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From the Corson Cousins newsletter, January 2005

CCFHA Corson/Colson Surname DNA Project

This CCFHA project began in November 2004 and compares Y-chromosome DNA from men with the Corson or Colson surname (and their variants). By doing this, we can estimate how people within and among CCFHA Divisions are related to one another, even if no paper documentation exists. Consequently, we have a very good chance to connect "orphaned" Division VII to the Division from which it originated. Even more exciting, once the project has tested a handful of participants from each Division with a progenitor, Corsons and Colsons of unknown ancestry who submit samples for the project have a good chance of determining whether they are related to others in these Divisions. For those who already know their Division assignment, adding their DNA signature to the project eventually may help indicate whether certain Corson lines have French, Dutch, or Scandinavian origins. For these reasons, the DNA project holds much promise for supplementing traditional genealogical research.

We use a laboratory named "Relative Genetics" to process the samples for our project. We recommend that participants take their 37-marker "Lineage Establisher" test, which currently costs $195; however, CCFHA will reimburse the next 10 participants for $40 of that cost, making the net cost $155. The test itself requires only swabbing three cotton swabs inside the cheeks. The DNA results show up as a string of numbers that cannot identify participants personally or reveal any medical information. Female Corsons/Colsons, or males descended from them, who want DNA information about their Corson/Colson family line will need to identify direct-line male relatives with the Corson/Colson surname for testing. An alternate way to participate in the project is to "sponsor" part or all of the test cost for certain individuals (e.g., close relatives or others in the same Division).

Currently, the project has five participants who have submitted or will submit DNA samples: three men in Division I, one in division VII, and one who may come from Division IV. Only the samples for two men in Division I have been processed to date. They match each other on all 37 markers, which confirms that they are related and also indicates that no "non-paternity" events, such as unrecorded adoptions, occurred among their direct-line male Corson/Colson ancestors. The match also gives a good indication of the haplotype (genetic signature) of Division I Corsons (especially those in Division I-A). We'll need to test other Division I Corsons/Colsons to increase our confidence that these results represent the haplotype of Division I's common ancestor, Samuel Corson, son of the Division I progenitor, Cornelius Cursonwhit. Once we have results from Corsons and Colsons in Divisions II, III, and IV as well, we can begin to see how genetically similar (or different) we Corsons/Colsons are.

Other DNA studies are beginning to identify regional differences among Y-chromosome haplotypes (e.g., typical values for men from Sweden or the Netherlands). If we are able to estimate the haplotype of our Corson/Colson progenitors, I believe that, in time, we'll be able to gain additional information about the geocultural regions from which Corson/Colson immigrants came to North America.

You can read more about the project and DNA test results at the project website:

Would you be willing to participate in our project? If so, you can learn how by visiting the project website or by contacting me.