mtDNA Testing

Mitochondrial DNA is long, circular strand of DNA. (Bacterial DNA is also circular.) It is composed of 16,569 smaller units, called base pairs. Each base pair is composed of two nucleotides. There are only four possible nucleotides — adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C) and guanine (G). Each nucleotide has a complementary nucleotide. So, along the strand of DNA, adenine always appears paired with thymine, and cytosine always appears paired with guanine. Because each nucleotide can only appear with its complement, it is not necessary to report both sides of the chain. So, the DNA chain can be expressed as a chain of nucleotides, for example, GATCACAGGT…

Taking a DNA Sample

A DNA sample consists of human cells. The most common method of taking a sample is to use a cotton swab to brush the inside of a person’s cheek. Some labs use mouth wash or chewing gum. Older procedures often required a blood sample. The sample is then sent to a lab for testing.

Lab Procedure

When a lab tests mtDNA, it looks for mutations. Mutations can take three forms:

1. Substitutions — the base pair at a particular location can change. This is the most common form of mutation, and the only form I discuss here.

2. Deletions — the base pair at a location can be deleted.

3. Insertions — a new base pair can be inserted between existing locations.

To find mutations, the lab determines which nucleotides appear at each location on the mtDNA molecule. To save time, it tests only hyper-variable segments, that is, areas where mutations are most likely to occur. One common segment to test is HVS-1, which starts at base pair 16,001 and ends at base pair 16,568. Another common region to test is HVS-2, which starts at base pair 1 and ends at base pair 574. (Note: the actual range for each hyper-variable region varies slightly from lab to lab.)

Understanding Test Results 

The convention for reporting mtDNA results is not difficult, but it requires some explanation:

The lab compares test results to the Cambridge Reference Series (CRS). The reference series is arbitrary. It is the mtDNA sequence for the first person whose mtDNA was analyzed, not the original sequence for homo sapiens.

Locations on the DNA molecule are numbered. As a shorthand, the lab uses location numbers, then adds the abbreviation for the nucleotide at each location. The nucleotides are abbreviated as A (adenine), T (thymine), C (cytosine) and G (guanine). For example, in this shorthand 16270T means the nucleotide at location number 16,270 is thymine.

Each nucleotide can only appear with its complement, so the lab reports only one nucleotide at each location. For example, 16270T means that the nucleotide at location number 16,270 is thymine, which is understood to be one side of a base pair composed of thymine and its complement adenine.

The lab reports only differences from the Cambridge Reference Series. If the result at a particular location matches the reference series, it is not reported. If it is different from the series, it is reported. For example, a test result of 16270T means the test sample matches the reference series, except at location number 16,270. The reference series has a cytosine/guanine base pair at this location, but the test subject has thymine/adenine.

My mtDNA Test Results

The test results are:

16270T 16292A 16298C 00072C 00195C 00263G 00309.1C 00315.1C (Haplogroup V)

These codes are shorthand for the mutations in my individual family line. The three numbers mean that my mtDNA matches the standard reference series, except at those locations. The letters indicate the difference. The reference series has 16270C (cytosine/guanine), 16292C (cytosine/guanine) and 16298T (thymine/adenine). In my mtDNA, those locations are 16270T (thymine/adenine), 16292A (adenine/thymine) and 16298C (cytosine/guanine). Only the left-hand nucleotide of the base pair is reported, because its complement can be assumed.

Haplogroup Assignment

I belong to Haplogroup V2, although that was not clear initially. I had my mtDNA tested by Oxford Ancestors in 1999. They got it wrong. The error came to light in 2007 when I was re-tested at Family Tree DNA.

Based on my (erroneous) test results, Oxford Ancestors (1999) predicted that I belong to Haplogroup U5b. Their prediction was problematic. Both Haplogroups H and U match the reference series at HVR-1. To distinguish between them, HVR-2 must be tested. I was tested only at HVR-1. Nevertheless, a mutation at 16270 is a defining characteristic (“motif”) of subgroup U5, so, it seemed likely that I would be U5. (Not U5b — I do not have a mutation at 16189, which is the motif for U5b). (See Macaulay, Table of Haplogroup Motifs).

Family Tree DNA (2007) disagreed, and on the basis of their tests, assigned me to Haplogroup V. Oxford Ancestors then explained, “A mutation at position 270 is characteristic of clade U and a position at 298 is a characteristic of clade V. It was always believed in the early days that as clade U was the more common that it over rode the clade V, but more recent research has in fact confirmed that this is not in fact the case and the a [sic] mutation at position 298 is the defining one and you are therefore more correctly assigned to clade V and indeed this is where we would now place you.” (Personal Communication, October 11, 2007).

