Z14 Waiting Again…Anxiously

I ordered the Z14 test today as that seemed like the most likely group for me to fit in. I’ve had my eye on Z18 for some time and planned on testing for that, but it turns out that quite  a few people in the group within Z18 that I have watched, are Z14. So my Elmer match and I ordered ours at the same time.

Although these results may not be exciting in the Y DNA community, or to anyone really, they are of particular interest to me. If the Elmer match and I are both Z14 then I continue to pursue the NPE. If we both aren’t, then I continue to pursue the NPE. If one of us is but the other is not, then I’ll move forward on the assumption that we are incredibly similar Y chromosomes, but probably unrelated in a genealogical timeframe.

Like the Emperor in StarWars, I’m on both sides of this fight. Either way I win and either way I’m going to suffer some form of “loss”.

On the one hand, I’ve been a Thompson all my life. I don’t know any other way (you Thompsons will understand this because we DO have a way). I got into this to try to find my roots and specifically to find my Thompson family and learn about them. I have learned a lot, but I’ve also been snagged for quite a while. Am I ready and willing to concede defeat in the face of overwhelming unknown-itude? So, some part of me hopes that we’re Thompsons from the beginning and that there were no Thompsons before us and that everyone else has been using our name without paying any royalties. Part of me wants to be THE Thompsons and to be able to say I did it. I did what people said I could not do. I found them and completed my mission!

Then there is the other part of me. This part is excited because there is something new to learn and it may mean an answer to why this entire process has been sort of an uphill battle. This part of me is excited to have a close match no matter how it plays out. I want to show that I was right to group all these Knowltons and Coens and Damrons and Elmers together because we are really part of a group and that group is labelled Z14 and it’s particularly common near the channel in England. This part of me is seeking answers to my questions and learning to adapt to what is returned.

So when I look at most recent common ancestor models and I see that it’s likely the Elmer and I share an ancestor within 200 to 300 years, which makes a crossover in the 1700s a viable option, I am at once excited and fearful. That is a lot closer than 2000 years ago as an estimate for Z18. 200 to 300 years is within record keeping here in the U.S.

Of course for those estimates to really play out, we have to be within the same haplogroup, which is where the Z14 test comes in. If we’re both Z14 then we know we’re related sometime between 2000 years ago and now and then we look at those STR values and the 200 to 300 year TMRCA and take it as a marker to look for such a crossover.

That evidence of SNPs and TMRCA plus the evidence of another Elmer at SMGF who is one away from the FTDNA Elmer and three away from me means that if the SMGF Elmer had chosen FTDNA, he would be in my match list as well. That creates a pattern of similar Elmers and at this point they would be the only people anywhere to match me at this level.

How could this all fall apart? Several ways I can think of and probably several more I’m not thinking of. The quickest way would be to have two different SNPs like I said above. He’s Z14 and I’m not, something like that.

The next way I can think of is that our STR match is a fluke. We may well both be Z14, but if I’m reading all the results correctly, he and the Elmer from SMGF (utah to connecticut) are more closely related than he and I are. That leaves open the possibility that I’ve randomly mutated to have a closer match with this particular Elmer than I should, or that he’s mutated away from that Elmer enough that he now matches me. At the very least, it would make me think that he and the other Elmer are closer to each other in time than he an I are. Of course it would be better if we were all FTDNA at this point, but I’ve got what I’ve got.

This is where it would be best for me to get some Thompson ringers to test. If I match with my other Thompson relatives at all, then we could figure out a modal and see how close the Elmers are to that. It would also be excellent to find the SMGF Elmer and get him tested with FTDNA so that we are looking at apples to apples comparisons.

The third way is if we upgrade to 67 markers and don’t remain close.

Other ways revolve around actual genealogical records. What if the SMGF Elmer was wrong about their family tree and they don’t go back to England and intertwine with Thompsons at all? That could blow my theory out of the water, although in truth it wouldn’t make us any less related.

For the next month or so, waiting for results, I’m sure I’ll waffle back and forth between disappointment and excitement as the possibilities in either camp grow in my mind. I’ll probably see more pitfalls and find more holes in my own logic. That’s good though. No matter what, this is a learning experience and even if we are Elmers, all that means is I have another cool family to learn about and people to work with in putting the pieces together.


  1. I forgot another potential genealogical issue that also wouldn't make us any less related. These Elmers could be from Switzerland and the Utah Elmer was lead astray? Since the FTDNA Elmer and I are both stuck around the same time, we really have no idea what the ethnicity of our Y is. We're relying on the research of one man we cannot contact to point us in the right direction.

    The Swiss option makes particular sense when I consider my Steiner match who is from Pennsylvania and believes her family to be Swiss.

    It seems unlikely given my german matches and my closer English matches but I have to keep an open mind. Z14 contains people from all over the continent.

  2. Reading forum posts today from the DNA Newbies group, it was pointed out by one person that their Y results at Ancestry.com showed matches that weren't even in the same haplogroup. So they would have been related, but about 5000 years ago. I can see how that is now. I've been told its because ancestry contains too many long term markers and not enough fast changing markers. In this instance it shows because the Elmer at SMGF was one match among many and not my best match in their rankings. Meanwhile at FTDNA and Ysearch all those others dropped off once I got my 37 markers..which really only added two or three to my existing test. Those few must be pretty powerful though.

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