DNA to Africa: By Aaron L. Day
It was in 2001 that I first heard of the link between DNA and genealogical research. The Sorenson Foundation and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were working together to establish a large DNA database that could eventually be used for genealogical research. It was “The Molecular Genealogy Research Project.” I was very intrigued by the information on the flyer advertising this DNA project. Could this DNA project possibly help me with my genealogical research? The flyer stated that they were having a conference in Carlsbad, California to give details about Molecular Genealogy and also to collect blood from individuals who wanted to participate in the project. The North San Diego County Genealogical Society sponsored the event.
A friend of mine and I decided to drive from Long Beach and spend the weekend in San Diego to do some sightseeing and also to participate in the conference. The conference in Carlsbad on November 17, 2001, turned out to be very exciting and enlightening. I took a seven-generation family pedigree/ancestor chart with me and donated a sample of blood to be added to the DNA project database. A major portion of this research is to identify and trace ancestral origins.
The Sorenson Foundation continues to conduct research into new methods of using DNA analysis for genealogical research. Over the past few years a number of other DNA research and testing projects have appeared. These companies are researching, testing, and establishing databases that may be used for genealogical purposes.
Anyone interested in learning more about DNA and the link to genealogical research may be able
· Determine if two people are related
· Confirm your family tree
· Determine if two people descended from a common ancestor
· Find out who with your surname is related
· Prove or disprove a research theory
· Find and confirm new individuals in your family tree
· Check paternal ancestry
· Check maternal ancestry
· Estimate ancestry (percentage)
· Check for paternity
· Learn more about – surname
· Check ethnicity
· Determine origins such as:
· African ancestry
· East Asian ancestry
· European ancestry
· Jewish ancestry
· Native ancestry - and more
In 2004, I participated in the 4th annual “West Coast Summit on African American Genealogy” in San Diego. I gave a workshop on “Searching for free African American Ancestors pre-1865.” The workshop was about the ‘Day’ side of my family. I have discovered that many of my Day ancestors were free long before the War ended in 1865. Also making a presentation at the Summit was Gena Paige, President of the African Ancestry Company Incorporated. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend her workshop but I picked up literature about her organization and learned more about Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA and genealogy. The African Ancestry literature explained why tracing ancestry might be important to some people. It also explained how the DNA testing process works, and the accuracy of the process. I was very curious and wanted to learn how some people might use their results. This was also explained in the African Ancestry literature. I learned that some people use it:
· To augment their family tree and share at Family Reunions.
· To further personal, family, cultural, and historical education.
· To connect with African communities within the United States
· To support political causes on behalf of African Nations.
· To travel to their ancestral homeland.
In February of 2005 I heard that African Ancestry Inc. was giving a presentation on DNA/Genealogy at the Pan African Festival in Los Angeles, California, and decided that I had to attend.
I was not let down, as Professor Rick Kittles gave an excellent presentation on DNA and genealogical research. Dr. Kittles has worked with the National Human Genome Center at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Dr. Kittles has built a database of over 22,000 DNA samples representing 135 African population groups. Dr. Kittles, and Gena Paige, formed African Ancestry Company Incorporated. In his presentation Dr. Kittles talked about:
· The Y Chromosome which is used to determine paternal ancestry
· How the Y Chromosome is read
· The Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) which is used to determine maternal ancestry
· How the mtDNA is read
· How the Y Chromosome and mtDNA are analyzed
· How the results of the tests are determined
Professor Kittles’ presentation convinced me that I should order the MatriClan and PatriClan kits so that I might learn more about my maternal and paternal African ancestry. After receiving the kits in the mail about a week later, I sent back a sample of my DNA. Unlike the previous project in Carlsbad five years earlier where a blood sample was required, I simply sent a DNA sample by taking a swab within my mouth and rubbing against my cheeks. This sample was put in a small envelope and mailed to the African Ancestry laboratories. In about six weeks I received a packet from African Ancestry with the results.
The first paragraph of the letter I received from African Ancestry revealed what I had been so anxious to learn. “It is with pleasure that I report our MatriClan analysis successfully identified your maternal genetic ancestry, and our PatriClan analysis successfully identified your paternal genetic ancestry. The mitochondrial DNA, (mtDNA) sequence that we determined from your sample shares ancestry with the Hausa people in Nigeria. The Y-chromosome DNA sequence that we determined from your sample shares ancestry with the KRU people in Liberia.” The report also included details on how my African ancestry was determined.
