More DNA More Questions

After the last DNA test, I decided to expand the scope of my test to include the Y chromosome. This can be used to trace deep paternal ancestry back many generations – in fact, it can even go back into pre-history. The Y chromosome is normally passed in it’s entirety from father to son with only an occasional rate of mutation. This means that on that one chromosome, all male descendants of a distant ancestor will have near identical Y chromosomes.

For example, the farthest back I’ve been able to trace the Phillips branch my tree is a man named Solomon Phillips who died in North Carolina in 1797. He might have been born in Virginia, but I have very few records and they all deal with North Carolina land sales and purchases, plus a court document for distribution of his estate since he died fairly young [47] without a will.

By submitting my Y-DNA to a “one name project” [usually an organization dedicated to tracing a single paternal name through DNA and genealogy] for “Phillips” I was able to confirm that Solomon is indeed my ancestor: 

There are only 3 testers in this family group 49: Me, a newly-discovered far distant cousin, and what appears to be one of my two male first cousins whom I’ve lost contact with. This test confirmed that both of these men and I are descended from Solomon – especially since the distant cousin was descended from a different son of Solomon than I was.

The interesting thing is that this distant cousin and I ONLY share DNA on the Y chromosome. No where else. But what we do share is only one tiny mutation off. That means in two different branches descended through 6 or 7 generations on a different fork, there has been only one minor transcription difference. That’s very close, and what they refer to as a genetic distance of “1”, which in the case of our shared ancestor, gives us a very strong statistical chance that this person is our common ancestor. Of course, with DNA, it’s all statistics and it could even mean that Solomon is NOT the common ancestor, but someone before him could be. However, based on our documentation, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

As for new questions, this raises more, such as “who was Solomon?”, “Where did he come from?” and many such. There are no records I can find before his move into North Carolina.

There are more questions, but I’m getting tired of typing now.