Late in 2013 I decided to determine if some of the newest tools available to family historians, that being the types of analyses provided through "genetic genealogy" would provide additional evidence for my assumption that William Campbell was the son of Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason. Although this endeavor has proven somewhat expensive, it does have the added advantage of providing objective evidence beyond the scope of a traditional "paper trail" on which to base genealogical conclusions. My research during 2013 suggested that there were three possible companies through which DNA could be effectively tested in such a way as to provide relevant evidence to a family historian. Ancestry.com has a DNA division; 23 and Me provides entry-level genetic analysis; and Family Tree DNA offers a similar program. Because of several factors, such as an affiliation with the National Geographic Genomic Project and procedures which maintains DNA samples for up to 25 years and therefore permit additional analysis in the future, I chose to test DNA with Family Tree DNA. DNA testing can proceed along multiple lines. Each of us has within our genetic makeup 23 pairs of chromosomes. The first 22 pairs of chromosomes are termed "autosomal chromosomes" and are produced by a patchwork inheritance from both parents, their parents, their parents, and so on back in time through many generations. The 23rd chromosome pair, or so-called "sex chromosome", varies between males and females. A female subject normally carries two "X" chromosomes; a male subject normally carries an "X" and a "Y" chromosome. A female subject inherits one "X" chromosome from her mother and one "X" chromosome from her father. A male subject inherits an "X" chromosome from his mother and a "Y" chromosome from his father. Normally, DNA testing for the purposes of genetic genealogy of a female subject would involve testing autosomal and mitochondrial DNA to determine female ancestry. Similarly, DNA testing of a male subject would involve autosomal and Y-chromosome testing to determine inheritance from both sides of the family tree or to follow the male lineage into the distant past. As of mid-2014 each of the three popular DNA testing facilities offered these tests – but that may change.
Traditional genealogical research suggested to me that at least three sons of Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason had made their way to Ontario, Canada and established families here in the Northumberland County area, mainly at Harwood south of Rice Lake. William Campbell, my ancestor, was the oldest of the three boys. Adam Corbet Campbell was a younger brother of William. George Campbell was younger still, the youngest of the three boys who left Aberdeen, Scotland for a new home in Ontario. William Campbell established a family firstly with Sarah Ann Havens, whom he married in Norfolk County in 1845, and when she passed away at the age of 29 he produced a second family with Isabella Jane Sidey. Adam Corbet Campbell married Isabella Jane Isaac and produced a number of children before he died in 1868. George Campbell married Sarah Grubb in Scotland and travelled to Ontario with Sarah and their oldest daughter. William Campbell died in Chandos Township, Peterborough County in 1897. Adam Corbet Campbell died in a farming accident in 1868 in Northumberland County. George Campbell died in LeRoy, New York, USA in 1902. Each of the three brothers had large families and left behind several male children through which their lines could be traced.
In order to bolster my thesis that William Campbell was indeed a brother to both Adam Corbet Campbell and George Campbell, I set out to explore what genetic genealogy had to offer by way of providing evidence on the question of how William might be related to both Adam Corbet Campbell and George Campbell, and by extrapolation, to their parents Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason.
UPDATE: October 2014
The final results of the Y-111 and autosomal DNA testing on the three existing Campbell lines descending from William Campbell (1819-1897), Adam Corbet Campbell (1828-1868) and George Campbell (1831-1902) became available and culminated in the following narrative.
The Sons of Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason: A Genetic Inquiry
Sylvester Campbell (1784-1844) and Helen Mason (1789-1877) lived in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Sylvester and Helen had a large family by modern standards which included several sons, notably Alexander, Sylvester, William, Adam Corbet, George and David. A number of these sons emigrated to Canada, possibly because of "the clearings" taking place in the 1800s throughout the highlands of Scotland, some bringing their existing families and others coming as single individuals who would later marry and start their own families in Ontario, Canada. The focus of this genetic inquiry is to provide proof for the relationship among three of these family lines started by William (1819-1897), Adam Corbet (1828-1868) and George Campbell (1831-1902), all sons of Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason.
