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, 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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