Rodger asked:

Sorry Kelly but I don’t follow you. Most of this DNA information reminds me of the matrix. Strings of numbers without any apparent meaning or order.

How do you know there is a match and what are you looking at/for?

Good questions. Lets review some basics of Y-DNA. There are two kinds of  Y-DNA MARKERS we look at. The Y-STRS and Y-SNPS.

Y-STRS= Y chromosome Single Tandem Repeats. These basically count the number of times a sequence of DNA is repeated as in ATGC repeated twelve times would give the marker a value or allele of 12. Each marker has a name as in the first FTDNA marker reported is DYS393. On the screen shot of our project below Group A has a value of 13 at DYS393. (Meaning the sequence was repeated 13 times) Groups A, C and D all share a value of 13 at this marker, however Group B has 14 (they got an extra repeat). There are approximately 400-500 Y-STRS that might eventually prove useful, however only 111 are currently available through FTDNA (The most in the industry). Y-STRS are what we use to match men to a common ancestor in a genealogical time frame. These changes don’t happen often but they do happen. In general we need to look at anywhere from 37 to 67 markers to see if two men are related. The more markers that match the higher the likelihood they are related. The more common a set of values is the more markers that are needed to make an accurate match. With the Wheaton Group B they have many unusual values at given markers so we can basically know someone is related if they match the first 5. This is highly unusual. In group D there are so many men with similar values they have a name for them which is the North Atlantic Modal Haplotype or NAMH for short.

Y-SNPS= Y chromosome Single Nucleotide Polymorphism. These report mutations or change in your DNA sequence at a specific location known as a locus. So in this case we have mutations that happened once in the history of mankind for each Y-SNP and all men bearing that mutation are distantly related. If we started with the proverbial “ADAM” the first mutation in Y-SNPs happened maybe 60,000 years ago and the tree became Haplogroups A and B. Each time a mutation happens it separates the tree into finer and finer branches. By following the tree we can trace any man from Adam to the most recent or “terminal SNP.” A terminal SNP is just the furthest down the tree branch we get a positive result. If we look at Group B below there Haplogroup is listed as R1b1a2a1a1b3c. However as new SNPs are discovered reading that jumble of letters gets harder and harder so it is easier to identify them by their terminal SNP “L2.” Group D is R1b1a2a1a1a4 or terminal SNP “L48.” You can see that the first part of the R1b….. is shared meaning that back 5,000 +/- years ago they shared a common ancestor. See the Chart on my Post on Wheaton Relationship A-D. Y-SNPs are what we use to match men to a common ancestor in ancient Haplogroups and where we chart where they came from. The hope is that as new SNPs are discovered like in a Walk Through the Y we will eventually bridge the gap between genealogical time and ancient time. There are about 60 Million Y base pairs where we might hope to find between 10-50 Thousand useful Y-SNPs. The new GENOGRAPHIC 2.0 will test 12,000 Y-SNPs of which only about 1 Thousand have been previously available. The old WALK THROUGH THE Y looked at about 400 thousands looking for NEW SNP mutations. The New WALK THROUGH THE Y will look at nearly 800,00 base pairs looking to find new SNPs. These SNPs if found can help define the Wheaton Group B and if shared by other L2’s further refine the Y Haplotree.

Okay now that I have your heads spinning lets look at a screenshot from our FTDNA page:

So looking at this screen shot we have a column across the top which is the Haplogroup which refers to the Y-SNPs we have just discussed. Those listed in Green have been tested those in Red are predicted. Those tested early on in a project will often have shorter predictions. Once a couple of matching folks have tested, FTDNA can make more refined predictions with higher confidence.

The next column is DYS393, then DYS390 and so forth. These are the Y-STR markers listed by name. The numbers in each row refer to the values or alleles that each man had at each Y-STR marker. I have clustered these into Group A, B, C and so on based on shared values or signatures. Even though the values look very similar at first glance the more markers you look at the more you can see differences. For each Group the MINimum, MAXimum and MODE or average is shown. So within a project I am looking for patterns and high levels of matching as in 24 out of 25 markers or 64 out of 67 markers. Some markers mutate faster than others. The fastest mutating markers are shown in Burgundy rather than deep Blue. All these things go into analyzing the match.
Now here’s what you can do (and I also do on your behalf). You can go to your own FTDNA HOMEPAGE and click on Y-DNA Matches. If you are in Group D and you set the threshold at 12 marker matches you are going to get pages and pages of matches because you have a very common set of markers known as the WAMH. However if you are Wheaton Group B you have very unusual values and you are ONLY going to have a few matches even at 67  markers and those are all a part of our project. You may want to sort at various thresholds and you may want to screen by name or part of name such as “Wh.”

