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I am delighted to introduce this guest blog post by Lisa Little, a member of the Lineage II Gleeson's of North Tipperary. Lisa has done some excellent research on her own particular direct male line which has taken her on an exciting adventure into the past, full of twists and turns. Lisa started out as a Little but ended up as a Gleason! And this is not an uncommon situation - many of us will find a surname or DNA switch (SDS or NPE) somewhere along our direct male line. Lisa used an ingenious approach (combining Y-DNA and autosomal DNA data) to elaborate this family mystery and discover where the surname switch occurred.

Thank you, Lisa, for sharing this wonderful story with us.
Maurice Gleeson
Jan 2019

What's in a name? that which we call a Gleason
By any other name would still be a Gleason . . .

The Story of Finding my Gleason Ancestry
By Lisa M Little

Benjamin J Little (1889-1989)

My maiden name is Little.  As a child, the name made me an easy target for a bully’s joke. Despite this, I have proudly kept this surname throughout my adult life.  Until 2006, I knew almost nothing of my Little ancestry.  My grandfather, Ben Little, was born in late 19thcentury San Francisco, California.  The documentary record of his early life was largely destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.  There was a vague family story of Ben’s father abandoning him as a toddler, never to be heard of again.  In the pre-home computer age of the 1970s, my hunt for my Little great grandfather, turned up only a single document (Ben Little’s Baptismal Certificate from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Broadway in San Francisco) bearing my great grandfather’s name:  Eugenio Little.

Figure 1   Author's documented paternal lineage 
at start of research 
(Eugenio is a Spanish variant of Eugene)

Thirty years later, in 2006, I was living in Georgia, USA, far from my family in California when I got the news that my father was in the hospital following a heart attack.  Being so far away, and feeling the need to connect, I returned to my search for my Little ancestry.  Genealogy had changed in the meantime, resources were now online and DNA analysis was opening doors to the past.  I decided to have my father do a Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) Y-25 test in hopes that we would find a match among those who had tested and were participating in the Little Surname DNA Project.  Much to my disappointment, the results identified my father as R1b haplogroup but did not match a single Little in the project.  Despite this disappointment, with the help of the project administrator, the late Leo Little, we hit the genealogical jackpot.  Leo was able to connect my Eugenio with his Little lineage by finding a reference to him in Descendants of George Little, who came to Newbury, Massachusetts, in 1640 by George Thomas Little1.  All of a sudden, I had generations of Littles to become acquainted with --- Littles who were early colonists in North America, Littles who fought in the Revolutionary War, even Littles who had participated in the Salem Witch Trials.  Following the paper trail to George Little now occupied my time and the DNA test slipped from my memory.

Figure 2   Cover of George Little genealogy 
which includes reference to Eugene M Little

Then, in November of 2013, I received an email from a FTDNA project administrator who, having reviewed my father’s Y-DNA results, suggested that he was likely to have the Z255 mutation, associated with the Irish Sea Haplotype.  By this time, I was teaching basic genetic structure and function to community college students in Southern California and thought testing for the mutation might prove useful as a teaching aid.  So, I ordered the Z255 SNP test from FTDNA. The test came back positive!  With these results in hand, I decided it was time to revisit the Little Surname DNA Project results page.  Surely, after so many years another descendant of George Little must have tested and joined the project.  Alas, still no match!  I asked myself how this could be the case.  The published George Little genealogy was over 600 pages long and included more than 6,400 descendants.  Surely, there was a living descendant apart from my father who had done a DNA test.

It was obviously time to put some real energy into figuring out what the DNA results were telling me.  Reviewing my father’s Y-25 DNA matches didn’t make any sense – not a single Little among all those genetic matches.  In fact, five of his 25 matches had the last name Gleason/Gleeson.  Only two other surnames had multiple matches:  Fennessy with two matches and Salisbury with three matches.  My head was spinning!  Obviously, I had more work to do to understand the results.  

A few months later, I was reading a post on the ISOGG website by Fannie Barnes Linder, entitled The Shock of Our Lives!  Ms. Linder told the story of receiving her brother’s DNA results only to find the top 16 matches all shared the same surname, not the surname of her brother, nor their father.  What she had discovered was a non-paternity event (NPE) in her paternal lineage.  According to ISOGG wiki, a non-paternity event is “any event which has caused a break in the link between an hereditary surname and the Y-chromosome in a son using a different surname from that of his biological father.”2  Suddenly, everything fell into place!  The lightbulb went off in my head!  No Little surname matches, but five Gleason/Gleeson matches!  My father was not a genetic Descendant of George Little.  Rather, he was the genetic descendant of some unknown Gleason.  No!  As a genetic genealogy novice, I didn’t trust my reading of the results.  So I turned to my friend, David Lyttle, who was at the time the DNA test consultant for Clan Little North America.  After reviewing my assembled data, he agreed I must be onto something.

Armed with this new NPE hypothesis, my research had three initial goals:  1) do more advanced testing, 2) reach out to close genetic matches in order to identify the North American Gleason lineage to which I belong and 3) explore the timing of the non-paternity event.

Still doubting the validity of my Gleason hypothesis, in the spring of 2014 I ordered a Y-67 DNA test.  Results were posted on June 6th:  of 23 matches, four were Gleason/Gleesons, with Genetic Distance (GD) values of 2 to 7.  The following day, June 7th, another Gleason match appeared, with GD 1.
TABLE 1:  FTDNA Y-67 Matches on June 7, 2014
# matches
Doty, Johnston, Myrick, Tripp
Anthony, Daley, Fennessy, Fitzpatrick, Gleason, Hogan-Wilbur, McCarthy, McCloughan, Myrick (2), Phelps (3), Whitmore (2), Wyght

I have come to realize that Hestia, the Greek goddess of the hearth and family, is surely smiling upon me and guiding the search for my ancestry.  The two closest matches (or rather the administrators of the matches’ DNA kits) turned out to be genealogy experts who would become my teachers and partners in the search for our shared origins.  The closest match was Herbert L Gleason Jr (HLG/G55), the father and father-in-law of a couple who own Heirlines Family History & Genealogy in Salt Lake City, Mary Gleason Petty & James Petty .  The second closest match was father of none other than our Gleason/Gleeson DNA Project co-administrator and professional genetic genealogist, Dr. Maurice Gleeson. I again hit the genealogy jackpot! Thank you, Hestia!  On June 6th I sent my first email to Maurice and on the 8th received a message from Mary Gleason Petty.  In a matter of days, I discovered that my (genetic) paternal ancestors were Irish and that I fit somewhere into a North American Gleason lineage whose patriarch was James Gleason (1775-1805) of Dorchester, Massachusetts (See Figure 3).

Figure 3   Mary Gleason Petty's Paternal Lineage

Over the next year Y-111, Big Y, and Family Finder genetic tests were completed on my father.  With each new set of results, the evidence of my Gleason ancestry grew stronger (See Table 2).  And, yes, I became more and more addicted to genetic testing.

TABLE 2:  FTDNA Y-111 Matches on September 16, 2014
Surname (Kit #/Project ID)
Gleason (338070/G55/HLG)
Gleeson (N74958/G21)
Gleeson (334030/G54)
Gleason (N101540/G39)

Analysis of my father’s Y-111 STR mutations placed our paternal ancestors within Lineage II – Gleesons of North Tipperary, Ireland.  This evidence, coupled with Big Y SNP mutations, narrowed his position within Lineage II to Branch B (See Figure 4).  The details of this placement within the Gleason/Gleeson Mutation History Tree have been described in Maurice’s blog post dated 8 July 2018, A Closer Look at Branch B - New Y-DNA Results.

Figure 4   Detail of Lineage II Branch B Relationships. 
RTL = G57, HLG = G55

The Family Finder (FF) test, completed in July of 2015, identified Mary Gleason Petty’s father (HLG/G55) as my father’s (RTL/G57) 3rd to 5th cousin, with 40 shared centiMorgans (cM).  Assuming the two men were of the same generation, due to their similar ages, the FF results suggested that they shared a 2nd great grandfather to 4th great grandfather.  James Gleason of Dorchester, MA (1772-1805) would be their 3rd great grandfather. James had two sons and six grandsons. I simply didn’t have enough genetic data to narrow down where my paternal lineage fit into Mary’s family tree. The best I could do is try to find a geographic overlap between Mary’s Gleasons and my Littles.  One possible overlap became evident:  James Gleason (1772-1805) had a grandson, James Henry Gleason, who had settled in Monterey, California in 1846 and married a Californio3 beauty.  While James Henry Gleason died 28 years before my grandfather was born, he did have four sons who might be worth a closer look.

I decided to focus some effort on the timing question:  When did the Gleason Y-DNA enter my Little lineage?    My first working hypothesis was:  My father (RTL/G57) was the first genetic Gleason and, thus, would not be a Y-chromosome match to his brothers.  (Forgive me Grandma Little for ever considering such a thing!)  As both of my paternal uncles passed away prior to my DNA discovery, I turned to one of their sons (G64 in Figure 4) for a Y-DNA test.  In May of 2015 my cousin’s Y-37 results were published:  a perfect match (GD = 0) to my father.  With my initial hypothesis rejected, I moved onto the prior generation. This is where I hit a brick wall. My grandfather, Ben Little, had no full male siblings.  There were half-brothers from his mother’s second marriage, but they would not share the same Y-DNA.  I moved back to Eugene Little’s generation in search of another living male descendant. Unfortunately, Eugene and his younger brother, Arthur Little, never had any male children that could be traced in the genealogical record.  My search for a living descendant of George Little continued generation by generation and took me from California to Maine, spanning 240 years.  Finally, a single living descendant was identified.  Then came time for that dreaded exchange, “Hello, I am a distant cousin.  Would you be willing to do a DNA test for me?”  This is a question that always leaves me feeling uneasy.  However, in this case, the answer was, ‘Yes’.  No hesitation.  In October of 2015, the FTNDA Y-37 results told us that my father and the Little 4th cousin are not a genetic match. These results pinpointed a 100-year period during which the Gleason Y-DNA could have been introduced into my paternal ancestry.  The problem remained that my exhaustive research of the Little family tree had failed to identify another living direct male descendant whom I could approach for DNA testing.  I began to create fanciful storylines with the genealogical evidence that was available:  Eugene Little’s grandmother got pregnant after an encounter with a Gleason man and was hurriedly married off to her first cousin. Ok, I’ll admit I have an over active imagination.  It’s just more fun to imagine a romance story than to admit I had hit the brick wall and saw few strategies to surmount it.

While in 2015 this Little “4th cousin” did not have a Y-DNA match to another male within the Little DNA Project, who claims descent from George Little of Newbury, MA, in January of 2019 a GD 1/37 match was made.  The two men share George Little’s oldest son as their most recent common ancestor, making them 8th cousins.  Taken together, the Y-DNA results for the two men have now established a genetic profile for their Little lineage to which future descendants of George Little can be matched.

Figure 5   Possible locations of the Surname / DNA Switch (SDS a.k.a. NPE)
The switch happened somewhere on the Little Direct Male Line ... but where?
FF suggests a connection to HLG / G55 via common 2x to 4x great grandparents (red bracket on left)
Y-DNA of Little cousins rules out switch prior to Benjamin Little 1802-1907 & after Benjamin Little 1889-1989
Green indicates Gleason Lineage II Y-DNA, Orange indicates Little Y-DNA
(click to enlarge)

Faced with a seeming insurmountable challenge, during the Spring of 2016 I was excited to hear that Maurice Gleeson was visiting Southern California.  At last, after two years of email exchanges with my mentor, I had the opportunity to meet him in person and discuss future research strategies.  During a delightful lunch, that included Mary Gleason Petty’s sister, Martha (a mini Gleason family reunion), Maurice suggested that I do the Ancestry.com autosomal DNA test on my father.  Perhaps, wading into another database would prove helpful.  

Eureka! In May of 2016 I opened my father’s newly published Ancestry.com DNA results on my computer.  As I scrolled down the list of matches, my reaction was, “You have to be kidding me!”  Many usernames were simple initials.  It was going to take some real time investment to find Gleason matches with only last initials to go by.  My initial panic was unwarranted as among the 3rd cousin matches was an individual with a ‘G’ surname initial and a kit manager with the surname Gleason. Correspondence with the kit manager confirmed that the individual was a descendant of James Henry Gleason (JHG) of Monterey, California.  This match and my father shared 118 centiMorgans over three segments, a considerably closer autosomal match than to Mary’s father of 40 cM.  Could I hope that one of the four sons of JHG could be my genetic great grandfather?

