Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Y-DNA Testing - Halotype Results and Unanswered Questions

Well, the DNA testing results are in.  Actually, the results have been available since late December, but I am just now getting around to writing about what the findings.  The test kit itself was uncomplicated, but the results were delayed twice.  The delays were good, though, since each one represented the lab's dedicated efforts to ensure reliable results.  If I may backtrack for a moment here, DNA testing seemed to be the last resort for me in determining the name of my fourth paternal grandfather, Samuel Porter's father. There were too many Porter men in South Carolina and in Mississippi during the late 1700s and early 1800s to make a definitive match.  So, I joined  the World Family Tree's Porter Surname Project and enlisted the help of a Porter male family member in providing a cheek swab sample for a Y-DNA test.  I chose the test that would yield 37 markers and provide halotype information. If you are unfamiliar with genealogical DNA testing and are wondering what is a "marker" and why one would be interested in 37 (and testing more more than 37 is available), an explanation can be found here.  Now if you are also wanting to know what "halotype" means and why this information is important to genealogical DNA research, an explanation is provided here

The individual who provided the DNA sample for my Porter research was a first cousin, twice removed, and the only living male child or grandchild of my paternal great-grandfather, John James Porter, his father, James M. Porter, and his father, Samuel Porter.  Samuel Porter was born circa 1799 in South Carolina and came to the Mississippi Territory in the early 1800s.  In early 1825, Samuel Porter married Mary Middleton in Franklin County, Mississippi, before moving a few years later to Madison and Attala Counties after the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek opened up land there in 1832.  According to a copy of their marriage certificate, parents' names for neither Samuel nor Mary appear on the document. Although DNA testing has determined that my Samuel Porter is related to John Porter, who lived in the early 1600s in Virginia and to his descendants, Edward Sanders Porter, Elisha Jeter Porter, Hancock Porter, and Stark(s) Porter, I still do not know the name of Samuel's father. There were other male Porter family members living in Franklin County, Mississippi in the early 1800s, including John, Landlot, and James, but I have been unable to find Samuel's direct connection to any of these three men. 

Although Y-DNA testing did not yield the initial results I sought, it did produce a finding that confirms some questions about my paternal grandmother's family that I have had since I was very young.  My father's male family members share the J1 Halotype, indicating they have ancestry that links them to countries in and around the Fertile Crescent . My questions began when I was a young student studying geography and history.  Wanting to know where my own family originated, I asked my grandmother about her heritage and her family's origins.  I remember her reply when she said that "Mama's people were Black Dutch and Papa's people were Moors from South Carolina."  As I grew older, I often recalled her words and wanted to know more about her Porter family's heritage.  There was something unusual about these male Porter family members - besides the fact that most of them were quite tall, they exhibited very distinct facial features, and their skin color was what some might call "swarthy."  When I was older, I wondered even more about the Porter family's ethnicity, as I compared the looks of my own father, and my brothers as they grew older, to his mother's relatives. As I matured and learned more about various cultural, religious, and ethnic traditions, I often wondered if my grandmother's insistence that my siblings and I not drink milk when we ate fish might indicate that we had a Jewish ancestry. Now, thanks to Y-DNA testing results that show a J1 Halotype finding, my questions have been answered. 

For more information about Halotypes, including the J1 Halotype, read here.


  1. I am also from the James M/James John Porter line. From other relatives, I was told that the father of James M was Capt Robert Porter, married to Jane/Jean McCall. Is this inaccurate?
    I would be interested to know more!
    My line goes from John James to Minnie Lee Porter Cleveland

    Sandra Cleveland GIbson

    1. Sandra, I am so sorry that you did not leave an email address for me to respond. But maybe you will read this comment intended here as a reply to you. Samuel Porter, b. circa 1800 in SC, and his wife, Mary Middleton Porter, were parents of James M. Porter, who first married Eliza Pinkston in Yazoo County, MS and lived most of his life in Attala County, MS. There was another James M. Porter, however, b. circa 1832 in Alabama, who appears on the U. S. Census of 1850, also living in Attala County. I have always believed the two men must have been cousins, but I have no proof. I am also familiar with Capt. Robert Porter, a naval officer who served in the Civil War around Vicksburg and Natchez, but I have found no direct link to Samuel Porter's line.

  2. O dear! sorry about that....I have an extensive family tree that includes all I have on the Porter line. If you would care to look at it? I can issue an invite with your email address. Mine is