Group C has a very interesting situation in that your closest matches also include a “group” of men surnamed DEAN. To THICKEN the PLOT these men with the surname DEAN are very close matches and they come from the same area in the borderlands between DEVON and SOMERSET in England. And in fact they lived in the same towns, specifically Chard and Chardstock during the 1500’s and 1600’s. We have the same situation with Wheaton Group B and WHEATONs and HANCOCKs. In neither case can I say which came first but I can tell you they have a common ancestor in Genealogical time (within the past 500-600 years). In each of these two cases the immigrant bearing the name came to America in the 1600’s so any NPE or name adoption needed to happen before the immigration. So which came first? There are several ways to approach this. One is to look for strong paper evidence for line of descent and the second is  to do broad sampling of DNA of men still living in the area bearing those surnames. Sheer numbers do not infer who comes first. Meticulous reconstruction of DNA trees and Paper trees may provide the answers. We get pretty attached to our names so people get understandably upset by the notion they may have been of a different surname at one time or another. First of all our DNA doesn’t give a hoot what we want. Second it doesn’t care what name we put on it. DNA is only going to tell you the TRUTH so if you don’t want to know then don’t do a DNA test ;-).

Another thing to do is click on your Haplotree and then click on the arrow this will give you an idea of where you are on the Y-Haplotree as defined by the Y-SNP markers I have discussed before.


Mary Margaret Wheaton Bruner

ImageMy great great great grandmother – Mary Margaret Wheaton Bruner 1823 – 1913.  Daughter of Francis Wheaton and Mary Buckingham Wheaton.  Free African Americans and land owners in the early 1800s in Frederick, Maryland.

DNA News Updates

Walk Through the Y Group B

Just wanted you to know I filed the application today and the Kit is in Jerry’s hands. Once approved I will let you all know. I requested that should our project reach the top of the queue before the new Plate 3 is available that our project be held until the new ones are in use. This will increase the coverage significantly. More information on the Walk through the Y is available here.

Genographic 2.0 Link

This is a link to the U152 Project (Group B) results page for the Genographic project. Adam is the member of Group B listed there. This is where they will track new SNPs that in Combination with the Walk Through the Y hopefully will bring us closer to identifying our Group B origins. I checked on the U106 and L48 (Group C ) Scott “Rodger” is our representative for Group C. I have guessed that Group A and D are L21 but no one has ordered a test from these group.

Upcoming Results

On order or in process:

Ralph (Bonnie)- Refinement

Robert N.- New

Charles A -New

Jerry- Walk Through the Y

Rodger- Genographic 2.0

Adam- Genographic 2.0

Thanks to all for the continued support.



Surnames, DNA and Family History

Book Recommendation

If you would like to learn more about British surnames and their linguistic, historical and DNA significance I recommend reading Surnames, DNA, and Family History by George Redmonds, Turi King, and David Hey. Oxford University Press 2011.  It is not a book about specific surnames, although it mentions many but it is about determining the origins of surnames and how that ties in with Family DNA Studies. Sure wish this was available long ago and it is interesting that I have followed much of the same advice and found the same conclusions as the authors in our project. From page 5 of the Introduction:

Every family name, however common, had a single progenitor and every effort must be made to identify him and his immediate descendants if we are to understand how a name arose and perhaps evolved into something different. A multi-disciplinary approach is necessary for a proper understanding.

Robert Wheaton’s Lands in Rehoboth (Group B)

For those of you descended from Robert Wheaton b. 1606 of Rehoboth, a couple of photos from last Fall’s trip to Rehoboth. Besides Robert’s town lot located in the present town of Rumford, Rhode Island was what came to be known as the Wheaton Farm and is located on the present day Wheaton Ave in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. First is a look East out across the fields—-(looking not to different from Devon). Second is the current day farm that resides on the site of perhaps the original building. I have been told by the neighbor across the road that this was used as a stop on the underground railroad. This property passed out of Wheaton hands in 1798.



