Considering that our project has been active for over two years and grown to nineteen members, I thought a status report might be useful, particularly for those who haven’t visited our website recently. As a result of your much-appreciated participation, we now know much more about the Acrees than we did before the project started.
The project has helped most of us to verify or extend our Acree lineages. In doing so, it has revealed that numerous Acrees living in the U.S. are related to one another – more so than many of us anticipated.
It’s remarkable (and exceptional among projects such as this) that fourteen of us – all distant cousins who are believed to descend from William Acree who lived in Hanover Co., Virginia (including an Acrey and an Akrie), match each other genetically, with only slight mutational differences, if any. Total results suggest that most of the Acrees in the U.S. descend from two early eighteenth-century immigrant families – the one from Hanover Co. and another from William Acree, patrilineal ancestor of Acree011, who was born in Frederick Co., Maryland, in 1752. (Confirmation of this finding awaits the testing of a second descendant of the latter.)
There are accumulating indications that both William of Virginia and William of Maryland were “Scotch-Irish” emigrants with roots in the English-Scottish border area, where the notorious “reiver clans” flourished.
Two near-perfect 46-marker genetic matches with our fourteen have been found with two men, named Willoughby and Hall, who currently live in north-central England. The easiest explanation for this is that we and they had common ancestors (putting surnames aside) in pre-18th-century Britain – before emigration. This finding supports the presumption that William of Virginia was ethnically British. Tentative genetic evidence has been found in northern England that relates William of Maryland with British ethnicity also (rather than with Germanic ethnicity, an earlier possibility).
The project hasn’t yet identified immigrants for either of these Acree families or their specific geographic origins, which may be a long time coming, but there are tentative indications that they may have emerged from the Ackers family that has proliferated in the northern English county of Lancashire since the Middle Ages and was historically associated with the Dacre barony in neighboring Cumbria.
Close genetic matches at the 33-marker level have been found with three men living in the U.S. named Williamson, Brown and Collier, who probably also had common ancestors (surnames aside) with the Virginia Acrees in Britain. Collier was born in Australia. Williamson, having the strongest match, traces his lineage to Tennessee and has joined our project as Williamson019 in an attempt to find a more recent Acree connection. He’s currently upgrading his test to 46 markers for that purpose.
Last month, our project established a working relationship with a relatively new DNA project in the U.K. that is seeking to relate men with the Acres/Ackers/Akers surnames. Hopefully, our projects will eventually help one another.
The matching tests of Acrey06 and Akrie017 provided evidence that at least some Acreys and Akries living in the U.S. are related to Acrees.
Test results of a descendant (Acree013) of Jasper Newton Acree, an orphan who was an ancestor of many Acrees, revealed that Jasper was unrelated to either of the predominating Acree families and, given Acree013’s close DNA matches with living men named Lawson and Jenkins and the fact that several men with those names lived in the area of Tennessee where Jasper was raised, it’s likely that he was fathered by one of them. (The test of a second descendant is needed for confirmation.)
After upgrading his test to 46 markers, Akrie017, who was uncertain of the identity of his grandfather, was found to most closely match descendants of Edward, the eldest son of John Acree of Bertie Co., allowing a probable lineage to be deduced. (While fourteen of us show sufficiently common profiles to “match,” slight mutations serve to identify more precise descent.)
After upgrading his test to 46 markers, Acree005 has determined the probable identity of his great-grandfather – finding a match with a man named Reader, whose patrilineal ancestor was a neighbor of Acree005’s widowed great-grandmother. This was another highly gratifying outcome that could only have been accomplished through DNA testing.
As a benefit of administering this project, I’ve accumulated a large off-line Acree data base that includes fifteen hundred of us – focusing primarily on pre-twentieth-century Acree-surnamed males. During the past several months, it’s been of help to several inquiring correspondents. I intend to keep it private, so that it will not be copied and misused by zealous name-gatherers on the net. It’s available for look-ups if you have specific questions.
Our original testing firm, Relative Genetics, was acquired by Ancestry.com last year and all of our test results were transferred there. We have since acquired an Ancestry.com “group” “homepage.” Access requires a user-name and password to log in – the same ones you used to order your tests there or earlier at RG. (Check with me if you don’t recall them.) At that website, you can view/print your test results and compare them with those of other participants. Your results are also kept on-line anonymously within Ancestry.com’s comprehensive DNA data base that’s available to the public for comparisons of marker values.
All of us have, from the beginning, been identified within our project by alphanumeric identifiers that have replaced our names, which were used on both the project and RG websites. They have been retained at Ancestry.com to protect the privacy of your test results even within our group. You’ll notice on our homepage that Ancestry.com is promoting social-networking in its group management – permitting the sharing of family lore, photos, personal memories, and such – all of which can be seen on our homepage by other group members only. This emulates the sharing that takes place at family reunions. Many of you have emphasized your desire for privacy to me. We can take advantage of this opportunity individually, as we choose. Some may opt to participate, while others do not. A few photos are already there. Please let me know if such sharing appeals to you and, more particularly, if you wouldn’t mind being identified to other members of our group.
It’s fortunate that we’ve tested at RG and Ancestry.com, using the Sorenson laboratory. Unlike other firms, notably industry-leading Family Tree DNA, Sorenson reports “microvariant” (fractional) marker values, which has been highly beneficial to our project because all fourteen of us who match have the distinctive value of 13.2 at marker DYS385b (as do those with other surnames mentioned above). Akrie017, who first tested at FTDNA and received a rounded 14 at that marker, later tested at Ancestry.com, where the value was found to be precisely 13.2. While an ability to test for more markers and “SNPs at FTDNA would presumably provide improved differentiation among us, microvariant reporting is more useful for our purposes.
This is expected to be a long-term project. To gain full advantage from your investment, I encourage everyone to visit the project website (eight webpages) occasionally to keep up with developments. For convenience in spotting updates, I’ve created a “project history” page.
All of you have helped make my project-coordination role gratifying. But it’s an essentially solitary one after tests are progressively done. I’ve appreciated the continuing comments that some of you have made from time to time about the project. If you ever have any questions or suggestions, please let me know. And please feel free to post on our Ancestry.com homepage any remarks about yourself, your lineage, your family stories, etc. that you’d like to share with other members or record there for posterity.