Stark Families DNA Project
  • 298 members

About us

This is the Family Tree DNA supported Stark Family Y-DNA Project web site

New Marker information is automatically posted to the DNA Results Charts

as soon as it becomes available

   Welcome to the Stark Family Y-DNA Project. Sheila (nee Stark) Schmutz and Caroline Feist are the volunteer Administrators of the project. Each of us have been Administrators for a number of years and have experience analyzing Y-DNA results and Stark Family genealogy. If we can be of assistance explaining the Genetic results; or assist in your genealogical research, please let us know. For many years this project was lead by Clovis LaFleur who helped many members with their genealogical research.  He chose to retire from this role in the summer of 2018.  Gwen Boyer Bjorkman helped start this project, but choose to retire as co-administrator in the summer of 2020

  Sheila (nee Stark) Schmutz maintains a website "Stark Lines of Descent in North America" with charts showing the lineages of participants from their shared Stark ancestors.  Enter in your browser or click on

to access that web page.  If your line is missing and you would like it added, please email her at  

Who Can Join

Membership is restricted to Males and/or their sponsors with the surname Stark, Starke, Starks, Starkes, or a derivative. The male Y-chromosome is handed down from father to son relatively unchanged through the generations. A comparison of the Y-DNA of two males with the same surname can determine their relatedness to each other. Groups of males with the same surname so tested and compared can define family groups and establish a probability they have a most recent common ancestor within the time frame that surnames were adopted in Western Europe (about the 13th and 14th centuries).

Genealogical research combined with Y-DNA testing can often determine and verify a most recent common ancestor of a group of males who have been found to be related. Because subtle mutations will occur over the generations, some family branches can often (but not always) be defined or verified — provided the genealogy is known and accurate. As the genealogical research of these families is being developed, a Y-DNA test can often assist in furthering and refining the direction of the research.

Those who have participated in the Stark Family Y-DNA Project have come from many different lines of descent. The Stark Family Y-DNA Project has clearly verified descendants  of Aaron Stark [1608-1685] of Connecticut are not related to descendants of Archibald Stark of New Hampshire (father of General John Stark of Revolutionary War Fame); James Stark of Stafford County, Virginia; nor Dr. Richard Starke of York County, Virginia. However, descendants of Archibald, James and Richard (Group 2) are related to each other; although the identity of their common ancestor is not known.

This is an example of the benefits of combining genealogical research with Y-DNA testing. Even if a person doesn’t know their ancestry, a Y-DNA test may reveal their relatedness to one or more of the participants in this project.

 The Plan

Because Family Tree DNA supports "surname projects," they have been selected to perform the Genealogical DNA testing and analysis.  FTDNA is one of the more prominent research firms in this field and as of 2019, the only one offering Y testing. The Houston, Texas based company was founded strictly for performing genealogical DNA testing and analysis. They work closely with Dr. Michael Hammer of the University of Arizona who is actively pursuing DNA surname research.

The project will compare these test results to the genealogical research to: determine relatedness; prepare reports; and define and separate the participants into family groups. These goals are best accomplished by individuals being tested over 37 markers (Kit Y-DNA37).  We recommend delaying ordering 67 (Kit Y-DNA67) Markers, or 111 (Kit Y-DNA111) Markers until you have matched others in a Stark group. 12 (Kit Y-DNA12) marker test results are welcome; but our experience to date suggests the project objectives can best be achieved if new participants are tested at 37 markers.

There are now Big Y tests available also.  Dr. Caroline Feist should be contacted before such a test is ordered through this project.

Y-DNA Test Kit

Blood test are not needed to provide a Y-DNA sample for testing. A cotton swab is provided in the Y-DNA Kit you receive from Family Tree  DNA. You swab the inside of your cheek per the kit instructions and return the kit to FTDNA. Click HERE for instructions on how to use your test kit.

A Word of Caution About Non-paternal Events

     Be aware that your test results could have an unexpected outcome. Some comparisons may vary by two or three markers in 37 which could be representative of lines of descent that are either older or younger than the currently observed lineages.

