Saturday, December 5, 2009

Success in Finding Your Ancestors

Your participation in the Family Tree DNA project is to find your ancestors. Most likely your fantasy was that you would swab your cheek, send in the sample, and a few days later get a letter depicting your family tree! And most likely that did not happen.

In order to determine your family tree several things need to happen. Some of those things have to do with having closely related people in the FTDNA database. Several hundred thousand samples are in the database. It is the largest one in the world, at least about which there is public knowledge and public access. However, there are close to 7 billion people on the planet. So the samples only represent about one for every 15,000 people. The samples also are not a random sample of human DNA, but instead a sample of people who (for the most part) live in North America, have college educations, have the means to participate in the project, and have an interest in genealogy.

Usually participants enter the project because they have heard about it from a family member or a friend. Thus, we have clusters of people with known common ancestors. And they already know about their shared connection and are seeking more connections to help them look back in time to earlier ancestors.

To accomplish this goal, more participation in the Taylor project as well as other projects will bring in more samples. (Since there are so many Taylors, telling people about the project will inevitably bring more Taylors into the project.) In addition to the samples, we need two more things from you: a willingness to share data and cooperate with other project members—your more distant cousins—and as accurate a family tree as you can provide. For the family tree, follow the guidelines you received from Leigh Taylor to supply a tree that is easily read, is useful, and keeps information about living people private.

Then be patient. If your relative who has the missing clue isn’t already in the project, he may be soon!

Wishing all of us good luck and good family connections!


Taylors in the News, December 2009

The name Taylor, at least the first name Taylor, has been in the news recently. Teenagers Taylor Daniel Lautner and Taylor Swift have both made the headlines. They have even been paired as a romantic couple.

Lautner plays the part of the werewolf, Jacob Black, in the Twilight movies. He was born Taylor Daniel Lautner on February 11, 1992 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

On December 2, 2009 [Taylor] Swift received Grammy Award nominations for: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "You Belong with Me", Best Female Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Song for "White Horse", Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals for "Breathe", and Album of the Year and Best Country Album for "Fearless". Taylor Alison Swift was born December 13, 1989 in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. She records in two genres: country & pop. She is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actress. Swift plays guitar, piano, ukulele and 12-string guitar, as well as doing vocals. Swift won five 2009 American Music Awards: Artist of The Year, Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist, Favorite Country Female Artist, Favorite Country Album for "Fearless", and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist.

In 2009, Cherry Jones won the Primetime Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, playing the part of the first female president, President Allison Taylor, in the highly regarded television drama 24.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More Web Resources Available for You

Hi Again,

We have several projects underway that you will see soon enough. But in the meantime, here's an article, though the author calls it an e-book, that has some interesting information on Genetic Genealogy and gives many links.

There is a free document "I Have the Results of My DNA Test, Now What?" that you might find to be informative, that you can download from:

I will point out that I do not agree with this piece word-for-word. I'm letting you see it because it has much valuable material which might be helpful.


Friday, October 30, 2009

More Inclusion of non-British Isles Taylors


We know that some of our Taylor group are connected with African Haplogroups such as E3a.

Others may identify as African-American even though their DNA is of European origin.

However FTDNA is now participating in research that will allow those of African origin, recently as opposed to a millennium or two ago African origin, to better understand their roots.

See this article at


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

An Interesting Taylor by Marriage

Here is the description directly from the New York University Library website:

Treva Margaret Taylor, nee Hampton, (1929-2006) was an avid reader throughout her life, not only of Harlequin romances, but of other novels and of history. She instilled the love of reading not only in her own children, but also in scores of neighborhood children. She was always ready for a trip to the local public library. Taylor subscribed to the monthly Harlequin service and received a number of titles in each package during the 1970s and early 1980s. Once read, the novels were kept in numerical order by the publisher's number on bookshelves. Her collection is reminiscent of dime novel collections from the Nineteenth Century, presenting a cross-section of popular romance during the growth of the feminist movement.

Apparently this collection is massive!

