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Corson Surname DNA Project Newsletter - April 2010

Hello everyone,

More than 3 years have passed since the last project newsletter (November 2006), due to my need to shift priorities after moving to France. Those of you who subscribe to _Corson Cousins_, the newsletter of the Corson/Colson Family History Association (CCFHA), have received 5 update articles since then, but nothing more. In the last e-mail newsletter 41 months ago, the project counted 31 participants belonging to 13 different genetic lines. I'm happy to report that membership in the project has increased since then, now numbering 50 members, 47 of them with DNA results reported from 16 genetic lines. I'll use this issue of the newsletter to provide a (long) summary of the project to date. Future issues will be shorter.

This newsletter comes to you from an e-mail list that I set up for the CCFHA. To unsubscribe or modify your subscription details, you can visit the links at the end of this message. I'll send future issues of this newsletter out every 1-2 months; between issues, you can visit the project website for updates: http://www.corsondna.com.

If you have any questions or comments about the project, please contact me.

Michael

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PROJECT STATISTICS

50 participants, 47 test results reported

Unique genetic lines: 16 (1 set of ten participants, 1 set of eight, 2 sets of five, 1 set of four, 1 set of three, 2 sets of two, 8 unmatched)

Families in each haplogroup: 11 in R1b; 1 each in E1b, I1, I2b1, and J2

STATUS OF THE 16 FAMILY LINES (in decreasing order of group size)

1. DIVISION I

10 participants (#1, 2, 12, 22, 25, 28, 29, 30, 44, 50) - surnames Corson and Colson

Haplogroup R1b (specifically R1b1b2a1a2*)

Common documented descendancy chart: http://www.corsondna.com/DivisionI.gif

These participants' documented male-line ancestries place them in CCFHA's Division I, descending from progenitor Cornelius Cursonwhit (c.1660-c.1710). Genetic signature of Samuel Corson (c.1686-1764), documented son of progenitor Cornelius Cursonwhit, identified.

Two participants (#29 and 50) share a mutation on marker DYS 446 (15, instead of 14 for other Division I descendants). It is likely that both received this mutation from their most-recent common ancestor, Isaac Corson (c.1770-1832); thus, this particular mutation can be used to identify individuals who descend in the male line in this manner: Cornelius-Samuel-Zebulon-Moses-Isaac.

This Division is the only group with members to have had additional testing (SNP tests) to confirm its estimated haplogroup (a much larger genetic "family" descending from a single male ancestor who lived thousands of years ago). The results are positive for SNPs P25, M269, and S116, which means that these participants belong to haplogroup R1b1b2a1a2* according to the current phylogenetic chart of the International Society of Genetic Genealogists (ISOGG) (http://www.isogg.org/tree/). At the moment, haplogroup designations group together family lines from relatively large regions (e.g., continental); however, as SNP identification and testing improves, such tests one day may be able to identify male-line origins at the scale of modern-day European countries.

2. DIVISION II

8 participants (#10, 14, 19, 37, 38, 39, 42, 48) - surnames Corson, Corsa, Courser, DeCoursey, Coursen, and Corsaw

Haplogroup I1 (sub-group “Anglo-Saxon”) estimated

Common documented descendancy chart: http://www.corsondna.com/DivisionII.gif

These participants' documented male-line ancestries place them in CCFHA's Division II, descending from progenitor Jan Corszen (d.1703). Genetic signature of progenitor Jan Corszen identified.

This is the second-largest group of matching participants in the project and has by far the greatest diversity of surnames: 6 surnames for 8 participants! Although three participants in this group share a mutation on DYS635, they document descent from two different sons of Jan Corszen, meaning that no mutations currently are associated with certain family lines within Division II. The DeCoursey participant in this group also belongs to the Coursey-Decoursey DNA Project (http://www.worldfamilies.net/surnames/c/coursey/).

3. DIVISION-III-DOCUMENTED CORSON

5 participants (#7, 9, 27, 34, 41) - surname Corson

Haplogroup I2b1 estimated

Common documented descendancy chart: http://www.corsondna.com/DivisionIII.gif

These participants' documented male-line ancestries place them in CCFHA's Division III, descending from progenitor Cors Pieterszen (1612-1655).

