My family has a hereditary hearing impairment. It is detectable in childhood (we can't hear whispers or high-pitched sounds) and progresses gradually. I began wearing hearing aids when I was 30. It's an autosomal dominant condition, which means it can be passed through male or female lines, and it doesn't skip generations.
Using traditional genealogical research methods (old family letters, Civil War pensions, and the like), I believe I have traced this back to John Riley, born about 1813 in Stafford County, VA. I have not been able to connect him to the Riley families living there, but I think it's possible that he is a grandson of Bailey Riley.
Stafford Co Deeds Liber AA pp 37-39 (1809) show an indenture between George Dawson and Mary his wife, late Mary Riley, widow and relict of Bailey Riley; William Riley and Margaret his wife; Elijah Wigginton and Ann his wife; and George Riley where the children are selling 1/6th shares of land to John Burroughs. Some records show that some of the children were residing in Nelson Co, KY (later Spencer Co). I think two other children are Polly (who married Benjamin Drake) and Bailey Jr. (who married Polly Bridwell). It's possible that the sixth child is John Burrough's wife.
By testing several close relatives at http://23andMe.com, which tests 550,000+ locations in the whole genome, I've been able to narrow down the chromosome where the mutation must be located. Although there are dozens of known mutations that cause hearing loss, our mutation would be in an undiscovered gene. I'd be very curious to compare notes with anyone who traces their ancestry to any of the above lines, especially anyone who has a similar hereditary hearing impairment. If you think you fit the picture, I'd be happy to sponsor a DNA test at 23andMe.
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