Hello. My name is Henry Rhea, and I am a participant in a Rea Surname DNA Project through Family Tree DNA, Inc. I am looking for Reh male descendants of the Reh line to join in the Rea Surname DNA Project to see if there may be any proof of family connections through our DNA.
About two yeas ago I was sent a photo from an old army buddy of he and three other fellow vets at their reunion of the Infantry unit they were in Viet Nam with. One of the men in the photo was Captain Don Reh, the first company commander that my friend had in Viet Nam, sitting in profile in the photo as the four conversed around a table, and I was immediately struck not just by the similarities in the spelling of our rather peculiar forms of the name but by the similarity in appearance between he and my oldest brother, particularly in hairline and nose, and general profile over all. I also share the nose and general profile appearance, though not the hairline.
In my family we had a story of 5 brothers coming to America from Ireland prior to the Revolution but no actual knowledge other than that story beyond my g-g-grandfather in the direct male line. But through the Rea Surname DNA Project I have had connections of obvious family ties genetically with three other men, two who spell the name Rea and one who spells it Ray. We all have family stories of having spelled it differently in the past. And two of them have paper trails to a John Ray and his wife Hannah Hastey who sent their 5 eldest sons to America in the middle 1700's sometime before the American Revolution, just as my own family had the story of 5 brothers coming to America who spelled the name Ray back then.
One of the men with whom I am in contact, the Ray, sent me some information that someone else working on the Rhea line had compiled that said that some had speculated that John Ray of Ireland was either French Huguenot or descended from French Huguenots. I see from the information given on one Reh family forum that most in that forum are listed as Jewish. I was in contact with Don Reh through my friend and he never mentioned any Jewish background, saying only that his family came to America from Prussia back in the 1850's and he had no knowledge of them before that. Unfortunately I was unable to persuade him to join in the Rea Surname DNA Project.
But after learning of a possible French Huguenot connection, I dug into the history of the Huguenots and learned that some 10,000 did indeed seek refuge in Ireland as a result of the persecution of Protestants in Catholic France and the resultant Huguenot wars, while Fredrick Wilhelm,Grand Elector of Calvinist Prussia invited the Huguenots to relocate to Prussia which had been depleted of men and wealth through war,in hopes that they would help to rebuild his country and many did so. Further research has shown that many Jews did convert to Christianity with some becoming Protestant Hueguenots in France.
Learning of these things, I could understand then how my own Protestant family could have come from Jewish ancestral roots through Catholic Ireland from France as a result of the Huguenot wars, whether it happened that way or not, and how possibly another branch of the same family could have ended up in Prussia with a different spelling of the name.
No one has ever suggested a Jewish connection to the family before, but there are numerous instances of people and families not knowing of Jewish roots. Don Reh never mentioned any Jewish connection, not even when I told him of my speculations about the possible Huguenot history and how that could have led to our two branches of a single family having different historical backgrounds and similar peculiar spellings of a common name.
I would very much like to locate one or more Reh men of direct male Reh lineage to join in the Rea Surname DNA Project to ascertain whether my speculations have some basis or not. There are numerous variations of the name represented there with numerous family groupings as men compare family histories with others with matching genetic backgrounds and learn more about one another, their families and themselves. Whether there proves to be a family connection between us or not, it is a valuable tool and legacy to leave to our own descendants to have this testing done, and is cheaper if done through a Surname Project as this one is.
The administrator of this project is Gary Rea. You can access him through the Project, here:
We currently have something in excess of a hundred different men of various spellings who have participated in the Project. If we can add one or more Reh's, that would be wonderful. He or they would be the first of that spelling. Also be aware that having your testing done through this or through any specific Project does not tie you and your results to that particular Project alone. Your results are yours, and you can have them sent to multiple projects, even Projects that are not based on Surnames such as geographical ones.
Note: It can only be males of a direct male lineage, as it is the male Y chromosome DNA that is tested which is passed down father to son through their Y DNA and as in our culture family names are passed on traditionally through the males. Women can have the mitochondrial DNA tested which gives them some knowledge of their maternal lineages, being passed in similar manner from Mother to daughter, but the surnames being generally through the paternal lines it is far more difficult to trace the direct maternal lines even with DNA testing. Thus, all the Surname DNA Projects are done with the male Y DNA testing.
12 markers is the minimal number of markers that will be tested, but for far greater accuracy at least 37 or the 67 marker tests are preferred. I began with the 12 marker test, then upgraded to 25 as I had an immediate match through 12 with another man who had done the 25 mrker test, then later upgraded to 37 and yet again to 67 markers as other men came in to the project and we found one another through our matching DNA's and began communicating with one another.
Even if your name is not Reh, you may be interested in checking with Family Tree to see if there is a Surname Project matching your name in some variation or another. Family Tree has hundreds of such projects.
While dna testing and the Surname Project has proven to be immensely valuable to myself and the other men with whom I have found a match in our own little family group, not all have found it as rewarding and helpful in their own testing and research, it should be noted. I think that much of the disappointment of those who are disappointed comes through expectations of results that are far greater than the testing can actually provide. It cannot prove exactly who we are descended from, nor can it prove beyond any doubt exactly when or where the various lines that do find matches were split. And some men seem never to find matches. Gary Rea, the project founder and administrator of this one has yet to find a match, and has had his own research which appeared to show him to be descended from a particular line apparently negated. I know that this has proven frustrating for him, but it also helps through redirecting future research by ruling out certain avenues of possible descent.
I hope that this will be helpful to some here even if no Reh males are found who will be willing to join the Rea Surname DNA Project, as I am hoping for. And ladies, though it is only useful through the male lines, you can perhaps persuade men of your particular family lines of interest to join a surname project for your personal interest, even when they may not have any interest in the results or genealogical research or not. Numerous ladies pay to have men from their families tested, just for their own edification. I had my test done myself, and paid for the upgrades to 25 and 37 markers, but a niece of mine who is intensely interested in genealogy and our family history then paid for the further upgrade to the 67 marker test to be done. So even if you can't yourself be tested for a Surname DNA Project perhaps you can waylay a male relative and steal a little DNA from him. :)
It's a very simple test. They send you a kit with a couple of vials and scrapers. The person being tested then scrapes the inside of his cheeks with the scrapers, puts the scrapers in the vials to protect them, inserts the vials back into the return package provided, pays the postage and then sits back and waits for a few weeks until the results come in. The waiting can be a bit tedious, and we all (who are interested) wish it didn't take so long, but it is well worth the wait. At least it has been for me. Currently it seems to be taking about 6-8 weeks to get the results back, due to the backlog of tests being performed.
Sorry that this is so long, but I wanted to explain fully what I am trying to do and hopefully to be helpful to any who might take an interest in such a form of genealogical research as well.
If any wish to contact me, feel free. I just ask that you make a reference to this Reh Family Genealogy Forum or to the Rea Surname DNA Project in the subject line, or perhaps DNA testing as I tend to delete any emails the authors and subjects of which don't strike a bell with me as someone or some thing I should check on.
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