Just one more of an interesting collection of Taylors...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Haplogroups and Race

Each Haplogroup is associated with a geographic origin and therefore an ethnic identity, or more accurately a biological race. For a full treatment of the origins of each haplogroup, see this article at Wikipedia:

However, here are some of the particulars[1]. Most of our Taylor project are representative of the R1b and R1a that are western European:

R1b Western Europe

R1a Eastern Europe

I Nordic

J2 Semitic

E3b Semitic

Q3 Native American

It is important to point out that racial identity in the United States, at least in the year 2009, is a cultural matter. People identify with their culture of origin. They do not have a DNA test to determine their major ethnic identity. For that reason, a person who self-identifies as African-American may test and find he is of the Western European haplogroup. Similarly, a person may identify as a white American and discover his y-DNA is linked to an African haplogroup.

Because of this, some possible participants may not want to be tested, fearing the results. These fears may be unrevealed, even to the self. And even today, people do make value judgments according to racial profiling. So, let us address some possible issues.

Outside of this project, no one will know your haplogroup, unless you share it. Closely related people who test and share results with you probably have the same haplogroup.

Second, your haplogroup may or may not coincide with your ethnic identity as you have lived your life. This may be reassuring, or not. Your ethnic identity is a complex mixture of family, local, religious, regional and biological factors. Two people in relatively similar circumstances may self-identify as different ethnic groups.

Finally, speaking to the Black/White issue which is a hot button for Americans, having a haplogroup which does not match your sense of ethnic identity does not necessarily mean that your female ancestor was raped by a member of the other group. This is a reoccurring explanation for why a haplogroup does not match a perceived cultural identity. It presupposes that no ancestor had consensual sex with another ethnic group. It would be reasonable and fair to assume that some mixtures of different genetic lines were desired by both parties.

Until next time,


[1] See Wikipedia noted above for a more complete list.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Link to Dick Eastman's blog


Here is a long article about family stories and how they many times are wrong. Read the comments, as well!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

When Do You "Own" Your Surname?

Since this is the official blog of a surname project—the Taylor surname project—it is reasonable to question, when is a surname yours?

If you have the surname Taylor by marriage or adoption, is it yours? My answer is yes. If you psychologically identify with the surname, and use it as your legal name, it is yours in my opinion. (Readers are encouraged to comment, if they have strong feelings about this.)

Thus, within our Taylor surname project we have y-DNA matches that do not carry the surname Taylor, but trace back to Taylor lines, and we have people who carry the Taylor name and trace back to other male lines and other surnames. All of them are part of the Taylor project because they identify themselves by personal preference, by identity, by law, or by DNA, as Taylors.

We welcome them all.

Consider Jeremy Taylor, the dream expert. Taylor is a founding member and past president of the Association for the Study of Dreams, he has written three books integrating dream symbolism, mythology, and archetypal energy. The latest is: The Living Labyrinth: Universal Themes in Myths, Dreams and the Symbolism of Waking Life. His earlier books, Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill, and Dream Work, have been translated into many languages. As far as I am aware, he is not a member of this project.

Jeremy Taylor is a most interesting person; I have met him, interacted with him at a week-long retreat, and read one of his books. See more about Jeremy at his website: I mention Jeremy Taylor because, having an interest in Taylor genealogy, I asked him about his Taylor connections. He told me his father had been adopted. While I suspect that his father is deceased, as Jeremy is in his 60s, Jeremy’s y-DNA can still be used to determine his father’s paternal lineage.

By my reckoning, Jeremy Taylor is a “real” Taylor, even though his father was adopted. Jeremy has used the Taylor name throughout his life. What do you think?


Friday, September 4, 2009

67-Marker Matches

Hi Again,

I'm continuing with more material from Ralph Taylor on the meaning of matches. What does it mean if you match 67 out of 67, commonly written 67/67, with another person? There is about a 50% likelihood that you share the same great-grandfather! Thus, you are second cousins. You could be slightly closer related or slightly more distantly related, but you are related recently as genealogists measure relationship!