Four participants in this group document descent from Benjamin Corssen (1686-1740), documented son of Cornelis Corssen (1645-1692) who was a documented son of Cors Pieterszen, while one (#34) has a lineage that stops with Daniel Corson (1763-1849), who moved from Sussex Co., New Jersey, to Ontario, Canada, after the Revolutionary War. Given that Sussex Co., New Jersey, was a focal point for Corsons from Division II, the Division III results came as something of a surprise (at least to me). The participant now knows to research Division III Corsons to look for documentary evidence of Daniel Corson’s parents. No mutations have repeated among members, meaning that results currently do not allow us to identify mutations unique to certain family lines within this group.

Corson and Vroom participants (described later) documenting descent from Cors Pieterszen show two different genetic signatures. In fact, the two genetic signatures fall into two different haplogroups (I2b1 and R1b), meaning that their most recent male-line ancestor lived at least 5000 years ago. Consequently, at least one of the two genetic signatures does not descend from Cors Pieterszen. Thus, we are looking for participants from the following lines: male-line descendants of (1) Benjamin Corssen's brothers Jacob (1681-1742) or Christian (1676-aft. 1764) and (2) Hendrick Vroom’s (1683-1769) brothers Cornelius (b. 1677) or Alfred. Finding matching results from one of these descendants would allow us to move the genetic signature of one of the families back by one generation. Unless we find a Corssen descendant who matches the Vroom genetic signature or vice versa, however, we will be unable to estimate the genetic signature of the progenitor Cors Pieterszen.

4. DIVISION IV

5 participants (#6, 11, 15, 26, 35) - surname Corson

Haplogroup R1b estimated

Common documented descendancy chart: http://www.corsondna.com/DivisionIV.gif

These participants' documented male-line ancestries place them in CCFHA's Division IV, descending from progenitor Carsten Jansen (1634-c.1697). Genetic signature of progenitor Carsten Jansen identified.

Three participants in this group document descent from progenitor Carsten Jansen, while two (#6 and 35) have lineages that stop with William Corson (bef. 1765-abt. 1823), who lived in Maurice River Township, Cumberland Co., New Jersey. Until this matching DNA result, there had been questions about whether William Corson was related to Division IV Corsons, most of whom lived in Cape May Co., New Jersey. The DNA results confirm a relationship, but are not able to indicate a family line from which William may have descended. Testing of additional STR markers beyond the 43 currently tested may reveal mutations that could identify certain family lines within Division IV.

5. DIVISION XV

4 participants (#18, 31, 32, 36) - surnames Courson and Coursey

Haplogroup J2 estimated

Common documented descendancy chart: http://www.corsondna.com/DivisionXV.gif

These participants' documented male-line ancestries converge in South Carolina and Georgia in the mid- to late-1700s. The earliest documented ancestors are William T. (b.c.1760) and James (b. c. 1792) Courson from South Carolina, who may have been brothers. Participants from this family also belong to the Courson DNA Project (http://www.huxford.com/Genetics_Courson.htm) and the Coursey-Decoursey DNA Project (http://www.worldfamilies.net/surnames/coursey/). The former focuses on Coursons from the Wiregrass region of southern Georgia and northern Florida. Most descendants of this progenitor appear to have lived or currently live in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas.

6. DIVISION-III-DOCUMENTED VROOM

3 participants (#13, 17, 21) - surname Vroom

Haplogroup R1b (specifically R1b1b2a1a1a) estimated

Common documented descendancy chart: http://www.corsondna.com/DivisionIII.gif

These participants' documented male-line ancestries place them in CCFHA's Division III, descending from progenitor Cors Pieterszen (1612-1655).

Participants in this group document descent from Hendrick Vroom (1683-1769), documented son of Hendrick Corssen Vroom (1653-1690) who was a documented son of Cors Pieterszen. No mutations have repeated among members, meaning that results currently do not allow us to identify mutations unique to certain family lines within this group.

As mentioned above, Corson and Vroom participants documenting descent from Cors Pieterszen show two different genetic signatures, unrelated in the male line for at least 5000 years. Consequently, at least one of the two genetic signatures does not descend from Cors Pieterszen. Thus, as mentioned, we hope that additional Vroom and Corson participants documenting descent from this Division will help us determine the genetic signature of Cors Pieterszen and the origins of both families. We also would like to test Vroom participants who believe that they do not descend from Hendrick Vroom. Until then, we won’t know if the Corson or Vroom genetic signature (if either of them) represents that carried by Cors Pieterszen.

