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Wing Genealogist
07-08-2014, 11:50 PM
My family owns property on Cape Cod which has been held within our family since the 1640s. We are currently doing an archaeological dig on the grounds, and have had a ground penetrating radar scan over an area which may have been the early burial place for the family. The scan has discovered three "anomalies" which are of a size where they could possibly be bodies (but also could possibly be something else entirely). A newspaper article with some details can be found at:
http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140708/NEWS/407080333/-1/NEWS01

The soldier mentioned in the article died in 1676 (age 19) and another possible individual would be his father's first wife, who died in 1654, at the age of 32.

If we do go ahead with the dig and do find bodies, what are the options of DNA testing the bodies?

dp
07-16-2014, 03:12 PM
Mitochondrial DNA survives the longest. I've seen papers where they successfully extracted usable mtDNA from 30,000 year old remains.
David Powell
dp :-)

AJL
07-16-2014, 07:35 PM
Extraction and amplication of older nuclear and yDNA is now easier than in the past but it pays to use specialists. I'd predict that autosomal DNA from an old Massachusetts family would have numerous Family Finder cousins, but could be quite useful in corroborating paper trails from back then, when record keeping was not so great. In your position, I would lean toward autosomal testing, if possible, after contacting a lab specializing in older DNA such as:

https://www.lakeheadu.ca/research-and-innovation/facilities-centres/paleo-dna-laboratory

Wing Genealogist
06-20-2017, 07:56 PM
An update to this issue:

A generous benefactor of the family has recently donated enough funding to explore the "anomalies" and if it uncovers human remains, to extensively test at least two of the three individuals. Of the three "anomalies" two appear to be adult sized (roughly 6 feet long and 4 1/2 feet deep) while the third one appears to be a child (roughly 4 1/2 feet long and 4 1/2 feet deep).

Family Genealogy records indicate several possibilities. We are solid in our belief one of the bodies (assuming that is what is down there) would be the first wife of the original settler (who died in 1654 in her early 30s). She had two or three children who died in infancy (which may or may not account for the smaller anomaly). The other adult body could be either the son of the original settler (who was killed in King Phillips War) or even the mother of the original settler.

The dig is scheduled to start near the end of July, and hopefully I will be kept updated on the progress made.

Dewsloth
06-20-2017, 08:10 PM
Cool! Looks like I've got about a dozen ancestors who were born and/or died in the 1600s in Barnstable alone.

Wing Genealogist
06-27-2017, 04:35 PM
I have contacted FTDNA, FGC, and Living DNA and informed them of the upcoming archaeological exploration. They have all expressed an interest in seeing if it would be possible to add any DNA data from this dig to their databases. I have given all three companies contact information and encouraged them to contact the team who will be doing the "forensic" DNA testing.

I was ecstatic to hear from the CEO of each company who had personally expressed an interest in this project as well as an interest in trying to add any data to their projects.

It is strongly believed one of the individuals buried was Os(h)eah (Dillingham) Wing, first wife of the original owner of the property (she died in 1654 before the town had any public cemeteries). O(s)heah was baptized at Cotesbach, Leicestershire in Feb 1621/2 and it is believed both of her parents were born there as well. Both of her grandfathers were of Cotesbach when they wrote their wills, so the family clearly had roots in this area.

RobertCasey
06-27-2017, 04:47 PM
There was a recent presentation of a similar extraction from a burial in Ireland that was several hundred years old.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vW96PeY7--I&t=45s

To summarize some of the major issues. There are many local permits required to open up a grave - and you have to have permission of descendants which should not be an issue for you. You definitely want hire a forensic scientist for opening of the grave and extraction of DNA (may be required by law). Contamination of DNA with living people is a serious issue. Also, extraction from the inner ear is now believed to be the best option for the highest quality DNA. This is a very involved and expensive procedure - $25,000 to $50,000 was spent I believe. That is a lot of living people that could be tested which would reveal more information and even after you do the testing - much of the time the DNA has degraded too much to be useful.

You could probably do 30 20X Whole Genome Sequence tests of living individuals from Full Genomes of 30 known descendants which would probably yield more information.

