Monday, 30 May 2016

The Ramey - Harrell - Farrell connection

I am delighted to introduce this guest post by one of our project members. John Wells has been working on his family history for many years and with the advent of DNA testing has managed to solve a family mystery that had confused genealogists for generations.

John manages kit JMR-8902 for his cousin, a gentleman by the name of Ramey (who appears in the previous post). Have a read of this fascinating account of how this particular surname was passed down through the ages and why it is associated with the Farrell surname.

If anyone has a story of how DNA has helped them break through a Brick Wall on their Farrell line, write it up for the blog and I will be happy to publish it. We learn a lot from the experience of others - that's what collaboration is all about.

Here's John's story.

The Thaddeus Ramey Family Ancestry Mystery Solved
 John B. Wells III

The Ramey family of Johnson County, Kentucky, can be justly proud of its French Huguenot roots. These brave Protestants suffered generations of religious persecution in their native France until finally finding freedom of worship in America. The lineage of the Ramey/Remy family of Johnson County, Kentucky, is well-documented from the year 1680 when Jacob Remy (later spelled “Ramey”), “a Natural born subject of the French King,” became a naturalized citizen of the British Colony Virginia.

By the Deputy Govr. Of Virginia

John Ramey/Remy, the great-great grandson of Jacob Ramey/Remy, was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, about 1769, and married in Washington County, Virginia, on 11 October 1797, to Nancy Romans. (Washington County, Virginia, Marriage Register 1782-1820, R-V). The couple was married by the Rev. Charles Hardy, a Methodist minister. By 28 November 1808, John and Nancy had settled in Floyd County, Kentucky, when John “Ramey” was appointed to mark a new road “around Thomas C. Brown’s plantation.” (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826,” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 49).

                  The 1810 U.S. Census for Floyd County included John Ramey’s family as consisting of 2 males under 10 years old, one male aged 26-44, 2 females under 10, one female aged 10-15 and one female 26 to 44 years old. The two younger daughters were Jemima and Elizabeth while the oldest, born between 1795 and 1799, was named Mary, nicknamed “Polly.” Jemima married on 3 August 1820 to John McDowell while Elizabeth is thought to have married James Wheeler in Floyd County on 13 March 1817. (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826,” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, pages 300 & 304). 

                  Mary AKA “Polly” turned out to be the problem child.  On 21 December 1818, the Floyd County Court ordered that an illegitimate child "Thadeus Remy … not .. be bound out as it appears from evidence that John Remy, his grandfather, takes care of him." (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 175). A loose slip of paper placed next to entry for “Thadeus Remy” included the penciled note “R. Hamil. father.” Several genealogists have interpreted this note to mean that a man named “R. Hamilton” was the father of Thaddeus Ramey. 

                  The name of his mother was established at the meeting of the Floyd County Court on “Monday the 20th day of March, 1820” when "William Dixon appear[ed] to answer a charge of Bastardry charged against him by Polley Ramey. The said Ramey not appearing to prosecute the case, the said Dixon consented to pay the costs therefore the said Dixon is discharged." Apparently, Dixon accepted responsibility for a second illegitimate son named Owen Ramey, also the son of Mary “Polly” Ramey. Just below the record of the charge against Dixon is recorded another order: "Ordered a subpoena be issued against Polley Ramey to appear and show cause, if any she can, why her two children Owen and Thaddius shall not be bound out as the law directs." (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 184).

                 The tombstone for “Thadeus Remy,” located on the Old Ramey Farm on Route 201, just south of Blaine in Lawrence County, Kentucky, records that Thaddeus was born on 2 January 1815. (“Thadeus Remy born Jan. 2 1815 dec. July 18, 1890”). It appears that Mary “Polly” Ramey was just a teenager when both boys were born and was unable to care for them herself. Interestingly, Mary “Polly” Ramey married on 29 June 1818, to Thomas Puckett but Thaddeus and Owen remained with their grandfather. Giving his permission for Polly to marry Puckett, John Ramey noted that “my daughter Polley … is under 21 years of age.” Apparently, Thomas Puckett had no interest in raising two children who were not his own so the boys remained with their grandfather.  (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, pages 158 & 301). On 15 May, 1820, the County Court again intervened and “Ordered a subpoena be issued aginst[sic] John Ramey to appear and show cause, if he can, why his two grandchildren, Owen and Thaddias, shall not be bound out as the law directs.” (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 164).

