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Foster DNA

Carm Foster's Y DNA puzzle

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My name is Carman (Carm) Foster.  In hopes of verifying that I am a male descendant of Moses Foster, I have had my DNA tested to 67 markers.  Other Fosters have had their DNA done but I have not been a close match with any of them. Recently, I learned that I have a 37/37 match with a Merrill descendant. It appears that in the early 19th C, a male of Merrill descent was somehow inserted into my Foster lineage. This is called a Non Paternal Event [NPE] and is caused by adoption, adultery or raising an illegitmate child within the family. I am busy trying to figure things out. 

We need other male Foster or Fosters researchers from the area around the Bay of Quinte to join in this Y DNA study.  Especially one who descends from Moses Foster. By embracing this modern technology and having our DNA tested we can firm up the paper trail left by our ancestors.   If you're interested in this DNA project please visit the sites below.

Family Tree DNA Foster project
Foster Surname DNA Project web site - click on Y DNA Results

I am in search of the ancestors of my 2nd. Gt. Grandfather Samuel Foster of Bloomfield, Prince Edward County, Ontario.       

With the assistance of others it appeared my Fosters led back to a Moses Foster born about 1757 apparently in Ireland and his wife Jennie McPhee. They were originally in the area of Cherry Valley, Otsego Co., NY.  Moses was a Loyalist who ended up in Fredericksburgh Township, Lennox and Addington County, Ontario.

I had been concerned for some time the genealogy with respect to my Fosters who were in Prince Edward County wasn't right.  This concern came about  as a result of census data from 1861, 1871 and the death registration of my 2nd. Gt. Grandfather Samuel Foster the husband of Eleanor Bowerman of Bloomfield who was the daughter of Jonathan Bowerman and Sarah Vincent.

Documented data for Samuel Foster the grandson of Moses Foster and Jennie McPhee placed his birth in 1805.  Another grandson of Moses Foster and Jennie McPhee and a brother to Samuel whose name was William was born in 1804.

William lived in Prince Edward County and living close to William was Samuel Foster my 2nd. Gt. Grandfather.  In census data William always gave his birth year as 1804.  So, it would seem William knew his birth year well.  Samuel on the other hand consistently gave his birth year as 1811.  His death registration from 1890 indicated he was born in 1809.

If William knew his birth year well and if Samuel Foster living close by was his brother and just a year younger, why didn't he report a birth year of 1805 instead of 1811?  I know it is just a few years off but still it showed an inconsistency which continued to bother me.

Also in Prince Edward County living just a short distance away from my Samuel Foster was another Samuel Foster born about 1811.  He lived around Fish Lake and Demorestville.  He bought property in Camden E. Township in Lennox and Addington County in 1831 and was there in the census of 1851, 1861 and 1871.  His will was probated in 1875.

DNA Testing
My Y DNA result is kit #N9805 in group 10 as seen on this Y DNA results  page.
There are 4 of us who have a close match.  These Fosters were in South Carolina, Vermont, Maine and New Brunswick!  I did follow up on these Fosters but could find no "common ancestor".  According to Family Tree DNA, to find a likely ancestor I would have to look back at least 8 to 12 generations.

Also, according to the Foster DNA project at Family Tree DNA, my DNA does not fall into the line of a Reginald Foster and Judith Wignol who were from England and were in Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts by 1638.  Many Foster descendants in North America show this couple as their ancestors including some in Prince Edward County.

A Revelation

In Januray 2012, I learned that I had a complete match of 37 markers out of 37 markers with not a Foster but a Merrill! There is a 97.3% chance we have a common paternal lineage ancestor in the last 8 generations.

