Big Y 700 Update

With the dust settled a little bit from my big Y 700 test and the Big Y 700 results from an Elmer cousin, I thought it would be good to revisit my place in the tree and compare that to my spot in the family tree.

FTDNA Big Y Block Tree a Good Place to Start

Here is the current Big Y block tree for the Elmer family as of July 2020:

My branch is in the middle highlighted in black. Because no one further down my branch has tested I’m shown coming directly off R-A2284 which is associated with Ed Elmer 2 born in 1654. You can see our cousin to the right listed as R-A2276 who is descended from Ed Elmer 2’s brother Samuel. To the left in R-A5920 are my closer cousins who are also descended from Hezekiah Elmer.

Right now the striking thing is that this is what FTDNA knows about my family given the current crop of FTDNA testers. It’s accurate to a point, but not the whole picture.

The actual family tree more closely mimics this Y DNA testing tree we put together in the Ed Elmer group:

Ed Elmer testing tree with branches for Edward 2 and Samuel

As family trees go, I’m more closely related to the men who are under R-A5920 because I’m descended from Hezekiah Elmer (1686) through his son Dan (1730). The R-A5920 men are descended from Hezekiah’s son Samuel (1732).

As you can see on the testing tree we have an STR test mixed in with our SNP tests, a DYS449 test. STRs change with time, so they can only suggest a relationship, not prove one, but we did notice a pattern of men related to three sons of Hezekiah (1686) Dan, Samuel and Jacob and that is that all of us (5 testers in total) have DYS449 = 29 while all our cousins have DYS449 = 30. So it seems possible that that particular STR mutation occurred in Hezekiah (1686). We can only wait for other testers to break the pattern.

The block tree only shows SNPs and has nothing to do with STRs let alone family trees, so it is at once completely accurate, but in my case a bit misleading.

The tester I’m grouped with in the block tree is R-A2284 like me and so we expect he’s related to Ed Elmer 2 since that SNP isn’t carried by men descended from other sons of Ed Elmer. Unfortunately, we’re blocked in his family tree. We have several lost sheep in New York state who appear to be related to Ed 2 but we have no family trees or documents to connect them to Ed 2 (usually stuck in the early 1800s) and none of them match each other’s private SNPs.

The block tree is grouping us based on our common SNP but it would be more accurate to put the two of us into our own separate blocks because we only have private SNPs beyond that point. Just based on SNPs We should each be an individual straight line with our private SNPs above our names.

The block tree can make a bunch of straight lines look like a cluster of more closely related men.

Going back to our testing tree in the Ed Elmer group, you can see that we’ve already SNP tested down the line for Ed Elmer (1610) son Samuel (1646) listed as the R-A2276 branch to the right of me. He has actually tested to R-A6928 along with another man who tested at YSEQ. Both are related to Samuel’s son Jonathon and his son David and then split there. Because we don’t have any more sons of Jonathon to test down, we can only assign that R-A6928 to David (1725).

Ed Elmer testing tree with branches for Edward 2 and Samuel

FTDNA is not aware of that YSEQ or Full Genomes Corp testing and so they can only assign our cousin on the right all the way back up the tree at Ed Elmer (1610) and R-A2276.

Looking at the block tree one more time it is accurate, but misleading because it makes me look more closely related to one Elmer than to my two (actually more closely related) cousins on the left. The block tree can’t know that I am really more closely related to them. If we ignore my family tree and focus on the SNPs that FTDNA knows about then technically, to be less misleading, what is labeled as “my branch” should be a twig for me and a twig for my counterpart with our private SNPs listed separately.

Even if I had a closer cousin tested, like my second cousin, the block tree would still be misleading because they would put us in our own group under R-A2284 which would be accurate as far as SNPs go but again might confuse a layperson.

The block tree also isn’t aware of non-FTDNA testing so we have no facility to represent the cluster of men that should appear on the right.

The FTDNA block tree is accurate from its perspective but not definitive for this family because of a slightly misleading layout and a lack of data from other sources.

family tree dna block tree for A2276

Why am I beating up on the block tree?

The block tree is an awesome way to view Y DNA as a point in time and to watch the major structures change as new test results come in. There is only so much you can do with the screen space you’ve been allotted. So the block tree is being efficient by clumping results together. From a standpoint of organizing the major segments of the Y DNA tree it makes total sense, but (there is always a but) someone could take this representation of data the wrong way and that can hinder research or cause hard feelings.

My Private SNPs

When I originally looked at my Big Y 700 results I was warned that they had likely not been reviewed by a human. I had a list of 7 private SNPs at that point and registered some dismay that they were already named (which would make me think they’re not exactly private).

This was that list:

  • 10926150 – FGC78529 – C to T
  • 11048867 – BY84358 – C to T
  • 15413588 – FT207533 – A to G
  • 21824986 – FT208074 – A to G
  • 3232865 – FT206108 – G to C
  • 4031585 – FT206255 – T to G
  • 6535656 – FGC78523 – G to T

Since that time I believe my human review was completed and I’ve also had my results analyzed by Full Genomes Corp (which means they have also named my private SNPs). The list has been whittled down to these four:

  • 15413588 A to G FT207533+ FGC93151+
  • 21824986 A to G FT208074+ FGC93152+
  • 3232865 G to C FT206108+ FGC93149+
  • 4031585 T to G FT206255+ FGC93150+

You might notice that FGC78529 has made an appearance in the block tree image above. It was discovered in one of our lost sheep testers from NY. It also appeared in my list and then in the big Y 700 results of one of the R-A5920 men. So it’s been placed up with R-A2284. It’s possible that it is older than that, but I would need to individually test men for it at YSEQ to find out (or wait for more testers at FTDNA).

FGC78523 was moved up as a shared SNP with the Knowlton family. Of note, the Knowltons now show 5 private SNPs along with this new SNP while previous notes show them with 4 private SNPs, so I suspect they’ve had an upgrade to big Y 700 or FTDNA has been able to mine more results from their Y 500 test. They remain our closest Y family with a rough estimate of 1100 AD for a common ancestor (if they’re big Y 700 then it might bump to 1200 AD).

ftdna block tree for R-ZP129 the branch containing the Elmers and Knowltons

BY84358 has been removed from my list, although also acknowledged by FGC as a positive SNP for me. At FGC it did not occur in any other Z18 person including other Elmers. I’m not sure what to make of that.

With full genomes Y-Elite testing for one man under Ed Elmer 2 and Big Y 700 for two of us, I think this list of SNPs is the go to list for testing men on this branch of the Elmer family: Ed1 -> Ed2 ->Hezekiah -> Daniel:

  • 15413588 A to G FT207533+ FGC93151+
  • 21824986 A to G FT208074+ FGC93152+
  • 3232865 G to C FT206108+ FGC93149+
  • 4031585 T to G FT206255+ FGC93150+

ZP125 Conversations

In my big Y 700 Community I talk about the ZP125 group, with thoughts on aging and migration. It has been a group of men that I’ve watched really since the beginning without any indications of just how closely related we all are. I’ve been lucky enough to have ongoing conversations with men in this group since roughly 2012 when I received a comment on my 2010 posting about the blue pin in Belgium on my map for the revenge of 458.2. These continuing conversations are valuable insights and perspectives from outside my echo chamber and offer me an opportunity to reconsider my ideas and inform my little diary of research here.

no comment…

First things first, it looks like I’ve been forgetting to turn comments on for my posts, so my posts from December still were not allowing comments. A person reading this may miss some conversation with Chris Wright which is ultimately about ZP125 but is a comment on DF95 not alone in being alone.

DIY Age Estimates

Through the course of conversation with Chris and ongoing emails with my possible Irish Aylmer testers and several great posts in the U106 group, I can see that my own estimates for common ancestors, trying to count back from SNP ages provided by the U106 group, are off by hundreds of years.

Their ages still seem to be on the mark I just veer off track when I’m trying to guesstimate the ages for SNPs they didn’t have.

Here is a repeat of the comment I left on my posting that gives rough age estimate calculations we can make if we have results from the men in a group.

Very recently, after these posts, The U106 group’s Iain McDonald gave out a rough way to estimate ages between two testers. This calls into question my rough estimates here, especially for the ZP125 group which didn’t have a full set of age estimates to look at.

Since I don’t know the specifics of each man in ZP187 I am going to use the information on the block tree at FTDNA which is averaged. I can only treat them as a single person. They have an average of 4 SNPs to themselves and it takes them 6 more SNPs to get back to ZP125 where Wright splits from them. So they have 10 SNPs. The U106 group is using 125 years as an average for years between SNPs in Big Y 500 tests. So the ZP187 men have 1025 years back (from 1950) to ZP125. In the block tree, Wright has 14 private variants back to ZP125 so 1750 years.

In their equation, we add the two sets of years together and then divide by 2 (the number of people since I can only count ZP187 men as an averaged person). So that would put a common ancestor for you and the ZP187 men at 1388 years or roughly 1400 years before 1950.

