Monday, September 7, 2015

DNA - Narrowing Down the Non-Paternal Event

My Pyle line can be found at Surname Saturday ~ Pyle of Chester, Pennsylvania.

I wrote about the results of Y-DNA testing (of my brother) at Y-DNA Test Results ~ A Non-Paternity Event where I noted that my presumed Pyle line is not genetically possible, based on the results of the Y-DNA test: Nicholas Pyle > Robert Pyle (1660-1729/30) > John Pyle (1687-1752) > Stephen Pyle (1730-bef 1789) > Stephen Pyle (1762-1840) > James Pyle (1823-1900) > James Tolman Pyle (1855-1912) > Charles McAlpin Pyle (1893-1966) > Charles McAlpin Pyle, Jr. (1924-1993) > my brother.

FamilyTreeDNA graphic
showing how Y-DNA is inherited
A reminder: Y-DNA refers to the DNA found on the Y chromosome, which is found only in men (passed from father to son to son, etc.). Testing of Y-DNA can reveal ancient origins (described as a haplogroup) as well as connecting cousins with the same surname in a family where surnames are passed down from father to son.

First of all, I would like to share how helpful genealogy groups on Facebook can be. In January 2015, I joined the Guysborough County Genealogy group and listed my Guysborough County, Nova Scotia surnames: Pyle, Whitman, Hull, Morgan, Hadley, Atwater, and Ives. (I just searched the group for "Pyle" to take a look back at that post and I noticed that it generated quite a conversation.) I connected with some relatives who are 5th cousins (and 5th cousins once removed), who still live there and descend from Moses Hull. (See Surname Saturday ~ Hull of Connecticut for that line.)

In May, I decided to contact my 5th cousin and ask if she knew if there were any male Pyles still living in the Manchester / Boylston area of Guysborough County. She replied yes and provided me with contact information. I got in touch with the daughter of the Pyle male (who'd be about my dad's age, if dad were still living) and arranged for him to take a Y-DNA test. I will refer to him as Guysborough Pyle.

Test results are in!

Guysborough Pyle's Y-DNA haplogroup is I-M253 and my brother's is R-M269.

Reminder: a haplogroup is a major branch on either the maternal or the paternal tree of humankind. Haplogroups are associated with early human migrations. Today, these designations can be associated with a geographic region or regions. (Haplogroup definition is from FamilyTreeDNA.)

These haplogroups, as you can see, are completely different.

As I have previously noted: for an understandable explanation of DNA testing, see Beginner's Guide to Genetic Genealogy at Wheaton Surname Resources website and for more specifics on Y-DNA testing, see Beginner's Guide to Genetic Genealogy, Lesson 3. And for an explanation of haplogroups, see Beginner's Guide to Genetic Genealogy, Lesson 4.

Guysborough Pyle's results (a little more detailed than just the haplogroup of I-M253) absolutely link him to Nicholas Pyle of Bishops Cannings, Wiltshire County, England and his son, Robert, who immigrated to Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1683. In other words, Y-DNA passed from father to son in the line Nicholas - Robert - John - Stephen - Stephen, of Guysborough County, all the way down to the current Guysborough Pyle.

Therefore, we now know that the "non-paternal event" that caused my brother to have a completely different haplogroup happened after Stephen Pyle. It's possible that his wife, Betsey Hull, fathered James (b. 1823) with another man, or that they took in an adopted son, raising him as their own. (Or one of the later wives did this.)

My simple chart below shows the two lines from Stephen Pyle. The blue line shows how the Y-DNA passed from father to son to Guysborough Pyle. The red line is my paper trail to Stephen - we don't know for sure where the non-paternal event happened. I have always found it interesting that Stephen was born in 1762, making him 61 when his son James was born, certainly possible, but questionable.

Another interesting piece of this puzzle comes from my AncestryDNA results. I originally tested at AncestryDNA, which provides only autosomal DNA testing (see my results at AncestryDNA Updates Ethnicity Results. They are doing their best to be more helpful to DNA testers than they were originally and recently started offering "DNA Circles." A DNA Circle is a group of individuals who all have the same ancestor in their family trees and where each member shares DNA with at least one other individual in the circle.

My AncestryDNA results put me in a DNA Circle with others (as 4th cousins once removed) who descend from George Whitman and Esther Atwater, the parents of Esther Abigail Whitman, the wife of James Pyle.

From AncestryDNA:
"A DNA Circle is a group of individuals who all have the same ancestor in their family trees and where each member shares DNA with at least one other individual in the circle. These circles are created directly from your DNA and your family tree in a five-step process."

If AncestryDNA's DNA Circle is accurate, then I descend from Esther Abigail (Whitman) Pyle and my atDNA results match the paper trail for this particular line back to Esther.


  1. Thanks for the link to the "Beginners Guide to Genetic Genealogy"! I am awaiting my mt Full Sequence test results now. And, hopefully will have a male sibling take the Y-DNA test.

    1. I share the links to other websites because I find that others can explain the ins and outs of DNA testing results better than I can. Glad you found it helpful.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. I'm glad you're having success with the DNA testing. My results haven't helped me much.I think it's because I'm an early user on the farm ly tree. Also... I have a number if brick walls in the 1850s that hav my beyond stuck. Throw in an adopted grandmohter and things go become disappointing quickly. Patience is important. I'm glad I had myself, auntsz and brother tested but the family connections are very limited to date

    1. Devon, I don't know as I'd consider this success, but this cousin "on paper" taking the Y-DNA test did answer one question. And I've had one confirmed cousin connection for my husband, but other than that, I have a lot of matches (at 4th cousin or greater level) and need to take the time to systematically contact them (at both FTDNA and AncestryDNA).

      Thanks for the comment and I agree that patience and persistence is needed here!