ACREE SURNAME DNA PROJECT

DNA symbol animation


OBJECTIVES:

  • To determine the extent to which males with the surname Acree (variously spelled) relate to one another worldwide - genetically and genealogically.

  • To explore the possibility that many Acrees living in the U.S. share a common immigrant ancestor who came to colonial America from the British Isles.

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.

PARTICIPATION:

We currently have 46 tested participants.

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:

dna passage animation

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.

ACREE ANCESTRY:

Our project works in tandem with the Acree One-Name Study at the Guild of One-Name Studies, which can be seen by clicking the following link:

Link to Acree Study

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. For discussion of our surname's evolution click the following link:

Link to Surname Origin page

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 discussion of what is known about earlier Acrees, their immigration to America, and their deep ancestry, click the following link:

Link to Earlier Acrees page

It is generally accepted that William had five sons:

  • Joshua Acree (c1735-1777), who was raised in Hanover Co., Virginia, and remained there
  • William Acree (c1735-1796), who first settled in Warren Co., North Carolina, in the early 1750s and moved thirty years later to Wilkes Co., Georgia
  • Isaac Acree (c1735-c1820), who settled permanently in Warren Co., North Carolina, in the early 1750s
  • "Cashie" John Acree, Sr. (c1735-1814), who settled permanently in Bertie Co., North Carolina, in the late 1750s
  • Abraham Acree (c1735-c1788), who settled permanently in Caroline Co., Virginia, across the Pamunkey River from Hanover Co.

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:

Link to Documents page

Link to Later Acrees page

PROJECT ACHIEVEMENTS:

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 the following link:

Link to Press Release page

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. The chronological evolution of the project may be seen by clicking the following link:

Link to Acree Project History

This same haplotype, which includes a rare, distinctive fractional marker value ("microallele"), has been found in two men surnamed Williamson, an uncle and his nephew, who joined our project upon discovery that their paternal line includes a 19th-century Acree adoptee. It has been found also in individuals surnamed Peel, Collier, Willoughby, Hall, and two men named Brown, all of whom lack close Y-DNA matches within their respective surname groupings and undoubtedly have paternal lines that converged with those of our "Virginia Acrees" within the past few hundred years, apparently in northwest England. One of the matching Browns and the matching Peel have joined our project.

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:

First DNA descent chart

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:

Second DNA descent chart

Click the following link to see the researched lineages of all the project's tested participants:

Link to Acree Project Lineages page

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.

A CAUTIONARY NOTE:

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.

DNA TESTING:

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 testing firm (FTDNA) as an alternative. Participants must pay for their tests but will benefit from the project discount that both firms offer.

Link to Project at Ancestry.com Link to Project at FTDNA

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.

PARTICIPATION PROCEDURE:

  1. FIRST, contact the project coordinator, Charles Acree, at the e-mail address below, who will answer any questions that you may have. Please use "Acree Surname DNA Project" in the subject line to assist the mail filter. If you do not have e-mail access, please ask a friend to e-mail the coordinator a phone number where you can be reached.

    PROJECT COORDINATOR'S E-MAIL ADDRESS:
    (Type without spaces.)

    e-mail address

  2. When you decide to proceed, please provide the coordinator:

    • Your name, address and phone number, which will be kept private.

    • Your Acree lineage - identifying all of the known Acree-surnamed couples in your ancestry, with their approximate years and places of birth. Further detail is helpful but unessential. Your own name and the names of ancestors born after 1900 will be kept private.

  3. The coordinator will tell you how to order a test from one of the two testing firms, with the benefit of our discount, and how to join our project there.

  4. You will receive the test kit within a week. Take the test as directed and return your specimens (cotton swab sticks) to the testing firm.

RECEIPT AND POSTING OF TEST RESULTS:

The testing firm 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 our project's webpages at the Ancestry.com or FTDNA testing firm, as well as here by clicking the following link:

Link to Test Results page

- permitting comparison with the values of other participants. In the interests of privacy, alphanumeric identifiers replace our names here and at Ancestry.com.

ASSISTANCE TO ACREE FAMILY HISTORIANS:

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.

PROJECT COORDINATOR'S FAMILY HISTORY WEBSITE:

Link to Family Tree website

Coordinator's Profile on Ancestry.com

Copyright © 2006-current year by Charles Acree. All rights reserved.