A Fourth U106 Whitson BigY Test

A new BigY test is in for Pete’s brother Patrick. In my previous Blog on Whitson U106 YDNA, I was hoping that Patrick would answer some of the questions we had on previous testing in this area. Right now I don’t see any differences between the old Block tree and the new one. Here is the old one:

This shows Pete matching Tom and Norton under a block called R-FT137411. This block contains 23 SNPs. Here is the new Block Tree from the viewpoint of Patrick:

The only difference appears to be that there are now four in this group. I also see that the average number of Private Variants for R-BY62217 has gone down by one for some reason.

According to SNP Tracker, BY62217 appears to have stayed in Germany:

The Whitson Group headed over to England at some time during the Medieval Period:

Private Variants and Non-Matching Variants

The question that came up previously in my blogs on the U106 Whitsons was why were there so few Private Variants. The common ancestors between Pete (and his brother Patrick) and Norton is in the 1800’s. The common ancestor between Pete and Tom was in the 1700’s. Between the four of them, there was only one Private Variant with Norton. FTDNA normally pulls from the the Private Variants for new branches. However, new branches also require matching with someone else. With only one Private Variant, there could be no matching.

That is when I started looking at the Non-Matching Variants. My understanding is that these could be there due to testing in non-reliable regions of YDNA or incomplete test resutls. In my previous Blog, I came up with this chart for Non-Matching Variants between the three testers:

However, looking at this now brings up some questions. Norton had a private variant at 5014418. This is an unnamed variant. I think that Private Variants are generally unnamed locations. However, it seemed like Pete should have two named private Variants at BY44298 and BY55572. Further, if Patrick is positive for these two SNPs I would think that Pete and Patrick would be on a new branch for these two SNPs.

Patrick’s Results: BY44298 and BY55572

Here is what Patrick shows for BY55298:

This shows that the results for Patrick were not conclusive:

Patrick had only one read and it didn’t show a mutation. That was unfortunate, as it is likely that Patrick, as Pete’s brother, should have the same mutation for BY44298.

Next, I look at BY55572:

Again, there is a similar situation:

These two SNPs are in close proximity to each other on the Y Chromosome. However, I don’t know which regiosn are troublesome vs. easy to read. Here is Pat on my spreadsheet:

I think that if the test was better, then it should have shown Pat positive for these two SNPs.

In additions, Pat shows very little in the way of non-matching variants:

Patrick’s only Non-Matching Variant was Norton’s Private Variant.

Patrick’s Results for the Previous Non-Matching Variants

Next, I can fill in the rest of my Excel Spreadsheet for Patrick:

Where NT means not tested. That means that these are disapppointing results. Pete and Norton got results for all the SNPs on the list Tom had results for two SNPs.. Patrick had results for none of the SNPs. Most of the ? results only had one read. I was hoping that Patrick would have matches to many of Pete’s non-matching variants. Logic would dictate that Pete and Patrick should have most if not all the same variants as they are brothers.

Summary and Conclusions

  • Previous testing has shown that Pete was positive for 10 SNPs that Norton was negative for
  • Subsequent testing showed that Tom was negative for two of those SNPs and had inconclusive test results for the other eight. However, there has to be two people positive for a SNP for a new branch to form
  • When Pete’s brother Patrick tested, I had thought that he would have matching SNPs with Pete which would form a new YDNA Branch. However, Patrick’s results were inconclusive for 8 of his SNPs that Pete was positive for and for two, that region of YDNA was not covered.
  • With the information I have seen, the Whitson Block tree may remain the same. However, it is possible that the manual review has not been completed and FTDNA may see more detailed information from the test results which could shed some more light and give a new branch for Pete and Patrick. If the manual review is done, I would recommend asking why Tom and Patrick’s results did not cover the important Non-Matching Variants between Pete and Norton. I don’t know if Pete and Norton just had really good results or if Tom and Patrick had unusually bad test results.

Whitson R-U106 BigY Non-Matching Variants and STRs

The title to this Blog is a bit specialized. There are three Whitson relatives who have taken the BigY test. This group of Whitsons are on the R-U106 general branch of humanity. From there, the Branch has narrowed down to a block of SNPs represented by the name R-FT137411.

In my previous Blog, I started looking at the three Whitson Testers’ Non-Matching Variants. So far:

  • Tom – He didn’t show any private variants. However, his date to common ancestors with Pete and Norton implies that he should have some.
  • Pete – He didn’t show any private variants, but two of his variants which don’t match with Tom and Norton could be Private Variants. The testing for Tom and Norton seemed to show that they didn’t have BY44298 and BY55572. I suggested that these two SNPs may be a new Branch for Pete once Pete’s brother’s BigY test is completed.
  • Norton – He has one Private Variant which he is clearly positive for and Tom and Pete are negative for. This Private Variant is at position 5014418.

Pete and Norton’s Non-Matching Variants

Here is the view from Norton’s perspective:

The non-matching variant between Norton and Tom represents Noton’s Private Variant. The first two named Non-Matching Variants between Norton and Pete were addressed in my previous Blog. That leaves six non-matching variants to look at between Peter and Norton.


First, I’ll check Pete’s results:

Pete is showing positive for that SNP. That must mean that Norton is negative for this SNP:

This shows Norton as not derived for BY151409. But it also shows that this SNP is on the Y-Tree. Here are Norton’s test results:

If this SNP is on the Y-Tree, it must not be a private variant. I think that this information is either not helpful or not acurate. I don’t think that BY151409 is on the Y-Tree. Here is what YBrowse shows:

To be complete, I’ll check Tom’s results for this SNP:

FTDNA considers Tom a no-call for this SNP:

Tom only had two good reads:

A third not-so-good read had the mutation as T, when Pete’s mutation was to G, so something is off there. That could mean that this variant could be a Private Variant for Pete also.


OK, only 7 variants to go. I will make a summary chart to keep track:

Finishing the Whitson Non-Matching Spreadsheet

It seems that Pete should have as many as 10 Private Variants which seems like a lot. That would be 11 Private Variants divided by three people or about an average of 4. However, it seems like once a variant is named it is not included in the Private Variant category. However, my understanding is that the named Private Variants are not treated the same way as unnamed Private Variants. The SNPs for Pete appear to have been named during Pete’s earlier testing. However, as far as I know, there are no other matches to these SNPs – unless they are in other Haplogroups.

I found this in a R-U106 Forum:

* There is a long, complex, and (mostly) documented description about how the data is extracted from the DNA and ends up in the BAM files, which are then parsed into the VCF+BED files we’ve been requesting for the Warehouse. I won’t go into that here. 
* This data then undergoes some extra processing. Those that match certain quality criteria are extracted and presented as a list of high-quality variants. These high-quality variants are then compared against everyone else in the tree, who is given a positive, negative or null call.
* SNPs where you are positive and others are negative (or vice versa) are used to define your non-matching variants. These are what are listed in your BigY matches.
* Your list of high-quality variants is then subject to a blacklist, removing any SNPs in problematic regions (DYZ19, the centromere and Yq12) and recurrent SNPs found elsewhere in the haplotree. These are listed as your private variants. The blacklist removes regions where complex mutations can lead to mis-mapped regions, missing data or other problems. These complex mutations can then masquerade as one or more SNPs.
Consequently, there may be many reasons why SNPs in your non-matching variants may not appear in either your private variants or your match’s private variants, and vice versa.
So I suppose my question is whether Pete’s non-matching variants include blacklisted SNPs. My sense is that they probably do.

