New DNA Ancestry Study Reveals We’re All Related?!

It’s nice to think that everyone is related—but as genealogists we have known that would be difficult to prove. Now science is proving that theory is correct.

illustration for DNA study showing that everyone on the planet is related

A new DNA study shows that everyone alive on the earth today shares common ancestors only 1,000 to 2,000 years ago.


“Group Hug!”

Wow—what is this study telling us?

It is saying that we are all related and that science can prove it.

How is that possible?

With every generation the number of our ancestors doubles. We have 4 grandparents; 8 great-grandparents; 16 2nd-great-grandparents, and so forth.

But as we go back in time the reverse is true: the number of people who were alive on the earth keeps growing smaller.

A new DNA study shows that all Europeans descend from the “same set of ancestors only a thousand years ago.” This theory has long been proposed, and it has commonly been said that “everyone” in Europe is a descendant of Charlemagne—or that every Englishman alive today has royal ancestry.

UC-Davis Professor Graham Coop says that “we now have concrete evidence from DNA data” that we are all related, and “it’s likely that everyone in the world is related over just the past few thousand years.” Read the entire article: Europeans All Related by Genetic Footprint Dating Back Only 1,000 Years Ago.

This interesting finding will revolutionize the way we view “family” in much the same way that the 1873/1874 Galton-Walton study changed our view of surnames 140 years ago.

graph illustrating the Galton-Walton surname extinction study

Credit: Wikipedia

Their pioneering work showed us that it was likely for a surname to go extinct after 12 to 20 generations. Assuming that each generation begins every 30 years, then 20 generations would extend back to the 1400s.

Click here to read their study “On the Probability of the Extinction of Families” published in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain, volume 4, pages 138–144, printed in 1875.

This interesting genealogy study concluded that any given family would eventually no longer have male descendants in the male, surname line. They might have hundreds or thousands of female heirs, but no male descendants carrying the surname after 12 to 20 generations.

Their probability research showed that with each generation it was possible, even likely, that in the next generations there would be no male children born to a given household, or that the male children born would die without surviving male children. They concluded that it was likely after 12 to 20 generations—with wars, disease, or simply by chance—that there would be no more surviving males who could marry and pass down the family name. In genealogy-speak this is referred to as daughtering-out.

From the probability theories of 140 years ago to the more exact science of DNA today, we genealogists are getting a lot more to consider as we trace our family history.

Have You Participated in a DNA Study for Ancestry Research?

Have you tried a genetic DNA study as an approach to learning more about your family history?

If so, have you made family connections that you wouldn’t have found otherwise?

It is essential that you participate in a DNA study as soon as possible. Doing so will save time, and give you a clearer picture of your family history that will bridge the gaps where other genealogical records simply have not survived.

In the past, I avoided participating in a genetic DNA study because of the high cost and the sense that it wouldn’t prove anything about my ancestry.

Well, times have changed.

The cost of participating in DNA studies has dropped to very affordable levels and the results are surprising. DNA testing will allow you to clearly see how distinct groups with your surname are or are not related to you.

Genetic DNA Testing for Genealogy Image

Image Credit: Image by jscreationzs at

Imagine being able to sort through records for our family searching not just the surname coupled with a place of birth—but being able to narrow our search to the correct DNA haplogroup, Y-DNA 12 or deeper identifiers so that we can limit our search results to only our relatives.

If you were not sure which Miller, Stark or Sawyer individuals written up in thousands of obituaries were your relatives, knowing which DNA group they fell in would quickly help you to focus on the ones that you are related to.

A few months ago I heard from a researcher in Scotland who was spearheading a study of “Kemp” lines from Ireland, and in particular the Kemp families of County Cavan, Ireland. He wanted to determine if they were all related or if they actually were separate, unrelated families.

A quick search of other DNA projects found a Kemp study already underway, organized by Andrew Kemp in Australia. Efforts were made to find more Kemp men from all parts of the world who would be willing to participate. Seventy-five agreed and the results are still coming in.

