Saturday, August 29, 2009

Was My Second Great Grandmother a Full Blooded Cherokee?

Recently a cousin told me that her grandmother told her that our second great grandmother, Julia Ann SHERROD, was a full blooded Cherokee. One of the interesting tools that will be available in our new VICK DNA project is something called “Native American Ancestry Finder”. The tool “scans a person's Ancestry Painting for distinctive signatures that indicate a Native American ancestor up to five generations in the past. It also takes into account the maternal and, if available, paternal lines, looking for Native American ancestry at any depth along those two branches of the family tree.”

Since Julia was my great great grandmother (four generations back), she fits within the window for the test’s high confidence level. My results said “Recent Native American ancestry is unlikely.”

My Ancestry Painting (above) shows why my autosomal DNA rules out Native American ancestry in my preceding five generations along all of my lines. I have no traces of anything but recent European ancestry. Additionally, my maternal haplogroup (from my mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA) of H2a2b1” is inconsistent with Native American ancestry along the maternal (mother's mother's mother's ...) line.” Since my mtDNA came from my mother and not from Julia my mtDNA haplogroup could be different than Julia’s. Since sometimes family stories, while not completely accurate, contain an element of true. Could Julia’s mother have been a descendant of a Native American woman and a European man (meaning Julia was not full-bloodied American Indian)? A female cousin who is a matrilineal descendant of Julia had her mtDNA tested. She also is haplogroup H, so Julia’s mother’s line was not American Indian.

Since I am a male, the tool could also check my patrilineal line. Again, my Y-DNA haplogroup of Q1a3* “is inconsistent with Native American ancestry along the paternal (father's father's father's ...) line.” Maybe I will be able to find a patrilineal descendant of Julia’s father who will test his Y-DNA just to see what his Y-DNA haplogroup is. By weaving the results of DNA testing of cousins in different lines together, I can learn a lot about my family’s history.

I have also been told by another cousin that my ancestor Stephen5 (Jacob4, Isaac3, William2, Joseph1) had American Indian ancestry. The extent of the ancestry was uncertain, but since the Native American Ancestry Finder found no evidence of an American Indian in my genetic make-up, I have to assume that if the story was true (and I have no evidence that it is), it would have had to have been a more distant ancestor than Stephen5.

Our new VICK DNA project will have many other features that our current VICK Y-DNA Surname Project does not have. I can’t wait to see what we will learn with these new tools.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A New VICK DNA Project

Until now we have limited our common VICK DNA research to a VICK Y-DNA project. Y-DNA is only one type of DNA, but it is the most effective for genealogical research. Only men have Y-DNA, so only men have been able to participate directly (women can recruit a male VICK close relative to test for them). Because men inherit Y-DNA from their fathers, only men who have an unbroken male VICK line can test their Y-DNA for VICK ancestry.

We now have the opportunity to expand our project beyond Y-DNA. The expansion will allow us to include women and those men who have a female VICK in their line to their last male VICK ancestor.

Like with computers, the power of DNA testing has increased dramatically while the price has fallen dramatically. We are now able to expand our project because testing that looks at all of the chromosomes has become cheap enough that a large enough portion of our DNA can be tested to find what are called Half Identical Regions (HIRs). While these HIRs (shown in light blue in the graphic on the left) are not as useful for genealogy as the results from Y-DNA testing, they offer at least the possibility of finding matches with people who share a recent common ancestor (that is within a few generations). These HIRs can help us find our VICK (and other) cousins.

We are each about half identical to our parents. So if we look at our chromosomes, we will see that our chromosomes are about half identical to each parent. The screenshot on the left above is a comparison of my 23 pairs of chromosomes to my mother’s.

To make this comparison my mother and I both had to be tested. I am fortunate that my mother is still living and was willing to be tested. Unfortunately, my father isn’t living, so that opportunity is lost. When you look at the screen shot you can see that all of my chromosomes are colored a light blue (with the exception of the Y chromosome and those areas shaded in grey because they weren’t tested). Since my mother is a woman she doesn’t have a Y chromosome for comparison.

The screen shot on the right above is a comparison of my son’s 23 pairs of chromosomes to my mother’s. As you can see he is about a quarter identical to her (which makes sense since he got about half of his DNA from me, and about half of my DNA came from my mother). Since my son got his X chromosome from his mother, his X chromosome won’t be half identical to my mother’s.

My son’s comparison to my mother illustrates that as DNA is passed down it isn’t shuffled like a deck of cards. There are whole blocks of DNA that stay together to form these HIRs. In fact, HIRs can stay together for several generations. Looking at the members of our VICK Y-DNA project, I would expect that Austin Lafayette VICK and John Edward VICK would have some HIRs because they are third cousins. I haven’t studied their pedigrees, but I suspect their most recent common ancestors in any of their lines are Richard5 (Giles4, William3, Richard2, Joseph1) and his wife Mary [ ]. If I am correct about their most recent common ancestors, then any shared HIRs would most likely have been passed to John Edward and Austin Lafayette from Richard5 and Mary [ ].