R-U106 Whitson STRs

As suggested by Pete, the private SNPs for the three Whitson testers, do not appear to adequately describe the time to common ancestors. Pete has a common ancestry with Norton at 1835 and with Tom at 1725. Based on that, there should be roughly an average of one private SNP between Norton and Pete and two between Pete and Tom.

It would seem at this point that the STRs show some accuracy in this Whitson Line. Here is the relevant portion of the U106 Whitson STRs:

The third row is the mode of the three testers. The fifth row shows Pete’s results. His results are the same as the mode. In drawing STR trees, the Mode is considered the ancestral value. So that would mean that Pete has had no STR mutations in the 111 series since 1725. I get a tree something like this:

This shows that there are been one STR mutation between Pete and Norton since 1835 and that there have been two STR muations between Pete and Tom since 1725. I suppose that I should have put the 1725 in the red box above.

As this is a combined SNP and STR tree, I can add Norton’s Private Variant:

The confusing part are Pete’s 10 non-matching SNPs. Norton tested negative for these  and Tom had all no-calls. I will wait to see Pete’s brother’s BigY results to see if any of those SNPs come into play.

Summary and Conclusions

  • I think that I’ve taken the U106 Whitson YDNA about as far as it can go with the information I have.
  • I found it somewhat difficult to understand the nuances of non-matching variants and what they are useful for.
  • Previously, I had suggested that two Pete’s non-matching variants may become a new branch. After looking more closely at Pete’s non-matching variants, I am not so sure. I will like to see how Pete’s brother’s BigY test shakes out.
  • I summarized the testing quality for Pete’s non-matching variants in the other two Whitson BigY testers
  • I drew a combined SNP/STR tree for the U106 Whitson branch. Given the time periods Pete gave me to his common ancestors, these STRs seem to fit in better than what we have for Private SNPs right now.
  • I am looking forward to the BigY testing for Peter’s brother.



More on Whitson R-U106 BigY Results

In my previous Blog, I looked at two new BigY U106 initial results. I say U106 because there are different branches of Whitsons that aren’t related closely by YDNA. This is not unusual in surnames. In that review, the two new testers were brought down to the level of Pete (an earlier BigY tester) who was at R-BY97752.

A Change in the Results

Recently, those who were watching closely, noticed that there was another change for the three U106 BigY testers who I am calling Pete, Tom and Norton:

By adding Tom and Norton, the three have gone down two levels and have their own group separate parallel to the group to the left of them which is R-Y62217.

Private Variants

Note that under FT137411, there are no private variants listed. That is because between the three testers, there is only one private variant which averages out to 1/3 or rounded to zero. Norton has one private variant at position 5014418:

FTDNA does not show a name for this variant as there have been no matches yet to this variant. In order to check this against Tom and Pete, I had to download their CSV files. Peter shows that he has no variant at that position:

A variant here would have to have a different letter than G in the last column.

If I check Tom’s results, I should see the same thing. I checked it, and his results are the same. So for Norton to have a private variant, he has to test positive for that and everyone else in the tested BigY world has to be tested negative. That is what we see here.

Private Variants for Tom?

On Tom’s BigY match list, he shows no Private Variants.

However, in my previous Blog, when I checked the private variants, it looked like Pete should have had two private variants:

What happened to 3242552 and 6464378? Here are Tom’s results:

Tom was not tested for the variant at position 3242552. That means that if someone has not been tested for a variant you have been tested for, you don’t know if that would be your private variant or not. To be certain, I’ll download Norton’s CSV file:

Next I look for 6464378 under Norton’s results:

Tom’s results:

Where Did All the SNPs Come From in the FT137411 Block?

There are now 23 SNPs showing in the block represented by FT137411. In my previous review of the three testers’ former ‘private variants’ they had 21 variants in common. These likely make up 21 of the 23 SNPs in the FT136511 Block. But where did the other 2 come from? Unfortunately, I would have to look at each SNP in the Block individually.

Here are the first three SNPs in the Block:


I didn’t look at 12086294 in my previous Blog. My guess is that this named SNP had previously shown up under Pete’s results. Due to FTDNA naming conventions, it would not have shown up as his private variant even though he didn’t get a match until now. Or, it could be that Pete’s results were inconclusive, but after seeing the results for Dan and Tom, they considered Pete also positive for BY178619. Well, the second scenario can’t be right, as here are Pete’s results for that SNP:

Here is what YBrowse shows:

This is confusing as it shows BY178619 on the J branch of the YDNA Tree. That means that I have another guess. Pete tested for this previously and they said, That can’t be right, that is on the J Tree not the R. I think that this happends sometimes. In fact, herer is another YBrowse shot:

This shows that position 12086294 already has three names. The other two names are on the O and J1 branches respectively. If I understand this Variant correctly, it must occur on four different branches of the YDNA Tree.


F17396 is position 8827436. I did not see this in my previous analysis. For this position there are two SNPs:

YBrowse has F17396 on the J YDNA Branch also:

The other SNP is a different Mutation:

This mutation is from G to T. The Whitson mutation was from G to A. Here are Tom’s results:

That appears to be the second SNP at a position which was not accounted for in my previous Blog. They are both unusual SNPs in that the mutation occurs in other trees.

A Note from Pete

Pete has been monitoring these BigY results quite closely and had a few questions for me:

Well, that came out a bit small. The blurred name is the one I am calling Norton. This is interesting as Norton is more closely related to Pete than Tom is. I think that Pete’s estimate of 300 years could be a bit off. If Pete and Tom’s common ancestor was born in 1725 and Pete was born around 1950, that would be closer to 225 years. Still, that is quite a while. Let’s go back to my chart from my previous Blog:

This will also be a good summary:

  • Norton, who is more closely related to Peter has one Private Variant which is 5014418.
  • Pete has two variants which don’t match with Norton or Tom because the BigY tests for Norton and Tom didn’t cover those two posititions. That means that we can’t tell if those are Pete’s Private variants or part of the FT137411 Block.
  • Tom’s previously listed private variants were in common with all of Norton’s and Tom’s previously listed private variants which are now listed as SNPs in the FT137411 Block.
  • In addition to the 21 shared SNPs, there were two additional SNPs which had been identified previously in other unrelated YDNA trees. I suppose that you could call these SNPs which are doing double duties in different trees.

The other thing that Pete mentioned was that the FTDNA Manual Review had been completed. I said that I could see where that would make sense. However, not all of Pete’s questions have been answered. I can hazard a few guesses to try to answer Pete’s questions:

  • Norton’s common ancestor with Pete was born 1835, so about 115 years ago. That means that Dan’s branch and Pete’s branch should have had on average one private variant in that time. We see that Norton’s branch did buy Pete’s did not during that time.
  • BIgY 700 SNPs should be forming on average every 86 years or so, as I recall. However, that does not mean that this is a regular occurance. There could have been SNPs that happened in the past more frequently and now they are taking their time to form to average out.

Non-Matching Variants

Ready for more detail? Non-matching Variants are not necessarily the same as Private variants. Let’s first look at Norton’s results:

In this case, the numbered variant is Norton’s one Private Variant. It makes sense that if 5014418 is not matching Tom or Pete, that it has to be a Private Variant for Norton.