Dewsloth
06-27-2017, 05:07 PM
That's great! Do you have any other link to (or text of) the original article in the top post? That link is dead, now.

Wing Genealogist
06-27-2017, 05:08 PM
There was a recent presentation of a similar extraction from a burial in Ireland that was several hundred years old.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vW96PeY7--I&t=45s

To summarize some of the major issues. There are many local permits required to open up a grave - and you have to have permission of descendants which should not be an issue for you. You definitely want hire a forensic scientist for opening of the grave and extraction of DNA (may be required by law). Contamination of DNA with living people is a serious issue. Also, extraction from the inner ear is now believed to be the best option for the highest quality DNA. This is a very involved and expensive procedure - $25,000 to $50,000 was spent I believe. That is a lot of living people that could be tested which would reveal more information and even after you do the testing - much of the time the DNA has degraded too much to be useful.

You could probably do 30 20X Whole Genome Sequence tests of living individuals from Full Genomes of 30 known descendants which would probably yield more information.


We have had an anonymous benefactor who donated the money for this exploration and testing. The benefactor has been very clear in their desire for DNA testing to be done on the remains.

The caretaker of the property is well known (and well respected). He has explored all of the State and local laws and where we own the property, and as the remains almost certainly date back to the Seventeenth Century, we have already fulfilled our notifications and obligations. We have hired one of the best known archaeological teams in the United States (Eric and Linda Deetz who had done the archaeological exploration of Colonial Williamsburg) and we have a professional "forensic DNA" team who will be doing the testing.

We almost certainly will be able to identify all of the remains (given the sex of each individual, the rough age of the individual, and a rough time frame when they were buried). Thus, we hope to be able to basically obtain an autosomal DNA test result from two (and perhaps more) individuals who lived almost 400 years ago. There is still a question over how degraded the DNA results will be, but it should be able to provide data which no DNA test of currently living individuals would be able to provide.

As I stated above, it is believed one of the bodies almost certainly was from a small village in Leicestershire, and her family lived in that region for a considerable time period. This may well be able to provide DNA results which again no testing of living individuals can replicate.

Wing Genealogist
06-27-2017, 07:31 PM
That's great! Do you have any other link to (or text of) the original article in the top post? That link is dead, now.

I don't have any other link to the original article, but I am fairly certain a new article will be forthcoming either during or after the exploration. I will try to remember to attach that new article if and when it appears.

Dewsloth
06-27-2017, 07:50 PM
I don't have any other link to the original article, but I am fairly certain a new article will be forthcoming either during or after the exploration. I will try to remember to attach that new article if and when it appears.

I look forward to reading more. :)

My Barnstable surnames (all from about 300 years ago) are Butler, Hiller, Barlow, Hull, Swift, Allen, Session/Sisson and, of course, Wing (John->Daniel->Beulah, so not directly descending from Os(h)eah (Dillingham) Wing).

Dewsloth
03-02-2018, 06:58 PM
Any updates? :)

Jan_Noack
03-02-2018, 09:07 PM
I realise this is late but I think WGS (whole genome Seq) is the way to go for ancient remains these days. It would include the MtDNA, as well as the full Y and Autosomal...considering the cost of the dig and preparation for the test. I've not the expertise to advise of which lab would do WGS testing from bone or be the best. I think it's such a great opportunity and I disagree with the poster who commented that a no of modern tests would be as good...no way! (I see you agree). One lab that runs WGS at a lab in Germany? is YSEQ. Only mentioned as I think I read they ran a test on a ancient skeleton last year..only 15X? I'd go forat least 30X, considering the cost of the prep.OnLy my opinion and maybe, if not too late, it'll provide a comparison. Regardless, I'd love to hear you results too. (although unfortunately no relative of mine).What a interesting goldmine for anyone who is a descendant though..heck, I reckon you could fund this with one of those "go fund me" for descendants ...

Askye
03-04-2018, 02:40 AM
Any updates? :)

I'm curious also since I match with Raymond on Gedmatch.