                  Thomas Puckett remains a mystery. The last surviving record of his presence in Floyd County is from the Court Book for 17 August 1818 when Thomas Puckett and Zachariah Rose appeared in court “to answer a charge of breach of the Peace.” (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 168). It is thought that he was the same Thomas Puckett, a native of Russell County, Virginia, who at age 18 enlisted in the United States Army as a private in the 24th Regiment. He was court marshalled at Nashville, Tennessee, in October or November 1814 for desertion and sentenced “to be shot.” However, the sentence was rescinded and he returned to active duty. He deserted again on October 24, 1816, just before he appeared in Floyd County, Kentucky. (U.S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1814,” National Archives, Washington, D.C.)  Thomas Puckett was not listed in the 1820 Kentucky census and later records describe Mary “Polly” Ramey as “widowed.” The date and circumstances of his death are unknown.

                  Although essentially an orphan, Thaddeus Ramey built a successful life for himself in Lawrence County, Kentucky. By 1831 he was living with his uncle on Hood’s Fork in Lawrence County. He married to “Jannie” Caldwell on 2 April 1835, (Lawrence County, Kentucky Marriage Register, Volume 1 & 2, page 130), by whom he had seven children. After her death he remarried on 12 March 1845 to Diana McDowell who gave him an additional ten sons and daughters. (Lawrence County, Kentucky Marriage Permits, filed in boxes, transcribed by Opal Muncy).

                  The 1860 Lawrence County census listed the value of his land at $1,050 and a personal estate of $850. The tax assessments for 1865 listed his occupation as “distiller” and the owner of a large orchard. (1865 U.S. IRS Tax Assessments, 1862-1918, Microfilm 768, Roll 21, National Archives, Washington, DC). Clearly, Thaddeus Ramey had survived his tumultuous childhood to become a successful farmer. 

                  Thaddeus Ramey died on 18 July 1890 in Lawrence County. His will, written on 5 May 1890, reflects a certain degree of financial success. He bequeathed property that he had not already given to his older children to his wife Diana in life estate. To his other children he gave both land and money. In the will he mentioned specifically two separate orchards. Obviously, he was still working as a distiller at his death. (Kentucky Wills and Probate Records, 1874-1989, folio 154,

Although his mother, Mary “Polly” Ramey Puckett was apparently absent during his formative years, she did live with Thaddeus at least from 1860 until her death sometime after 1880. In the 1880 Lawrence County, Kentucky, census she was included in his household, aged 82, a “widow.”

The tombstone of Thadeus Ramey

In spite of a wealth of records chronicling the life of Thaddeus Ramey, the identity of his biological father has remained a mystery. Family researchers have speculated for decades that his father was a man named “R. Hamilton” based on a penciled note in the Floyd County court orders that identified him as “R. Hamil.”

In recent years a revolution in genealogical research has taken place as the science of DNA analysis has become more and more sophisticated. Where concrete documents are lacking, genealogists have been able to use DNA to determine the identities of previously unknown and “unresearchable” ancestors.

                  In 2015, the paternal great-great grandson of Thaddeus Ramey submitted his Y-DNA to Family Tree DNA for analysis and comparison to other donors. Not surprisingly, his results did not match any other male Ramey descendant except those who descend directly from Thaddeus Ramey. However, he did match with 100% certainty to at least twelve males by the name of Harrell.

At least six of the resulting matches based on 37 genetic markers were 100% identical while the remaining six donors differed by only one marker. All of the matches shared the same family name: HARRELL. All of the Harrell donors were members of the family of Reuben Harrell of Virginia and his siblings. A closer examination of the penciled note in the Floyd County, Kentucky Court Book revealed that researchers have misread the name of “Harril” as “Hamil.”   The DNA results conclude clearly that the male ancestor of Thaddeus Ramey was “R. Harril (Harrell)” and not “R. Hamil (Hamilton)”

The Harrell family (often spelled “Harold” in East Kentucky in later years) settled in Floyd County early in the 19th century. Floyd County Deed Book “A” records the purchase of sixty acres on “Abbott Creek” by Robert Herrell on 25 April 1815, the year in which Thaddeus Ramey was born. (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 21). Robert Herrell was also exempted from paying Floyd County property taxes for the years 1811 and 1812. (Floyd County Court Book 4, 23 January 1826). Additionally, Robert Herrell (Harrell) was the son of Reuben Harrell, the kinsman of all of the Y-DNA matches for Thaddeus Ramey. It appears that the family mystery has been solved. Thaddeus Ramey was the son of Robert Herrell (Harrell) who was born between 1786 and 1791 in Montgomery (now Wythe) County, Virginia, the son of Reuben and Rebecca (Smith) Harrell. Possibly, the reason Mary “Polly” Ramey did not file bastardy charges against Robert Herrell (Harrell) is that he married soon after the birth of Thaddeus. On 2 August 1815, Robert married Lucinda Turman and moved to his father-in-law’s farm “on Sandy River” in what is now Johnson County. Ironically, Robert and Lucinda had no male children. Therefore, the male descendants of Thaddeus Ramey remain as the only male descendants of Robert Harrell. (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 298).