My haplogroup assignment could change again, slightly. It is not possible to distinguish between Haplogroups Pre-V and V on the basis of results only from HVR-1 and HVR-2. About 23% of those assigned to Haplogroup V actually belong to Haplogroup Pre-V.

Haplogroup V evolved from Haplogroup Pre-V, which evolved from Haplogroup HV. HV has 14766C, which matches the standard reference series (which is in Haplogroup H). Mutations 16298 T>C and 00072 T>C define Pre-V. Then,5904 C>T, leads further into Pre-V. Finally, 04580 G>A defines Haplogroup V.

The full motif for Haplogroup V is:

16298C, 00072C, 04580A, 14766C, 15904T

According to Whit Athey, when Family Tree DNA does RFLP tests for Haplogroup V, they check 04580, 07028 and 14766.04580A defines Haplogroup V, but 14766C assures that the haplotype lies somewhere in the HV complex, and 07028T confirms that it is not in H.

Continue …


According to tradition, the first Horne in America was Dutch. His father died in London, his pregnant mother made the rest of the trip to America alone, and delivered her baby in Baltimore. I have not been able to identify this unknown ancestor.

The earliest proven ancestor of this family was John Horne (1736-1840), a physician educated at the University of Edinburgh, who came from Carlisle in Cumberland to America about 1800. The family was first documented in North Carolina, but might have previously lived in Delaware. One branch of George’s descendants moved to Georgia, then in the late 1850s to Indiana.

William S. Horne (1833-1896) of Madison County, Indiana served in the Union Army as a drummer. He was kicked in the head by a mule at the Battle of Palmetto Ranch (11 May 1865, in Texas), and discharged as disabled . . . one of the last casualties of the Civil War. After the war, William moved to Missouri, where he married Rachel Roberson, a Cherokee who had been a Confederate sympathizer. His pension application shows that the family was destitute and moved frequently. Their house burned in 1896, and William died a few months later.

William’s son George Rufus Redmond Horn (1876-1969) worked as a railroad fireman in Nebraska. He was the first to spell the name without the final e. Many of his descendants have maintained the tradition of working for the railroad. George’s daughter Evelyn Horn married Dudley Howery.

Lineal Genealogy

1. Dr. John George Horne (1736-1840), physician; married Catherine Hook (1740-1840). They came to America, and settled in North Carolina.

2. John Horne (about 1765-before 1820) a farmer in Davidson County, North Carolina. He married Ann (Skidmore?) (1768-1840).

3. George Horne (1799-1854), a farmer in Madison County, Indiana. He married Martha “Patsey” Johnson (1804-1869), daughter of John and Nancy (Stever) Johnson, of Surry County, North Carolina.

4. William Steven Horne (1832-1896), a farmer in Rock Port, Missouri. He married Rachel Jane Roberson(1847-1944), daughter of Rufus Morgan and Elizabeth A. (Lomax) Roberson, of Holt County, Missouri.

5. George Rufus Redmond Horn (1876-1969), a railroad fireman in Fremont, Nebraska. He married Myrtle Louise Quillen (1885-1956), daughter of James Robert and Clara Etta (Weight) Quillen, of Tabor, Iowa.

6. Evelyn Louise Horn (1911- ); married Dudley Hamilton Howery (1910-1983), a jeweler in Laramie, Wyoming.

Hourie Family in Scotland

The Scottish Horries and Houries (Hauries, Howries) bear a similar name to the Swiss Hauris, but a relationship is unlikely. The Scottish family apparently takes its name from a farm named Horrie in the Toab district of St. Andrews parish on Orkney Mainland. The farm was part of the earldom estate. It appears in records between 1510 and 1560, when there was a dispute over its ownership.

“Hourie, Horrie. Clouston suggests that this Orcadian name is possibly a corruption of Thoreson, since the Norse th frequently becomes h in Orkney (Clouston, p. 34). Hourston, Horraldshay, Hurtisco, etc., are spelled with Th in the early records. There is, however, a place name Hurre or Horrie in the parish of St. Andrews from which the name may have come. Gawane Herre or Hurre is in record in the parish of St. Andrews, 1519. In 1568 Iggagartht (i.e. Ingagarth) Hurrie, daughter of Adam Hurry and lawful heir to John Hurry, sold half the place of Hurry [Horrie] to James Irrewing [Irving] of Sabay (REO., p. 126). In the Shetland rental of 1715 A. Horrie accounts for the skatt of 2 merks land in Sandwick, Unst (Old Lore Misc., VII, p. 59-60). Magnus Horrie, a native of Shetland, and once one of the clerks of the Exchequer in Edinburgh, became a resident of Algiers and by 1766 was described as being “so high in favor and confidence with the Dey of that place that he made him one of his principal secretaries” (Old Lore Misc., VII, p. 11-12). Gawane Herre (Hurre), of great age, was resident in the parish of St. Andrews, Orkney (OSR., I, p. 63). George Hourie was tenant of Nistaben, Firth, Orkney, c. 1850.” (George F. Black, The Surnames of Scotland (New York Public Library 1946))

