Friday, March 30, 2012

A Turner DNA Success Story

Last month I received this email.
A reply has been posted to your message, "Lewis and Sarah Martin Turner of Fauquier County" on "11/6/2008 3:36:49 PM GMT" Board: Family History > Surnames > TurnerSubject: Re: Lewis and Sarah Martin Turner of Fauquier CountyAuthor: lynjoet46Date: 2/15/2012 3:03:03 AM GMT Thank you. The Message Board Administration Team
Joe Turner posted a response to my November 2008 RootsWeb Turner Surname Message Board inquiry indicating he was descended from Lewis and Sarah Turner and offering to help. And has he ever!!!

I fired off an answer within 20 minutes and a flurry of emails followed. He filled me in on what happened to Lewis after he left Kentucky (my last sighting) and I shared what I knew about Lewis' father.

Joe and I are 5th cousins once removed, each descending from Edward Turner (d. 1805, Fauquier County, VA). Turner's daughter Sarah is my 4th great-grandmother. His son Lewis is Joe's 3rd great-grandfather. Joe is a treasured connection for those of us using DNA to help in our research - a direct male descendant.

There is a Turner DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA that I've followed with interest. It shows a clear DNA connection between Edward Turner and a George Turner. There is also documentary evidence linking the men. I was thrilled when I found a Kentucky court case establishing the James Turner from Group 9 was the son of "my" Edward Turner. But with only one test kit linked to Edward Turner I was unwilling to place much weight on the results.

Enter Joe. He immediately suggested DNA testing, not even giving me time to give him my 10 cent spiel about the wonders of DNA. That alone puts him in my all-time top ten cousin connections. Then he followed up and moved to my top five. Last week, just before I headed off to Fort Wayne for the Midwest Geneabloggers Meetup, Joe sent me the 37 marker results. Bulls eye!!

I've had poor luck with other Y-DNA results (not Turners). Two distant cousins kindly agreed to testing. Both their tests returned results indicating non-paternal events (such a gentle phrase). Neither was pleased with the results. One gentleman was so upset that he cut off all communication. I still feel awful about his reaction. This time Joe's results were exactly what we hoped they would be. His strongest match was to Edward's son James and he clearly fit into Group 9 with George Turner's descendants. Matching DNA test results from two sons of Edward Turner make a far stronger case for George and Edward being related.

That makes this distaff descendant of Edward's extremely happy, and Joe - he's my number one cousin connection. To those gentlemen being hounded by swab or tube waving relatives, please relent. That little bit of DNA means so much to us!

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  1. This is the kind of thing we live for! And the additional DNA component as well. I'm so happy for you and Joe. When you say "non-paternal event", what does that mean? I'm having trouble with the context.

    1. It's when there isn't a genetic Y-DNA match to anyone with the same surname - Mr. Descendant Smith doesn't match any Smith, but matches Browns. Reasons could be adoptions, illegitimacy (ie born to a female Smiths), name changes or one of Mr. Smith's female ancestors had a fling with Brown, the milkman.

  2. Wow, that's so wonderful. I am so happy for you. Thank you for the reminder to be posting more queries. The vagaries of these web cousin connections would make an interesting blog post, I bet!! Some of it is SO helpful and wonderful, and some is just, well, not useful and a little unrealistic. I'm so glad you struck some gold.

  3. I've often wondered about the margin of error for those non-paternal event results. It sure influences my confidence level...

  4. Oh Susan, this is giving me a nudge (I am not allowed to use the word poke since it was copyrighted by Facebook) to contact my brother who has no interest in genealogy to take a DNA test. I have always been skeptical about our connection to Ebenezer Walker - do we have the right one? He remarried, and we are descendants from a son from the second marriage. There are active (genealogically speaking) descendants from his first marriage. Now to talk my brother into it. I wish I understood more about it.

  5. Susan-
    I just visited the Family Tree DNA that you listed and am even more confused. There are so many options that I don't know what is reasonable to choose. Suggestions?


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