So (10*125) + (14*125)/2 or 1025 + 1750 / 2 = 1388.

1950 – 1388 is 562 so around 500 or 600AD for a common ancestor.

Which is about 600 years older than my guesstimate based on number of SNPs between blocks.

This aging equation is similar to one I’ve seen recently from my own test at Yfull. YFull limits the amount of the Y they look at (so they limit the number of SNPs they get). They use an equation that adds 144 years per SNP and then adds 60 to each year set and divides the total of all of that by the number of testers. So Yfull might give an estimate like

(1025+60) + (1750+60) / 2 = 503

About the same range we get using the U106 group method for common Y ancestors.

If you have uploaded your results to Yfull you can see that equation in the info section of a shared SNP. It’s pretty interesting to see how they do it. I’m not sure if their add on factor of 60 changes based on circumstances or if it is there to add a margin of error to everyone.

Thoughts on Migration

With permission, I’m going to post a message from Peter de Burghgraeve, who has been a source of great ideas and information for the past 8 years. As I was reading his message, I thought it would be best to post it in his words. He also addresses the concerns about aging and the Wright family based on history rather than numbers of SNPs.

You wrote the 1st of January in the ‘My Big Y 700 Community’ : That means the Wrights from England have a shared ancestor with men from Belgium, Netherlands and Poland around 1200AD… If my hypothesis would be correct, that common ancestor is either likely around 870 or the Wrights are a family descending from continental Europe if the common ancestor would be more recent than that 870.

But let me start my hypothesis with a historical fact: there is a family Burchgrave documented in Ghent around 1380 and those were the Castle Wardens of Vijve (I probably wrote that before that the name Burchgrave, in its many variants, means Castle Warden). At about the same time period there are Burchgrave’s in that very same Vijve with the same armorials as that Ghent family, and a few Burchgrave men in Tielt with also the same armorials. All belong to their respective city/area alderman’s or upper class. So documents cannot prove it, as there is little archive of the era’s preceding, but it is not a big leap to assume these are 3 branches of the same Vijve family.

It is also a fact that we see the castle wardens of Vijve changing their name from ‘Vijve’ into Burchgrave around 1250 (or at least before).

Now assumptions… My fully documented genealogy runs dead with the brothers Pieter, Gillis and Wouter, born about 1490 (but this is the ‘latest’, they could be born up to 10 years before that). But their father Legier and his sons Pieter, Gillis and Wouter could well fit in timing and given names of his sons with the Tielt family (1380 – 1500). The names do not fit with Ghent, Vijve, nor Kemmel. And there are no known Burchgrave’s before that time in other places. So we cannot link my Legier with Ghent, Vijve or Kemmel, but they do fit with Tielt. Also, but that would fit with Vijve and Ghent as well: my family arrives into Passendale and immediately marries with the local magistrate family of the Ypres area, and they have the financial means to buy some properties in Passendale. Son Wouter became bailiff of a small local lordship.

So back to the larger hypothesis: my family is a very branched-out family of descendants of the old castle wardens of Vijve. That family is recorded since 1040, they were also the lords of Vijve, hence why they get called ‘Van Vijve’ meaning from Vijve. When things turn for the worse (politicly) around 1127, they keep the castle wardenry, but it gets downgraded and they no longer are the lords of Vijve. That could well be the reason why they now get styled Burchgrave and no longer Van Vijve instead.
Stanuszjek was of the opinion that his family descended from the Germanic settlement into Polish areas: , that would not contradict my hypothesis, as that Ostsiedlung had Flemish people among them and a family who got their fortunes a bit turned down would have been a primary source of youngsters looking for better chances elsewhere.

How Winne would fit into this… Well, the family Winne came from Ghent and left it with the religious wars (at least our Winne descending from a protestant branch). At that time the Burchgrave’s of Ghent were part of the political class of the ruling protestants and I’m guessing a non-paternal event. Although Ghent was a protestant republic for some time, the vast majority of inhabitants remained catholic, the group of protestant not being that big Winne’s and Burchgrave can easily have come into contact.

And now going back further in time, really hypothetical The castle of Vijve is known as of 900, so it could well have been older but not that much. The local historical amateurs look at it and talk about the Vikings… Well, we know the Heathen Army attacked Ghent 879 and in 880 went south to Kortrijk (Vijve been smack in that path between these two cities). And we do know of Vikings been appointed lordships in turn to defend of their fellow Norsemen from further attacks (Frisia, Normandy…). So it is not impossible that a Viking warlord took or build the castle in Vijve and got bestowed with the castle wardenry in return promising to defend the area. That could be a possible explanation why the historical records seem to esteem the mother of the castle warden Lambert in 1080 higher than his unnamed father (the local Lady coming from a family being Christian for some time, while the Viking descend’s father’s family would have been heathen not so long ago).

But that would very likely put our relation with Wright further back in time, before 875. Unless some of this castle warden’s descendants went back to England?

The Great Heathen Army was largely a new invasion into England, with new Norsemen/Vikings, but they did not get the chance to do much there, they got rather quickly expelled out so they then went to raid the coasts of France, Low Countries and so on. Could this explain that Wright is more recently related to us than those other ‘English’ families that descended from earlier invasions into England?

It’s as good a theory as anything I have posted and has more historical context for our continental cousins and the timing of the match with Wright. I think you can make a good case for “the Danes” being at the root of our little group under BY41998. For reference here is some speculation from 2015 that follows similar lines, although without the detail that Peter has: Common Ancestors and Speculations.

Although the page has a lot of possible migration routes, down the page a bit is a crude map that I think outlines the kind of movement Peter is talking about (my assumption in this map is that we funnel through Denmark):

map of migration from Norway to Ireland then through Denmark to England and Belgium and from Belgium to Poland.

Over the Christmas break, I quietly ordered a big Y 700 test for Jensen, our tester from Denmark. Unfortunately, he died several years ago. His wife has been told that his kit will be tested as is, likely using up any sample they had left. I hope that it can complete the tests, but it is possible that I am too late.

Elmers, Elmers Everywhere in Essex

Following up on some research from my previous post: Ed Elmer, Regular Guy.

“Some Mistakes were Made”

Near the end of the post, I mentioned trying to order reads of the Poll Tax documents in the UK national archives in Kew which I had found while searching the E 179 Database. The Poll Tax rolls sometimes include information about people and there was a roll that included names from Braintree in 1629, which with a lucky roll of the dice might contain some information on local Elmers and maybe some idea of their net worth based on taxes.

In my excitement, I ordered something like 8 different lookups, which were pretty inexpensive. I think the grand total was something just under $100. In return, I received 8 notifications that they could not scan these old scrolls, but that I was welcome to hire a local researcher or come to Kew myself and have a look at them.

Needless to say, I felt dumb for ordering so many lookups at once. I also feel that the message I got back telling me I could visit Kew and look at the documents myself was an automated response designed for people in Britain who are looking up more recent documents. It would be highly unlikely that the national archives would allow me, a random guy from the U.S., to walk in and mess around with parchments from 1629.

I had no doubt that I could hire a researcher, but that I could also pay for hours of their time, only to have them eventually tell me that they couldn’t just walk into the national archives at Kew and mess around with rolls of parchment from 1629. The rates for independent researchers are negotiated between you and the researcher, although they do offer research services and did provide a nice listing to help find researchers specialized in your time period of interest or in specific groups of records.

Having just been (stupidly on my part, I admit) charged $11 per email for 8 copies of the same templated email, I fear that hiring a researcher could lead to some expensive life lessons that I cannot afford.

I always say that genealogy is really a selfish pursuit. It’s a “me-time” thing and it’s also a me-money thing. I know I’ve said it’s a rich man’s game. Basically, it requires time and usually some disposable income. Finding documentation of your great grandfather who made two dollars a day in a farmer’s field is not going to be the top priority of someone currently making two dollars a day in some farmer’s field.

My wife realizes that this is my thing and that I’m going to funnel some time and money to it. My kids couldn’t care less about it.

Switching over to my role as a father of two with a car payment and mortgage, I couldn’t find where there was an upper limit to what a person could spend on a researcher for, possibly, zero return on investment.

In the future, if I come into some large source of “gambling” money, I might just hire a researcher, but right now, it seems like a very expensive fishing expedition because I have no idea what is contained in the documents I’d like them to look over.

