarding the names of the Lords of Ham in France dates from about the 9th century.)

Additionally, the HAM DNA Project has helped to pinpoint the most likely areas of origin in England. The DNA Project has provided Y-Search studies on the origins of four HAM family DNA groups and actually have a DNA match for HAM(M/E) families who would otherwise not have information about locating surname origins. So, I suspect that the study will be missing both the information from our book, but also missing information gathered from the HAM DNA Project.

However, it is reassuring to know that somebody has launched a project to gather more widespread information on the origins of UK family names. Those of you who do not have out book should have access to this database by about 2014. The project appears to be lead by experts in their field, and the meaning and location of origins of a name is a subject of intense interest to genealogists, both amateur and professional.

For more information on the project, see:

Article in the UK Independent by Sarah Cassidy:
Press release from the University of West England:
Formal description of the project from the Arts & Humanities Research Council:
For more information specific to the HAM surname, see also: Article on surname origins at HAM Country:

Videos on HAM surname origins:

HAM Surname Counties of Origins

For DNA evidence about HAM surname origins:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Free W W II Records from Footnote

Free Access to WWII records from Footnote

In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, Footnote is offering free access to World War II records during the month of December.

The site offers basic service record information, plus images and military studies.

For example, a number of my uncles enlisted for WWII, so I did a search on my uncles Wiley and Marvin. I was able to find their service record by a mouse click on their name. Typical example gives enlistment information, such as year of birth, branch of service, date of enlistment and location. What I liked most was the serial number and source information (microfilm reel number and box number of the Army Enlistment records).

However, having spent some time on genealogy, I already had most of that information for my uncles, if not more. Footnote does have an option to enable you to add notes and images to their records. Using this feature, I was able to add some notes on Wiley's death in 1944.

What I was really interested in was tracking his Company information. I know that in August, 1941, Wiley was stationed in Iceland and part of Company C, 10th Infantry. I thought it might be interesting to try to follow his troop movements during WWII.

So, I started browsing Footnote's "WWII Allied Military Conference" to see if I could get an idea of his whereabouts after D-Day.

I suppose I should mention that the most annoying feature of the site is it's Java interface, which makes browsing very slow going for dial-up users.

Other than that, perhaps it might help you find some WWII information on your ancestors this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Journal of Genetic Genealogy - Fall, 2009

The Journal of Genetic Genealogy (JoGG)
Fall Issue, 2009

The Fall issue of the Journal of Genetic Genealogy (JoGG) has just been released. The largest issue in their five year history, packed with a lot of material of interest to Genetic Genealogists. With over 220 pages, you should find about 10 articles and three reports in this issue.

Among the items of interest include an announcement from Whit Athey that he will retire as editor, being replaced by Blaine Bettinger. Many of you should recognize Whit as the creator of the Haplotype Predictor utility. Whit mentions that he has observed genetic genealogists move from dependence upon the scientific community for information, to the use of DNA now being led by "amateurs."

One article is from Roberta Estes, regarding the use of DNA with Native American dispersal and the Lost Colony of Roanoke. "Where Have All the Indians Gone? Native American Eastern Seaboard Dispersal, Genealogy and DNA in Relation to Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony of Roanoke"

Another article is from Chris Pomery, "The Advantages of a Dual DNA/Documentary Approach to Reconstruct the Famiiy Trees of a Surname." Chris outlines a method for combining Y-DNA results with documentary evidence in order to reveal the origins of a surname.

There is also a "Special Section" here, regarding "Cluster Analysis and the TMRCA Problem." This includes about seven articles on:

Introduction by Whit Athey

An overview of the pitfalls and cutting edge views on topics related to calculating Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor (TMRCA). Whit looks at the use of mutation rates, transmissions, over-counting, rho, "genealogical structure factor," an "effective mutation rate" procedure, and more. Nice overview, if you want to take a deep dive into the following articles.