Reuben Harrell was born in 1750 in Frederick County, Virginia, and died on 2 September 1825, in Washington County, Virginia. He married Rebecca Smith about 1770 in Frederick County, Virginia. She was born between 1744 and 1749 in Frederick County, Virginia, and died on 12 March 1842 in Floyd County, Kentucky. (Harrell Collaborative, Family #2,

Reuben Harrell was a patriot soldier in the Revolutionary War, serving as an officer, possibly with the rank of Major. Apparently, his son Robert claimed a disproportionate amount of his mother’s widow’s pension in her declining years. The pension is housed at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

                  Much more research needs to be done in order to trace the Harrell family back to their origins in Europe. Several Harrell family genealogists speculate that the father of Jacob Harrell is John Harrell who was born in Northumberland County, Virginia, about 1688. John “Harrold” was bound out as an apprentice to John Trimlett at age seven, his father Walter having fallen on hard times.  
"18 March 1695/96 John Harrold son of Walter and Priscilla Harrold seven years old last December is bound by the Court and apprentice to serve John Trimlett and his wife and their heirs until he attaines twenty one years of age and the said John Trilett causeing the John Harrold to Read and Write in the case ye s’d Jno Trimlettt…until ye expiration of said terme to teach him the trade of cooper…..” (Northumberland County Apprenticeships 1650-1750 compiled by W. Preston Haynie, part 1, page 720)."

Little is known about Walter Harrold (Harrell) other than he was born sometime prior to 1660 and married a woman named Priscilla. Walter and Priscilla also bound out their two other sons, Hugh and Nicholas, in 1695/96, but were both dead by 1702/03 as the following document suggests:
“John Harrold orphan child about fifteen years old Having been formerly bound by the Court to John Trimlett and Hannah his wife under four provisions and the said Trimlett and his wife being deced and it having been presented to this Court that the said child is incapable of getting his living and toytoring (tutoring) and idleing his time away loosely and almost naked and Capt. Thomas Winder and the boy consenting in court thereto having offered in Court provided the said child shall serve him to be taught the trade of a cooper and to read.. shall appeare the next Court to the conrary Jno. Cooke of Lancaster County by Capt. Richard Haynie his attorney claiming the said boy and ordered the said boy be produced the next Court and upon Tryal of the matter the order to be confirmed or mad void….” (Northumberland County Apprenticeships 1650-1750 compiled by W. Preston Haynie, part 1, page 237).

                  Y-DNA results provide the only additional information about the Harrell lineage. All of the male Harrell descendants, including Thaddeus Ramey, belong to Y-DNA Haplogroup Z253 with the SNP of FGC20561. Other than the Y-DNA matches with the Harrell participants, the Y-DNA results for Thaddeus Ramey also match closely with several other families such as Murtha, Kelley, Yorke, McConnell, Carolan, Kenny, Riley, Cain, Christie, Kilchrist, Farrell, Darby, Rock, Geraghty and Gannon, all of which trace their origins to the central and southwestern Ireland.  In Ireland, the family name of Harrell is the Anglicized form of Gaelic “Ó hEarghail” meaning a descendant of Earghal, a personal name with the same etymology as Fearghal, the progenitor of the Farrell family who hailed from County Longford.  (“Irish Names and Surnames,” by Rev. Patrick Woulfe, Dublin, 1922).

John Wells
May 2016

The revised family chart of member JMR-8902

Thank you John for an excellent article. What a wonderful account of how DNA solved a family mystery.

But John's story does not end there. The final paragraph raises the tantalising possibility that the surname Harrell is derived from the same root as the surname Farrell. Can DNA provide evidence of this connection?

Well that is the topic of a subsequent article. 

But hopefully we have whet your appetite for more.

Maurice Gleeson
May 2016

Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Origins of R1b-GF2 (Part 1) - some new members

Several new members have joined R1b-GF2 in the recent past. In fact, it is the fastest growing group within the project. The results of these new members and some recent correspondence with other Project Administrators have thrown new light on this genetic group and where they came from. There is a lot of information to digest so I have spread it across several separate articles and this one is the first.