By comparing Austin Lafayette and John Edward with another closely related VICK who doesn’t share Richard5 and Mary as ancestors, we could then see if the three compared had HIRs. If they did, then their most recent common ancestor would be the most likely source.

Finding these HIRs could be helpful in identifying female and non-surnamed VICK male cousins. For those who don’t have Joseph1’s Y-DNA (or the most distant known VICK ancestor for the other clans) finding HIRs could help to show the likelihood of VICK ancestry and where to focus further research. In our expanded project, we would start building a web of HIRs. These HIRs could also be used in other projects that are based upon other non-VICK lines.

For those interested in deep ancestry, 23andMe provides men with their Y-DNA haplogroup, and both men and women get their mitochondrial (mtDNA) haplogroup. Beyond the ancestry features of 23andMe, there is also information on health and traits. You can see what 23andMe has to offer by going to 23andMe and setting up a free demo account. There is even sample data for the fictional Mendel family that you can use to see how 23andMe works.

I am looking forward to seeing where our expanded project takes us and to seeing what we can learn.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Making VICK Research Faster

In an earlier blog I mentioned that I was preparing a place name index for Joseph Vick of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight County, Virginia and His Descendants by John D. BEATTY and Di Ann VICK. Part I of the index (which is almost all of it) is in the July 2009 The Vick Family Newsletter. Part II (the rest) will be in the October 2009 issue.

While I was working on the place name index for the book, Pam VICK, John Edward VICK and John’s wife Alta were assembling a single index of all the people’s names in all of the volumes of The Vick Family Newsletter. What a time saver that index will be. No more looking through every one of the 20 finished volumes to find whether someone is mentioned in any issue of the newsletter. Because an index was never published for volume XVII, John and Alta took that task on also and created one.

Now that I have some free time, I have turned my attention to creating a place name index for all the newsletters. When we are all finished we will be able to cross-reference people to locations in both the book and the newsletter. Soon finding the names of VICKs mentioned in Nash County, North Carolina (or any other location) in either the book or newsletter will be a lot easier.

I wonder what other tools VICK researchers are working on for any VICK clan anywhere in the world. Surely others are also hard at work figuring out how to find information about VICKs more easily.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Solving Puzzles and Meeting Fellow Researchers

Back in 1991 when I first became interested in my VICK family’s history, John BEATTY was working on a book that would cover the first five generations of the Joseph VICK family. Since my ancestor Stephen5 was in the generation where John (and Di Ann VICK who later joined John as co-author) planned to end volume, I thought if John ever published a second volume it might be helpful if I documented all of Stephen’s descendants. So I set about to do that starting with those in Muhlenberg Co. It was when I poured through the census records that I discovered there were VICKs in the county censuses that I could not place in a tree of Stephen’s descendants.

My ancestor Stephen5 (Jacob4, Isaac3, William2, Joseph1) is on the 1816 tax list of Muhlenberg Co. (although he and his probable brother Isaiah5 may have been there earlier since Stephen last appears on the Madison Co., KY tax list for 1814). As I moved through the Muhlenberg Co. census records from 1820 to 1880, I was able to place all of the VICKs I found in a tree of Stephen’s descendants (Isaiah left Muhlenberg Co. for greener pastures without leaving any descendants in the county although he did leave his wife behind). Then on the 1880 census I found a William Robert VICK that I could not place. I learned he was William Robert6 (Josiah5, ?Robert4, Nathan3, Robert2, Joseph1). He is on the 1870 U.S. Census of Logan Co., KY, so he arrived sometime after he was counted in Logan Co. on 19 Jul 1870.

As I continued through the census records I found other VICKs that did not fit in Stephen’s tree, and I entered them in my notes as likely descendants of William Robert. In 1880 all of William Robert’s surviving children lived with him, so it was easy to account for everyone. As I recorded the VICKs in the 1900 census the task got a little more complex (especially since there is no surviving census for 1890). A lot of things happen in 20 years. Nonetheless, I knew I could easily identify Stephen’s descendants, so I figured the other VICKs were descendants of William Robert.

Simply recording names and dates with the little information in census records does not make for an interesting family history. To learn more about my VICKs in Muhlenberg Co., I subscribed to The Leader-News, the local newspaper. As I found stories or pictures of Stephen’s descendants I recorded them in my notes. Sometimes it was hard to figure out from the names in the articles, though, if the person discussed was a descendant of Stephen5 or William Robert6. The task seemed to get even harder over time. So, I started building a tree for the William Robert6 line to keep things straight.

A few weeks ago there was an obituary in The Leader-News that mentioned a Joe VICK. I knew this Joe was not a descendant of Stephen5, so I looked at my notes for William Robert6’s descendants. I discovered I could not place the Joe mentioned in the William Robert6 line. I was puzzled. I wondered if I could have made an incorrect assumption so many years ago that all the VICKs in Muhlenberg Co., who were not descendants of Stephen5 were descendants of William Robert6.