Y-STR Mountains in Haplospace, Part I: Methods
by Peter Gwozdz

Y-STR Mountains in Haplospace, Part II: Application to Common Polish Clades
by Peter Gwozdz

DNA Genealogy, Mutation Rates, and Some Historical Evidence Written in Y-Chromosome, Part I: Basic Principles and the Method
by Anatole A. Klyosov

DNA Genealogy, Mutation Rates, and Some Historical Evidence Written in Y-Chromosome, Part II: Walking the Map
by Anatole A. Klyosov

The Use of Correlation Techniques for the Analysis of Pairs of Y-Chromosome DNA Haplotypes, Part I: Rationale, Methodology and Genealogy Time Scale
by William E. Howard

The Use of Correlation Techniques for the Analysis of Pairs of Y-Chromosome DNA Haplotypes, Part II: Application to Surname and Other Haplotype Clusters
by William E. Howard

You will find the fall isuue of JoGG at:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

CNN DNA Genealogy Article

CNN is running an article today about the use of DNA for family research. Written by Steve Mollman, it's a story of how DNA research surprised two genealogists on different continents.

About three months ago, Kevin Shepherdson in Singapore discovered a DNA match to Thomas Kurowski of Rhode Island (Thomas Kurwoski is of Polish descent). The two never knew each other.

Shepherdson is a seasoned genealogist, and has since found that they connect from a pair of English brothers who served as Captains in the British East India Company during the 1700's.

The article also includes a few graphics (such as pictured above) about the fundamentals of DNA testing.

You can read the full article here:

To post comments, click on the title and scroll to the bottom.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Family Tree DNA Sale

Family Tree DNA Sale

November-December, 2009

Family Tree DNA is offering a Holiday Season promotion on the price of their y-DNA37 and y-DNA67 products, among other tests that are available. The sale is good from now until December 31, 2009.

The HAM DNA Project is still waiting for DNA participants from Maine, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. We are also waiting for more participants from other countries, such as England, Ireland, France, and Germany. Just as the DNA has shown possible links to the Norman invasion for Group #1, we have other groups that are waiting for more DNA matches for clues to their ancestry.

Thanks to the DNA, I am now wondering how my group came to England with the Conqueror.

Without participants from the areas mentioned above, we remain a tiny project. I would estimate that we are still missing about 40 DNA "Groups" for the HAM DNA Project. HAM(M)(N)(E) lines of Native American or African American descent have yet to be tested, among others.

This past week I've gotten emails about the Project, curious to know if we have a match to the Lords of Ham, or asking about what to do with the DNA information. But we haven't had a new DNA participant since February.

Well, now is your chance to sign up at discount prices. Here are some of the specials from Family Tree DNA:

• Y-DNA37 – promotional price $119 (reg. price $149)
• Y-DNA67 – promotional price $209 (reg. price $239)
• mtDNAPlus – promotional price $139 (reg. price $149)
• SuperDNA – promotional price $488 (reg. price $665)

This promotion will run through the end of December, so now is a good time to participate if your HAM line is not yet participating.

More information regarding "How To" participate is given on the HAM Country web pages, but U.S. participants can go directly to the order form at FTDNA here:

HAM DNA Project order form at FTDNA

and European residents can visit the European web site for ordering information at Family Tree DNA:

(Indicate that you want to "Join" the HAM DNA Project for the Holiday discount on group prices.)

To post comments, click on the title and scroll to the bottom.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Price Change History

Used HAM Book Triples in Price

I couldn't help but notice that the ISBN Price History on used copies of "A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC" has gone up during the month of August.

ISBN is tracking online vendor prices for our book, and apparently the average price is now $216.31.

Let me see, the copy from Abebooks apparently sold for $134.97, as I could not follow their link to the seller. According to ISBN: 0966547101

There is a used volume #2 (only) available on Amazon from ACCBold (claims to be located in MN) for $95.00 plus $3.99 for shipping.

And finally, a used copy of all three volumes is also available on Amazon from Internationalbooks (claims to ship from Maryland) for $297.65, plus $3.99 shipping (or $12.49 for shipping international). Let me see, that's about $100.00 for each volume.

Of course, you can buy a new copy of volume #2 from us for $36.00. That is, a used copy is selling for nearly three times as much as a new one. I suppose it's nice to know that the book has tripled in value if you own a used copy.

And, of course, a new three volume set is still available from HAM Country for $110.50, compared to the $297.65 price for a used copy from Internationalbooks.