Here is a brief summary of the results for each of the new members. An in depth explanation of the methodology used to arrive at these results can be gleaned from previous postsAnd for those unfamiliar with some of the abbreviations used in this article, please see the Glossary at the end for an explanation of the various terms.

PSF-1784, Farrell (MDKA Philadelphia)


This member has a documented paper trail which shows a relationship to members AAF-2101 and GMF-9744 whose profiles are described in a previous post. Here is a descendancy list of their relationships. PSF-1784 and GMF-9744 are third cousins, and AAF-2101 is their 2nd cousin once removed.

1. Patrick FARRELL d 7/31/1779; m 10/1/1750 Alice BURK
  2. Francis FARRELL - b.1753 Philadelphia PA; d.1825 Chatham Co. NC; m ?Edith Fields, Chatham Co. North Carolina, US
    3. John Wesley FARRELL - b.1798 Chatham Co. NC; d.1870; m. Mary Polly Neal, Chatham Co., North Carolina US
      4. John Thompson FARRELL (5 MAY 1823- 26 FEB 1883) Chatham Co. NC; m Mary Jane Foushee (1 Nov 1840 - 11 Jun 1902) Chatham, NC
        5. Paul Thompson FARRELL (13 Jun 1876 - 10 May 1961) Chatham, NC; m Maggie Davis Perry (15 Jan 1833 - 19 Sep 1938) born Chatham NC died in Durham, NC
          6. AAF (kit AAF-2101)
          6. HPF
            7. MEF (kit manager)
      4. William Younger FARRELL b 1835 Chatham Co. NC; d bed 1890 Chatham Co. NC; m 7/13/1856 Rebecca BLAND Chatham, NC
        5. Andrew Jackson FARRELL b 6/24/1860, d 10/24/1924, m 6/30/1889 Lucy Belle CHARLES
          6. Charles Anderson FARRELL b 7/9/1893, d <50, m 2/25/1921 Anne Particia MCKAUGHAN
            7. PF (kit PSF-1784)
              8. JF (kit JBF-6156)
          6. Frankie Bernice FARRELL b 1901, d 1985; m Raymond WALSER
            7. JLW
              8. CP
      4. George W. FARRELL - b.1845 Chatham Co. NC, d.1899 Chatham Co. NC, m. Martha G. Thomas, Chatham Co., North Carolina
        5. George Monroe FARRELL, Sr. - b.1883 Chatham Co. NC, d. 1960 Orange Co. NC, m. Vennie Elizabeth Honeycutt
          6. George Monroe FARRELL, Jr. - b.1917 Halifax Co. NC, d. Roanoke Rapids NC, m.Ruth Lee Haley
            7. GMF (kit GMF-9744) - terminal SNP FGC20561
          6. MF (kit MF-7196)
            7. CDMC (kit CDMC-8019)

STR marker profile
  • At 37 markers, he has 3 matches: 2 Farrell's, namely his son (JBF-6156) & 3rd cousin (member GMF-9744)
  • At 25 markers, he has 44 matches: 2 Farrell's (as above) and 11 Harrell's, 1 Herell & 2 Herrell's
  • GD analysis to others in the Farrell project - all his closest matches are in R1b-GF2 with a GD ranging from 3/37 (GMF-9744) to 10/37.
  • TMRCA - the common ancestor with his closest match (GMF-9744) is estimated to have been born about 8 generations ago (90% range 3 to 18) = 240 years (range 90-540) = 1710 (range 1410-1860). We know from documentary research that the common ancestor was John Wesley Farrell born about 1798, so although the TMRCA is within the range of estimates it is not "spot on". A more accurate estimate might be obtained if both men tested to 67 or 111 markers.
SNP marker profile
  • His allocated SNP is R-M269. 
  • Analysis of the terminal SNPs of his matches suggests that his terminal SNP is likely to be FGC20561. His 3rd cousin (GMF-9744) recently did the Z253 SNP Pack test and his terminal SNP is FGC20561.

JBF-6156, Farrell (MDKA Philadelphia)

JBF-6156 is the son of PSF-1784. His STR marker profile demonstrates a GD of 1/37 to his father - he has a single mutation at marker dys576 (his value is 17, his father's is 18, like the majority of members of R1b-GF2). HIs SNP profile is the same as his father's.