I had finally traced my bloodline to Africa. It was a wonderful feeling to learn about my African ancestry. As you can imagine, I could hardly contain my enthusiasm that day. I wanted to tell everyone. My telephone bill was higher than usual that month as I called my siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews and told them about the results. They were all very happy to hear the good news. I remember when I told my daughter Carla about it she said, “I want to learn more about the history of our family so that I will know what to tell the children.”
This is what has happened so far:
A female passes mtDNA on to all of her children, however, only the daughters pass it on to their children. I received the mtDNA from my mother, who received it from her mother, and so on back through the female line. This mtDNA tested back to the Hausa people of Nigeria. However, I did not receive Y-DNA from my mother’s father. On my maternal side I have a male cousin who received Y-DNA from his father and he volunteered to send in DNA. The results revealed that my maternal grandfather descended from the IBO people of Nigeria.
A male passes Y-DNA on to his sons, but not to his daughters. I received the Y-DNA from my father who received it from his father, and so on back through the male line. This Y-DNA was tested back to the KRU people of Liberia. However, I did not receive mtDNA from my father’s mother. On my paternal side I have a female cousin who received mtDNA from her mother, and she has volunteered to send in DNA. We should then be able to determine the ancestry of my paternal grandmother.
My traditional genealogical research through census schedules, family papers, church records, land deeds, free register papers, court documents, and other records has been very productive for me. I have traced back to my four great-grandmother Rachel Day, who was born approximately 1760. I have also discovered records that give me the possibility of connecting to three generations beyond her to Virginia and 1692.
The following chart is for the 'Day' side of the family. This chart includes my family and also the family of my cousin Dora Day-Parks (generation #7). There is an unusual twist to this chart. From generation #7 to generation #4 - the Y-DNA traces back to Washington Day, and then veers off of this particular chart. The Liberia ancestry is through Washington, his father, grandfather, and so on back through the male line.
Generation 1 - Rachel Day – (1760)
Generation 2 - Thomas Day – (1777) – Married Millie
Generation 3 - Scott Day – (1803) – Married Setta
Generation 4 - Milly Day – (1843) – Married Washington (Day)
Generation 5 - James L. Day – (1862 – Married Sallie
Generation 6 - Wilborn Day – (1894)
James H. Day – (1907) - brothers
Generation 7 - Dora Day-Parks (1935)
Aaron L. Day – (1939) - cousins
Generation 8 - James Parks – (1959)
Kevin Parks – (1960) – brothers
Carla Day-Moody-Harris – (1961) cousin
Generation 9 - Jennifer Parks Leach – (1980)
Terrell Parks – (1981)
Darnell Parks – (1982) – siblings
Crystal Moody – (1983)
Ray Moody – (1985)
Ephrom Moody – (1989)
Arionne Moody – (1993)
Maliah Harris – (1999) siblings
Generation 10 - Jahler Leach – (2000)
A’Sean D’Anthony Harris - (2003) – Crystal’s sons
Tyray Harris – (2007)
I began learning more about other DNA testing companies and the different services that they provide. The following is a listing of a few of the companies that are available, but is not a complete list.
· African Ancestry Company – (African ancestry) www.africanancestry.com
· Ancestry by DNA – (Native American, European, East Asian, African, & estimated ethnicity) www.ancestrybydna.com
· DNA Heritage – (Y-DNA) www.dnaheritage.com
· DNA Print Genomics – (Native American – examines main body of DNA & gives percentage of ethnicity) www.dnaprint.com
· Family Tree DNA – (surname, Y-DNA, mtDNA, Native American, Jewish, DNA Plus, geographic origin, African American, Western European origin, +) www.familytreedna.com
· Gene Tree – (DNA Paternity, +) www.genetree.com
· GeoGene – (Y-DNA, mtDNA) www.geogene.com
· Oxford Ancestors – (Y-Line –surname project) www.oxfordancestors.com
· Relative Genetics – (Y-chromosome, mtDNA, ethnicity) www.relativegenetics.com
· Roots for Real – (mtDNA) www.rootsforreal.com
· Sorenson Foundation– (Building a DNA database, conduct research, +) www.smgf.org
· Trace Genetics LLC – (mtDNA, Y-DNA, specializing – Native American)
· AfricanDNA - Henry Louis Gates., Jr., is the author of ‘Finding Oprah’s Roots,’ he recently established a DNA testing company with Family Tree DNA. www.AfricanDNA.com
In a few weeks I will possibly have the ancestry of all four of my grandparents. The link between DNA and genealogical research has progressed tremendously over the past five years. I am very happy that I heard about the Molecular Genealogy Research Project and that I have been able to make the connection to my African Roots. Many well known people have gone through the DNA testing procedure and have traced their roots back to Africa. I have talked to friends who have discovered their African ancestry through DNA testing. Some of them have already made the trip to Africa, and others are still in the planning stages. They all feel that the discovery of their ancestral homelands is something wonderful to share with family members.
