Category Archive 'Genealogy'
17 Jul 2008

German Villagers Proven to be Descendants of Nearby Bronze Age Burials

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Lichtensteinhöhle skeletons

British newspapers report that living residents of Nienstedt, a village in the foothills of the Harz Mountains in Lower Saxony, have been found by DNA analysis to be relatives of 3000-year-old Bronze Age inhabitants of the same area interred in the nearby Lichtensteinhöhle cave.


London Times:

The good news for two villagers in the Söse valley of Germany yesterday was that they have discovered their (127th times)-great grandparents.

The bad news is that their long-lost ancestors may have grilled and eaten other members of their clan.

Every family has its skeletons in the cave, though, so Manfred Hucht-hausen, 58, a teacher, and 48-year-old surveyor Uwe Lange remained in celebratory mood. Thanks to DNA testing of remarkably well-preserved Bronze Age bones, they can claim to have the longest proven family tree in the world. “I can trace my family back by name to 1550,” Mr Lange said. “Now I can go back 120 generations.”

Mr Lange comes from the village of Nienstedt, in Lower Saxony, in the foothills of the Harz mountain range. “We used to play in these caves as kids. If I’d known that there were 3,000-year-old relatives buried there I wouldn’t have set foot in the place.”

The cave, the Lichtensteinhöhle, is made up of five interlocked natural chambers. It stayed hidden from view until 1980 and was not researched properly until 1993. The archaeologist Stefan Flindt found 40 skeletons along with what appeared to be cult objects. …

Analysis showed that all the bones were from the same family and the scientists speculated that it was a living area and a ceremonial burial place.

About 300 locals agreed to giving saliva swabs. Two of the cave family had a very rare genetic pattern – and a match was found.



The bones of 40 people were shielded from the elements by calcium deposits that formed a protective skin around the skeletons.

All the remains turned out to be from the same family group who had a distinctive – and rare – DNA pattern.

When people in the local area were tested with saliva swabs, two nearby residents turned out to have the same distinctive genetic characteristic.

Manfred Huchthausen, a 58-year-old teacher, and Uwe Lange, a 48-year-old surveyer, now believe they are even more local than either of them thought.


Inma Pazos at iGENEA Forum provides more specific information.

(translated & abridged)

DNA analysis really found that 15 of 22 skeletons were relatives, constituting several generations of a family clan. In 2007, about 300 DNA samples of today’s indigenous population in Osterode-am-Harz were collected and tested for possible affinity. Susann Hummel, a leading anthropologist, has identified eleven living persons as descendants of the cave burials.

Ten lines of mtDNA haplogroup H, four of haplogroup U, two of the haplogroup J and three of the haplogroup T were identified. A further breakdown in the sub-groups succeeded in identifying U5b, T2 and J1b1. In another case, membership in sub-group U2 was considered very likely.


mtDNA haplogroups

07 Apr 2008

“Wull Ye Nae Cam’ Back Again?”

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Maybe he will.

Musical link

The Telegraph reports that yon wee Gordon Brown is thinking of repealing the 1701 Act of Succession, thus restoring the rights of the Jacobite heir to the royal succession, Duke Francis of Bavaria.

17 Mar 2008

St. Patrick’s Day Story

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Bryan Patrick Miller returns to the Emerald Isle in search of his mother’s family roots, and encounters more than one surprise.

I did finally arrive in Goleen, a tiny cluster of stucco homes with farmland on one side and the Atlantic Coast on the other. It’s literally a one-horse town; a gray mare stood tied to a post outside the pub. I figured my best option was to walk into the only store, which doubled as the post office, and ask the clerk to point me to the church, so I could look in the town records.

“The name’s Glavin,” I said, smiling. She recoiled, backing away with a hand to her face, and wouldn’t say another word.

By the time I made it to Goleen’s dimly lighted pub, word seemed to have spread that a Glavin was back. Gnarled farmers glowered at me over their Guinnesses. No one spoke to me. I swallowed my pint fast and walked out.

Read the whole thing.