This is where I needed to bring the genealogical record together with the genetic data.  Eugene Little was born in 1853 in Maine.  JHG was born in Plymouth, MA in 1823, making him old enough to have been Eugene’s biological father.  However, JHG’s youth has been well documented and published in a book entitled Beloved Sister:  Letters by James Henry Gleason from California and the Sandwich Islands, 1841-1859.4 JHG was a continent away when Eugene was conceived and born.  JHG’s four sons were born between 1850 and 1860, making them 39 to 29 at the time my grandfather, Ben Little, was born.  The timing is right for one of James’ sons to be my genetic great grandfather but what other evidence could be brought to bear?  

If one of these four Gleason men was my grandfather’s biological parent, I should also find genetic matches to descendants of their mother’s family.  I mentioned above that she, Mariana Catarina Demetria Watson, was a Californio beauty.  Many early European settlers in California married into prosperous Mexican families prior to US control of the territory.  JHG’s father-in-law, James E Watson, was among this group.  James Watson, an Englishman of Scottish origin, arrived in California in the 1820s and set up a hide and tallow business.  He married Marianna Escamilla in 1830 and in 1850, he purchased the Rancho San Benito in the Salinas Valley.  I began to search my father’s Ancestry.com DNA matches for descendants of the Watson and Escamilla families.  

This is where Ancestry.com DNA Circles can be a useful aid in exploring hypothesized relationships.  After updating my linked family tree to include JHG and his wife, as well as her Watson/Escamilla parents, a DNA Circle was generated that included several individuals who trace their ancestry to Marianna Escamilla.  Today, that DNA Circle includes 21 members.

Figure 6   Ancestry's DNA Circle
for my (genetic) great great grandmother

Being a genetic match to 20+ descendants of Marianna Escamilla strongly supports the idea that one of her..
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Big Y results recently came back for project member 191141, a member of Lineage III - the Gleeson's from West Clare (specifically the area around Coore & Connolly). This is a very close-knit group with few mutations, which suggests that they all share a common ancestor shortly before 1800. The origins of this group were first discussed in a blog post from July 2016, and a subsequent blog post (June 2018) detailed the genealogical information gathered for this group thanks to the sterling efforts of Bill Gleeson.

The 5 members of Lineage III

The new Big Y results indicate that his "terminal SNP marker" is indeed DC127 as previously predicted. This characterises a sub-branch below the SNP marker L226 which is the hallmark of the O'Brien clan from Clare and thus Brian Boru.

A SNP Progression is the sequence of SNPs that characterise each branching point on the Tree of Mankind from the major Haplogroup SNP (R-P312 in this case) down to the most downstream branch of the Tree of Mankind (i.e. the branch on which you currently sit). The SNP Progression for Lineage III is as follows:
  • R-P312/S116 > Z290 > L21/S145 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > Z2534 > BY25450 > FGC5618 > FGC5625 > L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > A10950 > DC127
So what does this new information tell us?

Additional analysis of this member's results was undertaken by the team at The Big Tree. You can see this branch and it's nearby genetic neighbours here and in the diagram below.

The Lineage III member sits on the branch on the far left
(click to enlarge)

What stands out is the genetic connection to several surnames with a strong presence in county Clare, including McNamara, O'Malley, Curry, Hehir, McInerney & Slattery:
  • McNamara - this is an important sept of the Dál gCais, connected with the O'Briens and thus related to Brian Boru.
  • O'Malley - there was an important O'Malley clan in the old kingdom of Thomond, near Limerick city (just south of county Clare).
  • Curry - a sept bearing this surname was prominent in Thomond (and is reflected in the surname distribution map below).
  • Hehir - concentrated in the Clare/Limerick area. MacLysaght states that they were a sept of Clare which originated with the Uí Fidhgheinte of Limerick.
  • McInerney - these were a major sept of county Clare and remain concentrated there to this day.
  • Slattery - these were a sept of East Clare. The name is numerous in northern part of the province of Munster.
The strong genetic association with surnames from Clare suggests that the DNA origins of the Lineage III Gleeson's is indeed in county Clare, where many of them still live today.

Surname Distribution Maps based on Griffith's Valuation (mid-1800s)
(from www.johngrenham.com)

We can attempt to date the various branching points in the SNP Progression for Lineage III members. Here is a reminder of the SNP Progression and we will be looking at the dates for just the last few branches:
  • R-P312/S116 > Z290 > L21/S145 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > Z2534 > BY25450 > FGC5618 > FGC5625 > L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > A10950 > DC127
Some dates have been calculated by the Big Tree. Here are the crude dates for the following branching points:
  • P312 ...      <4620 ybp (years before present) = sometime around 2670 BC
  • L226 …     <1900 ybp (years before present) = before 50 AD
  • Z17669 ...  <1810 ybp = pre-140 AD approximately
  • A10950 … <1350 ybp = pre-600 AD approx.
  • DC29 …    <1090 ybp = pre-900 AD approx.
  • DC31 …    <840 ybp   = pre-1100 AD approx.
  • DC30 …    <740 ybp   = pre-1200 AD approx.

Dates for the more downstream branches can be crudely estimated using similar methodology (i.e. crudely, 150 years per SNP, average birth year of participants assumed to be about 1950). The 3 people on the DC127 branch have 23 unique SNPs between them (Smith 8, Johnson 9, & Gleeson 6). This suggests that the common ancestor for Smith, Johnson & Gleeson is about 750-1250 years ago.

Incorporating all these dates into the Big Tree diagram gives us the following branching structure with crude dates (allow several hundred years on either side of the estimate).

Crude dates for each of the branching points in the Lineage III portion of the Tree of Mankind

Although these dates are crude, it seems pretty clear that the connection between the Lineage III Gleeson's and their genetic neighbours (McNamara, O'Malley, etc) is before the time of surnames (i.e. pre-1000 AD or thereabouts). However, the connection with the Smith and Johnson individuals is much less clear. Neither of these names is an Irish surname and this suggests that there may have been an SDS (Surname or DNA Switch / NPE) somewhere along their direct male line.

The Lineage III member has Y-STR matches with a Maloney (GD 8/111) and a Smith (Genetic Distance 6/111), both of whom have tested positive for DC127 (so presumably this Smith is the same one in the Big Tree diagram above). The Maloney individual has not yet uploaded his results to the Big Tree so I have sent him an email with instructions. This may add a lot of additional detail to the current picture.

The Maloney individual belongs to Group 2 of the Maloney DNA Project (of which I also happen to be the Administrator). This Maloney Group 2 (11 members in total) is more genetically diverse than Gleeson Lineage III ... i.e. they are an older group and the common ancestor for these Maloney's is likely to be 400-600 years ago. It would be useful to have a second person from this group do the Big Y test as this would help clarify a Maloney-specific DNA marker and could also indicate when the Maloney Group 2 and Gleeson Lineage III split away from each other. In other words, it might help answer the question: which came first - the Maloney chicken or the Gleeson egg?

Group 2 of the Maloney DNA Project, showing the genetic diversity within the group

Maloney is also a Dalcassian name (i.e. it is associated with the clan known as the Dal gCais, of which Brian Boru is the most well-known member). These Maloney's were chiefs of the district around Kiltanon, in the barony of Tulla, in east county Clare. This further reinforces the likely Clare origins of Lineage III.

The distribution of Maloney surname variants in the mid-1800s
(from www.johngrenham.com)

The connection with the Maloney's is interesting for another reason too. Some of the historical texts dealing with the origins of the Gleeson surname in Ireland (in particular those of Dermot F Gleeson) report that there is an association with the surname Moloughney (supposedly originating in Muskerry, an area around northern Cork and extending toward south Tipperary). This particular surname variant is said to be an old Tipperary surname, and Tipperary is the ancestral homeland for the Gleeson's of Lineage II. So does this provide evidence of a connection between the two Gleeson Lineages (II & III)? or does it indicate some confusion in the historically reported origins of the two different lineages? or is this merely a coincidence? Something to be borne in mind as our research into the wider Gleeson"clan" continues.

DC127+ individuals in the L226 Haplogroup Project
(click to enlarge)

Lastly, the L226 project lists several people as testing positive for DC127, and a new name appears among this group, namely Cusack. There are at least two origins for this latter name (according to MacLysaght):
  • it is of Anglo-Norman origin (from de Cussac) arising in the 13th century
  • it is a naive sept originating in county Clare (from the Irish Mac Iosóg)
It seems likely that the Cusack listed in the L226 project belongs to the latter of these groups. And this further emphasises a strong Clare connection for the Gleeson's of Lineage III.

The Cusack surname (mid-1800s)
(from www.johngrenham.com)

Maurice Gleeson
Dec 2018

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There are some incredible discounts in the current FTDNA Sale which lasts from now until Nov 22nd. And there will probably be a Christmas Sale after that. So now is the time to start thinking about getting that upgrade or that extra kit.

Below are the sale prices and they are the lowest I have ever seen.
Y37 for just $99 ...
Family Finder for just $49 ...
and $100-140 off Big Y upgrades.

This feels more like Crazy Eddie's Second Hand Car Deals!

If you have any questions about your own particular situation, just drop me an email.

Maurice Gleeson
Nov 2018

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Since the last version of the "family tree" for the Lineage II Gleeson's of North Tipperary, there have been some additional results. For Branch B, these include two new members (G123 & G127), new STR results, and new Z255 SNP Pack results. This post assesses these new results, explores how they impact on the overall structure of Branch B, and draws conclusions about what the DNA and genealogical data in combination tell us about the members of this branch and how they are related to each other.

Below is the previous configuration of Branch B (from Aug 2017). There are 5 members. All share the SNP marker Y16880. And below that, their STR mutations (on the right side of each line) suggest a "best fit" branching structure that attempts to explain how the various people are related to each other. There is also a TMRCA estimate in red underneath each branching point. TMRCA stands for Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor and is expressed as the number of generations back to the most recent common ancestor. Thus the common ancestor for G107 (MPG) and G55 (HLG) is estimated to be about 3 generations ago.

The previous structure of Branch B from version 3
of the Mutation History Tree (Aug 2017)
(click to enlarge)

What do we know from each family's genealogy?

Let's first take a look at the direct male line pedigrees for each of the individuals in Branch B, including the two new members (G123 & G127). A big thank you to the project members for supplying this essential information (most of which you will find on the Post Your Pedigree page).

The direct male line pedigrees of the members of Branch B
(click to enlarge)

There are 4 lines within Branch B and what is particularly important is the birth location of the MDKA (Most Distant Known Ancestor) of each line:
  • Line 1 ... Massachussetts, USA
  • Line 2 ... probably Tipperary, Ireland
  • Line 3 ... Ireland
  • Line 4 ... Tipperary, Ireland

We assume that the MDKA information in these pedigrees is correct, but it may not be. When records are scant (as happens beyond 1830 with Irish records), oftentimes the best we can do is make an educated guess regarding the approximate year of birth and (most importantly) birth location of the MDKA. Nevertheless, it would appear that the Irish immigrant ancestor for Line 1 would have been born no later than 1 generation prior to the MDKA for line 1 (i.e. no later than about 1750 in Ireland).

Now let's take a look at the DNA.

What do the new DNA results tell us?

I have previously used a visualisation method for delineating the branching structure within the overall "family tree" for Lineage II, supplemented with insights from Dave Vance's SAPP Programme (which automates the process of generating Mutation History Trees (MHT) based on mutations in the Y-DNA SNP & STR markers). On this occasion, I started with the SAPP Programme and refined the inputs with each version of the MHT it produced. You can read a detailed account together with a sequence of diagrams later in this post, but below I merely include the top-line results.

The Z255 SNP Pack results of new member G123 (EMG) indicate that he shares 2 SNPs which until now have only been present in my Dad (G21, MHG). So this has now characterised a new branch within Branch B (indicated by the blue line in the diagram). This illustrates how the Z255 SNP Pack can (in certain circumstances) be a useful substitute for the Big Y test. However, it won't reveal any private/unique SNPs possessed by the tester.

