DNA, Maternal Kin, Virginia

L1c1a1a1b legacy.

Thanks to my cousin M.D., we now know that Mary Agnes Holmes Allen and her mother Matilda belonged to haplogroup L1c1a1a1b.

M.D.’s mother, Nita Lourine Allen Meyers Wilkerson, was my grandfather John C. Allen Jr.‘s youngest sister. She was born 20 March 1913 in Newport News, graduated from Huntington High School, then received a nursing degree from Hampton Institute. Here’s Aunt Nita sitting on the front porch of her parents’ house on Marshall Avenue, circa 1916.

Nita Allen ca1914

And her high school diploma:


In 1939, she married Marcellus W. Meyers, a native of Washington, DC, with Beaufort, South Carolina, roots. The couple moved to DC, where their only child was born. Aunt Nita retired from nursing in 1975, returned to Newport News, and immediately pursued a passion for Democratic politics. She served and supported local and state campaigns for nearly twenty years until moving to Maryland shortly before her death in 1996.

Nita Allen Meyers 001

Nita in evening gown in the front hall of my great-grandparents’ house at 2107 Marshall Avenue, Newport News.

Matilda Holmes passed mtDNA haplogroup L1c1a1a1b to all her children, but only her daughter Mary Agnes Holmes Allen carried it further. In turn, of Mary Agnes’ children, only daughter Nita passed the haplogroup on. Today, as far I know, only M.D. and her son D.D. carry Matilda’s legacy.

Mary Allen holding Marita (1943) 001

Mary Agnes H. Allen holding baby M., circa 1943.

Photos courtesy of Julia A. Maclin and M.D.

DNA, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Photographs

L2 Legacy. (And well wishes!)

My niece turned 18 today. She’s the only one of my grandmother Margaret Colvert Allen‘s great-grandchildren to carry her mtDNA haplotype — L2d1a. I’m feeling some kind of way about that, and I shared my wistfulness with a group of researchers with whom I’m fortunate to co-administer a Facebook genealogy group. J. immediately replied that I should consider taking an mtDNA Full Sequence test at FTDNA. Though in the immediate sense the test is of limited genealogical use, as she wisely pointed out, the mtDNA database will never grow if none of us contributes to it.

Arising approximately 90,000 years ago, L2 is one of the oldest of the matrilineal haplogroups and is the most common African lineage.  L2d1a, however, is a relatively rare subclade. Google it, and three of the top five references are to this blog. I have no children and will not pass along Martha M. McNeely‘s matrilineage in that way. However, I can contribute to the understanding of its history and keep Martha’s legacy alive otherwise. Stay tuned, and Happy Birthday, S.D.J.!


Martha Margaret Miller McNeely’s L2d1a progeny — my grandmother, my sister, my niece, my mother, 1998.

DNA, Paternal Kin

My father’s haplotypes.

Haplogroup H is the most common mtDNA haplogroup in Europe  and is found in about 40% of Europeans.  H3 – my father’s haplotype — is the second most common subclade of H. It is found more frequently in western than in eastern Europe and is thought to have arisen 9000-11,000 years ago.

On the other hand, Y-DNA haplotype J2b1 is now found mostly in the southern Balkans and Anatolia. Fewer than 2% of European men in the region of Europe from which my known ancestors came – the British Isles and northern Europe — belong to haplogroup J2b.

DNA, Maternal Kin

My mtDNA: haplotype L2d1a.

Mitochondrial (mt) DNA is passed down in a matrilineal line from mother to offspring of both sexes. Unlike Y-DNA (passed on the Y chromosome from father to son only), it mutates very rarely. MtDNA is classified into haplogroups. The L haplogroup is the oldest of all mtDNA haplogroups and originated in Africa. My haplotype is L2d1a, which is part of the L haplogroup. I inherited this from my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother and on back to an African maternal ancestor who lived many thousands of years ago.

Though each of us carries mtDNA, only a small group of my mother’s extended family shares my L2d1a haplotype. Of all of Martha Miller McNeely‘s daughters, only Carrie McNeely Colvert, Emma McNeely Houser and Janie McNeely Taylor passed L2d1a to female children. However, only Carrie’s daughters Louise, Margaret and Launie Mae passed it further. (Emma’s daughter Wardenur died childless, as did Janie’s daughters.) All of Louise, Margaret and Launie Mae’s children are L2d1a, but only six of their collective daughters passed it further. In my grandmother Margaret’s 2nd and 3rd generations, only I, my sister, my neice, and two first cousins carry it.

McNEELY -- Martha McNeely Three Quarter


McNEELY -- Carrie M Colvert 3:4 profile




Beverly Ann


IMG_9656[By the way: Harriet Nicholson Hart’s mtDNA line ended when her only daughter died childless.  Also, there are no known carriers of Walker Colvert’s or Henry W. McNeely’s Y-DNA. ]