The Genealogy Fallout from Nixing Richard Pace of Jamestown Due to DNA

Richard Pace Not Related
Photo I took last fall of the plaque that hangs in the church at historic Jamestown and mentions Richard Pace.

I blogged earlier this week about just receiving the much-anticipated results for a Y-DNA test that proved my husband’s Pace line is not genetically related to the  same line as Richard Pace (1583-1627) of Jamestown, despite a long-time widely perpetuated claim made via an accidental (or possibly even intentional) paper trail error by some Pace researcher.

On the plus side, this DNA test did confirm that my husband Jeff’s family is descended from the same male-line as William Henry Pace (1745-1815), a member of General George Washington’s elite bodyguard unit know as the Commander in Chief’s Guard.

Armed with this new information though, I now face the unpleasant chore of cleaning up my genealogy house due to this fallout.

Wasted Efforts?

I have not invested much time or original research very far back into the Pace line, because a) I knew I’d have to visit local repositories out in Virginia and have not yet had the time, and b) shortly after reviewing what others have researched on this surname, I learned of the DNA controversy and put my research time and dime on hold until we could get our hands on a male-line Pace to test from our family. So no loss there for me.

Jeff With Richard Pace Plaque
Jeff posing with the plaque paying tribute to Chanco and to who we previously thought was Jeff’s 11th great grandfather, Richard Pace.

When Jeff and I traveled with my parents to Washington, D.C. and Virginia last fall, we planned a full day road trip from our Massanutten mountain-top timeshare condo across the state of Virginia to historic Jamestown. Any regrets now? Nope. We would have visited historic Jamestown anyway. After all…. it is historic Jamestown!

On that trip, we had hoped to have enough time in the late afternoon and early evening to take the ferry across the James River to drive by the former location of Richard Pace and wife Isabella Smyth’s Ancient Planter land grant, Pace’s Paines. But we ran out of time and decided against it since it would have has us all back to our condo well past midnight (my parents are usually in bed by 9:00pm). I was a bit bummed at the time. However Jeff and I now joke about how happy we are that we did not waste that extra time.

Cleaning House

I do have a bit of clean-up to do now, most of which will have to wait a couple of weeks until I am done with my summer class.

My Research

  • Deleting all Pace ancestors and collateral relatives from my Ancestry tree (which I consider a “leads” tree, not my confirmed-findings tree), beyond William Henry Pace of the Commander-in-Chief Guard (CnC Guard).
  • Deleting all Pace ancestors and collateral relatives from my research database, extending back beyond William Henry Pace of the CnC Guard.
  • Deleting the same for Richard Pace’s wife Isabella Smyth.
  • For all Evernote notes I have saved over the years:
    • Merge all notes for each ancestor or relative beyond William Henry Pace of the CnC Guard into a single master note for each of those individuals. I do not want to delete all those Notes, lest I ever need them for future reference.
    • Add a “VOIDED” prefix to each newly merged master Note, so that it is immediately clear when viewing a note or viewing a list of notes that these Paces notes are not part of my research line.
    • Remove Anhentafel number tags, the “Pace” surname tag, and any research-action-oriented tags from those notes (ex: “to confirm”).
    • Move those notes out of my active research notebooks, and into a newly created “Voided Research” notebook.
    • Do the same for the Isabella Smyth line (his wife).
Richard Pace - Voided Notes
Updating all of my Richard Pace notes in Evernote.

This Blog

  • Add a prominently featured updated note to the top of every blog post about Richard Pace or his wife Isabella Smyth, noting the false connection. Like my Evernote research notes, I do not want to delete these posts. For one thing, I do not delete blog posts even if they become obsolete–I add a correction or a link to more updated information. I also want other Pace researchers to be aware of this fallacy, so they do not replicate the same error in their own work.
  • Make any necessary corrections to blog posts about William Henry Pace of the CnC Guard, which might reference Richard Pace and Isabella Smyth.
  • Remove the Genealogy Snapshot box from these posts, which displayed the descendancy route down to my husband.
  • Add a “VOIDED” note to the archive view of all blog posts pertaining to these two individuals. Again, I do not want to delete them from lists like our Surnames List, but I want to make it clear to others that these are false findings.
Richard Pace Snapshot Box
Time to delete my Genealogy Snapshot box for Richard Pace of Jamestown.
Richard Pace in Ancestor List
I need to now add a “VOIDED” annotation to my blog’s ancestor list, and an explanatory note to all all posts referencing Pace and Smyth of Jamestown.

Next Steps

After all necessary clean-up, I plan to make this line a major research focus for 2016.

As I mentioned in my last post, the Y-DNA test only proves that my husband’s Pace line is descended from the same line from which William Henry Pace the CnC Guard also descends (the John Pace of Middlesex line). The test does not prove our family is descended directly from William Henry Pace. After the disappointment of learning we can no longer claim the Jamestown connection, I would like to be able to provide my husband’s cousins with a conclusive answer about the CnC Guard Pace. I am hoping the more advanced DNA education I will receive at SLIG this January will help me better analyze the DNA evidence against the paper trail evidence. And I definitely have to now buckle down and study that paper trail evidence myself.

Since the DNA test has proven our Pace line descends from the John of Middlesex line, I need to now begin researching John of Middlesex and his descendants. This is not a name that has been on my research radar until now.

I think this will be a very interesting case to research and study to share!

#52Ancestors: DNA Proves Our Pace Research is Only Halfway Right

Richard Pace Not Related
Photo I took last fall of the plaque that hangs in the church at historic Jamestown and mentions Richard Pace.

