Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ancestral DNA: mtDNA Haplogroup Results

Our mtDNA haplogroup results are in and we belong to the H haplogroup. The haplogroup H is predominantly European and originated outside of Europe before the last glacial maximum. It is believed that at least 40% of all mitochondrial lineages in Europe belong to the H haplogroup.

Within the H haplogroup there are several subclades (H1, H2, H3, etc.) and ours is H2. The H2 subclade is found in the highest frequency in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus (it can also be found in Western Asia). The H2 subclade is broken down even further into H2a and H2b. We fall under the H2a division, which is found most frequently in Eastern Europe, but is not found in Asia like the H2b group.

Our exact result was H2a2a (which happens to also be the CRS)! This means that we exactly match the CRS without any mutations or insertions on both the HVR1 and HVR2. I have joined several H2a2a forums online and most of the participants have Scandinavian or Northern European heritage. Which aligns with the research I have done tracing our maternal ancestors to Norway.

However, it gets even more interesting when we drill down even further and look at our CR (coding region). Most mtDNA test do not include this result, but we went with the full sequence test and it was well worth it because we have a very unique CR mutation at position 9299. We have G instead of the CRS's A. From my research online, it appears that our 9299G mutation is a silent mutation, so we shouldn't have to worry about any health related issues.

Our CR 9299G result is pretty rare. The references I have found in forums to it indicate that people with this mutation have ancestors from Scandinavia (3 of us so far). It isn't in the PhyloTree (most complete mtDNA tree available) yet, but once there are more results with this mutation, it could be added.

I will post more as information becomes available.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ancestral DNA: Update - 25, 37, and 67 Marker Tests

It has been a year since my last ancestral DNA update. At that time, had over a 1,000 exact matches on the 12 marker test and we had one exact match on the 25 maker y-chromosome test. In the last year, we have had several more matches and I wanted to update the family on these:

12 Marker Test

25 Marker Test
  • We have 2 exact matches (I've emailed both, but not receive responses).

37 Marker Test
  • We have 1 match that is at a genetic distance of -1.
  • We have 1 match that is at a genetic distance of -3.

67 Marker Test
  • We have 1 match that is at a genetic distance of -1.

Please let me know if you have any questions and remember to reference the binders I gave out at Christmas for detailed information on ancestral DNA. :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Military Separation Papers - Byron Miller

Last year, I asked my mother (as next-of-kin) to order a copy of her father's military files. She agreed, completed the paperwork and sent them in to the NARA. Her father died when she was nine years old and our family rarely speaks of him. He was served in WWII prior to meeting my grandmother and she knew very few details about his service because it wasn't something he talk about. I was hopeful through his military files we would learn the specifics about his overseas service and the injuries we knew he sustained.

After several months, my Mom received a generic form letter saying that NARA didn't have his record and that it was most likely damaged/destroyed in a fire. At this news, I have to admit that I was more than a little heartbroken. At the time, I felt that this was the one and only way we were going to learn about his history in the Army.

As time passed, I was able to piece together snippets of his service from his military headstone, a picture of him in uniform with a patch on his sleeve, and a book on the battles of Leyte that was in the possession of my Grandma. I felt lucky that I was able to piece these small tidbits of information together and resigned myself to the fact that this is all we would ever know.

Fast forward a year and you can imagine my surprise when my Mom called and told me that Grandma found some "military papers" on Grandpa while sorting through her papers! My Mom, being the awesome lady that she is, ran to the store and made copies of them for me before they were filed away again.

She mailed them straight away and I received them earlier this week. These "military papers" were actually his Honorable Discharge letter and his separation qualification record. Grandma had found the mother-load!

I spent several hours today pouring over these records with my husband, who is fascinated with WWII history. From the information we were able to learn a lot about his training and even a few details on his civilian life. Listed below are the main things we learned:

  • The highest level of education he completed was the 7th grade
  • He was employed as a civilian truck driver before joining the Army in 1942
  • He attended special service school courses in Radio Repair and Operation, Tank Driver, and Radial Engine Mech.
  • He was in the 776th Amphibious Tank Battalion
  • His military specialties were Antitank Gunner and Radio Tender
  • He operated and maintained radios in his tank company
  • He coded and decoded messages in combat zones
  • He had blue eyes (no one had ever told me this before)
  • He was a draftee
  • He was in the service a total of 2 years, 7 months, and 6 days
  • His wounds received in action are listed as "SWA on Leyte Island 20 Oct 1944" (SWA = Seriously Wounded in Action)
  • He was discharged from the hospital at Camp Carson in Colorado
  • He received the following decorations and citations: Asiatic Pacific Ribbon, 1 Bronze Battle Star, Purple Heart, and Good Conduct Ribbon
Having never met the man and knowing very few details about him, the things that stood out the most to me were his signature and right thumb print. After all, the details I had been craving to learn are mere facts compared to the handwriting and thumb print of the Grandfather I have never met.