William Campbell has been by far the most problematic for me as a family historian because he originated from an extensive family surname, the Campbell's, which appears throughout the world in large numbers and because he had a relatively common given name. There were a number of individuals named William Campbell who were born and baptized at about the same time in Scotland. The “Old Parish Registers” of Scotland prove that Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason baptized a son, William Campbell, on March 26, 1819 in Drumoak, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. A number of family historians have seized on this William Campbell as the individual they choose to believe represents a William Campbell who appears in their family tree. Many of these family historians describe a William Campbell who lived out his life in Scotland, who died and is buried there, never having left his native country. While some of these conclusions match a few of the facts, most obviously the similarity in names, there are many other more relevant facts which point to the William Campbell baptized by Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason in 1819 as an individual who emigrated from Scotland to Ontario, Canada in 1842/1843, either together with or in concert with his brothers Adam Corbet Campbell and George Campbell and at least two of his sisters, Helen (Campbell) Isaac and Isabella (Campbell) Isaac. Adam Corbet Campbell is relatively easy to trace because of his unique name. George Campbell emigrated a decade later with his wife, Sarah Grubb, and their oldest child, so this family is relatively easy to trace as well. William Campbell came to Canada as a single man bearing a common name and in crossing the Atlantic Ocean at a time for which passenger lists are usually nonexistent, acquired an unusual degree of anonymity. The central problem for me has been to establish that the William Campbell baptized by Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason in 1819 was the same William Campbell who appears in Ontario, Canada in the mid-1840s and lives out his life there, dying in 1897 in Chandos Township, Peterborough County, Ontario. The methodology of this genetic inquiry was to trace three family lines through male descendants to currently living individuals who could be tested to establish genetically-based family ties. To accomplish this goal, the male descendants of William Campbell, Adam Corbet Campbell and George Campbell were traced using traditional genealogical methods to representative male individuals living in 2014.
This is the second time that these families have been studied by family historians. A large body of what I term anecdotal research was assembled by a dedicated team comprised of members of the Campbell and Isaac families during the 1960’s. This team included more than a dozen individuals from different branches of these two immigrant families who submitted family histories to be assembled into one coherent narrative illustrating the movement of many individuals emigrating from the Aberdeenshire area of Scotland to Ontario, Canada. I have labeled this body of information the “Campbell-Isaac Genealogy Project”. I am also aware that the Scots’ Ancestry Society based in Scotland was engaged at that time to conduct genealogical research on original documents in Scotland in support of this project. Bear in mind that many of the contributors to this project were the grandchildren of the original immigrants and therefore had firsthand knowledge within their own lifetime of who their ancestors were and where they originated. The findings of this project clearly indicated that the William Campbell who was baptized in 1819 by Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason was indeed the same William Campbell who emigrated to Ontario, Canada and lived out his life there until he died in 1897. The findings of this project were widely distributed to representatives of families linked to William Campbell, Adam Corbet Campbell and George Campbell. However, over the years this project has not had the impact that it probably should have had on other family historians publishing their work on the Internet. So some claims still exist describing the William Campbell baptized by Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason as living out his life in Scotland where he died and was buried. Although I have presented what I consider to be extensive supporting genealogical evidence showing that none of the individuals named William Campbell whose lives would've overlapped this time period could have been the William Campbell baptized by Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason, that assumption still persists in the minds of some. Hence the need to invoke DNA testing to prove once and for all that the family line produced by William Campbell in Ontario, Canada is related to two family lines clearly linked to the originating family of Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason. In other words, to demonstrate through objective scientific testing that the William Campbell who lived out most of his adult life in Ontario, Canada is in fact the same William Campbell who was baptized by Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason in 1819 in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The three family lines targeted in this DNA study originated with three of the sons produced by Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason, William Campbell, Adam Corbet Campbell and George Campbell. A fourth Campbell line currently resident in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, although untested, still exists in 2014, descended from Sylvester Campbell, an older brother to William, Adam Corbet and George.