This new sub-branch makes the connection between G123/G127 and G21 quite a way back (about 10 generations, which is about 300 years, which suggests a common ancestor born about 1700). And this also means that G123/G127 are connected to Line 1 (G57, G64 ,G55) a few generations further back than that (maybe 11, 12 or 13 generations, or 1600) … more than likely. You can read a more detailed account of the TMRCA estimates in the more technical section below.

A subsequent post will explore the use of autosomal DNA (e.g. Family Finder results) to help clarify the suggested relationships between the various members of Branch B. We would expect no atDNA matches between any of the 4 lines, but we would expect some matches among the members of each line in turn.

Figure 8: the final figure - Version 4 of the MHT for Branch B. This may be refined when Version 4 of the Mutation History tree for the entire group is generated.

A Detailed Account of the Technical Bits

For those willing to brave a more detailed account of the technical aspects of how the Mutation History Tree for Branch B was generated, please knock yourself out below.

(click to enlarge)

Figure 1: this first version of a SAPP-generated Mutation History tree is based on STR values only, anchored by the group Modal Haplotype as a starting point. Note that known relatives are separated - G64 (LTL) belongs with G57 (RL) & G55 (HLG), and G123 (EMG) belongs with G127 (JG). This artificial separation of known family members may be due to the different number of STR markers compared (i.e. 37 vs 111).

(click to enlarge)
Figure 2: SNPs have been added to "anchor" the overall group. But this makes no difference at all because all the members of Branch B share the same SNP marker (Y16880). Note that the TMRCA estimates (Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor) suggest that the group has a MRCA born about 1800, but within the range of 1700 to 1950. These TMRCA estimates will always be inexact and unreliable, despite being statistically accurate.

(click to enlarge)
Figure 3: genealogical information is added, specifically the MRCAs (Most Recent Common Ancestors) - two of them for Line 1 (James1795 & Ben1889), and one for Line 3 (John 1887). And now the diagram begins to approximate what we know from the genealogy. The known relatives are correctly grouped together, and Line 2 (G107, MPG) and Line 4 (G21, MHG) are clearly identified as outliers.

But there are still potential shortcomings. The diagram suggests that Line 4 (G21, MHG) is more closely related to Line 1 (G55, G57, G64 = HLG, RL, LTL) than to Line 2 or 3, and this seems counterintuitive given the huge number of mutations Line 4 (G21, MHG) has compared to the other lines.

Part of the problem may be that I have generated these diagrams for Branch B in isolation from the rest of the branches within Lineage II. A different configuration might result if all Lineage II members were included in this exercise.

(click to enlarge)
Figure 4: having now included all Lineage II members in the analysis, a new diagram is generated which looks essentially the same as the one above in Figure 3 ... except that member G107 has been moved to a completely separate branch of the tree (far left), beyond Y16880. This is probably due to the fact that G107 (MPG) has only tested to 37 marker level whereas most others in Branch B have tested to 111 markers.

So are we happy with G107 (MPG) being so far removed? How certain are we that he is correctly placed in Branch B? Is there any evidence to suggest he is better placed where SAPP has placed him? There are no easy answers to these questions. The new SAPP diagram suggests he is more closely related to G113 (GD 5/37), G70 (GD 7/37) and G05 (GD 7/37) than he is to the other members of Branch B (GD 1-2/37). This is counterintuitive and could only be explained by a significant number of parallel and back mutation being present ... which may be the case - we simply don't know.

So for now, I am going to assume that G107 is in fact more closely related to Branch B members and I will force a stronger likeness to Branch B members by assuming that his 38-111 STR marker panel is exactly the same as other members of Branch B. So having copied and pasted the values for these missing markers into the programme, this is the next diagram we get ...

(click to enlarge)
Figure 5: And now G107 (MPG) has been placed back in Branch B (where he probably belongs). But we have had to "fool" the SAPP Programme by forcing him onto a branch that it didn't want to put him on. We could confirm that we have placed him correctly if G107 (MPG) was to do the Big Y, the Z255 SNP Pack, or the Y16880 single SNP test.

The diagram still does not look quite right - G21 (Line 4) is still placed uncomfortably close to Line 1 members (G55, G57, G64) and this remains counterintuitive, given that G21 (MHG) has 5 STR mutations below "Node #45", suggesting that it is quite distant from Line 1 members (the Genetic Distance to members G55, G57, & G64 is 8/111, 6/111, and 2/37 respectively). This becomes even more clear when we add in the private/unique SNPs that Branch B members possess (based on the three Big Y results from this branch). G21 (MHG) has 5 unique/private SNPs whereas G57 (RL) has 2 and G55 (HLG) has 1. This is illustrated in the diagram below.

(click to enlarge)
Figure 6: this is the final "best fit" diagram from SAPP. Or at least it was until I noticed that FTDNA have made a mistake with the "current terminal SNP" of new member G123 (EMG, stated to be Y16880 on the Results Page). Looking at the results of his Z255 SNP Pack, he is not only positive for Y16880 (the overarching SNP for Branch B), but he also tests positive for 2 of the private/unique SNPs of member G21 (MHG, my Dad)! And now we have a whole new configuration ...

(click to enlarge)
Figure 7: And this latest version of the SAPP-generated Mutation History Tree seems to be much more aligned to my gut feel. My Dad G21 (Line 4) has been clearly separated from Line 1 (G55, G57, G64), and has been realigned to be closer to Line 3 (G123, G127). G107 (MPG, Line 2) is now more closely aligned with Line 1 (which makes more sense based on their small values for Genetic Distance i.e. 1-2/37).

Furthermore, compared to the STR mutations in Version 3 of the Mutation History Tree (Aug 2017), the Figure 7 diagram above is an improvement.

Further minor amendments were made when this final SAPP version was compared to Version 3 of the MHT for Lineage II - see Figure 8 (above & below). I think the refinements make logical sense but I will review this again when we come to creating Version 4 of the Mutation History Tree for Lineage II.

Figure 8: the final figure - Version 4 of the MHT for Branch B. The branching structure generated in Figure 7 is retained and there are only minor differences in the placement of STR mutations.

The take home messages from this exercise are as follows:
  • SAPP is only as good as the data you put in
  • it works best with a mixture of SNP data, STR data, and known genealogical data
  • TMRCA estimates for the branching points in the tree are crude, and will always be crude no matter how advanced DNA technology becomes. Nevertheless, they can be a useful guide when interpreted with caution.
  • The "best fit" family tree that results from building a Mutation History Tree is only one of several different configurations. It may not be a true representation of reality. But it is a starting point for discussion and further investigation. It is likely to change as more people join this branch and more data (STR & SNP) is generated.

Dating the Branching Points

TMRCA estimates can be calculated in several ways:
  • using genealogical information
  • using FTDNA's TiP Report tool (the orange icon beside each of your matches)
  • other STR-based methodology (such as the one employed by the SAPP Programme, namely Ken Nordvedt's Interclade Ageing methodology)
  • SNP-based calculations (such as that used by YFULL, which works out as about 150 years per SNP)
As a genealogist, none of them will give you what you want, namely: exactly how many generations back is the common ancestor? The best you will get is a midpoint estimate surrounded by an unhelpfully large range. But that is all we will ever be able to do. Increasing the number of STRs used to 500 will help reduce the range, but it may still be several hundred years on either side of the midpoint estimate. And from a genealogical perspective, that is not what we want.

There is also the danger that a crude timescale will fit in with our preconceived ideas and we will "make the data fit the story we want to hear". So there are loads of caveats around TMRCA estimates. Don't trust them.

Having said that, they can be a useful guide.

So for calculating the TMRCA estimates for the new Branch B family tree, I have used genealogical information in the first instance (in green) coupled with the STR-based SAPP-generated TMRCAs (in red). This may be refined further when Version 4 of the Mutation History Tree is generated for the entire membership of Lineage II.

Note that the TMRCA estimates generated by SAPP are very different to the TMRCAs based on known genealogy:

  • SAPP estimates the TMRCA between G123 (EMG) and G127 (JG) as 6 (5-7) gens = 1800 (1750-1800). In fact, they are uncle & nephew and the TMRCA is actually 1.5 generations.
  • SAPP estimates the TMRCA for G55 (HLG) and the known uncle/nephew pair G57/G64 to be 0 generations (range 0-0) = 1950 (range 1950-1950). The known number of generations between them is 4 generations.

Dating the A13103/BY14188 branch

The TMRCA estimate of 10 generations for both the Y16880 branch and the downstream A13103/BY14188 branch is derived from the SAPP-generated tree (see Figure 7 above and extract below). This gives the estimated TMRCA as 10 generations within a range of 5-10 generations (about 1700, with a range of 1550-1800). 

TMRCA estimates generated by SAPP

This TMRCA estimate for the A13103/BY14188 branch is also supported by the fact that G21 (MHG) has 3 private SNPs remaining that are still unique to him and no one else in the database (as yet). Allowing 150 years per SNP suggests that there is a 450 year period back to the MRCA for G21 & G123/G127. That takes us back to 1550. But caution is advised - the calculation is only based on 3 data points and could be out by several hundred years each way.

Using FTDNA's TiP Report tool, the TMRCA between G21 (MHG) and G127 (JG) at the 111-marker level gives a midpoint estimate of 9 generations (90% range 4-16 generations). Assuming the tester was born about 1950, and assuming 30 years per generation, this translates to a MRCA born about [1950-(30x9)] = 1680 (90% range  1470-1830). This estimate remains the same when adjusted for the minimum number of generations back to the common ancestor (based on known genealogies). This is a similar value to that generated by the SAPP Programme.

Dating the Y16880 branch

The various TMRCA estimates for the overarching Branch B-defining SNP (Y16880) are as follows:
  • 10 gens (range 5-14) based on SAPP
    • SAPP translates this as 1700 (1550-1800 AD)
  • 8 gens (90% range 4-15) based on TiP Report for G21 (MHG) & G57 (RL)
    • equates to 1710 (1500-1830)
  • 9 gens (90% range 5-15) based on revised TiP Report for G21 (MHG) & G57 (RL)
    • equates to 1680 (1500-1800)
  • 11 gens (90% range 6-19)  based on TiP Report (original & revised) for G21 (MHG) & G55 (HLG)
    • equates to 1620 (1380-1770)
  • 400 years ago (1600) based on SNPs and the average of the following:
    • 750 years ago based on SNPs for G21 (MHG)
    • 300 years ago based on SNPs for G57 (RL)
    • 150 years ago based on the single SNP for G55 (HLG)

Based on the TMRCA estimate of 1700 for the downstream A13103/BY14188 branch, it seems likely that the TMRCA estimate for the upstream Y16880 branch is likely to be several generations before this ... and this is supported by the SNP-based TMRCA estimate and 2 of the 3 TiP-based TMRCA estimates (which are all 111 marker comparisons).

Also, we need to bear in mind that there are 2 SNPs (A13103 & BY14188) between the A13103/BY14188 branch and the upstream Y16880 branch. And allowing for 150 years per SNP, this suggests that the Y16880 branch could be 300 years older (i.e. about 1400). Again, we need to be cautious about over-interpreting a result based on 2 datapoints.

In summary, the preponderance of the evidence suggests a date of about 1700 for the birth of the common ancestor of the A13103/BY14188 branch and a date of about 1600 for the common ancestor of the Y16880 branch.

Maurice Gleeson
July 2018

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This is a guest post by project member Bill Gleeson. Bill has done a lot of work on the Gleeson's of Lineage III over the years and here he shares his main genealogical findings. This posts complements an earlier post on the Lineage III Gleeson's from 2016.

Since then, Bill did the L226 SNP Pack test and his results indicate that Lineage III currently has the following SNP Progression (i.e. the SNP markers that characterise each branching point on the Tree of Mankind down to where Bill currently sits):
  • R-P312/S116 > Z290 > L21/S145 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > Z2534 > BY25450 > FGC5618 > FGC5625 > L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > A10950 / DC63 
The last SNP (Bill's so-called "terminal SNP") is currently DC63 but this will change with further testing (i.e. Big Y). DC63 is approximately 1500 years old, so this is before the advent of surnames and further testing would help clarify which downstream branches the West Clare Gleeson's sit on. Below is the DC63 portion of the Tree of Mankind (click to enlarge).

