Vol. 19, No. 6, August 30, 2017


A Free, Occasional, Online Summary of Items of Interest to Descendants of all Families of Graves, Greaves, Grieves, Grave, and other spelling variations Worldwide




Copyright 2017 by the Graves Family Association and Kenneth V. Graves.  All rights reserved.


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** General Comments

** Famous People Descended from Graves and Greaves Ancestors

** Reminder of Graves Family Gathering in Virginia, Oct. 25-28, 2017

** Finding the Ancestry and Connections of Capt. Thomas Graves of VA (Gen. 169), Thomas Graves of Hartford, CT (Gen. 168), etc.

** We Need More Males With Graves/Greaves Surnames to Take Big Y

** Benefits of Working With Other Surname Projects

** Something to Think About

** The Importance of Taking Y-DNA Tests for Both STRs and SNPs

** Updates to the GFA Website

** To Submit Material to this Bulletin & Other Things






There are 3 main points I have tried to make in this issue of the Bulletin: (1) We are beginning to close in on the ancestry and origin of some of the Graves/Greaves genealogies; (2) We need people to help with Graves/Greaves research; (3) We need more Y-DNA testing, and the DNA test sale at Family Tree DNA (ending at midnight, Aug. 31, Central Time in the U.S.) is a good opportunity for furthering that objective.






There has been some recent discussion on the Graves Family Association Facebook page about famous people with Graves or Greaves ancestry.  There is a page on the Graves Family Association website for this. You can see who is included there by going to the website, hovering over History/News, and clicking on Famous Family Members.


One of the comments on Facebook was that John Wayne, the movie actor, was descended from a Graves ancestor.  The suggested ancestral line was Rear Adm. Thomas Graves (gen. 28) through his great-grandmother Margaret J. Good.  Although I havent been able to confirm that line, I did find that he was descended from Abigail Graves (gen. 345), probable sister of Thomas Graves of Hartford, CT (gen. 168) and George Graves of Hartford, CT (gen. 65).


There was also a comment that Mamie Eisenhower, wife of General and President Dwight Eisenhower, had Graves ancestry.  If anyone can find either this ancestry or the second Graves ancestry for John Wayne, please let me know.  Also, if you have suggestions for other people who should be added to the list of famous descendants, contact me with that information also.






As previously announced, there will be a Graves Family Association Gathering in Virginia on Oct. 25-28, 2017.  An updated schedule with full information has been posted on the GFA website (click here) and on the GFA Facebook page.  This event is especially for all those whose ancestors lived in Virginia in the 1600s and 1700s, but all Graves descendants are welcome.






The finding mentioned in the preceding article about actor John Waynes descent from Abigail Graves caused me to look more closely at the ancestry of genealogies 65, 168, and 169 (the line from son John Graves).  Unlike most other Graves families in America, we know the European ancestry of the family.  It was from Hertfordshire and Essex, England, and we have information about early family members there and in London, so we should be looking at parish records, wills, and other documents that are generally available.  Those of you descended from this family need to organize a research effort to find the family in England.  In the meantime, I will continue to try to find living descendants in England to be DNA tested.


To see a summary of the information we have now, go to the GFA website, hover over the Research tab at the top of the page, and click on Ancestral Research Program.  Then click on the link for Graves Families of Hertford/Harlow Area toward the bottom of the page.  To go directly to that page, click here.






Especially for Graves/Greaves families that do not have any male descendants with the Graves/Greaves surname who have taken a Y-DNA test, it is very important to find a male to be tested at Family Tree DNA.  For anyone who has already taken a Y-DNA test, upgrading to 111 markers would also be helpful for differentiating between lines.


For those of you willing and able to spend a little more money, taking the Big Y test would be even more helpful, especially for those in genealogies where no one has yet taken a Big Y test.


The Friends and Family Sale at Family Tree DNA ends at midnight August 31.  The prices for Big Y and other tests are the best yet.  If you have considered one of the tests mentioned above, now is the time to place the order!






There are two Graves families that we are trying to learn more about and for which we are cooperating with other closely related surname projects to try to benefit all involved.



