“My grandmother has already traced all of our family history, our work is done.” How often I’ve heard this claim among LDS church members. As I’ve pondered this statement over the years, I’ve come to realize a major thing grandmother didn’t do is DNA testing. Let’s take a look at the Allred family of Utah.
The Allred family of Utah is very large. According to compilers of the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database, 102 Allred individuals made the pioneer trek to Utah between 1847 and 1868 (some crossed the plains multiple times). Utah Allreds share a common ancestor in Colonial North Carolina with United States President Barrack Obama (see “An Allred In The White House??”).
The Allreds were stuck in Colonial North Carolina and could not extend their line back to the immigrant to America. In the 1940s, family members hired renowned professional genealogist Archibald F. Bennett to trace their family tree. Bennett published his conclusion that the family had migrated from the Northern Neck of Virginia to North Carolina in The Allred Family in America (available online, but blurry).
Since that time, descendants have continued studying the Allred family and have found substantial evidence that they actually migrated from Colonial Pennsylvania down to Colonial North Carolina and had been Quakers (reminiscent of the migration history of Daniel Boone’s family). This Pennsylvania family most likely originated in Lancashire, England.
Then came the clincher. DNA extracted from the Y-chromosomes of living male Allred descendants has demonstrated a clear match between the largest Allred family of Colonial North Carolina and Allred (or Aldred) families who stayed behind in Lancashire, England (see DNA Results Graph at Allred Family Organization website). The family in Colonial Virginia does not match.
Conclusion: DNA overturned the conclusion of a 1940s professional genealogist. Archibald F. Bennett is arguably one of the top genealogists who has ever lived. If his conclusions could be overturned by DNA evidence — could this new technology also help your family tree?
Learn more about DNA testing in this RootsTech video.
Special thanks to anonymous Allred family member who shared this story with me.