The Condra Family Y-Chromosome DNA Study
First Year Report-09/05/2009
This is a report after one year on the status of the Y-Chromosome Study being conducted under the auspices of FamilyTree DNA on males surnamed Condra, Condrey, etc.It attempts to discuss the limited results of the study in light of what we know from conventional family research.All errors in what follows are entirely my own, and I would be most appreciative of criticisms in any mistakes of fact or inference that I draw.
The foundational hypothesis guiding both current genealogical research and the DNA Study is that the Condry family of colonial Virginia descends from a single person:Dennis (“1734 Dennis”) of Lancaster Co VA, who was born in the late 1600s and died late in 1734.This hypothesis is based on the rarity of the Condry name and the fact that while there are a few other men called Condry who appear in 17th century VA records, each appears only once.1734 Dennis’ family is the first documented Condry family.Dennis is a recurring forename in the various Condry families, from coastal NC to western Illinois, well into the 19th century.
All the Condrys of Virginia, the South, the Old Northwest and their descendants arebelieved to be descended from one of 1734 Dennis’ four known sons:Dennis Jr., John, Richard, and Michael.
The fate of these sons is not completely known.Dennis Jr. pre-deceased 1734 Dennis.John inherited 1734 Dennis’ “plantation.”There is evidence that Michael moved down the seaboard and settled in eastern NC.Richard, who was executor of 1734 Dennis’ will, moved northwest from Lancaster Co into Prince William Co VA by the mid-1740s.
A gap of roughly 70 years exists between the death of 1734 Dennis and the various Condry lines documented by Donald M. Condra and others.During this gap period, there are no discovered testamentary instruments or parish records that give direct evidence of father/child relationships in the Condry households, with the exception of the parental link from 1734 Dennis to John to William of Chesterfield Co VA (“Chesterfield William”), and his wife, Mary Blankenship.Because this is the only known Condry and spouse in the mid-1700s, there has been a tendency on the part of researchers to connect every trans-Appalachian Condry line to Chesterfield William and Mary Blankenship.
Condry family pedigrees unbroken down to the present only begin c. 1805 in the following locations:Chesterfield Co VA; Iredell/Rutherford Co NC; Claiborne/Grainger Co TN; and Jackson Co TN/Barren Co KY.
VA land records suggest two distinct southerly migrations by 1734 Dennis’ descendants out of the Fairfax Proprietary:
“The Cumberland Group”:This includes Richard and his children, who can be hypothesized (for reasons I will not go into here) to include men called “1817 Richard,” “1850 William”, Donelson Party (“DP”) Dennis, and Donelson Party (“DP”) John, moved into Pittsylvania/Henry Co. VA by the late 1760s.During the Revolution, the foregoing sons crossed over the Blue Ridge.1817 Richard was in Sullivan Co NC/TN in the 1780s and 1790s, and finished life in Jackson Co TN c. 1817.The fate of DP Dennis and DP John is unknown.1850 William died in Claiborne Co TN.
“The Piedmont Group”:1734 Dennis’ grandchildren, via John, into Chesterfield Co VA by the late 1750s, followed by a move over to Campbell Co VA during or after the Revolutionary War.Around 1800, a William’s (“Campbell Co William”) presumed children, including Caleb, move due south into the NC Piedmont.
DNA TEST RESULTS
As of this writing, five Condry men have had their Y-Chromosome DNA markers analyzed.Three of these men are currently in the Condra Family DNA study.
One Condra from the Cumberland Group and two men called Condrey from the Piedmont Group all match, sharing the same haplotype.On the study website at FamilyTree, this group is color-coded teal and labeled “Colonial Haplotype B:”
The Condra descends from John “Elder” Condra (1777-1833), who was presumably a son of 1817 Richard.One of the Condreys descends from Caleb Condrey of Campbell Co VA, who died in 1848 in Iredell Co NC.The other Condrey descends from John William Condrey (1815-1870) of Cleveland Co NC.The latter Condrey’s results can be viewed at the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Database.
The remaining two males are named Condra and belong to the Cumberland Group.The dna of these two men match each other, but not the males in the preceding paragraph.
