These aims are being met. Through a combination of DNA testing and genealogical research, our project is finding that most Acrees living in the U.S. descend from an early-18th-century immigrant with origins in the English/Scottish border area.
We currently have 44 participants, one of whom is awaiting test results.
All men with the surnames Acree, Acra, Ackre, Ackrey, Acre, Acrea, Acrey, Akre, Akrey, and Akrie, which we're finding to be related, are encouraged to participate. We would also welcome the participation of residents of the British Isles with the surnames Acres, Acker(s), Aker(s), Dacre, Daker and Hacker - names that are believed to have an early historical connection with ours.
This project compares the unique Y-Chromosome (Y-DNA) profile segments that fathers pass intact to their sons, which remain basically stable from generation to generation, with only minor, infrequent mutational changes:
Females may participate by convincing an Acree-surnamed male relative (grandfather, father, brother, uncle or cousin) to provide requisite Y-DNA for testing as a representative of her line. Our several female participants, as interested family historians, have arranged and financed tests of their surrogates.
Our project works in tandem with the Acree One-Name Study at the Guild of One-Name Studies.
The Acree surname is uncommon in the U.S. and is rare elsewhere. According to the census, there were about 7,400 individuals with the surnames Acree, Acre, Acrey, Akre, Acra, Akrey, Acrea and Akrie resident in the U.S. in the year 2000, nearly two-thirds of whom spelled their name Acree. The more numerous individuals having Acker/Aker/Eaker surnames appear to have primarily Germanic/Scandinavian origins, but those surnames also arose independently in the British Isles and may be related historically to the evolution of the Acree surname. See:
Most of the Acrees born in the U.S. who have successfully traced their lineages descend from residents of colonial Virginia and Maryland who usually spelled their surname Acre but often appeared in documents using phonetically similar names, in an era when spelling consistency was unimportant.
Our project is finding that the majority of the Acrees living in the U.S. descend from William Acre(e) (c1710-c1767) who lived in Hanover Co., Virginia. His origin is unknown, but he most likely emigrated to America from the English/Scottish border area about 1730. For fuller discussion, see:
It is generally accepted that William had five sons:
Our project has also found that a substantial minority of Acrees living in the U.S. descend from a different William Acree (1752-1833), who moved as a youth with his widowed mother from Frederick Co., Maryland, to Guilford Co., North Carolina, and later migrated again, with his extended family, to Wayne Co., Kentucky, in about 1804. Genetically unrelated to William Acree of Virginia, he has been deduced, on the basis of an Akers DNA match and circumstantial evidence, to have been a member of an Akers family of British origin who settled in Hopewell, Hunterdon Co., New Jersey (just north of the port of Philadalphia), in the late 17th or early 18th century. William had three sons who are known to have surviving male lines: John, William Jr. and Ephraim, who raised their families in Kentucky.
Our project has discovered further that there are many Acrees, as well as Acras, born in the U.S. who descend from Jacob Acra (c1710-1772) of Middlesex Co., Virginia.
Click the following links to see discussion of Acree descendants:
Our project was initiated in August 2006 when its coordinator found that his Y-DNA values matched those of a distant cousin who also descended from "Cashie" John Acree, Sr. (above), thereby establishing an ancestral "haplotype" (genetic profile). This finding, considered newsworthy, was the subject of a promotional press release, which can be seen by clicking:
Since then, our project has attracted the participation of the most active Acree-family researchers, finding that descendants of William, Abraham, and Joshua, John's reputed brothers, share his haplotype. While documentary confirmation is unavailable and Y-DNA testing cannot distinguish brothers from close cousins, circumstantial evidence is making it increasingly clear that they were indeed brothers, as sons of the William Acree of Virginia. See Acree Project History.
This same haplotype, which includes a distinctive fractional allele (marker value), has been found in two men with the surname Williamson, who had an unexplained orphan in their 19th-century lineage and joined our project upon discovering their genetic Acree connection. It has also been found in two men named Brown and Collier, who probably had common ancestors with our matching Acrees sometime ago. The former has been unable to trace his Brown lineage beyond the early 19th century and has joined our project. Contemporary existence of the same haplotype in the U.K. has been found in two residents of northwest England named Hall and Willoughby - supporting the presumed British ethnicity of the "Virginia Acrees."
Here is a depiction of how successive Acree fathers passed this nearly identical haplotype along - from four presumed sons of William Acree of Virginia, through several generations, down to the majority of our project participants (in blue), who are mostly distant cousins:
Our project has also succeeded in discovering the distinctive ancestral haplotype of William Acree of Maryland, based upon matching test results of two distant cousins who descend from him. Here is a depiction of how three of our participants (in blue) - the two distant cousins and an orphan fortuitously determined by his match to be a Maryland Acree - descend from this other early William:
Click the link below to see the researched lineages of all the project's tested participants:
Future participants whose test results match one of these two established haplotypes will be assured that they descend from the corresponding Acree progenitor. Intervening lineages must be determined through genealogical research. Future participants whose test results differ from these haplotypes will provide alternative genetic profiles which may eventually be associated with additional Acree progenitors.
Unanticipated test results may be unwelcome. DNA testing may usefully provide physical evidence to validate Acree lineages that have been achieved through documentary research. It is possible, however, that this evidence may cast serious doubt on well-documented Acree lines of descent that were previously considered firmly established, by indicating that an informal adoption or perhaps an undisclosed illegitimacy of birth occurred in one or more generations within a lineage. These so-called "non-paternity events" were (and remain) far more common than we generally appreciate. Their frequency rate in our culture is estimated to be about two percent in each generation.
The test is simple, painless and private. Participants will receive a kit in the mail, swab inside their cheeks with the cotton tips provided, and submit these specimens by mail.
Our project has used Ancestry.com as its testing firm since its inception. It is now using the Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) testing firm as an alternative. Participants must pay for their tests but will benefit from the project discount that both firms offer.
Just as a comparison of one person to another is aided by focusing on numerous characteristics, a comparison of genetic profiles is aided by testing a greater number of markers. It is essential to the needs of our project that participants order either the maximum 46-marker Y-DNA paternal test from Ancestry.com or the 37-marker Y-DNA paternal test (at least) from FTDNA.
Ancestry.com will tell you your results within a few weeks. They will be a series of values associated with the markers for which you have been tested, which will be displayed on an "Acree group" webpage on the Ancestry,com website - permitting comparison with the values of other participants. Our group's webpages at Ancestry.com, which are completely separate from this website, are password protected. In the interests of privacy, alphanumeric identifiers replace our names there, as well as here at this website.
Apart from project participation, Acree family historians are invited to direct queries regarding their indefinite or undetermined lineages to the project coordinator, who maintains an extensive off-line data base.