As Ralph Taylor says, "67-marker matches, if you’re lucky enough to find one, are very precise; you may need to account for the birth dates of the matching individuals. The main problem is that most people have done a lesser test, so you can only compare against the markers they had tested." Thus, refer to earlier blogs which discuss 37 marker matches and fewer matches.

Should you match in the range of 65-67/67: You share a common ancestor and he almost certainly lived within a genealogic time frame.

o A perfect 67/67: The 90% probability level is a TMRCA of <= 11 generations, >= 1735 AD; 70% is <= 6 gen., >= 1860 AD; & it’s 50% probable that your common ancestor is your great-great-grandfather.

o 66/67: 90% is <= 18 gen., >= 1560 AD; 70% is <= 18 gen., >= 1730 AD; 50% is <= 7 gen., 1835 AD.

o 65/67: 90% is <= 24 gen., >= 1410 AD; 70% is <= 16 gen., >= 1610; 50% is <= 12 gen., >= 1710 AD.

Should you match in the range of 62-64/67: You share a common ancestor, who may or may not have lived in a genealogic time frame.

o 64/67: 90% is <= 31 gen., >= 1235; 70% is <= 22 gen., >= 1460; 50% is <= 16 gen., 1610.

o 63/67: 90% is <= 37 gen., >= 1085 AD; 70% is <= 27 gen., >= 1330 AD; 50% is <= 21 gen., >= 1480 AD.

o 62/67: 90% is <= 43 gen., >= 930 AD; 70% is <= 32 gen., >= 1200 AD; 50% is <= 26 gen., >= 1360 AD.

We've have spent a number of blog entries discussing the statistical meaning of matches. You do not need to completely understand statistics or probability, though. What you do need to do is to investigate the family trees of anyone who closely matches you. For example, with a "perfect" match of 67/67, you and the other person should be able to find your common ancestor fairly easily. One hopes that each of you has some information about your mutual family tree so that you each gain significant new information. After all, that's why you chose to participate in this project.

The good news is that eventually sufficient y-DNA records and pedigrees will exist to satisfy every participant's desire for knowledge of their roots!

Best wishes as we move towards that goal.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

37-Marker Matches and What They Mean


What happens when you test 37 markers? Does a match of 36 out of 37 markers, commonly abbreviated as 36/37, mean more than 23/24?

Here is some more information from Ralph Taylor on what matches mean when we have 37 loci or markers to consider.

37-marker matches get even more precise. For example, if you share 35, 36 or 37 markers with another Taylor (or someone with your surname, if you are not looking at Taylor project results!) then you share a common ancestor, probably within a genealogic time frame.

o A perfect 37/37: The chances are 90% that your TMRCA is <= 19 generations, >= 1530 AD; 70% prob. is <= 10 gen, >= 1760 AD; 50% is <= 6 gen., >= 1860 AD.

o 36/37: 90% is <= 32 gen., >= 1210 AD; 70% is <= 20 gen., >= 1500 AD; 50% is <= 14 gen., >= 1660 AD.

o 35/37: 90% is <= 45 gen., >= 885 AD; 70% is <= 30 gen., >= 1260 AD; 50% is <= 22 gen., >= 1460 AD.

However when you have 37 markers to compare, and you don't match 35 or more, such as 33-34/37: You share a common ancestor, but probably not within a genealogic time frame.

§ 34/37: 90% is <= 57 gen., >= 580 AD; 70% is <= 40 gen., >= 1000 AD; 50% is <= 31 gen., >= 1235 AD.

§ 33/37: 90% is <= 69 gen., >= 285 AD; 70% is <= 50 gen., >= 760 AD; 50% is <= 40 gen., >= 1010 AD.

When we get to 32 matches out of 37, or worse: You may share a common ancestor, but the probability that he lived in within a genealogic time frame is small. The 50% probability level for a 32/37 match is <= 51 generations, >= 735 AD.