Getting Some Data

Since then, I’ve put some money and time into various searches trying to feel my way around this elephant. Getting a subscription to which gives you the feeling you are definitely being scammed, but has some really good indexes and a nice search feature that I would say is better than

I also accidentally found a way to order books on the hearth tax for various counties through the Centre for Hearth Tax Research and The British Records Society. In the 1670s there was a tax put in place on the number of hearths in a home and it lists both taxed and non-taxed owners. It is nearly 40 years after Ed Elmer leaves England, but assuming he wasn’t a unicorn and had some family left behind, it’s a way to see who they might be. I received a nice hardcover book with hearth tax records from Essex, which has been interesting all by itself but did at least contain some “Elmer” records. posts a rough guide to social groups based on the number of hearths:

8 and above
Gentry and above with many surviving examples today.
Wealthy craftsmen and tradesmen, merchants and yeomen, some of whose houses survive today.
Craftsmen, tradesmen and yeomen, very few of which have survived to modern times.
Labouring poor, husbandmen, poor craftsmen whose homes have long since vanished. One hearth could typically heat four small rooms, two up and two down stairs often occupied by two or even more families.

My best guess previously at social standing was that Ed Elmer was a Yeoman or more likely Husbandman, not at the bottom rung of the ladder but not in the Gentry either. So these hearth tax records might give us an idea of the social standing of Elmers found in other records and searches and some idea of the surnames surrounding them that may appear in other records and searches.

As an example, I’ve used John Talcott as a person to measure Ed against when thinking about his family in England. The Talcotts in Colchester (where John’s grandfather is from) have 5 to 16 hearths in their homes. A 10 hearth listing belongs to Thomas Talcott who is listed as a gentleman. A William Talcott has 16. While Gentleman Thomas Talcott from Feering (3 to 4 miles from Coggeshall Hamlet) has 9 hearths.

The other thing this survey can help with is that John Talcott is listed as being from Braintree, but obviously has ties to Colchester. Is Ed in a similar situation?

Although I found perfectly good Elmers, Aylmers, Elmars, Ellmers and Elmores in Norfolk, Suffolk, Middlesex, Sussex, Kent, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Surrey, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, Somerset and London from the 1300’s to the 1600’s I’m going to focus on Essex (for the moment) because it is the last place we can put a pin for Edward Elmer. It is generally given as his departure point.

I apologize for the size of this list, I’m trying to leave myself some notes on Elmers alive or dead in Essex around the time of Ed and some idea of how many there are.


A map of the pinpoints for Elmer records in Essex in the 1500s and 1600s. I’m trying to break down the towns by “area” but I’m not sure of the relationships of all the towns because I’m not from Essex. So I may group a town “near” Tollesbury incorrectly associating the two because I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ll bold the hearth tax records.

broad overview map of Elmers in Essex listed below.
Pins representing the locations of Elmers listed below


Ed Elmer was part of the Braintree Company but also Hooker’s company, following Reverend Thomas Hooker to what would become Hartford Connecticut. Thomas Hooker was a lecturer in Chelmsford and retired to Little Baddow before leaving for North America.

1670 Hearth Tax – Ellmer – 5 hearths – interesting that it is just listed as Ellmer, others similarly have no first name, like Whitehead (3 hearths) and Mr. Wall (6 hearths). This Ellmer would have qualified as a wealthy craftsman, tradesman or yeoman.

Date 6th November 1575 Groom John Gotsall, Bride Susan Elmar

1683 Theophilius Aylmer (apothecary), Chelmsford

Hattfield Peverel

1612 Samuel Almer, in Hattfield Peverel. The Churchwardens tried to take his cow.


Date of Baptism 13th August 1570 Venefred Elmer, Father’s Name Richard Elmer, Place Boreham St Andrew, Essex

Little Baddow

Date 20th October 1567 Groom: Edmond Hawkes, Bride Elizabethe Elmar, Parish Little Baddow St Mary the Virgin


1670 – Hearth Tax – Brabason Aylmer Gentleman – 8 hearths


Date of Baptism 27th April 1597 Thomas Elmer, Father William Elmer, Maldon St Peter

Date 16th April 1613 Groom William Elmer, Bride Mary Frend, Parish Maldon St Mary the Virgin


It seems like the general area of Braintree and Coggeshall was important to Puritans who later moved to North America with Ed. Many of these locations are also in the sphere of Colchester.

Date 11th September 1619 Groom Gregory Elmore, Bride Elizab Beacha, Parish Coggeshall St Peter Ad Vincula

Coggeshall Hamlet (Little Coggeshall)

1670 Hearth Tax – Charles Elmer – 2 hearths – It appears he is listed as discharged by certificate, which means he wasn’t liable for the tax. If I’m reading it right then the majority of hearths listed in Coggeshall Hamlet are not taxed. Would also qualify as a yeoman or craftsman.

1696 – Will for Thomas Elmer, Little Coggeshall


Reverend Samuel Stone, another founder of Hartford, was a curate at Stisted between Braintree, Coggeshall and Earls Colne.

1628 court record for Gad Elmer, Labourer from Braintree, along with Walter Wall, assaulted Thomas Whitehead. See the Hearth tax for Chelmsford where all these surnames appear as well.


Date 24th November 1617 Groom Edmond Elmar, Bride Alice Hill
Groom’s Parish or Abode Kelveden, Parish Messing All Saints

Date of Burial 26th December 1619 Edmund Elmer, Parish Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date of Burial 14th June 1585 Alice Elmor Parish Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date of Burial 9th October 1616 Helen Elmer, Husband Edmund Elmer, Parish Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date of Baptism 14th January 1626 Joan Elmer, Father John Elmer, Mother Helene Elmer, Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date of Baptism 12th April 1629 William Elmer, Father John Elmer, Mother Helene Elmer, Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date of Baptism 23rd February 1633 Charles Elmer, Father John Elmer Mother Helen Elmer, Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date of Baptism 25th June 1637 Elizabeth Elmer, Father John Elmer, Mother Helene

Date of Baptism 21st November 1624 John Elmmer, Father John Elmmer, Mother Helene, Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin


Date of Baptism 1st March 1572 Roberte Elmore, Father Roberte Elmore, Messing All Saints, Essex

Date of Baptism 21st March 1573 Susan Elmore, Father Robarte Elmore, Messing All Saints

Earls Colne

1582 John Almer, Earls Colne

Date of Burial 17th February 1569 John Elmer, Parish Saffron Walden St Mary the Virgin (yep…two in a row)


A lot of the outlying towns that contain Elmers are within the sphere of influence of Colchester.

Date of Burial 31st August 1594 Edy Elmer, Parish Colchester St Leonard


1614 Robert Elmer alias Tyler, documented in 1614 and again documented in 1616 from Wivenhoe outside Colchester.


Date of Baptism 7th July 1640 Samuel Elmer, Father Edmund Elmer Profession: Clerk, Aldham St Margaret and St Catherine

Beaumont Cum Moze

Date of Burial 16th December 1599 Mary Elmar, Father’s Name Robart Elmar, Parish Beaumont-Cum-Moze St Leonard – Also a birth record for Mary in May of this year.

Baptism Date of 14th December 1600 John Elmar, Father Robart Elmar, Mother Mary Beaumont-Cum-Moze St Leonard

Date of Burial 30th August 1603 Elmar, Father Robart Elmar, Parish Beaumont-Cum-Moze St Leonard

Date of Baptism 1st January 1604 Mary Elmer Father Robert Elmer, Beaumont-Cum-Moze St Leonard, Essex

Date of Burial 23rd January 1615 Mary Elmer, Husband Robert Elmer, Parish Beaumont-Cum-Moze St Leonard

Date of Baptism 21st April 1606 Rychard Elmar, Father Robart Elmar, Mother Mary

Date of Baptism 18th September 1608 Elizabeth Elmar, Father Robart Elmar, Mother Mary

Date of Baptism 23rd April 1611 Grace Elmar, Father Robart Elmar, Mother Mary


13th June 1616 Groom’s Name Robert Elmar, Bride’s Name Sara Wright, Parish Manningtree St Michael and All Angels


Date 25th September 1626 Groom William Elmer, Bride Susan Convin, Parish Bradfield St Lawrence

Date of Burial 1st July 1628 William Elmer, Parish Bradfield St Lawrence

Date of Baptism 30th September 1627 Henry Elmer, Father William Elmer, Mother’s Name Susan, Bradfield St Lawrence


Date 3rd August 1635 Groom Robertus Ashley, Bride Maria Elmer, Parish Thaxted St John the Baptist Our Lady and St Lawrence

Saffron Walden

Date of Burial 29th October 1568 John Elmer, Parish Saffron Walden St Mary the Virgin

Sible Hedingham

Date of Burial 28th August 1611 Ane Elmer, Parish Sible Hedingham St Peter

Little Canfield

Date of Baptism 25th July 1568 Jone Aylmor, Mother Margery Aylmor Little Canfield All Saints

Stapleford Tawney

1670 Hearth Tax – William Elmer – 1 hearth – discharged by certificate.

Will – 1606 or 1696 – Mary Elmer in Stapleford-Tawney, interesting because she lists a male “Cattlyn” and our Mary Unknown (Edward Elmer of Hartford’s wife) married Thomas Caitlin after Edward’s death.


1513 Thomas Aylmer, Gentleman of Harlow near Thaxted


1558 – 1578 – Plaintiff Thomas Halys, Defendant Edward Elmer


There were so many Elmer records from Tollesbury that I got tired of seeing records from Tollesbury.