It just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that the value of a used copy has gone up on the ISBN price survey. After all, I've always thought the set was a good investment.

To post comments, click on the title and scroll to the bottom.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Family History Monthly

I must say that the new issue of Family History Monthly magazine (for the UK) caught my eye.
Issue 174 of the magazine has two articles on the use of DNA for genealogy:

"Was Crippen Innocent?" by Chris Pomery investigates an old family history crime scene, this time using DNA evidence.

"A Practical Guide to DNA Testing" by Debbie Kennett, which explains how DNA testing is used for genealogy.

In her article, Debbie explains that DNA has been in use for genealogy for nearly 10 years now, with estimates of nearly a million people now using DNA for genealogy. She explains how Y-DNA and mtDNA tests are used for genealogy projects, and goes into some detail about how each works. Debbie includes an evaluation of testing companies available in the UK, providing a guide on available choices.

She includes a table of number of vendors, including features that you should expect to find with each vendor. Included is a section on understanding your results, Geographical Projects, and Deep Ancestry. Also included is an introduction to ISOGG (the International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

A nice touch to the article is a side column featuring Spencer Wells with the National Genographic Project, explaining the the Genographic Project now has 100,000 samples from indigenous people, and nearly 300,000 paid participants from 130 countries.

The Deep Ancestry section includes a section on SNP testing (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) and gives an overview of migration patterns from the National Genographic Project.

She includes a summary about further information on DNA testing, testing companies, DNA databases, and books.

You probably won't find the article on newsstands here in the U.S., but you can subscribe or purchase this issue individually from the Family History Monthly web site:

A very good article on how DNA testing can contribute to the legacy or knowledge about the origins and evolution of your surname.

To post comments, click on the title and scroll to the bottom.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

National Genographic News

A lot of activity during the month of August at the National Genographic blog page "Genographica."

Briefly, they are hi-liting three items:

1) The new High Definition version of their Human Family Tree video airs Su
nday, Aug 30th at 9 PM. This has been advertised all month on the National Geographic channel, more information is available on their web site.

with the TV schedule here:

The new HD video is also available for purchase at the National Genographic online store.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Free 1930 Census Images

I have a note from Jeff Weaver of the New River email list that Footnote is granting free access to their 1930 Census images during the month of August:

They appear to be experiencing some performance problems due to the high traffic, tho.

So, if you're looking for something from the 1930 Census, here's the opportunity.

To post comments, click on the title and scroll to the bottom.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

HAM Country Updates

Links to research in West Virginia have been added to the HAM Country "Links" area. This was suggested by Thomas Hamm of Charlotte, NC.

If you haven't visited the indexes for the HAM Country "Wills & Estates," I have updated the index for England. Additions are from the Gloucestershire Record Office.

For a more complete list of changes see the HAM Country Revisions page.

- Enjoy

To post comments, click on the title and scroll to the bottom.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Family Tree DNA Sale

Family Tree DNA Sale

July, 2009

The HAM DNA Project has been underway since 2005, but we are still struggling to get participants from a number of areas that would be helpful to the Project. We are currently looking for confirmation on a number of Counties in Virginia and North Carolina, as well as South Carolina and Kentucky. Current participants are also looking for matches in Britain, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany.

The folks awaiting confirmation usually only have one participant from their line, and need a second participant from another branch of their line to confirm any out of wedlock issues. The folks seeking matches overseas need participants overseas to confirm locations of origin.

In Virginia, there are a number of HAM lines in Counties that have not yet participated: Orange, Caroline, Culpeper, and Elizabeth City (now Hampton). Participants who are known to descend from these Counties would be very helpful to the Project. In North Carolina, we are still waiting for known descendants from the Counties of Iredell, Surry, Guilford, Montgomery, and of course Rowan County.

Not yet participating are the HAM lines from Pennsylvania, several from New York, Maine, New Hampshire, and various lines on the east coast, which should include Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, etc. If known descendants of these lines would participate, it would be of help for targeting future research. We have yet to see our first participant who would be a current resident of and would have ancestors from Britain, Scotland, France, or Germany.

