Thursday, February 16, 2006

Taking the DNA test UPDATE

Update: As of March 3, 2006, my DNA has been isolated for testing. It has now arrived at the sequencing facilities.

"Family Tree DNA" said the return address label that I found in the mail one day last week. I knew right away that the day of my very first DNA test, at least that I'm aware of, had arrived.

The entire topic of DNA deserves some discussion before I give you the nitty gritty of the test. When one has a test in hand, several thoughts come to mind, even if you are not a suspect in a high profile missing young woman case.

There is one supposition about any test that will provide absolute results: there is no crying in DNA testing. In other words, I have to be ready to accept that I might not be Irish at all. We may be misled by the family lore and they never mention the traveling salesmen in those legends.

Or maybe we came to the USA from Ireland but had just arrived in Ireland say, from Canada. This is our family legend. I hope and expect to find some native American ancestry from the branch of the family tree that diverted to Canada in the very early days of the colonies. This would help us to prove the legend, that documents cannot prove.

Then what other uses might come along for this DNA? Family Tree promises complete confidentiality and in providing to you total control as to any usage of the DNA. They merely store it for future tests that you might want or need.

Second, since we all know promises like this are meant to be broken, lets consider how this could be legally broken. I imagine if I were a suspect in a high-profile missing woman case, a judge could order the company to provide my DNA. So, that's one thing I better not ever be. OK. Then there is the sticky little issue of the Patriot Act. If I happen to get a wrong number phone call from the wrong person say, in Asia, the FBI might be sneaking and peeking through my DNA. Fair enough, the test is important enough to me to risk that wrong number call. Last thing I want is this administration coming after me. I don't want to be looking down Dick Cheney's barrel.

Then the entire idea of the potential of future uses of DNA jumps up right in front of you like a quail in Texas brush. When I was a kid we were just learning about DNA, RNA and genetics. Today we have mapped the genome. How about tomorrow? Maybe, when babies are born, we will be taking a DNA test routinely for several different reasons. The first is that the likelihood of diseases that pass through families will be identified in your DNA. Won't tell you everything but you might know what problems you are most likely to encounter. In some cases this information could be life-saving. Sadly, in other cases it could be devastating. To avoid carrying certain defects to future generations, it would not be out of bounds to identify the carriers of these genes, possibly collect sperm and eggs and "clean" them of this gene, then reintroduce the same DNA through in vitro fertilization.
These simple tests by enough people will revolutionize medical science. It isn't a matter of if, it's only a question of when. So, I decided to push on and take the test.

The Test

I must admit that I have observed a DNA test swab being taken. It was on an episode of "The Closer" on USA and it was a suspect in a high profile missing and murdered woman's case.

Opening the envelope there are papers explained what to do and a return padded envelope. There are also two small vials which are sealed but contain a small amount of a liquid for preserving your DNA. There are two sealed DNA swabs. Simply enough you remove a swab carefully not interjecting any other foreign substances, and you scrape the inside of your cheek for a minute. Like turning your toothbrush around. The tip of the swab gathers cells. The first vial is opened carefully and the swab tip is ejected into it by just a small push on the swab stick.
Then you seal it up. Wait eight hours and repeat the same for vial #2. Oh and you shouldn't eat for an hour before the test and avoid drinking anything hot or cold for that hour. And that's it, the two vials go into the envelope, the DNA is off for testing.
I have received a confirmation that my DNA test kit has arrived and the tests I have ordered will take 4-5 weeks. I can follow it all on a website. Stay tuned for the results. Whatever they might be.....

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Let's Recap - What we have learned so far!

Michael Foley born 1821(to William Foley and Bridget
Fitzgerald Foley)County Waterford Ireland, emigrated to
the United States date unsure,married Bridget O'Brien,
also of County Waterford October 1, 1853 in Easton
Alice Marie brn October 20,1854 in Massachusetts,
Daniel Edmund March 18, 1857 in Cohasset Massachusetts,
Mary brn 1859 in Lyons, Cook County Illinois,
William Michael, born 1864 or 1865, also Lyons, Cook
County Illinois.
Two more daughters, Ellen and Delia Foley were also born
in Illinois after 1865.

Alice Marie married twice. First marriage was to Patrick
Dunbar born In ireland and who worked as a brakesman for
the Illinois Central Railroad, the second to Charles Donahue.
Alice children were as follows however three were daughters
but it is unclear which husband was their father: Patrick
fathered at least one of the daughters, Wilhemina born
January 14, 1882
Mrs. Charles Clayborne, lived in Peoria
Mrs. W J Ryan Champaign
Mrs. A J Bernbaum, also of Champaign
One son, Charles Donahue Known as "CR" of Urbana Illinois

Mary married James C. Hollingsed, railroad employee who was
killed in a railroad car coupling accident.Children were
James Clinton Hollingsed Jr.,
DJ (believed to be David),
and two daughters who married men named J. A. Welty in
Chicago and W W Findley in Los Angeles.

