Overton Y-DNA Project

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Overton Clans and Counting

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DNA Test prices are reduced for Overton DNA members. For example, the Y-DNA37 (minimum recommended) test retails for $169, member price is $149. To see the current prices, click the following link:


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Donations are needed to help bring in more participants to the DNA project. Please, use the link at the bottom of this page to make a donation to the Overton surname project.

HERE'S WHAT THE OVERTON  DNA PROJECT MEANS TO YOU, THE OVERTON FAMILY GENEALOGIST:  If you locate a common ancestor in any one of our DNA participants' family files, you can be assured that whatever "proven" documentation and research that is available through that participant (or any fellow Clan member) is absolutely pertinent to your research.  Equally importantly, you can discard  any and all  "proven" Overton research that pertains to the members of the other Clans.

The Family  Relationship verses Genetic Relationship

Surnames have been used for only about 800 years but even today the use is not universal: Icelanders, Tibetans, Burmese, Javanese and many people groups in East Africa do not use family names. In England, surnames were adopted in the 13th and 14th centuries but the Scottish and Welsh people did not start adopting surnames until the 17thcentury and was not widely adopted until the mid-19th century. Both the Scots and Welsh practiced a naming system known as "patronymics, "which means the child's surname is the father's given name.  For example, John Morris could be the son of Morris Rhys, who was the son of Rhys James. Also, surnames change through time due to a variety of reasons and were often times chosen as a reflection of an occupation, a location, ornamental or a personal characteristic.  Thus, an Overton male may be more closely related to a “Smith” male, for example, than another Overton male living in the same neighborhood.  When we study the early history of the Overton Surname in American, we find cases where a family will change their surname, for example from Howerton to Overton. We also find Overton families adopting strays, for example, children surviving epidemics like Typhoid Fever, and left homeless. Then of course we have the cases where we have children born out of wedlock.

Why is this important for the study of DNA and the Overton surname? 

DNA results if interpreted correctly can validate or invalidate the genetic relationship between two people but, and this is important, DNA results cannot invalidate the family relationship. Here I am defining family in its broadest definition: a family consists of two or more people with the same Surnames, related by birth, marriage, or adoption (a legal adoption not required) and residing in the same housing unit. The family relationship can only be validated through documentation and family tradition whereas the genetic relationship can only be validated through DNA testing.

In the study of Surnames, the Y chromosomal DNA test (Y-DNA) is used to test males as the Y chromosome is only passed down the male line from father to son. Tiny chemical markers on the Y chromosome create a distinctive pattern, known as haplotype, that distinguishes one male lineage from another. When two men have the same markers, this indicates they share a common ancestor, and the greater number of markers tested and matched, the higher the probability they share a common ancestor within a period of time. Combining the number of markers tested between two men with the same Surname increases the probability significantly.

Pre-Revolutionary  History of the Overton Surname in America

Before the Revolutionary War most of the historical records were  maintained by the County Court systems. Tax, land, court records were the most prevalent, and in most cases where these records survived are maintained today by the related State Archives. Since most of these records are not consolidated into central repositories, though this is improving as more private enterprises are scanning these records and making them available on the internet, researching these records require access to the local repositories and is very labor intensive. For years, various Overton researchers have been gathering this information and passing it onto OvertonsOnly (overtonsonly@hotmail.com) to be consolidated and made available to future researchers: to access this information see the section below .

     Here are the known Overton lines from this period sorted by Given Name:

Earliest Date(s)
Given Name
Camden County, North Carolina
District Of Columbia
A free person of color
Descendants in Washington, DC and Maryland
New York, New York


Descendants in New Jersey, Ohio, and MI
Lee County, Virginia


Married Rachael Swift b. 1750 VA. Children: John (1790 VA-1860 TN), Rebecca Francis (1792 VA-1860 Hancock Co., TN), James (1794 VA-1878  Claiborne Co., TN).
Perquimans County, North Carolina
A free person of color
Descendants in New York area
Onslow Precinct, Bath County, North Carolina


Descendants in Tennessee, Alabama, MO, Texas, and CA
Orange County, Virginia


Name change from Howerton to Overton
Settled early in Spotsylvania County, Virginia
Bertie County, North Carolina
Roane County, Tennessee
Wife named Avis
Old Rappahannock County, Virginia
Perquimans County, North Carolina
A free person of color
Descendants in Tyrell and Chowan Counties of North Carolina
Perquimans County, North Carolina
A free person of color
Moses, Aaron & John
Amelia County, Virginia


Moses to Halifax County, Virginia
Aaron to Franklin County, North Carolina
John to Lunenburg County, Virginia
Descendants in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Pasquotank County, North Carolina
A free person of color
Descendants in Chowan County, North Carolina
Moore & Cumberland County, North Carolina
A free person of color
Related to a Sutton (b.1780)
Descendants in Illinois and MO
Hanover & Louisa Counties, Virginia


Descendants to Kentucky and Tennessee
Somerset County, Maryland
Descendants in North Carolina?
Related to the Utie surname
Pasquotank County, North Carolina
Descendant in Alamo

     Where the Clan column is blank above is where we need to identify descendants for DNA testing to determine their genetic relationship.

