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In Memorial of

Harold Johnson




Fortest and Tree


Wise is the person who sees the forest
From its grandeur inspiration glean.
Wiser still the person who sees the tree;
When the tree is what needs seen.

May we then in living life
Be it pleasure, pain, or strife
Steadily that wisdom learn
Their differentially discern.


(Participant 58215)







 R1b1b2 Group Sweetgum


(American Sweetgum)




Haplogroup Definition

Haplogroup R1b/ R1b1b2  is the most common haplogroup in European populations. It is believed to have expanded throughout Europe as humans re-colonized after the last glacial maximum 10-12 thousand years ago. This lineage is also the haplogroup containing the Atlantic modal haplotype.




Group Leader: Jim Friar


Group Members/Kit Numbers



Donald L. Johnson c/o Jim Friar


Bryan R. Johnston


Dean Johnson


Daniel G. Johnson


Harold Robert Johnson




Add Family Group Member



Group Sweetgum’s Pedigrees






R1b1b2 Group Sweetgum’s Results



The Niall Haplogroup


 Recent stories in the popular and scientific press have identified a large number of men in northwest Ireland, together with substantial numbers elsewhere in Ireland and along the Scottish coast, with a pattern in their Y-DNA called the "Northwest Irish haplotype" or the "Niall haplotype." The location of the greatest concentration of these men and their family names suggests that they may be descendants of an Irish king with the delightful name, Niall of the Nine Hostages. This haplotype, or DNA pattern, is available on the FamilyTreeDNA web site. It is quite close to that of my uncle, Don Johnson. Our Johnson family (from Noble County, Ohio and Frederick County, Virginia) originally spelled their name "Johnston", indicating a Scottish or Scots-Irish origin, the latter agreeing with our family oral history. Although we have not yet been able to trace our family into Virginia (I am stuck around 1785), we have identified a cousin (Bryan Johnston) living in Northern Ireland, who has a very similar Y-DNA pattern to my uncle Don (part of our "Sweetgum group"). This stunning result highlights the present and future importance of DNA studies in genealogy. It is also interesting that most of the near or exact matches to our Johns[t]on haplotype have Scottish or Irish family names.


 Changes in the Y-DNA occur according to the laws of probability. This means that one can compute the odds that a particular outcome will occur if enough information is available to make the computation. Many different outcomes are possible, each with a different probability of occurrence. When our former Project Administrator, Harold Johnson, pointed out to me that the Sweetgum group corresponded closely (but not exactly) to the Niall haplotype, I was curious whether the number of differences from the Niall haplotype (in our case 5 out of 37 sites that were tested on the Y chromosome) was a reasonably likely occurrence, being neither too many nor too few differences from the Niall haplotype.


 Although it is known that changes in the Y-DNA pattern at different sites will occur with different rates, these rates are not very well known. For a rough estimate a common rate of change can be assumed. For example, it is not unreasonable to assume that at each site the probability of a change is 1/500 per generation. Niall lived roughly 1500 years ago, a length of time that is usually assumed to correspond to about 60 generations. This large number of generations means that the probability of a change at any one site over that time is roughly 1 out of 8. Doing the necessary math within a simplified model, one finds that it is very UNLIKELY that a descendant of Niall would have no changes from Niall's pattern if 37 sites were tested, and that the most likely number of changes would be 4, although 3 and 5 changes are nearly as likely (the latter corresponding to my uncle and Bryan). These three patterns represent over half of the total probability. For a 12-site test the most probable number of changes is 1, although 2 changes or no changes are nearly as probable. These three patterns together correspond to about 85% of the total probability. If one assumes a different probability for changes per generation at each site, the results will be different. My conclusion is that differences between my uncle's pattern (and that of the other members of Sweetgum group) and the Niall haplotype are about what one would expect over the very long time since Niall is supposed to have lived.


Jim Friar

Sweetgum group



The Sweetgum Group


At the present time our group comprises 4 different, but closely connected, genealogical lines. Three of these lines were known from genealogical research to be closely related. Our haplogroup classification is calculated to be R1b1b2.


