The purpose of Allred Family Organization DNA Research is to provide resources and assistance for AFO members researching their Allred lines using DNA. As more and more people get autosomal DNA (atDNA) tests via AncestryDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage, LivingDNA, FamilyTreeDNA and other testing services, we are able to use DNA to provide additional evidence to research our direct lineage and identify just how those DNA matches are related to us. We are here to help you use DNA in your Allred research.
Types of DNA, Testing and Application to Genealogy
In addition to atDNA, there are two other kinds of DNA that may also help: Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).
Y DNA is passed down from father to son. Ladies, you don’t have Y chromosomes, so you can’t play…directly. But if your father or a brother or another male in your family who carries your father’s last name, then you can use their Y DNA test results to provide additional information about your father’s father’s father’s, etc. line. By the way, that is called your patrilineal line.
mtDNA is passed down from mothers to both sons and daughters, but only daughters can pass it on. So both men and women can use mtDNA in their research, but only for their mother’s mother’s mother’s, etc. line. That is your matrilineal line.
atDNA is, in general, more useful for genealogical purposes than Y DNA or mtDNA simply because it provides information from all those mixed ancestral lines, not just your patrilineal or matrilineal lines. Maybe your Allred ancestor was your mother’s paternal grandmother’s great-grandfather. You certainly wouldn’t have any of his DNA on your Y chromosome or in the mitochondria in your cells.
Though there are some other testing services that offer detailed Y DNA tests, most people using such tests for genealogy use FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA). FTDNA is virtually the only service offering detailed mtDNA tests. Some of the atDNA services mentioned in the first paragraph advertise they will also provide you your Y DNA and/or mtDNA haplogroup. A haplogroup is the name of a branch on the Y DNA or mtDNA “Tree of Life.” Unfortunately, the haplogroups they can provide are not detailed enough to be of much genealogical use. If you would like to investigate Y DNA or mtDNA and what it can do for you, please contact either me, Mike Arnett, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mike Kidd at email@example.com.
If you would like to learn more about how to use DNA to help in your genealogical research, I recommend The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine Bettinger. It will walk you through the use of atDNA at the major testing services, and Y DNA and mtDNA at FamilyTreeDNA. There are several Facebook groups that offer tips, assistance and advice on using DNA in your research, as well. One of the best is Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques.
The Use of Y-DNA to Figure Out How We Got to Lancashire, England
Some of you may be interested, as I am, in knowing about our ancestors before the “genealogical timeframe.” Documentation can only reliably take us back so far. 15 generations is what FamilyTreeDNA uses for the genealogical timeframe, though there are exceptions to the rule. Specific people, other than royalty and a few other high-profile clergy and other political leaders, simply were not documented—or the documentation has been lost—before about 1500. In From England to America: Our Allred Family, Dawnell Hatton Griffin said the earliest Allred she was able to find a record for was a John Alrede, born about 1500.
But who and where were we before that, before we came to Lancashire? Were we Angles? Were we Saxons? Were we Vikings? Were we Celts? DNA from ancient burials indicates our ancestors were Bell Beaker Folk (or just Beaker Folk) and arrived in Great Britain before 2500 BC. Where we were in the 4000 years between then and 1500 AD is a story yet to be revealed. Much as we all descend from John Allred and Ellen Pemberton in Eccles Parish, Lancashire in the early 1600s, it appears our Allred ancestors descend from one man (and his wife, of course, but she didn’t contribute to our Y DNA) who lived in Southwest England near Stonehenge sometime around 2500 BC. Did our ancestors go to Ireland and then cross the Irish Sea to Lancashire? The DNA evidence indicates that might have happened, but maybe not. Technology has enabled us to identify DNA haplogroups using ever-smaller amounts of Y DNA from ancient graves. As more of that ancient DNA is analyzed, the path our ancestors took during the 4000 years between 2500 BC and 1500 AD will hopefully become clearer. Oh, as to whether we were Celts, Saxons, or other—The Beaker Folk appear to have been in England before the Celts arrived, but there is no consensus whether the Beaker Folk were the forerunners of the Celts or whether the Celts arrived after the Beaker Folk and were assimilated, and in their assimilation, caused the Beaker Culture to morph into the Celtic Culture. It’s clear we’re not Angles, Saxons, Jutes or Vikings who came much later. At the same time, the Beaker Folk were not the first inhabitants of the British Isles. But as they were not our branch of the Tree of Life, we won’t go there.