Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Friday, December 6, 2013

Does DNA J1 Haplogroup Finding Prove Samuel Porter is Related to Landlot Porter?

It all started when I contacted an individual named Carol Hughes about her post on an message board.  According to the post, Carol and I were researching the same individual, Anastacia Porter Lawson PorterKnown as "Gracy" to family members, Anastacia was the second wife of William Porter, who died in Hinds County, Mississippi in the 1800s. According to most accounts, William Porter was the son of Landlot Porter and Winnie Palmer Porter. More about the Porter family of Hinds County, Mississippi can be read here

Source: Carol Hughes Personal Photo Collection
Gravestone of Landlot Porter
Fortson-Porter Private Cemetery
Hinds County, Mississippi
Shortly before reading Carol's post on the message board, I had read about a small family cemetery near Raymond, Mississippi that allegedly contained the graves of Gracy, her husband, William, his father, Landlot Porter, and other Porter and Fortner family members. I shared this information in an email to Carol, and was struck with amazement when I received her reply telling me that she lived within a few miles of the cemetery's location.  

Although she had no previous knowledge of the cemetery's existence, Carol readily volunteered to locate it and kindly offered to photograph whatever headstones she might find. As most of us know, family obligations, weather, and life in general often take precedence over family research activities, and almost a year went by before Carol was able to make the trip to the cemetery. Although Carol had actually located the cemetery early on, she discovered it was located on private property and she needed permission from the owner. Carol was persistent, and soon her visit to the cemetery, albeit a bittersweet one, was realized. Although the cemetery is located on privately owned property, it has been vandalized and some of the heavier stones and monuments have been toppled.  Gracy Porter's stone was one of those that had been overturned. Landlot Porter's grave marker is still standing, and the photo appearing in this post was included with Carol's permission.

Will I ever know how my great-great-great-grandfather, Samuel Porter, b. circa 1799 in South Carolina, is related to Landlot Porter or to his son, William? I don't know, but I haven't given up searching. I have joined the WorldFamilies Surname Project and I submitted a DNA sample provided by one of the oldest living Porter males in Samuel Porter's lineage to FamilyTree DNA's lab in Houston, Texas. Test results showed the DNA sample submitted by this elderly Porter male matched Y-DNA samples belonging to descendants of John Porter (b. 1690 in Virginia) and to a descendant of Shadrack Porter, one of Landlot's sons by his first wife, Winnie Palmer. The most interesting information about these DNA matches, however, is that each of those tested that matched at the 12 to 37 chromosome range also belong to the J1 Haplogroup (M267), including the Porter male relative I mentioned. 

Now what does that mean? Specifically, the J1 Haplogroup finding means that individuals with this result have ethnic ancestry in many of countries that make up the Arabian Peninsula, as well as some of the countries in Northern Africa. In addition, the majority of academic information about the J1 Haplogroup indicates this finding is indicative of Jewish ancestry, pointing to the "Cohen gene model."  DNA findings can get rather complicated even without involving Haplogroup designations, so I invite you to read more about J1 Haplogroup results here

The J1 Haplogroup finding in my father's ancestry (and mine) does not surprise me. Physical attributes common in my paternal grandmother's Porter family, particularly those of her brothers and her father, were characteristic of Middle Eastern men. Fascinating information.....and it's difficult to believe that it all resulted from just two cheek swabs! 

Will this finding change the direction of my research? Most definitely. Since the Porter family came to Mississippi from several areas in South Carolina, I need to find out more about the family and its collateral lines before they migrated to the Mississippi Territory. Of historical significance is that South Carolina, specifically the cities of Camden and Charleston, had the largest Jewish population in the U. S. in the early 1800s.  You can read more about this segment of our country's history in the Enclyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities, an online history department located on the Goldring-Woldenburg Institute of Southern Jewish Life website.

So one of my directions for researching Porter family history for the coming year is researching South Carolina history....and who knows what I might find!

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