Norton’s Non-Matching SNPs with Pete

Then there are 10 SNPs where Norton and Pete do not match on SNPs. My guess is that these are due to test coverage or low quality reads. Might as well start with BY44298. Non-matching means that either Pete or Norton tested positive for this SNP and the other person did not test positive. Here Norton did not test positive for BY44298:

That means that Pete must have tested positive for this SNP to be non-matching.

Norton’s results above show only three high quality reads, but none show a mutation. My understanding is that FTDNA is looking for 10 good reads. Here are Pete’s results:

Now I am curious as to Tom’s results for BY44298:

Tom shows a non-matching variant with Pete at BY44298. That must mean that Tom also is not positive for this SNP:

As I expected, Tom had a poor read at this location also. Even though the tests were not good for Tom and Norton, I suspect that this SNP should have been a Private Variant for Pete. Pete told me that his brother is taking a BigY test. If Pete’s brother is positive for BY44298, then that should be a new Branch for Pete and help answer part of Pete’s question. Keep in mind that new Branches are not created without a match, so Pete’s brother will likely provide that match. If Pete’s brother tests negative for BY44298, that would mean that Pete would have that mutation all to himself.


I seemed to have some progress with BY44298. I notice that Tom and Pete also have a non-match with BY55572. Could this be part of a new emerging Whitson Branch also? Here are Pete’s results:

These results are similar to Pete’s results for BY44298. These two SNPs are also in the same region of YDNA.

Tom’s test results for BY55572:

Again, Tom had two good reads.

Norton’s results for BY55572:

At this point, I’ll declare victory and say that BY55572 could also be a future branch for Pete.

Summary and Conclusions

  • Of the three BigY U106 Whitson testers, only (Norton) shows a Private Variant presently
  • Pete may have two additional private variants but due to the fact that the BigY test for Norton and Tom did not cover those locations, we cannot tell if those are Pete’s Private Variants or two more to add to the the FT137411 Block
  • The initial results for the Whitson U106 Group had their representative FT137411 block containing 21 SNPs. The new results have these up to 23 SNPs due to two weirdo SNPs which are doing double or more duty on other branches of the YDNA tree.
  • When I check the non-matching variants for the three testers, Pete has two SNPs that he is clearly positive for. On the other hand, Norton and Tom seem negative for those two SNPs, but the testing quality was not the best.
  • It is likely that the test results for Pete’s brother will put Pete and his brother into a new Whitson Branch that will include SNPs BY44298 and BY55572
  • These two SNPs could explain the question Pete had about why there were no private variants between their most recent common ancestor which was about 116 years before Pete’s birth.
  • Between Norton and Pete there are other non-matching variants which I have not looked at.






Two New Whitson U106 BigY Results

It is always big news when BigY test results come in. The BigY is probably the most important test that can be taken for a surname project. That is because YDNA defines a specific male line going back from son to father to father and back to the beginning of all men.  The BigY is the pinnacle of the definition of the YDNA results for a male line.

I had an email from Pete who is very active in the Whitson YDNA Project. He informed me of new BigY tests in his group and asked me to take a look. I last looked at Pete’s BigY results in May of this year.

Here is the small Whitson/Butler Project which I manage:

The group includes Butlers, Whitsons and Whetstones. The Whetstones are not believed to be related, but they didn’t have their own group, so wanted to join ours. Pete is in the last group which has a yellow heading. In the case of this project, it appears that those who have a green Haplogroup result have taken the BigY test. That means that there is a good percentage of members who have taken the test. Actually, in reviewing my previous Blog, I see that the first tester and last tester in the U106 Group only took the individual SNP tests previously. That single SNP test had them at the older R-S23139. The two new BigY tests brought the first and last testers under U106 up to Pete at BY97752.

The Newest Whitson Tests

Here is Norton’s completed date:

The first person in the group’s results were even more recent at July 2, 2021.

Note in the last group, that all three testers have the same result in green. They are all (for now) R-BY97752. Because the test is so new, FTDNA has not had a chance to do a manual review. That means that there may be more branching for this group.

Looking at the STRs

Here it looks like Pete has the oldest STRs and then Norton has newer STRs and the other Whitson has the newest STRs:

My guess is based on these results. The first row is the minimum, the second row maximum value and the third row is the mode. Peter is in the 5th row. His results are the same as the mode. All things being equal, the mode should be the oldest results. However STRs are somewhat unpredictable and may be misleading. The other Whitson in row 4 has two changes from the mode. Norton has only one change from the mode.

Whitson U106 Variants

Pete asked me if I could look at the variants. Previously, when I looked at Pete’s variants, he had 21 Private Variants. The thought was that the other two testers should share some of those variants. Here is what Pete’s Block Tree looks like now:

Pete is now down to 20 Private Variants. His two matches are Whitson and Norton. Here is Pete’s Match List:

To get a clear picture, we need to look at the Match List from the perspective of the other Whitson tester and the Norton tester.

Here is the other Whitson tester:

The last column is the number of Shared Variants. The middle column is more important.  Of course the other Whitson tester to Pete is the same as the first row in the results above. In the first image above, we see that Pete has non-matching Variants BY44298 and BY55572 with the other Whitson and with Norton. That means that it could be that these are Pete’s Private Variants.

Let’s look at the Norton results next:

Here I just copied the first two rows. So far, I haven’t figured a lot out except that Pete probably has two private variants. The Block tree for each of the testers presently shows that they have 20 private variants each which is at odds with the Non-Mathcing Variants List as I understand it.

Private Variants

My next step is to look at each testers’ Private Variants. After a bit of cutting and pasting, I get these results:

We see that Norton has 22 Private Variants, Whitson has 21 and Pete has 23. We note that a lot of the Variants are the same and these will have to form a new Whitson YDNA Branch. Next, I sort the Variants:

This appears to show that, roughly, the three testers share 21 of their private variants. That means that one of the results of this testing is that it will move the Whitson about 2,100 years forward from their closest matchs who are R-BY97752. In my previous Blog, I had mentioned that the Whitsons were likely Saxons in Germany at this time in their history (before the time of Christ).

More Details on Non-Matching Variants

The next Variants that are interesting are the ones that don’t match:

Recall above, I had said that it appeared that Pete had two matching Variants. In one list they have a name. In the list above, they have a number. My assumption is that these are the same Private Variants. However, when I look up 3242552 at YBrowse, I see this:

I was thinking that Pete’s Private Variants were going to be BY44298 and BY55572. Did FTDNA change the numbers? Or is there another explanation?

Here is 6464378 at YBrowse:

These SNPs were apparently named in 2019 when Pete did his BigY test.

I can do a back search for Pete. Here is BY44298:

This shows as Position 26645003 which is not even on Pete’s Private Variant List. Here is Pete’s other apparent non-matching variant as seen at YBrowse:

This position is also not on Pete’s Private Variant List. So it is clear that FTDNA did not change the SNP names.

Norton’s Non-Matching Variant Has a Better Match with His Private Variant

In the comparison lists above, I have that Norton and Whitson had a non-matching variant at 5014418. From that, we can’t tell whether it was Norton or Whitson who had the non-matching Variant. However, from the Private Variant List, we can tell that belongs to Norton. At YBrowse, we see that position was named in 2020:

However, in the list of non-matching variants between Norton and Pete, this position does not show up. This could be due to this position not being covered by Pete’s BigY test or by inconclusive results.