These two men descend from James C. Condra (b.c. 1760-70---d. 1831), one through his second son, Benjamin; and the other through his fourth son, James, Jr.On the FamilyTree Study website, this haplotype, designated "A," is color-coded dark blue:
JAMES C. CONDRA and THE WRIGHT FAMILY
Before discussing the genetic connection of James C. Condra’s family to the Wright family, some basic facts about James C. Condra must be kept in mind.James C. Condra lived in Barren Co KY in the 1810s and records attest that he was an intimate of 1817 Richard and Richard’s presumed son, John “Elder.”James C. Condra has a well-documented group of descendants.He married Esther Stone Hibbert in Greene Co TN c. 1789.Around 1820 James C. migrated south from Barren Co KY to the Sequatchie Valley in lower East TN.The DNA testing reveals, however, that James C. Condra was not a blood kinsman of John “Elder” Condra through the paternal line.The closest possible relationship of James C. Condra would be that of half-brother to John “Elder,” or half-brother to 1817 Richard, through a shared mother.
Matches in the dna databases further show that James C. Condra and his descendants are paternally related to a Wright family.This Wright family also lived in the Fairfax Proprietary of northeastern VA.The dna of James C. Condra’s two descendants matches the dna of confirmed descendants of John Wright (c. 1700-1792), a Justice and Sheriff in Fauquier Co VA.This John Wright is presumed to be the son of a John Wright (1659-1734) who was an overseer in Westmoreland Co VA (“1734 John Wright”).I must stress that these matches do not conclusively mean that 1792 John Wright of Fauquier Co is the birth father of James C. Condra, only that James C. Condra and John Wright share a common male ancestor.This ancestor could be 1734 John Wright, or his father.Given 1734 John Wright’s birthdate of 1659, when VA was a young colony made up of a small but expanding pool offirst and second generation male European settlers, I do think it is reasonable to infer that the birth father of James C. Condra or James C.’s father was a male from the immediate family of 1734 John Wright.
We do not know who the presumed father of James C. Condra was.Onomastic customs of the time suggest a William, since that is the name of James C.’s oldest son.We do know that a William Condry died intestate in Barren Co late in 1807 (“1807 William”).1817 Richard, John “Elder”, and James C. all cooperated in handling this William Condry’s estate, with 1817 Richard serving as Administrator.
IMPLICATIONS OF THE DNA MISMATCH
Given the basic hypothesis that the Condrys of the early South and Old Northwest all descend from 1734 Dennis, the question naturally arises:which haplotype, “A” or “B”, is the dna marker of 1734 Dennis?In other words, which dna result is the “original” Condry dna (at least, for the Southern colonial Condrys)?
The most direct way to address this issue is by testing a Condry with a confirmed pedigree back to 1734 Dennis.Hypothetically, with our limited knowledge, the only suitable candidate would be a male descended from 1734 Dennis’ grandson, Chesterfield William, who married Mary Blankenship.It is surmised that the descendent of 1848 Caleb Condrey, who has been tested, fits this criterion.This is based on circumstantial evidence that Campbell Co William, the presumed father of Caleb, and Chesterfield William, are the same man.
However, I believe caution is in order.We have no fewer than four William Condrys in adulthood c. 1805—not counting the coastal NC group!Two of these, James C. Condra’s eldest son, William of Monroe Co KY; and 1850 William, the Indian Spy, can be automatically eliminated from consideration.
This leaves Campbell Co William and 1807 William of Barren Co KY as the possible “candidates” to be Chesterfield William.More information is needed about these two men. Chesterfield William was born in 1737/1738.There is a Bill of Sale, c. 1810, in Barren Co KY, of some personal property from James C. Condra to a woman called “Mary.”Florence Lipsey suggested this was Mary Blankenship Condra.On the other hand, there are several Blankenship households in Campbell Co VA.Where and when did William of Campbell Co VA die?Is there any possibility that Campbell Co William and 1807 William are the same man?
I hope that these reflections will stimulate our researchers, especially Dr. Jenkins, Glenda, and Rawleigh, to offer their insight and criticisms.
James J. “Jeff” Condra
Condra Family DNA Project Administrator