Date 27th January 1615 Groom’s Name Rob Paynter, Bride’s Name Susan Elmor, Groom’s Parish or Abode Toleshunt Major, Bride’s Parish or Abode Tolsburie, Parish Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date 3rd November 1594 Groom Thomas Pale, Bride Susan Elmer

Date 17th April 1597 Groom John Eve, Bride Mary Elemer

Date of Baptism 20th June 1577 John Elmer, Tollesbury

Date of Baptism 12th November 1581 Mary Elmer, Tollesbury

Date of Baptism 7th November 1583 Elizabeth Elmer, Tollesbury

Date of Baptism 17th October 1585 Robert Elmer, Tollesbury

Date of Baptism 18th October 1579 William Ellmer, Tollesbury

Date of Baptism 11th August 1588 Margaret Elmore, Tollesbury

Date 11th November 1605 Groom John Elmen, Bride Susan Elmer, Tollesbury

Date of Burial 1st October 1604 Rebecca Elmer, Husband John Elmer

Date of Burial 11th June 1608 Susan Elmer, Father John Elmer

Date of Burial 28th June 1612 Elizabeth Elmer

Date of Burial 18th November 1614 John Elmer

Date of Burial 25th November 1621 Ratchell Elmer

Date of Burial 12th July 1625 William Elmer

Date of Baptism 19th May 1616 Mary Elmer, Father Willi Elmer

Date of Baptism 4th October 1619 William Elmer, Father William Elmer, Mother Ratchell

1578 – previous search record for Rob Elmer Tollesbury

1608 previous search record for John Elmer in Tollesbury

1623 previous search record for William Elmer in Tollesbury

Great Stambridge

Date of Baptism 19th September 1648 Ann Elmor, Great Stambridge St Mary and All Saints


1670 Hearth Tax – Widow Ellmer – 1 hearth – discharged by certificate so not paying the tax.

West Mersea

Date of Burial 8th September 1618 Bartholomews Elmer, Abode Westmerzea, Parish Harwich St Nicholas

1644 Robert Elmer, Seaman. Will from West Mersea

More Elmers than Expected

So, yeah, there are a lot of Elmers in Essex in the time of Ed Elmer. Specifically looking at the Hearth tax and thinking about Elmers who could afford a trip to the new world and walking that back from 1670 to 1640. Here is the short Hearth Tax list for Essex:

8 hearths for Brabason in Ulting – gentleman (descendant of Bishop Aylmer)
5 hearths in Chelmsford – wealthy yeoman
2 Hearths in Coggeshall Hamlet – yeoman
1 hearth in Stapleford Tawney – labourer
1 hearth in Tillingham – labourer

In my post on Ed Elmer Regular Guy, my theory based on his means was that he wasn’t the bottom rung of the ladder, but also not a gentleman. He had means, but clearly not the amount of means of others he lived near in the new world. The Puritans made sure every man had something but some people had more something than others and they brought that with them.

Ulting is close to Braintree but we haven’t been able to find any family ties between Ed Elmer and Brabason Aylmer’s family. Most of the Aylmers are well documented and so we’ve been able to find death records for our suspect Edward Aylmers. We could totally be related to the Bishop, but I suspect it would be in a more round-about fashion through his brother or uncle or great uncle, something that wouldn’t let Ed have access to their wealth and standing.

Gad Elmer from braintree in 1628 is a labourer and he’s listed with Wall and Whitehead there. I bring that up because I see those same names pop up in Chelmsford hearth taxes. My previous theory though was that Ed was not a labourer (although that may be misguided), but it’s also completely possible that Gad is a relative of Ed’s. Some of my cousins live one town away from my family and there is a clear income gap between our families. What if Gad was Ed’s cousin?

Given my bias that Ed is a yeoman or a tradesman of some sort, I’d be looking at those families from Chelmsford on the high end (roughly 12 miles from Braintree) and Coggeshall which is just about 6 or 7 miles from Braintree. Of course you get to the point where everything is only so far from everything else in the region.

Other People on the Lyon who are from Essex

Ed travels on the Lyon, so that had me wondering if other people on the Lyon were from Essex and what towns they came from.

Using the Whipple family’s break down of the Lyon passenger list as a guide (A Whipple being a witness to Gad’s crime up there) here is my laundry list of origins for Essex Lyon travelers:

  • Braintree
  • Nazeing
  • Coggeshall
  • Halstead
  • Dedham
  • Bocking
  • Hatfield Broad Oak
the road from Nazeing Essex to Dedham.

This isn’t the full list of origins for people on the Lyon, just those thought to be from Essex.

What did I Learn?

Getting in the wayback machine, what I learned a long time ago is that Braintree is under-represented when it comes to birth and death records because many of those records were damaged. The fact that we can find records from Braintree or about Elmers from Braintree like Gad (above) is then a small miracle.

It leaves us without a definitive record of Edward’s birth though. I also do not see the birth of Gad Elmer of Braintree. I couldn’t find any birth marriage or death records from Braintree, just that one lucky court document for Gad with a list of familiar names.

There are definitely Elmers whose parish records do show up near Braintree in places like Kelvedon and Coggeshall. Which is interesting, if not definitive.

There are Elmers near Braintree who would fit the bill as yeoman class families, as the Hearth Tax shows, in Coggeshall Hamlet and again not too far away in Chelmsford.

Looking at his Puritan leanings; Samuel Stone (who named Hartford Connecticut) was a curate at Stisted near Braintree, Hooker lectured in Chelmsford. Ed Elmer followed these men to Hartford and may have been part of their parishes while in England. Stisted is 5 miles from Coggeshall Hamlet where the lower end Yeoman family of Elmers lives in 1670 and Chelmsford is where a wealthier Yeoman family of Elmers lived.

Edward is part of the “Braintree Company” which contains a lot of Braintree residents but people outside of Braintree were part of the company too.

There is are quite a few Elmers in Essex in the late 1500s to the late 1600s. Nothing compared to the flood of records from Norfolk, but clearly a big enough population that Edward could be born there.

If he was somewhat like John Talcott, attributed to Braintree but with roots in a different town, then it seems like Chelmsford or Coggeshall Hamlet could be those towns. Either place along with Braintree, would also have put him within range of the Men who would lead the group to Hartford (Hooker and Stone).

The end result is that I feel good about Chelmsford or Coggeshall and even close towns like Kelvedon as possible source locations for our Elmers, but I was not able to find any records that would pin Edward to them.

Bakers Blaze a Trail and Light the Path for Others

Back in 2016, I wrote about a hidden test, marking a hidden branch in the Cumberland tree, for a kit listed as “Baker” that had testing but was unresponsive to contacts. In the years that followed another Baker tested along with Schmidt and their results for this DYS458 normal branch came to light and defined a new haplogroup in the Cumberland cluster. Below is the Family Tree DNA block tree for the Cumberland cluster and its large number of shared SNPs. To the left is the branch I’m on in ZP85 which seems to coincide with a DYS458 micro-allele. To the right are our brother branches including the branch for Baker and Schmidt (and likely others) R-BY38913.

cts12023 or DF95 with our ZP85 branch and the Baker/Schmidt BY38913 branch.

The image below is the R-BY38913 group (from my perspective in the FTDNA block tree):

The Bakers themselves are on BY61595 on the left, related to James Baker born circa 1700 AD in Virginia. The fact that they have so many public SNPs and a small average of private SNPs usually means that two of the kits have different surnames. For instance, FTDNA lists several of the Elmer private SNPs after 1600 as public and I believe that is because one of our kit holders has the ancestral surname Aylmer assigned to his kit rather than the Elmer the rest of us have. So it could be a Baker with some other spelling or it could be another man in the Baker’s circle of DNA matches like the Hill family which may be closely related.

The test on the right, I believe is Schmidt who had ordered an SNP pack for comparison in 2016. Although I haven’t had a chance to communicate with Schmidt, I’ve got to thank them for their continued progress in testing and shining lights in the dark.

Here there be Dragons

Recently, I’ve struggled with age estimates that don’t come from a service like YFull or from the U106 group’s work with Big Y 500, but there are a couple of equations we can use (lovingly borrowed from the U106 group and YFull) for rough aging to hold us over until FTDNA releases their own age analysis tools.

The numbers we need to consider are an estimated number of years per SNP. For YFull that number seems to be 144 years because of the regions of the Y they monitor. For FTDNA big Y 500 that number is 125 years per SNP. For Big Y 700 and FGC Y Elite it’s 83 years.

Then you consider the number of testers and the number of SNPs separating the two tests.

For Big Y, You multiply each tester by the appropriate number of years for their test. Then add all those sums together and divide by the number of testers.