Summary and Conclusions

  • I looked at the STR results which suggested that Pete could have the oldest Whitson profile followed by Norton and the other Whitson tester. Once FTDNA’s manual review is complete, it may be possible to date these three matches more closely. Right now it appears that the other Whitson tester may have no private Variants, Norton may have one and Pete may have more than one. That would seem to be consistant with the STR results.
  • The main takeaway is that the large block of 20 Private Variants now shown on the three Whtison Project BigY Block Trees will turn into a block of SNPs. One of those SNPs will be chosen as a  new SNP name to define the branch consisting of the three Whitson testers.
  • Normally for the formation of a new branch, a manual review will be performed by FTDNA. Once that manual review is performed, that will finalize any new branching based on the recent testing
  • There seems to be some discrepancies between the non-matching variants and Private Variants lists. Some or all of these may be resolved by FTDNA’s manual review. One reason for discrepancies can be when one test covers an area of YDNA and the other test does not cover that area or gives poor reads.
  • In my review, I didn’t look at all the specific testing data. That data shows if a position or variant was covered by the BigY test and what was the quality of the test of that position or variant.

The new branch will be analagous or parallel to R-BY62217:

There will be a new large blue Whitson block of SNPs on the right with about 2 average private variants shown below. It is also possible that there could be additional branching below the new branch. However, in order for that to happen, two of the three testers would have to match on a SNP and the third would have to have tested negative for that SNP.



Pete’s BigY Results from the Whitson/Butler YDNA Project

I had this email recently from Pete of the Whitson YDNA Project:

Joel, I am terminal SNP R-BY97752. Do the large number of ‘private variants’ suggest that I may potentially have a whole mess of possible SNPs between my Y-111 terminal SNP of R-S23139 and the ‘BIG Y 700’ terminal SNP of R-BY97752 that have not been seen in other test to this date? If so, isn’t that a large number of possible SNPs?

This was a reasonable question. My short answer was yes, but I said I would give some more detail. Pete sent me a screen shot of his BigY Block Tree. I’ll insert my own version here:

I had to shrink the block tree down a bit to show everyone. Pete shows no matches. He does have a name who is Milos listed to the right. FTDNA’s matching formula is strange, because Pete should be more closely related to the two testers under BY62217 which is under Pete’s BY97752.

Pete at the Whitson Project

Pete is broadly under the U106 section of the Whitson project:

Pete has close STR matches to the other STR testers in the project. However, Tom and Dan have not taken the BigY test. They did take a single SNP test for R-S23139 which is higher up on the SNP Tree. One easy to understand site for SNPs is the SNP Tracker web site. My guess is that Pete’s BY97752 is about 2,000 years old. S23139 would be even older.  Here is the overall map:

U106 is an Anglo-Saxon SNP. At this time, according to the map, Pete’s branch of Anglo-Saxons hadn’t made their way to England. Here is the SNP Tracker timeline:

For some reason, the SNP Tracker gives the same date for S23139 as it does for BY97752. This doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I guess they are saying that these four SNPs are all around the same date. The three matches under BY97752 are Pete and the two who are under BY62217 which is under BY97752.

Here is a closeup of Pete’s private Variants:

Let’s say that BY97752 is 1,600 years old. There is another SNP in there with it called FT136511. Let’s add those to Pete’s 21 Private Variants and get 23. When I divide 1,600 by 23, I get about 70 years. That means that these variants or SNPs are forming about every 70 years on average on Pete’s line.

The block tree acts as a very accurate family tree. However, this tree is very old right now. If Tom or Dan from the U106 Branch of the Whitson Project were to test for the BigY, that would bring their branch of humanity into the genealogical timeframe and start to name SNPs that are uniquely Whitson. To me, that is the goal of BigY testing. The other goal is to find one’s deep roots. In Pete’s case his roots were in Germany – perhaps fighting or joining with the Romans. In fact the other tester under BY62217 which is the parallel branch to the Whitson branch lists his background as German. So, if there was another Whitson U106 tester, the branch would end up looking similar to the BY62217 branch. Most of Pete’s Private Variants would then be subsumed into his new SNP in a blue box. One of those SNPs would be named as representative of the new group. Then Pete and the new tester would have a smaller number of their own private variants which would be averaged in the Block tree.

BigY and the Rule of Three

Bill Wood from the BigY Page on Facebook promotes the Rule of three. In my own words, that rule is to test yourself for deep roots information. That is what Pete did. Then test a relative  – say 4th cousin or 6th cousin. That will get you more information. However, look at BY62217. The common ancestor between the two of  the testers in that group is roughly 4 private variants away. So that could be roughly 280 years. Yet the date of their named SNP is still quite old as it formed probably not too long after BY97752. The third tester which is a close relative then names most or all of the remaining private variants and forces further branching and a newer terminal SNP.

Whetstone YDNA

I am the project administrator for the Whitson Project. The overview is that there are many branches of Whitsons who are unrelated to each other by YDNA – or so distantaly related in the range of 10’s of thousands of years to be considered unrelated. My wife’s Butler family is more closely related to one of these branches (or that Whitson branch is related to my wife’s Butlers). The Whetstones did not have their own surname project, so they asked if they could join the Whitson project even though they are not related.

Some Whetstone Genealogy

This is some genealogy that I received as a response to a Blog I wrote on an update on the Whitson project:

Hello. Just wanted to say that you have my4th. great Grandfathers
Y DNA. Absolem Whetstone. Kit # NI 26222. My BIOLOGICAL GRANDFATHER is Uthil Maynard Whetstone. B.1914-D. 2000 I was adopted by Grandfather and Grandmother. Next is his father William David Whetstone B.1893-D.1954.
Next his father William Wesley Whetstone B.1886-D.1934 Next is his Father Samuel Marion Whetstone B.1830-D. 1905. Next is Absolem. Next his father was Adam Whetstone Jr. B.1776-D.1815. Next his Father is Adam Gutler Whetstone Sr. B.1744-D.1782. Killed in the last battle at Eutaw Springs, SOUTH CAROLINA USA

Our Whetstone family located to land in Charleston
SOUTH CAROLINA,USA. in 1737 moved up the Edisto river to join Our Salley family that made the trip from Bern Switzerland two years earlier in 1735. Spelling is Felix Wetzsein B. 1633-D.1710 TO Change to Rev.(JOHN) D. Hans Johannes Wettstein B.1695-D.1754 next we have the start of spelling Adam Gutler Whetstone B.1744-D.1782

The short story is that the family had its roots in Switzerland as Wetzsein and moved to South Carolina. I assume that others in the Whetstone project are related to each other. At least they are in the same very general YDNA Haplogroup.

Whetstone YDNA

Currently there are 5 YDNA testers in the Whetstone YDNA Project:

R-M269 is a very general YDNA Haplogroup in the family of R1b. One Whetstone has taken the BigY test. BigY tests are better off taken in tandem. That means that if another Whetstone takes the BigY test, then that will create a Whetstone YDNA Branch on the tree of mankind. With one BigY test, the results show what other families Whetstone is related to and should give some background as to where those other families were from.