At any rate, now is a good time to sign up for the DNA testing. I have received an announcement from Bennett Greenspan of Family Tree DNA that prices have dropped for the month of July. He quotes these prices:

Y-DNA37 – promotional price $119 (reg. price $149)

Y-DNA67 – promotional price $199 (reg. price $238)

mtDNAPlus – promotional price $119 (reg. price $149)

These are the best prices, marker for marker, of any company in the market.

This promotion will run through the month of July, so now is a good time to participate if your HAM line is not yet participating.

More information regarding "How To" participate is given on the HAM Country web pages, but U.S. participants can go directly to the order form at FTDNA here:

HAM DNA Project order form at FTDNA

and European residents can visit the European web site for ordering information at Family Tree DNA:

(Indicate that you want to "Join" the HAM DNA Project for the July group discount prices.)

To post comments, click on the title and scroll to the bottom.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Devon DNA Project

Debbie Kennett is writing an article for the October issue of the Devon Family Historian, which is the journal of the Devon Family History Society. I have requested that the HAM DNA Project be among the Projects that can offer partially funded DNA tests, which I hope to provide through the HAM DNA General Fund.

Debbie is also the Administrator of the Devon DNA Project at family Tree DNA. She has a brief overview of the long history of settlement in Devon, the meaning of the Celtic word "Devon" ("the people of the land"), artifacts, hill forts, and archeology findings from the area. She also has some helpful links at the
bottom of the web page:

In our book, "A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC," the main records we have are from Collyton Parish, which also mentions the parishes of Ashwater, Cheriton Fitzpyn, Halberton, Halwill, Hartland, Hemyock, Honiton, Luppitt, Milton Abbot, Oakford, St. Andrew's Parish in Plymouth, Shepewash, Shute, Tiverton, Uplowman, Upottery, West Budleigh, and Wilhayes. We also have in volume #1 (Origins) Wills from Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) for HAM residents of Devon.

Parish is located near Plymouth. And, of course, there is a small town called "Ham" (or Ham Ward) near Plymouth as well. As many of you already know, the surname "HAM" is a place name, and locating the town of origin is a good indication of where the name was adopted after about 1200 AD.

A map of the area shows the area known as Ham, near Plymouth:,54192&st=4&ar=Y&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srf&dn=795&ax=248899&ay=54192

The primary HAM lines that are researching the area of Plymouth are the HAM lines of Maine and New Hampshire. They have an interest there because the first HAM progenitor on this continent was William HAM of Maine, a member of the Trelawney expedition. William HAM of Maine arrived on the Speedwell in 1635 and was originally contracted to fish. Several of the Mayors of Plymouth (England) were named Trelawny:


Plymouth City Council
List of Mayors from 1600 to 1700


Some descendants of William HAM of Maine were mentioned in the book "The HAM Family Kith and Kin" by Rev. Ervin Charles Tipton (1977). L. Winston Hamm was a contributor to Tipton's book, and had listed his own line back to the William HAM who arrived in Maine in 1635.I have mentioned a short biography of Winston Hamm in the Appendix of our volume #1 (Origins).

The exciting thing about Debbie Kennett's October article for the Devon Family Historian and the Devon DNA Project is that I am hoping to see DNA participants from Devon. If they are native to Devon, we should expect haplotype "R1b." If their is a Norman influence to the HAM lines in Devon, then of course they should be haplotype "I." The problem is that we have no DNA participants here in the U.S. for the Maine HAM lines.

So, I am pushing for participants from Britain, and am hoping for some DNA participants from the Maine and New Hampshire HAM lines as well.

To post comments, click on the title and scroll to the bottom.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Facebook Albums on line

For those who are interested in the HAM surname, I have uploaded a few small albums to Facebook. I have a few picture handy, so I put them on Facebook.

David Hamm, a descendant of the Wayne County, NC HAM lines prodded me to join Facebook so that he could browse the web with his iPhone. I don't have one of those new fangled gadgets, so I just use my web browser.

Some of these pictures appeared in the "HAM Book Trailer" video, and some are from my video on "The Descendants of Eli HAM."

