John D. Lee's paternal ancestry has been particularly difficult to sort out. There has been much speculation as to his lineage. The only known ancestor on the Lee line was his father, Ralph Lee. John D. Lee had very little information about his father and his Lee relatives and believed he was related to Robert E. Lee. Recently, Dr. Terry Lee, a descendant of Aggatha Ann, has been DNA tested and has also enlisted a researcher, Daniela Moneta, to help solve the problem. In addition to research she has been finding Lee men to be DNA tested.
The DNA testing has to be done on the male line. For example, my brothers are descendants of John D. Lee, but their paternal line is Smith. They would not match the Lee DNA, but would match Smith DNA. For the DNA test to work, men have to be found with the Lee last name. The tests will not match up if a child was adopted or if there was some “hanky-panky” among the females of the family.
John D. Lee and Robert E. Lee - DNA
There have been over 165 submissions to a LEE DNA study. Among those are descendants and cousins of General Robert E. Lee.
In addition to Dr. Terry Lee, another male descendant from a different wife of John D. Lee's has submitted his DNA to another study and Terry and he are excellent matches to each other.
According to information on the Lee DNA website, Y-chromosome DNA matches less than about 88% are considered to indicate no kinship via a common Lee male ancestor over the past genealogical interval of about twenty five generations. There have been over 165 Lee men who have submitted their DNA for this study and the descendants of Ralph Lee and John D. Lee have a less than 70% match with any of them. One of the sponsors asked the question if we were really Lees!
So far John D. Lee’s descendants are not a good match with any other Lees in the study, including descendants of Robert E. Lee.John D. Lee and Josiah Lee - DNA
One theory as to Ralph Lee’s ancestry has been a Josiah Lee b. abt. 1740. Josiah listed three children in his will: Sarah, Josiah Jr., and Keziah. This family looked good because Ralph Lee was an apprentice in Maryland, and this family came from Maryland. Ralph would be born about two years younger than Keziah. Also, interestingly enough, Josiah Jr.'s descendants claimed to be related to John D. Lee.
A descendant of Josiah Jr. could not figure out how his ancestor and John D. Lee could be related. He asked two of his Lee cousins to be DNA tested. The researcher could not be tested because he came through a female line and and the test has to be entirely through the male line. The results on both DNA test have come back with the following results:
The two descendants of Josiah Lee have a 97.7% match with each other.
According to the Lee Project manager, John D. Lee’s descendants,
“have DNA results way out of range for any kinship to the above descendants of Josiah Lee. The match percentage is in the lower 20 percentile range. Further support to this conclusion is via a close match (better than 90%) of this Josiah Lee descendant to two other Lee DNA Genealogy Project participants. The earliest proven ancestor for these two Lee males is: David Lee born 1765 Cumberland Co., MD died 1848, Switzerland Co., IN”
Because the descendants of Josiah's DNA matches the other Lees in the study so well, it is apparent that they are Lees, with no “mistakes” or adoptions on their line.
But it does prove that Ralph’s ancestry is not through Josiah Lee b. abt. 1740.
We will have to continue our search for our Lee ancestry.
To see more information about John D. Lee and Josiah Lee DNA studies, copy and paste this address into your address bar:
If you are interested in keeping an eye on the DNA tests here is one of the websites: http://dna.ancestry.com
The descendant of John D. Lee is listed as T108037 a descendant of Ralph Lee.