For some of you, these discussions of probability and statistics are dull. However, they are necessary to understand the meaning of genetic genealogy. We will have future posts with specific examples. For now, consider that your surname is Taylor. You have a family tree with some degree of confidence. Your fourth cousin, another male Taylor descended from the same line also tests. Now, if you match 37/37 or 36/37, this suggests that the family tree is correct for both of you. If, however, your match is 32/37 or less, the family tree is not correct for one or both of you. Because two males from the same male line, only separated by 6 generations would not differ to this extent.

May all your genealogical puzzles be solved!


Friday, August 14, 2009

25-Marker Matches

What happens if/when we have 25-marker matches?

Well, the good news is that 25-marker matches allow finer interpretations:

· 24-25/25: You share a common ancestor, probably within a genealogic time frame. (The numbers of generations & dates below are approximate.)

¨ A perfect 25/25: The chances are 90% that your most recent common ancestor is within the past 28 generations, roughly since 1300 AD. It’s 70% that the time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) is within 15 generations >= 1630 AD and 50% the TMRCA is <= 9 gen., >= 1780 AD. Thus, as we will find out when we look at greater numbers of markers, discovering a "perfect" 25/25 match only means that you share an ancestor who lived about 1300 (90% probability) to 1780 (50% probability).

A 24/25 match means even less. 24/25: The 90% probable TMRCA is <=48 gen, >= 800 AD; 70% is <= 30 gen., >= 1260 AD; 50% is <= 21 gen., >= 1480 AD.

Matching 23/25 may not illuminate your genealogical studies at all, as your common ancestor may have preceeded records with surnames. 23/25 or worse: You share a common ancestor, but he may not have lived within a genealogic time frame

Looking at this in terms of generations, instead of years, the match of 23/25: 90% TMRCA is <= 67 gen., >= 330 AD; 70% is <= 46 gen., >= 860; AD; 50% is <= 34 gen., >= 1160 AD.

While a 22/25 match means even less. 22/25: 90% TMRCA is <= 86 gen., >= 140 BC; 70% is <= 61 gen., >= 480 AD; 50% is <= 47 gen., >= 830 AD.

Input from Ralph Taylor and Lalia Wilson

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What Does a 12 Marker Match Mean?

Here are some thoughts from Ralph Taylor on 12-marker Matches:

About 12-marker matches, there isn’t a lot to say. There are only three possibilities:

A perfect 12/12 means you share a common ancestor. But that ancestor may be many centuries in the past. The 90% probability level includes the past 60 generations (dating to as early as 510 AD); the 70% level includes the past 31 generations (as early as 1235 AD; and the 50% level (as likely to be low as high) includes the past 18 generations (as early as 1560 AD).

11/12 is inconclusive. Comparison of more markers is needed to draw any conclusions. If you are the one with only 12 markers tested, you should upgrade to more markers.

10/12 or worse excludes sharing a common ancestor within several thousands of years.

That’s cold, but true. 12 markers are considered sufficient to exclude sharing of a common ancestor, but not to include it.

Now, Lalia's interpretation... This means quite simply that if you match someone with the same surname 12 for 12, it suggests that you share that surname. However to trace your ancestry, you are going to need to test more markers and match more markers! (About which we will have more information in a future blog.)

If you do not share the same surname, or a variant of the surname, then a 12/12 match means that you likely come from the same general gene pool, such as the British Isles, and means nothing more.

We will have some forthcoming blog posts about higher levels of matches.

Good luck with your own genetic genealogical projects!


Terminology Used in Genetic Genealogy


Here are some terms that Ralph Taylor provides to help you understand your reading of articles and blog posts about genetic genealogy.

MRCA: The most recent common ancestor shared by two or more persons with a DNA match. We are concerned only with the most recent, because preceding ancestors will also be shared.

TMRCA: The probable time to the MRCA, expressed in generations.

Probability level: The cumulative probability, expressed as a percentage, that a MRCA lived within the specified number of generations. Here, we give three probability levels, 90%, 70%, & 50%. 90% means the chances are 9/10 the TMRCA is <= the given number; 50% probability is as likely to give a low TMRCA as a high one.