The public links to the albums are:

Some of my pictures from Ashe County, NC:

A few pictures from Grayson County, VA:

Some pictures from my research trips for the book "A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC":

My main Facebook page is at:

but the main page is only open to Facebook "Friends" (folks registered at Facebook who claim to be my "friend"). The main page simply has my "Wall" of general comments.

I intentionally kept the images small so that they will load quickly via dial-up or iPhone.

To post comments, click on the title and scroll to the bottom.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

HAM Origins in Grayson County, Virginia

HAM Origins in Grayson County, Virginia

I have seen more speculation than I care to review about HAM origins in the Ashe County, North Carolina and origins in Grayson County, Virginia. However, I cannot address all of the various forms of speculation in one short article. Most speculation that I have seen can be cleared up by careful study of our book, “A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC.” It is my hope that this article will help clear up where we are with the current research of the Grayson County HAM lines.

Migration to Ashe County

Geneva located the following Grayson County record from 1826, which I think is key to showing the relationship of the Ashe County and Grayson County HAM lines. That's because the 1826 land grants in Ashe County don't tell where Thomas and William are from. However, this 1826 Grayson County deed does.

It states that in Oct 1826, William HAM, Jr. "of Ashe County NC" sells 100 acres on Brushy Creek, Grayson County VA to Joseph LYNCH. That is, the Grayson County deed shows that the Ashe County HAM lines and the Grayson County HAM lines are the same line. There is an abstract of the record in the Virginia volume of our book (volume #2, page 212).

The year 1826 marks the migration of Thomas and William HAM, Jr. to Ashe County, NC from Grayson County, VA.

The time period prior to 1783 has been the subject of much speculation. In 1782, there is a William HAM who is taxed on 200 acres in Botetourt County, VA. After 1790, this land becomes Montgomery County. The problem is that there are several William HAM's in the area at the time. The Revolutionary War was on until 1783, and many of the records of the period reflect troop movements. From 1782 to 1787, 60 % of the people in Montgomery County had been living in Montgomery County for less than 5 years.

Prior to 1798, it is difficult to determine the differences between the William HAM of Grayson County, the William HAM of Wythe County, and the William HAM of Montgomery County. And, it is not clear that the William HAM in these three Counties would be the same man.

Drury HAM - The Journey Home:

Drury HAM is the only HAM to be listed on the 1787 Tax Lists for Montgomery County. There is a William HAM who enters 100 acres on Little Brush Creek in 1783, but does not appear on the Tax Lists for Montgomery County until 1788, 1789, and 1790. In 1787 and 1788, Drury is also found in Greenbrier County along with a Samuel HAM and a Joseph HAM. Drury HAM is no longer found on the Montgomery County Tax lists after 1788. By 1789, Drury HAM is found in Greenbrier County, in what is now West Virginia. By 1791, he migrates to Madison County, Kentucky.

The curious part of the Montgomery County records during the 1780's is that both Drury HAM and William HAM eventually end up in Madison County, Kentucky. Yet, this 1783 Treasury Warrant for 100 acres in Montgomery County is eventually found in the Grayson County Plat Book. Therefore it becomes important for Grayson County descendants to understand the difference between the William HAM of Madison County and the William HAM of Grayson County. How were they different? Were they related?

We know from the Revolutionary Pension files that Drury was born in Orange County, Virginia. Later, Drury and one of the William HAM's migrate to Madison County, Kentucky (William arrived in Madison County circa 1787 and Drury circa 1791). and Drury eventually settles in Lincoln County, Kentucky. The Madison County William HAM is found in Madison County in 1787, 1788, 1789, 1790, and 1792. This William HAM dies in Madison County, KY in 1812, with his estate settled in 1814 and leaving a widow named Elizabeth. By an intriguing coincidence, this William HAM also has three sons also named John, William Jr. and Thomas, but this Madison County family remained in Kentucky. It was a completely different family from the family of Grayson County, Virginia.

By following Drury HAM from Botetourt County to Montgomery County, we can obtain some clues about which William is the Grayson County William HAM, and which is the Madison County William HAM:

Drury HAM:

- in Botetourt County 1780, 1783 (Capt. John Gallaway’s Company)

- in Greenbrier County 1785, 1787, 1788, 1789, 1791

- in Montgomery County 1787, 1788

- in Madison County, KY 1791, etc.

