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Sunday, April 1, 2012

John D. Lee 200th Birthday Anniversary Trip

September 6th is the 200th anniversary of John D. Lee's birth. To celebrate this momentus event I am taking my family to see the sites of John D. Lee's early life before he moved west. I am inviting others to go along with us. My mom is 95 and I am excited for her to see the things I have discovered as I have made many trips back to the area. Two of my sisters and one of their husbands and my husband are all making the trip.

The schedule right now is to go to Nauvoo on June 19th. We will only be spending the day there. If you wish to see more, go on Monday and we will meet you there.

On Wednesday, June 20th, we will be looking at John D. Lee's property near Vandalia when he was married to Aggatha Ann, the property that belonged to his half sister and her husband in the area, and the state house that was built while he was there.

Thursday, June 21st will be the longest tour day, but the shortest drive. We will go to Kaskaskia and Randolph County. We will tour Kaskaskia, look at the new church, the bell that rang from the old church, the area that Ralph had his property, the property that John D. Lee inherited from his mother. The property that Elizabeth homesteaded with her first husband, and the property she inherited from her grandfather, Henry Smith. You will hear stories about all of them and their families.

Our home base will be St. Louis. If you want to know what hotel we are staying at and any other information, email me at ersdurfee at

You will be responsible for your own meals and own hotel rooms. For those who let me know they are coming I will give you contact information for me and print up a booklet of the sites we will be visiting. There will be a small charge for the booklet.

If you are on facebook, let me know who you are and I will invite you to our "event." I keep that posted with the latest information.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Information on the latest DNA testing

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.