17 Oct 2007

Small World Department: Cheney and Bush Are Obama’s Cousins

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Lynn Cheney explained in an MSNBC interview:

“This is such an amazing story,” Cheney said in an interview on MSNBC, “that one ancestor, a man that came to Maryland, could be responsible down the family line for lives that have taken such different and varied paths as Dick’s and Barack Obama’s.” Cristina Allegretto, Mrs. Cheney’s research and project manager at the American Enterprise Institute, said the vice president’s wife did an exhaustive genealogical search of her family while working on “Blue Skies, No Fences.” Her research led her to an early Cheney settler named Richard Cheney, whose granddaughter married Samuel Duvall, whose mother, Mareen Duvall, is distantly related to Obama. Lynne Mrs. Cheney read a story that said Obama was related to Mareen Duvall, and realized the link.

Obama, whose mother was white, did not immediately comment on the revelation. But his campaign made light of the tie, without confirming it. “Obviously, Dick Cheney is the black sheep of the family,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton said.

ThinkProgress has the video.

And the Chicago Sun Times elucidates further:

Obama and Bush are 11th cousins.

That’s because they share the same great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents — Samuel Hinckley and Sarah Soole Hinckley of 17th century Massachusetts.

That means Obama and former President George Herbert Walker Bush are 10th cousins once removed. Obama is related to Cheney through Mareen Duvall, a 17th century immigrant from France.

Mareen and Susannah Duvall were Obama’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents and Cheney’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents.

That makes Obama and Cheney ninth cousins once removed.

26 Feb 2007

Al Sharpton’s Genealogy Connected to Strom Thurmond

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Fox News reports:

The professional genealogists, who work for, found that Sharpton’s great-grandfather, Coleman Sharpton, was a slave owned by Julia Thurmond, whose grandfather was Strom Thurmond’s great-great-grandfather. Coleman Sharpton was later freed.

It’s a small world after all.

09 Feb 2007

Alternative Heirs to British Throne

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Franz, Duke of Bavaria will be surprised.

The British Government historical advisory agency recently made a public appeal seeking to identify living descendants of Edward the Confessor, Harold Godwinson, or Edgar the Aetheling, who had William of Normandy not won the Battle of Hastings in 1066 might, instead of Elizabeth II, be occupying the English throne.

The Telegraph reports:

A retired engineer from Newcastle and a financial director from Berkshire emerge victorious today in a worldwide hunt to find alternative heirs to the English throne.

They were among 500 people who responded to an English Heritage appeal to identify those who might have been crowned King or Queen had William the Conqueror not defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings.

Claimants had to prove that they were linked to Edward the Confessor, whose death in 1066 led to a conflict over the rightful heir to the throne; Edgar the Aetheling, who was chosen as monarch but never crowned; or King Harold who was killed by the arrow in his eye.

They also had to provide the name of their most likely “gateway ancestor” — St Margaret of Scotland being the key player because as a direct descendant of Alfred the Great, she was related to both Edward the Confessor and Edgar the Aetheling. An advertisement placed in newspapers across the world asking people if they could trace their family tree back to 1066 prompted responses from America, Canada, France, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia and Britain.

Albert Turnbull, from Newcastle, provided some of the strongest documentary evidence supporting his lineage back to St Margaret, King Alfred and William the Conqueror.

The 70-year-old retired engineer, who started tracing his family tree 35 years ago, said it was by chance that he discovered he was 55 generations descended from King Cerdic — the first King of Wessex — who invaded Britain around 500AD.

“It was a complete fluke,” he said. “I was in the castle library and I was looking at findings of an old history society. In the index I was looking for Turnbull and saw Threlkeld. I saw the family tree and realised it was a famous line. It was pure luck. My father’s grandmother was called Threlkeld. When I traced that branch back it came from Cumbria and married into the barons of Westmorland. They married into the Royal Family. I’m descended from the 10th Baron.”

Asked what the Prince of Wales might think of his claim to the throne, Mr Turnbull replied: “He’s my 23rd cousin. He seems to have a sense of humour. I think he would take it in good fun. But there would have to be quite a lot wiped out until it came to me.”

Mark Golledge, from Berkshire, had access to the “Stemmata Chicheleana” historical documents, which were published in 1765 and record all the descendants of Archbishop Henry Chichele, the founder of All Souls College, Oxford.

With the Archbishop as one of his ancestors, Mr Golledge is not only entitled to Fellowship of the College, but can accurately trace his family back from Chichele to Alfred the Great.

Mr Golledge said: “My family and I are very proud of our ancestry and very fortunate to have such a unique reference to illustrate our heritage.”

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