I have been researching my Kemp family from County Cavan for the past 50 years. In piecing together the family tree I found that over the past 250 years my family—like so many Irish American families—has been continuously growing and migrating around the world, settling in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and all across the United States.

As I looked at the big picture I could see that there were large concentrations of Kemp families in England, Germany, Sweden and almost everywhere I looked. Were they all related? It is going to take a long time to examine each Kemp household and see how they connect to each other. Since the bulk of the historical family records simply did not survive, there just aren’t records that would prove how these Kemp groups were or were not related—until now.


The results of the genetic DNA study were clearly showing which of the Kemp groups are in fact related.

For example: there is the Johann Conrad Kemp group. He was born in Germany in 1685 and settled in Frederick County, Maryland. The DNA study reports that his descendants are in the E1b1b1 haplogroup.

There is a Kemp family group in County Cork, Ireland. A look at the results for all of the descendants participating in this DNA study shows that they are in the R1b1a2 group.

So—the County Cork group and the Germany/Frederick County Kemp groups are not related.

Knowing where not to look for family connections will save genealogists a lot of time.

What about the large Kemp family in England? Over 25 living descendants have participated in this DNA project and all of them are also in the R1b1a2 haplogroup.

So the County Cork, Ireland, Kemp family group clearly should look to England to document their family connections.

There is a Kemp line in the Bahamas. Since that is a part of the British Commonwealth, perhaps they are also descended from a Kemp line in England. But, DNA testing shows that they fall in the I1 haplogroup common to Scandinavia. So, another completely separate Kemp family line.

Where did my Scotch-Irish County Cavan Kemp line fall?

They are all in the R1a1 haplogroup.

So—they are not related to the English, Maryland/German or Bahamian Kemp groups.

But, look at this genetic testing find: they are related to the Kemp family of Wake County, North Carolina.

The Wake County Kemp family descends from Richard Kemp who was born about 1715 in Scotland and settled in Wake County. His descendants have spread across the southern states. They are in the R1a1a haplogroup.

There are no surviving old genealogical records that can help genealogists connect the multiple Kemp lines, but DNA is now clearly showing us which groups are or are not related.

In the decades ahead we will be able to use the basic DNA haplogroups and full DNA sequencing as additional data that we can search on to extend our family trees.

What a great day for genealogy!

Indiana wants me …

Searching for Indiana family history?
GenealogyBank has Indiana newspapers from 1817 – Today.

Click here and search Indiana historical newspapers 1817-1930
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Newspapers in GenealogyBank
American Nonconformist. 11/11/1886 – 4/2/1896
Amigo del Hogar. 11/22/1925 – 4/13/1930
Batesville Herald-Tribune. 10/2/2009-Current
Bremen Enquirer. 10/7/2009-Current
Brookville Enquirer. 2/5/1819 – 12/26/1820
Chronicle-Tribune (Marion, IN). 3/18/1999-Current
Commercial Review, The (Portland, IN). 4/10/2003-Current
Decatur Daily Democrat. 3/11/2008-Current
Elkhart Truth. 12/29/2007-Current
Evansville Courier & Press. 6/19/1991-Current
Evening News and Tribune (Jeffersonville-New Albany, IN). 6/3/2006-Current
Fort Wayne News Sentinel. 6/29/1901 – 2/22/1923
Freeman. 6/12/1897 – 2/4/1899
Goshen News, The. 10/26/2007-Current
Greensburg Daily News. 10/2/2009-Current
Herald Bulletin, The (Anderson, IN). 11/13/2008-Current
Huntington Herald-Press. 5/13/2005-Current
Indiana Centinel. 3/14/1817 – 12/30/1820
Indiana Democrat. 10/30/1830 – 3/9/1838
Indiana State Journal. 6/24/1846 – 12/27/1899
Indianapolis Ledger. 4/13/1918 – 10/28/1922
Indianapolis Sentinel. 7/2/1872 – 9/30/1882
Journal Gazette, The (Fort Wayne, IN). 2/14/1992-Current
Madison Courier, The. 5/1/2001-Current
New Albany Daily Ledger. 2/11/1854 – 9/15/1860
News-Dispatch, The (Michigan City, IN). 4/1/1997-Current
News-Sentinel, The (Fort Wayne, IN). 8/6/1990-Current
Paper of Montgomery County, The (Crawfordsville, IN). 11/26/2004-Current
Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, IN). 10/2/2009-Current
Post & Mail, The (Columbia City, IN). 10/7/2009-Current
Post-Tribune. 9/17/2000-Current
Reporter, The (Lebanon, IN). 6/18/2008-Current
Shelbyville News, The. 6/2/2009-Current
Terre Haute Express. 12/25/1878 – 3/22/1881
Times, The (Noblesville, IN). 10/22/2008-Current
Vincennes Sun-Commercial. 10/7/2002-Current
Wabash Courier. 2/18/1836 – 1/1/1853
Washington Times-Herald, The. 11/5/2007-Current
Zionsville Times Sentinel, The. 10/2/2009-Current