The DNA testing of the representative individuals from the family lines of William, Adam Corbet and George was done through the facilities of Family Tree DNA. The DNA test chosen was the Y-111 test done on the Y-chromosome, the so-called “male chromosome” existing on the 23rd chromosome pair. [The first 22 pairs of chromosomes are termed “autosomal” and can be tested for an aggregation of DNA accumulated from both maternal and paternal ancestors. Each of the tested individuals from the lines of William, Adam Corbet and George were also tested for autosomal DNA links.] The Y-111 test was chosen to establish a family relationship through the male line from the original William, Adam Corbet and George down to their representative male individuals in 2014. The Y-111 DNA test was the most comprehensive test available at the time when this testing began. The results of this test could suggest the strength of a relationship between two individuals and estimate in generations when an MRCA (most recent common ancestor) would have lived. The reasoning behind this testing regime was that if the families of Adam Corbet Campbell and George Campbell, which were clearly and indisputably linked to Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason, were shown to have a close genetic relationship to the family of William Campbell, then it would follow that the William Campbell who lived out most of his adult life in Ontario, Canada was indeed the same William Campbell baptized by Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason in 1819 in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Campbell 1 represented the William Campbell line; Campbell 2 represented the George Campbell line; and Campbell 3 represented the Adam Corbet Campbell line. Traditional genealogical methods produced a clear and irrefutable genealogy for each of these family lines. I tended to conceptualize of Campbell 1 as my baseline individual for two reasons: Campbell 1 is descended from William Campbell and Campbell 1 has the distinction of being perhaps the only surviving individual who actively participated in the Campbell-Isaac Genealogy Project in the 1960’s. When the final Y-111 analysis for Campbell 3, the last individual to be tested, became available on October 9, 2014, the results were very clear. Out of a database of nearly three quarters of a million test results, Campbell 1 was related to only two other individuals on file: Campbell 2 and Campbell 3. Not only were these three individuals identified as closely related genetically to each other, their “genetic distance” was not great. The genetic distance is derived from the number of markers that vary between individuals. The Y-111 DNA test samples 111 markers. Campbell 1 had a genetic distance from Campbell 2 of only two; in other words, these two Campbell samples shared 109 identical values. Campbell 1 and Campbell 2 both had a genetic distance from Campbell 3 of three; in other words, the first two samples shared 108 identical values with Campbell 3. An analysis from Family Tree DNA characterized this relationship as "tightly related" and suggested that at least half the time such a relationship will be represented by fourth or more recent cousins. Traditional genealogical analysis identifies Campbell 1 and Campbell 3 as "third cousins" and Campbell 2 as a "third cousin, once removed". Additional analysis using the Gedmatch website on the autosomal component of each DNA sample suggests that for Campbell 1 (William’s line) and Campbell 3 (Adam Corbet's line) the MRCA would have occurred 3.7 (4) generations earlier. Traditional genealogy agrees with this interpretation of the autosomal DNA from Campbell 1 and Campbell 3. This finding is corroborated by an analysis of the autosomal DNA from Campbell 1 (William’s paternal line) and Duff 1 (George's maternal line) suggesting that the MRCA would have occurred between William's line and George's line 3.8 (4) generations earlier – essentially the same finding as derived when comparing the autosomal DNA of Campbell 1 and Campbell 3. The MRCA in both these instances corresponds with the generation represented by Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason.
In summary, the Y-111 DNA analysis on the three Campbell family lines – those of William, Adam Corbet and George – represent a "tightly related" relationship between these family lines based on genetic inheritance from the original family of Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason. Further analysis of autosomal DNA predicts an MRCA (most recent common ancestor) in the generation represented by Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason. It is clear to this researcher that the William Campbell who lived out most of his adult life in Ontario, Canada is indeed the same William Campbell who was baptized by Sylvester Campbell and Helen Mason on March 26, 1819 in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Additional information regarding this DNA testing project is available from Wayne Campbell Wickson at firstname.lastname@example.org.