Now I am spending more time at various libraries, and on the Internet trying to learn more about my ancestors’ homeland. Members of our family are already making plans for a trip to Africa next year. On the maternal side of our family, (Banks) we usually have a family reunion every year. My cousin who is normally involved in the planning for these reunions is the person who is spearheading the effort for the trip to Africa.
Hopefully, the details about DNA that I have outlined here will help you in your future research and documentation of your family history. For anyone wanting to learn more, there are several excellent books on DNA and using genetic tests to explore your Family Tree.
· Trace Your Roots with DNA is a book by two pioneers in the field of Genetic (Genetealogy) Genealogy, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak and Ann Turner. www.honoringourancestors.com
· DNA & Genealogy, by Colleen Fitzpatrick and Andrew Yeiser. www.forensicgenealogy.info
· Forensic Genealogy, by Colleen Fitzpatrick, www.forensicgenealogy.info
· DNA & Family History, by Chris Pomery, www.DNAandfamilyhistory.com
By Aaron L. Day
About Aaron L. Day
Noted regional author and lecturer Aaron L. Day has written five books (one a best-seller), and four award-winning articles on researching African American history and heritage. Day has traced his ancestry back to 1692 in Northumberland County, Virginia. He has also taken DNA tests and discovered that his paternal ancestry traces back to Liberia, and his maternal ancestry traces back to Nigeria. Armed with what he had uncovered, he challenges African Americans throughout the Nation to discover their roots.
A sought-after lecturer on genealogy, he has lectured at the Afro-American Genealogy Society in Washington, D.C., and the National Archives in Laguna Niguel, California. He frequently lectures, and holds genealogy classes for quite a few organizations, such as the N.A.A.C.P., Long Beach Branch, Genealogy Societies, and the African American Heritage Society of Long Beach. Because of his many years of volunteer work with the Long Beach Public Library, and the City of Long Beach, Day is affectionately known as Mr. Library. He has helped establish several book collections on African American genealogy, and history at the Long Beach, California Public Library.
Day is one of the contributors to the most recent edition of the historic African American National Biography (AANB), by Henry Lewis Gates, Jr., and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. He contributed the biography of Mary Dell Butler. She was the first African American to have a school named for her, in the City of Long Beach, California. In 1999, Day became the first, and only African American male to ever receive the "Mary Dell Butler Volunteer of the Year Award" - from the City of Long Beach.
Aaron L. Day: Publications
* Locating Free African American Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide - (2003)
* History Lessons - (2005).
* Family Tree - (co-editor Naomi Rainey, Pres. NAACP, LB) (2006).
* The Heritage of African Americans in Long Beach: Over 100 Years - (co-editor Indira Hale Tucker), Infinity Publishing.com. Was on publisher's Best-Seller list for seven months. (2007)
* To be published January, 2010 - DNA To Africa: The Search Continues (Volume II of Locating Free African American Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide)
* To be published April, 2010 - Preserving Our History: African Americans In Xenia, co-editors, Aaron L. Day & Theodore A. Day
* "Tracing My African American Ancestors" - short story, Southern California Genealogical Society-National Writing Contest, (2001), also published in 'Celebrating Family History' an Anthology of Prize-Winning Stories published by the Southern California Genealogical Society, (2005).
* "The Search for Free African American Ancestors" - essay, Southern California Genealogical Society-National Writing Contest, (2002) also published in the Heritage Quest Genealogical Magazine (2003).
* "History Lessons" - essay, Iliad Press/Cader Publishing contest (2002).
* "What's Available For African American Research" - advice & how-to article, Southern California Genealogical Society-National Writing Contest, (2004).
For more information, please visit Aaron's website at www.day-banks.com. You may email Aaron L. Day at email@example.com.
The USF Africana Heritage Project is Sponsored by the Africana Studies Department at the University of South Florida.
Copyright 2008 The University of South Florida and The Africana Heritage Project. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
For more information, contact the Africana Heritage Project via e-mail .