The year 2007 marks the 400th anniversary of the original Jamestown settlement -- the first permanent English colony in what is now the United States of America. Heirlines, Relative Genetics, and GenealogyFound are using traditional genealogy along with genetic genealogy to link millions of living people to their roots in that 17th Century colony. They are building a public database of Jamestown and 17th Century Colonial Virginia descendants that will be available beginning in 2007.
Doug Arnett, COB of GenealogyFound a non-profit foundation based in Salt Lake City, is promoting "Historic Event Genealogy" projects world-wide. Arnett said he thinks the Jamestown 2007 project will awaken the spirit of family history in many Americans as well as people in many foreign countries.
"We want to build an Internet research database for everyone, and spark a patriotic sense of ‘Maybe my ancestors came through Jamestowne'. People will be excited to tie into this historic time period and location," Arnett remarked.
Peggy Hayes, director of sales and marketing for Relative Genetics, commented that she expects this database to leave a lasting legacy.
"This project will give people a connection to a great part of their history," she said. "Knowing where you come from gives you a sense of identity and a renewed desire to search out your roots."
James W. Petty, President of Heirlines, stated, "Genetic Genealogy" is becoming an integral tool in genealogy research. It won't be a ‘stand alone' service because the testing only reveals relationships, not family history, locations or documentation. It will, however, allow researchers to obtain much more insight into family history and family tree origins."
"Traditional and genetic genealogy are proving to be very symbiotic," Arnett said. "Combining the two services is becoming standard in finding ancestry."
Genealogists can use DNA data to overcome gaps in family trees, establish biological links to specific ancestors, and identify other living family lines to which one is related. Genetic genealogy is useful in proving or disproving family legends.
"Many people think they're descended from Thomas Savage, the founder of the first continuous family in America." Arnett said. "You'll hear stories that are passed on from generation to generation; and sometimes, much to their disappointment, they have no relationship to him at all. But other times we find out these family stories are accurate."
Hayes said if the Jamestown 2007 project goes well the two companies may work together on many other historical event genealogy projects.
Petty said he sees a great future in using genetic genealogy along with traditional genealogy to discover family connections to the people of history and immigrant ancestry.
Arnett concurs, "I find genetics and genealogy fascinating," he said. "We're going to find out, sooner or later, that we're all much more closely related than we ever thought."
To find out more about the Jamestowne and Colonial Virginia Genealogy and DNA Project go to GenealogyFound http://www.genealogyfound.org . For information on the upcoming celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown colony go to http://www.jamestown2007.org/home.cfm.