Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Passing of Di Ann Vick

Di Ann Vick, one of the leading researchers of Vick family history and long time member of the Board of Directors of the Joseph Vick Family of America died on December 13, 2009, at the age of 72. Di Ann was co-author of Joseph Vick of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight County, Virginia and His Descendants. Starting with the April 1993 issue of The Vick Family Newsletter she became its publisher. Then in July 1993 she became the co-editor of the newsletter. Finally, from January 1997 until May 2008, Di Ann was the editor of the newsletter. Di Ann was also the administrator of the Vick RootsWeb surname mail list since December 2002.

Her parents were Walter and Effie (Beckom) Vick. Di Ann was born on June 20, 1937, in Jefferson Co., TX, and she died in Philadelphia, PA. She was not married and has no descendants.

She will be missed greatly by those who are interested in Vick family history and the Joseph Vick Family of America.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Women Can Now Use Their DNA Test Results in Surname Projects

We have about 50 people who have been tested in our 23andMe VICK and Allied Families DNA Project, and 21 of them are women. Thirty-two of our project members are descendants of Joseph Vick of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight Co., VA. Of the 32, 14 are women.

Some of these women are finding matches with other descendants of Joseph Vick of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight Co., VA. The screenshot above shows a portion of Viola Potter’s 23andMe Relative Finder match list. Relative Finder predicted Viola Potter and Faye Paolino were 5th cousins with a range of 3rd to 8th cousin. Viola and Faye compared their pedigrees, and Vick is their only shared surname. They are 7th cousins one time removed, so the prediction is in the range.

We have just begun to collect results from project members, but Faye and Viola are not alone as other female project members are also reporting matches with other project members. Once we collect all the results, these women’s matches will be very helpful in our efforts to reconstruct our Vick family trees.

The Relative Finder Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) state that the odds of two people matching who are as distantly related as Viola and Faye are less than five percent. Fortunately, we have enough project members that we are finding matches even though the average project member is not closely related to the other project members. Of course, we are also benefiting from what we learn from matches with non-project members.

Getting all the data and analyzing it will be a lot of fun. Since new people are ordering 23andMe tests every day we will continue to get new results which help us learn even more about our Vick family history.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We Are Starting to Weave Together Our 23andMe Vick and Allied Families DNA Project Results with Results from Our Vick Y-DNA Surname Project

We have about 50 men and women who have tested at 23andMe through our Vick and Allied Families DNA Project. 23andMe tests single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from all 23 pairs of our chromosomes and our mitochondrial DNA. Twelve of the men in our 23andMe project are also members of our Vick Y-DNA Surname Project. The members of our Y-DNA surname project have had Y-DNA short tandem repeat (STR) tests. These Y-STR tests are the “gold standard” for those who want to explore just their patrilineal line (i.e. their father’s, father’s…line). Eleven of the men who are in both projects match the Y-DNA signature of Joseph Vick of Isle of Wight Co., VA. Joseph was born about 1640-1650. The twelfth may be descended from a Vick female.

To understand one-way we might use the 23andMe data in reconstructing our Vick family tree, a few of us have begun to share screenshots of our Relative Finder match lists and our Family Inheritance screens. Ralph Lewis Vick is one of the men who had both types of testing. Ralph’s Y-STR results matched the Y-STR signature of Joseph Vick of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight Co., VA.

Jesse Mayfield is Ralph’s second cousin. Their most recent common ancestors are Benjamin Henry Vick and his wife Mary Ann Elizabeth Turner. Jesse has also been Y-STR tested. However, since Jesse is not a patrilineal descendant of his Vick ancestor he cannot use his Y-STR results to support his VICK ancestry. His Y-DNA came from his father who is not a Vick descendant. Both Ralph and Jesse have been tested by 23andMe. Using their SNP results, 23andMe’s Relative Finder correctly predicted that Ralph and Jesse were second cousins.

Because of their match at 23andMe we have strong support that Jesse’s pedigree is correct and that he is also a descendant of Joseph Vick. Before 23andMe’s Relative Finder, Jesse could only ask his closest male VICK cousin to take a Y-STR test and then argue that his cousin’s results should also be extended to him. Now because of Relative Finder Jesse can show that his second cousin is his second cousin and that Jesse’s own DNA supports his Vick ancestry.