One family is genealogy 130 (Constant Graves and Comfort Bates of Rehobeth, MA and Scituate, RI.  This family has only one person who has done a Y-DNA test, and we are trying to get another distantly-related male to take a Y-DNA test to confirm the result of the one we have.  The person who has already tested matches a number of men in the Wolcott project, and we are beginning to work together to find where the two families diverge.  There is a possibility that Constant Graves (born 1751, possibly in Scotland or Ireland) may have changed his name before fighting for the Americans in the Revolutionary War.  Doing SNP testing and comparing the Graves SNPs to the Wolcott SNPs should give us the approximate date when the families split from each other.



The second family is the group listed as I1-085 on the Master Table of Y-DNA Test Results, consisting of genealogy 85 (Thomas Graves of DE, Quaker) and genealogy 35 (William Graves of Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland).  The I haplogroup is associated with Scottish and Scandinavian ancestry, and both of those locations were late in adopting the surname customs of other European countries, so it would not be surprising to find connections with other surnames fairly recently.  For some conjecture about this, see the article in the GFA website Research section here.


The family that shows as a match most frequently is Hollandsworth/Hollingsworth.  We are working with the Hollingsworth DNA project to try to pinpoint where and when the split between that family and the Graves family happened.  There are other matches, especially with the Huff/Hough and Grimes families, that we might want to pursue also.






As part of her blog, DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy, Roberta Estes published an article called The Shoes on Aug. 13.   This title refers to a memorial on the bank of the Danube River in Budapest, consisting of cast iron shoes affixed to the pavement, where 3,500 people were shot and dumped into the river in 1944-45.  This is an article about the irrationality and wrongness of hating and grossly mistreating those different from us.


She writes: The DNA of all humans is 99.9% the same, with very few differences.  While we depend upon those differences for genetic genealogy, for the most part, we match every other human being.  Nelson Mandela said: No one is born hating another person People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.







There was an extensive discussion recently on the ISOGG list of various aspects of genetic genealogy.  One part of the discussion was about the best way to achieve the objectives and expectations of the people doing the testing and managing the testing programs.  I am including parts of the discussions here because it illustrates the rapid progress that is being made in getting DNA testing to be able to pinpoint lineages down to the present generation.  The discussions also showed the importance of taking both SNP tests (such as Big Y) and STR tests (such as Y-DNA37 and Y-DNA111).


One person in the discussion (Mike W) posted the following:

There are published scientific studies that show that a new Y SNP occurs in a lineage every 3-5 or even down to every 2-5 generations.  These are really father-son transmission rates so if a father has four sons it is likely one will have a new Y SNP.


On top of that Y STRs mutate and are passed father to son.  There are several hundred Y STRs but we have legacy matching databases built on select STRs 1-37, 38-67, 68-111.   If you look at all 111 STRs, we are seeing an STR change about once every 3 father-son transmissions.


Let's look at what this means for the opportunity for granularity in Y DNA testing.


Let's go with the 1 every 4 generations for an SNP.  That's a 25% odds chance of a change in any given generation.  I'll talk more about variants in general and SNPs but they are very stable so we can use them as fencing to minimize faster mutating STR aberrations.


We know there is a 75% chance there is NOT an SNP in a given generation but there is still a 33% chance (1 in 3) of a Y STR change on the 1-111 set. 33% of the 75% is roughly 25%.    We can add the two 25%'s together and we have roughly a 50% chance of change via either Y SNP or Y STR in every generation. That's not requiring any futuristic test to get this done. Just Big Y and 111 STRs. FGC Elite and 111 STRs improves on that.


Roughly a 50% chance of a variant in every father-son transmission is getting pretty granular and is therefore applicable to close-in genealogy.



Also from Mike W

Here is a little more about some the properties of Y SNPs and STRs.   They are just variants. They are just variants from a reference model.


There are also other kinds of variants found on the Y chromosome. The most talked about is an Indel, an Insertion/deletion event.  This is not really an SNP. An SNP is a Single Nuclear Polymorphism. It is a one for one swap of an allele (value) at a specific base pair location on the Y chromosome.  An Insertion/deletion event involves more than one for one swap.


However, Indels that are deemed as SNPs.  In my opinion, this was done because of the problem with the correct term.  The term we'd like to use is UEP.


"Unique Event Polymorphism (UEP): A mutation which is treated as if it occurred only once in all of human history, so that all persons sharing the mutation descend from a common ancestor. Most UEPs are Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), while some are insertions or deletions (for examples, see LINE and YAP)."