Botetourt County William HAM:

- in Botetourt County 1774, 1782 (this land becomes Montgomery Co. in 1790),
1783 (Capt. John Gallaway’s Company)

Greenbrier County William HAM:

- in Greenbrier County 1778, 1780, 1782, 1783, 1786, 1787?, 1798

Madison County William HAM:

- in Madison County in 1787, 1788, 1789, 1790, and 1792, etc.

Montgomery County William HAM:

- in Montgomery County 1783 (this land becomes Grayson County in 1793),
1788, 1789, 1790

- in Wythe County 1793

- in Grayson County, VA 1798, 1800

The pairing of Drury HAM and the William HAM of Madison County, KY makes sense for several reasons.

A) “Drury” is a fairly unique name. There was only one Drury HAM for the time period.

B) Drury and William share the last name “HAM”

C) Drury and William are both in Capt. John Gallaway’s Company in Botetourt County in 1783

D) Drury and William both appear in Greenbrier County and end up in Madison County, KY

E) There is some record of Drury’s migration from the Revolutionary War Pension papers.

F) In 1787 to 1788, the Greenbrier County William HAM migrates to Madison County, KY.

Which means that by 1788, we have a different William HAM in Montgomery County, VA.

The timeline should illustrate that we have two or three William HAM’s.

In 1783, we have William HAM in Botetourt County, in Greenbrier County, and in Montgomery County. That is, the Botetourt County William and the Greenbrier County William appear to be different men. Except that the Revolutionary War had just ended and Drury and William could be returning home in that year.

In about 1787 it appears that the Greenbrier County William HAM migrates to Madison County, KY and is followed in 1791 by Drury HAM (from Greenbrier County to Madison County). It would appear the the Greenbrier County / Madison County William HAM could be related to Drury HAM.

In 1788, we have a William HAM in Madison County, KY and a William HAM in Montgomery County, VA.

If I could summarize what we can say about the origins of the William HAM of Grayson County, it would appear that he is first in Montgomery County in 1783, in an area that would later become Grayson County. However, we cannot confirm his presence in Grayson County again until 1798 when he enters land in the Grayson County Plat book. He has not been found on Grayson County Tax Lists until 1800. From examination of the records for Drury and the William HAM of Madison County, Kentucky, we can see that we have a separate William HAM in Montgomery County by1788.

For full source citations and more, see “A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC.”

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Journal of Genetic Genealogy - Spring, 2009

Journal Of Genetic Genealogy (JOGG)

Spring Issue now available

The spring issue of the Journal of Genetic Genealogy is now available. There may be a few items of interest to those who are keeping track of the DNA Project:

1) A commentary about the DAR vs. the use of DNA by Whit Athey.
The DAR is avoiding the use of DNA as evidence of descent from a Revolutionary War Veteran.

2) An article regarding Y-DNA traits of lines originating in Ireland.
Pointing to R1b types, there are certain DYS values that help determine Irish Origins.
Here, Dennis Wright expands on some work originally discovered by Ken Nordtvedt.

3) There are also three mtDNA articles.

You should find the Journal of Genetic Genealogy at:

To post comments, click on the title and scroll to the bottom.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Facebook Research Trip Photo Album

I've started a Facebook Photo Album of pictures from my research trips for our book "A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC." Some of these you may have seen in the book, but I will probably upload a number of them that did not get into the book.

To view the caption, either mouse over or click on the picture for a larger view.

To post comments, click on the title and scroll to the bottom.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

KallOut - New Search Tool

Now here's a nifty little tool I just installed on my FireFox web browser - KallOut.

Genealogists are always trying to find good reference material on the web, be it a primary source document, a news article, or even a You Tube video. A Google search doesn't always return everything that is available on the internet.

You can now search any of your favorite web sites in seconds, and no typing required. (Sweet!)

If you find an article on a web page that doesn't have an associated link, now you can just hi-lite a word on the page, then select the type of search you want from a menu of options.

I'd say this has to be an improvement over a plain vanilla Google search.
Currently, it can search Google, Yahoo, Ebay, flickr, Twitter, IMDb, FaceBook, etc.