Whetstone BigY Test

The BigY is the best YDNA test available, so I’ll just start with that. The Whetstone with the ancesor Absalom Whetstone has taken the BigY and the result was R-BY56768. One way to get an idea of where this is on the YDNA tree of mankind is to look at the Whetstone BigY tester’s Block Tree. It will take two images to show this:

On the top of this Block Tree, we see how Whetstone descends from R-M269. Of the Haplogroups under M269, there are two major intersections or decision points (or subgroupings). These are P312 and U152. They can be seen at this Tip of the Iceburg Tree from the R1b All Subclades Project Overview:

I added a few arrows to show where Whetstone is. Here is an closeup of the same tree focusing in on U152:

U152 shows up in SE Germany in 2,500 BC. Next, let’s search this map to find the Whetstone path. L2 is another major branch point near the middle of the tree. BY31138 is the third Haplogroup down under L2. That is as far as the Tip of the Iceburg can take us.

Whetstone and U152

Eupedia has an L2 tree:

Unfortunately, I don’t see BY31138 on it.

Whetstone and BY31138

It is possible to build a tree from the FTDNA Haplotree. Here is the Whetstone BigY tester’s Haplotree:

The good news is that there is only one branch under BY31138. I need to go down further to get the whole tree:

Here is a start in Excel:

Whetstone is under L135. Here are two more levels:

Whetstone is still on the left. Here is where we are on the Whetstone BigY Block Tree:

That means that there are only three more levels to get to BY56768. Here is what I get:

The Rest of the Whetstone Block Tree:

The Whetstone tester is on the left. This shows no matches but two countries. There are actually matches, but FTDNA doesn’t show them due to the distance of the matches. One country must be for our tester as he had the United States as the country of origin of his most distant ancestor. Whetstone matches another family, but that match is up at BY56768 which is about 30 SNPs away. If we assume that a SNP forms every 100 years, then this could be about 3,000 years ago or 1,000 BC.

More BigY Testing Needed

If another Whetstone tested, then another branch would form in much more recent time – at the time of the common ancestor of the two Whetstones.

Whitson in the U152 and Subclades Project

I know that the Whetstone BigY tester is in the U152 Project. Are there others?

Here there are four Whetstone/Wetzstein/Wettstein surnames. The first tester with the oldest Wetzstein ancestor is not in the Whitson Project. Then there are two Whetstones in the Whitson Project that are not listed in the U152 Project. However, the first tester in the U152 Group only had 12 STRs tested.

Here are some others under BY31138:

The first group is generally under BY3508 but need further testing. The second group is BY111101. I left this out of my tree:

The common ancestor between Whetstone and B111101 is BY3508 which would be at least 2,000 BC, so we won’t worry about these people. It would be better to look at the closest matches to the Whetstones. They would be under FT292871:

Above, the closest match at the U152 Project is Schaal. I don’t know where this person was from  in the 1500’s- probably Germany or Switzerland. This match is in the right general area, but the common ancestor is still pretty ancient – perhaps around 1,000 BC. The bottom line is that there needs to be another Whetstone BigY tester.

Summary and Conclusions

  • I looked at some of the YDNA results for the Whetstone surname
  • The most important result is from the Whetstone who took the BigY
  • This BigY tester defines the Whetstone Hapalogroup and by implication the rest of the Whetstone family as R-BY56768 for now
  • This BigY defined where the Whetstone family is in general terms on the YDNA Haplotree
  • Right now the closest match to the Whetstone BigY tester is likely not a Whetstone and their common ancestor could be about 1,500 years ago.
  • To get a Whetstone YDNA haplogroup in the genealogical timeframe, it will be necessary to get an additional BigY test.
  • A good place to look for candidates for further BigY testing would be among the Whetstones who have already taken a YDNA STR test



Rick’s Whitson/Butler Big Y YDNA Results

The co-administrator for the Whitson/Butler YDNA Project, Peter notified me recently that Rick had a new SNP designation. This was a hint that Rick’s Big Y results were almost done. Soon after, I saw that Rick’s Big Y results were completed.

What Does the BigY Do?

According to FTDNA, which does the test:

The Big Y-500 is a Y-chromosome direct paternal lineage test. We have designed it to explore deep ancestral links on our common paternal tree. This test examines thousands of known branch markers as well as millions of places where there may be new branch markers. 

On average, YDNA changes about once every 144 years. That means that someone between me and my third great-grandfather probably had a new marker or SNP.

Named and Numbered SNPs

When the SNPs are tested, the results are shown in one of two ways. They are either named SNPs or numbered SNPs. The named SNPs are, for the most part, ones that are common to other people. In the Whitson/Butler YDNA Project, there are six tested men within the Haplogroup of I2.

Each of these six men have a SNP which is M438 or the equivalent P21 or S31. The letter before the number stands for the testing company that discovered the SNP.  The SNP named M438 designates that these men are I2 and not I1 or R1a or R1b. Further, these six men also have the SNP named M436. This used to be called I2a2, but now the branches are named for the SNP test name rather than the branch of I2.

M436 in the above three has its own tree. All the men in the Whitson/Butler Project that are I2 are also M426 and M223:

Here are the I2 men from the Whitson/Butler Project:

Rick’s results are at the top in green. William Whitson is Rick’s ancestor. A green SNP in the last column means that there was a test for the SNP. The red SNP results means that these three men did not have their SNPs tested, but from the STR results, FTDNA is quite sure they are in that branch and would be positive for M223 if they tested for it. In the list above, the first person Rick and the last person, Richard, have their BigY results. Peter has ordered the BigY test, but his results are not yet in. He has previously tested for A427. A427 is to the bottom right of the above tree on the next to the last line.

Why is A427 Germanic and North Slavic?

According to the YFull YTree (see below), A427 formed about 5,000 years ago. That means in the last 5,000 years, A427 descendants had plenty of time to move around. War and famine would be two reasons I coiuld think of to relocate. Climate change must factor in also. That gave time for id FY12481 from the YFull Tree to make his way to Russia and the Whitsons and Butlers time to make their way to Ireland and England.

Here is a portion of a map that Pete sent me today. Pete is in a non-I2 part of the Whitson/Butler DNA Project:

Around 117 A.D., according to the creators of the map, I2a2 centered around a place called Lombardy. It also included the Teutons. However, my understanding is that it could have included the Goths and the Baltic Tribes. So, that general area of the map.

Whitson/Butler and the A427 Branch

Probably all the Whitsons and Butlers that are I2 are also A427. Note above in the Eupdedia I2a2 Tree, that there is a SNP below A427 called Y4884. However that is not the Whitson/Butler Branch. Here is what YFull shows:

The YFull tree shows that quite a few people tested positive for Y4884. However, Richard and Rick are in S17511. This is probably a newer discovered branch since the 2016 Eupedia Tree above. YFull is a bit ahead of FTDNA at this point as it also has Richard in Y136556 which is one step below S17511. Richard is designated with an Irish Flag. There is someone with a Russian heritage that is also positive for Y136556. For that reason, I don’t think that Richard and the Russian will be grouped together for long. I think that Richard and Rick and then Richard, Rick and Peter will form at least one new haplogroup.