Taking a swing at it here, since the Baker branch in the block tree is averaged I can only count it as one test. It has 25 SNPs and I believe it’s a composite of Y700 tests so 25*83 = 2075 years back to the common ancestor with Schmidt. Schmidt has 11 and I believe their test is a Big Y 500 so 11*125 = 1375 years. Then we add the two together and divide by the two tests we have (since one seems to be a baker average) 3450/2 = 1725 years back to a common ancestor.

Back from where? Well most people have counted from 1950 as a the average birth year of testers, but if you knew the testers you could ask them and then get the average of their birth years to use. For now, I’ll go with 1950 – 1725 years which would be about 225AD.

Now if Schmidt is a Y700 then his number would change to 913 and the end result would be about 456AD.

When the Baker kits were Big Y 500 they had 16 variants to Schmidt’s 11 which calculating it out with 125 years apples to apples would be 262 AD for a common ancestor with Schmidt. The Bakers have a lot of SNPs which makes me think they may have more mutations in the testable range than the average bear. That could serve to skew their rough estimates older than if we were comparing others or had more testers on more branches in their group to work with.

Unfortunately, Baker stands alone at YFull and they’re not giving away the number of SNPs for the Baker kit there (that I can see) so if I use the Big Y 500 standard for them and Schmidt, but the YFull scheme I’ve seen used for my own kit, it would be (16 * 144)+60 for Baker and (11*144)+60 for Schmidt then divide by 2. So they might estimate about 54AD for a common ancestor.

That puts the Schmidt/Baker common ancestor within spitting range (give or take several hundred years) of the common ancestor of Y15995/ZP121 in Iain McDonald’s calculations.

These are pre-migration period people who would have lived while the Roman Empire was the major power in the world.

The Bakers have been kind enough to include me on some of their conversations and research over the past year and it is good to follow up and conclude a 2016 mystery with a happy return. I can’t say “ending” because we seem to keep learning and growing and I doubt this is the end for the R-BY38913 group.

My Big Y 700 Region

My previous post followed the big Y block tree back to about 500 BC. In comparison to the older Big Y 500 results and even previous FTDNA block tree iterations, I’m seeing a finer-grained map with new SNPs not necessarily at the family level, but up in the tree defining and connecting branches that may have seemed wholly separate.

I’m writing about all of this in one massive series because I have a moment now around the holidays, before my classes start again (back to school as a working adult), to take a longer look. It means that my information may change quite a bit down the line when my results go through a human review.

This is my catch up mechanic, work and school have pulled me away from genetic genealogy, so my own big Y results are helping me figure out what has changed in the last couple of years.

I’ve chosen a geographical metaphor for my big Y results as a way to get a handle on the scope of what I’m seeing and thinking about my place in that scope. Big Y, effectively drops you off at your front door and allows you to see testers who live down the street, around the block, in your town etc.

Although I’m using geographical metaphors and locations, it’s important to know that each of these people is related through a single male line going back thousands of years. Where we choose to stop is just where we choose to stop, the line goes back to the beginning.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, the line of men has no culture and at the same time many cultures. Culture is not decided by genetics, culture is a social construct in time and usually surrounding a location that our Y lines move through. I’m going to say that ZP124 is English (right now) and ZP85 is Scandinavian but all of these lines are also Steppe people as we move backwards through different times and locations and ultimately all of us end up being African.

In my previous post, R-ZP85 is a turning point for me because of the importance of the acquisition of a micro-allele at DYS458 in my quest to research my own family. It is a dividing line marking one brother slightly different than other brothers in the same family. It is a freak of nature, like all mutations, and in the end, another waypoint to guide us.

That brings me to, I think, the heart of the matter and the parent group R-CTS12023 also referred to here often as R-DF95. What the block tree makes clear is that everyone in R-DF95 is the offspring of a single man who is basically alone after 24 SNPs, a minimum of 24 generations of men do not appear to define their branches. CTS12023 has an age estimate of just 600 to 700 BC, not too far from the root person for R-ZP85. Those 24 SNPs mark more than 24 generations. The next block up is shared by all men who are related to R-Z18 so CTS12023 represents about 1700 years of men and entire branches of the family who seem to have disappeared.

In this group you will find people from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Poland. All of us seem to be the product of an expansion at end of the Nordic Bronze Age. So it looks like we got squeezed down to one man and have been recovering ever since.

Being extremely old connected in a direct line back to Z18, but also extremely young as a group with no side branches until 700 BC explains why our STR results are very similar to each other and very different from others in R-Z18. There is no one along the way from point A to point B to show incremental change. Spreading out from an inhospitable Scandinavia and taking part in the Germanic migrations helps explain why we are so similar to each other and so dispersed around Northern Europe.

The FTDNA block tree for CTS12023 also shows where there is work to be done (at least from the perspective of FTDNA). Those blocks of private variants below CTS12023, so high in the tree, may point to a lack of branches, but probably point to a lack of testers. Although many men have tested, not everyone is tested to this level, probably for financial reasons. It’s expensive. What we see here is not all the information, but all the information that the market within FTDNA has provided.

The FTDNA block tree only represents people who have tested at FTDNA, not those who may have walked the path down at YSEQ or FGC. The SNPs in the tree that are marked as FGC#### or A#### were named and or discovered by FGC and YSEQ. The people who have followed those paths may have identified branches beneath CTS12023 that will not appear in the FTDNA block tree necessarily.

As a matter of perspective, it is good then to know that FTDNA is the major player in this space, especially in the U.S., but is not the only player. We’re seeing the data presented as they have access to it, but not necessarily as it exists in the world.

There is no unified repository or analysis of these results.

The parent of CTS12023 is the block of 9 or so SNPs that define R-Z18 a group that eventually leads to R-U106. In the FTDNA block tree, CTS12023 is a direct descendant of R-Z18 without any closer siblings.

If you’ve seen my previous posts from 2016 though you will know that Alex Williamson’s own block tree shows something a bit different. Alex connects CTS12023 with a brother group, now under R-S19726 which in the FTDNA block tree contains testers from Norway, Sweden, Finland, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Netherlands and Germany.

It is a difference of perspective on the available big Y and FGC data at the time, but Alex Williamson’s tree offers some possible insights. According to the notes the SNP connecting CTS12023 to S19726, labeled A19290, is ugly and the connection is hard to see in Big Y results alone. I’m not sure how to describe ZZ61 and ZZ62.

I don’t know if that means we’ll never see that connection in FTDNA’s version of the block tree or if it is just a series of more granular tests away.

In my big Y 700 results A19290 is there with a low-quality reading:

chrY 9739413 . A C 29.6785 QUAL=29.678453

Along with ZZ61 represented by a mutation Alex marks as ZZ61_1 (one of two possible mutations):

chrY 22205354 . G T 10.4682

…and ZZ62 showing as one of two possible mutations:

chrY 20149083 . A G 10.4682

Here is a link to Alex’s description of this block which he has positioned just beneath R-Z18:

Swinging back to CTS12023

Dropping back to CTS12023 for a moment here at the end, I’d like to highlight a point of interest that I alluded to above when talking about our ultimate origins in Africa.

All of the origin points for these families are also destination points for these families. My family under R-A2284 begins here in the North American colonies it is a native SNP to this continent as are any of my singletons that survive human review.

As we look at CTS12023 there are men whose families are as English as all get out, but who are more closely related to someone from Norway 1500 years ago than a CTS12023 person in the next county in England. My family is more closely related to men in Belgium than to people from the next county over in England. For some of these testers you have to go all the way back up to the tree to our root “one lucky DF95 guy who survived in 600 BC” and all the way back down another side to find men who lived a few kilometers from each other in Britain..or a few towns away in North America.

Where we’ve ended up is not necessarily part of any one concerted effort. Although I suspect that Mr. DF95 survived something awful in Scandinavia, the move from Scandinavia to any other origin for the majority of CTS12023 men was probably not a straight line. Each of our stories is part of a group movement, but they are also individual stories that are ironically illuminated by others whose ancestors picked a slightly different path or moved at a different time.

If your family is Swiss (and I know there is at least one Swiss CTS12023 family) I’m not saying your family isn’t Swiss. If your family is from England then…your family is from England. What I am saying is that it is highly unlikely that they popped out of the ground or spontaneously spawned out of the rocks there.

My Big Y 700 City

As we move along it will help to know that my age ranges and estimates are based on the work of the U106 group based on big Y 500 results and so are very much estimates.

My previous two posts pretty well covered something on the order of 800 to 1200 years of shared history, with most of the diversity of origins coming in closer to the 1000 plus year end of that range and the small number of matching families being plotted to the shores of southern north sea basin.

Looking at those results, with at least one English family more recently related to cousins in the Netherlands and Belgium than they were to other English families, that we’re witnessing multiple waves of migration.

The easy answer would be that one group of families arrived in England around 700 or 800AD while the other family arrived in Britain around 1100 or 1200AD. If we accept a general east to west migration, but it is possible that the families in the Netherlands and Belgium are the result of a back migration around 1200. It’s also possible that there are currently hidden continental cousins whose results are missing when examining the Knowltons, Elmers and Lunsfords in ZP124.

