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About us

The greatest history book ever written is the one hidden in our DNA.” 
—Dr. Spencer Wells

The McCracken surname has its origins in Scotland.  The surname McCracken first begins to appear in the historical records of southwest Scotland in the late 1400's and in Ireland by the early 1600's.  With a distance of only 17.5 nautical miles 
separating southwest Scotland from northeast Ireland, McCrackens were able to reach Ireland by ship in less than three hours in the early 1600's.   McCrackens are shown to be in Ireland prior to the colonization of Ulster which began in 1604.  During this colonization known as the "Plantation of Ulster" McCrackens in greater numbers crossed over to Ulster in search of better economic opportunities & conditions than what was available to them in Scotland.  These McCrackens now from the northern counties of Ireland would later be known as Ulster-Scots.  Many of these Ulster-Scots dissatisfied with their opportunities in Ireland would over time immigrate in significant numbers to the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa as well as to the British West Indies and to a lesser extent to Argentina & Chile, with some returning to Scotland.  McCrackens who had remained in Scotland also immigrated but it appears they did so in far fewer numbers than those from Ulster. 

FREE Y-DNA testing available for selected new members from Northern Ireland and Scotland. 

With the objective of being able to analyze and compare the Y-DNA of McCracken males from Scotland against the existing McCracken Y-DNA database, any McCracken male born in southern Scotland (Wigtownshire, Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire or Kirkcudbrightshire) and who submits his Y-DNA sample along with their paternal  family history tree (proven McCracken family roots in the area going back at least 150 years) to the McCracken Group Administrator for review & confirmation, will receive a complimentary Y-DNA test.  This offer includes your predicted haplogroup.  If your interested in taking advantage of this offer then please send an email with your family history information to the McCracken Group Administrator by clicking on his email address listed above.

FREE Y-DNA analysis is also offered to a McCracken male who can prove he descends from one of the following men: 

1.  William McCrackan was born 1735 at Old Glenluce, Wigtownshire,Scotland & settled in New Haven, Connecticut in 1767.  Son of Andrew McCrackan & Margaret McDoul (McDowell). Brother of John, Alexander, James and Grisel McCrackan.  Husband of Sarah Miles.  A British Loyalist during the American Revolutionary War.  William died in 1809 and is buried at the Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven. 

2.  Joseph McCracken was born 1736 at Worcester County, Massachusetts.  The son of immigrant parents John & Jeanette McCracken from Ulster Province, Ireland.  The husband of Sarah Turner.  A veteran of the French & Indian War. During the American Revolution Joseph rose to the rank of LtCol in the Continental Army.  He died on 5 May 1825 and is buried at the Revolutionary Cemetery, Salem, Washington County, New York.

  Arthur McCrackin is believed to have been born about 1727 in County Down, Ulster Province. Arthur & his wife Ruth arrived at Charleston,SC, aboard the Chichester on 5 Jan 1768. Accompanying them were their ten children (ranging in age from 17 to 1) Mary, Jane, William, Thomas, Margaret, Arthur, Samuel, Ruth, John & James. A son Robert was born in the Carolinas. During Jan 1768 Arthur was granted 100 acres of bounty land in Berkley County, South Carolina. Both Arthur & Ruth died in 1774 at Newberry County, South Carolina and are buried at King's Creek Presbyterian Cemetery. 

4. James McRackan Sr
.,born Galloway, Scotland in 1740 & died before Dec. 1816 at Fayetteville, Cumberland County, North Carolina.  A tailor by trade & an American Revolutionary War Patriot. Believe buried at Cross Creek Cemetery No. 1 along with his wife Margaret.  Children were James, Robert, John, Thomas & Elizabeth. 
The first organized immigration of Scottish Highlanders (not Ulster Scots) into North Carolina began in 1729 when a group of 350 settlers  from Argyllshire landed at Wilmington and journeyed  90 miles up the Cape Fear River to settle in the Cross Creek area which later would become Cumberland County.   In 1762 Campbellton was established at Cross Creek. Campbellton and Cross Creek were merged in 1778. Campbellton changed its name to Fayetteville in 1783 in honor of the American Revolutionary War French General Marquis de Lafayette.

These complimentary, no cost offerings for "new members" are provided from the McCracken General Fund by donations from the generosity of our membership.

What is Y-DNA?

