News from the Alexander YDNA Project

Henry Alexander, b abt 1740, Lancaster Co., PA; married Hester Rush Apr 17, 1766; died before 1823 probably in York County, SC.

A descendant of Henry (Johnny) had traced his line back to the Seven Brothers (7 Brothers, 2 Sisters family) of Cecil Co. MD, and tested his DNA to confirm or refute his information. As it turns out Johnny's DNA does not match the more than 40 members who have traced themselves back to the Seven Brothers. So now Johnny has reviewed his records and established that he is confident his earliest known ancestor is Henry Alexander, born abt 1740, Lancaster Co., PA; Johnny descends through Henry's son Henry Hastings Alexander and wife Mary Garvin.

Not Necessarily the News, but Other Information from the Alexander Project

The Glasgow, Scotland, to PA family, mostly from information contributed by a descendant

Although amateur genealogists---and some traditional genealogists---of the past had placed a branch of this family in with the 7 Brothers, 2 Sisters family, participation in the Alexander DNA project has helped descendants correct this misconception. This branch descends from George Alexander and Mary Stewart (through their son Benjamin who was married to Sallie Cloyd), and research by the descendants of George supported Theophilus Alexander and Catherine Wallace as George's parents. The descendants were mildly surprised when DNA testing showed poor matches with known descendants of Theophilus and with other descendants of the "7 brothers."

Based on the DNA results, a descendant did further research and discovered another possibility for the parents of George Alexander. Although the evidence is circumstantial, it seems likely that the parents of George Alexander is another George Alexander and wife Jane, or Jean, McCord, who migrated from northern Ireland to Chester County, PA, and, finally, into Guilford County, NC.

The descendant found some evidence that their George Alexanders have a close family relationship to John Alexander, who was originally from Lanarkshire, Scotland, and went from there to Ireland. He emigrated to the colonies from Armagh, Ireland, and settled in Chester County, PA. This John Alexander and wife Margaret Glasson were the ancestors of another member of the "Glasgow, Scotland, to PA" family, who has tested and is a close match to the descendants of George Alexander. Further research may reveal the exact relationship of George Alexander to this John Alexander (and, of course, to John's father Thomas.

The Spartanburg Confused family (SpartCons) and the Confused Twos (Cons2) by John Alexander

The SpartCons are another family whose origins in the US was placed by tradition with the 7 Brothers, 2 Sisters family; however, YDNA tests have shown that any common male-line ancestor with the 7 Brothers, 2 Sisters is many, many generations in the past, probably many thousands of years. Most members of the SpartCons trace to James Alexander, Sr, who was born about 1730 and lived his adult life in Anson and Rowan Counties of NC and Spartanburg County of SC (possibly dying in TN), and any who can't trace to him have their earliest-known Alexander ancestor living near his SC home at about his time or a generation or two after him.

If you have looked at the y-results page or one of the the family-lineage pages recently, you have probably noted that a DNA donor labeled as #111473 definited doesn't trace his Alexander line to James of Spartanburg but traces back to John Sheldon Alexander, born about 1755 in Maryland, probably Somerset County, a high degree of confidence that the line extends on back beyond John Sheldon to William Alexander and Ann Liston, who immigrated from Ireland to VA or MD, ultimately to Cecil County, MD, where they lived until their deaths.

#111473's YDNA differs from the SpartCon group's control value on 9 markers out of 76 tested, 5 of those differences on markers that are known to mutate rapidly. Currently there are several members of this family grouping, closely matching each other but not tracing to a common early ancestor. Many of their early ancestor came to the colonies or the United States at widely varying times. They and the SpartCons do not match any other Alexanders nearly so closely as they match each other, but the common ancestor of the two groups probably lived back in the old country (Ireland or at least somewhere in the British Isles). The testing laboratory provides no opinion, but I believe that this common ancestor walked the earth either after the adoption of the surname Alexander or a short-enough time before adoption that the member's branch and the SpartCon branch had a common reason for getting the name Alexander. (In case you are curious, adoption of surnames began early in Ireland, by the eleventh century, but some sparsely settled areas in Ireland did not complete the process until the fifteenth century or later.)

Some of the Cons2 definitely trace to Ireland, but to extend the lines of other members of that group and the lines of the SpartCons to Ireland won't be easy because early Irish records on families, at least if my reading is correct, are poor to nonexistent. We can hope that we still have cousins in Ireland and that one of them will eventually take the YDNA test; however, at their current rate of testing, that may be too late for me and some of you. However, among the approximately 115,000 male Alexanders in the US, it's probable that unknown cousins are lurking, and each of us probably knows a few "nonrelative" Alexanders, and most of them are probably at least a tiny bit curious about their ancestry. Our Alexander DNA project includes only a bit over 0.1% of those male Alexanders, and I believe that it is a reasonable goal for us to try to increase that to 1%, which would give us quite a data base. Most of us don't have cousin Roger's persuasive powers (I believe he makes them an offer they can't refuse!), but, if the conversation turns to ancestry (maybe with a little help) with Alexanders who are not our known cousins, we can mention our involvement in the YDNA project and what we have learned from it.