Genealogic time frame: A time for which it is feasible to specifically identify an ancestor, generally from about 1350 AD to the present.

Generations, length of: This is an estimated average of 25 years, developed from 18th and 19th century America statistics. We use the estimate to convert generations to common dates. Other societies may have had a different generational length -- either longer or shorter.

<=: Means less than or equal to, the maximum generations number for that probability level

>=: As applied to dates, means no earlier than the given date.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Key Dates in Taylor Genealogy


We are going to have several posts authored by project co-administrator Ralph Taylor, with input from project head, Dr. Leigh Taylor, and from me. We start with some basics that impact every Taylor, key dates.

1066 AD: Norman Conquest of England , bringing the word “tailleur” for a maker of clothing into the language. One Taylor line claims descent from an officer in the victorious army.

1350 AD: The approximate time surnames came into general usage. Most Taylor families first used the surname then; before that, it was “Robert, the town tailor”, not “Robert Taylor”. (Similarly with Carpenter, Cooper, Plummer & Smith.)

1607 AD: Founding of Jamestown , Virginia , the first permanent English settlement on the American continent. This event began English Taylor migration to what would become the United States of America .

1700 AD: The beginning of Scots Irish migration to America , bringing Taylor families from Ireland , particularly the Ulster & Armargh provinces. Taylor descendants hail from the Cameron clan.

1709 AD: Beginning of Palatine migration to America . Some Germanic Schneider families anglicized their name to its English equivalent, Taylor .

1763 AD: France ceded most of its North American territory to Great Britain , opening the way for British migration to Canada . We begin to see Taylor spelled as pronounced in various areas of the county: Tayler, Tyler, Tolliver, Taliaferro (Italian), Tailor, Taler, etc.

1788 AD: Britain established its first settlement in New South Wales , Australia . Many of the early settlers were convicts from England .

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Y-DNA as a research tool for populations

Here is another article, more abstract, yet with implications that impact the Taylor project, as many Taylor lines go back to Great Britain.


Eastman's article on y-DNA as a genealogy tool


I'll just put the link here. I don't agree with every word, nor with all the numerous comments, but the majority is good information.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Taylors in the USA

If you are interested enough in Taylors to be reading this blog, you’ve probably already searched for Taylors in public records. Not an easy task, is it? Then, if you combine the Taylor surname with a common first name, say John or James, you are in real trouble. You can find many of them even in the same counties you know your ancestor of the same name lived…

But here’s proof of how many Taylors are out there. This information was obtained from’s census records and then corrected, because a number of censuses underreported in some years. Thanks to Ralph Taylor and Josh Taylor, project administrators who did the hard work.

Consider these numbers:

US Federal Census Data for Taylor, 1790-1930
From search on "taylor", exact match, exact spelling at US federal census indices, with corrections for underreporting in some jurisdictions.

1790 9,710
1800 13,300
1810 17,940
1820 23,600
1830 33,650
1840 58,560
1850 67,430
1860 85,620
1870 133,270
1880 171,360
1890 211,160
1900 248,515
1910 283,066
1920 313,925
1930 341,174

So, how do you find the right Taylor ancestors? Glad you asked that. Y-chromosome DNA is one way to go about locating the right Taylor family. Go to and look for the Taylor surname project. We are now at 277 members and just beginning to fully elucidate the Taylor gene pool.

And, yes, there are other ways to find your correct Taylor ancestors. Go for the paper trail with public and private documents. And, realistically, you need to do both. The combination of biological proof and a paper trail will make definite proof that you are investigating the right ancestors.

Good luck with your genealogy research! Remember to get back to the Taylor surname project when you have updated your Taylor family tree.


Monday, May 25, 2009

DNA and the Genealogical Time Frame


We Taylor administrator team members have discussed moving this blog, and I was holding off on posting. But so far, it looks like the blog will remain here! This is a submission from one of the administrators, Ralph Taylor. Ralph has a keen interest in the statistical side to genetic DNA and he has submitted several other pieces which I'll post in the coming days.


