Samuel had two sons, Joseph and Abraham in the 1740's (in New Jersey)

Joseph had a son, Levi

Abraham had a son, Levi

One of these (Levi) sons has no further history, the other Levi married and had at least 9 children of which there are many descendants today.

The problem is that the descendants of these 9 children of Levi can't determine if "their" Levi is the son of Joseph or Abraham.

Is there any way that genetic genealogy can help resolve this?

  • 2
    Y-DNA won't help as both Levis will have the same Y-DNA. How many generations back are the Levis? If more than 5-6, autosomal DNA is not going to help either as the amounts passed down to the present day descendants will be too small/non-existent.
    – user104
    Aug 4 '19 at 15:28
  • In the low probability case that either Joseph or Abraham had a Y-DNA mutation, then his whole branch will differ for each brother. If a mutation happened in one of their descendants, then some people today could be distinguished from the others. So Y-DNA might be able to help depending if you are lucky and the mutations happen fairly close to the brothers.
    – lkessler
    Aug 6 '19 at 4:25

You can possibly figure out whether they are descended from Joseph or Abraham by concentrating on the wives of Joseph and Abraham. Hopefully the two wives are not related. Trace the siblings, cousins etc. of the wives and try to find living descendants that are not also descendants of Samuel. Find one that has taken a DNA test or try to get one to take a DNA test. If the Levi descendants match descendants of one of the wives family that would indicate which side they are from. This is of course a bit more complex than that because there might be other reasons they match, but this is one avenue to explore.

  • Welcome to G&FH SE! As a new user be sure to take the Tour to learn about our focussed Q&A format which is quite different from bulletin boards, discussion forums and other Q&A sites you may be used to. Unfortunately, it sounds like the asker only knows of a wife for one of the two Levis. This would mean that another wife would need to be located before your otherwise good advice could kick in.
    – PolyGeo
    Aug 4 '19 at 23:28
  • 1
    I thought of that approach, however because there is no definitive documentation, it seems that one of the Levi either did not marry or died while young.
    – BobE
    Aug 5 '19 at 1:56
  • I see I did not quite understand the question, but if you extend my answer back one generation then it will apply. Look at the wives of Joseph and Abraham find brothers and sisters or first cousins etc of the wives and their descendants until you find someone who has done a DNA test.
    – Bill
    Aug 5 '19 at 3:18
  • I hope you will use the edit button beneath your answer to revise it with this clarification because I think incorporation of your comment would be an good improvement.
    – PolyGeo
    Aug 5 '19 at 3:57
  • I have revised the answer to better fit my new understanding of the question.
    – Bill
    Aug 5 '19 at 19:05

Bill almost has the right idea. Unfortunately, tracing descendants on the woman's side from the 1700's to find descendants to test would be extremely difficult, and then true descendants 8 generations from an ancestor might not have got any DNA from the ancestor, and certainly would be unlikely to share anything with a specific 8th cousin.

But the idea of the wives is correct. You might be able to make use of a clustering tool. There are many available that put your matches together in groups that likely correspond to common ancestors.

Do this clustering for each of the Levi descendants. Then compare the matches in common between the descendants and see what cluster they are in. In a perfect world you'll have a cluster for Samuel, Joseph and Abraham, another for Joseph's wife and a third for Abraham's wife.

Of course, it's not a perfect world, and there could be endogamy involved, which will complicate matters. But even if the clusters are not clear, this exercise should give you some insight that might be helpful.


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