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About us

This project includes all spelling variations including Chesnut, Chesnutt, Chestnut, Chestnutt, Chesnot, Chesnau, Chesney and McChesney, whether they are related or not. Currently we have 13 participants falling into eight group (see Y Results at this webpage). All current participants are from North America. Of the eight groups, there are two main haplotypes (deep root divisions): R1a and R1b. These different haplotypes mean that the two male lines represented by the haplotypes are totally unrelated within historic times. The R1a haplotype is commonly referred to as the Eastern European haplogroup. Our single participant in the Chesney Group has this haplotype. We can't say much more about this group until we get more participants. The other seven groups belong to the R1b haplotype which is referred to as the Western European haplogroup. This is the most common haplogroup in the British Isles and in the early Anglo-American colonies. Our R1b members can be divided into two groups, the Chastains and the Chesnuts (many spelling variations; I'll use Chesnut throughout to keep it short). One hypothesis that we are now able to test (in part) is that the Chesnuts were originally Huguenots from France. After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Huguenots were heavily persecuted and many fled to the British Isles and to the American Colonies. The prominent Huguenot Chastain family came to the American Colonies. One hypothesis was that a branch of the Chastain family came to Northern Ireland and anglicized their name to Chesnut (Chastain means Chestnut in French). A comparison of our six Chesnut groups with the three Chastain participants show a number of mismatches in the 12-count markers. It is not likely that the two groups have a common ancestor within the last thousand years. This Chastain-to-Chesnut hypothesis has been disproved. However, we haven't disproved relationships with the Chesnuts and other Huguenot families. In looking at DNA matches with my own test kit, almost all of the many matches are from sources in the British Isles. I suspect an origin for the Chesnuts is in the British Isles, not Huguenot France. The three members of the Chastain group have only one marker difference (out of 12 markers) with their genetic nearest neighbor in the Chastain group or two markers difference from their furthest genetic neighbor. This is to be expected with a common ancestor dating back to four hundred years. I think it is reasonable to expect them to be from the same Chastain family dating from that period. The six Chesnut groups, B through G that are in our project. The following is a hypothetical framework or tree that accounts for the variations in the 12-count markers of the basic DNA kit. There are two basal groups represented by participants so far, the Basal Group BG and the larger Basal Group C-F. Group BG differs from Group C-F by the minimum difference of three slow-marker positions, which is a pretty significant difference. BG has the #393 marker value of 14 and a #388 marker value of 10. The C-F group has a #393 marker value of 13 and a #388 value of 12 (a two-step difference for this marker). These two markers are slowly evolving or slowly mutating markers, so these differences came about pretty far back in time. With more participants, we might be able to figure out which of the marker changes came first, but for the time being, we'll have to wait. Basal Group BG is composed of Group B (Elwood Chestnut, b.?, d. 1919 Philadelphia) and Group B (John Chestnut, b. 1821 Craig Park, N. Ireland). These two Groups differ by only one slowly mutating marker, marker #390. Group B has a value of 24, like all the other Chesnuts, but Group G has a value of 25. The Chesnut Basal Group C-F consists of four groups and a hypothetical group. The basal member of this group is the hypothetical Group X which is intermediary with the remaining Groups C through F. It probably existed, but we don't have participants with this match yet. It was similar to the other basal group (BG) except for the minimum differences previously noted. Group E (Robert Chestnut, 1830 Northern Ireland) differs from hypothetical Group X by only one fast-changing marker, marker 439 which has a value of 13. Groups C through F and hypotherical Group X have a value of 12 for this marker. This difference suggests that Group E is fairly closely related to hypothetical Group X. The minimum difference between Groups E,X and Groups C,D,F is with one slowly-changing marker, marker #391, with a value of 10 for CDF. Groups C,D and F differs from all other groups previously mentioned, which have a marker #391 value of 11. The basal group of Groups CDF is Group C. Group C has three participants with oldest known ancestors as follows: a) John Chesnut, b ca. 1810 Perry Co., PA; b) Hugh Chesnutt, b. 1777 of TN; and c) William Chesnut, 1727, m. 2nd Callahan. One hypothesis was that William (b.1727) was born in PA and moved to VA. Perhaps he was an greatuncle to the John (b. 1810 PA). Some of Williams offspring moved to TN, perhaps giving rise to Hugh (b.1777) of TN. Closely related to Group C is Group D with a difference of only one fast-changing marker, marker #385b. Group D has a value of 15, whereas all other groups of Chesnuts have a value of 14 for this marker. Groups D has two participants with oldest known ancestors as follows: a) William J. Chestnut, b. 1844; and James Chesnut, b. 1830 Northern Ireland. Groups C is also related to Group F with a difference in the #389-2 marker. Group F has a value of 31 for this slowly-changing marker, a difference of two steps as compared to a value of 29 for all other Chesnut groups. Group F has one participant with an oldest know ancestor, Alexander S. Chesnut, b. 1672 County Antrim, Ireland. All of the differences in the Chesnut Groups B through G most likely originated before any of them came to North America. We are seeing different families making the migrations in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It is most likely that the Group BG is not related to the Group C-F because the marker values are so different. We did not find any Native American Y-chromosome haplotypes on any of the lines tested so far. This result supports our genealogical studies for these lines. Native American genes, if any, would have been introduced along one or more of the many mixed maternal-paternal lines. We now need new participants from individuals around the world to answer new questions about the Chesnut/Chesney/McChesney, etc. family. To join, click on the REQUEST TO JOIN THIS GROUP link at this website. Thanks, Don