We don't really what the variant is, but if its mutation rate is so, so slow it can be considered to have happened only once in human history then it wonderful marker for a branch.  The original concept is to use UEPs to mark branches.  The consequence is that the term UEP is rarely used and the term SNP has grown to substitute for UEP as a proxy. I'll bring this up later to explain.


There are studies to dig this out of but we can look at this simply.  An NGS (Next Gen. Seq.) test like Big Y scans over 10 million (10,000,000) base pair locations. If we are finding an SNP about once every 4 or 5 generations then the mutation rate would be (using 4 gen) would be only 1 every 40 million (40,000,000) generations.  Yes, that's really rare. That's why stable SNPs are so valuable for marking branches.


However since we are scanning so many locations with NGS testing we still come up with SNP hits. This is why NGS is so powerful and set us into a new era of paternal lineages from the head to the toe (from the ancient to the current.) The power is in the combination of great stability, great opportunity for mutations and a strict father-son inheritance.


Let us see why the UEP term is dying. There are 59 million (59,000,000) base pair locations on the Y chromosome with only a handful of allele changes available at each location. Not all parts of the Y chromosome pass down strictly and some are unstable so we can't really count that there are 59 million.  On the other hand there are about 3.7 billion (3,700,000,000) males out there in the world alive today. Yikes! That's billion with a "B".  There will be some recurrency of SNPs. This means some will appear in more than one lineage. We've already seen this but the problem will grow.


This is not an insurmountable problem though. If we just test one or two upstream SNPs (on the tree of paternal lineages) the odds are astronomically good that our SNP pattern of two or three have identified the correct branch.


The same logic applies to any Y variants.  A pattern of Y STR off-modal variants is much, more valuable and reliable that using any one STR. That's one an STR signature pattern is.


I'll save more on the usage of STR panels but the principles are:

          Variants are changes from a reference model. 

          Variants have different mutation rates.

          Variants with slow mutation rates are extra good for marking or predicting branches.

          Variants with faster mutation rates are very good for high refinement or differentiation but are subject to both false positives and false negatives as far as branch placement.

          Patterns of variants are better than relying on just anyone variant.


Robert Casey wrote:

The future is even brighter than your estimates:

1) The Chromium enhanced version of YElite 2.1 has a read length of 1,000,000 base pairs compared to the Big Y's 150 base pair reads. To our surprise, usable YDNA location is being expanded to 20M base pairs which is around twice that of Big Y.  So instead of one YSNP per four generations, in two to four years, it will be down to one YSNP per two generations.

2) About the same time of much higher read lengths for YSNP discovery, we will also have 333 markers for all new tests which will be via WGS tests, so YSTR mutations will happen every generation.

3) If you use another 100 YSTR markers like CDY, you will get five to ten mutations per generation. This may sound good, but the down side to these faster mutating markers will require 10X to 100X more sample size to resolve. So sample size is the key issue.

Also, my charting of L226 is at 80 % and should be at 90 % by the end of the year. So, the number of SNP branches (and the ability to test them economically via the wonderful new L226 SNP pack), means that we really do not need more YSNP discovery since charting is already at 80 %. We really need much larger sample sizes to make progress. At 30 % growth per year in 67 marker YSTR submissions, this will be more of bottleneck than the need for more NGS testing. This is why I am really trying hard to get 37 marker submissions to upgrade to 67 markers so that I have more sample size to chart. There are three or four Gleason testers under L226 at 37 markers - but I do not know they exist since my charting requires 67 markers. Until these testers upgrade to 67 markers, there can be no assignment to the L226 haplotree that requires 67 markers.






Updated pages:

          Capt.php, Research project for Capt. Thomas Graves of VA

          charts.php, Numerical listing of genealogies

          dna.php, the Graves surname DNA project

          DNA_testing.php, How to take a DNA test at Family Tree DNA

          FTDNA_test_results.php, Y-DNA Test Results

          Hertford.php, Research project for Graves Families of Hertford/Harlow Area

          notable.php, Famous Family Members


Revised genealogies:

          Gen. 130, Constant Graves and Comfort Bates of Rehobeth, MA & Scituate, RI

          Gen. 162, Richard Graves and Sarah ------ of Debden, Essex, England

          Gen. 345, Abigail Graves of England and Hartford, CT


Other changes:

          The DNA drop-down tab now has an option for How to take a DNA test at FTDNA





This bulletin is written and edited by Kenneth V. Graves,



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