There was an Andrew Howry in colonial Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Pennsylvania Militia at Chester, Pennsylvania on 10 May 1758 as a recruit in Capt. Paul Jackson’s Company. His birthplace was listed as Ireland, his occupation as weaver, and his height as 5 feet 8 inches. A military roll dated 29 May 1758 lists him as deceased at the age of 22 (Pennsylvania Archives, Series 5, Vol. 1, pp. 168, 171). Annella A. McCallum, Orkney Roots Research, notes that there is an Ireland in the parish of Stenness, Orkney. She adds that Jacob and Ursula are common names in some Orkney families in the 18th century (Personal Communication, 19 June 1990). So, it seems likely that the Andrew Howry who was a contemporary of Hans, Ulrich and Jacob Howry in Pennsylvania belonged to an Orcadian family.

John Horrie (36), a farmer, his wife Jean (34), and children William (14) and Jean (12) emigrated from Stenness, Orkney, to Savannah, Georgia on the Marlborough, September 1774.

A John Hourie from Saint Ola or Scapa in Orkney came to America in 1800 as a worker for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Hauri Family in Reinach

“Schneggen” the home of the Hauris in Reinach

One branch of the Hauris came from Beromünster to Reinach about 1400. Beginning in the 1500s, members of the family were frequently mentioned as farmers and millers. Some of them were members of the local “college of judges.” Heini Hauri was Untervogt of Reinach in 1512. An Untervogt was a “Deputy Bailiff,” approximating a district governor. The Untervogts of Reinach governed as deputies of the Vogt of Lenzburg.

Heini Hauri’s descendants often held the office of Untervogt until 1605, then continuously until the French conquest of Switzerland in 1798.

One Untervogt, Hans Hauri, built Haus zum Schneggen(“House of the Snail”) in 1586, with major additions in 1604/05, a residence named from its unique staircase (pictured right). Schneggen is now a hotel (Address: Gasthof zum Schneggen, Hauptstrasse 72 5734 Reinach). A smaller house called Schneggli (“Smaller Snail”) lies diagonally opposite. It was built in 1688, also by the Hauris.

About 1660 one branch of the Reinach Hauris went to the Palatinate. Although it has not been proven, I believe that the Jacob Hauri who came to Pennsylvania about 1737 was member of the Reinach family via the Palatinate.

American Indian Lore

Indian corn

The Mandans and Minnitarees looked to an Old Woman Who Never Dies as the force behind growing crops. She lived in the south and sent migratory birds as her emissaries. Each type of bird represented a particular crop — the swan for gourds, the goose for maize, and the duck for beans. When each type of bird arrived in the spring, it was time to plant that crop. (Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough ch. 46 § 3)

Among the Chippewa, one of the many taboos applied to menstruating women required that they drink out of a swan bone. (Frazer, ch. 60 § 4)


“Commit Thy Work to God”

John Sinclair was captured at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, and deported to America. An article written at the turn of the century identified him with Major John Sinclair, son of Henry Sinclair of Lybster, but the identification is unlikely.

Lineal Genealogy

1. George Sinclair, Earl of Caithness (c1527-1582). He married Elizabeth Graham (c1520-bef 1576), daughter of William Graham, Earl of Montrose, and Jonet Keith.

2. John Sinclair, Master of Caithness (bef 1543-1575). His mistress was Bessie Rorieson Gunn (c1550-?).

3. Henry Sinclair of Lybster (bef 1575-c1614). He married Janet Sutherland (c1580-?), daughter of William Sutherland of Duffus, and Elizabeth Sinclair.


4. John Sinclair (1634-1700), of Exeter, New Hampshire. He married Mary (c1637-?).

5. Mary Sinclair (1663-c1758). She married Jonathan Wheeler (c1657-1720), of Byfield, Massachusetts.

6. Mehitable Wheeler (1698-1766). She married Benjamin Wheeler (1695-1779), of Ipswich, Masschusetts.

7. David Wheeler (1730-bef 1810), of Harpswell, Maine. He married Mary Ann Stover (c1736-?), daughter of John and Miriam (Harmon) Stover, of Harpswell, Maine.