Sometimes, Y-DNA matches point to a common ancestor who might have lived thousands of years in the past. Finding a name or other information about this man can be an almost insurmountable task; the range of time exceeds the"genealogical time frame".

While it's fun to imagine our Taylor ancestors fighting alongside King Arthur against the Saxons (or, fighting with the Saxons against Arthur) it's not genealogy unless we can link a line of descent with specific people. The International Society for Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) defines "Genealogical Time Frame: A time frame within the last 500 up to 1000 years since the adoption of surnames and written family records..." Though extending to the present, the genealogical time frame (GTF) has no definite & universal beginning point. It depends on the practices and record availability of the specific area in which we want to look. But, we can make some general observations. Genealogy, linking individuals into a pedigree, depends on: 1. Surnames, to identify one John from another in the same place and time and suggest kinship; & 2. Written records naming most people in a community.

Surnames: If you've struggled with too many men of the same name in the same time and place, you know how important surnames are to genealogy. Without surnames, it gets even more confusing. The practice of surnames passing from father to children came into common use only as far back as the mid-14th century (about 650 years ago) in England and even more recently in other places. We believe it traces to a 1353 edict on the issue by King Edward III. With few exceptions, the occupationally-based Taylor surname dates from this time. Earlier ancestors would not have had a surname.

The Scandinavian patronymic system -- in which Carl, the son of Peter, was named Carl Peterson & Peter's grandson became Hans Carlson -- persisted into the 19th century. The Germanic practice of men "marrying the farm" and taking the farm's name lasted about as long.

Written records: In Europe, the practice of recording baptisms, marriages & funerals of parishioners began with the slow spread of the Christian Church. Written records were then adopted by secular authorities for other purposes such as taxes, military conscription and worker control. Written records are, of course, dependent on a written language and a minimum level of literacy. Many ancient languages had no written form, so monks & priests wrote in Latin. Even kings, whose first job was warrioring,were often illiterate.

The Bubonic Plague (also mid-14th century) indirectly stimulated record-keeping on previously-ignored ordinary folk. The plague killed two-thirds of Europe's population and the rigid feudal society as well. As serfs - whose masters had died - fled and masters - whose serfs had died -sought replacement workers, unprecedented movements of people & resulting paranoia were created. Suddenly, it was important to write down who was living in your town or county. Previous records (such as the Domesday Book of 1086) named only taxpayers, the aristocracy. Histories named only the major players -- the "stars", not the supporting casts. We are familiar the effects time has on written records. Courthouses burn, churches and archives are bombed, paper molders.

All these and more conspire to make records which once existed no longer available. The more time that has transpired since a record was created, the less likely it still exists.

Conclusion: I believe ISOGG is being generous with its "up to 1000 years", at least so far as Great Britain & Ireland (from which many Taylor families came) are concerned. I'd peg our GTF as beginning about 1350 AD. Genealogy isn't alchemy; we can't turn lead into gold. We can only work with what there is. Most of us have limits on the time, money and effort we can devote to family history; we have to set priorities. A DNA match pointing to a 90% probability of an ancestor who may have lived before 1350 may not be worth making a high research priority.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Genetic Genealogy information


Naturally, as members of a common surname project, we are all interested in genetic genealogy. I would like to point you to a good article with lots of information at

I also want to specifically point out this part of that article, which to me makes the case for participating in our project:


Genetic genealogy gives genealogists a means to check or supplement the historical record with information from genetic data. A positive test match with another individual may:

● provide locations for further genealogical research

● help determine ancestral homeland

● discover living relatives

● validate existing research

● confirm or deny suspected connections between families

● prove or disprove theories regarding ancestry

That pretty much says it all! Keep working on your family tree and keep getting your friends and relatives involved!

New Taylor Genealogy Book by project member

"TAYLOR-TUCKER CHRONICLES" by Wanda M. Taylor is now shipping.

This compilation of descendants of William Taylor and Joseph Tucker, of Perry County, Missouri includes families of: Taylor, Tucker, Miles, Ellis, May, Moranville, & Schlatman.