What is clear is that that in that in a 600 to 800 AD range, BY41998 gives rise to two new lines, with one group favoring England while the other favors the low countries.

by41998 map with seven families pinned to netherlands, belgium and england

The map above is a point in time guesstimate of ZP124 in blue and ZP125 in orange around 1000 to 1300AD. One of the orange markers in the low countries will end up in Poland and all of the markers in England will eventually end up in the U.S.

The next block back in time is a fairly big leap. Originally defined by 4 or 5 SNPs, the ZP121 block now shows 12 SNPs with at least 6 family origins. The matches are diverse enough that I’ll need to display the block in two images. On the left-hand side of this image you can see two new siblings for BY41998 leading to testers with plenty of novel variants to themselves. These novel variant blocks represent possibilities for undiscovered branches in the ZP121 family tree. One quirk in my ZP121 block matches is that Edwards from Wales shows as a DNA match where the more closely related match from Belgium does not. I would expect that to get cleaned up in the human review. The two sibling SNPs for BY41198, R-A19371 with descendants in England and Germany and BY101189 with Edwards from Wales, would I suspect have branched out in roughly the same time period.

The right-hand side also has new matches at the ZP121 level directly. Likely no potential sibling for BY41998 has been identified in those matches. They will probably eventually have some shared SNPs under the ZP121 block when more results come in. Here we have Germany, England, Ireland and Poland and the Polish match in this group is no closer or farther away than any other match. It would be harder to say if they were part of the Ostsiedlung migrating east or if they represent an older branch of ZP121 that migrated west.

My suspicion with both the left hand and right-hand groups without further evidence is that we’re seeing the Germanic migrations. The current best age estimate for ZP121 is around 300AD. With 12 SNPs, ZP121 represents another survivor story. He’s one man with a minimum of 12 generations behind him, but again likely many more. His descendants end up

All of these haplogroups are under the parent group of R-Z18 which is age estimated to have originated in a man born around 2500 BC and is a descendant of R-U106 which is estimated to be a man born around 3000 BC. Although several groups in R-U106 contain Scandinavians, R-Z18 has a high proportion of Scandinavians. Where R-U106 is generalized as a Germanic haplogroup by many, R-Z18 is generalized as a Scandinavian sub-group.

These are cultural labels that don’t reflect on the actual culture of Mr. U106 or Mr. Z18 at all. Those guys were probably walking around with stone axes speaking some language that would be alien to their later descendants. The labeling reflects more on the distribution of the descendants of those men. The observation of this distribution has been made based on current testers and has generally been backed up by ancient DNA.

The Germanic migrations, to me, are a spaghetti mess of movement in Europe that sends a few generations of men far and wide as settlers in new locations and founders of new cultures and groups in those locations.

The U106 group has been doing a good job of tracking ancient U106 related DNA in a spreadsheet:

There you can find R-Z18 related men in 4th century Nordland, Norway and R-Z18 men in 6th century Somogy, Hungary. The man in Norway is not necessarily surprising, but the man in Hungary, part of an eventual Lombard culture, was born in Scandinavia based on isotope analysis (one of two Scandinavians I believe) living among unrelated Germans and various locals.

In later centuries R-Z18 men appear in Norway, Sweden, Iceland and burials in the Danelaw in England. In a broad generalization, R-Z18 men seem to be found in Scandinavia and then places where Scandinavians ended up in the era of the Germanic migrations and the Viking age.

It would be great to have enough testing, of both modern and ancient DNA to be able to place and track DF95 men in this same journey, but our haplogroup is so small and so recently defined that I’m not sure our SNPs have been tested for when it comes to ancient DNA. Any of the men simply marked Z18 in the spreadsheet could be DF95 men, but the size of our group makes it less likely that we’ll be identified in ancient remains.

It is no surprise though, given the evidence we have from ancient DNA and historical accounts of the migration period, that we would find R-Z18 men in R-ZP121 in a variety of locations in Europe.

One block farther back I find FGC78525, new since March 2019, which connects ZP121 men to men under BY39935 and BY66573. Again, like ZP121, I would expect that these are migration era sibling groups. Each of them has a long string of SNPs just like Mr ZP121, 12 to 15 generations all in a straight line. These two groups are currently dominated by matches from the Isles (England, Scotland, Ireland) while Mr. ZP121 has children from both the Isles and the continent. Just like ZP121 we could be looking at a lot of hidden branches that will be defined with further testing for these groups or we could be looking at the string of SNPs in the descendants of three survivors with everyone else who would have branched off along the way going extinct.

FGC78525 contains men in ZP121 as well as two new groups under BY39935 and BY66573. All three groups have long runs of 12 to 15 unshared SNPs

One more block back and we get to ZP85 which seems to be correlated with the DYS458.2 micro-allele. ZP85 is the parent of FGC78525 above and another group defined by 14 SNPs in a long string leading to a tester from Norway and two Testers of unknown origin. My guess would be that the people in this R-PH1934 group split up at around the same number of SNPs as the split for ZP124 and ZP125 from BY41998, its age estimate is roughly 550 AD. My personal suspicion is that the subgroups of PH1934 represent splits in the Y line during and after the viking age and that there are more testers out there who could help define its branches.

My bet is that our mutual parent R-ZP85 has its roots in Scandinavia. ZP85 has an age estimate around 500BC which is in the vicinity of the end of the Nordic Bronze Age. I talk a bit about the end of the Nordic Bronze Age and references to climate change in a few of my posts in 2015 and 2016. This period is also sometimes called the “findless” age because of a population decline in Scandinavia and a lack of archeological finds.

There are enough blocks under ZP85 that I’m doing split screens left and right to capture them (hopefully in some meaningful way).

R-zp85, father of R-ph1934 and R-FGC78525
right hand side of ZP85 block tree

Mr R-ZP85 seems to be the originator of my ancestor’s DYS458.2 micro-allele, the tiny .2 number that vexed me so much in the early days of my search became important for sorting and then almost immediately was overshadowed by SNP discoveries. I think he also represents (barring new evidence) a diaspora of Scandinavians who would stop being Scandinavians and become Germans, Polish, Dutch, Belgians, English, Irish, Scots and Welsh.

My Big Y 700 Community

In my last post, I left off at the ZP124 block that currently defines three families of English colonists who arrived in a few different locations in North America within maybe 100 years of each other.

The ZP124 block gets us back to roughly 800AD covering about 1000 years for these three families. Right now, it would appear that it covers 1000 years in England and North America, but the entire picture is not known. With 1000 years to play with and rolling up on 5 years of Big Y testing, it seems like we should be seeing more families, and possibly more diversity of origins, in ZP124.

The next block back in time is interesting. It appears that it existed in March 2019. I can find it in my variants and in one of my Elmer cousin’s tests, both as low-quality SNPs. I don’t see it in Alex Williamson’s big tree, but apparently it is a direct connector to our brother branch. This block is BY41998. It represents at least one generation, but probably more. Currently, it is our cross over SNP that gives us matches in both England and Continental Europe:

This is also where my Big Y matches really begin to affect my personal display of the block tree. That is a shame because the block tree is hiding information based on my matches. My only display options are “show matches” or not and my matches currently seem to be a bit willy nilly (pre-human review).

Luckily I’ve been in contact with my ZP125 brethren so I have some idea who they are, but it would be easy to lose contact with them as testing progresses and more people are added. I don’t know if this is an answer to the GDPR (European privacy rules) or if it is just a quirk of “show matches” being additive rather than the default.

Personally, show surnames would be great because I could go to my Y STR match lists to contact people directly, look at available family trees…etc.

BY41998 is a connector to ZP125. BY41998 probably represents a few generations so roughly 600AD or 700AD for a common ancestor.

Looking at ZP125 will help define the transition. In that group we have the Wright family from England branching right off the ZP125 block. ZP125 contains at least 4 generations of men, but probably more.

Although I’ve heard that both FTDNA and Alex Williamson are working to include age estimates into their block trees, the best age estimates for these groups to date comes from the U106 group. Their analysis only takes into account people who were part of the U106 project, so the Wright family is not represented there. I can only guesstimate at ages surrounding those produced by the high-level math that went into age analysis a few years ago.

The four generations in the ZP125 block would make the split between Wright and the other men in the group, roughly equivalent to the Elmer family split with the Knowltons. 1200AD going by the U106 group age estimates for the Elmer/Knowltons.

That means the Wrights from England have a shared ancestor with men from Belgium, Netherlands and Poland around 1200AD while the Lunsfords, Knowltons, and Elmers share a common ancestor with the same group farther back in the 600 – 700AD range.

In this period between 1200AD and 600AD, our surnames have become mostly useless. They were probably assigned hundreds of years later. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about various migration routes and I feel like I could still make good arguments for all of them based on the evidence we have gathered since 2010. The truth is that it is all speculation. Nobody knows and we have no ancient remains to give us a guide-post.

