Tag Archives: DNA

Gonna have to freshen up on my Czech. I love reading about Mendel.

The Case of the Missing Mendel Manuscript

A story about Gregor Mendel was featured on the front page of a Czech newspaper. The headline translates as The Case of the Missing Mendel Manuscript.

Ever since learning about my own DNA, I have become fascinated with genetics, particularly the human kind. That fascination extends to Gregor Mendel, an Austrian monk who lived in the 19th century. He discovered the basic principles of heredity through experiments in his garden using plants such as peas.


I first posted this on my experimental blog at webs.com. Why? Because the wifi at the local Whole Foods would not let me publish it at WordPress for some reason.

Man, Donald Trump is everywhere, or should I say, talk about Trump is everywhere, a global phenomenon.


This is a Dutch newspaper, published in Amsterdam.

Since I have some Dutch blood in me, I have set about to learn more about the place and the people.

Before the British took over, the Dutch had a thriving colony spreading from what is now Jersey to New York. They called it Nieuw-Nederland, or, in English, New Netherland.

Multiple branches of the family — the Van Notes, the Coursens, and others — lived there, immigrating from the Old World before the English takeover in 1664.



I’ve submitted DNA samples to 23andMe and FamilyTree DNA. The above image shows data from 23andMe, based on a partial testing of my genome.

I already knew that I was of European stock, but it’s nice to see a scientific breakdown. My blood is very German, more than I realized even just a few years ago.

spockeyebrowMy Mom’s paternal side came from there, so that’s not surprising. What is a revelation is that my paternal side has a good amount of German, too. Dad’s mother, maiden name Hay, hails from the German countryside, too. Thankfully Grandma’s older brother submitted some check swabs for analysis.

Previous research led me to believe that the name Hay had probably been a combination of variants, slowly changing over time to be more American, more English: Hoh, Hoeh, and Höh.

This lead me to a close database match and a family tree: a distant cousin with the name Kettering had traced his family back to the Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany.

The name Hay had been adopted sometime probably in the late 18th century or the early 19th, though it was not universally used by family members. Some decided to use Hoeh instead.

The original surname, Höh, with the umlaut, was likely adopted from a place name or names. Near where the Ketterings hailed from are the towns of Höheinöd, Höhfröschen and Höheischweiler. They are clustered in the same vicinity in Südwestpfalz, near the border with France.


Finally, After All These Years, A Breakthrough

The last will & testament of Samuel Hill, dated 1772 and found in the probate records of Jones County, North Carolina.
The last will & testament of Samuel Hill, dated 1772 and found in the probate records of Jones County, North Carolina, mentions his mother Sarah and Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Samuel Hill
of Jones County, North Carolina
& His Mother Sarah in

It looks like we finally have a breakthrough on the Hill family. Combining the power of DNA and a bit of genealogical detective work, I have found a connection between two of the genetic lines in the Hill DNA Project that are clearly related. But how was unknown until some of the puzzle was unraveled today by the last will and testament of one Samuel Hill, a resident of North Carolina. I’m guessing that Samuel Hill is the grandfather or uncle of Joseph Hill, husband of Mary Warren, as detailed in the lineage of Kit 74401.

Samuel Hill of Jones County, North Carolina mentions his mother, Sarah of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in his will, dated 1772. Bucks County is where I happened to find a group of people named Hill and another named Crooks living in close proximity to one another. It was a hunch that has apparently paid off. One of my ancestor James Hill’s sons is named John Crooks Hill. Now there is another piece of evidence pointing to Bucks County, PA as the likely birthplace of James Hill, husband of Sarah ‘Sallie’ Tidd, who lived to the age of 99 and died in Ohio.

First, there’s the DNA. The genetics of the Y chromosome show a close relationship between Joseph Hill, whose obituary provides a lot of details, including connections to Jones County, North Carolina, and my ancestor James Hill. Second, there’s the Crooks family living close to the Hills in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Third, there’s the will mentioning Sarah Hill and Bucks County.


Clues in Joseph Hill’s Obituary

The obituary of Joseph Hill, a distant cousin shown to be related to my Hill family by DNA, included some interesting details, possible clues as to where to track down more information. It was published in The Christian Index, a Baptist newspaper in Georgia,

Joseph Hill died at his home in Worth County in southern Georgia on August 10th, 1858.

“Joseph Hill was united with the Chiquepin Chapel, Baptist Church, in the 23rd year of his age, and was baptized by the Rev John Kounce in the State of North Carolina.”

The word Chiquepin appears to be misspelled. A cursory search using Google located a Chinquapin Chapel Baptist Church in rural Jones County near Trenton, North Carolina and the site of a Civil War battle. There is also a place called Chinquapin in Duplin County, North Carolina. I am hoping to find evidence of him in either of these places.

Another big clue is the name of his apparent mentor, the Reverend John Kounce. So I will be hunting him down, too, or at least trying to.


Searching for a King

I read news stories about finding what may be the remains of Richard III about a month ago.

Richard III, noted as a ruthless tyrant by many, including Shakespeare, was king for just two years. He died in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field and was buried at a church in Leicester, England. He was the last English king to die in battle.