Post-Revolutionary  History of the Overton Surname

The first Federal Census of the United States was in 1790 and all the records were stored at the local county courts in each state. This census covered the original thirteen states and seventeen present states. Of the Census Schedules captured, one-third were lost or destroyed and of the thirteen states, only eleven survived intact.  There were district losses of Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Virginia. Of the records that survived, we find about 76 Overton head-of-households listed. During this period we know that a lot of Overton families lived in Georgia, Kentucky, and Virginia and were not counted.

Congress passed a law in 1830 requiring the return of all Decennial Census from 1790-1830. It was not until about 1840 with the sixth Census, consisting of twenty-four states and two new territories of Wisconsin and Iowa. did we have a good count of the number of Overton families living in the US. The number of Overton families captured on the 1840 Census were 319. The largest populations lived in New York and North Carolina with Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri close behind. Of the twenty-four states, according to the Census, there were no Overton families living in Maine, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Maryland or Florida. 

The 1930 Census, the most recent Census available for Genealogy research, shows that there were 2,050 Overton head-of-households.  This implies that over a period of 100 years, or four generations,  the number of Overton families increased sixfold. 

     Here are an additional known Overton lines from this period sorted by Given Name:

Earliest Date(s)
Given Name
1785 & 1796
Ephraim and Miles
Kentucky and Tennessee


Ephraim born about 1785 in Kentucky and died 1844 Morgan County, Indiana. Wife Susannah.
Miles born abt.1796 TN died 1850-1860. Wife Mary Collins born abt. 1795 NC. Children: Arthur Richard, John W., Hiram , Jesse C., Elias, Murray, Nancy, and Isaac Bazel.
Epraim Dawson
Illinois, Tennessee, and Arkansas
Father maybe Benjamin
Evan T.
Camden County, North Carolina
1830 Census in Camden County, North Carolina. Age 20-29. Other Overton’s on census page: Cathrine, Miles, Jetho, Charles, Nancy, Mary, Benjamin, and James


George, Herbert’s father, Immigrated from Barney Parish, Lincolnshire, England in 1871
Mississippi, Texas, and Oklahoma
Son was Benjamin, Governor of Chickasaw Nation
Descendants claim Tennessee origin
Settled in Washington County, Texas
Pitt County, North Carolina
Left on Dock
Recalled father as Asa

      Where the Clan column is blank above is where we need to identify descendants for DNA testing to determine their genetic relationship.

There are many excellent resources for extended research into the Overton surname.  The following three are recommended for Overton genealogists with an eye toward improving their knowledge within specific clans:

The OvertonsOnly website contains detailed genealogical information on all the known Overtons in the United States.  Currently there are 25 family lines (called Trees) identified on the site with more Trees to be added.  Information on this site is a accumulation of years of research collected by Nevel Overton-Slack and being made available to any Overton researcher.  Nevel is well known as The Overton expert, and he is always willing to help another in their family quest.
(Registration Required)

Steve's Family Tree website contains detailed genealogical information on Clan 3.  This Clan first appeared in Virginia in the early 1700s with the appearance of Moses, Aaron and John Overton in Amelia County, Virginia.  Moses and John died in Mecklenburg County, Virginia in 1810 and 1809 respectively and Aaron died in Franklin County, North Carolina in 1823.  The site is managed by Steve Randall Overton, a member of Clan 3 and an Overton DNA project administrator. 
(Registration Required)

The Childress/Mathis Photo website contains considerable information about Overton lines within Clan 1.  Moreover, the website is a repository for many historical family photographs in addition to providing external links to research articles on the Jesse Overton families who were pioneers in the early establishment of townships in East Texas during the Republic (later to become a state) of Texas.  One of the most interesting aspects of the research covered in this website is the exhaustive introspection of Dr. Samuel Egbert Overton's 19th century medical practice in the small town of Omen, Texas.  Patrick Childress administers this website.

FTDNA’s document on how to interpret your DNA results explains what genetic genealogy is and how to interpret both Y-DNA and mtDNA results. To read the document Click here.  Pay particular attention to Chapter 2: How Do I Interpret My Y-DNA Results? If you would like to delve more into this subject and learn more about Haplogroups and SNPs, Click here

The Overton DNA Project is an all-volunteer endeavor dedicated to identifying the various Overton lineages existent today in the USA and abroad. All Overton males are welcome to participate in this study! Many surnames cut across traditional boundaries of race, creed and/or color.  We welcome participation of all Overton males regardless of racial or ethnic background.  Black Overton males may wish to explore their heritage amidst the confusion that arose during slavery.  Likewise, rumors abound in the Overton history concerning Native American blood and we welcome the opportunity to document these cases.

For additions, corrections or comments regarding this specific website, please send an e-mail to Steve Overton Overton DNA Project Co-Administrator. You may also e-mail Overton Project Co-Administrators Patrick Childress, or Donald Ray Overton

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