Here is a tree I made for a previous Blog. It showed where I expected the new Butler/Whitson Branch to be. We now know that parallel branch is S17511. However, the actual Whitson/Butler branch will be a few levels below that.

The good news is that without doing anything, my father-in-law’s SNP went down the ladder two more steps. This was just based on people who we didn’t know who had Big Y tests. Now we have people testing for Big Y like Rick,  who we expect are related. I would think that the results would be more relevant and bring us into the genealogical time frame.

Naming Problems: Y136556/BY37214

I did not find Y136556 on Rick’s list of SNPs from his BigY test. However, he is positive for BY37214 which is the same SNP with a different name:

Fortunately, the YTree by YFull lists both names:

I think that the BY prefix is the BigY designation, so that may be what will show up eventually at FTDNA.

Numbered SNPs

Numbered SNPs are those that are not yet named SNPs. This is most likely because they are not yet shared with anyone else. Or else, they are shared and no one has gotten around to naming them yet. For example, as I mentioned above, Richard is positive for Y136556. It is possible to go to a website called YBrowse and look this SNP up by name or location:

At the top, I find out that Y136556 is also at position 14,628,410 on the Y Chromosome. Before this SNP was named, it would have been reported by the position number. I also note that this SNP has two other names: Y41633 and BY37214. I’m not sure why there are two Y names.

Acording to YBrowse, Y136556 is not on the YFull Tree. However, I know that it is on the YFull Tree, so they are perhaps having trouble keeping up with all the new SNPs.

A Third Category – Novel Variants

There is actually a third category of SNPs. These are called Novel Variants. I put in a question to the I-M223 Y Haplogroup at FTDNA about Richard’s Y136556 SNP and got the following answer:

The blurred out name is Rick. I was asking why Richard didn’t show as Y136556. The answer is that FTDNA is getting to it. And as I guessed, there will be at least one new branch based on Rick’s results.

One of the ‘Novel SNPs’ that Richard and Rick share is Y128591. I looked up Y128591 at YBrowse and it is at position 2786469. Under Rick’s FTDNA BigY list of downloaded Novel Variants, Rick has 2786469 which FTDNA does not yet show as a named SNP.

With all the testing going on, these haplotrees and SNPs are in a constant state of change.

Rick Matches Richard at FTDNA

FTDNA has specific requirements for who can and cannot match under the Big Y results. Assuming the guy with Russian heritage tested at FTDNA, he did not meet the FTDNA requirements as he does not show as a match to Rick or Richard:

A person is considered a match if they have 30 or fewer differences in SNPs with you, and their haplogroup is downstream from your haplogroup or downstream from your four closest parent haplogroups.

Here is how Rick shows up on my late father in law’s results:

Note that Rick and Richard have 324,704 Shared Variants. Rick and Richard also share Unnamed Variants:


I copied Rick’s and Richard’s Novel Variants and then lined them up to see where they matched and did not match. The matches are in yellow. The Novel Variants that did not match are in green. Perhaps these yellow SNPs are the ones that bring us from 4200 years ago to a more reasonable time frame.

I looked up every SNP location at YBrowse to see if there was a name for the SNP yet. There are no names for Rick’s unique SNPs as he has not uploaded to YFull yet. That is, with one exception. All these new SNP names appear to have been created by YFull. Rick has one SNP that does not match Richard’s which is Y40359. This appears to be an older SNP. Perhaps Richard did not have a good read for that SNP.

One final note is that the above are all from FTDNA’s Unnamed Variants list. That means that FTDNA has not named them. However, in many cases, YFull has named these variants.

Non-Matching Variants

FTDNA has this to say about non-matching variants:

This column displays the known variants (SNPs) within your subclade that you and the specified match do not share.

That means that the Non-Matching Variants could be on Rick’s or Richard’s side. Here are the non-matching variants that Rick has:

  1. A8346
  2. BY31782
  3. 12200779
  4. 15405895
  5. 18999479
  6. 19550845
  7. 19714191

Here are the non-matching variants that Richard has:

  1. 15649019
  2. 20968182

From the above, I see this configuration:

The SNPs that Rick and Richard have in the two bottom boxes are called Private SNPs. That means that they are not at this time shared with anyone else. FTDNA or YFull would not show a tree this way as they only show branching where there is a match in the SNP. When Peter’s BigY results are in, he may form a branch with Rick or Richard. Say that Peter tests positive for all the SNPs in the box above Rick and Richard. Then he also shares some of Rick’s private SNPs. That would put Rick and Peter in a new branch where Rick is now and Richard would go to the box above where I have him now as he would only share those SNPs. One of the SNPs in the box above Rick and Richard would be chosen to describe that branch. My guess is that Peter will be positive for all the SNPs in the box above Rick and Richard, but if he isn’t, then that will also form a new branch under the box that says Russia.

It is interesting that Richard only has two private SNPs. To me, this would indicate that his time to a shared ancestor should be within the genealogical time frame. Going from 5,000 years ago to the genealogical time frame is a big jump. That is part of the allure of the BigY test.

I am fortunate to have two other BigY testers from the Whitson/Butler YDNA Project. Without their results, I would only know that Richard is distantly related to someone with Russian heritage.

A Guess On Future SNP Branching

I checked my old notes on STR trees. STR trees are not as accurate as SNP trees. Here is one I drew a while back:

Assuming that I drew this right,  it appears that 6 Butler (my father in law Richard) would be in the first new SNP group. Below that Rick (1 Batt) and Peter (4 Butler) would be in a SNP group with the common ancestor of BA2 as shown above.

Summary and Conclusions

  • The results are just in and are interesting. However, some waiting is still required while the dust settles
  • FTDNA is working on finalizing a shared haplogroup between Rick and Richard
  • YFull will also come to its own conclusion and come up with some dating estimates once they get the BAM files from the Big Y results.
  • Once the branching has settled out, I expect that there will be some answers and some more new questions.


Updates to Whitson, Whetstone and Butler YDNA: A Proposed Whitson/Butler Tree

There have been some good news since my last Blog on Whitson and Butler YDNA. I wrote that almost 2 months ago. The biggest news is that there are new people in the group.


There is now one new category – R1b>R-M239 Whetstone (in yellow). There are 2 new people there. There is a new person in the I1>M253 Whitson/Whetstone Group (McIntyre). There is a new Whitson under I2>M223 who has taken the 111 STR test which is one of the best available. He shows up under the green section as having an ancestor Jacob Whitson. I believe that he had tested before when Ancestry had YDNA testing, but unfortunately, it is not easy to compare the two tests. His results are of special interest to me as he is in the group with my Butler father in law. There are now 3 Whitsons and 3 Butlers in this I2 Subgroup.

In this Blog, I will be analyzing and drawing trees for the green I2 Whitson/Butler Subgroup as they have the most in the group. With too few people in a group, it is difficult to draw trees.

YDNA – What Does It All Mean?

As many know, YDNA shines a laser bean down the male line to the far past. YDNA can quickly show who is not related. For example, in the chart above, the people in the different colored subgroups cannot be related. The connection between these groups could be in the 1,000’s or 10’s of thousands of years. To find who is related by YDNA is more difficult. The probability of relationships are predicted. This is because distance is measured in STRs and STRs can mutate whenever they want, even though on average that all mutate at a certain rate. Then some STRs may mutate faster than others – or much more slowly.

