The DNA Project has nearly doubled in size since this page was first written, so it's time to update...
Testing suspected connections.
Testing theories of relatedness is a major goal of many people who take part in DNA projects.
Descendants of Richard Slavey/Slaven of Wayne County, Kentucky, descendants of John Slavin of Garrard County, Kentucky, and a descendant of Robert Slaven of Georgia/Indiana match each other perfectly, an almost positive indication that the lines share a common male ancestor. Based on current research, there is a 50 percent probability that the common ancestor lived within seven generations of today, or about 200 years ago-- about the same time these lines are thought to have split. Circumstantial evidence tie the lines to Rowan County, North Carolina and to the family of William Slaven/Eslaven/etc., a colonial-era farmer. It would be very interesting to track down other lines with similar circumstantial ties to further confirm the theory.
In the 1850 Illinois census, two Slavens men born in Tennessee and their families appear, causing much speculation over the years as to their parentage. Are they decendants of Daniel or William Slavens, who left Highland County, Virginia, for Tennessee in the closing years of the 18th century? Are they descendants of Richard Harve Slavey/Slaven of the Big South Fork area? Or are they descendants of another family, such as the John Slaven family enumerated in Davidson County, Tennessee, in 1820, or from a family missed in the spotty early Tennessee censuses? (Assuming that the men were indeed born in Tennessee as they believed.)
A descendant of Jacob Slavens, who appears in Brown County, Illinois in 1850 as a 32-year old cooper born in Tennessee, was tested in 2005 and perfectly matches the descendants of John Slavin of Highland County. Until documentation can be found to place Jacob as a descendant of William or Daniel he'll still be a mystery, but researchers can concentrate on Smith and Claiborne counties in Tennessee as the look for clues.
On the other hand, descendants of William B. Slavens have a deeper mystery. William appears in the 1850 Illinois census in Pulaski County, as a 32-year old carpenter. In the spring of 2006 a descendant was tested; it was found that he didn't match the patterns of either the Richard Harve Slaven family or the Highland County, Virginia Slaven family. Assuming there wasn't some circumstance in a previous generation that brought a new line into one of the aforementioned families-- like the adoption of neighbor's or relative's child-- we're looking at a new family line. Perhaps a future Slaven DNA Project participant will match this line and shed more light on its origin.
Links between "unrelated" families.
As expected, as the project has grown we're seeing more matches between families without a connecting paper trail. Early in the project, we had a perfect 25-marker match between the John Slavin of Highland County line and a Scot/Irish family. Although there cannot be a common ancestor any later than the first decades of the 18th century, the perfect match has extended to 37 markers. According to standard mutation rate estimates, at least 2/3's of the time two families separated by so many generations would have at least one mutation.
Another group has come together, containing the descendant of a man born in County Tyrone in 1774, two current residents of the Glasgow area with Northern Ireland roots, and an American whose family came through Scotland in the late 19th century. While many of the group's markers are very common for Western European men, they all share the extremely rare value of 8 at marker GGAAT1B07, found in less than one percent of the participants in the Sorensen Molecular Genealogical Foundation's study. This an extremely strong indication that all are related. Two members mismatch on just one marker, so their families split in the past few generations. The other two participants are three markers off-- and three different markers at that-- so their families probabl split off many generations earlier.
There may be another group lurking in the "unrelated" group; the descendant of a man born in County Laois (Queen's County) or County Kildare is an 11 of 12 marker match with the descendant of a man born in County Antrim or County Down. The second participant has some unusual results in the extra markers in the 25-marker test, so additional testing for the first participant could quickly confirm or repudiate a connection between the families.
Undoubtedly new families will be added to the existing groups, and likely new groups discovered, as the Project continues to grow.
Other information from the tests.
The "Group B" results illustrate both the value and the danger of the 12-marker test. Since several descendants of John Slavin of Highland County have been tested, and because of the rare values of 12-13 for DYS385a-b (less than 1 percent of the participants in SMGF study have this value), other descendants can take the 12-marker and by matching be pretty certain that their weren't any undocumented adoptions or other breaks in their descendant from John Slavin. However, testing 25 markers and matching on the uncommon 18 at DYS458 and 31 at DYS449 (15 and 11 percent SMGF participants respectively) would go even farther in proving the descent.
But sometimes 12-marker results can be deceiving. As mentioned elsewhere, in my family a mutation has occurred in the last four generations, so I match the pattern established for patriarch John Slavin on just 11 of 12 markers. A descendant of John's by way of his son Reuben has had two mutations occur in the seven generations to the present. By coincidence, they're on different markers than my mutation, and all the mutations are in the 12 markers tested by FTDNA in their least expensive test. If the two of us were the only John Slavin descendants tested, and we had only the 12 marker test, we would match on just 9 of 12 markers. Usually, a match this loose would indicate that the two people aren't related, that one of us had a mistake in his genealogy. But we match on all of the additional 13 markers in the 25-marker test, plus an additional 9 markers in other tests; we share the unusual values on the aforementioned markers; and we know that while we're three mutations apart from each other, we're only one and two mutations respectively away from our partriarch's values. So there's little doubt the genealogies are correct.
As testing prices have come down slightly and the choices have increased, more Slaven Project members have had testing done beyond the "standard" 25 markers. A second results page has been set up for these expanded tests.
Copyright © 2006 Larry Slavens. All rights reserved.