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Paternal DNA

It’s Father’s Day and DNA Sunday here at The Legal Genealogist … so how better to celebrate the day than to give the men in my direct paternal line the gift of a little more information on their DNA?

I mean, what else do you get the guys who have everything anyhow?

First off, here’s the line-up:

(Left to right)
Hermann Eduard Geissler (1855-1933), in Gera, Germany, c1900.
Hugo Ernst Geissler (1891-1945), in Germany c1914.
Hugo Hermann Geissler (1921-1994), in Chicago IL 1935.
My brother Evan, the one who tested, when he was — ahem — a little younger than he is now.

Now… here’s what we know. Evan was tested at Family Tree DNA; we’ve got results for both his Y-DNA — the kind of DNA that exists only in the male-gender-linked Y chromosome and is passed directly from father to son to son1 — and his autosomal DNA — DNA from all of the chromosomes except the gender-linked X and Y chromosomes that can help link cousins across genders.2 It’s his Y-DNA that we’re looking at here.

According to Family Tree DNA, our paternal haplogroup is E — a high level haplogroup estimated to have originated 50,000-55,000 years ago in East Africa.3

More specifically, it’s predicted to be E1b1b1,4 called M35.1 for short — a subgroup that may have originated around 22,400 years ago in Eastern Africa.5

Now this is a pretty cool club to be in. Folks who reportedly were M35.1 include Albert Einstein, the Wright brothers, Michelangelo, President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Sir David Attenborough.6

But there are more divisions in this subgroup. Using the Y-Predictor website (, it appears that there’s a very high likelihood that we’re actually in subclade E1b1b1a1b7 (E-V13 for short).8

Being in E-V13 would be a cool club, too. That’s because this is the subclade most commonly found in the Balkans that may be one of the more recent population movements from the Middle East into Europe and that may have had its big movement into the rest of Europe by following the Danube River. There are lots of theories about its spread in Europe, with one fun possibility being some sowing of wild oats by Roman legionnaires from the Balkans.9

There are two ways to know for sure if we’re E-V13. The easy way is to test for the one single marker — called a SNP, short for Single Nucleotide Polymorphism10 — that defines this subclade: the V13 marker. If it was important to break it down even further, into possible sub-subclades, then for $139, Family Tree DNA offers what it calls a deep clade test — testing a panel of markers that’d define our specific subclade absolutely.11 For our purposes, it’s just the V13 marker that’d put us into the E-V13 group; more testing won’t help on that.

So Happy Father’s Day to my brothers — and to all of our direct line paternal ancestors. There’s a V13 SNP test on order.

Since we don’t know — and may never find out — who Hermann’s father was,12 wouldn’t it be nice to imagine a passing Legionnaire in dalliance with a pink-cheeked German maid…?


  1. ISOGG Wiki (, “Y chromosome DNA test,” rev. 23 Jul 2011.
  2. ISOGG Wiki (, “Autosomal DNA,” rev. 8 Feb 2012.
  3. Wikipedia (, “Haplogroup E (Y-DNA),” rev. 23 Apr 2012.
  4. myFTDNA: Y-DNA Haplotree, test kit 217117, Family Tree DNA ( : accessed 16 Jun 2012).
  5. Ibid. See also Wikipedia (, “Haplogroup E1b1b (Y-DNA),” rev. 1 Jun 2012.
  6. Famous E1b1b1-M35.1 Albert Einstein, Caravaggio, Wright Brothers and more.[6. See “Famous E1b1b1-M35.1 Albert Einstein, Caravaggio, Wright Brothers and more,” Haplogroup E1b1b1 – M35.1, blog ( : accessed 16 Jun 2012).
  7. Vadim Urasin, YPredictor v1.5.0, results chart for STR markers of FTDNA test kit 217117 ( : accessed 16 Jun 2012).
  8. Haplozone Wiki (, “E-V13,” rev. 4 Jan 2010). Note that this Wiki is outdated: it says E-V13 is denominated as E1b1b1a2 at ISOGG; that’s no longer the case. See “Y-DNA Haplogroup E and its Subclades – 2012,” International Society of Genetic Genealogy ( : accessed 16 Jun 2012).
  9. See generally Wikipedia (, “Haplogroup E1b1b1a (Y-DNA),” rev. 15 Jun 2012.
  10. Glossary of Genetic Terms – 2012,” entries for SNP and Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, International Society of Genetic Genealogy ( : accessed 16 Jun 2012).
  11. See ISOGG Wiki (, “Deep clade tests,” rev. 23 Dec 2010.
  12. See “Friedrike, how COULD you?,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 7 Jan 2012.
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