The DC63 branch of the Tree of Mankind
(from The Big Tree)

Interestingly, Bill's closest matches at the 67-marker level of comparison are Maloney (Genetic Distance 2/67, terminal SNP DC127), Smith (3/67, DC127) and Palmer (3/67). Two of these matches sit on the DC127 branch of the Tree (one branch lower than where Bill currently sits - see the far left of the diagram above). Other surnames possibly associated with the DC127 branch include Johnson, Farrell, Hart, Costello, Lynch, Kelly, and Phyffe (this information comes from the L226 Haplogroup Project). Further testing (Big Y) may reveal that the West Clare Gleeson's also sit on this DC127 branch (and indeed several branches below this).

DC127 is approximately 1200 years old (still "pre-surnames") and thus still relatively "upstream" on the Tree of Mankind. Ideally we want to move further "downstream" on the Tree in order to identify which branch is "Gleeson-specific". We have managed to achieve this with the North Tipperary Gleeson's (Lineage II) and in time we should be able to achieve this for the West Clare Gleeson's of Lineage III.

Ideally two people within the group (as distantly related to each other as possible) should do the Big Y test. This will help move the group downstream from DC63, probably to DC127, and then further down below this to an as yet unidentified branch of the Tree of Mankind.

(revised May 2018)

Some of the following is speculation based on solid findings in fact.  I have tried several scenarios to make things fit and I am aware that not all of it is perfect nor should it be taken as such. Please advise me of anything you can support to the contrary and I will make adjustments.  Bill Gleeson (wjgleeson@aol.com)

Recent DNA analysis confirms that the Gleesons of West Clare arose independently from the Gleesons in Northern Tipperary.  This would be due to either a Non-Paternal Event (NPE) or a separate group of people who chose the surname Gleeson.  There is a Dalcassian genetic signature with this group and they have been assigned the name Lineage III in the Gleeson/Gleason DNA project.  Gleeson is not a surname normally associated with the Dal gCais (Dalcassian) line, lending credence to the NPE possibility. One member of the group participated in advanced Y-DNA testing and shows a terminal Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) of DC63.  This marker was unexpected and suggests that the name could have been adopted rather than the Non-Paternal Event.  Surname advent occurred between 1000 AD and 1300 AD in Ireland. The earliest appearance of the Gleeson name, in West Clare records, appears to be in the late 1700's. 


The Gleesons of West Clare in the early 1800's are found primarily in two locations: Coore and several townlands just south of Connolly. These two groups which are very closely related are colloquially known as the Gleesons of Coore and the Connolly Gleesons.  Coore and Connolly are just 7 miles apart. There is no genetic doubt that this is the same family with a common ancestor.

It should be noted here that the region (several townlands and Connolly) around Reanagisha, Furroor,  Aildavour and Boolyneaska is often referred to in the civil records as "Boulinagleragh" which should not be confused with the southernmost townland of Kilmaley Parish, Boolynagleragh just 3 miles to the SE of this location. There is no record to date of Gleesons in this townland.

The earliest names associated with West Clare Gleesons are Matthew Gleeson in Coore (1815 Freeholder records) and John Gleeson in Furroor (Tithe Applotments of 1826). The relationship between Matthew and John may be brothers but father and son is more likely and if so, then Matthew would be the father. There is confirmed movement between families of Coore and of Connolly throughout the years.     

Around 1850, Michael Gleeson, presumably son of Matthew, who lived in Coore and was the probable heir to the farm, disappeared from the records in Clare. Michael was married to Margaret McCarthy.  If we conclude that he died at an early age, then his children would have been too young to take over the family homestead as they were born in the 1840s.    The 1855 Griffith's Valuation shows Cornelius Gleeson, who lived on the Connolly farm, associated with property in Coore, Reanagisha, Killernan, and a "Connor" Gleeson in Corbally (Kilkee).  Research of the civil records is pointing to the probability that all these Cornelius' (and Connor) may be the same person and would be Michael's brother.  By the 1857 Griffiths Revision lists, Cornelius' name is crossed off the Coore property and replaced with Matthew (married to Sarah Walsh), who we know by DNA (from his descendants) is the son of Cornelius Gleeson and Mary Killeen, supporting another move between Connolly and Coore. 


Matthew Gleeson of Coore was listed as a freeholder in 1815,  Likely birth date would be  around 1770 as predicted by the yDNA analysis of five descendants done by Maurice Gleeson (no relation), genetic genealogist.   If in fact Matthew is the patriarch, then his children would have been John, Cornelius, Catherine, Honora, Mary, and Michael.  DNA testing has been done on descendants of Cornelius, Catherine, and Michael so far and results support this relationship. 

            Branches of the Gleeson Family per the children of Matthew :

                        John   -          Eustace, Clohessy, Moran branches

                        Cornelius -     Coore Gleesons, Sullivans,  Kilkee Gleesons, 
                                                Marrinans, and John Gleeson/Sextons of Connolly.

                        Catherine-     O'Brien and Looney branches

                        Honora -         Kelly branch

                        Mary -            Meade branch

                        Michael -       "Gleason" branch of Coore  

GENERATION  II.   Born between 1790 and 1820

II. JOHN (SON OF MATTHEW) b. circa 1790
It appears from the civil records that John was the oldest son in Coore but lived on the farm in Furroor (Connolly) by the time of the Applotment Tithes in 1826.  He had at least two children, Patrick and Catherine.  Catherine married Michael Eustace and gave rise to the Eustace branch of the family. They lived on the farm in Furroor (Connolly).   Patrick married Bridget Kinnane and farmed with the Lynch family in Booleyneaska townland (Connolly).  We have followed some of his line to the Clohessy family near Kilkee but no current descendants have been located as yet.  One of Patrick's daughters married into the Moran family and took over his Booleyneaska (Connolly) farm.  

From the early applotment tithes , Matthew(father) and Cornelius(son) had farmed together around Coore, including properties in Coore, Mt Scot with the Meade family, and in Killernan with the Burke family.  By the time of Griffiths Valuations in 1850, Cornelius had married Mary Killeen of Coore and relocated to Reanagisha (Connolly) near his brother, John.  This is now the Sullivan property today.  Tommy Sullivan is a descendant of Cornelius Gleeson and Mary Killeen and he lives on the family farm in Reanagisha (Connolly). This is the Cornelius Gleeson that many male descendants were named after.  

Catherine married James O'Brien of  Mt Scot (Knockanalban) and gave rise to many of the Ireland O'Briens, New Zealand O'Briens, and the Looney branch of the family.  Some of the O'Briens and Looneys ended up in the U.S as well.  There is documentation that Looneys and Gleesons from Mt Scot were in the saloon business together in Kansas City, MO in the U.S.  The 1900 US census shows the James Gleeson family and the John Looney family living in the same house in Kansas City.   

There is not very much information about Honora except that she married a Kelly from Quartermire.  One account says there were no children and when it came time to pass along the farm, it was taken over by a nephew, Johnny Marrinan.

Mary married James Meade and lived on the farm in Mt Scot.  Although they had three children, Mary's name appears on the property in the 1855 Griffiths.  By 1858, her brother, Cornelius Gleeson's name is on the revision list for a very short time before Michael Gleeson's name shows on it by the 1862 revision. Cornelius would once again presumably be the same Cornelius married to Mary Killeen in Reanagisha (Connolly). Michael would be his son and he married Bridget Moloney of Reanagisha(Connolly) before moving to Mt Scot.  

Michael lived on the Coore farm during the time he and his spouse Margaret McCarthy had 4 recorded children between 1840 and 1849.  It is thought that he passed sometime in the early 1850s because the Griffiths Valuation of 1855,  once again, Cornelius Gleeson's name appears on the property for a very short time. This is presumably the same Cornelius married to Mary Killeen of Reanagisha (Connolly).  In the 1856 Griffiths revision, Matthew Gleeson, Cornelius' son appears on the Coore property.  Matthew is married to Sarah "Sally" Walsh.  Michael Gleeson and Margaret McCarthy had 4 children, at least two of which traveled to the U.S. , Patrick and Bridget both of whom changed the spelling of Gleeson to Gleason and lived in Middletown Connecticut. 

GENERATION III.  Born between 1813 and 1849

A. Children of John Gleeson b. c1790 and unknown spouse

Catherine married Michael Eustace in 1841(church of Kilmaley) and according to the Eustace family records lived on her father's farm in Furroor (Connolly). John Mayer's Kilmaley Parish History book says they had 4 children, Michael, John, and two daughters. The Eustace family has an extensive genealogy available on the internet. They report 4 children, Michael, John, Patrick, and Bridget.    

III.  PATRICK GLEESON (SON OF JOHN) b. circa 1815  d. circa 1880
Patrick was married to Bridget Kinnane and he farmed with the Lynch family in the townland of Booleyneaska (Connolly).  They had eight children,  Michael, Martin, Mary, Bridget,Catherine, Margaret, Anne, and Ellen.  Of these, only Catherine and Margaret's line have been followed so far.  Catherine married James Moran and they lived on the farm in Booleyneaska (Connolly). The Griffiths Revaluation of 1881 shows the name change on the property from Patrick Gleeson to James Moran.  
Margaret married John Clohessy and when she applied for her pension in 1921, she was living in Carrowbloughmore, Farrihy, Kilkee, just across the road from the Gleeson farm in Corbally. 
The 1911 census of Glendine South shows a Michael Gleeson living with the Talty family and is listed as a "Relative".  It is not known whether or not this is Patrick Gleeson's son but the age is right and we know that there was a marriage of the Marrinan family and the Talty's early on in the family history.  

B. Children of Cornelius Gleeson b. 1794 and Mary Killeen

Michael married Bridget Moloney of Reanagisha (Connolly) and moved to the Meade farm in Mt. Scot.  The 1858 Griffith's Revaluation shows Cornelius Gleeson's name crossed off and replaced by Michael Gleeson.  They had 11 children:  Cornelius, Patrick, Bridget, Mary, James, Anne, Michael, Timothy, Margaret, Matthew and John. In 1890's they moved to the Corbally farm.  Applotment Tithes and Griffiths show the Corbally farm first in the name of Patrick Killeen (Mary's father), then following Patrick's death in the name of "Connor" Gleeson.  The Griffith's Revaluation in 1872, the same year that Cornelius died, Connor's name is replaced with Michael Gleeson.  Michael's son,  Michael remained on the Meade farm in Mt Scot until 1913 when he also moved to Corbally. 

Patrick was never married and lived in Knockanalban at the time of his death. This is probably the same place that was described as a "hut" where two uncles in the Gleeson family lived. The other was probably Cornelius and Mary's son, Connor, who moved to knockanalban from the Reanagisha (Connolly) farm following the death of his second wife, Ellen Looney of Coore. 

Matthew's name appears on the Griffith's Valuation in Coore in 1856, just one year after his father's name shows on it in 1855. Prior to this time, during the 1840's, Michael Gleeson, Matthew's uncle, lived here as the church and civil records support.   It is thought that Matthew's father, Cornelius, who lived in Reanagisha (Connolly) at the time of his brother's death  had Matthew take over the Coore farm. Matthew was married to Sarah "Sally" Walsh and they had eight children Connor, James, Connor, Mary, John, Cornelius, Honoria, and Matthew, two of whom died at an early age.  Both these young boys were named Cornelius(Connor) and they died at age 4 and 6.  Later following the second death, the next male child was named Cornelius again. Matthew and his wife are buried in Killernan graveyard next to Cornelius Gleeson and Mary Killeen.  

Connor was married to Margaret Burke and lived on the Reanagisha (Connolly) farm. They had six children: Bridget, Mary, Patrick, Michael, Margaret, and John.  In the first Griffith's Revaluation after the death of his father in 1872, it shows that the farm was in his name shared equally with his brother, John Gleeson.  His daughter, Bridget "Bid", married Thomas Sullivan and in the 1889 Griffth's Revaluation, the  farm was in the names of John Gleeson and Thomas Sullivan.  Margaret Burke died in 1894 and Connor while still living in one of the four houses on the Reanagisha (Connolly) property, married a second time to Ellen "Nelly" Looney of Coore.  She died sometime after the 1901 census and Connor moved to Mt Scot by the 1911 census. 

Mary married John Marrinan and lived on the farm in Cloonanaha.  There is a question about her birth date as the census in 1901 lists her age as 60 but the death record says she was 74 in 1908.  Mary and John had 8 children:  Patrick, James, John, Conor,  Mary, Bridget, Honor, and Timothy.  Her son James married Norah Talty and the 1901 census in Cloonanaha shows Mary living with James' family at that time. 

