During its fourth year, our project has gained six new participants, as it did last year, for a current total of 31 and an average of about eight per year.
It’s remarkable that so many of us (fully three-fourths of us – 24/31) have matching DNA profiles, as descendants of Abraham, John, or William Acree – presumed sons of William Acree of Hanover Co., Virginia, whom I’ve called the “Virginia Acrees.” The qualifier “presumed” still applies because our DNA tests can’t specify precise relationships and documentation remains unavailable as a result of scarce Hanover Co. records. It’s become increasingly clear, however, that the three were indeed brothers, because alternatives have steadily diminished as the Acree data base supporting the project (expanding upon Glynn’s pioneering work) has continued to grow and reveal extensive inter-relationships among Acrees living in the U.S. There are simply fewer and fewer stray 18th-19th-century Acrees who can’t be traced to either the Virginia Acrees or to the Maryland Acrees (mentioned below), including those who have spelled their surnames Acrey, Akrie, and Acrea. The only significant geographic group of Acrees whose early origin is unclear are those with roots in West Virginia, and our only participant whose early patrilineal lineage remains elusive is Acree021, although he’s been confirmed by the test to be a descendant of the Virginia Acrees.
Our other seven participants include two (2/31) who impressively match each other as descendants of William Acree of Maryland, the progenitor of those I’ve called the “Maryland Acrees,” who was born there in 1752, became a Revolutionary War patriot in North Carolina, and settled finally in Kentucky. The interesting lineages of the five participants (5/31) who descend from neither the Virginia Acrees nor the Maryland Acrees are shown on the project’s Lineage webpage. They now include Acree029, whose ancestor changed the spelling of his name from Acre to Acree in early 19th-century Virginia and presumably descended from a third Acree immigrant – a presumption that must be validated by a future matching participant.
While we’ve essentially accomplished our first goal in establishing that most Acrees living in the U.S. are related to one another as descendants of the Virginia Acrees and that most of the rest are separately related to one another as descendants of the Maryland Acrees, we still don’t know the European origins of the respective immigrants. Based upon DNA comparisons and family lore, British ethnicity – more specifically, “Scots-Irish” ethnicity, appears to be common to the lines of Acrees living here. The best hope of progress, obviously, is to find matches in the British Isles. Unfortunately, aside from (non-matching) Acres007, few British residents with surnames approximating Acree have been motivated (for comparative reasons of their own) to participate in DNA testing, at a time when world-wide economic conditions have been unfavorable.
There’s been progress on a related front. As a result of further DNA “SNP” testing, four of us, all Virginia Acree descendants (representing the related twenty), have been identified as belonging to the detailed haplogroup R1b1b2a1a1d1* - a “subclade” of R1b that’s tentatively thought to have originated in the British Isles during the first millennium AD – an era when the Romans, Saxons, Norse Vikings, Danish Vikings, and Normans successively invaded the area. As the science of population genetics develops, we can expect that haplogroup designations such as ours will acquire further detail (through additional SNP applicability), thereby enabling their historical circumstances to be defined ever more precisely in terms of geography and timescale.
Our project continues to be open to anyone who seeks to confirm or extend his Acree lineage. Insofar as possible, I’ll be focusing my efforts on priorities that will fill gaps in our knowledge of the Acrees. In addition to the outstanding immigrant-origin question, those priorities include the recruitment of new participants who descend from (1) William Acree of Maryland, (2) Isaac and Joshua Acree of Virginia, (3) West Virginia Acrees, (4) the Acra family of Virginia, and (5) those who spell their surname Acre and Akre. Many thanks to those of you who have helped to encourage Acrees in general to test.
Several of you have joined our Acree group on Facebook, which I originated last year to help Acrees become acquainted with one another, explore common ancestry, and become aware of the benefits of our project. Over 400 Acrees have now joined, largely as the result of my grandson’s initiative in extending personal invitations. From time to time, group members have shared personal backgrounds and impressions. Most are young and many are African-American. I’ve attempted to help everyone who’s sought family connections and history, as I’ve continued to do apart from Facebook. It’s amazing how it’s now possible, with the benefit of the extensive Acree data base and census availability, to determine the earlier lineage of most any Acree who knows little more than the identities of his grandparents – with the notable exception of African-American Acrees, who are handicapped in determining their pre-Civil-War ancestry.
It grieves me to report the recent death of Acree005 – Robert Earl Acree, in Florida. His obituary may be seen on the net and you can view both a personal and ancestral photo that he posted on our private homepage at Ancestry.com. Although we never met, I’ve felt that I knew him as a friend through our correspondence, in which he informed me at the outset of his ongoing battle with an incurable disease – exhibiting courageous spirit. He joined us in the hope of learning the identity of his great-grandfather, which DNA testing enabled in one of our project’s most gratifying success stories.