BIF-6145, Farrell (MDKA Tipperary)


His MDKA is William J. Farrell born c.1847, Tipperary, Ireland

STR marker profile
  • At 67 markers: 17 matches with several from R1b-GF2 (Ramey, Kelley) & 1 Harrell
  • At 37 markers: 1 match (no Farrell)
  • At 25 markers: 50 matches (no Farrell, 1 Harrell)
  • GD analysis to others in the Farrell project - all his closest matches are in R1b-GF2 with a GD ranging from 6-10/67 and 6-10/37.
  • TMRCA - the common ancestor with his closest match (GD 6/67) was born about 12 generations ago (90% range 6 to 23) = 360 years (range 180-690) = 1590 AD (range 1260 - 1770).
SNP marker profile
  • His terminal SNP is R-P312 (based on the Deep Clade R test from 2008). 
  • Analysis of the terminal SNPs of his matches suggests the following SNP marker progression: R … > M269 > L150 > L23 > L51 > L151 > P311 > P312 > L21 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > S847 > S844 > S856 > S845 > S846 > Z17685 > FGC20561 or FGC20562

LF-7099, Farrell (MDKA ???)


His MDKA is Cornelius J. Farrell b.1861. No birth location is given.

STR marker profile
  • At 37 markers: 3 matches (1 Farley)
  • At 25 markers: 274 matches (1 Farley, 4 Farrell, 4 Ferrell, 20 Harrell, 1 Herell, 2 Herrell, & two other members of GF2: Ramey & Kelley)
  • GD analysis to others in the Farrell project - all his closest matches are in R1b-GF2 with a GD ranging from 4-10/37.
  • TMRCA - the common ancestor with his closest match was born about 10 generations ago (90% range 4-21) = 300 years (range 120-630) = 1650 AD (range 1320 to 1830).
SNP marker profile
  • His allocated SNP is R-M269
  • Analysis of the terminal SNPs of his matches suggests the following SNP marker progression: R- … M269 … P312 > L21 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > FGC13898 > S856 … and then one of the branches below this level, possibly FGC20561 (most likely), FGC20562, or FGC20563.
  • There may be some Convergence present due to the large number of matches at 25 markers and some of his matches' SNPs appearing on distant branches (FGC5494, Z29706, S7015, DF103, DF23, BY3495)

BF-5362, Farrell (MDKA ???)


His MDKA not currently not given.

STR marker profile
  • At 37 markers: 10 matches (no Farrell's or variants)
  • At 25 markers: 91 matches (1 Ferrell, 14 Harrell, 1 Herell, 2 Herrell, & one other member of GF2: Ramey)
  • GD analysis to others in the Farrell project - all his closest matches are in R1b-GF2 with a GD ranging from 5-10/37.
  • TMRCA - the common ancestor with his closest Farrell match was born about 14 generations ago (90% range 6->24) = 420 years (range 180->720) = 1530 AD (range <1230 to 1770).
SNP marker profile
  • His allocated SNP is R-M269.
  • His SNP analysis also suggests a terminal SNP of FGC20561, both at 37 markers and 25 markers.
  • There is some evidence of Convergence at 25 markers with single SNP matches including FGC5494 & Z2545.

JWH-3189, Harrell (MDKA ???)


His MDKA is Martin Harrell, b. 1775 and d. 1826. No birth location is given.

STR marker profile
  • At 37 markers: 81 matches (1 Farley, 3 Farrell, 3 Ferrell, 14 Harrell, 1 Herell, 1 Herrell, and the 2 GF2 members Kelley & Ramey)
  • At 25 markers: 290 matches
  • GD analysis to others in the Farrell project - all his closest matches are in R1b-GF2 with GD varying from 0/37 to 6/37.
  • TMRCA - the common ancestor with his closest match was born about 2 generations ago (range 0-7) = 60 years (0-210) = 1890 (range 1760-1950)
SNP marker profile
  • His terminal SNP is R-FGC20561 (determined by single SNP testing)
  • Analysis of the terminal SNPs of his matches suggests the following SNP marker progression: R … > M269 > L150 > L23 > L51 > L151 > P311 > P312 > L21 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > S847 > S844 > S856 > S845 > S846 > Z17685 > FGC20561 (x5) or FGC20562 (x2) ... or possibly even > S845 > L1308 > FGC20563 (x1)
  • His most likely terminal SNP appears to be FGC20561. Surnames of his 5 matches with this terminal SNP include: Harrell, Farrell, Kelley, Cain, & Fegan, so there is no evidence that the results are skewed by an over-representation of members from a particular surname project. The surnames of the two FGC20562 matches are: Gilchrist & Bankston
  • YFULL gives an age estimate for the slightly upstream SNP S845 as: 1900 ybp (i.e. about 100 AD)
  • There is some evidence of Convergence, particularly more downstream, suggested by the large number of matches at 25 markers, and some of his matches' SNPs appearing on adjacent branches (FGC5494, DF103, BY3495, L1308, FGC20563, L2 & Z2545). Of the 33 SNPs tested below the upstream SNP L21, at least 7 of these 33 (21%) are likely to be on adjacent branches to this member's branch. This gives us a very crude estimate of the degree of Convergence among his 25-marker matches i.e. 21%.