As I searched the records I came to realize that there was, in fact, another line of VICKs in Muhlenberg Co. that I had not noticed. It seemed so unlikely that there could be two lines of VICKs in a small county. How could there be three? VICK is not an unheard of surname (my Google search finds lots of stories on THE Michael VICK everyday), but VICKs (counting all the other VICK clans besides Joseph1’s family) only account for about .007 percent of the U.S. population. As I poured through the records, what it appears happened was that Joseph Sire Jackson7 VICK, probably the son of a first cousin of William Robert6 (there are so many unproven lines from Robert2), moved to Muhlenberg Co. around 1897. Since Joseph Sire Jackson7 lived near the descendants of William Robert6, I missed this new arrival.

In the process of trying to trace Joseph Sire Jackson7’s ancestry and his descendants, I have already made new contacts, and traded e-mails with other researchers and a family member of this line. Beyond finding all of the puzzle pieces and putting them together, meeting new people is one of the things that makes family history so interesting. If you are researching VICK family history, I hope you will contact me. If you are researching the Joseph Sire Jackson7 VICK line, I would especially like to compare notes.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Civil War Letter from Col. Sebastian C. Vick

I love to read old documents (although I have trouble understanding some of the older writing styles). My uncle Robert E. Vick, Sr., sent me copies of some old Civil War letters written by my second great grand uncle, Sebastian C. Vick. The copies are a little hard to read, but my sister-in-law, Gayle Moore Vick, transcribed them for me. The letter below (with an enclosed statement) shows that being a colonel in the Kentucky Union militia was not without its frustrations. The letter was to Major General Daniel Weisiger Lindsey. According to the online biography of General Lindsey at the National Guard History Museum he “served as a key leader of Union forces in Kentucky in the Civil War and was named Adjutant General in the summer of 1864 by Governor Thomas E. Bramlette, serving in that position until the fall of 1867.”

Headquarters, 71st Regt. Em.
Greenville, Ky. Decem 5 1864
Major Gen.
D.W. Lindsey
Frankfort Ky

I Have the Honor to
forward a communication
To your address
General with High Regard to
Your Honor, I aske you
To do me & your country
The favour to Revoke my
commission as col of the
71st Regt of EM. and
appoint Some other man
whoo will Be more able
to do Justice to the caus of
our common country than
I am able to do as my
meanes ar So Exhausted that
I cant no Longer ? ?
This country
? company of State
Guards comanded By capt
James S. Lewis
I with Regret Say to you
that It is mortifying to
me to know that you Have
to Be continualy anoyed
By the Rebells of this
country whoo are continualy
Sending unfounded and
unjust Reportes to you
against me, and am Left
defenceless By your Refusing
to give me the names of
thoes foul conspirators against me and
their countrys Honor
Had I the Rigt to defend myself
I would proove to you and the
world at Large that I am
unjustly and dishonorably
assaild By the Rebells and
guirillar Sympathisers of
this country
whoos Sole object Is to
wield an Influence with
you to disband, or, disorganize
the men that I have
organized By your order
When we ar disbanded
this country Is Left to the
Ravages of those deamons
that Have So long
devastated our country
With High Respect
I am your most
obedt Servt
Sebastian C. Vick, Col. ?

State Militia
Greenville, Muhlenberg Co. Ky
December 1st 1864
Eaves Charles ?
Says Col Vick has 21 of the
best horses in Greenville
and has killed eleven
peaceable citizens. He also
Killed three woman last
week, one of whom he
saw buried. He
has also issued a proclama-
tion requiring citizens to
bring him a horse or he
will compel them to
leave the State, he has
tried too to hinder the
navigation of Green River
has taken four Steamboats
and tore up a dam on
the river
See Special ?
No 86 Extract
? ? ?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Joseph Vick Family of America Association Is Vibrant Again

Not long ago the Joseph Vick Family of America association seemed to be near collapse. Paid membership had dropped to a handful. It was apparent the association needed to do a better job of communicating with its members.

Today, the future is much brighter. Information is flowing again to the JVFOA membership. The association held a very successful reunion in Vicksburg, MS, in July (thanks to Lori Vick Millsap and Gailen Vick), and decisions made at the general meeting and at the board meeting the next morning put the association on a very positive track.

Since the reunion Shad Vick has relaunched the association’s website. His great work (done gratis for JVFOA) has made it possible to do an even better job of communicating with JVFOA’s members. Shad’s dad, Gailen Vick, has been loading a lot of material to the site under the following topics:

Become a Member
Family Newsletter

Vick Reunions
Annual Meeting Minutes
Board of Directors

Shad and Gailen have plans to make even more improvements. Eventually JVFOA members will be able to access newsletters on the site as well as review their membership and pay their dues.

I am glad to see JVFOA turned things around before it was too late.