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.