     The most difficult unexpected outcomes to explain are those in which a participant is not related as expected. These are classified as unrecorded "non-paternal events." Types of non-paternal events could be: pregnancy outside a marriage; adoption; man takes the Stark name when he marries a Stark daughter; Stark man marries a pregnant woman whose husband died; wife who was a Stark chooses to give her children her surname; clerical errors assigning the surname Stark to the wrong person. These are a few examples of unrecorded non-paternal events.

     Some may not want to see a result indicating a “non-paternal event” — but we are all legal Starks and a small sample size could be misleading. Therefore, remember, as more participants join the project along your line of descent, the mystery could be resolved; or you and others related to you will have defined a new Stark family group.

A History of the Stark Surname Over Genealogical Time by Clovis La Fleur

In Scotland, the family name is an old one. In the words of Sir George Mackenzie (1636-1691), a legend, then nearly 200 years old, proclaimed one origin of the name in Scotland.

"Stark, beareth azur, a chevron, argent, between three acorns in chief, or, and bull's head erased of ye 2nd base. Those of ye name are descended on one John Muirhead, 2nd son of ye Lord of Lachop, who at hunting in ye forest of Cumbernauld, one day seeing King James ye IV in hazard of his life by a bull hotly pursued by ye hounds stept in between ye King and ye bull, and gripping ye bull by ye horns and by his great strength almost tore ye head from it for which he was called Stark and his posteritie after him and bears ye rugged bull's head in their arms. Ye old sword of ye family has on it "Stark, alias Muirhead."

   The origins of the Stark surname in North America began with the arrival of Aaron Stark in New England between 1630 and 1637 —  his ancestral home in Europe is not known with certainty. He was born about 1608 and died in 1685 in New London County, Connecticut. His service in the Pequot War under Captain John Mason in May of 1637, is the first record we have of him in Connecticut. He eventually settled in New London County, Connecticut in a region that later became Groton Township. Aaron Stark had three sons named Aaron Stark (Junior), John Stark, and William Stark (Senior). John Stark had no sons to whom he could have passed his surname and Y Chromosome. William Stark (Senior) and Aaron Stark (Junior) have numerous male descendants; many living today who carry the surname Stark.

   About 75 to 100 years after the arrival of Aaron Stark in Connecticut, three men with the surnames Stark and Starke arrived in New Hampshire and Virginia. Their names were Dr. Richard Starke of Virginia, James Stark of Stafford County, Virginia, and Archibald Stark of New Hampshire (the father of General John Stark of Revolutionary War fame). The genealogical research had not been able to determine if these three men were related. However, independent research of each has suggested their ancestral home could have been in or near Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland.

   As Stark pioneers began to move westward, descendants of the progenitors of these four early arrivals in North America became mixed in the records as they settled in the same regions. In some instances, some of the descendants of Aaron Stark began to spell their name "Starks." This occurred most often in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Northeastern New York where the descendants of Archibald lived. Some spelled the name Starke and were descendants of Dr. Richard Starke. About 1732, descendants of William Stark (Senior) — son of Aaron Stark — moved to New Jersey and later migrated into Virginia, western Pennsylvania, and later into Kentucky and Indiana. At about the same time, descendants of James Stark of Stafford County, Virginia moved into these same regions. As occurred in the Northeast, these families also became mixed in the records.

   In 1896, the Stark Family Association was created for the purpose of collecting and preserving the genealogy of the early arrivals to North America. From 1903 to 1952,  an annual yearbook was published by the Association on the activities and research of it's many members located throughout the United States and Canada. In 1927, Charles R. Stark compiled a genealogy based on the Association's research entitled; "The Aaron Stark Family, Seven Generations of the Family of Aaron Stark of Groton, Connecticut." This publication recorded 2,171 descendants of Aaron. Today, the number of known descendants recorded has grown to approximately 15,000.

   In 2002, an excellent genealogy of the family of General John Stark entitled "The Family of General John Stark (1728-1822)," was published by Jane Stark Maney, which has a large compilation of the descendants of Archibald Stark. Another publication entitled "James Stark of Stafford County, Virginia and His Descendants" was compiled by Mary Kathryn Harris and Mary Iva Jean Jorgensen.


