Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: mtDNA

Three Generations of Arnold, Gregg, and Johnson Women

Three Gen­er­a­tions of Women

(Clock­wise, from top left:
my grand­mother
Helen Kjer­s­tine John­son, her sis­ter
Bethene Blanche John­son,
their mother, Alice Mar­garet Gregg,
her mother, Helen Edwina Arnold)

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings has posted his ideas for Sat­ur­day night geneal­ogy fun. I’m game!

Randy asks us to think about and respond to the following:

1. List your matri­lin­eal line — your mother, her mother, etc. back to the first iden­ti­fi­able mother. Note: this line is how your mito­chon­dr­ial DNA was passed to you!

2. Tell us if you have had your mito­chon­dr­ial DNA tested, and if so, which Hap­logroup you are in.

3. Post your responses on your own blog post, in Com­ments to this blog post, or in a Note or sta­tus line on Facebook.”

Here’s my matri­lin­eal line:

a. Jor­dan D. Jones
b. Alice May Hill (liv­ing) m. Carl Lawrence Jones
c. Helen Kjer­s­tine John­son (1894, Ord, Val­ley Co., NE — 1976, Simi Val­ley, Ven­tura Co., CA) m. Ernest Melvin Hill
d. Alice Mar­garet Gregg (1870, East Nod­away, Adams Co., IA — 1919, Ord, Val­ley Co., NE) m. Nels “E” John­son
e. Helen Edwina Arnold (1847, Wheel­ing, Ohio Co., VA — 1922, Des Moines Co., IA)
f. Esther Ward (circa 1821, prob­a­bly near Ohio Co., VA — unknown) m. Paul Arnold
g. [Prob­a­bly Sarah LNU [pos­si­bly Swan] (circa 1796, PA — 1863) m. Joseph Ward]
h. [Unknown, but pos­si­bly Eliz­a­beth Bowen (1773, Muddy Creek, Greene Co., PA — 1823, Grave Creek, Mar­shall Co., VA) m. Henry B. Swan]
i. [Unknown, but pos­si­bly Nancy Agnes Crea (1750, Muddy Creek, Greene Co., PA — 1791, Dunkard, Greene Co., PA) m. Thomas Bowen]

What’s excit­ing about this is that look­ing at my mater­nal line again, I picked up the trail of my 3rd great grand­mother, Esther Ward.

I had not been search­ing widely enough for her. Her hus­band Paul Ward appears in the 1850 Mar­shall County, Vir­ginia Mor­tal­ity Sched­ule, and I had not been able to find her in the cen­sus for Mar­shall County, Vir­ginia, where Paul was listed. She didn’t appear in Vir­ginia at all, in fact, or in other nearby states.

I didn’t find her in Vir­ginia or other local states because she had moved to Danville, Iowa, and she was incor­rectly indexed (as “Hes­ter Ansell”).

But tonight, I found her in the 1850 Cen­sus in Danville Town­ship, Des Moines Co., Iowa, with what I strongly believe are her par­ents, as well as her chil­dren Eliz­a­beth, Rollin, Joseph, Helen, and Paul. (I had known about Rollin, Helen, and Paul, and their ages are all on tar­get.) On Ancestry.com, this is linked with the extra infor­ma­tion, though none of has any sources cited, so it is all con­jec­tural at this point, but some­thing to start with, if only to rule it out when the doc­u­ments come in.)

All of this led to find­ing Sarah and her hus­band Joseph Ward in the tran­scrip­tion of the Blake­way Ceme­tery, Danville Town­ship, Des Moines County, Iowa on the US Gen Web site for Des Moines County, Iowa.

So, it’s been an inter­est­ing night! But back to Randy’s other question.

2. Yes, I have had my mito­chon­dr­ial DNA done.

I’m in the H hap­logroup, along with “about 30% of all mito­chon­dr­ial lin­eages in Europe [today]”, accord­ing to Charles Kerchner’s MtDNA Hap­logroup Descrip­tions & Infor­ma­tion Links. I have had some close matches, but noth­ing that made any genealog­i­cal sense. This is mainly because the gran­u­lar­ity of MtDNA hap­logroups is such that you can only see deep ances­try, long before genealog­i­cal records or even most of what we think of as our national origins.

Now, if you hap­pened to he in the H2a5 sub­clade of the H hap­logroup, you would know that your fam­ily prob­a­bly “orig­i­nated” in the Basque region of what is now Spain.

Of course, we all know that our ori­gins lie in Africa, even if we have the admix­ture, I recently men­tioned here, with Homo sapi­ens nean­derthalen­sis, the Nean­derthals… who prob­a­bly also came from Africa.

Even stat­ing all that, though, I still find mtDNA inter­est­ing, as one finds out facts such as that the H hap­logroup is promi­nent in Europe, but also by the Caspian Sea. We think of migra­tions in terms of our recent his­tory, but human migra­tion is a much longer trend, from Africa to the Caspian to Europe to Amer­ica: we just keep moving.

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