The ruins of the church, long forgotten, were surmised to be under a parking lot.

Sure enough, they uncovered floor tiles and window frames from the church — and a skeleton that had signs of head trauma, an arrowhead lodged in the spine, and showed evidence of scoliosis, characteristics consistent with reports of Richard III’s appearance and his cause of death.

The remains are being studied. I hope there’s some usable DNA. Results are planned to be announced on February 4th.

Although still unconfirmed, a debate about where the body should be re-buried has begun. Rather than Leicester, some “think Richard should be reburied in York: The king was fond of the city and was purportedly building a chapel there before he died.” However, the University of Leicester has jurisdiction.



Today I received notice that my DNA, specifically part of my Y chromosome, had been examined once again. Years ago I submitted some DNA samples, primarily for genealogical research, from my saliva to Family Tree DNA.

All testing I have done with this company is what’s called STR. Another type of testing, abbreviated as SNP and pronounced snip, I have avoided, for numerous reasons.

Thus I was surprised to read a message that results from a “Deep Clade” test were ready. I never ordered any SNP testing. It doesn’t show up on my list of previous orders either.

It’s very odd.

Since I was never charged and am now confirmed as M253+, meaning that I carry the mutation which defines a group originating in northern Europe, called haplogroup I1 (eye-won), I am not complaining, just curious.
Apparently M253 was the only SNP tested.

I am not alone. Others were tested as well.


Cold Cases & Ted Bundy’s DNA

A vial of blood containing Ted Bundy’s DNA has been found in Florida, thanks to queries from a detective in Tacoma working on the case of Ann Marie Burr, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared from her family home in 1961.

The vial was discovered after Florida authorities received a call from a detective working a cold case in Tacoma, Washington state. The blood had been taken in 1978 when Bundy was arrested in the death of a 12-year-old girl in Columbia County, Florida., The News Tribune in Tacoma reported.

Despite an order to destroy much of the biological evidence in the Florida case, the vial was still on file, said David Coffman, chief of forensic services at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Tallahassee crime lab.

“We were really surprised,” he said.

It is surprising DNA samples weren’t collected for study prior to his execution in 1989. Bundy has been a prime suspect in the abduction of Burr for decades.

He had a paper route and frequently visited his uncle, who lived in the Burr neighborhood. He later studied at the University of Puget Sound [UPS] and University of Washington.

During an interview with King County Detective Robert D. Keppel Bundy mentioned committing homicides in 1972 and 1973, the latter involving a hitchhiker near Tumwater, Washington, but he refused to provide more details.

In 1987 he confided to Keppel that there were “some murders” that he would “never talk about”, because they were committed “too close to home”, “too close to family”, or involved “victims who were very young.”

The coincidences are just too much to overlook.

The Burr house was on Bundy’s newspaper delivery route. The girl’s father is certain he saw Bundy in a ditch at a construction site on the nearby UPS campus the morning his daughter disappeared.

Bundy repeatedly denied being involved in the Burr case. He wrote a letter to the Burr family in 1986, continuing to deny any involvement.

“At the time, I was a normal 14-year-old-boy,” Bundy wrote. “I did not wander the streets late at night. I did not steal cars. I had absolutely no desire to harm anyone. I was just an average kid.”

For years I’ve been intrigued by Bundy and other serial killers, especially the unresolved cases. Other criminal cases, such as D. B. Cooper and the I-5 Killer, have fascinated me.1 Before finding Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer case was another that I’d read a few books and news stories about.

Prior to reading The I-5 Killer by Ann Rule, I had no idea about serious crimes committed in Salem, Oregon, my hometown. As a kid I was pretty naive. One of these incidents happened at what was the TransNational or TransAmerica building. It is now a U.S. Bank. I walk by there frequently. I doubt most people know what occurred in that building so many years ago. The I-5 Killer is still in town, behind walls and barbed wire at the Oregon State Penitentiary.

Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me is a great read for anyone wanting to know more. She worked beside Bundy at a crisis hotline in Seattle, where ironically Ted talked people out of suicide and both tried to help those who called in whatever ways they could.

I remember watching a made-for-TV movie on Bundy, played by Mark Harmon, now more well-known from his stint on NCIS. The movie was frequently replayed on TBS. News reports out of Hollywood reported that it could very well end Harmon’s acting career. Of course, it didn’t, although casting may have been more difficult for him and some may have passed him over because of the role.

As of October 2007, Ted Bundy’s mother still lived in Tacoma. At the time a reporter asked if she’d “break a 25-year silence in speaking about her son. She declined.”

A book about Ann Marie Burr and Ted Bundy will released this fall. Whether or not it will be any good is another question.


1. I share this fascination with sportscaster Colin Cowherd. I was listening to his show this morning, and he was discussing Cooper, Bundy, and a serial killer on Long Island. I actually find Cowherd rather annoying, especially his often inane pontificating on his radio show. I know him from his time working at the NBC affiliate in Portland, KGW. Occassionally I’d watch him, but mostly I just ignored him and his commentary and continue to do so, now more than ever.