Detailed Background Information by Clovis La Fleur

Introduction to Y-chromosome Analysis
   Sex is determined by two sex chromosomes referred to as X and Y. A female has two X-chromosomes (XX); while a  male has one X and one Y chromosome (XY). Females receive an X Chromosome from each parent which then recombine; while males receive one X from either parent and a Y from their Fathers. Unlike the X chromosomes that will recombine with each other, Y chromosomes do not recombine with X chromosomes. Therefore, in females, the X chromosomes they receive from both parents will recombine with each other, while the X chromosome men receive from one of their parents, will not recombine with the Y chromosome received from their Fathers. The Only function of the Y Chromosome, genetically, is to establish the sex of a child, the sex being male.
   Because Y doesn't recombine with X chromosomes, it's unusually good for tracing how men have traveled and settled around the world. Living males with the same surnames can be genetically tested and their respective Y-chromosomes compared to determine if they share a common ancestor who lived after the usage of surnames became common in Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries. The time period after the establishment of surnames to the present is referred to as genealogical time by professional Genealogists. This creates two time related outcomes; a genealogical time period representing the identification of families with surnames; and an ancient time period before surnames were established and documented.
 The Y chromosome contains two types of ancestral markers. Short Tandem Repeats (STRs) trace recent ancestry within genealogical time. Y-DNA passed from Father to son is relatively unchanged from one generation to the next generation during this time period; this being similar to surnames passed from Fathers to their sons from one generation to the next generation. Therefore, to follow our ancestor trails genetically within genealogical time, we must compare and follow the Y-chromosome trail of two living males — each with the same surname — to a common male ancestor of both with the same surname. Administrators analysis of Project Members Y-DNA results will be compared to other males in the Stark Family Y-DNA Project to determine the statistical probability they could share a common ancestor within genealogical time; or genetic analysis of descendants of different Stark families with different common ancestors.
   All people living today have a genetic past that traces back to Africa and a common paternal and maternal ancestor. The second type of ancestral marker, Single Nucleotide Polymorphism's (SNPs), document ancient ancestry before genealogical time. SNPs are small "mistakes/mutations" that occur in DNA and are passed on to future generations as a result of the transmission of the Y-DNA of a Father to his son (the ancient progenitor of the mutation).
   SNP mutations are rare and happen at a rate of approximately one mutation every few hundred generations. Over thousands of years, different ancient groups of people have traveled and settled around the world. Each group has its own path and history recorded in DNA. Part of that record is found on the Y-chromosome. Population geneticists study it using SNP mutations. Once discovered, SNPs are placed on the Y chromosome Consortium’s (YCC) phylogenetic tree. This tree can then be used to explore our own shared past and place our — or a representative relative’s  — Y chromosome within the context of ancient historic migrations.
   With today’s increasing male populations, geneticists are beginning to identify more recent SNP mutations occurring within genealogical time that can be used by population geneticist. The discovery of these SNP mutations within genealogical time have become useful in identifying the origins of persons with different surnames who are relatively close genetic matches over the STR markers. FTDNA introduced a “BIG-Y Product” in 2014 that has provided some understanding of the STR matches of our Project Members with different surnames. However, the focus of this publication will be the analysis of males with the surname Stark, in particular, males found to be descendants of Aaron Stark [1608-1685] through genealogical research and STR Genetic Matches. This will be accomplished by comparing the STR genetic results of two Males with the surname Stark, or one of it’s derivatives, to determine the statistical probability (in percent) they could share a common male ancestor with the Stark surname within a specific earlier generation and within Genealogical time.
   However, SNP mutations determining the Haplogroup of surname family groups determined by STR analysis, can be useful in separating many of the Males tested in the Stark project with the surname Stark or one of it’s derivatives from each other, that is, can assist in determining if they could share a common ancestor within genealogical time. Haplogroups are major branches on the Y chromosome tree assigned letters of the alphabet by population geneticists. Added to the “root” Haplogroup letter are refinements consisting of additional number and letter combinations to define subclades  of the root Haplogroup. A common Haplogroup among Stark Project Members is R1b1. "R" is the “ROOT” Haplogroup and "1b1" is an additional number and letter combination that define subclades or genetic branches of “R.”
   Based on their STR results, most descendants of Groups 01a and )1b have been predicted by FamilyTree DNA (FTDNA) to be in Haplogroup R1b1a2 (shorthand notation is R-M269) and have not been SNP tested to determine if there could be additional subclades.  The notation M269 identifies the laboratory that discovered the SNP mutation. Several descendants of these Groups have undergone additional FTDNA SNP testing and confirmed to be members of Haplogroups found to be considerably downstream from R-M269.

