Cockerham Family Tree DNA Project Website - Results


The Cockerham Surname Y-Chromosome DNA Project may be divided into four phases: 1) Collection, 2) Analysis, 3) Computation and 4) Publication. Sometimes the phases overlap, such as the Collection phase and the Analysis phase, and the Analysis phase and the Computation phase. The Publication phase, or the final phase, occurs when the conclusions are finally disseminated by some means.

The Cockerham DNA Project was set up for eight variations of the Cockerham surname. The Y chromosome is passed from father to son unchanged, except for a mutation about every 500 generations. Testing the Y chromosome provides us with a genetic finger print consisting of 12, 25, 37 or 66 numbers. By comparing a genetic finger print from one male to another male with the same surname one may determine if the two males are related. Even though the Y-DNA test is only available for males with a Cockerham surname, or other spellings of the Cockerham name, females were not left out. They performed a critical role in recruiting their male relatives for testing and by providing genealogy research records to support the DNA findings. It took both DNA and genealogy records to make this effort valuable. In addition, one of the ladies associated with the project constructed all of our charts and tables used in the study.

The first phase of the project, Collection, began when the first participant received his collection kit the last of February 2005. The kit consisted of two special cotton swabs and two small, screw-capped vials containing a preservative fluid. The collection of a DNA sample consisted of one of the simple cotton swabs being rubbed on the inside of the cheek to collect the sample. The swab containing the sample DNA was then placed into one of the vials and the vial tightly capped. Eight hours later the procedure was repeated with the second cotton swab and second vial. There were no blood tests and no pain. The kit was then mailed to Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) in Houston, TX and arrived 9 March 2005. When we started the project the kits from several projects were collected in batches of approximately 1,500 kits and shipped to Tucson, AZ every other week. Seven months into the project FTDNA was receiving so many kits that shipment to the laboratory was changed to every week.

The Analysis phase of the project begins soon after the samples reached Tucson. The samples were tested at The Molecular Lab for Science and Evolution at the University of Arizona, one of the five leading Y-Chromosome research universities in the world. The National Geographic Society uses the same system, Family Tree DNA and The Molecular Lab for Science and Evolution to run the International Genographic Project, testing 100,000 persons worldwide.

Molecular biologists and population geneticists at the University of Arizona have developed FTDNA’s panels of markers focusing on what we, as genealogists, need to obtain from the test. Each marker is chosen for its volatility or stability (mutation rate) along with anthropological information that can be obtained from the markers. There are four levels of "genetic marker" testing provided by FTDNA. The 12-Marker Test, the 25-Marker Test, the 37-Marker Test and the 66-Marker Test. The 12 markers test is sufficient to determine whether or not two people are genetically related. The value of the 25, 37, or 66 marker test occurs when two participants are related on the 12 marker test. The larger the number of markers, the more certain we can be in determining the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA). This is why the FTDNA 66-marker test is the highest resolution test available. The 66 marker test also serves to further reduce the time frame of the matching participants to the MRCA. This time to MRCA is known as the TMRCA. This is computed via a computer that we use via Houston.

Using the Family Tree DNA Time Predictor we have preliminarily predicted the TMRCAs for the following participants:

37 Markers

Kit# 32910 vs. Kit# 36249 = 450 yrs (time of George Cockerham, Devonshire, England)

Kit# 32910 vs. Kit# 36566 = 325 yrs (time of Capt. William Cockerham, Dorsetshire, England)

Kit# 32910 vs. Kit# 32853 = 250 yrs (time of John Cockerham, Sr., Lunenburg Co., VA)

The first comparison is of DNA results of someone in the John Cockerham line and the Daniel Cockerham line. The second comparison is of DNA results of someone in the John Cockerham line and the William Winn Cockerham line. The third comparison of someone in the John Cockerham line and another person in the John Cockerham line.