I love the way results from the two projects help us in our efforts to reconstruct our Vick family tree. I cannot wait to apply this technique to other non-patrilineal Vick close cousins of other men who have or will test in both projects.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

23andMe's Relative Finder Helps Us Find Interesting Things About Our Shared Ancestry

In our VICK and Allied Families DNA Project at 23andMe our DNA helps us learn about more than just our Vick ancestry. 23andMe offers us the opportunity to use a suite of tools to explore our connections to all our cousins that Relative Finder identifies in the 23andMe database (and that list is growing).

One of the tools is Ancestry Painting. Ancestry Painting shows us what percent of our DNA can be traced to three geographic origins: Europe, Asia, and Africa. For Americans, Asian may mean Native American, since Native Americans came to North America from Asia.

By looking at our Ancestry Paintings we learned my mother and my wife each have an African segment. My wife’s segment is on chromosome 6 while my mother’s segment is across the centromere on chromosome 12. The first screenshot above shows my wife’s African segment and the second one shows my mother’s African segment. At first I thought these segments were artifacts that perhaps only indicated the segments had not been found commonly in European populations.

Then 23andMe’s Relative Finder said my mother and my wife matched the same man. As the third screenshot shows, he had seven African stretches in his Ancestry Painting (about one percent African). Finding this match made me think my wife and my mother had a more recent common ancestor who probably had an African American ancestor. Since both my wife’s and my mother’s roots in America are deep, I thought there might be some shared ancestry from a slave. Unfortunately, I have not been able to talk to the man both my mother and wife match to find out what he knows about his ancestry.

In the early 1990’s I went with my mother to visit her mother’s cousin. My mother mentioned to him that I was collecting family history information on my father’s side, and the man said we had a very interesting family history on my mother’s side also. He could not read or write (although he ran a successful business), but from his sharp memory he told me what he knew about our ancestry. What he said about one line in particular stuck in my mind. It was his patrilineal line the GRAYs. He explained that the Grays were really Grahams and that my mother’s great grandfather, James T. Gray, changed the family surname when he relocated from Union Co., KY, to Hancock Co., KY (I have found records which verify his statement). In tracing the line he told me he had been able to learn that my mother’s second great grandfather Isaac Jasper Graham had married an Elizabeth Collins. He said she was from the Cumberland Gap, and he recalled Newman Ridge being mentioned in connection with her. That was as far back as he had been able to go with the line.

Last week, my mother, my daughter, and I all matched the same lady. This lady has about 35 African segments (about seven percent African ancestry) and about 21 “Asian” (likely American Indian) segments which is about two percent “Asian” ancestry (see the fourth screenshot).

I called our new match and she told me that her Collins line had intermarried with the Goins family, and that her grandfather said the Goins line was African American. Looking on sites with information about Melungeon ancestry, I see Collins, Graham, and Goins are all surnames found in Melungeon histories. I also learned that Newman Ridge is in Hancock Co., TN (not to be confused with Hancock Co., KY).

I do not think anyone in our families (on either side) would have believed we could have an African segment and no one would believe we could have Melungeon ancestry. I doubt anyone in our family would know what Melungeon is.

From talking to the woman I learned there are two possibilities for who our Elizabeth was. One of the Elizabeth’s would have been too young to be ours, so that leaves the second one. Thanks to 23andMe’s Relative Finder, with more research I should be able to document the source of my mother's African segment. We will have learned something new about our ancestry from our DNA.

Next, I have to figure out how my wife’s family ties in. Finding people who share a common ancestor with both my mother and my wife is very interesting. Knowing the common ancestry appears to be Melungeon ancestry will really generate some conversation at the next family reunion.

The 4th cousin of our match is awaiting her 23andMe results. I hope she matches at least one person in my family and the man my wife and mother match. It would be good to get another link. I suspect as the database grows at 23andMe, and especially if they provide project management tools, we will be able to answer many family history questions (and discover many new things about our shared ancestry).

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Vick Family History on CNN

On November 18, 2009, Bob Stubbs and I were interviewed by Deborah Feyerick of CNN for a segment on The Campbell Brown Show. The segment aired on December 2nd. While our interview dealt largely with how Bob and I used 23andMe’s Relative Finder to discover our common Young line, the interview does include a few comments I made on my Vick family history. You can see the whole segment by clicking here. The Spittoon has a link to just the interview here.

It was a real pleasure to meet Bob in person. Deborah Feyerick, Sheila Steffen (the producer) and Alfredo (the videographer) made it a very special family reunion. I we feel like our CNN friends are part of our family too. Finally, 23andMe continues to open many new windows into my family history, it is a great tool for genetic genealogy.