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Re: Van Pelts who changed their surname to Swaim
Posted by: Laraine Clark (ID *****6151) Date: October 07, 2007 at 22:55:50
In Reply to: Re: Van Pelts who changed their surname to Swaim by Laraine Clark of 1167

Hello John,

Thank you so much for the wealth of information that you have shared with me in the email message and on the Van Pelt genealogy forum.

One of the participants in our Swaim surname DNA project is a Van Pelt man who is descended from the immigrant Van Pelt ancestor. The other participants are Swaim men, most descend from the Swaim brothers who arrived in North Carolina in the 1750's. One Swaim man descends from a branch of the Swaim family that never came to North Carolina and he has a direct ancestry back to the Dutch immigrant, Thys Barentsen, who came to Staten Island in the mid 1650's. The sons of Thys Barentsen were the ones who all appear to have adopted the Swaim surname by 1700.

One of the goals of the Swaim surname DNA project was to determine if the Swaim men, and the Van Pelt descendant who joined our group, had matching Y chromosome DNA. If the Swaim surname had been adopted by a man who was originally a Van Pelt, who descended from the original Van Pelt immigrant, then the Y chromosome (passed from father to son for generations in a basically unchanged state) should show matching results between the Swaim men and the Van Pelt man being tested.

Some of the early Staten Island, New York, researchers (between 1880-1930) published their conclusions that the Swaim name originated in the Van Pelt family, when a descendant of the Van Pelts of Staten Island, changed the surname to Swaim. This belief was held for nearly 100 years by a number of different researchers, as the early researchers who made this conclusion had done excellent research on other families. However, the early researchers did not discover Thys Barentsen and his family. Later researchers discovered Thys Barentsen and his sons and saw in the records that his sons had changed their surnames to Swaim by about 1700.

However, because the Swaim connection to the Van Pelt family had been published so many years ago, and had been believed by so many who used the work of these researchers, even the discovery of the Thys Barentsen family by later researchers did not convince some who held the Van Pelt connection belief and this Van Pelt link was perpetuated in online databases.

In April 2007 the results of the Swaim surname DNA project showed some results that literally "rewrote family history" for many.

All of the Swaim men participating in the DNA project had DNA matching eachother, but the Van Pelt man who participated did not match the Swaim men at all. The DNA results did indeed show that the common ancestor of all of these Swaim men was Thys Barentsen.

I would have liked to have had the DNA results of at least one or two other Van Pelt men to compare to our one Van Pelt participant. This would also help the Van Pelt family in determining what the Y chromosome "signature" of the Van Pelt immigrant brothers might have been.

If you know of any men with the Van Pelt surname who might be interested in participating in our project, it would be extremely helpful and I would be extremely grateful!!

We are recommending the 37 marker Y chromosome test at the FamilyTreeDNA company. The public link to our Swaim surname project is as follows:

This project also includes Van Pelt, or any other man that might be a direct father to son descent to Van Pelt or Swaim, where the surname spelling was changed or another surname introduced.

The Y chromosome is like a long strand of rope with certain spots or markers along that rope called "alleles". Each one of these alleles is made up of genetic material that "repeats" a certain number of times at that particular spot on the Y chromosome. They count the number of times the material repeats and then a number is assigned for that particular allele spot. So "allele 393", which is the first "spot" along the Y chromosome that is tested, might have the number of 12 at that spot or even the number 13, signifying that the material repeated 12 or 13 times at that particular "allele spot". In the case of the Van Pelt participant in our project, he had a 12 at that spot and the Swaim men all had a 13. They continue to test each allele along the Y chromosome and obtain a sequence of numbers (such as "12 - 23 - 15 - 9 - 13 - 16 ".... etc. It is this sequence of numbers that is passed along with the surname from father to son, generation after generation.

Sometimes a mutation occurs at one spot or allele on the Y chromosome and this results in a change in the number assigned at that spot. But the resulting sequence is still generally the same.

We have a 37 marker "sequence" result for our Van Pelt participant and it would be very helpful to be able to compare this numerical sequence to the results of at least 2 other men with the Van Pelt surname, who also descend from the immigrant Van Pelt men.

If cost of the test is a problem, we do have the possibility of utilizing donated funds. Please let me know.

Thank you for any assistance that you are able to offer.


Laraine Clark

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