Our project gained six participants in 2017, raising our membership to 81.
As previously discussed, there are two kinds of Y-DNA tests – (1) Y-STR marker tests, which most of our project participants have routinely taken, and (2) Y-SNP mutation tests, which nearly half of us have taken, additionally or initially, within the past three years. I’ve termed Y-SNP testing “advanced” because it’s proven to be far more definitive for our project - overcoming the uncertainties of Y-STR matching, in which lengthy strings of (12-111) marker values are compared. Assisted by generous donations, which totaled $411 this year, and the cooperative testing of several participants, our project has succeeded in gradually replacing Y-STR testing with Y-SNP testing for most of our Y-DNA comparisons. In this way, we’ve achieved greater insight into our modern relationships, as well as our distant ancestral origins.
Eleven of our participants have taken the “Big-Y,” the most thorough Y-SNP test offered by FTDNA. These tests have gratifyingly revealed Y-SNPs that originated in recent centuries for which other participants have subsequently tested on a targeted basis. This has resulted in our extraordinary ability to test for descendants of our two primary Acree progenitors, William of VA and William of MD, by testing simply for the presence of Y-SNPs pertaining to these two men. Earlier this year, the Journal of One-Name Studies published an article that I submitted to relate this unique success, which I've transcribed and posted as a new page on our website.
I've recently added another new webpage which invites Acree men to test inexpensively for descent from these two progenitors on their own - privately, notifying me afterward if they wish. This should appeal to potential participants, because it eliminates inhibiting (though unwarranted) privacy concerns. No other DNA surname project, to my knowledge, has been capable of taking such an initiative.
The Big-Y has afforded an additional benefit to a few of us – revealing distinguishing 20th-century “family” Y-SNP mutations that exist only in our close relatives and, in one instance, only in the test-taker himself.
The Big-Y is on sale this month at FTDNA. As a bonus, it includes a “free” upgrade to 111 Y-STR markers (still helpful), which FTDNA hopes will enhance its internal matching methodologies. I urge other participants to take advantage of this sale if you can afford it. In addition to the possibility of discovering personal “family” Y-SNPs, the test may identify new, exclusive Y-SNPs pertaining to 18th-century family branches descending from our major progenitors. So far, we’ve been fortunate to identify one such Y-SNP, which originated in William of VA’s son, John Sr. (my own ancestor), and flags his descendants.
We’ve linked the Maryland Acrees genetically, but not yet genealogically, to an early Akridge family in the US. It’s possible that these Acrees, who have been traced back to a man surnamed Akers, descend more distantly from an ancestor having the Akridge surname.
We’ve confirmed, through additional basic Y-SNP FTDNA-panel testing, that our Akers participants who descend from the progenitor William Akers of NJ have only a distant (several thousand-year old) genetic relationship to the above Maryland Acrees/Akers/Akridges, and that they have a similarly distant relationship to two participants with the Akers surname who live in the UK and are distant from each other. This was disappointing. It lends further evidence, however, to our general finding that the Acree surname and its variants had multiple origins in the British Isles and to pessimism that we’ll ever find long-sought genetic and/or genealogical connections across the Atlantic. It’s entirely possible that the descending patrilineal lines of our British Acree and Acree-variant forefathers have died out.
In recent years, our project has welcomed an increasing number of non-Acree participants – incorporating not only those who have known adoptees in their past (Williamson and Hardage), but also those with obvious surname changes (Acrey, Acrea, Akrie. Oldaker), those with similar surnames who are, or may in some cases be, genetically related to us (Akers, Ackers, Acra, Dacre), and finally those with entirely different surnames who are genetically related to one of our two primary progenitors (Brown, Peel, Collier, Wells, Myers, Martins, in the case of William of VA, and Cox, Phillips, Gibson, in the case of William of MD). This has been advantageous not only to assist our mutual attempts to find pre-Colonial common ancestors genealogically who lived a few hundred years ago in the UK, but also to assist the progression of our Y-SNP comparative testing described above.
Through this process, we’ve managed to accumulate overwhelming genetic evidence that our surname and its variants originated in multiple places, times and circumstances in the British Isles since the advent of surnames several hundred years ago. The spelling Acree itself is thought to be only a couple hundred years old in the US and has been written and pronounced in numerous ways since then, while the associated Akers family (from whom some Acrees definitely descend) has obviously experienced a varied history. The extent and manner in which the baronial surname Dacre was a definite point of origin remains, and will likely forever remain, speculative.
The challenges listed in last years report remain - identifying early immigrants and their origins, defining the extent to which African-Americans with our surname(s) descend biologically from our known progenitors, and specifying the genealogical descent of the West Virginia and Florida Acrees, who are known to relate genetically to William of VA.