John married Catherine "Kate" Sexton of Bonavilla and they lived on the farm in Reanagisha (Connolly) shared with his brother, Cornelius (Connor) in separate dwellings.  John and Kate had 13 children :  Mary, Bridget, Anne, Cornelius, Catherine, Ellen, Ellen, John, Michael, Mary, James, Patrick, and Daniel.  Two of the children died early, Mary at age 14 and Ellen at age 1.  The names were re-used for later children.  Following the death of John,  the 115 acre farm was listed in the 1903 Griffith's Revaluation as 49 acres with Kate Gleeson's name and 66 acres with Thomas Sullivan's name. 

C. Children of Catherine Gleeson b. c1801  and James O'Brien

John married Bridget Moloney and lived on their farm in Mt Scot.  They had five children: Catherine, Thomas, John, Mary, and Catherine.  The first Catherine is thought to be an infant death.  They are buried in the Killernan Graveyard.  

Margaret married Michael Looney of Mt Scot and lived on his farm.  They had 11 children : Patrick, Catherine, Bridget, Mary, Michael, James, Joseph, William, John, Mary, and Honor.  One of the children, John, immigrated to Kansas City and records show him in the saloon business there in 1912 with Matthew Gleeson, son of Michael Gleeson and Bridget Moloney of Mt Scot.  Margaret and John are buried in Killernan Graveyard.  

Suspect an infant death with Patrick as there is a second boy named Patrick born in 1845. 

Matthew immigrated to New Zealand where he met and married Julia Higgins of Taum, Co. Galway, Ireland. Matthew and Julia were wed in Killinchy, NZ in 1867.    They had 13 children: James, Catherine, Mary, Julia, Bridget, Margaret, Daniel, John, Rose, Matthew, Ellen, Charles, and Ann.

Patrick left Ireland for the U.S. in 1866 as a single man.  He arrived in Colorado living in Jefferson, Co in the 1880 census. He married Sara Feehan also of Ireland in 1881 at the Golden Catholic Church and they lived in several communities around Golden while having six children:  John, Mary, Patrick, William. Richard, and Catherine.  Patrick died in Golden, CO in 1916 at the age of 70.  

The only record to date of Catherine is her birth in Mt Scot. 

D.  Children of Honora Gleeson b. unk and Unknown Kelly
It is thought that they had no children. 

E.  Children of Mary Gleeson b. c1810  and James Meade

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FamilyTreeDNA have changed a few things on their website (due to the introduction of GDPR - the new European data protection law) and this includes how much access Project Administrators (like myself and Judy) have to your data. You can read all about it on this FTDNA Learning Centre page here.

In order to run the project efficiently, Judy and I need "Limited Access" to your data. This will allow us to see your matches and offer you advice. Most of you will already have "Limited Access" assigned automatically but here is how you can double-check.

First, sign in to FTDNA, hover over your name in the top right, and click on Privacy & Sharing ...

Next, click on the Project Preferences tab ...

Next, scroll down to the Gleason/Gleeson project and click on the orange Edit button ...

From the drop-down menu beside our names, select Grant Limited Access for both myself and Judy ...

Once you have done this, click on the green Accept button ...

Then click on the green Confirm button ...

And that's it - your project preferences will have been saved. You can go back in and change these at any time.

A complete list of what is and what is not viewable by Project Administrators for each of the three different access levels can be found on a separate FTDNA Learning Centre page here. In relation to the Gleason/Gleeson DNA Project, we need to look at your Y-DNA data primarily, but also your autosomal DNA data (i.e. Family Finder). If you do not grant us "Limited Access", we won't be able to do the following:

  • we won't be able to see what tests you have done
  • we won't be able to see any of your personal pages (the ones you see when you sign in)
  • we won't be able to see your Y-DNA matches
  • we won't be able to see your SNP marker results
  • we won't be able to see your Family Finder matches
  • we won't be able to assist you with product upgrades
  • we won't be able to assist you with some of the technical aspects of the website
  • we won't be able to assist you in managing your results or webpage

So to help us run the project efficiently, and give you the level of help we would like to, please change your Project Preferences access settings to "Limited Access".

As always, please email either Judy or I if you have any questions or need any help.
Maurice Gleeson
June 2018

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Aim: To verify that John Streator Gleason, born 1819, was a descendant of Thomas Gleason, born 1609 in Suffolk, England, and to correct erroneous information often found in family histories online. This requires showing that John’s father Ezekiel was the grandson of Joseph Gleason of Oxford, Massachusetts, a known descendant of Thomas. The discussion begins with Joseph.

            Joseph Gleason (Thomas,3  Thomas,2  Thomas,1  ThomasA) of Oxford, Massachusetts, was born 1722 in Framingham, Massachusetts, and is designated #61 in the Gleason genealogy by John Barber White.[1] He and wife Lydia Tarbox had only two sons on record, both born in Oxford: Joseph [Jr.], born 22 Aug 1744, who married Mercy Streeter; and Abner, born 6 Dec 1745, who married Abigail Rich. These facts are verified in the vital records of Massachusetts.[2]

However, another son was born to Joseph and Lydia whose birth record has not survived. This child was Ezekiel Gleason, born about 1750. (The birth year is approximated from his age on a death notice to be presented later.) Evidence that Joseph had a son Ezekiel is found in the document Non-Resident School Tax Rates of Auburn, Massachusetts, 1797 (Figure 1), where the three brothers are listed with one-third equal shares as heirs of Joseph.[3] Oxford originally included territory that later became part of the town of Auburn. No record of the death of their father Joseph has been found, but clearly he had died by 1797.

Ezekiel Gleason, son of Joseph, married Esther Streeteron 5 October 1773 in Oxford. She was born 21 April 1754 in Oxford, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Gleason) Streeter and was the sister of Mercy Streeter, wife of Ezekiel’s brother Joseph. (The Streeter sisters were first cousins once removed of their husbands.) Four children of Ezekiel and Esther are listed on the vital records of Auburn: Ruth and Elizabeth, twins, born 2 March 1774; Ezekiel [Jr.], born 8 November 1776; and Lydia, born 13 November 1779.[4]

Sometime later, Ezekiel’s family moved west to the frontier county of Berkshire, Massachusetts, where they appear on the census of Becket in 1790 with three additional children—a total of three boys and four girls. (Census records at that time only enumerated children by gender.) Listed adjacent to Ezekiel on the 1790 census of Becket are his father and brother: Joseph Gleason and Joseph Gleason Jr. Ten years later, the 1800 census of Becket indicates that three male children were still living with Ezekiel’s family. The family of his brother Joseph Gleason is found listed adjacent to Ezekiel, and there is no record of his deceased father.[5]

In 1810 Ezekiel and unnamed wife are shown on the census of Tyringham, Berkshire County, and no children remain with them. Tyringham is adjacent to Becket, so this change may not indicate a move from one town to another since town boundaries were quite fluid at the time. In 1820 and 1830 the old couple are still in Tyringham; a daughter and her children live with them in 1830. [6]

Joseph, brother of Ezekiel, died in Tyringham, Berkshire County, on 18 September 1811, six days after the death of his wife Mercy Gleason on 12 September 1811 and three days after his son, also named Joseph.[7] These three deaths within a week suggest that the family died from a common illness. Erroneously, there are those who claim that this Joseph, who died intestate in 1811, was Ezekiel’s father; but his father had died by 1797 as shown by the Non-Resident School Tax Rates of Auburn. Furthermore, probate records of Berkshire County in 1812 show that the modest estate of the deceased was divided among his seven living children: Nathaniel, John, Joel, Mercy Kilborn, Anna Heath, Sally, and a married daughter whose name is not clear on the record.[8]

Figure 1. Auburn Non-Resident School Tax Rates, 1797

A death notice in The Pittsfield Sun, published in Pittsfield, Berkshire County, recorded the death of Ezekiel Gleason on 23 Aug 1837 in Tyringham, age 88. He was buried in the Tyringham Cemetery.[9] Ezekiel’s will was written in 1830 and probated in 1837. His third wife, Hannah, and all of his seven children are mentioned in the will: Ezekiel [Jr.], Elijah, Stephen “deceased,” Elizabeth, Ruth, Lydia Kilbourn, and Hannah Kilbourn. His daughter Lydia Kilbourn was executrix; William Cheney and Thomas Stedman were appointed to assist her. Lydia and Elijah were to receive the bulk of the estate upon the death of wife Hannah. Ezekiel [Jr.] was granted ten dollars, as were Elizabeth, Ruth, and the heirs of Stephen. Hannah Kilbourn received eighty dollars.[10]

Additional information about this family has been found. Hannah (Gleason) Kilbourn, daughter of Ezekiel and Mary A. Gleason, died in Tyringham 10 November 1854 at age sixty-nine.[11] Thus Ezekiel had a second wife named Mary. Lydia (Gleason) Kilbourn appears on the 1855 census of Tyringham, age 76, residing with the family of William and Elizabeth Cheney—perhaps her daughter. Lydia’s death, recorded on 7 November 1856, gave her age as seventy-eight.[12]

It has now been shown that Ezekiel Gleason, born about 1750, was the son of Joseph Gleason of Oxford, Massachusetts. It has also been shown that he removed to Berkshire County and died there in 1837 and that he had a son named Ezekiel, born 1776 in Auburn, Massachusetts. Ezekiel, the son, last appeared on the census records of Berkshire County in 1800 when he would have been twenty-four years of age. His whereabouts after 1800 are unknown, but he was still living in 1830 when his father wrote his will. It remains to be shown that this Ezekiel Gleason Jr. was the father of John Streator Gleason.

            The death certificate of John Streator Gleason says he was born 13 January 1819 in Livingston County, New York, to Ezekiel Gleason, born New York, and Polly Howard, born New York. John’s death is given as 21 December 1904 in Pleasant Grove, Utah. (Figure 2) The informant on the death record is Thomas H. Gleason.[13] Of course a death record is a reliable source for specifics of the death; but the information about a parent of the deceased could be, and often is, only hearsay. Thus these records must be used with caution. Furthermore, the information about John’s parents is written in a different hand from that on the rest of the document. If John’s father was actually born in New York State, then his father was not Ezekiel Gleason Jr., born Auburn, Massachusetts. Possibly, this place of birth was a guess on the part of the informant. Since no birth record for John has been found, it will be assumed for now that the names of his parents and John’s birthplace are correct. What facts about his father, the Ezekiel Gleason of Livingston County, New York, can be found?

AnEzekiel Gleason is found on the 1810 census of Brutus Township, Cayuga County, New York. A map of New York Counties from 1800 shows that Cayuga County bordered the large Ontario County lying to the west. The census states that in the household of this Ezekiel are the following: one male of age under 10, one male 26-44, one female under 10, and one female 26-44; thus the couple has one boy and one girl under ten years of age.[14]

The building of the Erie Canal began in 1808 and was completed in 1825, and the path of the canal went directly through the heart of Brutus Township. Perhaps the upheaval of the construction caused Ezekiel to relocate elsewhere. In 1820 an Ezekiel Gleason is found on the census of Livonia Township, Ontario County, New York, which lies about 65 miles west of Brutus. One year later Livingston County was created from that part of Ontario County that included Livonia. The census shows the following members of the family: four males under 10 years of age, one male 16-25, one male 26-44, one female under 10, one female 10-15, and one female 26-44. Thus there are five boys and two girls.[15] If this is the same family as the family in Brutus, then the couple produced five children (four males and one female) in ten years—certainly not unheard of for that period.

Figure 2. Death Certificate of John Streator Gleason

In 1830 Ezekiel Gleason appears on the census of Groveland, then a part of Sparta Township in Livingston County.[16]. This seemingly new location of the family within the county since 1820 does not necessarily imply that the family moved. As the population grew, counties and towns of New York were evolving rapidly, and townships that were originally quite large were divided up into smaller towns and villages. Rural residents may not have been aware of the latest boundary.

Ezekiel Gleason may have continued to move westward, for that name is listed on the census of 1840 in Brandt, Erie County, New York, age between 60 and 70. If this is the same Ezekiel, then his wife has died and is no longer with the family, but the household includes several adult males and females of marriageable age.[17]

One more census record for Ezekiel Gleason has been found: the 1860 census record of Monroe, Green County, Wisconsin. Significantly, this record states that Ezekiel is 83 years of age and born in Massachusetts. He is living with the family of Oliver Perry Gleason, a mason, age 37, born in the state of New York.[18] The 27 August 1854 marriage record of this Oliver P. Gleason in Monroe, Green County, Wisconsin, lists his parents as Ezekiel and Polly Gleason.[19] Recalling that John Streator Gleason was born in 1819 to Ezekiel and Polly of Livingston County, New York, it is apparent that Oliver Perry Gleason is the brother of John Streator Gleason; and the Ezekiel Gleason living with him in Monroe, Wisconsin, in 1860 at age 83 is John Streator Gleason’s father who formerly resided in Livingston County, New York.


