Genetic Genealogy to Solve Non-Paternal Event (NPE) Roadblocks
Before the introduction of commercial DNA testing for genealogical purposes in the year 2000, there wasn't much hope for a genealogist to surpass the NPE.
Since that time, genetic testing has provided genealogists with a powerful tool. To illustrate, we will share the story of Ed. In tracking his great-great-grandmother through census records in the 1800's, the records revealed that her three children were born out of wedlock. The children were listed in the census with their mother's maiden name as their surname. Later, the mother married and the children adopted their step-father's surname, but Ed suspected that the step-father was not the children's natural father.
Ed contacted the DNA surname project
his g-g-grandmother's maiden name, and inquired that if he DNA tested, would it reveal who
the natural father may have been. (Ed is a direct Y-line descendant with the
step-father's surname.) The Admin. recommended that Ed take the 37-marker DNA test,
and told him that if there were other males in the database, that a match may give him the
lead he needed. Ed matched two men, and one of those was a 36/37 marker match!
He began corresponding with the match and he now knows their common ancestor, he just
needs to identify which one of the ancestor's sons fathered the children.
Follow these steps to surmount your genealogical NPE:
NPE Success Stories!
"I am the administrator of the
Alcorn Surname Project with FTDNA.
"Y-chromosome DNA tests of 3rd & 9th
cousins of mine confirmed recent paternal-line common ancestry. My ggggrandfather, Ozias
Humphrey (Jr.) was born out-of-wedlock in 1789, and lived with his mother. From family
verbal lore, letters written by Ozias Jr.& his mother in later years, local histories,
etc, in & near Simsbury, Ct., his father was well-known to be Ozias Humphrey (Sr.),
born 1763 in Simsbury. However, there were no legal documents to confirm the paternity.
The 37-marker test results clearly confirm the genetic relationship with 37/37, 36/37,
& 35/37 matches. The test results confirmed our genetic link into an 11-generation
paper trail to our immigrant ancestor, Michael Humphrey, of Lyme Regis, Dorset, 1620.
Without the DNA test results, for many generations, my ancestors have necessarily relied
on verbal family lore to substantiate our link into the Michael Humphrey genealogy. I've
now extended this trail back 13 generations to 1550 & Henrye Humphrie in Honiton,
Devon. When Ozias Jr. eventually moved away from Simsbury with his mother, Ann Andrus,
they settled in upstate NY, near the western end of the Finger Lake district, where Ozias
bought farmland as early as 1826, still operated by my 3rd cousins today. His mother Ann
lived with Ozias and his large family. Descendents of Ozias are buried next to Ann, born
circa 1760, in a small, local cemetery at Liberty Pole Corner."
"My name is Brian Hamman and I am the
co-administrator for the Hamman Y-chromosome project. At the age of 9, I drove 5
hours with my father to the big genealogy building at the Public Library of Cincinnati and
Missouri County. Our goal seemed to be a simple one: find the name of my 3rd Great
Grandpa Hamman. After all, we already had a nice picture of my Great Grandpa Lester
Hamman with his parents and so we knew their names. We also knew the exact birthdate
and birthplace of Lester, so we might as well start off with finding his birth
certificate. After several hours of searching all vital records from Koscisuko
and adjacent counties, we could not find any birth record for a Lester Hamman born in
Mentone, Kosciusko County, Indiana, on the 20th of March in 1897. We did, however,
find a marriage record for his putative parents, Milton Hamman and Alice Baxter, but that
marriage occurred on the 25th of July in 1898, over 1 year after Lester's birth. To
make matters worse, we found out that Milton's first wife did not die until 7 months after
Lester's birth, and her obit didn't mention anything about an infant named Lester.
So my father and I left the library and drove a very quiet 5 hours back to our home in
Michigan, wondering whether we were really Hamman. In fact, my dad completely gave
up on genealogy after that! Keep in mind, at the age of 9, I did not fully
appreciate the complexity of this problem and continued thinking I am definitely a
"I recently had
a man join my Cloud surname project. When the 12-marker results came in, six markers
were different from the rest of our project. Then I received an email from
his daughter with the family story. Their female ancestor worked for a man as a cook. She became ill and her daughter, took her place as cook.
was 17 and turned up pregnant and had a son. The family story goes that they
didn't like the man so the baby kept his mother's Cloud surname.
"A family tradition held that the
McClellan name was adopted by a man born in 1864 because his mother told him
she was assaulted by a Union soldier, purported to be General George B
McClellan. Timing, location and other questions suggested this was unlikely
so a family researcher arranged for a Y-DNA test by a male McClellan
descendant. There were no close McClellan matches but there were meaningful
matches with the mother's surname suggesting one of the mother's relatives
was the father of her son. Additional genealogical research and DNA testing
may assist in identifying the real father but the alleged assault by General
George B McClellan can be laid to rest."
"There was an
adoption in the family back 80 years ago. The circumstances surrounding the
adoption were suspicious and little explanation given why the patriarch of
the family insisted on adopting a young boy from a woman who had gotten in
trouble with the law and a total stranger to the rest of the family. Family
members wondered for years if the young boy might perhaps have been an
illegitimate son of the man. Some even claimed that the boy "looked a lot
like the other children" in the family. The adopted child grew to be a man,
married and had children of his own. He died before I began my genealogy
work, however I was successful in tracking down his son. After some effort
explaining who I was and that I was a distant relative of the man who
adopted this gentleman's father he agreed to participate in a 12
marker y-DNA test. The test showed that the young boy could not have been
the son of the man who adopted him. Seven of 12 markers didn't match.
Furthermore, the haplotypes were different. There's a family reunion later
on this year and it will be good to answer the question of this little boy's
paternity after so many years of speculation and wonder."
Our sincere thanks to the DNA project admins for sharing their inspiring stories!
To contribute additional success stories - e-mail