JMR-8902, Ramey (MDKA Virginia)


This new member has a very well documented genealogy that points to his MDKA being possibly Jacob HARRELL (b1710-1720, Virginia) but definitely Reuben HARRELL born in 1750 in Frederick County, Virgnia. He died September 02, 1825 in Washington County, VA. He married REBECCA SMITH Abt. 1770 in Frederick County, VA. She was born Bet. 1744 – 1749 in Frederick County, VA, and died March 12, 1842 in Prestonsburg, Floyd County, KY. There is good evidence that their son Robert HARRELL (born 1815; aka R. Harril) was the biological father of Thaddeus Ramey 1815-1890 (his mother  was Mary "Polly" Ramey) and thus there was an NPE (Non-Paternity Event) in this particular family line i.e. Harrell DNA became associated with the Ramey family name. There is a brief account of this on the website of the Harrell Collaborative (and a subsequent post here).

1. Jacob HARRELL b c1710-1720 VA; m Martha CALFEE
  2. Reuben HARRELL b 1750 Frederick Co., Virginia; d 2 SEP 1825 Washington Co., VA; m Rebecca SMITH  (c1744-1842)
    3. Robert HARRELL b c1786-1791 Montgomery (now Wythe) Co., VA; d 1874 in Johnson County, Kentucky; liaison with Mary "Polly" RAMEY (c1798-1880+)
      4. Thaddeus RAMEY b 2 JAN 1815 Floyd County, Kentucky; d 18 JUL 1890 Hood Creek, Lawrence County, Kentucky; m Elizabeth CALDWELL
           5. Samuel K RAMEY b 1839 Lawrence Co., Kentucky; m Elizabeth Jane CORDLE
             6. Amos E. RAMEY b 1878 Lawrence Co., Kentucky; m Mary LOAR
               7. JSR b 1908; m ALS
                 8. JMR-8902

STR marker profile
  • At 67 markers: 89 matches (1 Farley, 5 Farrell, 1 Ferrell, 1 Harrell, and the GF2 member Kelley)
  • At 37 markers: 82 matches (1 Farley, 3 Farrell, 3 Ferrell, 15 Harrell, 1 Herell, 1 Herrell, and the GF2 member Kelley)
  • At 25 markers: 285 matches (1 Farley, 9 Farrell, 4 Ferrell, 24 Harrell, 2 Herrell, and the GF2 member Kelley)
  • GD analysis to others in the Farrell project - all his closest matches are in R1b-GF2 with GDs of 3-6/67, and 0-6/37
  • TMRCA - the common ancestor with his closest Farrell/Harrell match was born about 7 generations ago (90% range 2-14) = 210 years (range 60-420) = 1740 (range 1530 to 1890)
SNP marker profile
  • His terminal SNP is R-FGC20561 (determined via the Z253 SNP Pack)
  • Analysis of the terminal SNPs of his matches suggests a similar SNP marker progression to the one described above for -3189. The most likely terminal SNP based on his 67 marker matches is FGC20561 (x4) or FGC20562 (x2); and based on his 37 marker results, it is FGC20561 (x3); and based on his 25 marker results, it is FGC20561 (x5), FGC20562 (x2); and FGC20563 (x1). 
  • There is similar evidence of Convergence as that described above for kit JWH-3189, with a crude estimate of 21% for the amount of Convergence seen among his matches at the 25 marker level.


So what have we learned?

The Genetic Distance analysis (comparing each new member to others in the Farrell Project) supports the grouping of these new members into R1b-GF2 as all their closest Farrell Project matches belong to this particular group. The analysis of the terminal SNPs of their matches all point to the Z253 branch of the haplotree, and the terminal SNP FGC20561 in particular as the most likely terminal SNP. This is further supported by the results of the Z253 SNP Pack test which was undertaken by member GMF-9744 ... these showed that he was positive for the SNP FGC20561 making this the likely current terminal SNP for the rest of R1b-GF2. This is illustrated in the diagram below.