Y-DNA is a sex determining chromosome which is found only in males.  Unlike all of the other DNA types in our body, Y-DNA is unique.  It is passed down from father to son relatively unchanged along the direct paternal line and as a result contains valuable information about an individual’s paternal ancestry.  By testing your Y-DNA, you are tracing the ancestry of your direct paternal line(your father's, father's, father's, etc.... paternal lineage).

What is Y-DNA Testing?  

The Y-DNA test is the basic paternal ancestry test.   It is always the first test to perform for you to begin tracing your paternal ancestry.  When you join the McCracken Project at Family Tree DNA you will receive in the mail a Y-DNA sample kit which with a soft brush scrape the inside of your cheek and then returned it to Family Tree DNA using the enclosed envelop.

If I decide to join the McCracken Project, what's the cost for the entry level 12 marker Y-DNA  test?  What's the cost for the 37 marker Y-DNA test?

$59 for a 12 marker Y-DNA test which includes your haplogroup prediction & $12.95 shipping/handling within or outside the USA, plus return postage. If you're uncertain whether you'll match with an existing McCracken Project member then we recommend you start out with the 12 marker test.  If you have a 12 marker match with our database you can then or at a later date upgrade to 37 markers or higher without requiring a new swab since your Y-DNA sample remains in secure storage at Family Tree DNA for 25 years. The 12 marker test was $99 but in March 2014 was reduced to $59.  It you later want to upgrade from 12 to 37 markers the cost is $99.

$149 for a 37 marker Y-DNA test which includes your haplgroup prediction & $12.95 shipping/handling within or outside the USA, plus return postage.  If your genealogical paper trail suggests you're related to one of our existing McCracken groups or subgroups we recommend you test for 37 markers or higher.

What is a Haplogroup?

A grouping and classification of genetic material which is handed down from generation to generation, from father to son and from mother to daughter.  By studying this genetic material science is now able to calculate how people spread out of Africa, their migration paths across the planet,  which resulted in our diversified ethnic groups scattered around the world today.

"Think of a haplogroup as an ancestral clan, a large family, like the Celts, or Vikings.  These would be larger than Native American tribes, encompassing members of many tribes.  There are two male Native American haplogroups that include all Native American males.  There are a few more African clans, or haplogroups, but not many.

Since all of humanity, both male & female, sprang initially from Africa, the earliest haplogroups were found there.  As some people moved further away and crossed into Asia and Europe, they developed unique mutations that would give rise to the European, Asian and Native American haplogroups we know today.  There are 4 main groupings, African, European, Asian and Native American, but there are several subgroups within most of those main groups, except for Native Americans who have two male haplogroups.

So in essence, haplogroups are a pedigree chart of the clans of humanity.  Family Tree DNA displays a haplogroup chart with the main haplogroups shown on everyone’s personal page for Y-line DNA."

(Excerpt in parentheses courtesy of DNAeXplained) 

How many haplogroups are there? 

There are 20 major Y-DNA haplogroups designated with the letters  A through T.  In the McCracken Project there are currently three grouped haplogroups I, R & E.  Members haplogroups have been either predicted or confirmed (tested) by Family Tree DNA.

Haplogroup I (Shorthand:  L126 & M233) is a European haplogroup, representing one-fifth of the population.  It is almost non-existent outside of Europe, suggesting it is of European origins.   I-M233 likely has its roots in Britain. Birger Jarl (founder of Stockholm, Sweden), Alexander Hamilton, US President Andrew Johnson & Leo Tolstoy are I haplogroup.  For additional information on I2b click here.

Haplogroup R (Shorthand:  F3952, L21, L23, M222, M269, P312, U106 & Z253) is the most common haplogroup in European populations. It is believed to have expanded throughout Europe as humans re-colonized after the last glacial maximum 10-12 thousand years ago. This lineage is also the haplogroup containing the Atlantic modal haplotype (HG1).  Niall of the Nine Hostages, Colla Uais & eight US Presidents including Abraham Lincoln are R haplogroup. For additional information on R1b click here.