The TIP Report

FTDNA’s TIP Report is a good tool, because it estimates how closely 2 people may be related in generations based on probabilities. It takes into account the number of STRs tested and rate at which the STRs mutate.

batt and butler TIP


First, we will look at #1 and #4 on our list. They both tested at 111 STRs. The Report shows the likelihood that those 2 would share a common ancestor in the previous generations:


I usually feel that 90% is pretty likely. Let’s say a generation is 34 years. That would be 408 years ago or 1608 from now or even further back if we start from when someone was alive today and born in the 1950’s. Then it could be as close as 4-8 generations. Hopefully, we would know if the match was 4 generations ago, but the point is that the number of generations to a common ancestor could vary quite a bit.

I did a comparison for everyone in the Green Group above:


I found the results quite interesting:

  • Mr Batt appears to be the same distance from each person in this group – irrespective of whether the match is a Butler or Whitson descendant
  • #4 Butler varies the most between 8 and 18 generations
  • #3 Butler was on average related most closely to the group
  • It appears that a sort of tree could be drawn from these results
  • It appears that this group of Whitsons and Butlers have been related to each other for quite a while. The number 12 comes up a lot for generations to a common ancestor. My guess that these two families have been related to each other for between 8 and 12 generations

These are my interpretations from just the TIP Report so far. I am open to other theories.

A tree from tip reports

I have never seen a tree drawn from these TIP Reports, but it would be interesting to try. Here is my first try:


This shows the furthest and closest relationships based on the TIP Report. #4 is 17 generations away from #2 and #4 is 8 generations away from #3. Now I just need to add one more Butler and 2 more Whitsons. But How? Here is a simple solution:


Here this assumes that all the GDs above 8 are pretty much equal and that everyone matches above at the common Whitson/Butler Ancestor. Here is another option:


This looks nicer, but I can’t say that it is more accurate given the TIP Reports. Here is a 3rd try:


This doesn’t seem to do the TIP Report justice either. I’ll go on to the more traditional trees made using STRs.

STR Analysis

I’ll now try to create a tree using a method developed by Robert Baber in 2014. Here is an example of one of his trees:


In my previous Blog, I looked at signature STRs. Those are the similar STRs that define a group. However, to created a tree, I will be looking at the STRs that are different.

I2 Whitson/Butler STRs

Here is a chart of the defining differences in the I2 Whitson/Butler Group:



The first mode above is an I-A427 mode from the FTDNA I-M223 Y Haplogroup Project. So this mode should be a more generic version of the Whitson/Butler Group. The assumption is that the mode for this larger group goes back further in time than the Whitson/Butler Group. The reason that this is important is that it should tell us which way the STRs are moving.

  • In the first column with numbers above, the A427 mode is 29, the W/B Mode is 31 and 6 Butler (Michael) is 32. That means the STRs are mutating up.
  • Look at DYS576. That is a red STR. That means it is a fast mover. A427 mode is 18, W/B mode is 16 and Batt is 15. That means that the trend of STR mutation is going down over time.
  • CDY is a fast mover and difficult to interpret. Some people might ignore the CDY results for this reason.
  • Finally look at the last 2 columns above. The A427 (older) modes are 14 and 12. The Whitson/Butler modes are 16 and 14. That would indicate that the trend in STR values is upward. However at that level of STR testing (111), the 2 Whitsons are at the higher level and the Butler is at the lower STR level. If we were just looking at the 3 Whitson and Butler STR results here in isolation, we would think that the Whitson higher level STRs were older and that Butler is changing away from them. However, by using the broader I-A427 vantage, we can see that it is likely that is Whitson changing away from Butler. This could have implications as we try to determine who came first – the Butlers or the Whitsons in this I2 subgroup.
  • It is possible that if all those in the I2 group had tested for 111 STRs, that the above point would be clearer.

Just based on the last 2 STRs of the 67-111 STR results, I would draw a tree like this:


Unfortunately, I am having a lot of trouble understanding the Baber Paper and I am pulling the plug on that method for now. However, there are interesting concepts in it that are helpful.

From Baber to Robb

John Bartlett Robb put out a paper in 2012 called:

Fluxus Network Diagrams vs Hand-Constructed Mutation History Trees

In that paper Robb gives a procedure for drawing trees.

In his paper, Robb uses only the STRs in common, so in our case, that would be the 37 STRs. He also creates a Root Prototype Haplotye (RPH). In our case that RPH would just be the Whitson/Butler Mode. Then he notes deviations from that RPH in lime green:


Here are the Mutation Rates for the applicable STRs extracted from the Robb Paper:


The faster mutations are on the bottom and slower ones on the top. I added in the people on the right that had the mutations. On 37 markers, everyone had one mutation except for Butler (James) who had 3.

Proposed Whitson/Butler Tree

Here is the tree I came up with based on 37 STRs:


From there, I recall a rule by Baber which says, in my terms, “you should only have 2 lines going into each box”. Here is a tree that meets that rule:


So reading down from the top, we have the common ancestor which I have as Butler Ancestor 3. That ancestor has a certain signature based on STRs. Then I have my father in law branching off with a 389ii that goes from 31 to 32. I took my father in law as the first mutation as he had the second slowest mutation after #4 Butler. I couldn’t choose #4’s slowest mutation at that point as that mutation apparently happened after the common mutation (of 570 22 to 23) he had with #3 Butler. Branching down from Butler Ancestor 2 is Whitson Ancestor 2. From him I have #2 Whitson (Jacob) branching off as he has a slow moving STR also. Then from Whitson Ancestor 1, I have #5 Whitson (Isaac) and #1 Batt (Wm Whitson).

Also from Butler Ancestor 2 I have the common mutation of STR 570 which went from 22 to 23 in a presumed common ancestor of #3 Butler (Laurence) and #4 Butler (James). After this common mutation, the #4 Butler line had two additional mutations – one on the very slow mutating STR and one on the very fast mutating one.

The technique takes a little logic, a little guesswork and some knowledge of how the STRs mutate. If I had plugged #6 Butler into Butler Ancestor 2 and Whitson Ancestor 2 into Butler Ancestor 3, it wouldn’t have made much difference. I did it the way I did based on the speed of the STR’s mutation rate – all other things being equal. The overall idea is to get from the common ancestor signature STR to the individual members’ STRs.

I think the above tree is a likely scenario considering:

  • I see the Whitson STRs changing off the Butler STRs in my charts above.
  • The Butler STRs are slightly slower changing STRs which could indicate an older line.

Some other points:

  • It is likely that the Whitsons and Butlers are grouped together by surname as I have them.
  • The Butlers all descend from Ireland. If the chart is correct, then the Whitsons in Subgroup I2 could also descend from Ireland. A more complicated speculation would have both lines in England. Then the Butler line could have gone to Ireland and the Whitson Line to the U.S.

Whitson and Butler YDNA and Signature STRs

Two Types of YDNA: SNPs and STRs

As many know, YDNA is the DNA of the male line.

SNPs can be seen as the trunk and branches of the tree and the STRs can be seen as the twigs and leaves. Before we analyze the twigs and leaves, it is good to know if we are in the right tree. However, even when looking at the leaves, it is sometimes possible to guess the type of tree.