The totality of this data demonstrates a lot of internal consistency within the group, further justifying the grouping of these people together.

During the course of this analysis, it became apparent that there were other possible members of R1b-GF2 who are currently in the Ungrouped section. The next article will discuss these particular individuals.

It has also recently become apparent that R1b-GF2 has some close neighbours with different surnames (Kelley, Ramey, Harrell) that throws new light on the ancestral origins of this group. This too will be discussed in subsequent posts.

The Z253 SNP Pack test revealed positive results for the SNPs indicated by yellow circles. This strongly suggests that FGC20561 is the current terminal SNP for R1b-GF2. Whether it is unique to the Farrell surname remains to be seen.


  • MDKA, Most Distant Known Ancestor
  • ID numbers consist of the initials of the person tested plus the last 4 digits of their kit number
  • SNPs and STRs are the two different types of DNA marker (SNP, Single Nucleotide Polymorphism; STR, Short Tandem Repeat)
  • GD, Genetic Distance
  • R1b-GF2 is the 5th group within the project and is split into R1b-GF2a and R1b-GF2b, representing a "core group" who are more closely related (R1b-GF2a) and a "peripheral group" who are more distantly related to the core group and to each other.

Maurice Gleeson 
May 2016

Sunday, 15 May 2016

R1b-GF6 has a new member

In the previous post, we discovered a new Genetic Family (R1b-GF6) with likely origins in Ireland. Since then the results of a new project member have become available which adds to what we know about this particular genetic group of Farrell's.

New Member -5164, Farrell, MDKA ?Meath

Kit Number ending: -5164
Name: Farrell
Current Group: R1b-GF6
MDKA: Mathew Farrell, b abt 1825 Longford, d 1870, Buffalo, NY

Background: here is what the kit manager tells me about her particular Farrell family:
The most distant Farrell ancestor the I know for sure is Mathew Farrell, b 1825, d 1870 in Buffalo, NY. He was born somewhere in Ireland and immigrated around 1847-8. He married Mary Doyle here in Buffalo, but he had a prior marriage in Ireland, because Mary brought his two children, Thomas 1845 and Bridget 1846 to Buffalo with her. We assume that the mom died in the famine. They arrived around 1850-51 and Mathew and Mary were married shortly thereafter. Mary's parents were Thomas and Margaret Doyle. I found their names on her death certificate. No death certificate was filed for Mathew because it was before they were required. I do know where he is buried, though.
I have some possible hints about Mathew. Family lore says that he came to America with brothers. I found 3 Farrell brothers living in a boarding house in Westchester county in the mid-1840s. Mathew's birth year was right and the brothers were James and John. I suspect that they could have come to work on the Erie Canal expansion that was taking place in that era. Heading up the Hudson River, working in Westchester, then making their way to the Erie Canal would make sense. It would also explain why they ended up here in Buffalo if they followed the canal. Mathew and Mary had 5 more children, 3 of whom lived to have large families of their own. One of their daughter's godparents was a James Farrell so this lends some credibility to my assumption about the Westchester boarding house and the Erie Canal. This is really where I am stuck. I added these names to my tree and no new hints appeared. There are other Farrell lines around here in the area, but I cannot make a connection to them. I suspect that the connections lie back in Ireland ...

... Mathew died in 1870. Using the Buffalo directories (much like phone books before phones) I can see that his widow Mary was living for a time at the home of a Christopher Farrell with her younger children. Christopher's wife was also named Mary so it got confusing, but the 1871 directory identified Mary as a widow. Assuming that this wasn't an error, I can now assume that Christopher was likely another brother to Mathew. Christopher lived at the same address for a very long time, 17 Hayward Street. In a publication called the Boston Pilot, there was a section where Irish immigrants would place ads looking for lost family members. Christopher placed two such ads, looking for an Edward and a Patrick Farrell. In the ad, he identifies his father as James Farrell from Porterstown, County Meath in Ireland ... I understand that this is not too far from Longford ...

The kit manager has been in touch with some of Christopher Farrell's descendants and one has taken the autosomal DNA test. If she shows up as a match, this will lend support to the possibility that James Farrell of Porterstown, Co. Meath is the common ancestor. If several such descendants all match each other, then the probability of James Farrell being the common ancestor to all of them will greatly increase. This will allow this family to push their Farrell line back an extra generation and will confirm the ancestral origins of this particular family.