   Understanding The Presentation of the STR Haplotype Results
   The Y chromosome Short Tandem Repeats (STRs) trace recent ancestry; mostly within genealogical time; or after surname usage was established in Europe. [1] By counting the short tandem repeats on a segment of a selected Y chromosome Marker, these repeats, defined as Allele values, can then be used in comparisons of any two males to determine relatedness. [2] Each DYS marker used in a comparison has a defined label (DNA Y chromosome Segment). [3] A Haplotype is defined as a collection of two or more DYS markers. [4] In the discussion that follows, participants in the project will be compared to other males in the Y-DNA Project to determine the statistical probability they share a common ancestor within genealogical time.
   The project will statistically evaluate Members tested over 12, 25, 37, 67, and 111 DYS. Many of these markers were selected by FTDNA because geneticists have found some have higher mutation rates than others. For the purpose of illustration, Table 1 is a presentation of four illustrated Members who have ordered the FTDNA Y-DNA37 Product testing 37 DYS markers (resulting in a 37 marker haplotype). When you review your DNA Colorized Chart Results on the Stark Family Public Page hosted by FTDNA, the higher mutation rate DYS Markers are presented with “Red” background cells. Low mutation rate DYS Markers are presented with “Blue” background cells, being a dark blue over Markers 1 thru 37, lighter blue through Markers 38 thru 67, and an even lighter “Blue” through Markers 68 thru 111. Marker numbers 1 through 37 in the second row of Table 1 (Labeled #1234 to assure column alignment), have been assigned to each DYS Marker Label to simplify the discussion that follows. You will have to visit the DNA Colorized Chart page if you are interested in the specific DYS  Marker Label assigned to these DYS Marker numerical number #s. Those #s highlighted “Red” have higher mutation rate. Those not highlighted have low mutation rates.
   When one orders a test kit from FTDNA, they are assigned a "Kit Number." The Project uses this number to uniquely present and identify Members test results on a row as presented in Table 1. [The assigned Kit#s in Table 1 are make-up for the purpose of discussion and the results connection to any Project Member is coincidental.] Members of this Group analyzed or labeled #1111, #2222, #3333, and #4444; and appear in Rows 3 thru 6. The row above #1111 identifies the 37 marker Modal Haplotype (assigned #0000) for this specific group of four Members. [5] The Allele values over 37 markers in the example, appear to the right of the Kit #s.
   When a Member’s DYS Marker Allele value differs from #0000 at a specific marker; that DYS cell will is highlighted with a yellow background relative to the Allele value. Observe #2222 has a value of 30 at Marker #21; while #0000 has a value of 29. Because of this difference, the Marker 21 cell  for Kit #2222 has an Allele value of 30 entered and the allele value highlighted yellow. Observe #2222 also differed from #0000 at DYS Markers 26 and 34. All of his other Marker cells have an gray highlight because they match #0000. For #2222, the yellow highlighted values represent mutations relative to #0000 (the Modal Haplotype for this group of Members). Members that match #0000 at any DYS marker number will be highlighted gray at that marker. Observe the marker columns for #1111, #2222, #3333, and #4444. The Modal Haplotype, #0000, was created from the most common allele value in each numbered column.
   The DNA colorized chart will have three rows above the Members of a closely related Group of Members.  The third row is the Modal Haplotype for the Group presenting the most common allele by at each DYS marker. The two rows above the Modal Haplotype are maximum and minimum allele values in the column differing from the Modal value. In the Group presentations, Marker cells that differ from the Modal Haplotype will have colored background cells similar to Table 1; but with differing cell background colors. 

Definitions of Item Discussed Above

1) Short Tandem Repeats (STR): A genetic marker consisting of multiple copies of an identical DNA sequence arranged in direct succession in a particular region of a chromosome. 

2) Allele Value: One of the variant forms of a gene at a particular locus, or location, on a chromosome. Different alleles produce variation (or mutations) in inherited characteristics. For STR markers, each allele value is the number of repeats of the short base sequence. 