For example, in the Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) Whitson project, there are officially nine people listed. There are more that have tested, but not with FTDNA. In the list below, there are three broad groups represented by the colors orange, teal, and yellow. These are the SNP groups, or the tree types. These three groups are I1, I2 and R1b.  These SNPs break down into finer and finer distinctions. However, there is no connection between I and R in the range of 10,000’s of years. There are also a huge amount of years between the I1 and I2 SNP Haplogroups.

Whitson FTDNA Project Results
Whitson FTDNA Project Results

Once people are grouped in the SNPs, then it is possible to compare the STRs. These are the numbers to the right. These are what I was referring to as the twigs and leaves. However, these are only compared within the other major groupings of SNPs.

Why Are There Three SNP Types for the Whitsons?

There are various reasons:

  1. When surnames were being developed, this name could have developed independently at different locations.
  2. An adoption could have taken place at some point. This is under the category of Non-Paternal Event (or NPE) as are #3 and #4 below.
  3. An unwed mother could have had a child that had her name. However, as the father has the YDNA, his YDNA would be carried on to the male child in the line.
  4. A relationship outside a marriage would tend to break the YDNA line also.

The SNP Types or Haplogroups

SNP groupings are called Haplogroups. Here are some of the Whitson Haplogroups:


The first Haplogroup above are the I1>M253 Whitsons. There are 2 Whitsons in that Haplogroup. FTDNA has a group just for I1’s. There are currently about 6000 people in this group. Not much analysis can be done with these 2 right now as they match by STRs exactly. If these 2 Whitson join the FTDNA I1 Project, it may be possible to find a signature STR for these 2 (see below).

I1 people have sometimes been associated with the Vikings. This group of people did seem to take a Northern route in their distant ancestry, so that is where the association comes from. However, there may be finer distinctions once we learn more about this I1 Whitson Group.


FTDNA has an I-M223 YDNA Project. The Whitsons and Butlers in our project are in a section of that projects called: M223>…>L701>P78>S25733>A427 (Cont3a1 Group 2)

One of the Butlers in the group has tested positive for the SNP called A427. The other 4 were put in that group due to their similar STRs. This is like saying what tree you are by your leaves. A427 is quite a way down on the SNP tree. Using my tree analogy, this would be a very specific type of tree.  Below are all the people in the A427 SNP Group. I only included up to the 36th STR (small numbers) as the image was all ready small enough. There were actually more STRs tested to the right of this image.

Whtson Butler STRs

Now the A427 SNP is like the specific tree and the STRs which are the numbers listed are like the different branches, twigs and leaves. I would like to point out here a specific fingerprint for our Whitsons and Butlers. Here are our 5 Whitson/Butlers outlined in red:

Whtson Butler STRs Highlight

The first 3 rows of numbers are the minimum, maximum and mode of this A427 Group for each STR. The purple colors are the STRs that are less than the mode and the pink colors are the values that are more than the mode. Our 5 Whitson/Butlers will have a unique STR signature among all those who are in this A427 Group. Here is the same shot, with just the most important numbers outlined in yellow:

STR Heards

Whtson Butler STRs Signature

And the I2 Whitson/Butler signature is:

DYS389II=31 or higher, DYS454=12, DYS448=21 or higher, DYS449=26

Note that for all those in the A427 Group, only our group of Whitson/Butlers has this signature. This signature is just in the 1st 21 markers (or STRs). In this Whitson/Butler Group, 2 have tested 37 STRs, 1 has tested 67 and 2 have tested 111 STRs. Now above the 37 STRs, there are likely more Whitson/Butler signature STRs for those that have tested to that level. The marker (STR) names are listed above. The markers that have a reddish background are those that are faster moving markers. They change more often than the blue background markers.

This Group of YDNA have sometimes been associated with the ancient Goths. So far we have Vikings and Goths with our Whitson or Whitson/Butler Groups.

R1b-R-U106 group

This Group has been associated with the Anglo-Saxons. Although this group is sometimes associated with the modern English, they likely began in an area of current Germany or Belgium and invaded “England” some time after the Romans left the Island.

Right now there are only 2 Whitsons that have tested with FTDNA in this group. There is an additional Whitson who has done the old Ancestry test that is no longer available. The Ancestry test doesn’t match perfectly, but for the STRs that were tested, all the STRs match.

Both these R-U106’s have joined FTDNA’s R-U106 Project. The first person descends from Henry Whitson who lived on Long Island in the 1600’s. He has tested for 67 STRs and has this designation from the U106 Project:

Z381>Z156>Z306>Z304> DF98 ??? Need to order Big Y or R1b-Z156 SNP Pack

These are the SNPs that the U106 Project specialist thinks this person would test positive for if he had tested SNPs. Perhaps the specialist was not so sure about DF98. That is followed by what the U106 specialist recommends for those that are in the group. The Big Y is quite an expensive test but very definitive and actually finds new SNPs. The SNP Pack tests for several SNPs, in this case below Z156. [However, see my own recommendation below.]

The second person in this group matches all STRs at 67 STRs with the previous person. However, he has tested 111 STRs and has tested his SNP to be R-S23139. He is in a different section of the U106 Project:

Z381>Z156>Z306>Z304> DF98>S18823>S22069>S11739>S23139

Note that the U106 Project specialist doesn’t have any more recommendations for this person, because he has done all the testing down to R-S23139. My guess is that if the first person were to test for R-S23139, he would be positive for that SNP also. That would get these 2 Whitsons together for the U106 Project. That would also cost less many than taking the SNP Pack.

Here is a snapshot of the R-S23139 Group:

U106 Peter

Here our lone Whitson is with some others that appear to be from Germany. In looking for a unique STR for our 2 U106’s, first I see a value of 12 in the last column above for DYS531. If I counted this right, it is the 38th marker, so this signature Whitson U106 STR would not have shown up on a 37 STR test. In our previous Whitson/Butler Group there were many signature STRs in the first 37 markers.

Let’s look for some more signature Whitson STRs in the R-S23139 Group:

U106 67 STRs Header

U106 67 STRs

I am starting where I left off at the signature 12 in the first column. Then I see a unique 16, 12 and 11. This means our R-S23139 signature (assuming our 1st Whitson is positive for R-S23139) is:

DYS531=12, DYS594=16, DYS568=12, DYS487=11

After that, there is a 36 and 28 that are unique, but they are in the 111 STR group. The 111 STR group is also indicated in the header where the STR names have a lighter blue background. There are many other STRs after that that are likely unique in the 111 STR test also.

Any Other Whitsons?

Yes. The Whitson Family Group contacted another person and found out that he was R1b, but a different brand of R1b. This R1b was associated with the people who were in the British Isles before the time when the Romans, Vikings, Danes, and Anglo-Saxon entered the area.

Summary and Recommendations

  • So far, for a small group of Whitsons and a few Butlers, there are many types of DNA groups. These represent people that are distantly related to each other genetically.
  • There are some Whitsons that had taken the old Ancestry test. They could benefit by also taking the FTNDA test. I know of one Whitson who has already gone that route and is awaiting results.
  • Some Whitsons may benefit by taking an additional SNP test, to make sure they are in the right tree -so to speak.
  • Those Whitsons in the I1 YDNA group could benefit by joining the FTDNA I1 Project.
  • With the close matches in the I1 Group and the R-U106 Group, it seems like it should be possible to find some common ancestors.