When I got my first Y-DNA results I was astounded. My Y-DNA differed by a dozen markers from the hypothesized Adam Beatty, the progenitor of the majority of Beattys who had been tested. Geneticists say that if two people differ by more than 4 or 5 markers their chances of having a common ancestor in historic time are essentially nil.
I had the name and the ancestral record back more than 200 years, but I wasnít genetically a Beatty! Then who was I? And how and when did I get these strange genes? My initial action was to get my first cousin, James, to have his Y-DNA tested. His results came back identical to mine, so we knew our grandfatherís Y-DNA pattern (haplotype) from that match. Earl Beaty, administrator of our group, created a separate group in his data tables especially for my cousin and me.
Thatís where thing stood for a couple years. Then I received an email from a man named Wilson who reported that his and my DNA were fairly close matches. But he couldnít trace his ancestry back beyond Tennessee in the 1800s. My American ancestors started in Pennsylvania in the 1700s and migrated to Ohio, so that didnít help much.
I contacted a distant cousin who descended from a different son of my great, great, great grandfather than the one from whom I descended. That cousin agreed to have his Y-DNA tested, and the results were a real surprise. His DNA was nothing like mine. It fit the Y-DNA profile of the hypothetical Adam Beatty closely enough to make him part of that group of authentic Beattys. So the strange genes entered my part of the family, but not his, sometime between my grandfather and my great, great, great grandfather.
More DNA matches or near-matches with my Y-DNA were posted by the testing company. A man named Porter and I are a perfect 37-marker match. He reports that his early American ancestors migrated both west and southwest from the Mid-Atlantic coast after colonial times, and some are reported to have been in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Thatís close to where my ancestors are known to have been.
As more data arrived, an eagle-eyed Scottish resident of Belgium noted some striking patterns among a few of us. He created a website for those of us he calls the McWhos. There are about a dozen men whose DNA fits the distinctive pattern he discovered, and we all seem to have similar DNA as well as ancestral roots in Scotland.
Now the small group of McWhos that shares close variations of my Porter Y-DNA genes, but a wide variety of surnames, is exchanging information with the hope of pushing back the mists of uncertainty about our Scottish origins even further. Iím also following the exploration of their Scottish origins by the rest of the Beattys. This summer while a group of us with the Baty, Beattie, Beatty, Beaty surname were visiting southwest Scotland I encountered a man named Porter; and, amazingly, he contributed swabs from his cheeks for Y-DNA testing. The test results arenít available yet, but when they are, maybe they will let those of us in the McWho group peer through the mist a little bit more clearly. Itís fascinating detective work, especially if youíre prepared for surprises.
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