(For example, I can hi-lite Tyler Ham, and select a search on IMDb... interesting!)

It should help with genealogy work, I should think.

- Enjoy

To post comments, click on the title and scroll to the bottom.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

ft2phy: Y-DNA STR to ATGC conversion


Y-DNA Short Tandem Repeats to ATGC conversion

The software program "ft2phy" has been posted to the HAM Country Tools area. If you've ever thought it daunting using "ft2dna" to run LAMARC, or draw trees with DNAPARS or PHYML, or if you'd like to see the "alpha" or transversion ratios for your Group, then "ft2phy" can make life a bit easier for you.

"ft2phy" can read several lines of STR data from Family Tree DNA, and use the same input format that Dean McGee's Utility does. So, if you have saved your Dean McGee Utility data into a file, then "ft2phy" can read your data file in order to produce the ATGC conversion.

ft2phy can read multiple lines of data (up to 600 lines), and it sends the output to separate data files for each marker. These files can be used in genetics programs that are compatible with the Phylip format. This version can handle up to 37 markers.

- Enjoy

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Y-DNA Project Grouping with Genetic Distance

"How To" create Y-DNA Project Groups
by using Genetic Distance
Or, How To Group Y-DNA by Genetic Distance using Dean McGee's Y-DNA Comparison Utility

There has been some discussion about "How To" create Y-DNA Project Groups, which does not appear to be a standard yet for Project Administrators. Nor is there any existing software that will do this for you automatically.

Family Tree DNA has an option to permit the Project Administrator to sort their Project into "Groups," but provides little or no guidance on "How To" do this, nor do they offer software to do this for you.

The PHYLIP package "Kitsch" program will sort the kits for you, but it would be up to you to the Project Administrator to do the "Grouping" by hand.

Grouping your DNA Project properly can add value to the DNA evidence by showing who is more closely related, and who is not. And, you can base this upon the DNA information. A valuable concept because sorting into groups can become more of a scientific procedure, as well as enhancing the analysis of that data.

DNA Grouping enables the use of DNA evidence as a tool which is independent of the usual
genealogy methods. What that delivers is either a clear joining or clear separation of families that are either related or not related genetically.

That means that you should be able to use Genetic Distance to verify whether or not lines are
related when normal genealogy records have been destroyed, or are otherwise not yet discovered.

You may have noticed that some Project Administrators don't appear to know what to do with Genetic Distance. That is usually obvious if they post a Genetic Distance table which looks "jumbled." Here's an example of a poorly structured Genetic Distance table, using a few selected kits from the HAM DNA Project:

Jumbled Genetic Distance Table
[ click on image to enlarge ]

Notice that the colored cells are jumbled all over the
place. You can look up your own ID and match it with other kits, but it makes little to no sense for the entire Project. A table that looks like this does not tell you how the DNA Project should be sorted into groups. In fact, it doesn't resemble anything like grouping at all.

There's a simple way to remedy this, which should give an overview of the entire Project at a glance. The remedy would be to sort the Genetic Distance table. Once you know how to sort the Genetic Distance table, an overview of the table starts to make sense.

Grouped Genetic Distance Table

Here's an example of the same kits that were used above, but this time they are sorted:

[ click on image to enlarge ]

Notice that the colors are now grouped together. Similar groups are now be found along the diagonal. The table is more symmetrical, and the "colored" cells now follow a recognizable pattern.

Then, the question becomes, what is the easiest way to sort the Genetic Distance table?

The answer is, that there are several ways to do sort
by Genetic Distance, but the simplest method is to sort on one of the Genetic Distance columns, then sort on the sums.

The easiest way to do that is by using Dean McGee's Y-DNA Utility to create the table, then sort on the first column.

Notice that column #1 of the "jumbled" Genetic Distance table is given in no particular order:

[ click on image to enlarge ]

The Genetic Distance values vary widely, and distances that are similar are certainly not on the table next to each other.