The Merrill connection
The Merrill who was tested lives in Utah and had done some significant genealogy.  He works for affiliated with the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I couldn't believe it!  A Merrill!  What's with that?  Within a few days Mr. Merrill and I exchanged our family histories.  Fortunately he uses the same genealogy program that I do so we sent our Gedcoms to each other.
His genealogy leads to a uniquely named man by the name of Marriner Wood Merrill who was born in Sackville, New Brunswick in 1832.   He later became one of the Apostles of the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Utah.  Mr. Merrill of Utah has some concerns with respect to Marriner Wood Merrill's ancestry as it appeared there may have been an adoption which may have occurred at sometime in the previous two generations.  It appears his family line prior to being in New Brunswick was in Cumberland County, Maine.

Getting down to the Nitty Gritt

The Merrill Family has presently located a living male Merrill, a descendant of a brother to Marriner Wood Merrill.   They are hoping he will submit to Y DNA testing in an attempt to discover in which generation an adoption might have occurred and to ensure that he, Mr. Merrill of Utah and myself share the same DNA.  And that folks will hopefully will be the case!

There are a couple of bonuses in that Marriner Wood Merrill's father a Nathan Merrill born at Fort Lawrence, Westmorland County, New Brunswick in 1794 was the only son in a family of 7.
The other bonus is that Nathan Merrill's father a Thomas Hazen Merrill was the only son in a family of 4.  He may have been born in Cumberland County, Maine.

Prior to the DNA link between this Merrill and myself, Mr. Merrill thought the adoption might have been through a Wood Family who were in Sackville, New Brunswick at the same time as his ancestor Marriner Wood Merrill.
So, at present it would seem Mr. Merrill from Utah is possibly descended from a Foster.
Since this revelation of a Merrill being possibly tied to a Foster Family I have been spending much time researching the Merrill line.  There were Merrill Families in Prince Edward County and by documentation only they do tie back to the immigrant a Nathaniel Merrill who landed in Ipswich, Essex Co., Massachusetts about 1633.  Also as a note, by documentation only that Marriner Wood Merrill born in New Brunswick in 1832 also ties back to this same Nathaniel Merrill the immigrant.  However, Mr. Merrill of Utah and his DNA does not fit the profile of this Nathaniel Merrill the immigrant.  Meaning, Mr. Merrill from Utah is not an actual DNA descendant of Nathaniel Merrill the immigrant which is the reason for the belief there was an adoption.

Compounding this problem and previously alluded to is the unique name of Marriner Wood Merrill.  As mentioned he was born in Sackville, New Brunswick in 1832.  In the 1851, 1861 and 1871 census of Sackville there was a Mariner Wood living there who was born in 1808.   Was there some sort of relationship?  To date that is unknown.

What Next?

  1. Hopefully a DNA test will be acquired from the living male a descendant of the brother to Marriner Wood Merrill.
  2. I will order a Family Finder test which tests on my "X" chromosome which gets in touch with the female side of my ancestry.  According to Family Tree DNA a highly reputable company, it should take me back about 5 generations.  It will hopefully show there are Bowerman families tied to the "female" side of my DNA.  If that doesn't happen I may be up that familiar creek without a paddle.
  3. Continue with researching the apparent ancestors Nathan and Thomas Hazen Merrill and also the descendants of Marriner Wood Merrill as there may be clues out there which haven't been accessed.

The Bottom Line
The technological advances made in DNA typing have added a new tool to genealogical researching.  I don't think the serious researcher can any longer use documented data alone as being his only source. 

In this article I have noted the documentation is there which takes Mr. Merrill's ancestry from himself to Nathaniel Merrill the immigrant who landed at Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts about 1633.  However, DNA evidence indicates this is not the case.  Mr. Merrill of Utah has no blood relationship to that Nathaniel Merrill.

Conversely, one cannot just rely on DNA evidence.  There could be coincidences, or the one in a million.

My personal feeling, it is a combination of both.  DNA evidence backed up with as much documentation as can be found.  One then has done the due diligence necessary to ensure their genealogy is as correct as it can be.  The result; you will have left a priceless legacy to your descendants.

Carm Foster