DNA Studies

In late 2007 I decided to see of what value DNA analysis could be to our family genealogy. It seemed that by comparing cousin Henri's Y Chromosome DNA to mine it might be a good test. While we have a good paper trail to a common ancestor it was 8 generations ago since our lines separated. Y-DNA is only handed down from male to male. If we are both descended from Caspar Engels II, our Y-DNA should be identical except for an occasional mutation which happens randomly.


Each human's DNA can consists of two components, Y Chromosome (Y-DNA) and Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Only males contain both and females have only mtDNA. The Y-DNA is passed down from father to only his sons and the mtDNA is passed down from a mother to all her children. Because the Western World was Patrilineal, where property rights are passed to only male descendants along with the family name (Surname), it is much easier to trace genealogy through this male line. Y-DNA is therefore used more effectively in developing ancestral lines. Theoretically, the DNA is passed from father to sons with no change so examining a living male Y-DNA would reveal the Y-DNA for all his male ancestors. However, mutations occur for every few generations at a somewhat predictable rate as defined by a complex statistical analysis. Statistics make my head hurt so I will go no further.

First study:

A "paper trail" indicated that Henri Engels of Strasbourg France and Kenneth J. Engle of AZ, had a common male ancestor by the name of Caspar Engels (II) born in Solingen Germany in 1684 or about 8 generations removed. Therefore, Ken and Henri's Y-DNA should be the same as Caspar Engels except for any mutations that occurred in the past 8 generations. I ordered DNA test kits from Genebase.com for both of us and eagerly awaited the results. Out of 25 markers for Henri we had 16 identical and 8 within a value of 1 for the "allel" or genetic distance. I really had no success at performing the statistical analysis to determine the probability that so many mutations could occur in only 8 generations. I found a volunteer "expert" on line who looked at the results and said it was possible that so many mutations could occur in only 8 generations but he did not quote the "probability" of such an event. I suspect the probability is low, like 10%, so one has to seek elsewhere for genetic proof. However, we believe the paper trail is quite sound because of the excellent research done by Henri.

Second study:

It is possible to use genetics to do macro archaeological research. I had genebase.com test enough markers that they could assign me to the Haplogroup R1b1c. Haplogroup data bases are developed by the National Geographic to trace the geographic origins of the human race. R1b has the genetic markers consistent with people who entered Europe about 40000 years ago or the Cro-Magnon peoples of France. Most of all Europeans are R1b today.

Third study:

After more research I learned that genebase.com has a smaller data base and less scientific resources than familytreedna.com but was less expensive. DNA testing is relatively new. The bigger the data base the more likely-hood of connecting with another ancestral line. I therefore purchased a test kit from familytreedna.com (ftdna) and had them perform a "deep" SNP test. The Haplogroup R1b1c is believed to originated as a set of unique gene mutations during the peak of the last age when humans were driven out of Europe by the ice sheets. Around 10000 years ago the ice began retreating due to global warming and humans moved North out of Spain and reoccupying Europe including England which had a land bridge with mainland Europe until about 6500 BC.

Fourth study:

Using my Y-DNA certificate for 37 loci ,I was able to compare my markers with other in the ftdna database. While there were a number of 12 marker perfect matches and close matches for 37 markers there was only one with the Engle surname. He only knew his pedigree back 4 generations but the master tree had connections to his greatgrandfather Irvin Engle who was great grandson of Clement Engle and first wife. A perfect match of 12 markers is not proof of a recent common ancestor but the paper trail makes it positive. Welcome a new cousin, Dave Engle (Seattle)

Fifth study:

Cousin Roy Engle had his dna sampled by Sorenson (smgf.org) Labs many years ago. Taking my and Henri's recorded markers, he put together a comparative chart. (see attached) Roy and I matched for 35 out of 36! Our common ancestor is Clement removed by 5 generations so it can be considered a high probability of his being a biological ancestor. (Roy was able to solve a family paternity problem by virtue of his match with another descendant of Clement like me) He also only matched 18 out of 25 of Henri's short list of markers.


1. Roy, Dave, and I are all descended from Clement Engle and our 37 marker Y-DNA series should be nearly identical with Clement.
2.A lot of people had identical 12 marker matches with me, but absent any surname clues, it must be assumed they are not related for at least several hundreds og years. Therefore, a paper trail had to be leading to a common ancestor in order to conclude dna is proof.
3. We lack genetic proof that we are all descended from Caspar Engels.
4. I still do not know the value of mtdna testing for genealogy purposes. A paper trail of mothers is tougher to develop past a 100 years or so in time.

More studies.

1. If we had a 37 marker test done on a male descendant of Michael (Engels, Engle, Ingle) with the same surname, we could determine the probable Y-DNA sequence of Johann Peter Engels Sr. father of Clement and get closer to the answer for Caspar Engels II. Michael was Clement's brother.

2. If we had a 37 marker test done on a male U.S. descendant of Peter Engels Jr. with the same surname, we could get another estimate of the probable Y-DNA of Caspar Engels (II) who was the father of Johann Peter Engels Sr. and Peter Engels Sr.

3. Testing of some of Henri's male cousins in France named Engels, might help establish the families connection with Caspar Engels II. The lack of a match could be do to a ancestor adopting a male so.

DNA labs:

So far it looks like both familytreedna and smgf.org are well established test labs with comparable data bases.

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