8. David Wheeler (c1763-1841), of Harpswell, Maine. He married Mary Clark (c1765-1810), daughter of Josiah and Sarah (Nute) Clark, of Harpswell, Maine.

9. Mary Ann Wheeler (1801-1879). She married Stephen Thomas Luce (1801-1872), of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sinclair Tartan
Sinclair Tartan

Lybster Harbour, Caithness
Lybster Harbour, Caithness

Swanström Brand

Swanström Brand
Swanström Brand

In heraldic terms, a cattle brand is a badge. The Swanström brand, H Lazy S, was first registered in 1914 with the Wyoming State Livestock Commission by my grand uncle, Hugo Swanström, of Marbleton, Wyoming. He probably had registered the brand a decade earlier with officials in Sublette County. When he moved to California, he allowed the Wyoming registration to lapse. In 1942, the brand was re-registered with a slight variation by my grandparents, Harry and Vivian Swanström, of Farson, Wyoming. The brand now belongs jointly to my mother and me.


The Swanström brand originally probably represented the initials of my grand uncle, Hugo Swanström. When my grandparents re-registered the brand, they chose it because it could also stand for the initials of Harry Swanström, and, because the Lazy S looks like a V, for Harry and Vivian.


Wyoming State Livestock Commission, Wyoming Brand Book (1956, 2005).


Anton Walliser (1729-1800) was a German mercenary who served with the 60th Royal American Regiment, and later settled in New York. He was a Loyalist during the American Revolution. He and his family fled to Ontario, where they anglicized their name to Wallace. A generation later they returned to America, settled in Ohio, then moved west into Wisconsin and Nebraska.

Lineal Genealogy

  1. Jacob Wallis (c1704-?). He married Catharina Stensel (c1706-?), of Waldstätten, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
  2. Anton Walliser (1729-1800), came to America as a mercenary in the pay of the British. He married Elizabeth (c1739-?).
  3. John Walliser (c1762-c1852), a farmer in Grenville County, Ontario. He married Christine Fell (c1775-?), daughter of Frederick and Catharina (Kuhlmann) Fell.
  4. David Wallace (1800-1881), a farmer in Lone Rock, Wisconsin. He married Lydia Ann Hitchcock (1806-1865), daughter of Elam and Catarina (Coons) Hitchcock.
  5. John Phillip Wallace (1825-bef 1900), a farmer in Marion County, Iowa. He married Almeda Ellithene Sherman (c1832-1870), daughter of Silas and Abigail (Lindsley) Sherman.
  6. Embrozina Wallace (1851-1924). She married Charles Hamilton Howery (1847-1918), a farmer in Fremont, Nebraska.

Astrological Lore

Astrological Swan

In astrology, a prominence of Cygnus is said to give a contemplative, dreamy, cultured and adaptable nature, with ill-regulated and unsteady affections. Talents are said to develop late. There is some love of water and swimming and the arts. Manilus, writing in the 1st century CE analyzed the influence of Cygnus as follows:

“Its down and glittering wings figured by stars. Accordingly he who at its rising leaves his mother’s womb and beholds the light of day shall make the denizens of the air and the race of birds that is dedicated to heaven the source of his pleasure and profit.

“From this constellation shall flow a thousand human skills: its child will declare war on heaven and catch a bird in mid-flight, or he will rob it of its nestling, or draw nets up and over a bird whilst it is perched on a branch or feeds on the ground (swans have a reputation for being hostile to other birds). And the object of these skills is to satisfy our high living. Today we go farther afield for the stomach than we used to go for war: we are fed from the shores of Numidia and the groves of Phasis; our markets are stocked from the land whence over a new-discovered sea was carried off the Golden Fleece. Nay more, such a man will impart to the birds of the air the language of men and what words mean; he will introduce them to a new kind of intercourse, teaching them the speech denied them by nature’s law.

“In its own person the Swan hides a god (as being in the disguise of Jupiter) and the voice belonging to it; it is more than a bird and mutters to itself within. Fail not to mark the men who delight to feed the birds of Venus in pens on a rooftop, releasing them to their native skies or recalling them by special signs; or those who carry in cages throughout the city birds taught to obey words of command, men whose total wealth consists of a little sparrow (for such performing birds).”

(Manilus, Astronomica, Book 5).