Currently, the Farrell pedigree for this family is as follows:

  1. Mathew FARRELL b 1825 Ireland; d 1870 Buffalo, NY; m Mary DOYLE
  2. John P FARRELL b Mar 1864 Buffalo, NY; d 20 JUL 1940 Buffalo, NY; m Anna Loretta O'CONNOR
  3. Berchman G FARRELL b 7 SEP 1906 NY; m Veronica FITZGERALD
  4. father of kit owner
  5. kit owner -5164

Other projects: in accordance with our recommendations (see Getting the Most out of your DNA Test), this member should join several appropriate haplogroup & geographic projects including the following:

STR marker profile

This member did the Y-DNA-37 test and has 10 matches at 37 markers (no Farrell’s) and 45 at 25 (again no Farrell’s). However using the Genetic Distance tool (that I have access to as Admin), he is closest to those project members in R1b-GF6 but with GDs of 7-10 out of 37 markers … which is really quite distant.

And if we look at the TiP Reports (orange icon beside each match), these gives us an estimate of the TMRCA (Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor) of about 17 generations with a 90% range of 8 to >24 generations, which translates into about 510 years (range 240 to >720 years), which in turn translates into a birth year for the common ancestor of about 1440 (range <1200 to 1710 AD).

So the hope of finding a paper trail back to the group's common ancestor is remote. Of course, individual members will be more closely related, moreso as more people join this group, and eventually it is hoped that some individual members will be able to connect with documentary records.

GD Analysis for Member -5164 vs other Farrell project members

SNP marker profile

Now, let’s look at the terminal SNPs of his 45 matches at 25 markers:
  • DC24 x1
  • DC70 x1
  • FGC5628 x1
  • FGC5659 x1
  • L226 x7
  • M269 x33 (this is the most upstream SNP in the group)
  • Z253 x1

And if we plot them on the haplotree (using Alex Williamson’s Big Tree) we see that they are all sit on a particular branch of the tree, either at or below SNP marker Z253. Furthermore, all of the terminal SNPs fall below L226. This tells us several things: 
  1. there is no evidence of Convergence, and therefore 
  2. we can be reasonably certain that Z253 & L226 are two of his more downstream SNPs ... and I would hazard a guess that his most downstream SNP is somewhere below FGC5628
  3. L226 is the defining SNP marker for the Irish Type III haplotype. This is a genetic signature associated with Irish surnames from the southern part of Ireland and most frequently in the counties Clare, Tipperary, & Limerick. There is a wealth of information provided by Dennis Wright, the Administrator for the Irish Type III Project, on the project's website.

The terminal SNP profile for this new member's matches is very much in keeping with the terminal SNPs of those individuals already in R1b-GF6, because one of the members (kit -1778) has already tested positive for FGC5628 (on a single SNP test). -1778 has also tested negative for FGC5659 so it may be that our new member is more likely to be somewhere on the DC24 sub-branch - this could be confirmed by doing the Z253 SNP Panel test ($119).

Plotting the terminal SNPs of the new member's matches unto the Haplotree

Rare Marker Values

Based on all the above evidence alone, I would be reasonably happy to move this new member into the R1b-GF6 group. But furthermore, he shares the rare marker values for R1b-GF6 (dys459 = 8-9 and dys464 = 13-13-15-17, although in his case it is 13-13-15-18) so I am even more confident that he belongs in this group despite the rather large GD of 7-10/37 with the other members.

As noted in the previous post, the only caveat is that these particular rare marker values are quite common below L226, in fact they are the norm (see the DNA Results page for the L226 Haplogroup Project). So although we can be reasonably confident that the members of R1b-GF6 lie somewhere below Z253 and L226, where they lie below that is still open to question. And the further downstream we go from L226, the more speculative our "best guess" becomes.

There is also still a chance that the new member has been incorrectly placed in the R1b-GF6 group, but the only way to be absolutely sure would be for all the group members to do the Z253 SNP Pack test ($119) in order to characterise the more downstream SNPs among these project members.


So the upshot is that the new member's DNA results point to an origin in Ireland, probably in southern Ireland, and possibly in Clare, Limerick or Tipperary. The results suggest that the other members of R1b-GF6 are very distant relatives, probably some time back in the 1400’s, so well beyond our genealogical reach. Doing the Z253 SNP Pack would help place our new member (and his R1b-GF6 cousins) more accurately on the haplotree (but would not generate any new matches).

As for his Farrell origins within Ireland, one of the other members in R1b-GF6 has an MDKA from Longford and another has one from Limerick, so we would need more people to join the Farrell DNA Project and match these members in R1b-GF6 before we could say for sure where in Ireland their Farrell line came from.

Maurice Gleeson
May 2016