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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2007 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2007-25: June 22, 2007


A Different Loyalist Heirloom: Mitochondrial DNA

If you can trace your ancestry back through your maternal grandmothers to the generation of the loyalists, you have a unique family heirloom that has gone unchanged for over 200 years. You have within every cell of your body the mitochondrial DNA of your female loyalist ancestor -- it has not been altered since the days of the War of Independence. On the other hand, if you can only trace your loyalist ancestors through your paternal grandfathers, then you do not (and cannot) have this ancient microscopic heirloom. Here is a closer look at this fascinating intersection of genealogy and genetics.

Widely known basic biological fact: every new generation of children has a mixture of DNA passed down to them from the genes of their forebearers--genes that are found in the nucleus of the parents' cells.

Little known basic biological fact: the DNA found in the mitochondria of the cell cytoplasm of the mother's cells does not change from generation to generation. It is not reshuffled and combined with any genetic material from the father. A mother passes the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) on to all of her children, but only her daughters subsequently pass it on to their children; the sons do not.

I learned about "mtDNA" while reading Robert K. Massie's The Romanovs: The Final Chapter. Massie described how scientists determined that the bodies recovered in shallow graves in Siberia were, indeed, the Romanov family. (Prince Philip, the duke of Edinburgh, had a blood sample taken. This eventually identified the bodies as being the Romanovs because his "mtDNA" matched that found in the cells of the empress and her children. The Russian empress and the British consort both had a common female ancestor whose "mtDNA" was passed on to all of her descendants through her daughters.)

To find out whose "mtDNA" you have, simply work back through your family tree charts through your maternal lines. In my case, my fifth-great grandmother on my mother's side was a loyalist woman born in Connecticut in 1754. Through seven generations Sarah Keeler's mtDNA has passed from mother to daughter unchanged. Although I have 13 different couples who are known loyalist ancestors, I have the "mtDNA" from one and only one loyalist ancestor. A cell from my body would have the same "mtDNA" in its cytoplasm as a cell from Sarah Keeler's. However, I have not passed that "mtDNA" on to my daughters. They have their mother's "mtDNA". My sister's daughter continues to carry our microscopic heirloom into the 21st century.

But you don't have to stop with the loyalist generation. From whom did that loyalist "mtDNA" heirloom come? In my case, I've been able to trace my maternal line of ancestry to a woman born in Essex County, England sometime around 1578. Ellen Coke was the fourth-great grandmother of Sarah Keeler of Connecticut and is my eleventh-great grandmother. I carry "mtDNA" in my cells that has been passed on unaltered for almost four hundred years (and naturally it was passed on to Ellen by hundreds of ancestors before the 16th century).

Is this microscopic loyalist heirloom really all that important? Probably not. But it does give a genealogist something further to explore as he or she pores over the family tree on a rainy day. And isn't it amusing to say --in all honesty-- that we have "within the family" something that has been handed down unaltered since the Revolution? Something that our refugee grandmothers took with them as they headed north to a new land? It is just another fascinating "loyalist trail" for us to explore.

...Stephen Davidson

Ontario and Saskatchewan Loyalist Day 2007

Congratulations to the Branches who held a ceremony to mark Loyalist Day. There may be others, but I am aware that Bay of Quinte, Governor Simcoe and Toronto, Hamilton, Kawartha and Regina had events planned. I drove to Peterborough to attend the Kawartha Branch's City Hall ceremony.

If you were in Ontario that day, the it was very hot and humid, and at least in Peterborough the ceremony finished ahead of severe weather that rolled through later. Kawartha Branch had local elementary school children in attendance, and a Honour Guard of 1812 reenactors from Norwood High School. It was a most pleasant occasion. There was also evening coverage on the local TV station, which is always a plus.

...Peter W. Johnson, President, UELAC

Clarification from last weeks Trails: The Right to UE

We quoted from a newpaper article last week: "When someone is able to prove their Loyalist status...they are given the right to attach the letter their names." Of course, anyone who is of Loyalist descent has that right, as granted by Lord Dorchester in 1789. The UELAC, as described on our membership page, offers a certificate attesting to Loyalist ancestry for those who show that their ancestor was a Loyalist as defined by Dorchester and can show genealogically their descent.

Sears photo with Loyalist Flag in the Fall Winter Catalogue

After a few phone calls, I am found out that the model on page 72 who is holding the "Loyalist Flag", was photographed in England. The photography firm here in Toronto that does the majority of the photos is unsure who actually took the picture and why they used the flag, but they are attempting to find out. If and when they do, I will report the answer back here.

...Karen Windover, UE

Response re David Dulmage Family Through Son Jacob

"UE Loyalist Links, Volume III Prince Edward and Hastings Counties" by Russ Waller, UE lists Jacob Dulmage son of David and Mary (Jennings) with his wife Sarah Huff (daughter of Solomon ?) and 10 children including Jane wife of Conrad Bongard.

His source is the Burleigh Papers available at Queen's University in Kingston.

They are also listed in Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte. [editor's note. two more responses have been received and will be posted next newsletter]

...Rod Craig UE and Elizabeth Hancocks UE

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