Plattsburgh, NY newspaper archive (1796-1922) live on GenealogyBank.

Plattsburgh, NY newspaper archive (1796-1922) live on GenealogyBank.

GenealogyBank has added the Northern Herald (1812-1814) to its online collection of Plattsburgh, NY newspapers. These digital facsimile editions include complete copies of each issue and are searchable from a special new link:

Click here to search all of the Plattsburgh, NY newspaper archives.

Click on the individual newspaper titles to search just those titles:
American Monitor 1809-1810
Clinton Advertiser 1810-1811
Northern Herald 1812-1814
Plattsburgh Herald 1815
Political Observatory 1803-1811
Republican 1796-1922

GenealogyBank has over 300 New York (1719-1999) newspapers.

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List of Las Cruces, New Mexico Newspapers

Use this site to search Las Cruces, New Mexico newspaper archives.
Quickly find obituaries, birth and marriage notices – all articles from 20 newspapers: 1873-1938; also links to currently published Las Cruces newspapers.

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List of Las Cruces, NM online newspapers – Historical Newspapers
(You can click on any title to search only that newspaper).
Dona Ana County Republican
Eco del Rio Grande
Eco del Valle
Gaceta Popular
Las Cruces Daily News
Las Cruces Daily Times
Las Cruces Democrat
Las Cruces Sun News (Obituaries)
Mesilla Valley Bulletin
Mesilla Valley Democrat
Newmans Semi-Weekly
Observador Fronterizo
Promotor Escolar

List of Las Cruces, NM online newspapers – Current Newspapers
Las Cruces Bulletin
Las Cruces Sun News
Las Cruces Sun News (Obituaries)
Round Up (NMSU)

Search Old Charleston, SC Newspapers 1723-1975

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Carolina Gazette 1723-1828
Charleston Courier 1803-1822
Charleston Evening Gazette 1785-1786
Charleston Mercury 1854-1859
Charleston Morning Post 1786-1787
Chronicle of Liberty 1783
City Gazette 1787-1842
Columbian Herald 1784 – 1796
Daily Evening Gazette 1795 – 1795
Echo du Sud 1801
Evening Courier 1798
Investigator 1812-1814
Oracle 1784 – 1824
South Carolina State Gazette 1794 – 1828
South-Carolina Weekly Advertiser 1783
South-Carolina Weekly Gazette 1783 – 1786
Southern Evangelical Intelligencer 1819 – 1820
Southern Patriot 1831 – 1848
Strength of the People 1809 – 1810
Telegraph 1795 – 1922
Times 1790 – 1820

Alex Haley’s family tree grows via DNA study

USA Today (7 April 2009) is reporting that a DNA study has extended the branches of Alex Haley’s family tree.

The clue came when a “78-year-old man in Scotland named Thomas Baff, … took the DNA test to help his daughter” who was working on the family history.

You may read the story here.