It is 542 pp., surname indexed and includes some photos & bio sketches for the above named descendant families. These founders of Perry County were some of the Maryland to Kentucky to Missouri emigrants previously researched by Timothy O'Rourke for his "Maryland Catholics on the Frontier". Maternal ancestor lines included are: Byrne, Cambron, Drury, Dunn(e),
Hagan, Heydon, McAtee, McBride, McCauley, McGinnis, Moore & White.

The book has a partial bibliography. The author will share further information from her database.

If you are interested in a copy, or would like to ask other questions, email:

Telephone: 530-222-4278

or, send check for $65 (includes shipping) to: Wanda Taylor

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Share Family Trees to support y-DNA studies: If you care, you'll share!

The members of the Taylor y-DNA project have been busy behind-the-scenes. We are close to having a major number of new participants join our project. This means there will be more likelihood that your DNA will be matched. However, as Ralph Taylor says, “In any case, they paid good money to get, essentially, a bunch of numbers. It doesn’t make sense to let that investment go to waste by failing to turn it into real knowledge.” That real knowledge is, of course, comparing your paper trail: family information, pedigrees, with project members with matching or very similar results. Ninety-five participants have already shared their male Taylor ancestral trees. But we have 145 participants who have not yet sent theirs in.

Now about those matching results, you may be aware that having a data match, even at 67 markers, means that your line converges with the other person’s within a few generations. Suppose you compare your earliest known ancestor to mine. If I have Isaac Newton Taylor, born 1824 in Ohio and you have Jacob Taylor born in 1799 in Philadelphia, with a 67 marker match, there is an implied relationship. It does not mean that the above [hypothetical] Jacob was Isaac’s father, or uncle, or cousin. It could be any of those situations. Or it could be something else. But the something else would involve a single man who was a common ancestor of both men!

Leigh Taylor told me: "I was able to find my entire maternal Swedish roots after I posted a query about the family who adopted my great-grandmother. A descendant of that line had collected some court records of his family which included my great-grandmother. He was so willing to share this information and it opened up a huge amount of data for me. I'm so grateful that he took the time to SHARE information."

Some project members are worried about privacy issues. Our project leader, Leigh Taylor, is also concerned about these issues as are the rest of the volunteer team. To avoid problems, we don’t publicly post the names and birthdates of living persons.

Remember to update your contact information, as it's really hard to communicate with those we've matched when the other person changed his email address without updating it with us!

For me, Lalia, I don’t see issues of privacy when the birth dates and information involves people who died more than a hundred years ago. But maybe I’m wrong. Let me know if you see something I don’t on that issue!

In any case, our family information is being shared only with other project members as you provide it. Some of you may be embarrassed to provide the information because you are concerned about errors in it. To me, all genealogical data has errors in it. Family trees are always being revised. So I consider all family trees as works in progress. Provide the best data you have. We hope that you will be able to learn more and make your tree more accurate.

I hope this has inspired you to share your Taylor data more freely within the project. This is especially important as we look at doubling the number of members within a few months. More participants mean more chances of scaling our genealogical brick walls!

Ralph Taylor says, “My experience is that sharing has advanced my own family history research a great deal. By freely offering the results of that research online, people see it and contact me -- saying something like, ‘Here’s more about my great-grandmother.’ Or, ‘You got this wrong.’ That opens a dialogue which benefits both parties. So, the sharing is sort of ‘fishing bait’; I get a nibble and try to reel ‘em in. For example, I would love to contact direct male descendants of James Taylor (1740 NC – 1816 TN) and convince one or more to join our Taylor Project. Maybe, someday, I'll get an e-mail or Post-em notice.”

Lalia says, “I also have benefited greatly, HUGELY, from the generosity of relatives who have shared their side of the family story. I would not know what I know without their input.”


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Take on Surnames and Y-DNA Studies


Here's a popular article that helps explain the relationship between having a common surname and having a genetic or biological relationship.

A study done in the UK shows that if you have a common surname--and I think Taylor would qualify--then you are about 24% likely to share a common ancestor. If your name is uncommon the chances are greater.



