Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Vick Genetics Project in 1827 – Vick’s 100 Cotton Seed

As I was indexing volume XIII of the Vick Family Newsletter tonight I came across a story about Henry William Vick. It turns out Colonel Henry may have organized our family’s first genetics project. The newsletter article was based upon information in Nitta Yuma King Cotton. The article says the following on page 15:

‘it was in the year 1827 or 8…my brother Gray Vick and myself then planting
together at the prairie near Manchester (Yazoo City) on the Yazoo River, known
among the Choctaw Indians as Nitta Yuma…procured from Thomas Vaughn of Petit
Gulf Hills some of his ‘Little Brown’ Mexican cotton seed, which were considered
at least equal to or superior to any of that celebrated

On establishing myself, in 1831,…on [land] on which my brother Willie B. Vick
had for many years resided and planted previous to his death (1817 to 18300 I
ordered from Thomas Vaughn 100 bushels of seed for which I paid him seventy-five
dollars, and continued the order for the same quantity, at the same price, for
five years.’

(The third year, Mr. Vaughn supplied Henry William with 100 bushels of what he
considered his best yield. The seed he supplied the two following years
was not comparable, so H.W. decided to improve the seed he had.)
‘…it was not until the month of March of this present year, 1844, that I made discovery of the fact that my former method, the one usually practiced by planters in the Petit Gulf Hills of selecting from the bank of seed those of a certain color,
coat and size, would not and could not carry the improvement of any considerable
degree of perfection.

The discovery I allude to was made this way. In the month of
September and October last year, having no answer, and being perpetually with
the hands while picking, I was in the habit of looking, examining ahead for the
best stalks, bolls and cotton, and upon meeting with a very superior stalk, of
picking the cotton and keeping it to self, and upon returning to the house
putting the separate parcels in paper to themselves. In the month of
March, preparatory to planting, I picked with my own hands the various lots…and
was surprised to find…they exhibited 2 find distinct varieties of seed and
consequently of cotton…

On the 4th of April, I planted the various lots of seed picked by me by hand,
and the wagon having passed frequently unknown to the driver over my favorite
lot – which in consequence of the 10 or 12 locks having furnished precisely 100
seed – I call my strain the 100 seed variety.’

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Digging Deep into My Roots

23andMe’s Relative Finder predicts Yvonne STEWART is my “Distant Cousin.” That means she would be greater than a 10th cousin. Up to “Distant Cousin” Relative Finder assigns a range around its prediction. For example the prediction might be 4th cousin with a range of 3rd to 6th cousin. Yvonne and I have one matching segment of DNA on one chromosome comprising just .07 percent of our total DNA. That is the only segment we both have from our shared ancestor that is at least five centimorgan’s long (the minimum threshold for Relative Finder to call a match).

When Yvonne and I first looked to see if we could find a shared ancestor in our pedigrees, I couldn’t find one. She later pointed out to me that I was mistakenly looking in my mother’s line when our match was in my father’s line (Yvonne did not match my mother). If Yvonne and I were 11th cousins we would have to share a 10th great grandparent. If I didn’t have the same person in more than one of my lines, I would have 4,096 10th great grandparents. I know I don’t have 4,096 unique 10th great grandparents, because my parents are 4th cousins, one time removed. I expect my parents' lines merge at other places in our family tree also. Nonetheless, there are a lot of possibilities at the 10th great grandparent level, and I do not know the names of many of my 10th great grandparents. In fact, my pedigree chart has many blank boxes after my 2nd great grandparents, so I doubt I will be able to find a shared ancestor with many “Distant Cousins.” Any shared ancestor with an 11th cousin I do find may not be the ancestor from whom I have inherited the segment. However, I expect to have a lot of fun looking (and I also expect to learn a lot in the process).

A couple of weeks ago I contacted another of my Relative Finder matches. In that case Relative Finder predicted we were 5th cousins (with a range of 3rd to 10th). I sent her a link to my pedigree, and she recognized the WYATT surname as being one in her pedigree. She told me Mary Ann WYATT, born in Rowan County, North Carolina in 1839, was her ancestor. I went to and found a family tree that showed her Mary Ann’s WYATT line was Noah (1805-1871), Thomas (1773-1846), John (1743-1815), John (1714-1776), John (1679-1738). This last John married Rachel CALLOWAY (1675-1719) on November 17, 1696, in Albemarle Precinct, Perquimans County, North Carolina. John and Rachel are my 7th great grandparents, so the lady I matched is my 8th cousin. If the shared segment passed down both lines it came from either John or Rachel. I chart all my matches. I will be watching for another person who shares that segment with me. Perhaps I can then figure out whether the segment came through the WYATT line or the CALLOWAY line.

I mention this WYATT/CALLOWAY line because Yvonne and I then found we share a WYATT ancestor, the Reverend Haute WYATT (1594-1638). He was the brother of Sir Francis WYATT. Francis WYATT was the first colonial governor of Virginia. Fortunately, both are well-documented. As it turns out, the Reverend WYATT is my 10th great grandfather, and he is also Yvonne’s 10th great grandfather. So, Yvonne and I are 11th cousins. She is descended from Reverend WYATT’s first wife, and I am descended from his second wife. That means if we did inherit our shared DNA from this line, it had to be from Reverend WYATT.

