Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Some origins of Vance/Vans/Wentz Family Groups using Y-DNA

The Graphical Overview of Progress on all 16 Groups in the Vance/Vans/Wentz Y-DNA Project!

While this blog is about all Vance research, DNA offers one of the most exciting new ways to learn about our genealogy and the history of a surname.  So I tend to write about it a lot.  And this time instead of a deep dive into one particular lineage I thought I would give an overview of the entire Vance/Vans/Wentz Y-DNA Project.

Since this is a summary I’ll leave out the mechanics of how the Vance/Vans/Wentz Y-DNA Project works (for short I’ll call it the “Project”) and I won’t cover what DNA tests it looks at and so on.  But all the details on the Project itself can be found at this link and there are even detailed reports about every group in the Project at this link if you scroll down to the table on that page.

First some numbers about the Project.  It’s currently made up of 295 tested men, 175 of whom have been assigned to 16 sub-groups that represent different male Y-DNA lines of Vance/Vans/Wentz'es.  14 other men with Vance/Vans/Wentz surnames don't fit into these 16 groups yet and so are from other male Y-DNA origins.  The rest of the Project members are interested testers that aren't descended from a male Vance/Vans/Wentz line.

That doesn’t mean that all 16 groups represent different origins of the Vance/Vans/Wentz surnames;  some may be descended from a man whose biological father had a different last name but either through adoption or other means took on the same last name as a Vance/Vans/Wentz man from one of the other groups – if that happened then those two DNA groups really got their surname from the same origin.    We’re still learning many things about all 16 groups but some apparently did pick up their surname from one of the other DNA groups. 

In the 16 groups there are 151 men who currently have the Vance (145), Vans (2), or Wentz (4) last names, and 24 men with other last names.   These men descend from 87 known ancestors, 78 of whom were immigrants into the US or Canada in the 1700s and 1800s, 8 lines who stayed in Europe (Ireland or Scotland), and one who immigrated to Australia.   So our project is certainly heavily weighted towards North American immigrant lines but we are still an international group.

The overall summary is that we are not only organizing the Vances and related surnames into family lines, but we also have "deep history" (prehistoric) information about each line, and in many cases we are finding details about these Vance lines earlier than the known earliest ancestors on each line.  Plus we're also collecting valuable information about how the Vance, Vans, and Wentz surnames originated and were passed down.

The larger groups tend to have more detail partly because they have had more traditional genealogy research to combine, but every tester also adds valuable DNA information.  The other key factor in improving the available details is the amount of deeper Y-DNA testing that the members have taken.  Lastly it's important that each group finds matches through their DNA testing that allow us to make connections, but that's purely by chance and not under a tester's control!

The detailed summary of these 16 groups is as follows - and again, much more detail about each group is available in the reports accessible from the link above.

Group 1:  (51 men):  Descendants of the Vans family from Barnbarroch (and possibly Menie) in Scotland who have been documented since at least 1382, though their documented earlier connection to the medieval de Vaux from Normandy is not yet proven by DNA.   Significant progress has been made in determining the branching within this group by DNA, and the group has current descendants in the US, UK, and Australia.

Group 2:  (38 men):  An older Irish line with current descendants in the US and Canada whose origins have been documented just after the Cromwellian period in Ireland (1660s), already by then spread into several locations around Ulster.   The branching within this group has also been extensively mapped.  It is likely that they came from a Plantation or pre-Plantation Protestant immigrant into Ireland whose immediate descendants either through military service or other means quickly spread around Ulster.

Group 3:  (14 men):  Another older Irish line with current descendants in the US and Canada; the origins of this group in Ireland have been traced to several locations in Ulster back to the early/mid 1700s.   Group 3’s origins are likely from a Plantation immigrant into Ireland although their spread around Ulster was more concentrated than Group 2 and may have simply been due to generations moving to new farms or into cities (Derry) as merchants.

