The Shankland DNA Project

by John N Shankland, USA

Surname DNA Project -- FREE to Qualified Testers


John Shankland introduces the Shankland DNA Project, an attempt to extend our knowledge of the Shankland family or families by the use of DNA testing, and offers FREE DNA tests to qualified participants.


DNA testing for genealogical purposes is the greatest advancement in genealogy research since the internet. Advances in technology, combined with a huge interest around the world, has reduced the cost of DNA testing for individuals to an acceptable level.

Fathers pass to their sons, via the Y-chromosome, DNA markers which remain virtually unchanged generation after generation. These markers can be compared with the markers for other individuals to establish relationships that may have been impossible to find by documentation alone. Among people sharing the same surname, close matches of 23 markers or more out of 25 indicate relatedness.

The Test

The test is a simple procedure. DNA kit A kit is sent to each participant via our testing lab Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). This kit (see right) consists of two small vials and swabs. The swabs are similar to small tooth brushes and are rubbed on the inside of the cheek, to collect a sample. Then the head is placed into the vial and the kit is sent back along with the consent form. That is all there is to it, except for the six-week wait for the results.

The vials are then delivered using the kit serial number double-blind to the testing facility at the University of Arizona. At this stage, FTDNA no longer has control of the sample, and UoA doesn't know the individuals it belongs to. The contents of the vial are placed in a medium and allowed to grow sufficiently for the DNA patterns to be measured by technicians (two separate reads per sample).

The Science

DNA is the carrier of our genetic information, and is passed down from generation to generation. All of the cells in our bodies, except red blood cells, contain a copy of our DNA.

At conception, a person receives DNA from both the father and mother. We each have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Of each pair, one was received from the father and one was received from the mother. These 23 pairs of chromosomes are known as nuclear DNA because they reside in the nucleus of every cell (except red blood cells).

The 23rd chromosome is known as the sex chromosome. As with the other chromosomes, one is inherited from the father, and one from the mother. The 23rd chromosome from the mother is always an X. From the father, a person inherits either an X chromosome or a Y chromosome. The chromosome inherited from the father determines their gender. An X from the father would result in an XX combination, which is a female, and a Y from the father would result in an XY combination, which is a male.

The combination of the mother's and father's cells determine who you are as an individual with genetic traits from both parents. Because the Y chromosome is unique and not paired, it carries a duplicate match to your father and to his father etc.

The tested DNA from the Y-chromosome is considered "junk" DNA and cannot be used to determine, for example, the color of your eyes or whether you are predisposed to cancer.

The Results

When a participant sends off his kit for DNA testing, the results will come back in two batches. In four to six weeks we will receive back a chart showing the value of the first 12 markers measured and a preliminary indication of which (if any) Shankland these match with. The second results of the final 13 markers come back about two weeks later. The numbers and patterns are not significant in themselves; what is important is the matches with other testers in the project. Markers do mutate over time (approximately one every 500 generations) and these mismatches are sometimes useful in determining individual branches of a family tree. This are also the reason why they are different family to family.

DNA in Genealogy

We feel we are nearing the end of useful information regarding the relationships between Shankland families as far as documentary records are concerned. In order to advance, one of two things needs to happen: a new source of "hidden" information from a private source, and/or a connection via DNA linking several families together.

Our first two results showed a connection between two families that had never been thought to be related. This prompted further research into how this relationship could have originated, which has advanced our probable knowledge back to around 1550, to a family which originated from Scotland but moved to Ireland. A further match with another individual's results showed that part of this family must have either stayed in Scotland or moved back there. Other tests have shown that there are multiple Shankland families not related to each other; Shankland, a place name, could have occurred in more than one place or multiple times in the same place, and apparently did. For further information, see my article The Shanklands in America, on this website, and also Simon Grundy's more detailed treatment of The Shanklands Come To America.

By contributing a sample of your DNA to this project you will help us to form a more accurate picture. It will be a gift to future researchers, who may discover some new "hidden" information and be able to put together a better scenario. They will bless you for your foresight!

Qualifications

In order to receive a free DNA test from this project, the following requirements must be met. (Needless to say, anyone may order a test at their own expense.)

There will be three of us working with your results: Anne Shankland, Simon Grundy, and myself. Our only purpose is to try and connect the history with the technology.

The DNA result table

The following table sets out the DNA results received so far. The 25 markers tested are shown along the top of the table, identified by their DYS (DNA / Y-chromosome / Single-copy sequence) number.

DNA
subject
Haplo-
group
25-marker DNA results
(red markers are susceptible to fast mutations)
3
9
3
3
9
0
1
9
3
9
1
3
8
5
a
3
8
5
b
4
2
6
3
8
8
4
3
9
3
8
9
i
3
9
2
3
8
9
i
i
4
5
8
4
5
9
a
4
5
9
b
4
5
5
4
5
4
4
4
7
4
3
7
4
4
8
4
4
9
4
6
4
a
4
6
4
b
4
6
4
c
4
6
4
d
NY (1)
(Ron L)
R1b1 13231411 11141212 11131328 17 71011 11251519 3115161718
NY
(Ron B)
R1b1 13231411 11141212 12131328 17 71011 11251519 3115161718
MD/DE
(Richard)
R1b1 13231411 11141212 12131328 17 71011 11251519 3115161718
MD/DE (2)
(John)
R1b1 13231410 11141212 12131328 17 71011 11251519 3115161718

SCOTLAND A R1b1 13231411 11141212 11131328 17 71011 11251519 3115151618
SCOTLAND B R1b1 12241410 11141212 11131329 17 91011 11251519 3015151717
SCOTLAND C R1b1 13241410 12141212 11141330 17 91011 1125151930 14151617
WALES R1b1 13231410 11151212 12131329 17101011 11251419 2915151616

NG: SHANKS R1b1 13241410 11141212 12131329                 
NG: SHANKLIN R1a 13251610 11141210 10141131                 

The first two testers were Ron L Shankland (from the New York (NY) line) and John N Shankland (from the Maryland/Delaware (MD/DE) line). They had a 23/25 match, which showed the unexpected result that their two family lines are related.

Subsequently, two additional testers from these two lines joined the project: Ron's fifth cousin Ron B Shankland, and John's fifth cousin Richard G Shankland. The DNA results from these two not only confirmed the previous finding of a family link, but turned out to be identical!

We are therefore using Richard's and Ron B's DNA results (haplotype) as the "model" for this line. Yellow highlights in the table indicate differences from the "model".

Subsequent lines in the chart indicate results from three individuals who trace their lines back to Scotland, and one from Wales. One of the Scottish DNA subjects (SCOTLAND A) is clearly related to the American Shanklands; the others all appear distinct.

The last two testers came from the National Geographic DNA Project. Even with 12 markers only, there is clearly no match.

These DNA results show the "magic" of genealogy based DNA. The table proves that, although we don't have a documentary trail back to him, we have a common ancestor - progenitor "X" - who biologically and genetically has to exist. We hypothesize that he was Scottish with descendants in Scotland, Ireland, and America, that he must have been born close to 13 generations ago. Two of his descendants, approximately 11 generations apart, have exactly the same DNA he has. Others in this branch show a typical and expected 1 to 3 marker exception.

We all carry a family tree in our cells!

DNA family tree

John N Shankland, June 2006


For the current state of the DNA project and the DNA results, see DNA Tables.