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On Page 1 is given an outline of the Bush Surname DNA Project along with procedures for potential participants to follow. On this page a few more details of the project are given. Also, an attempt is made to articulate why each of you should consider having a DNA analysis done for your Bush line and how the results could assist you in tracing your family history.

In this study markers in the DNA of the Y-chromosome of each sample are examined. The Y-chromosome is unique in human DNA in that it is only found in males and is passed down from father to son virtually unchanged. The term 'virtually' is used because there is a small probability (less than 1 %) that a mutation will occur in the markers each generation. The net result then is that the markers being examined will have essentially the same (or very similar) values for you, your father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc., back many generations (10 to 50 or more). Obviously one cannot directly analyze such DNA back more than 2 or 3 generations because earlier ancestors have passed on. However, the power of the technique is that one does not have to analyze the DNA of ancestors; one can obtain meaningful genealogical information by comparing the results from your DNA analysis with the results from others. Consider, for example, that your direct male ancestor of say 10 generations ago had 2 sons, one of whom you are descended from, and the other who is the ancestor of another group of Bushes. The Y-chromosomal DNA from a living direct male descendant of the second son should be identical or very similar to your Y-chromosomal DNA. The corollary of course is that, if neither you nor the other Bush knew your lines back that far, finding your DNAs to be so closely matched would indicate that you have a common ancestor. That could open up new avenues for both of you to explore. Of course, if you find that your Y-chromosomal DNA does not match that of another Bush one could conclude that you are not closely related (at least through the Bush male line).

It should be emphasized that the analyses for this study can only be done on samples collected from males since they are the only ones with the Y-chromosome. Furthermore, because the Y-chromosome is passed from father to son the study can only find relationships that occur through direct male lines. Since surnames usually follow direct male lines, our study has the potential to find many relationships among various Bushes. Those of you who are females with Bush ancestors can still participate in the study if you find a male relative (father, brother, uncle, male cousin, etc.) who is willing to supply a sample for analysis. By the way, sample collection is painless; it involves merely rubbing the inside of the cheek with a foam collector.

One should point out that there are several situations where the DNA analysis might give an unexpected result. These are sometimes referred to euphemistically as 'non-paternal' events. Some examples of such situations are: an unknown adoption in your line, an illegitimate birth or conception out of wedlock, some ancestor taking the surname of a stepfather, etc. Of course, if you have suspicions that one of these might have occurred in your line, obtaining a DNA analysis and comparing the results to those of presumed relatives where it is unlikely such an event happened could provide evidence whether such an event has occurred in your line.

Many of us have been able to determine our Bush lines back several generations but have been stymied in trying to trace our lines back further. Using DNA analyses one has the potential to be able to obtain information about earlier generations. For example, suppose you have a well documented Bush line back to the 1850s in Iowa. You suspect that your earliest known Bush ancestor migrated to Iowa from either Massachusetts or Virginia but have not been able to make the connection. You know that there are several known Bush lines in Massachusetts and Virginia so it seems a reasonable possibility. By having the DNA from one of your Iowa Bushes analyzed and comparing the results to those obtained from the various Massachusetts and Virginia Bush lines, one would obtain evidence which one is the most likely to be related to your line, and thus you would know where to focus further traditional genealogical research.

It is evident from Passenger and Immigration indexes (see, for example, one such list) that there were many different immigrants to the new world from several different European countries whose descendants ended up with the Bush surname. One of the goals of the study is to define how many unique ancestors there were to the various Bush lines, which lines are related and which are not. In order to answer this question one will need broad participation by many Bush lines. For this reason alone, each of you with a Bush line is encouraged to participate in this study. However, a potential added benefit from participation is that some more immediate questions may be resolved in your line (see earlier discussion) and that you may find totally unexpected relationships with other Bush lines.

For those of you who would like to obtain more information on DNA surname studies in general, the following are a few (of many) web sites that contain additional information.

Family Tree DNA; this is the company we are using for the Bush surname study.

Blair Surname Project; a specific project with a good write-up (DNA 101) of the principles involved.

Hamilton Surname Project; another specific project whose procedures we are following closely.

World Families Network, a site with links to many others containing information on the DNA method and on the surnames being investigated.

If you have any questions concerning the project that are not covered above do not hesitate to contact the coordinator.


Last updated July 2016