Daniel Edmund married Margaret Ann Purtill, he worked for the
Illinois Central Railroad as a crew foreman. Children were
Louis Francis born in Centralia Illinois September 15, 1881,
Ella, born in DuQuoin Illinois, November 4, 1883,
Mattie Agnes born April 27, 1886 in DuQuoin

Louis Francis is my grandfather, he married Helen Baillie,
January 11, 1905 in Carbondale Illinois Helen had been married
once to a man named Druar who deceased after being the father
to daughter Helen Druar.Louis adopted Helen and she changed
her name to Foley.
Helen married Winton Walkup of Carbondale. They had no
Other children were
Louis Edward (Ned),
William Severn,
Daniel Bernard and
Richard Emmitt

Louis Edward Foley (Ned), Ned would marry Virgina Keith,
become a pharmacist owning a pharmacy in Anna Illinois
They had twins, Patricia and Donald. Ned also went on to
elected office in his community

William Severn born February 11, 1909 in Carbondale. (My Dad)
He married Helen Gurley in Carbondale and had one daughter,
Joan, before they were divorced. Joan would marry Reed
Martin, who would be superintendent of schools in Carbondale
William later married Alice Fleming in the Chapel at Lowry
Field in Colorado during World War II when he was in
training their for the Army Air Corps
Willam and Alice had two sons, John Patrick and Daniel
Michael (Thats me!) Alice had two daughters with her first
husband Paul Baer. who died abruptly in the 1930s. Daughters
were Mary Virginia and Margaret Rose. Mary married Andy
Kachevas and died after a long bout with cancer in 1968.
Mary and Andy had five children :Glennon, Steve, Lee,David
and Susan Margaret married Hadley F. Koeller, and they had
six children: Julie, Vickie, Haldey Jr, Vincent, Matthew,
John Patrick had three children with Joan Stockman: Colleen,
John Jr and Meghan.
Daniel Michael (Thats me again) married Nancy Langford and
had five children: Daniel M. Jr, Timothy Patrick, Ryan James,
Kevin John and Alison Michelle
William's career was the sales of heating equipment in
particular boilers after world war II. He had been trained
as an embalmer at Worsham School in Chicago, graduating in
1929. He finished his career with the Depatrment of Defense
as a contract specialist

Daniel Bernard married Jean Smith in Carbondale. He would
go on to be a physician in Carbondale, and Edwardsville
Illinois. Dan and Jean had two daughters, Annie and Mimi.
Mimi married Tom Vaughn

Richard Emmitt married Lorraine Scanzoni and they had three
Patricia, Margaret (Peggy) and Mary.
Richard was a basketball player for Southern Illinois
University in 1945-1947 and played on a championship team
there. His career was sales of eyewear to physicians and
Patricia is married to Jack Mercurio. She is currently
President of Bank of America- Missouri headquarted in
Saint Louis.

Not much is known about Ella Foley

Mattie Agnes Foley married James C. Hollingsed Jr., her
first cousin.
Both were working for the railroad when they married in
Memphis Tennessee.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The DNA Proof is at Hand!

This week's Newsweek (February 6, 2006) carries a cover story on an evolving use of DNA technology.
Simply put, there are companies that will test your DNA, look for specific markers and then send you a report, like most DNA tests would be done. The report however, is something completely new and different.
The report tells you were your ancestry lies by country and by race. And it goes back 10,000 years. that's right, 10,000 Years!
Might seem like a stretch. It is but only to the extent that there is no direct lineage involved only percentages of likelihood.

National Geographic has launched a massive effort to gather the unique DNA from all of the indigenous peoples of the world before some of these unique people lose their identities into the masses. The goal of the study is to trace human roots from today back to the origin of the species. Adam and Eve have already been traced to Africa.

In short, a father's Y chromosome passes down from father to son unchanged. Likewise a mother's mitochondrial DNA passes down from mother to daughter unchanged. 99% of DNA is completely shuffled around in each person, but the other 1% provides a wealth of information. Certain mutations occurred at specific places and times and through these mutations DNA can be tested back ad infinitum through your father's side and your mother's side.

I was stopped in my shoes reading the Newsweek when it referred to two case studies, one involving "Otzi the Iceman". You may remember that a frozen man was found in the Italian Alps in 1991. He was dated to be 5300 years old. Well, enough people have been tested now that it seems there have been three matches to Otzi from people living today. The most intriguing connection was to Edmund Schofield, 67, of Boylston Massachusetts. Schofield, a Botanist, has felt that call of the wild, and traveled to the Antartic three times.
Makes me wonder about the many people who move south in retirement like my Cousin Donny. Is there a warm culture in our family tree? I decided to check the geology of County Waterford and what I found is very interesting. County Waterford did not freeze during the last Ice Age. It was where many animals migrated. Woolly Mammoths have been found there as well as giant deer. There are substantial finds but only a small amount of archaeology has been done there. Our ancestors moved south to stay warm and we're still doing it!

The other case that caught my eye was that of a man who believed he was related to the Puritans who settled in around Plymouth Massachusetts. This is intriguing because that legend is also in the Foley family. So, I wondered, why not get tested?
I ordered the DNA kit last night online from Family Tree DNA. There are several companies to choose from but Family Tree also has a Foley surname project. Anyone who wishes to share their results with other Foleys, may find long lost relatives.

And the mtochondrial DNA tests will give you the likelihood of your mothers lineage back 50 generations. FIFTY!

I am fascinated by what this might tell me about our family tree and will blog all the way through the process.