            Conclusion: Since it has been shown that the father of John Streator Gleason was the Ezekiel Gleason of Livingston County, New York, it only remains to show that this Ezekiel is the same person as Ezekiel Gleason Jr., who was born in Auburn, Massachusetts, in 1776 and whose father died in Tyringham in 1837. At this point, only circumstantial evidence can be cited for proof:

1) The middle name of John Streator Gleason could be an alternate form of Streeter, the birth name of Esther Streeter, mother of Ezekiel Gleason Jr.

2) Ezekiel Gleason Jr. is not found in Massachusetts after the census of 1800 when he is still unmarried. Ezekiel, father of John Streator Gleason, is first recorded in the state of New York in 1810 as a married man, with children less than ten years of age. The chronology fits.

3) The 1860 census of Green County, Wisconsin, states that Ezekiel Gleason, age 83—father of Oliver Perry and John Streator—was born in Massachusetts. This closely agrees with the birth of Ezekiel Gleason Jr., who was born in Auburn, Massachusetts on 8 November 1776.

Based on these observations, this researcher has no reservation in accepting the conclusion that John Streator Gleason is the son of Ezekiel Gleason Jr., born 1776 in Auburn, Massachusetts, and is a descendant of Thomas Gleason born Suffolk, England, with male lineage written thus:

John Streator Gleason7(Ezekiel,6  Ezekiel,5  Joseph,4  Thomas,3  Thomas,2  Thomas,1  ThomasA)

This study provides an excellent illustration of how DNA testing can be a complement to genealogy. No matter how thorough and well intended the paper trail search may be, there is always the possibility that some critical piece of information was overlooked, that an assumption was made based on circumstance, or that the identity of a father is not as believed. A Y-chromosome DNA test of living male line descendants of John Streator Gleason could support—or refute—the conclusion drawn here.


            Note on Polly Howard: Only two statements in reference to the identity of the wife of Ezekiel Gleason Jr. have been found in period records by this researcher: 1) a statement that her name was Polly Howard on the Utah death certificate of John Streator Gleason and 2) a statement that her name was Polly Gleason on the marriage record of Oliver Perry Gleason. While a number of family tree postings on the Internet give a birth date for Polly, with her father’s name as John Howard, no primary source for that information is provided.

Polly is a name often used as an alternate for Mary. An exhaustive search of women named Polly or Mary Howard in the birth records of New York and Massachusetts between 1770 and 1790 has not yielded any obvious candidates. Nevertheless, one record of interest should be mentioned. There is a baptismal record of a Polly Howard of Worthington, Hampshire County Massachusetts. Worthington is a ten-mile horseback ride through the hills from Becket, Berkshire County, where Ezekiel Gleason Jr. lived in his youth. (A 1775 hand-drawn map of the area sketches the trails linking these neighboring towns.) Polly’s date of birth is not given, but she was baptized on the same day as the baptism of two of her sisters—27 September 1780. Her father’s name is John Howard.[20] However, Howard families were numerous in New England during this era and included many males named John. No doubt a number of those had daughters named Polly. An investigation into the identity of Polly is continuing.

John Streator Gleason

Judith Gleason Claassen
Feb 2018


[1] White, Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Gleason of Watertown, Massachusetts (Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, 1992), 51. The designation “ThomasA”has been added to the lineage list to designate the father of Thomas of Watertown who died in Cockfield, Suffolk, in 1610. His identity was unknown when White wrote his book in 1909. The updated origin of Thomas appears in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 168 (January 2014).  

[2] Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850, online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016.   

[3] “Auburn Tax Rates, 1786-1800,” Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, online database: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

[4] Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850, online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016.

[5] U.S. Census: 1790, Becket, Berkshire, Massachusetts; Series: M637; Roll: 4; Page: 117; Image: 138; Family History Library Film: 056814; U.S. Census: 1800, Becket, Berkshire, Massachusetts; Series: M32; Roll: 13; Page: 267; Image: 267; Family History Library Film: 205611.

[6] U.S. Census: 1810, Tyringham, Berkshire, Massachusetts; Roll: 17; Page: 200; Image: 00176.  
     U.S. Census: 1820, Tyringham, Page: 39; NARA Roll: M33_48; Image: 33.  
     U.S. Census: 1830, Tyringham, Series: M19; Roll: 62; Page: 417. (The transcription for 1830 at Ancestry.com does not agree with the original record.)

[7] “Births, Marriages and Deaths,” Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, online database: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

[8] Berkshire County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1761-1900, online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2017. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)

[9] The Pittsfield Sun, Pittsfield, Massachusetts: 16 November 1837, p 3; Find A Grave Memorial #97881873, www.findagrave.com.

[10] Probate Records, Massachusetts Probate Court (Berkshire County), Vol. 42-43, 1836-1839; Ancestry.com. Massachusetts Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

[11] Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1841-1910. (From original records held by the Massachusetts Archives. Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2004.)

[12] Massachusetts: 1855 State Census (online database: AmericanAncestors.org) www.americanancestors.org /DB533/i/14363/245/260981843; Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1841-1910

[13] Utah, Death and Military Death Certificates, 1904-1961 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.

[14] U.S. Census: 1810, Brutus, Cayuga, New York; Roll: 31; Page: 1127; Image: 00021; FHL Film: 0181385.

[15] U.S. Census: 1820, Livonia, Ontario, New York; Page: 64; NARA Roll: M33_62; Image: 43 Online Database: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

[16] U.S. Census: 1830, Groveland, Livingston, New York; M19; Roll 93; Page: 43; FHL Film 0017153.

[17] U.S. Census: 1840,Brandt, Erie, New York; Roll: 280; Page: 162; FHL Film: 0017186.

[18] U.S. Census: 1860, Monroe, Green, Wisconsin; Roll: M653_1411; Page: 312; Family History Library Film: 805411.

[19] “Wisconsin County Marriages, 1836-1911,” online database: https://Familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XRP8-QPT: 3 June 2016; FHL microfilm 1,266,666.

[20] Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850, online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016.  https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/7835/39/142921473

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I am delighted to introduce Rick Neeley as author of this guest post. Rick recently tested his cousin and established that his "Gleason" line belongs to Lineage II - the North Tipperary Gleeson's. He specifically belongs to Branch F and tests positive for all the SNP markers associated with that branch (BY14189, BY14193, BY14194, BY14195, BY14197 ... via the Z255 SNP Pack).

However, there are several interesting aspects of Rick's story that are worth mentioning:
  • Rick's "Gleeson" ancestors spelt their name a slightly different way, namely CLESSON. This demonstrates how surnames can change over time into quite different forms from the original spelling. It may be that all the Clesson's in the US are related as a result of Rick's colonial ancestor. We need more Gleeson's in the project to assess this.
  • Rick has traced his CLESSON line all the way back to the 1650s, making it the longest pedigree in Lineage II. This pedigree contains 10 generations, about double the size of the average pedigree in Lineage II. This just goes to show that there are extensive pedigrees out there and the DNA project will really benefit from finding more.
  • Rick's Gleeson ancestors mingled with the ancestors of those in Lineage I (the English Gleason's) thus providing a direct link between the two major groups within the project. This simply illustrates what we already know: it is a small world and we are all connected to each other, sometimes in the most amazing ways.

Here is Rick's cousin's direct male line pedigree ...
1. Matthew Clesson b. c1651 Ireland d. 1716 Deerfield MA, married Mary Phelps 1670 & Susannah Hodge 1701
2. Capt. Joseph Clesson b. 1674 Northampton MA, d. 1753 Lake George NY
3. Lt Matthew Clesson b. 1713 Deerfield MA, d. 1756 Deerfield MA
4. Joseph Clesson Sr b. 1756 Deerfield MA, d.1816 Deerfield MA
5. Joseph Clesson Jr b. 1791 Deerfield MA, d. aft.1850 Peoria IL
6. Jarvis S. Clesson b. 1820 Shelbourne MA, d. 1876 Shelbyville IL
7. George Frederick Clesson b. 1863 Beecher City IL, d. 1934 Oklahoma City OK
8. Willard Ray Clesson b. 1893 Matthewson OK
9. Cecil Elbert Clesson b. Pibroch, Alberta Canada, d. 1965 Olympia WA
10. GEC 687631

And below is Rick's fascinating account of his ancestry. Please feel free to leave any comments at the end of the blog post, particularly if you have any insights into how Rick's earliest ancestor might have left Ireland. Enjoy!
Maurice Gleeson
Jan 2018

Matthew Clesson (Gleeson), Irish Colonial Pioneer of Northampton, Massachusetts

INFORMATION GATHERED FROM: "Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England;” History of Northampton, Massachusetts;" Irish Pedigrees, Volume 1;" "The Journal of the American Irish Historical Society, Volume 17; "The History of Deerfield, Massachusetts;" “Family and Landscape: Deerfield Homelots from 1671;“ “Soldiers in King Philip’s War 1675-1677,” “The Stebbins Genealogy,” 1904; and “Joseph Stebbins: A Pioneer at the Outbreak of the Revolution," 1916.

Our family knew nothing about the origin of Matthew Clesson, born about 1651, other than he was an Irish immigrant. I recently received results from Y-DNA testing of my first cousin that I belong to Lineage II, Branch F of the North Tipperary Gleeson family tree through my mother whose maiden name was Clesson. The closest match within this group is Philip Gleeson who traces his Gleeson ancestors back to North Tipperary, Ireland. My mother had spent several years researching her Clesson ancestry. We had no idea that the family name was originally Gleeson. I don’t know if the change in spelling was intentional or by accident, but every written record we have found here in the USA for my earliest Clesson ancestor, Matthew Clesson, has been fairly consistently Clesson with minor differences. What follows is somewhat unique since there were relatively few Irish immigrants in early colonial America at this time. This is my lineage to Matthew Clesson, with some of the Clesson story that I know to date. There are lots of Josephs and some Matthews to keep track of in this story. The names in bold lettering are my direct ancestor grandfathers after Matthew Clesson.

Matthew Clesson (my seventh great-grandfather) born about 1651, was an Irish immigrant who probably first came to Northampton, Massachusetts, as a servant to one of the early planters. Nearly all the first emigrants in Northampton from Ireland were children or young persons who came over for the express purpose of being servants. [1]

The earliest record I have found in Northampton for Matthew Clesson is in 1664 when he was employed for the year as a “cow keeper or calf keeper” on the commons to “keepe the cowes...to have pay in wheate 3s 3d pr bush.” It was custom for cow keepers to be children and youths as they were required by law to busy themselves in some useful occupation. Sometime before 1665, Matthew was granted three acres of land as the other Irishmen “haue it granted theme not a horn lote.” In the years ahead, no other servant in Northampton accumulated as much land as Matthew. 

Matthew’s dwelling house was burned down during an Indian raid in the King Phillip’s War in 1675. He was one of twelve persons to whom land was granted inside the fortifications in compensation for his losses. He was quite prosperous and accumulated considerable property, owning at one time fifty-nine acres of land lying in twelve different parcels, all of which with the exception of six acres he purchased.

There are several questions that remain unanswered about Matthew Clesson. Who were his parents? How did he get to Northampton, Massachusetts? Was he an orphan? What family or master did he serve? If he was an indentured servant, he had a better financial footing than any other in Northampton. As early as 1667, a few years after being a “cow keeper,” Matthew bought the home lot with a house and barn that was later burned in 1675. 