Mystery Solved!

Many years ago Jean was told about a hamlet of Upper and Lower Wheaton located somewhere in Devon. All attempts to find such a place have come up empty until now. Susan has solved the mystery. All current maps show this place as Whiddon. Yet again pointing out the difficulty of depending on spelling. Thank you Susan!

In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Northlew like this:

LEW (NORTH), a village and a parish in Okehampton district, Devon. The village stands on an eminence near a head-stream of the river Torridge, 7 miles NW of Okehampton r. station; is a large place, with an ancient cross in its centre; commands an extensive view; and has a post office under Exbourne, North Devon, and a cattle fair on the third Wednesday of April. The parish contains also the hamlet of Wheaton, and comprises 7,247 acres. Real property, £3,611. Pop. in 1851, 1,047; in 1861,930. …

Lower Whiddon

© Copyright Derek Harper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Group D member says hello

Have just enrolled. Susan Lofthouse, Group D.

Wheaton Relationship of Groups A-D

Wheaton Relationship of Groups A-D

This chart shows the Haplogroup R1b1a mother of each of the Wheaton A-D subgroups. The Origins and approximate date each of the mutation (such as in M269) are shown. This is a visual to help explain that back 7,500 years ago we share a common ancestor. The groups split about 3,000 years ago into Groups A, B & D on one side and C on the other. Each time a mutation happens all the men descended from the man with that mutation will pass it to their sons. We all split from Haplogroup I1b (Group E) much further back in time. The Walk Through the Y is designed to identify further mutations and eventually connect to a genealogical time frame.

Why the ‘Y”? Why Wheaton?


Brief recap on our inherited DNA.

  • 22 pairs of autosomes (atDNA)
  • 1 pair of sex chromosomes XX (Female) XY (Male)
  • Mitrochondrial DNA (mtDNA) everyone inherits from their mothers

Of these the only ones to be inherited without recombination (that is half from your mother and half from your father) are the “Y” and the mtDNA. The Y is your strictly paternal line which is passed relatively unchanged for centuries (aside from those helpful mutations) and mtDNA strictly your mother’s mother’s line. The mtDNA is harder to trace because it does not pass along a surname attached to it. Your mother may be a Wheaton but her mother was a Jones, and her grandmother was a Smith. Also mtDNA is inherited by both men and women and has about 16,000 Base pairs. Y on the other hand has roughly 60,000 base pairs. TRANSLATION: Because the Y has more variation overall but passes intact with a name attached to it is the easiest to follow.


  • I married one
  • I started genealogy by researching his line
  • I found out I am also a Wheaton (Robert b.1606 is my 10th great-grandfather)
  • I hit a brick wall and wouldn’t give up
  • It has a long history

I do research all parts of my tree but you can’t do your genealogy justice in all areas. There are two places that by virtue of the fact I (not my husband) have over a dozen families from each location. So I have concentrated on REHOBOTH, MASSACHUSETTS and DEVON, ENGLAND. They could just as well have been anyplace else save for the fact that I have the largest concentration of relatives (save for my Swedish ones with a nod to John) in Rehoboth and Devon.

About that nudge

When Kelly asked if we should move over to a blog format, my immediate thought was WordPress. I’ve used WP for the past 6 years for my own blog (which is here, if you want to visit) and appreciate the ease with which one can maintain a website without a lot of fussy settings. Mine is a standalone, not part of WordPress,com, and it’s still been easy to use.

This project has been great! Knowing that I am connected to Devon somehow adds another piece to the jigsaw of my genealogy. Three of my grandparents were Swedes, and I’ve been able to locate their families’ places of origin there, but the Wheaton side was the big mystery. The paper trail ended in Cape May County, New Jersey. I may not have the names of the ancestors between New Jersey and Devon, but now I have the location. Best I can hope for right now.

If y’all have time, we can blog about our family research endeavors. (I lived in Kentucky for 30 years, so that’s where the y’all comes from.) Hope everyone takes a turn posting here.