In the summer of 2000, the Rockwell Family Foundation researchers announced a project to compare DNA samples from male direct-line descendants of the early American Rockwells.The aim was to test the hypothesis that William of Windsor, CT; John of Stamford, CT; and Josiah of Norwich, CT, were close relatives.One construction has William as the uncle of the others, through his brothers John and Richard.We approached the Center for Molecular Genealogy (CMG) at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, which studies DNA links between populations, about running a DNA analysis for us.Dr. Joel Myres agreed to take our case, gratis.
The project had its share of problems.For starters, only four volunteers ultimately came through with their samples.Then Dr. Myres took ill and died in the winter of 2001.Our project passed to another researcher, but she soon left the Center's employ, and it fell to a third researcher, Katie Hadley, to finish the test in the Fall of 2000.
The initial results are interesting but inconclusive.The DNA analysis used by CMG shows not only whether a paternal relationship exists, but how many generations have passed since two donors shared a common forefather.The test did show a relationship between the three lines, but perhaps not close enough to confirm the above hypothesis.The fact that the margin of error is rather large leaves room for doubt, while there is also the possibility of human error either in the pedigrees or at the DNA lab (for example, through mislabelled samples).The small sample size is of course a concern, as well.
The CMG's Ms. Hadley concludes her report with a statement: "It would be valuable to test other males that descend from John, William and Josiah Rockwell lines to confirm these findings."The RFF researchers intend to pursue this with a larger test through a different DNA lab.With enough samples from each line, we will be able to identify the pattern which marks each line and confirm or deny the initial test results.If the results confirm the close-relationship hypothesis, fine; on the other hand, if the lines are distinct, we can set up an arrangement with the DNA lab to test further samples from qualified individuals who are uncertain of their earlier Rockwell ancestry.A match with a particular line would point them in a certain direction, and the RFF researchers could make suggestions for further genealogical research based on their extensive files of early Rockwells.Either outcome will considerably advance the cause of Rockwell genealogy.
So we now ask for further volunteers to come forth and express interest in providing DNA samples for the project.Since this test involves patrilineal descent, certain requirements apply:
1) You must possess a Y chromosome; i.e., you were born male.
2) Your connection to the early Rockwells is an all-male line.Once a Rockwell daughter enters the line of descent, the Y chromosome in any sons reflects her husband's ancestral line, rather than her Rockwell ancestry.
3) You have worked out your pedigree at least back to the 18th century.Besides the three old Connecticut lines, there are a few other lines that bear investigation: the Robert Rockwell/Rockhold family of Virginia and Maryland, some of whose descendants have resumed the Rockwell surname; the family of Asa Rockwell of early 18th-century Maryland and western Pennsylvania (whom family tradition says was a recent immigrant); and the line of Simmons Rockwell, who as an adoptee into a John-line family should display a distinct pattern inherited from his as-yet-unidentified father.We want to determine the standard pattern for these lines as well, so that future samples can be compared with them.
If you don't qualify, but a brother or near-cousin does, please pass this on to them.We need about 30 volunteers.
Volunteers should be aware that there is always a possibility of an unexpected outcome that casts doubts on individual pedigrees.If an ensemble of supposed John-line samples, for example, demonstrate a particular DNA pattern proving their common descent from a 17th century individual, but another supposed John-line sample doesn't match the rest, that pedigree probably has a problem, and the donor belongs to another line.These things happen, for Genealogy is as much art as science, and never provides 100 % certainty.The best documentary evidence you can assemble may be confounded by one extramarital indiscretion resulting in a child not the son of his mother's husband.Volunteers must therefore have sufficient appreciation for genealogical truth that they will bravely accept the results even if it means giving up a long-held pedigree.The RFF can assume no responsibility for emotional grief caused by such an outcome, or for any human error on the part of the participating DNA lab.If the volunteer is dissatisfied with the results, he may pursue a second opinion from another lab, but remember in the end that "you can choose your friends but you can't choose your ancestors."A known ancestor is a good ancestor. The results of any individual's test will remain confidential.
We won't be getting the test done for free this time, since we'll be going through a private company.Relative Genetics charges a group rate of $208 per sample.(Their method involves saliva samples rather than blood.)The Rockwell Family Foundation will pick up the bill.If anyone, whether a volunteer or not, wishes to help finance this project, you can contact Sam Rockwell, RFF Treasurer, email@example.com
To volunteer, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by U.S. Mail at 732 6th Ave., Salt Lake City, Utah 84103.Please include a direct-line pedigree of descent from your earliest American Rockwell ancestor.Further questions welcome.