Friday, January 23, 2009

Morphing the Presidents Link


This was too cool to keep to myself. You'll see our famous Zachary Taylor along with 42 other presidents. Remember that one president served two non-concurrent terms. So we've had 43 different presidents, but 44 presidential terms.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

About your TAYLOR team administrators

As a person interested in the Taylor DNA project, you may have wondered about the history of the project itself and about who the volunteer administrators are and what brought them to the project. I plan to introduce each member in a series of articles. The TAYLOR DNA project has grown from a handful of participants to our present count of a couple of hundred members. At the beginning, there was no structure for the site nor well-defined jobs for the administrator. Everything was evolving. Expanding membership brought its own challenges and demands on the volunteers' "free" time. So some administrators stepped down and others volunteered.

Since TAYLOR is such a popular surname, we expect the project to continually expand its membership. [The more people tested the better chances we have to match someone else.] We have a system that works now, but when this project goes through its next major growth, say to get to a thousand members (!), we will be again working hard to have systems that allow the data to be most easily sorted and arranged in ways that facilitate the users getting the information they want and need.

So for our first article I find no better place to start than with the head of this team of volunteers, Dr. Leigh Taylor. Soon after the Taylor project was begun the first administrator called for more volunteers to assist. Leigh answered that call and has been involved with the project ever since.

In addition to her own personal genealogical research, Leigh's background includes research techniques, statistics and computer science as well as education.

Through Girl Scouting Leigh became interested in people from different cultures and countries. Her parents and maternal grandmother studied and spoke different foreign languages. So she became interested in her own ancestry. Before the days of internet-searching and DNA testing she gathered information from family members and the US Federal census. Luckily her Taylor family stayed put in Ohio for generations but once she found her great-great-great-grand-father b. 1759 in VA, census data would not help. She found several third cousins through searches on various genealogical websites and the DNA testing proved their paper trails to be correct but they were all stuck at this same brick wall. Through DNA testing, they were successful in matching with another Taylor member whose ancestor came to America from England in the 1600's. Now they are all working on this 100 year gap to find their common ancestor. The DNA test also disproved the family legend of kinship to President Zachary Taylor.

On the non-Taylor side of her family, Leigh has also had a cousin's DNA tested. He matched 3 other people with 100% match on 67 markers. So they too are trying to find the actual common ancestor but with the certainty they are related.

Next article, I will take up the story of the blog and of Dr. Leigh Taylor in my next post. One hint, she has recently published a genealogy book that is available from

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Finding Your Taylor Kin Through Y-DNA

How can you maximize the chances of finding blood relatives? By doing the full 67 marker Y-DNA study and posting your family tree at the Taylor site. (If you are not a Taylor, post it at the appropriate site.)

Then proceed to set your search at FTDNA to search all surnames, AND list your results at Y-Search (which allows those who tested with other laboratories to compare their results with your FTDNA results).

I have previously found that neither my brother (Robinson project) or my great-uncle (Taylor project) were set to match ANY surname (other than their project). I physically changed both, and probably will need to do so again, since FTDNA just revised the website and caused many settings to change. Be sure and check your page, too.

Additionally, regarding the y-search, with both 67 marker subjects above there were VERY few people in the y-search (and no matches for either). The number participating in the Y search was less than 10% of the number in the surname project itself. So it has been a wasted effort SO FAR.

Given what we know about the Taylors, spelling changes and so forth, as well as the normal number of NPEs[1], limiting a search to just "Taylor" will exclude many likely matches.

Anyone who has spent more than a couple of minutes looking at his/her family tree will see how there have been diverging lines with different spellings, out-of-wedlock births, adoptions inside and outside the family, and other things that make tracing their DNA most likely to be fruitful if they search the entire FTDNA database!

Then, when you find your blood relative, I hope you each have enough of the family tree to solve all your questions about your forebears!

I like to think optimistically!

Please share your good news here.

[1] Non parental events: when the father of record is not the genetic father.