7. DIVISION VII

2 participants (#3, 24) - surname Corson

Haplogroup R1b (specifically R1b1b2) estimated

Common documented descendancy chart: http://www.corsondna.com/DivisionVII.gif

These participants' documented male-line ancestries place them in CCFHA's Division VII, descending from progenitor Jacob Corson (c.1755-bef.1822). Genetic signature of progenitor Jacob Corson identified.

Documents show that Jacob Corson (c.1755-bef.1822) lived in Amwell Township, Hunterdon Co., New Jersey, but so far have not mentioned the names of his parents. Before DNA testing, it was thought that Jacob Corson may have descended in the male line from one of the other Corson Divisions in New Jersey (II, III, or IV); however, his genetic signature does not match that of any other Corson family tested. So, at least we know that he does not; still, he remains a genealogical brick wall.

His genetic signature, however, has an exact match on 34 markers with individuals of the surname Moore, which I find intriguing, because Nathaniel Moore (1687-1759), a grandson of Reverend John Moore (1620-1657, emigrated from England to Long Island), appears to have moved to Hopewell Township, Hunterdon Co., New Jersey, around 1721. Since Hopewell Township sits next to Amwell Township, these particular English Moores were in the right place at the right time to be direct ancestors of Jacob Corson. According to documents, Nathaniel Moore had known sons born in 1714, 1720, 1724, and 1732. In a leap of speculation, these sons could have been of an age to father Jacob Corson or his father (b. c.1735). You can find more information about other Moores with matching genetic signatures in Group 5 of the Moore DNA project (http://small-stuff.com/MOORE/results.htm). Five of the Moore participants in this group have a “null” value on marker DYS425, which occurs in less than 1% of men in haplogroup R1b.

Speculation aside, even with an exact match on 34 markers, the most-recent common male-line ancestor between the Corson and Moore participants could have lived as long ago as 25 generations. So, it is possible that their common ancestor lived and died in Europe in the late Middle Ages. Testing a Corson participant from this group on additional markers (Moores have been tested on 67, and about 120 are commercially available), especially of a documented descendant of Amwell Township Moores, would provide a better estimate of the number of generations back to the most-recent common ancestor. Nonetheless, estimates of a more recent relationship would remain circumstantial unless documentary evidence could be found to establish a connection. On the other hand, estimates of a more distant relationship (e.g., 58/67 markers) would indicate no further need to consider a connection between the families in North America.

Alternately, it probably is more expedient to test other hypotheses first. For example, a correspondent in 1925 wrote that this Corson family was of English descent and originally spelled its name as “Courzen”. A well-known Curzon family has existed in England since the Middle Ages, descended from a Courson family from France. Thus, testing English Curzons or French Coursons could reveal a genetic relationship with this Corson family (or others).

8. CORSON WITH LEE MATCHES

2 participants (#8, 46) - surname Corson

Haplogroup R1b estimated

Participant #8 documents descent from the Division IV Corson family from Cape May Co., New Jersey, but his genetic signature does not match that estimated for descendants of the Division IV progenitor. The potential documented descent of Participant #46 (who matches Participant #8) places him (#46) in the same line of descent as Participant #8. The documented descent of another participant (#26), who documents a more recent common ancestor with Participant #8 but _does_ match the Division IV genetic signature, places the change in genetic signature in one of three documented ancestors of Participant #8: John Corson IV (b.c.1766), Hezekiah Corson (1802-1869), or Daniel H. Corson (1828-1918). Hezikiah was the first ancestor in participant #8's lineage to move from Cape May Co. to what later became Heislerville, Cumberland Co., New Jersey.

We have searched for genetic matches that might indicate from whence the change in genetic signature occurred. Intriguingly, exact matches to their genetic signature in the online Ysearch, SMGF, and DNA Ancestry databases carry the surname Lee (39-43 matching markers). Five individuals in the SMGF database trace their descent from a William Leigh (b.1687) of Shankill, Ireland. Some online research revealed that one of William's male-line great-grandsons, Thomas Lee (1780-1856), appears to have moved around 1798 to Leesburg, New Jersey, just 3 miles away from Heislerville. Once there, he and his wife had sons named Francis (b.1808), Clement (b.1813), James (b.c.1817), Benjamin (b.c.1828), and Alfred (b.1834). Thus, there were Lee males with a genetic signature matching that of these Corson participants in the right place and at the right time to be ancestors of the Corson participants. If we assume that Thomas Lee was the first person to bring the Irish Lee genetic signature to southern New Jersey around 1798, then Hezekiah or Daniel H. Corson become the first candidates for having Lee ancestry.