In 2012, I posted that I was looking at where the leaves landed and trying to guess the wind. In that posting, I listed a germanic migration from west to east (the Ostsiedlung) that I am going to use as an example again when talking about the next block down, ZP150.

ZP150 contains matches from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Poland. The age estimate is roughly 1300AD for this group. In discussions going back a decade, our cousin in Poland was seen as a possible oldest root tester based on an east to west migration plan and a number of STR differences from other DF95 men. With better testing and direct communication comes more information though and it turns out the best fit is a west to east migration, the Ostsiedlung, connecting men from Belgium and the Netherlands to settlements in Poland. Talking with our distant cousin, his own genealogical work pointed to a similar conclusion. His family is a fairly recent addition to Poland with roots in the west.

No one was wrong for speculating that he could have been on an early branch of our tree in the East. It fit the model and the information at the time, but it is a good example that we have a lot left to learn because much of the evidence remains hidden.

The next block down is ZP187 and the age estimate for that block, which contains testers from Belgium and the Netherlands is about 1400AD. The families have different surnames again, I think, highlighting how recently surnames have been applied.

What I think we can say is that this is the current world of origin points of BY41998 and the central feature of that world is water:

At this point, we’re still fairly close to that thousand years of history mark, give or take a few hundred, BY41998 man has descendants on the continent and in Britain on both sides of the Southern North Sea Basin and some of those migrated as far away as Poland and North America in those thousand years.

My Big Y 700 Neighborhood

I ordered a Big Y 700 test for myself, taking advantage of a sale on upgrades. I’ve tested into the twigs and leaves of the Elmers at YSEQ, so I don’t expect anything earth-shattering from my own Big Y. It’s just been something I wanted to do and it will allow me to catch up on all the changes at FTDNA and hopefully compare to an Elmer Y Elite test from Full Genomes Corp.

My Elmer cousins got into Big Y pretty early in 2015, at great expense. Riding a wave of analysis from the R-Z18 and R-U106 groups, they blazed trails in both R-DF95 and at a family level. They defined Edward Elmer in a series of shared SNPs and helped to place our Knowlton cousins in the context of generations (they’re a minimum of five generations back from Ed).

As a family, we’ve continued to test internally using YSEQ, FTDNA, and FGC to try to place everyone. That is the serious work that everyone has been putting in.

I’ve dropped off the map

Along the way, I’ve been less involved in what was happening in our major haplogroups and the expansion taking place in big Y testing.

At the same time, I voluntarily left facebook (in stages so as not to get withdrawal symptoms) which meant…a lot of peace of mind really, but also some loss of contact with genetic genealogy facebook groups and genetic relatives who use Facebook as a primary communication tool.

Going back to school in January has also meant that my nights and weekends are pretty well spoken for until at least December 2020. I lost this website without even realizing it and needed some prodding from my DF95 compatriots to realize what happened and get it back.

In between twelve-page APA formatted papers on e-commerce, my fellow Cumberland Cluster members were showing me displays for SNPs that I’d never seen. I have to admit that I found myself lost in all the newness and the shifting landscape of Big Y since Big Y 700 came out.

The long story short is that my big Y is my catch-up mechanic. It is getting me a little more skin in the game so I can assess what I’m seeing from my own perspective.

This view of Alex Williamson’s big tree for DF95 is representative of where I left off:

The big tree for DF95 showing our string of shared SNPs for all DF95 men, layers down to the Elmers, and a lot of personal SNPs for everyone else.

I’ve been warned

As I go on here to look at my results, I’ve been warned that there is a second phase after your results appear that is a human review of your Big Y. With the Holidays in full swing, I doubt my human review has happened and I’ve been warned that it can take several months for the review to take place. The details of my results are subject to change. As an example, one of my distant Lunsford cousins started off with 12 private SNPs and ended up with only 1 after the human review.

Pre-human review, I have seven novel variants. Seven private SNPs, which seems like an awful lot.

In my results window they are shown as unnamed positions, but a quick trip to shows that all of my mutations have been named. Some of them in 2018 and others listed only as 2019. Here is a list of my mutations with the names I found for them:

  • 10926150 – FGC78529 – C to T
  • 11048867 – BY84358 – C to T
  • 15413588 – FT207533 – A to G
  • 21824986 – FT208074 – A to G
  • 3232865 – FT206108 – G to C
  • 4031585 – FT206255 – T to G
  • 6535656 – FGC78523 – G to T

The BY named SNPs are an older naming scheme for Family Tree DNA. Those named FGC were first named by Full Genomes Corp. Those beginning with FT are following a new naming scheme for FTDNA and those are also the ones that originate in 2019. It is possible that those 2019 SNPs are mine and have just already been named at Ybrowse by FTDNA (but not at FTDNA proper).

It’s also possible that those SNPs already exist in tests in a completely different haplogroup and I just happened to mutate the same way as someone in Haplogroup J or N..etc.

It’s also possible that these will evaporate upon human review.

Let’s take a look at my Pre-human review matches:

Three Elmer and Elmore big Y matfches and one Knowlton match

The first thing that I noted is different from the old days of Big Y is the number of matches. Pre-human review, I only have 13 matches, where in 2015 we could see nearly every DF95 person who tested as a match.

The top Elmer match and I share Edward Elmer 2 born in 1654 as a common ancestor. The second Elmore match and I go back to Edward Elmer born around 1610. The third Elmer match and I are actually the most closely related, sharing Hezekiah Elmer born in 1686.

The listing seems to be generally good, after the Knowltons come the Lunsfords as expected, but the Lunsford testers are split in half with our DF95 Winne tester, and an Edwards tester lodged in the middle.

This oddity will come into play when we look at the block tree.

The FTDNA Block Tree

I don’t expect the block tree to change much for me after human review except maybe in the display of match names based on possible changes to my match list. I don’t expect the basic structure will change or my placement in the overall framework. I’ve known for a long time now that I’m on branch R-A2284 which belongs to Edward Elmer 2. I expect that will stay the same.

The only possibilities I see for my test to add value is possibly filling in some gaps or cracks or adding to evidence that may not have existed in the original big Y back in 2015.

Along those lines, the FTDNA block tree based on Alex Williamson’s big tree, does a good job of laying out the new things I didn’t know existed:

FTDNA block tree showing my position in R-A2284 in a block next to a more distant Elmore cousin in R-A2276

I expected FTDNA would place me in R-A2284 because for their own reasons they’ve included that SNP, I suspect because one of our Elmores listed his last known ancestor as Aylmer or because they had some idea that it was an SNP from the 1600s. I’m not sure what the limit is, but there you have it.

In the block just above R-A2284 (the R-A2276 block) there are two new SNPs that belong to Ed Elmer 1610. One is R-A6929 which was a singleton and was rejected by YSEQ as too unreliable to test. It turns out that I carry that one too. The other is BY42042 which I wasn’t aware of at all. It doesn’t show up in my big Y test because it’s just not covered, but did show up in two of the older tests and our FGC Y elite test as a low quality read.

R-A2276 through BY42042 currently define Ed Elmer 1610

Why is that important? Because it puts at least two more generations between us and the common ancestor with the Knowlton family. That means a minimum of 7 generations or (figuring a 28 year generation) roughly a minimum of 196 years before Ed Elmer was born. That’s the minimum, but SNPs don’t seem to happen every generation so it is probably older than that. At the minimum it is possible they carried the surname Elmer or a variant as there are recorded uses of the name in the 1100s etc, but it’s also just as likely that we carried the surname Knowlton or that neither family carried either surname.

As we keep adding generations right at the time when surnames were starting to be solidified, it leaves open the possibility that there are more families we haven’t heard from that are either closer to the Knowltons or the Elmers and have a wholly different surname or point of origin. The R-A2276 block represents Ed Elmer, but it is a compilation of multiple generations of his male line ancestors representing hundreds of years of men.

Going farther back, we continue as ElmerKnowltons for a minimum of two more generations. It is probably longer than that. Those common male ancestors are represented by the ZP129 block.

Again, the ZP129 block represents a single common ancestor with the Knowltons, but also a compilation of several generations of men leading to that point person. It also leaves room for more families.

The ZP124 block represents our connection to the Lunsford/Lunceford family and the Rose family (a branch of the Lunsfords that occurs on this continent like my Thompsons are a branch of the Elmores). Once again we have a minimum of two generations but likely more. This block of matches is currently the last block of our matches that hails solely from the U.K. All subject to change of course as we may yet get matches from the continent that break this triad up.

For a minimum of 10 to 12 generations, everyone ends up somewhere in Britain. That would mean at a minimum the 1200’s to 1300’s. The best age estimate we have though says roughly 800AD for this connection given some randomness in generations and in SNPs found in those generations.