If nothing else, Relative Finder is causing me to get to know my WYATT line a lot better. It is also causing me to extend every line I can in my pedigree to try to find why I match the people I do at 23andMe. I am learning a lot about my family history as I extend those lines (and I am having a lot of fun while doing it). I am also meeting some very nice new cousins.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Progress in Indexing Place Names in the "Vick Family Newsletter"

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I have been indexing the place names in the Vick Family Newsletter. All of the volumes (except one) have name indexes of the people, so a place name index would allow us to cross-reference people to places (or places to people). Eventually I hope to put all of the index references (people and places, newsletters and book) in Microsoft Access to make the cross-referencing much more efficient.

So far I have indexed the first ten volumes. Having one index of all the volumes would be ideal, but I am going to have to do it in two parts if I am also going to start publishing the index in the newsletter this year. Part I will be an index through volume XV. As it turns out the Joseph Vick Family of America sold soft copies of volumes I through XV bound in two parts. So, an index of those volumes would be particularly handy for anyone who has the bound copies. Part II will then complete the newsletter volumes. After I finish part II, I will merge the two parts into one index which can then be placed on a CD with all of the newsletters. Pam Vick and her sister have scanned all of the newsletters, and she believes they will be searchable. The index will provide another layer of search because it will contain the city, county, and state for places that can be associated with them. The index, therefore, will allow you to find all of the places in a county, for example, that are mentioned in any of the newsletters even if the county name isn’t included in the article’s text (provided the newsletter had enough detail to identify the county or that the location was in a county).

Well, I had better get to indexing. I am holding up the newsletter.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

We Are All Cousins

In our VICK and Allied Families DNA Project at 23andMe we are looking for people who match more than one of our project members. The hope is that some of these people will lead us to discover some of the missing names in our collective family tree. I have also noticed that my wife and I have some of the same predicted cousins at 23andMe. One lady matches two other members of our project in addition to me. I noticed she also matches my wife. Seeing that my wife and I match the same person (we actually have more than one shared match) caused me to start thinking about where my pedigree would first join my wife’s pedigree. Years ago when I was researching my father’s pedigree I found that my mother and my dad were 4th cousins, one time removed (their shared ancestors were Shadrach MERCER and his wife Rhoda PRICE).

At some point all of our pedigrees begin to merge, so it is just a question of how far back we have to go in each line to find that point. Yesterday I was researching the pedigree of the lady who matches the other two descendants of Joseph Vick, my wife, and me. Relative Finder predicted this lady was my “Distant Cousin.” Relative Finder also predicted she was my wife’s distant cousin. I found that the lady and I are 11th cousins. Our shared ancestor was Rev. Haute WYATT (born June 4, 1594, in Maidstone, Kent, England). Rev. WYATT was the brother of Francis WYATT, the first English colonial governor of Virginia. The lady I matched is a descendant of Rev. WYATT’s first wife and I am a descendant of his second wife.

After finding how the lady and I are related, I started looking for how she is related to my wife. Both had the surname MOORE in their pedigrees, so their MOORE lines seemed like a good place to start the search. As I looked at my wife’s pedigree I realized that the MOORE was a mistake. I had her as one of my wife’s 4th great grandmothers. Other trees showed that the correct name of this 4th great grandmother was Mary CLEMENS (actually CLEMMONS as it turned out). Mary’s father and mother were Samuel Thompson CLEMMONS (born March 15, 1751) and Martha COGGINS (born in 1756). When I looked back at my pedigree I realized these were my 5th great grandparents (in my father’s line), so my wife and I are 6th cousins.

My wife also matches three people that my mother matches. Maybe as I am researching all of their lines I will find a common ancestor of my wife and my mother.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We Have a Chance to Grow Our VICK and Allied Families DNA Project and Save Money

We have a chance to save some money while growing our VICK and Allied Families DNA Project. 23andMe is offering the Ancestry Edition test for $199, and if you want the Full Edition you can get the $200 discount off that price also. The details on the Ancestry Edition are here. To get the $200 off the Full Edition Stewart Ellis at 23andMe said “click ‘Continue Shopping’ at the top of the store page, then add a Complete Edition to your cart. At that point, if you only want the Complete Edition, you can remove the Ancestry kit and you're left with just the Complete Edition with the discount applied. Remember, you have to click the ‘order now’ button on the Faces of America Landing page to get the discount - that is the button that applies the promotion to the store.” The offer expires on March 31, 2010.

The celebrities featured on the PBS series Faces of America, were tested by 23andMe. Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the host of the series, said “we knew we wanted to go beyond paper records. 23andMe's invaluable genetic ancestry tools allowed us to pick up where the paper trails left off, providing valuable insights into the genealogy and ancestry of each of our guests.”

We have one brother of a project member who just joined our project, and he already has a match with another project member that his brother didn’t have. I can see from my children’s match list that because they each didn’t inherit the same 50 percent of my DNA they have some different matches in my line. Having additional family members test increases the chance of finding something significant for our Vick family history.