genetic genealogy

16 Aug 2015

Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa?

Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa? Gone to the White House, Ha Ha Ha!
During the election of 1884, Republicans tried unsuccessfully to discredit Grover Cleveland, a Democrat from New York, with tales of his debauched lifestyle and immoral character, using this ditty to allude to a love child allegedly born to Cleveland and widow Maria Crofts Halpin. The jury’s still out on that particular presidential contretemps.

But thanks to genetic genealogy, the truth has recently been uncovered on another presidential mystery:
Peter Baker’s piece in the 12 Aug 2015 issue of the New York Times is titled, “DNA Is Said to Solve a Mystery of Warren Harding’s Love Life.” In his article, Baker sheds lights on recurring questions about paramour Nan Britton and President Warren Harding:

She was denounced as a “degenerate” and a “pervert,” accused of lying for money and shamed for waging a “diabolical” campaign of falsehoods against the president’s family that tore away […]

25 Dec 2014

Family Resemblance Across Generations

Did family resemblance across generations come up at your holiday gathering, perhaps in conversation or photographs or both?

Today’s post is about DNA and family resemblance courtesy of, an interesting genealogy website.

The blog author writes:

Resemblance is the basis of our perception of race and ethnicity. It is also a favourite topic of conversation at family gatherings – proclaimed where it is strikingly apparent, or perhaps whispered where it is lacking. Families generally like it when their male biological offspring look like their fathers and females look like their mothers, perhaps with the odd feature thrown in to mark the other half’s creative stamp (“He’s the spitting image of you, but he’s got my eyes”). Some may start life looking like one parent, then ‘morph’ into the other as they get older. Certain facial features may perpetuate for generations, or, fascinatingly, even skip generations. What family historian hasn’t felt a thrill when they […]

2 Dec 2014

New DNA Results For Richard III

Word today of new DNA results for Richard III.  In 2012, scientists extracted genetic material from newly discovered skeletal remains unearthed beneath a Leicester parking lot. The results revealed a 99.999% probability that the body was that of the Plantagenet king Richard III, interred at the former site of Greyfriars Abbey after his death in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Interesting new results of continuing analysis of the DNA reveal that genetic material passed down on the maternal side matches that of living relatives, but genetic information passed down on the male side does not.

Professor Kevin Schurer of the University of Leicester notes, “We may have solved one historical puzzle, but in so doing, we opened up a whole new one.”

However, given the wealth of other details linking the body to Richard III, the scientists conclude that infidelity is the most likely explanation.

The researchers took all the information linking the body to Richard III […]

13 Oct 2013

Nineteen Living Descendants of Oetzi the Iceman

Remember Oetzi (or Ötzi, if you prefer), the Copper Age Tyrolean Iceman, whose 5,300-year-old frozen body was found in the Austrian Alps? Thanks to ancient DNA, nineteen living descendants of Oetzi the Iceman have been found in the Tyrol.

Discovered in September 1991, Oetzi was named for the place where he was discovered, in the Ötztal Alps on the border between Austria and Italy. Scientists estimate Oetzi the Iceman lay undiscovered for 5,300 years.

The EURAC-Institute for Mummies and the Iceman uses minimally invasive “investigation methods, such as computer tomography, nanotechnology, molecular and biological approaches, as well as ancient DNA research.”

It’s that ancient DNA research that’s so cool to us genealogists. Scientists compared Oetzi’s genome with modern European populations and discovered 19 living descendants in the Tyrolean region of Austria. Yet, most interestingly, they believe the Iceman was most closely related to men from Sardinia and Corsica.