The shared SNP FGC78527 is new to me and based on an earlier screenshot from my friends in the DF95 Baker Clan, it’s new to the FTDNA block tree since at least March 2019.

This ZP124 block marks very roughly about 1000 years of shared and separate history. It is a lot to cover and for the majority of that time, we’ve been split apart, moving in our own directions. We’re all descendants of North American colonists from England, but those colonists were working independently at different times, they identified with different groups and were going to different locations to start new lives.

Only our DNA is left to tell the story and mark the passage of time.

Ancestry ThruLines

The previous incarnation of Ancestry Thrulines was DNA Circles which I thought was an excellent way to present the nebulous DNA connections that “might” bind people together, but an unfortunate way to present known connections.

ThruLines is, to me, an amazing way to show known DNA connections outside of a family tree. It is concise and straight forward with an easy to navigate tree interface. Here, for example, are my Elmore relatives on ancestry related to Halsey Orton Elmore in the default presentation:

thrulines showing me connected to my second cousin in the Elmore family back through our great grandfather and Halsey Orton Elmore

The presentation is simple, centered on me and my closest cousin. The navigation is pretty easy, if I want to look at more distant side connections to the same person, I can click to expand their sections.

ThruLines showing me, my second cousin expanded to show our third and second cousins with removals under Halsey Elmore's daughter Goldie Elmore

ThruLines gives you a map to your genetic relatives under known relatives and can give you a sense of the connections that have been bolstered by DNA and those connections that haven’t yet.

thrulines showing James Elmore 5th great grandparent with no connections until we hit James Walsworth Elmore who has 4 DNA matches.

You can clearly see that at least 4 of my Elmore cousins branch off under James Walsworth Elmore, but I have no genetic connections at Ancestry that branch to the side for his father James Elmore. That could be because James’ only other living child would be Charlotte (Elmore) Palmer and her descendants (if any) or it could be that most people’s family trees don’t go back to the 1700s on all branches.

5th great grandparents is largely recognized as a soft limit in genetic genealogy. Not that you can’t have DNA segments that go back farther, but that it becomes much harder to isolate the source of those segments by triangulation and that they can become small enough that the opportunity for a random match gets higher. It goes along with the 7cM soft limit. You can have good matches below 7cM, but it is harder to tell them from the bad matches at that size.

In any case, you can see that I’ve picked up many more matches for my 3rd great grandfather Halsey Orton Elmore than for his father and grandfather and those relationships and connections are nicely mapped out in ThruLines.

Suspects and Prospects

Starting with suspects. Although Revolutionary War Hero Mark Finks is the preferred Finks to be linked to, I have long suspected that we are descended from his brother Andrew Finks who was married to Mary Fielding. Most of this is based on the proximity of my John Finks to Fielding Finks in Virginia. They are listed near each other in the census and I suspected that they were brothers and that Fielding was carrying the name of their mother. At some point in the past I also found an interview with a descendant of Fielding that made that connection rather than the direct connection to Mark, although I can’t reproduce it here (so much is just a memory now).

Suffice it to say I thought it was a good enough bet to include it and it would appear that Ancestry ThruLines has a little hope for me there.

Thruline showing my connection to Andrew Finks through John Finks and a connection to a descendant of Fielding Finks.

It’s a slim margin with a 7cM match and I haven’t triangulated it myself by asking them to upload to for a segment comparison with my dad and other Finks relatives. Still there it is, offering the possibility of future matches that add some weight to my suspects.

One of the more interesting features of ThruLines (as with the previous DNA circles) is the suggested potential ancestors. It comes with caveats of course, but the system takes family trees of matches and others and suggests a common possible ancestor in your tree as potential prospects.

I’ll use my Campbell family which has been confusing for me from the start and I’ve been contacted and corrected about enough times that I don’t recall what is what, only that I probably have the wrong information.

Thrulines with a suggested father for my Duncan Campbell connected to genetic relatives left for me to evaluate.

ThruLines has my 3rd great grandfather Duncan Campbell, the only one I felt safe including in my genetic tree connected to a John Campbell and several genetic cousin connections for me to evaluate. When you evaluate a connection you are presented with trees from genetic relatives and other public trees that carry this information.

So some of it is linked to my genetic relatives, but a lot of information is contained in other family trees. This is an opportunity to research preferably starting with trees that have some records associated with the person.

If I go back and click on one of my matches, I’m presented with more opportunities to evaluate their ancestors.

my connection to Duncan campbell with a link back to John Campbell and then down to one of my genetic cousins through several generations I am to evaluate.

It can lead you to believe that all these connections were made in their family trees but if I click on the matching person themselves and look at their actual family tree I see that they actually stop with Jennie Irene Campbell (their great grandmother). The rest of their tree, connecting them to John Campbell, has been implied from the trees of others and then presented to me as a prospect.

tree of genetic match stopping at Jennie Campbell several generations below John Campbell, the prospect match.

And that is the mindset I have to try to maintain. Potential ancestors are prospects. What Ancestry has done is not wrong. It is exactly what I have always done. Look at trees for genetic matches. Search for patterns and fill out probable trees for them to see if I can get back far enough to reach someone in my tree and/or connect them to people in other genetic relatives trees. Ancestry has done quite a bit of the work for me in figuring out a probable connection.

I still need to take them at their word and evaluate the records. I need to look at the trees that have evidence and use the minimum tools Ancestry provides to see if these genetic matches match my known family members on that side.

It’s up to me to realize that Ancestry doesn’t have all the information. My tree is stunted in places, my dad never sent in his kit and my mom hasn’t been tested. They may not have a clear picture of which cousin matches could be used to attempt to disprove a connection. They may or may not be triangulating segments, so I have no way of knowing if they are tracking the same inherited segment between any two matches.

It’s a tool for prospecting, for speculation, reflection, research and for easily organizing the knowns in a visual display. It is still one of my favorite additions to their toolset, even though I think there is a high potential to mislead people.

Trapped in North America

There are generally two fronts in my Elmore genealogy work, one front is identifying branches of the Elmores in the U.S. and getting people tested to try to place them. The second front is getting out of the U.S. by any means. Specifically getting out of Connecticut. That is what is on my mind today.

DNA would work, it would be nice to match someone from one of the former colonies who was not directly descended from Ed. We could also go for some real record of where Ed Elmer was from before he boarded the Lyon. I suspect, for me though, that would just direct more recruiting and testing to find a living human descended from Ed’s uncle or cousin or great great grandfather.

Because of the variety of surname spellings that basically sound like Elmer, we have a lot of options to choose from. So many spellings that it is hard to pick which ones to pursue.

Every so often I strike out looking for records of the Elmers in the UK around Ed’s time. I’ve come up with several possible families in multiple locations.

Reaching Out

At the same time, I normally search family trees for Elmers, Aylmers, Elmores, Ellmores..etc that were born since the 1940’s and are from Australia or England or Canada and so on. I then contact the tree owners to see if they know any living male Elmers (or surname variants) who would be interested in testing their Y DNA to connect to distant cousins.

I don’t have a high success rate in recruiting or really even in getting responses back, so I can’t recommend this tactic, but I do keep trying it hoping to find someone out there who would like to bridge the gap.

Ancestry is not the only track, it’s just the easiest for searching, we’ve also been in contact with the admin of the Aylmer family site and have been able to get their help in leaving a message in a bottle for Aylmers interested in connecting.

Putting our Money and Time Where our Mouth is

When we do get someone interested in making a connection we usually offer to pay for a basic YSEQ Y test of DYS458 which for us carries a micro-allele of .2 normally with a value of 16.2. That is really a yes or no test, either you’re related to us in the last 2000 years or you’re not.

If they have the micro-allele, then we can move on testing SNPs to see how closely they are related to Ed. If not then we recommend they purchase a more extensive test at either FTDNA or YSEQ. Since YSEQ doesn’t have its own matching service for Y DNA we usually push for the Y37 at FTDNA.

The other offer that is always on the table is that we’ll help them sort out their Y DNA no matter where they test, to see if they do meet up with another of the perfectly good Elmer and Elmore families that have tested.

All Y DNA tests have value, disproving a connection to our family just opens up opportunities to match with other families who I’m sure would love to get out of North America as well. The more Aylmers, Elmores and Ellmores that test, the more likely we are to find our living relatives and in the meantime we can help connect other families too.

The Aylmers

Aylmers are tough. Recently as I was joining the Thompsons to the Irish DNA group, I found that they listed Aylmer as a surname, with one tester. That was of particular interest because we don’t show any Aylmer matches, so they might possibly match with some other lucky Elmer/Elmore family. It also raises the possibility that we could eliminate a family of Aylmers from our search. Unfortunately, their results don’t show up in the project page, which makes me think they are hidden…or it’s some freak accident in the project page. I don’t know.

What if they’re in our haplogroup but not close enough in STRs to show as a match? We would never see them. The possibility that we’ve got distant family members already tested both exists and doesn’t exist at the same time.