Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Problem (Or How I Had To Start A Blog To Figure This Out)

For Christmas 2010, my wife gave me a DNA test through  She had gotten one for her father in the previous year, and I thought that it was about the coolest thing ever.  This particular test was for my Y chromosome, that's the one passed down from father to son, relatively unchanged, each generation.

In my family history, there is a man, Thomas Pittman, who is rather well documented, and participated in Bacon's Rebellion.  There are websites all over with people related to him, and their DNA.  I thought that it would be fun to see if I were really descended from him, or if somewhere along the line, I had either gotten the links wrong, or perhaps something more scandalous would come up and give me a good topic for conversations in the future.

My results came back incredibly quickly.  Apparently there wasn't a huge inrush of tests just after the Christmas season as I had feared.  (Aside:  Am I the only person that had this on my Christmas list?)  The results fascinated me.

There were 3 people with an MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor) number of 1.  That meant that every marker that we each had tested on our Y chromosomes (46 of them) were exactly the same.  There were 3 more people who had an MRCA number of 3, and they had no differing markers.  They simply did not pay to have more of their chromosome tested.

One of my exact matches even had a group started with several members.  I contacted the group to request membership, and thus my strange, and confusing journey began.

The group, it turned out, was dedicated to finding the paternal link of one Everett Pittman who moved from North Carolina to Mississippi around 1840.  My Y Chromosome was an exact match for these folks, but there was no Everett in my family tree.  To this day there is no link between him and my family tree, even though he lived in roughly the same places as my ancestors.  Apparently, he was a brother of one of my g(x) grandfathers, but exactly where, we can't say.

Through this group, I met my second cousin (once removed) Betsy, who introduced me to the mystery that she had been tracking down for a number of years.

It seems that there is no definitive link between the Jacob Pittman in my family tree and the Nathan Pittman that I had associated as his father.  In fact, there was compelling evidence that Nathan was not the paternal link in my family tree.

So now here I am, with DNA clearly tied to Thomas Pittman, and no clear way to link my family tree to his.  This blog will be a place to share the various theories, links, and questions related to finding this link.

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