Group 4:  (4 men): Descendants of Patrick Vance and Elizabeth McKay in Kentucky in the early 1800s; this group connects into a large Y-DNA haplogroup with “northern-European” (possibly Scandinavian?) origins but the immediate origins of this Vance line cannot be determined without further matches.

Group 5:  (2 men): The two men in this group are descendants of Thomas Vance of Rockbridge Co, Virginia who moved to Gallia Co, Ohio in the early 1800s; this group has both English and German connections and its immediate origins cannot be determined without further matches.

Group 6:  (7 men): Descendants of William Vance and Elizabeth Backhouse, Quakers who emigrated from Tyrone, Ireland to Chester County, Pennsylvania around 1741.  The Y-DNA points to an origin before there from Wales as an offshoot of the Bassetts of Llanelly, although how they adopted the Vance surname is still unknown.

Group 7:  (11 men): This group traces back to Wentz immigrants who came separately to the US; one from Russia in the Odessa region where the Germans settled by the Black Sea, and one or two from Bavaria.  Since the Odessa regions was settled by Bavarians originally; the origin of this group appears to be with a German Wentz lineage from Bavaria.

Group 8:  (25 men):  Two members of this group are from lineages that remained in Ireland.  Three others trace back to a group of brothers or cousins who came to Mississippi from Ireland in the mid-19th century.  The group also contains the descendants of James Alexander Vance, who moved to South Carolina from Pennsylvania  in the 1780s.  The group traces back to a common ancestor in Ireland in the 1600s; the two likely theories that they adopted their surname independently or that they came from the Craig surname in Ireland still need to be sorted out through additional testing.

Group 9:  (2 men): The two men in this group consists of the descendants of John Vance, who was born c. 1801 in Tennessee and died in 1870 in Washington County, AR.   Their earlier origins are still inconclusive - the Y-DNA testing in this group has been insufficient to determine more than their deeper (prehistoric) ancestry so far.

Group 10:  (5 men): This group consists of descendants of several Wentz immigrants to the US in the early 1700s from the Rhineland-Pfaltz area of Germany who appear to share a common ancestor around 1450AD-1600AD.

Group 11:  (4 men): This group consists of the descendants of Patrick Vance from Henderson Co, Kentucky in the US and the descendants of James Vance from Ayrshire in Scotland.  They appear to be a branch of Vances who adopted the name perhaps around 1500AD while living in the Ayrshire/Glasgow area of Scotland.  Whether they adopted the name through connection with another Scottish Vans/Vance line or via separate origin is still unknown.

Group 12:  (4 men): Descendants of John Vance (c. 1745-1826/27) who lived in Pendleton Co, West Virginia.  Analysis indicates his Y-DNA was carried by 2 other surnames who branched in the generations before John Vance, and their ultimate origin before the US is possibly English but still uncertain.

Group 13:  (3 men): The Y-DNA is clear that this group originated from a branch off the Maxwells of lower Scotland from around 1400AD or so.  Possibly brought into the Vans name through the known connections between the Maxwells and the Vans of Barnbarroch which would mean this group’s surname origin was from the Vans of Barnbarroch. 

Group 14:  (2 men): Descendants of a George Washington Vance who was born in Missouri in 1850.  Their earlier origins are still inconclusive - the Y-DNA testing in this group has been insufficient to determine more than their deeper (prehistoric) ancestry so far.

Group 15:  (1 man): The one man in this Group descends from Richard Vance (1856-1894) who married Celia Vance, daughter of Abner Vance and Mary Ann Whitehead.   Their earlier origins are still inconclusive - the Y-DNA testing in this group has been insufficient to determine more than their deeper (prehistoric) ancestry so far.

Group 16:  (2 men): These Vances descend from William Vance (1760 - 1831) who lived mainly in Green Co, KY.  The line is most closely related to a branch of the Lands surname and is perhaps of English origin, but more matches are required from DNA testing to be more definite about their pre-US origins.