Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fawkner-Faulconer DNA: Act Two

Was John C. Fawkner really a Faulconer? If so, his male straight-line descendants should have Y-DNA closely matching male straight-line Faulconer descendants. Act I featured MN-Fawkner and KY-Faulconer in a 46-marker Y-DNA duel. They matched on 42 of 43 reported markers, suggesting that they well may have descended from the same male ancestor.

A "denser" 67-marker test might be more definitive. If MN-Fawkner and KY-Faulconer fall out of match on several of the additional markers, the hypothesis that John C. Fawkner was a Faulconer might be negated. But, if the two men are still close matches, it would still hold water.

The spotlight is now on a 67-marker test from Family Tree DNA. The results: MN-Fawkner and KY-Faulconer matched on 63 of 67 markers; they had the same number of repeats on 63 of the 67 markers. They had a genetic distance of four -- that is, four mutation events would explain their differences.

Family Tree DNA offers a "TIP" report that gives probabilities that the two men have a common ancestor with certain numbers of generations. The MN-Fawkner v. KY-Faulconer TIP report gave a 35 percent probability that they had a common ancestor within five generations. At six generations, the odds improved to 47 percent. The statistics suggest that the common ancestor is most likely seven or more generations back, but five or six generations is not out of the question.

More markers might help. For a modest amount more money, Family Tree DNA offers a 111-marker test. If MN-Fawkner and KY-Faulconer match on the additional markers, the case for a common ancestor at five or six generations would improve.

The results were disappointing. They matched on only 39 of the next 44 markers, and the genetic distance between them soared to 11 because MN-Fawkner and KY-Faulconer were more than two repeats apart on a couple of markers.  Family Tree DNA no longer included KY-Faulconer on MN-Fawkner's match list -- and vice versa. The case for John C. Fawkner being a Faulconer -- at least one closely related to the Fayette County, Kentucky, Faulconers -- seemed to have collapsed.

But, it just didn't seem right. Traditional research placed John C. Fawkner in close relationship to the Fayette County Faulconers. There is a surprise just around the corner.  Stay tuned.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fawkner-Faulconer Y-DNA: Act One

Enter stage left: MN-Fawkner, a living descendant of John C. Fawkner (abt 1777-1839).

Enter stage right: KY-Faulconer, a living descendant of Joseph Faulconer (1757-1833).

Joseph Faulconer married Frances Nelson September 1776 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. The young couple went out to the Kentucky Bluegrass in late fall 1779 with Joseph's parents, John Faulconer and Joyce (Craig) Faulconer.

Documentary research places John C. Fawkner in close proximity to the Faulconers in Kentucky -- both socially and geographically. While no surviving record directly connects John C. Fawkner to either John or Joseph Faulconer, it is plausible that Fawkner really was a Faulconer -- possibly the son of either John or Joseph. If a close match were found between the Y-DNA of MN-Fawkner and KY-Fawkner, it would support a hypothesis that John C. Fawkner was closely related to John or Joseph Faulconer.

MN-Fawkner and KY-Faulconer are the oldest living generation in their male Y-DNA lines. In 2011, Family Tree DNA was marketing a 37-marker Y-DNA test and Ancestry was offering a 46-marker test. It can not be assumed that the 46-marker test was better than the 37-marker test because each tested a few markers that the other didn't. I asked both men, and they agreed, to submit a DNA sample to Ancestry.

Drum roll, please...

I was excited when the results came back. MN-Fawkner and KY-Faulkner matched on 42 of 43 reported markers.  But, it was a 46-marker test, right?  The test returned no results for three markers: DYS19b, DYS464e, and DYS464f.  It turns out that these markers are rare; they occur only in certain populations.

You need to know just a little bit about DNA at this point. A "marker" refers to a specific location on the Y-chromosome. The spiraling strands of a DNA molecule are connected by strings of four "bases" -- adenine (A), guanine (G), thymine (T), and cytosine (C).  "A" always pairs with "T," and "G" always pairs with "C." They combine into series that can be two to five bases long, and these series repeat. The key word here is "repeat." Y-DNA test results are reported as the number of times a particular series of bases repeats at a marker. Two same-surname men descended from the same straight-line male ancestor should have the same number of repeats on most markers. They may not match at a few markers because one (or possibly both) men have had mutations at a few markers.

So, 42 of 43 was pretty good. MN-Fawkner and KY-Faulconer differed on only DYS456. MN-Fawkner had 16 repeats; KY-Faulconer had only 15. The good news here is that DYS456 is a relatively fast-mutating marker. In other words, the one-repeat difference between the two men could be due to a mutation in a fairly recent generation.

 I was pretty excited.  But, then I heard that more markers were better. Family Tree DNA was offering a 67-marker test -- at a higher price, of course. Would it be worth it? Find out next week in Act Two.