Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Friday, December 26, 2014

Compiling a Pedigree for Submission to the Brewer DNA Project

The Brewer DNA Project is now in its ninth year and has 226 members. It is a surname project (BREWER, BROWER, BROUWER, BRUER and other variations) that invites males with the just mentioned surnames to join and take a Y-Chromosome DNA test. Females, of course, do not have the Y-Chromosome, but can join by recruiting a close male relative, such as a father, brother or close cousin, with the BREWER (etc.) surname to take the Y-Chromosome DNA test.

The Y-DNA test results collected since the Project's inception has allowed us to identify eleven unique groups of BREWERs who are closely related genetically within each group, but who are significantly different, or unrelated, to the other groups. In addition we have about 50 individuals, who despite having the surname BREWER (etc.) have yet to find a Y-DNA match with any other male currently in the Project. While the genetic data reported by each individual's Y-DNA test helps us to create these various groups, the only way we can give each group a name (Adam Brouwer, Adam Brown Brewer, Ambrose Brewer, and so on) is by collecting pedigrees of the direct paternal ancestry of the males who have taken the Y-DNA test. Without a associated pedigree, the Y-DNA results of any individual's Y-DNA test is of very limited value. Most of those who join the Project do so because they have run into a brick wall only a few generations back in their paternal ancestry. If we are to be in anyway helpful to you as someone who joins the Project for the purpose of solving a paternal ancestry problem, we will need a pedigree.

When we ask a new member for a pedigree, what we are asking for, is a direct paternal ancestry for the male being tested, back to the earliest paternal ancestor that can be reliably proved and supported by traditional genealogical research. We post the pedigrees online (we do not include data on living persons) so that comparisons in the actual ancestry between tested participants who have close genetic matches, can be easily viewed by all those who are interested. The pedigrees that have been posted online can be used as an example, or a template, for what we would like to receive from every new Project member. Pedigrees for ten of the identified groups (and some ungrouped participants) can be found at the Brewer DNA Project Pedigrees website. Each group has a separate page which is accessed by a link in the column on the left. To get an idea of what the pedigree you will be submitted should look like, select one of the groups and you will be taken to the group's page. For example, here is the Jan Brouwer Group Pedigrees.

When the time comes for you to compile your own pedigree, we ask that you include the following information for each generation:
  1. Name of the name of the direct paternal ancestor and the name of his wife.
  2. Date and place of birth and death. (It is advisable to also include this for the spouse).
  3. Date and place of marriage.
It is understandable that you may not be able to find all of what is requested above. But, please work to complete as much of it as you can.

When compiling the pedigree, please use the NGS "Standards for Sound Genealogical Research." If you are using a published compiled genealogy as a source (this includes accepted D.A.R. and S.A.R. lineages), it is advised that you check each and every claim in that source by locating original records. In other words, look for and find vital records and church records to confirm dates and places, and probate and estate records, and/or land and court records, to confirm relationships between generations. We do not need you to submit all of these records to us, but you should use them to ensure that your own pedigree is accurate. And, if a question of an error in your pedigree does come up, you should have the needed records or documents at your disposal to address the specific concern.

It is suggested that you submit as your Earliest Known Ancestor (EKA) only the paternal ancestor that can be proved using traditional genealogical research methods. For example, your Y-DNA test may indicate that you are certainly a genetic ancestor of Adam Brouwer, however, if your traditional research only proves your ancestry back a few generations, or not quite all the way back to Adam Brouwer (perhaps one or two generations shy), only show in your pedigree that EKA that can actually be proved. Take a look at the Adam Brouwer pedigree page for an example. We know, by Y-DNA testing, that everyone included on this page is a descendant of Adam Brouwer. Yet some, such as kit #182867, or #293571, can only prove their pedigree back to an EKA who lived sooner in time. In both cases, the submitter compiled a pedigree that only went as far back as the ancestor they could prove.

Please differentiate between what is proven and what is strongly suggested by circumstantial evidence. If you look at kit #s 65385, 77803, 188348, and 285309, you will see that the pedigrees can be proved back to no. 4, Jeremiah Brower/Brewer, and all though we cannot prove the pedigrees the rest of the way back to Adam Brouwer, strong circumstantial evidence suggests a very likely ancestry from no. 4 back to Adam Brouwer (no. 1). In these pedigrees we included the unproven but strongly believed generations, in italics. This is acceptable so long as that circumstantial evidence is strong.

You, the participant, are spending a few hundred dollars on your Y-Chromosome DNA test. By also submitting a carefully researched and compiled pedigree you will help improve your chances of finding that brick wall paternal ancestor. In other words it will help improve the chances that you get your money's worth out of your purchase. It will also add to the body of knowledge that is being collected on the various BREWER (etc.) families. That in turn will help confirm and strengthen existing pedigrees and will help future participants locate their correct pedigrees.

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