As with the Moore matches to Division VII Corsons, there is speculation involved. As they say, correlation (in space and time) does not equal causation. Still, compared to the Moore genetic signature, this genetic signature is relatively rarer, and the Corson-Lee match extends to more markers (43). It would be interesting to test both Corsons and Lees on 67 markers to see if the match remains exact.

PARTICIPANTS WITHOUT DNA CONNECTIONS IN THE PROJECT

9 and 10. DIVISION V-a

2 participants (#23, 47) - surname Corson

Haplogroup R1b estimated

Documented descendancy chart: http://www.corsondna.com/DivisionV.gif

The Corson/Corsan/Corsane family has been recorded in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, since the 13th century. Participant #23 documents descent from William Corson (c.1735-1802) of Dumfries, Scotland, while Participant #47 documents descent from Alexander Corson of Scotland, born sometime in the 19th century. Although both belong to haplogroup R1b, their genetic signatures do not match; in fact, I estimate that their most recent common male-line ancestor was born no more recently than 44-123 generations ago. We need to test another documented descendant of Scottish Corsons to be able to determine if the genetic signature of Participant #23 or #47 is the carried by other Scottish Corsons. Interestingly, several men in the Bell surname DNA project (http://home.earthlink.net/~bell.ancestries/) who match the genetic signature of Participant #23 have been able to find a common ancestor in William "Redcloak" Bell (died 1628), the last Chieftain of Clan Bell, which had established itself in Dumfriesshire.

11. DIVISION VIII (Colsons not derived from Corsons)

1 participant (#16) - surname Colson

Haplogroup R1b estimated

Participant #16 documents descent from Adam Colson of Surfleet, Lincolnshire, England, born 1638. The closest European matches to his genetic signature on Ysearch.org (ID#: CN4ME) carry the surnames Hall (UK, 61/67 markers) and Savage (Ireland, 61/67). He also has a 63/67 match with a modal subcluster of R1b called R1bSTR43 and belongs to the Colson DNA Project (http://www.familytreedna.com/public/colson/)

12. Participant #4 - surname Corson

Haplogroup E1b1b estimated

Participant #4 had documented descent from Division IV, but his genetic signature does not match that of other Division IV descendants. His genetic signature belongs to haplogroup E1b1b, which today occurs most frequently in the Horn of Africa and regions around the eastern Mediterranean. Based on matches in the Ysearch database, this participant may belong to haplogroup E1b1b1c. In the Ancestry DNA database, he has a match on 42 of 43 markers with someone with the surname Sharp.

13. Participant #5 - surname Corson

Haplogroup R1b estimated

Participant #5 documents descent from Division I, but his genetic signature does not match that of other Division I descendants. We are searching for genetic matches that might indicate the region of origin of this participant’s male-line ancestors. The closest matches to his genetic signature on Ysearch.org (ID#: AVT9R) carry the surnames Williams (Arkansas/Louisiana, 28/34 markers) and Dennis (New Jersey, 28/32).

14 and 15. Participant #20 - surname DeCoursey; Participant #45 - surname DeCourcy

Haplogroup R1b estimated

Participant #5 documents descent from William DeCoursey (bef. 1720-1788) of Bucks Co., Pennsylvania, while Participant #45 documents descent from William DeCourcy (1756-1841) (born in Baltimore, moved to Kentucky in 1780). Both believed that they may have descended from the Division II progenitor; however, their genetic signatures do not match each other, nor do they match those of other DeCoursey descendants in this project or the Coursey/Decoursey project, of which they also are members.

16. Participant #33 - surname Raisor

Haplogroup R1b estimated

Participant #33 joined the project thinking that he might descend from Division II, but his genetic signature does not match that estimated for the Division II progenitor. In the SMGF database, he has a 36/36 match with a Rasor from Indiana and two 37/37 matches with Osborn(e)s from Virginia and Missouri.

SUBSIDY FUND

At least $120 remains in the subsidy fund to reimburse all or a portion of the test costs for four participants from particular family lines in Divisions III and VI. You can see additional details at the project website: http://www.corsondna.com/subsidyfund.htm

If you have any questions about the project, interpretation of test results, or genetic genealogy in general, please contact me. You can read back issues of the newsletter at http://www.corsondna.com/reports.htm