Haplogroup E (Shorthand:  M35 & M78) - It is currently hypothesized that this haplogroup dispersed from northern Africa within the last 3,000 years with the Bantu agricultural expansion.  The ancient Greeks contributed to the diffusion to places such as Cyprus, Sicily, southern Italy & eastern Spain.  E-M78 is the most common variety of haplogroup E among Europeans & Near Easterners.  Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandella, The Wright Brothers & Napoleon Bonaparte are E haplogroup.  For more information on E1b click here

If you enjoy anthropology and have a desire to discover & learn more about your deep ethnicity & the possible migrations paths of your ancient ancestors - often thousands of years ago- then you might want to consider joining the Genographic Project sponsored by IBM & National Geographic.  More information about the Genographic Project can be found by clicking here.  

The Genographic Project analyzes DNA mutation markers known as SNPs which goes back in time thousands of years while FTDNA  analyzes STRs mutation markers which goes back in time the last 500 years.  Family Tree DNA laboratory processes the DNA kits for Genographic Project members.    

What DNA Test is best for you?

There are three main types of DNA test that can help you with your family tree research. Which test is best for you very much depends on what question you want the answer to. In brief, if you want to research a particular surname, then a Y-DNA test might be the best; if you want to see if two people are related on your direct maternal line, then a mitochondrial DNA test might be best; and if you are wanting to connect with cousins who share a common ancestor within the last 200 years or so, then an autosomal DNA test might be best.

With Y-DNA testing we are only looking at one particular line of an individual's ancestors - specifically the direct male line of the participant, their father's father's father etc. Y-DNA testing is only done on men because they are the only ones to pass on the Y-chromosome.

Because the surname is also passed on along a direct male line, the Y-DNA test is used extensively in projects devoted to researching a particular surname, and helps to answer questions like which bearers of the surname are related to each other? where did it come from? and what variants of the surname are associated with each other. It is also useful for verifying and validating surname genealogies.

The Y-DNA test can also tell us what route our patrilineal ancestors took out of Africa, what mutations occurred and when, and where they might have stopped along the way. These migratory patterns of the different Y subgroups (haplogroups) go back to the common male ancestor of all modern humans, an African man who lived sometime between 200,000 to 330,000 years ago.

Mitochondrial DNA
Another type of DNA test can trace the direct female line, the mother's mother's mother, etc.

The mitochondrial DNA test can be taken by both males and females. It is useful for answering a targeted question such as: is this particular ancestor on my direct female line related to this other particular ancestor on your direct female line? In this situation, two people would have to take the test (you and the other descendant).

Mitochondrial DNA testing has elucidated migratory patterns for the different mitochondrial subgroups, going back to the first common female ancestor of all modern humans, an African woman who lived some 200,000 years ago.

Autosomal DNA
A third type of test can help identify more recent relatives (usually up to 5th cousins). The autosomal DNA test looks at how much genetic material is shared between two individuals and calculates if they are likely to share a common ancestor. However the test is only accurate back about 7 generations or so (i.e. to your 4th great grandparents). This is because with each generation the contribution of an ancestor becomes more and more diluted.

Put another way, you share 50% (1/2) of your DNA with each of your parents, approximately 25% (1/4) with any one of your 4 grandparents, 12.5% with a great grandparent (1/8) , and only 1.6% with a 4th great grandparent (1/64). Thus, after 7 generations, the contribution of any single ancestor is likely to be so diluted as to be virtually undetectable. Siblings will share roughly 50% of the same DNA, first cousins 12.5%, third cousins, 0.78%, and fifth cousins 0.05%. However, random recombination means that two cousins could theoretically share no genetic material at all.

The autosomal DNA test will detect 99% of your first and second cousins, 90% of your third cousins (common great great grandparent), but only 50% of your fourth cousins, and a mere 10% of your 5th cousins.

The autosomal DNA test (Family Finder) can be taken by both males and females.

A comparison between companies that offer autosomal testing can be found at the ISOGG website by clicking here

Something to consider

Before you join you need to ask yourself if you really want to know.  A DNA test can sometimes provide surprising results, which might challenge your sense of ethnic identity, contradict your laborious genealogical research, or reveal unsuspected relationships. Your results may have an impact on your family members as well. You are your own best judge of your ability to handle the unexpected.

Source:  Megan Smolenyak and Ann Turner. Trace YourRoots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree. 2004

Privacy & Confidentiality 

What steps does Family Tree DNA take to protect my rights to privacy &  confidentiality?  Click here 

Ready to join the McCracken Project?

Your Y-DNA test kit can be ordered over the phone by calling within the US (713) 868-1438 or by ordering through the McCracken Project by clicking here 

© Ken McCracken.