The three connected lines arise from the emigration to Ohio of two related Johnstons (probably brothers) from near the town of Winchester in Frederick County, Virginia. The emigrants were Armstrong Johnston and George Reed Johnston. The families of these two men are shown on this <CHART>, where they were assumed to be brothers. Both men ended their lives in Noble County, Ohio, one in Noble Twp. and one in neighboring Buffalo Twp., where they lived less than 6 miles apart. Both men changed their names from Johnston to Johnson while living in Ohio.


Armstrong Johnson (I call him Armstrong I) was born between 1784 and 1790 (based solely on census information) and died about 1831. He first married Catherine Riegle in 1809 in Frederick County, Virginia, and then Elizabeth Chilcote in 1816 in Jefferson County, Ohio. He had at least 10 children, of whom at least 6 had descendants and have been identified. One of these was his (oldest) son named George Reed Johnson, while another son was named Armstrong (whom I denote Armstrong II), whose descendant on the <CHART> is Dean Johnson. The existence of two George Reed Johnsons (indicated by the dashed arrow) strengthens the supposition that the older one was Armstrong I's brother. My ancestor was John P. Johnson, the youngest son of Armstrong, whose descendant on the <CHART> is my uncle, Don Johnson. The 37-site Y-DNA results for Dean and Don are identical. Because the probability of a mutation is only about 1/500 per generation per site, it is easy to demonstrate that it is far more likely that no changes occurred in those 37 sites in passing from Armstrong I to Dean and Don than if identical changes occurred in the SAME site or sites for both of these lines. Therefore the pattern that Dean and Don share is also highly likely to be the same as that of Armstrong I, which I call the "Armstrong haplotype".


The Noble County Probate Court death listing of John Johnson in 1899 lists his parents as Armstrong (I) Johnson and Elizabeth Chilcote (Armstrong's second wife). This is one of the few pieces of extant documentation that ties Armstrong I to his descendants. Fortunately the naming patterns of his family are sufficiently unusual that assembling a family tree was not too difficult even without DNA evidence.


George Reed Johnson (the elder) was born in 1787 in (or likely near) Winchester, Virginia, and died in Buffalo Twp. in Noble County in 1871, according to his Noble County Probate Court death listing. His full name is also identified in a document in Frederick County, Virginia, where he married Hannah Keckley. His descendant on the <CHART> is Dan Johnson. Dan's 37-site Y-DNA pattern differs in only 1 site from the Armstrong haplotype. A rough calculation shows that no changes would be expected about 65% of the time in the 6 generations from the unknown Johnston on the <CHART> to Dan, with 1 change expected about 30% of the time, so a single change is not unreasonable.


I have had little luck locating that "unknown Johnston". There were many, many Johnstons in Frederick County, Virginia between 1750 and 1800. The 1787 personal tax records for Frederick County and the town of Winchester list 18 Johnston/Johnson households.


The remaining member of our group is located in an unexpected place: Belfast, Northern Ireland. Bryan Johnston's haplotype differs from the Armstrong haplotype in two sites, with a numerical distance of three (one of the sites differs by two units). The oral history of my Johnson family states that we are Scots-Irish, so a branch of the family in Northern Ireland is not unexpected (but I was nevertheless shocked when Bryan responded to my email!). Neither of us has any idea when our relative(s) left for the Colony of Virginia.


Jim Friar

Sweetgum Group



Links To Sites of Interest


Our Testing Lab



Clan Johnston/e’s




Clan Johnstone

In America


Clan Johnstone

In Australia


Clan Johnstone

In New Zealand


Clan Johnstone

In the UK

Please send

Queries to Cecil Johnson


UK Clan Johnstone



 Rex Johnson


AU & NZ Johnstons’

Yahoo Group



Colonial Virginia Connections

Website of Linda Sparks Starr





Lee Johnson  Administrator | Sherrie Boone  Co-Administrator |
Barbara Hockman Pedigree Coordinator | Tony Johnson Librarian US |
Don Johnston Librarian NZ & Australia | Cathy Cadd Librarian Canada
 Euell Johnson Research Analysis