Previously we had done Y-DNA testing to discover John D. Lee's Lee lineage. We obtained some interesting results, the main one being that Ralph Lee was probably not a Lee. There is still a remote chance that he is if it is a VERY small line, like each man only had one son, as an example, Ralph and Elizabeth only had John. To see some of the results of this Y chromosome test see the blog "John D. Lee and DNA" posted on April 2008.
The latest thing we are trying is autosomal DNA testing. This can be done by men or women. It does not check the Y-DNA since women don't have it, but the DNA strings between the mitochondrial and Y-DNA. We all get half our DNA from our mother and half our DNA from our father. So John D. Lee had half Lee DNA and half Doyle DNA (which would consist of smatterings of Smith, Doyle, Cunningham, Burks, Davis and maybe even a little Native American DNA!) . Each of his children took half their DNA from their mother and him. Each time a different piece of John D. Lee's DNA could have been shared. Sometimes there could be more Doyle DNA and other times more Lee DNA. The more tests we have the more chance we have of picking up the Lee DNA.
A person who is very interested in John D. Lee's genealogy donated the money for five automal DNA tests. After a lot of study of each family and hours spent on the internet and telephone tracking people down we submitted the five tests. One of the tests was given to one of John D. Lee's grandsons. Yes there is at least one alive! The other four submitters were great-grandchildren of John D. Lee. All were from separate wives, and none were from sister wives (Youngs and Woolseys) so we wouldn't track Young and Woolsey DNA instead of our Lee DNA. In addition to the grandson we tested a great-grandson and three great-granddaughters. Their results are in. After the tests were submitted I found that the great-grandson and one of the great-granddaughters were about third cousins on another line! That messes it up a little bit! We are having to look at people who are third and fourth cousins of the submitters. It is amazing how different the DNA is in each of our test subjects! Each have taken a different part of their ancestor's DNA pattern. The more patterns we can track the more likely we will be able to figure out which DNA is Lee DNA, or at least OUR Lee DNA. I have not had time to pore through the information we have obtained and each week we find new matches as other people submit their DNA. I have tried to contact the matches that looked like they were Lees, you know, have a middle or last name of Lee to see if they would like to join our study.
We did our tests through Family Tree DNA in Texas. 23 and Me is another site that does the same type of test. If there is a great-grandchild that would like to submit their DNA to help us with the tests that would be greatly appreciated. Maybe they/you are the one who carries the most Lee DNA! The tests usually cost about $300, but they have specials for $100 off in November and December. Also they sometimes have discounts if you attend a genealogy conference and they have a vendor there.
Scott Norton, the webmaster of our John D. Lee family organization website is helping study the information and the DNA genealogist hired by a Lee family member keeps us up to date on the information she discovers.
Another bit of information we may discover is some of Ralph Lee's children from a previous marriage. Both he and Elizabeth were older when they got married. Ralph was probably at least 40 years old. He easily could have had another family before he moved to Illinois. They would have the Lee last name unless Ralph changed his name when he moved to Illinois.