Matthew also married well. There is a list of prominent Northampton property owners in the town records. On this list is Deacon Nathaniel Phelps, Sr., who arrived as a child with his Puritan family and father, William Phelps, in 1630, on the Mary and John establishing with other Puritan families the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Nathaniel Phelps was one of the first settlers in Northampton and was elected their first Constable in 1656. [2] He was a founding member of their church, and owned a considerable amount of land as one of the original town members receiving land grants. Both Matthew Clesson and Nathaniel Phelps are on a list of Northampton townspeople as contributors to Harvard College for the year 1676. Matthew married Nathaniel Phelps’ daughter Mary in 1670, and in 1702, Matthew Clesson was given a home lot of four acres the same year that his father in-law Nathaniel died. It’s possible that Matthew was a servant for Nathaniel Phelps' family. This area had frequent Indian raids and records may not have been kept or may have been destroyed. If records exist which mention Matthew’s origin, they might be in court minute books, deed records, or an official document that might have recorded his name and previous residence or origin. They are probably archived and would require an onsite search page-by-page.

Matthew Clesson seems to have been something of a man even though the town classed him with the “other Irishmen.” He was twice married and had a family of nine children with his first wife, Mary, several of whom became prominent citizens of Northampton, Deerfield, and other towns in the Connecticut River Valley. Matthew appears as a signer on a petition to the General Court by various inhabitants of Northampton on 4 November 1668: “Respecting the laying of Custome of Trybute vpon Corne or other provissions that are brought into the severall Portes within this Collony.” He signed an Oath of Allegiance on 8 February 1678. Matthew would have been at least 24 years of age to take the oath. He became a Freeman in 1690. 

In the “History of Northampton” book written by Trumbull there is an account of a Matthew Clesson who was an active participant in the military operations and conflicts between his fellow neighbors and the Indians in late April 1709, during Queen Anne’s French and Indian War. I expect Matthew would have been in his mid-fifties at this time, and his son, Matthew, born in 1681 (my seventh great- uncle) would have been about twenty-eight years old. I don’t know which Matthew Clesson the story refers to. If it was his son, Matthew, a couple months later on 27 June 1709, he died of his wounds during the fight in which his brother Joseph was captured. There will be more on this later. The story goes that Matthew was in a scouting expedition of fifteen men led by Captain Wright. They followed the Connecticut River to the White River and over the mountains to the French River. They made canoes and sailed down to Lake Champlain where they killed and scalped a party of Indians on the lake. On their return up the French River, they discovered another party of Indians with a captive from New England. They fired upon the party, killing several Indians. The captive swam for the shore and was seized and burned on the spot by the Indians. Four members of the Captain Wright expedition were killed, and one was wounded. After returning on 28 May 1709, those engaged in the expedition petitioned the court and were awarded twelve pounds to Captain Wright and six pounds to each man as a bounty for their eight Indian scalps. 

The Gleeson Lineage II pedigree is well represented at this time in early colonial Massachusetts by Matthew Clesson and his heirs. But the Gleason Lineage I pedigree is also represented. Thomas Gleason (Gleson), the son of Thomas and Anne (Armesby) Gleson, was born 3 September 1609, in Cockfield, Suffolk, England, and died Cambridge, Massachusetts, about 1687. He married Susanna Page on 31 July 1634, in Cockfield. Susanna was baptized 4 December 1614, in Ingham, Suffolk and probably died in Boston, Massachusetts, 24 January 1691. Thomas and Susanna had several sons which included William, Phillip, and Isaac, that were born in Watertown and Cambridge, Massachusetts and fought or died in the King Philip’s war. His son, Isaac, was in the Connecticut River Valley living in Enfield, Connecticut, and fought at the Battle of Turner’s Falls 19 May 1676, about ten miles northeast of the Deerfield, Massachusetts, settlement. One can wonder if Isaac Gleason knew any of the Clessons. A possible connection is through Matthew’s youngest son, Samuel, who married Abigail Bushrod, whose father, Peter Bushrod, was also in the battle. Both Samuel Clesson and Isaac ‘s son, Isaac Gleason, were listed as descendants of soldiers in the “Falls Fight” and thereby claimants of land granted to the soldiers by an act of the Court in August 1741.

Matthew Clesson, born about 1651, made out a will in 1713 and is believed to have died 17 November 1716, in Deerfield, Massachusetts. He married 22 December 1670, Northampton, Massachusetts, Mary, daughter of Deacon Nathaniel Phelps and Elizabeth Copley. Mary died 15 April 1687, in Northampton, Massachusetts; some years later, Matthew married his second wife, Susanna Hodge/Hedge, on 21 November 1701. 

Matthew and Mary had nine children: 
  1. Mary, b. 13 Aug. 1672; d. 11 Dec. 1672 
  2. Thankful, b. 19 Sept. 1673; d. about 1761; m. (1) 1690 Joseph Mason, (2) 28 October 1695, Samuel Davis 
  3. JOSEPH, (my sixth great-grandfather) b. 23 April 1675; d. 4 June 1753; m. about 1704, Hannah Arms 
  4. Elizabeth, b. August 1677; d. 16 July 1709; m. 30 November 1698, John Hannum, Jr. 
  5. Mary, b. 20 November 1679; d. after 1750; m. 6 April 1701, Benjamin Bartlett
  6. William, b. 3 Jan. 1680; d. before 1709 
  7. Matthew, b. 31 December 1681; mortally wounded at Deerfield, Massachusetts, by Indians, 23 June 1709, and d. 27 June; he was engaged to be married to Sarah Mattoon, who she shared his estate with his brothers and sisters by direction of the Probate Judge. 
  8. John, b. 1 April 1685; d. before 1709 
  9. Samuel, b. April 1687; d. 8 September 1767; m. 24 May 1716, Abigail Bushrod, daughter of Peter Bushrod and Elizabeth Hannum 

The Clessons came of sturdy stock and the sons of the Irish servant Matthew are mentioned very frequently in accounts of the border warfare with the French and Indians. 

Matthew’s son Joseph (my sixth great-grandfather), was a soldier in King William's War (1689-1697). At the age of fifteen, he was one of the American parties engaged in the "Pomeroy Pursuit" from the Deerfield garrison in 1688. He was a resident of Deerfield from 1705 to 1709 and of Northampton from 1712 to 1724. In official accounts of the Queen Anne’s War (1704-1718) and of the Indian massacres on the border, Joseph Clesson, while on a scouting patrol on 23 June 1709, was captured by a party of French and Indians commanded by de Rouville. He was taken to Canada but either escaped or was released. He was an active participant in "Father Rasle's War" 1721 to 1725. Father Rasle was a Jesuit Priest and missionary to the Abernaki Indians. The English believed that Rasle was the mastermind who planned many Indian raids on their homes and settlement. Joseph is mentioned as a captain of the military forces at Deerfield in 1713. In 1730, he bought a home lot and house in Deerfield, Massachusetts. A rebuilt house on that lot is owned by Historic Deerfield and houses their Silver collection and is known today as the Clesson House. 

Joseph’s younger brother, Matthew, (my seventh great-uncle) was also a known Indian fighter during Queen Anne’s War and took a prominent part in the battle in which his older brother was captured while on a scouting patrol 23 June 1709, which I discussed earlier. However, on 24 June 1709, the day after that battle, Matthew received a mortal wound while fighting a party of French and Indians in defence of the settlement. He died four days later. Matthew’s son, also named Matthew, was listed as a member of the settlement's military force and was a captain at this time. 

During the French and Indian War, Capt. Joseph Clesson commanded a company of Massachusetts soldiers and died from the rigors of military service on 4 June 1753; he was buried in the camp burial ground near Fort William Henry in New York. He was married to Hannah Arms and had 10 children by her. 

Capt. Joseph’s son, Matthew Clesson (my fifth great-grandfather), born in 1713, was also prominent in military affairs of the settlement. He was in the frontier service under Captain Kellogg at the age of nineteen. By 1747, Matthew was a lieutenant. On 4 August 1747, he led a scouting party from Fort Dummer towards Lake Champlain and Canada. He was sent there by Governor Shirley to watch the movement of the French and Indians who were reported to be forming an army for a raid. He again led another scouting party in 1755 to Lake George. Worn out by the hardships of this expedition, he died on 4 or 24 October 1756. It is been recorded that his motto was "Kill them all! Nits will become lice".

Two of Lt. Matthew Clesson’s sons, Joseph, Sr., born 1756, (my fourth great-grandfather) and Matthew, born 1748, were patriots in the Revolutionary War. Joseph, Sr. fought at the Siege of Boston in 1776. The Deerfield Clesson House was left to Lt. Matthew Clesson, who left it to his three sons, of which Joseph, Sr. was the last one to have it. By 1798, the house had deteriorated greatly. In 1814, the house was torn down, and what was intended to be a rear part of a new house was built on the lot about 1814. Between 1830 and 1837, it was moved to its current location on the lot. His son, Joseph, Jr., born 1791, (my third great-grandfather) inherited the new house when his father died in 1816. He sold it to Eliphalet Dickinson in 1818, and from there it passed out of the family. 

The house in the picture above was lived in by the Clessons for only two or three years, but appears to have been built by them, or under their direction. 

There are close ties with other Revolutionary War Patriots to the Clesson family. Joseph Clesson, Jr. (my third great-grandfather) married into the Stebbins family, a prominent English family in Deerfield, Massachusetts. He married Mehitable Stebbins, 10 November 1814, in Deerfield, MA. Mehitable’s father Joseph Stebbins, Jr. and Joseph Clesson, Jr.’s father, the patriot Joseph Sr. knew each other in Deerfield and fought the battles during the Siege of Boston. Little did they know that their son and daughter would marry several years later in 1814 in Deerfield, making Mehitable a third great-grandmother and her father, Joseph Stebbins, Jr., a fourth great-grandfather of mine. 

Joseph Stebbins, Jr. served the entire Revolutionary War with a rebel and military career beginning in 1773, as a leader of the “Sons of Liberty” in Deerfield, and the first to respond as the lieutenant of the Minuteman Company that answered the Lexington Alarm on 20 April 1775, when a rider galloping through town called “to arms...Gage has fired on the people! Minute men to the rescue! Now is the time! Cambridge is the place!” 

In Cambridge, Joseph Stebbins was promoted to captain in the Continental Army by General Ward and placed under the command of Colonel Prescott. His officer’s commission was later signed by John Hancock and hangs in Deerfield Memorial Hall. His commission was issued in the same room and by the same body of men which had commissioned George Washington Commander-in-Chief eleven days earlier on 19 June 1775. Captain Stebbins was at the Battle of Bunker Hill 17 June 1775. He was one of the company commanders tasked the night before the battle to build the Redoubt and was “in the thick of the fight” defending the Redoubt the following day. He was later at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, fighting at Stillwater and Bemis Heights and witnessed General Burgoyne’s surrender to General Horatio Gates. He was promoted to Lt. Colonel in 1781, and Colonel of the Militia in May 1788 to assist Governor John Hancock in Shays’s Rebellion. All three of his officer commissions were signed by John Hancock. 

Richard Alan Neeley
January 2018

Some comments from Maurice:

[1] Matthew Clesson would have been a child around the time of Oliver Cromwell's conquest of Ireland. I wonder if he was one of the many children and youths rounded up and sent to the New World as (un)indentured servants. If so, there may be Court Records which show what age he was assigned by the Court upon his arrival. This "age assignment" was necessary because many children did not know how old they were and the Court would decide. The age assigned determined how many more years of indentured labour the child / youth had to serve before being set free from his indentureship. [Reference: Without Indentures, Richard Hayes Phillips, 2013]

[2] Nathaniel's father William was from Crewkerne, Somerset and was born about 1593. You can read about him here. Coincidentally, there were a family of Phelps in North Tipperary in the mid-1600s which has been discussed in a previous post ... 
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FamilyTreeDNA have launched their Annual Holiday Sale. This runs from the last day of the Annual FTDNA Conference (Nov 12th 2017) until the end of the year. So now is the time to buy FTDNA tests and take advantage of some of their lowest prices ever. They also make perfect Birthday, Thanksgiving & Christmas gifts for friends and family.

2017 Holiday Sale Discounts

There are discounts on many of their products including upgrades on mtDNA and Y-DNA. The discounts represent approximately a 10-30% reduction from the usual price.

There is a special offer regarding the Big Y test. The usual price is $575 but there is a $100 discount in the sale. Further discounts are possible with the vouchers described below. But everyone who buys a Big Y test will automatically get a FREE upgrade to the Y-DNA-111 test. So if you have only tested your Y-DNA to the 37 marker level, buying the Big Y will get you a free upgrade to 111 markers (which would normally cost you $188).

