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 72 participants. One of them is awaiting basic test results. Others are assisting our project by testing more deeply.

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 also welcome the participation of selective men with the surnames Acres, Acker(s), Aker(s), Dacre, Daker and Hacker - names that are believed to have an early historical association with ours in the British Isles.

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, cousin or husband) to provide requisite Y-DNA for testing as a representative of her line. Our several female participants, as interested family historians, have arranged and often financed tests of their surrogates.

A map displaying the locations of our participants' residences in the U.S. correlates well with a census map comparing total Acree households by state in the year 2000:

participant residences Acrees in census

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 have been 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

Our project supports the consensus that William of Virginia had five sons with surviving male lines:

  • 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 migrated about 1804, with his extended family, to Wayne Co., Kentucky. Genetically unrelated to William Acree of Virginia, he has been deduced, on the basis of DNA testing and circumstantial/geographical evidence, to be the son of William Akers (1726-1765), who belonged to an Akers family of British origin that settled as Quakers in Hunterdon Co., New Jersey, in the late 17th century and moved within a splinter congregation to Frederick Co. about 1735. Soon after his father's death, young William's mother apparently took him to Guilford Co. in the company of Quaker relatives. This William Acree "of Maryland" had three sons who are known to have surviving male lines: John, William Jr. and Ephraim. They were all born in North Carolina but raised their children 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 it 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 four of the above Acree brothers - Joshua, William, John and Abraham share the same "haplotype" (genetic profile). While documentation is unavailable and Y-DNA testing cannot distinguish brothers from close relatives, circumstantial evidence has made it clear that they were indeed all sons of 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, distinguishing fractional marker value ("microallele"), has been found in individuals surnamed Barnhart, Brown, Collier, Hall, Peel, Wells, Williamson and Willoughby, who generally have patrilineal lines that converged with those of our "Virginia Acrees" hundreds of years ago, probably in northwest England. Some of them have joined our project.

Here is a depiction of how successive Acree fathers passed this nearly identical haplotype along - from four 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 descent chart

Our project has also succeeded in discovering the distinctive ancestral haplotype of William Acree of Maryland (1752-1833), based upon matching test results of three distant cousins who descend from him, in addition to the distinctive ancestral haplotype of William Akers of New Jersey (c1650-1715), based upon matching test results of two distant cousins who descend from him.

As mentioned above, our project has determined that the father of William Acree of Maryland was William Akers (not Acree, 1726-1765). One might suppose that these two early progenitors named William Akers, both of whom are understood to have been associated with a Quaker congregation in colonial New Jersey, belonged to the same Akers family. However, no genealogical connection can be found between these two progenitors, and comparative DNA tests of their descendants indicate that their ancestral relatonship predated the advent of surnames.

The haplotype of another project participant named Akers, who resides in England, approximates both of these haplotypes but is sufficiently different from them to indicate that his ancestral relationship with the other Akers participants is even more distant.

Here is a depiction of how three of our participants (in blue) descend from William Akers of Maryland, combined with a depiction of how two participants (also in blue) descend from William Akers of New Jersey:

Second descent chart

Our project has succeeded also in discovering the distinctive ancestral haplotype of Jacob Acra (c1710-1772) of Middlesex Co., Virginia. Here is a depiction of how two of our participants (in blue), one an Acree the other an Acra, descend from him:

Second 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 established haplotypes will be assured that they descend from the corresponding progenitor. Intervening lineages, however, must be determined through genealogical research.

A CAUTIONARY NOTE:

Unanticipated test results may be unwelcome. DNA testing often provides gratifying physical evidence to validate lineages that have been achieved through documentary research, but it may, in other instances, contradict established lines of descent - indicating that an informal adoption or undisclosed illegitimacy of birth might have occurred 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 to return a saliva sample.

In the past, our project has used Ancestry.com as its testing firm. It is now using primarily the Family Tree DNA firm (FTDNA). Participants must pay for their tests but will benefit from the project discount.

Link to Project at FTDNA

Just as a comparison of one person to another is aided by focusing on multiple characteristics, a comparison of genetic profiles is aided by testing multiple genetic markers. Unless advised otherwise by the project administrator, based upon his family history, a participant should order at least a 37-marker Y-DNA "STR" test.

PARTICIPATION PROCEDURE:

  1. FIRST, contact the project administrator, Charles Acree, at the e-mail address below, who will answer any questions 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 administrator a phone number where you can be reached.

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

    e-mail address

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

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

    • Your patrilineal (usually Acree) lineage - identifying all of the known couples in it, 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 administrator will usually tell you how to order a test from FTDNA, with the benefit of our discount, and how to join our project there. Alternatively, he may suggest a less expensive option at the YSEQ testing firm.

  4. You should receive your test kit within a week. Take the test as directed and return your saliva specimen to the testing firm.

RECEIPT AND POSTING OF TEST RESULTS:

Your test results should be available within a few weeks. Our project requires two separate listings, which can be seen at these links:

Link to FTDNA Test Results Link to Project Test Results

The first listing above, controlled by FTDNA, displays test results for about a third of our participants, who have either tested at FTDNA itself or, at minimal cost, transferred their results there from tests taken earlier at Ancestry.com. The results are a series of values associated with the STR markers (12 to 111) for which a participant has tested, which can be compared with the corresponding values of other participants. For the sake of privacy, FTDNA customers are identified by their kit number, surname, and earliest-known paternal ancestor, rather than by name.

The second listing above, controlled by the project administrator, displays test results for all of our participants, the majority of whom tested earlier at Ancestry.com or exclusively there. In addition to transcribed results from both Ancestry.com and FTDNA, this listing includes results obtained from DNA Heritage, Genetree, SMGF, the University of Leicester, BritainsDNA, and YSEQ. The results here are also a series of STR-marker values, but they are shown in numeric (not FTDNA-panel) order, adhere to the latest nomenclature convention in four instances (requiring minor subtractions for equivalence, as noted), and include microalleles (fractional values). This list also includes haplogroup/subclade affiliations (SNP test results) that have become essential to our project's comparisons but are displayed inadequately by FTDNA. However, this list, too, is incomplete. While it includes all of Ancestry.com's markers and FTDNA's 37-panel markers, it excludes most of the markers in FTDNA's 67 and 111-marker panels, which are shown on the FTDNA list. For the sake of privacy, participants who appear on this listing and elsewhere within our project's independent webpages (here) are provided alphanumeric identifiers - their surnames with ascending numbers.

ASSISTANCE TO ACREE FAMILY HISTORIANS:

Apart from project participation, Acree family historians are invited to direct inqueries regarding their indefinite or undetermined lineages to the project administrator, who maintains an extensive data base.

PROJECT ADMINISTRATOR'S FAMILY HISTORY WEBSITE:

Link to Family Tree website

Administrator's Profile on Ancestry.com

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