Here's column #1 of the "sorted" Genetic Distance table:

[ click on image to enlarge]

Notice that the Genetic Distance shows a similar increase, and the kits that are similar are next to each other on the table. You can check your work by creating a new Genetic Distance table with Dean McGee's Utility, and taking a second look at the grouping.

might have noticed the flaw by doing this simple sort (from the "sorted" Genetic Distance table above). That would be the grouping of kits #44176 and 47412. It doesn't sort correctly because they tested with a different number of markers. A simple "spot check" of the sort can usually show which kits did not sort correctly.

So, sorting your DNA Project by Genetic Distance (on one column) may leave a few unresolved groupings. That's because this example is a rough example only. You can get a better grouping by sorting a second time on sums for each row on either side of the diagonal. (It is possible to do some basic math in order to compensate for the varying number of markers tested.)

The trickiest part of using diagonal sums is that these sums could change with each re-arrangement. So, it may take a few iterations to get a better sorted table.

Or, if you are familiar with using the PHYLIP software package, a tree created with the "Kitsch" program will do the sorting for you. You can then use the MEGA software program to "Arrange Data for Balanced Shape." Arrange your data in the order suggested by the phylogram, and use that sorted data in your next run of Dean McGee's Utility.

The next run of Dean McGee's Utility should deliver a Genetic Distance table which shows the grouping for the DNA Project with colored cells along the diagonal.

Dean McGee's Y-DNA Comparison Utility can be found at:

If you are interested in the mathematics behind the Fitch-Margoliash method, a good starting point would be Professor Felsenstein's documentation on the software program "Kitsch" regarding the Fitch-Margoliash method with Evolutionary Clock:

The Genetic Distance table for the HAM DNA Project can be found with the output from Dean McGee's Utility at:


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Monday, April 6, 2009

Keeping Y-Search Up to Date

To the HAM DNA Project Participants:

I had been looking at mapped locations of (existing) towns called "Ham" in England tonight, and noticed that there are some possibilities of matching the FTDNA numbers with the locations of these towns. (There are more than two dozen towns in Britain called "Ham," about six "Ham Hill" locations, about seven "Ham Green" locations, etc.)

The best way to match DNA locations is with Y-Search.

Now, FTDNA hopes for a push in Britain in the upcoming year, so it is becoming more important to keep our Y-Search information up to date.

  UPDATE:  The Y-Search page was shut down in 2018, and is no longer available.
I say that because there is one town called "Ham" about 10 miles from Crewkerne (near Illminster), and another town called "Ham" near London. As you may recall from the 2007 DNA video, our Group #1 roughly matches these two areas in Y-Search. Our Franklin County line may have some parallels to the town called "Ham" near Frome (or Wells), if you recall the blog article about Glastonbury ties, for example. Tony, of course, has ancestors that come from a town called "Ham" near Brent Knoll (not too far from Wedmore).

Other possible examples could be the town of Ham near Plymouth, which the HAM lines from Maine are researching. (It would help if the HAM lines from Maine were participating in the DNA Project.)

Or possibility, since our Group #2 is matching Worchestershire, that puts them closest to the town called "Ham" (north of Bristol). Or, if our Group #4 is matching County Kent, there is a small town in County Kent called "Ham" near Sandwich (no pun intended).

You can check these maps out at Streetmap:

When we start getting participants in Britain, we should be getting some interesting information.

So, it is important to keep your Y-Search information up to date so that we have accurate information about our matches. Please enter your information on your oldest known ancestor correctly. In my case, that would be William HAM from Virginia, since any further ancestor has not yet been positively identified to date.
It was in May, 2008 that FTDNA changed the Haplotype Groupings:

This affected the following existing groups:

R1b1c became R1b1b2

I1a became I1

I1b became I

I1c became I2b

E3b1a became E1b1b1

Back then, I understood that FTDNA would be changing the Y-Search haplotype groups for us. But when I checked my Y-Search ID tonight, my haplotype group had been changed from "I1a" to "Unknown."

I had to manually set my haplotype group at the Y-Search database. So, I would guess everybody will need to check their haplotype group out there. This should help us to identify matches from other vendors as well.

UPDATE: The Y-Search site is no longer available.

- You can no longer edit or view your previous data.

and the "Haplogroup" is just below the area with the DYS values, under your "Last name"

If you have not yet submitted your information to Y-Search, then you can do that by visiting your personal web page at FTDNA.

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