Even if you haven't done a Y-DNA-37 test yet, you can order it at the Sale Price, and use a voucher for a further discount, and then once it has registered on the system, you can order the Big Y test and get the $100 Sale Price discount, and any additional voucher discount, and a free upgrade to 111 markers. This is a very good deal indeed!
So if you were very lucky, you could get the Y-DNA-37 for $109 (using a $20 voucher) plus the Big Y for $375 (using a $100 voucher) and the free upgrade to 111 markers. This wold normally cost $169 + $575 + $188 = $942 but you would be getting it for $484. This is only 51% of the price you would normally pay.

As mentioned above, you can use Holiday Reward vouchers to lower the sale prices even further. These will be issued every Monday until the end of the Sale but each voucher only lasts for 7 days so you have to use them quickly. In effect, this may reduce the cost of the Family Finder atDNA test to $49 and Y-DNA-37 to $109.

A $20 voucher for the Y-DNA-67 test

To access your voucher, simply log on to your FTDNA account and click on the Holiday Reward icon on your home page. If you make a purchase during the Sale, you frequently get a Bonus Reward as well. This gives further discounts on other tests.

And if you want to use the voucher for yourself, simply click on the Enjoy Rewards button and the product will be added to your Cart and the discount applied. Alternatively you can give the voucher to friends or family by clicking on the Share Rewards button. Each voucher can only be used once, and must be used before the weekly deadline.

A lot of people donate any vouchers they are not using so check the ISOGG Facebook group and Genetic Genealogy Ireland Facebook group for any unused vouchers that you might be able to take advantage of. Be warned, they go fast so you might have to try several before you find one that works.

Enjoy the Sale!

Maurice Gleeson
Nov 2017

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Below is the updated version of the Mutation History Tree for Gleeson Lineage II (the North Tipperary Gleeson's). Previous versions were published in December 2015 (version 1) and December 2016 (version 2). A pdf version of the tree can be downloaded from Dropbox via this link ... L2 MHT v3a

To see where you sit in the tree, find your G-number from the table at the bottom of this post (taken from our WFN Results page).

So what does it tell us?
  • The Gleeson Lineage II family tree currently has 11 major branches. And there are likely to be a lot more.
  • It looks like the Gleeson surname has been around for quite some time. The first branch to branch off was Branch F (far right). This is a pretty ancient branch and dates (very roughly) from about 1050 AD, not to far away from the presumed date of origin of the Gleeson surname.
  • There are probably some branches that have simply died out over the passage of time ... and what we are seeing here is simply a modern day snapshot of the remains of the "clan" that once was. In times past, some of the branches might have been much more prominent, and others much less prominent.
  • Age estimates of the branching points are very crude because the dating methodology has severe limitations. It is hoped that these can be improved with time.
  • Some branches are associated with a particular area or townland in North Tipperary (e.g. Branch C1 - Garryard; Branch E - Curraghneddy). It is hoped that as more people join the project and supply their MDKA information (particularly birth location) that more and more branches will be associated with specific locations. This in turn will help members with their individual genealogical research.

The Tree
The Pedigrees (and Key)
The (previously) Unique SNP markers
Click to enlarge ... or download the high-quality pdf version

The tree consists of several parts:
  • the tree itself, illustrating the branching pattern based on SNP & STR marker data
  • the pedigrees associated with each member in the tree (plus details of their MDKA / EKA)
  • a key to the tree, and numbered footnotes
  • the unique SNPs identified for those members who undertook the Big Y test

The tree has expanded considerably since the last version. The results of the tenth Big Y test are now included (from our Clan Gathering Chairman, Michael G. Gleeson). These came back from the lab in late December 2016 and underwent additional analysis by Alex Williamson for inclusion in the Gleeson portion of his Big Tree. These results confirmed the existence of Branch F (which had previously been merely predicted to exist on the basis of STR marker data). They also split up the "A5629 SNP Block" which up to that point consisted of 4 SNP markers. Thereafter it was split into an upstream branch characterised by the SNP A5631, and a downstream SNP block characterised by the 3 SNPs A5627, A5629, & A5630.

These results made A5631 the apparent over-arching Gleeson-specific SNP for Lineage II (i.e. only Gleeson's have been discovered to share this particular SNP marker). Thus, A5631 could be the DNA marker that defines membership of the larger Gleeson "Clan".

Lineage II Gleeson's on the Big Tree illustrating the old "A5629 SNP Block"
(from Nov 2016)
The current version of the Lineage II Gleeson portion of the Big Tree
showing how the previous A5629 SNP Block is now split in two (Aug 2017)

In addition to the 10th set of Big Y results, fifteen people expressed an interest in doing the new Z255 SNP Pack and the results of 13 of these people have now come back from the lab. This revised SNP Pack contains almost 50 SNP markers that are either shared only by Lineage II members or are unique to Lineage II members, and represents over 95% of all shared and unique Lineage II-specific SNPs (see this previous blog post). So the Pack is very specific for Lineage II. These SNP markers were identified via the 10 Big Y tests previously undertaken by our project members and were incorporated into the revised SNP Pack by the team at FTDNA.

A review of some preliminary results of these SNP Pack tests was discussed in a previous blog post. The updated results are included in a table at the bottom of this post.

The data from these 13 sets of new results have been added to the tree and as a result, the branching pattern has expanded considerably. The previous version of the tree consisted of 6 branches (known or predicted) but the new version contains 11 branches:
  • Branch A has been split in two (A1 & A2) and two new members added (see red G-numbers: G95 & G113).
  • Branch B has remained intact and has gained a new member (G107).
  • Branch E was previously thought to be more closely related to Branch B but the new SNP Pack results indicate that it is in fact more closely related to Branch C. Thus Branch E's attachment to the tree has been changed.
  • Branch C has been split into two (C1 & C2) - the latter has gained a new member (G89) thanks to the new SNP Pack results.
  • Branch D has split into two also (D1 & D2). This is not a big surprise as the anticipated common ancestor of the original 2 members of this branch was some 14 generations ago. This branch has also gained a new member (G106) due to the SNP Pack results.
  • Branch F has also remained intact and has gained a new member (G104), again due to the new SNP Pack results. This is an unusual branch and appears to be the oldest branch in the project so far. Its connection to the rest of the group is some 30-32 generations ago, approximately 1050 AD, taking it very far back in time, almost to the predicted origin of the Gleeson surname.
  • Branch G is a new branch within the tree. It consists of just two people and they are not particularly closely related to each other. Both tested with the new Z255 SNP Pack and only tested positive for the more upstream Lineage II SNP markers (A5631 & the A5627/29/30 SNP Block). This too is a relatively old branch and its connection to the rest of the tree is some 25 generations ago (about 1200 AD). 
  • Branch H is also a new branch and may be a similar age to Branch G (i.e. about 25 generations ago). However, the members of this branch have tested positive for marker BY5706 (which is one step further downstream than Branch G). None of the 4 members in this branch are particularly closely related, so I would expect this branch to split up into further sub-branches in due course.

Version 1 of this Mutation History Tree contained 16 of the project members of Lineage II, version 2 placed 20 of the 31 members (65%) on the tree, and version 3 is the most comprehensive to date and contains 32 of the 36 members currently in Lineage II (89%).  The remaining 4 members cannot be placed with reasonable accuracy and will require further testing to enable placement.

Altogether, of the 36 members in Lineage II, 23 (64%) have downstream SNP data available - 10 via the Big Y test, and 13 via the new Z255 SNP Pack. The SNP Pack proved to be a great success and an 89% placement rate is quite impressive. The placement rate increased from 65% to 89% as a result of the SNP Pack testing.

Interestingly, some members were sufficiently closely related to other members of the group that SNP testing was not necessary. In some cases a definite relationship was already known, and in other cases the STR-based Genetic Distance was sufficiently close that placement was possible ... with reasonable confidence. The caveat here is that there may be a degree of Convergence obscuring the true relationship between certain members. And as a result, some people who have not undergone SNP-testing may need to be moved onto a different branch in the future. 

There were several questions that I had hoped the revised Z255 SNP Pack testing would answer:
  1. Are 10 Big Y tests enough to identify all/most of the downstream SNPs associated with Lineage II?
  2. How many future members are likely to be placed on the tree by just using the revised Z255 SNP Pack?
  3. Will there be a need for future Big Y testing within the group? or has the testing undertaken by group members so far helped reduce the cost for future members?

Now that the results of the SNP Pack testing are in, we can look at these questions one by one and see to what extent we have an answer for each.

The 10 Big Y tests certainly did identify a lot of the downstream branches of the tree, but not all of them. If we take "downstream" to mean (crudely) less than 18 generations ago (i.e. less than 600 years), then between the Big Y testing and the Z255 SNP Pack testing, six (6) downstream branches were identified (Branches A1, B, E, C1, C2, F). The remaining 5 branches did not have a "sufficiently downstream" SNP identified (Branches A2, D1, D2, G, H).

Also, the exercise identified new branches that were not predicted from the original Big Y testing. It is therefore likely that additional new branches will continue to be identified over time as more people join the project and undertake SNP testing.

So, although the SNP Pack testing did provide a lot of additional useful information, and has improved the structure of the Mutation History Tree, its coverage of "downstream SNPs" (using the arbitrary threshold of approximately 18 generations) is only about 50%. This fact alone indicates that there will be a need for Big Y testing in the future, but perhaps much more selectively (thus saving money for project members).

Now that the structure of the tree is quite developed, and as it continues to "mature", it will become easier and easier to place future members on a particular branch of the tree and in many instances will obviate the need for SNP testing. At this stage it is difficult to know how often this will happen.

For future members who are not easy to place, the options will be a 67 or 111 STR upgrade, the Z255 SNP Pack, or the Big Y test. In most instances, the SNP Pack might be the test of choice if the new member appears to be a possible match to one of the "downstream branches". But if it is not possible to place the new member anywhere on the existing tree, then the Big Y test might be preferred.

Accurately dating when each branch arose remains a problem and there are several reasons for this:
  1. In order for the dating to be accurate, the branching structure must be accurate. And for some people there is insufficient data to place them confidently on the tree. In such cases, it may be necessary to upgrade to 67 or 111 STR markers, or do the Z255 SNP Pack, or do the Big Y test.
  2. There is an inherent problem with any dating methodology used. Statistically, it may produce very accurate results. But from a genealogical perspective, the results are very inexact. Even at the 111 STR marker level, one can often expect to find a range of +/- 300 years on either side of the midpoint estimate. The same is true for dating using SNPs. 
  3. Dating using STRs appears to work best for people who are relatively closely related (say within the last 500 years) and dating using SNP markers may be more "exact" for people who are related 500-1000 years ago. Only further research will help clarify this.
  4. FTDNA's TiP tool uses proprietary information and its methodology is not public knowledge. As a result there is no way of checking the science behind it. It may be that it's estimations are incorrect. Last year (2016) the algorithm's were adjusted and new TMRCA estimates were generated for the same results. But there is no way of knowing if this was an improvement or not. I suspect that the TiP tool may underestimate the age of more distant (upstream) branching points because it does not accurately take into account the extent of parallel and back mutations. 
  5. Dave Vance's SAPP programme uses Ken Nordtvedt's Interclade Ageing methodology. I don't know much about this method but it may be a better way of using STR data to estimate TMRCA. And as the SAPP Programme is automated, it takes a lot of the hard work out of the calculations. Potentially.
  6. Ultimately, dating the branching points will involve a mixture of the above techniques and the best that can be achieved may simply be a "best guess".

So the take home message is that all time points in the tree should only be taken as a very rough guide.

As the tree grows and expands, more and more people will be able to use it to help their own genealogical research. Already we are making connections and breaking down Brick Walls for members in Branches B and C1. 

More will follow in time.

Maurice Gleeson
Aug 2017

The members of Gleeson Lineage II (from the WFN Results page)
... find your G-number above and then locate yourself on the tree

Below is the revised spreadsheet of the results of the recent Z255 SNP Pack testing. The previous blog post only included 12 sets of results - the 13th set of results effectively split Branch D into two separate branches.

click to enlarge ...
or download a high-quality pdf version
via this Dropbox link here


Note that some SNP markers have more than one name (e.g. A5631 is also called Y17108). This confusing situation arises because different institutions give the same SNP different names. The best place to see which SNPs have alternative names is to go to the Gleeson portion of the tree on YFULL. Just search for A5631 (use Cmd+F on a Mac or Ctrl+F on a PC). Note that the YFULL tree does not have as many datapoints as the Big Tree or FTDNA's haplotree.

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