3) DYS Marker Label:   Also known as a genetic marker, a segment of DNA with an identifiable physical location on a chromosome whose inheritance can be followed. Marker in this instance, is a number assigned to each of the 37 DYS markers to be discussed in our analysis. Each DYS Label (presented below as per international conventions) has been assigned a marker number (1 thru 37). 

4) Haplotype: A Haplotype is defined as two or more DYS Markers. Members could have been tested over 12, 25, 37, 67, or 111 markers; each marker series defining Haplotypes based on the number of markers tested. 

5) Model Haplotype: Defined by the most common allele value at each DYS marker for a population of 3 or more Individuals. In Table 1, the 37 Marker Modal Haplotype (Labeled #0000)) was created by reviewing each column from 01 to 37 to determine the most common allele value in each column.  This value was then entered in the #0000 row for that numbered DYS marker (the Modal Haplotype for this Group) 

Kit#|                                                            Table 1: Members Allele Value at each DYS Marker                               
1234| 01 02 03 04
05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37
13 24 14 11 12 14 12 12 12 13 13 29 16 09 10 11 11 25 14 19 29 15 15 16 17 11 11 19 22 16 16 17 17 36 38 12 12
1111| 13 24 14 11 12 14 12 12 12 13 13 29 16 09 10 11 11 25 14 19 29 15 15 16 17 11 11 19 22 16 16 17 17 36 38 12 12
2222| 13 24 14 11 12 14 12 12 12 13 13 29 16 09 10 11 11 25 14 19 30 15 15 16 17 12 11 19 22 16 16 17 17 37 38 12 12
3333| 13 24 14 11 12 14 12 12 12 13 13 29 16 09 10 11 11 25 14 19 29 15 15 16 17 11 11 19 22 15 16 17 17 36 38 12 12
4444| 13 24 14 11 12 14 12 12 12 13 13 29 16 09 10 11 11 25 14 19 29 15 15 16 17 11 11 19 22 16 16 17 17 36 38 12 12

   FTDNATip© Tip calculations

   Y-DNA Surname Projects create Clusters based on common surnames, traditional genealogical evidence, and genetic distance evidence (GD). While DNA testing is an extremely accurate and precise science, we will, if needed, genetically compare Members test results to each other using the FTDNATip© Tip calculations to determine the the Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor (TMRCA). Exact Science will now be combined with statistical probability. The Tip calculations are complex and depend on knowing the number of DYS mutations and the mutation rates for each DYS Marker. The TMRCA is a statistical probability estimate of how many generations you have to go back to find the common ancestor of two participants compared; or how many generations the Members compared  have been in separate descendant lines.

   The TMRCA probabilities calculated take into consideration the mutation rates for each individual marker being compared. Because markers can have different mutation rates, identical genetic distances (GD) will not necessarily yield the same probabilities. For example, even though Member 1 has a GD=2 when compared to Member 2, if Member 1 is compared to Member 3 with the same GD=2; they may have different probabilities because the genetic distance of 2 was prompted by mutations at different markers having different mutation rates.

   My confidence thresholds two Members Tip compared are related and could share a TMRCA are presented below. Probabilities below an 80% threshold will be deemed to be insufficient to declare — with complete confidence — the compared individuals had a common ancestor who lived WITHIN the number of generations specified. This threshold is intended as a guideline and subject to further interpretation when the plots approach 80% from the direction of greater or lesser probabilities.

1) I have very little confidence probabilities of 50% or lower could share a common ancestor within a specific generation.

    Not impossible, just not very probable. 

2) I have decreasing confidence they share a common ancestor within the generation as they approach 50% from a

    higher percentage, and increasing confidence as the percentages  approach 80%.

3) At 80% to 90%, I am more confident they could share a common ancestor within the generation. 

4) At 90% or greater, I become very confident they could share a common ancestor within the generation.

   Genetic Grouping of Members will be grouped based on the Genetic distance, and, if needed, Tip calculation Results. Tip calculations can be misleading depending on the mutation rates of the persons compared. However, Tip can be useful in determining two Members with the same paternal surname  could share a common ancestor within Genealogical time (the genealogical time after surname usage became common). The calculation results can provide additional confidence the Members compared can share a common ancestor. [You can perform these calculations when you review your DNA STR Matches on your personal pages. Under the name of the person you match, click on the orange square with "TiP" presented in the square. Tip will compare your DNA results to the results of the name selected.]