My 26th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

Amy’s 2015 version of this challenge focuses on a different theme each week.

The theme for week 26 is – Halfway: This week marks the halfway point in the year — and the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge! What ancestor do you have that you feel like you’ve only researched halfway? What ancestor do you feel like takes up half of your research efforts?

I am quite behind on this blog challenge due to a very busy summer school class, hence the reference to this week being the “halfway point” in the year.

My 26th ancestor is who we had hoped was my husband Jeff’s 11th great-grandfather, Richard Pace (1583-1627), an Ancient Planter who is credited with helping save the Jamestown colony from a 1622 Indian massacre. Exactly one week ago today, we received DNA confirmation that my husband’s family is NOT descended from this noteworthy Pace.

Righting a Research Wrong

I have done very little original research on my husband’s Pace line beyond the last four generations. With so much already written and shared by others, I have instead focused on our lesser-known family lines. It appears that I will now need to make this Pace line a priority research project for 2016.

Incorrect Paper Trail Assumptions

Jeff With Richard Pace Plaque
Jeff posing with the plaque paying tribute to Chanco and to who we previously thought was Jeff’s 11th great grandfather, Richard Pace.

I wrote five months ago about the research error that has perpetuated for quite some time, identifying this Richard Pace of Jamestown and William Henry Pace (1745-1815), a member of George Washington’s Revolutionary War elite bodyguard unit–the Commander-in-Chief Guard (CnC Guard)–as being in the same line of descent, seven generations apart. In an attempt to confirm or refute this claim, the Pace Society of America became an early adopter among surname society-sponsored Y-DNA studies.1

Upon learning of this project, I wanted my husband’s family to participate. But my husband Jeff is a Pace through his mother, so his DNA could not help us. Unlike autosomal DNA, the Y chromosome is inherited only by males, which “passes down virtually unchanged from father to son.” 2 This allows Y-DNA testing to determine patrilineal (direct male-line) ancestry.

We needed a direct male-line Pace. Fortunately Jeff’s 1st cousin once removed (who I will call Male Cousin Pace to protect his privacy) volunteered right away after his wife learned about our dilemma and reasons for wanting to test.

The Research Question

The primary question we wanted Male Cousin Pace’s Y-DNA test to answer is from which of these two prominent Pace men our branch of the family is descended. Of course, this wasn’t a question with just two possible answers: Richard Pace of Jamestown vs. William Henry Pace CnC Guard. A third answer was always possible, one which we hoped would not be the case…that our family was descended from neither of these men.

The DNA Evidence

After several months of impatiently waiting and regularly checking the processing status of Male Cousin Pace’s kit on Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), I was beside myself when on 4 August 2015 I noticed–well ahead of the notification email from FTDNA–that processing had finally been completed. I immediately hopped on to the Pace Family Genealogy group on Facebook, notifying the DNA project administrator that Male Cousin Pace’s results were ready.

Less than two hours later, the DNA project administrator Rebecca Christensen replied to my post: “The results belong to the John Pace of Middlesex group (as expected) – not the Richard Pace group.”3 Rebecca private-messaged me, elaborating a bit more:

The results actually have 3 mutations (differences) from the modal (most common) results for the group although 2 of the differences are shared by kit number 288002 – so that person may share a more recent ancestor with you.  Your results came in as expected since you are related to William Pace of George Washington’s guard – he is a known John Pace of Middlesex descendant.4

My husband’s Pace branch is descended from the same line as William Henry Pace of the CnC Guard, not from Richard Pace of Jamestown.5  This particular research question is clearly answered by the DNA.

Pace DNA Project - John Middlesex
A closeup view of how our family test kit falls under the results for the John of Middlesex line, within haplogroup I-M223, on the FTDNA public results page.

DNA Answers Only Part of the Question

Note that I state descended from the same line as William Henry Pace, instead of explicitly stating descended from William Henry Pace.

Until I devote some research time towards thoroughly vetting the records tracing my husband’s Pace grandfather and great-grandfather back to William Henry Pace’s generation and then to John of Middlesex, I cannot be certain that my husband’s family actually descends from the CnC Guardsman. All that the Y-DNA test tells us is that my husband’s line descends from John of Middlesex. If William Henry Pace had a brother, it might be his brother from whom our family descends. The linkage to John of Middlesex could be through another of John’s male descendants altogether–occurring prior to William Henry Pace.

We just cannot know until a thorough analysis of the paper trail is conducted. This type of genealogy problem requires both DNA and historical records.

Related Further Back?

Another question I pondered when learning about the DNA project disputing a line of descent between Richard Pace of Jamestown and William Henry Pace of the CNC Guard, is if it might be possible that my husband’s family was descended from one line yet could also be related to the other line further back in time? Perhaps several generations back?

According to the DNA evidence, the answer is a firm no.

Pace DNA Project - Richard Pace
A closeup view of test kits that fall under the Richard Pace of Jamestown line, within haplogroup R-M269, on the FTDNA public results page.

Richard Pace of Jamestown and William Henry Pace of the CnC Guard are not genetically connected at all. Not just in a genealogical time frame. These two Pace lines are not even connected in an anthropological time frame. The public DNA results, available on Family Tree DNA, assign different haplogroups to these two Pace lines. Our John of Middlesex line belongs to haplogroup I-M223, while the Richard Pace of Jamestown line belongs to haplogroup R-M269.6 7

RESEARCH TIP: Y-DNA Terms Referenced

If you are not familiar with this terminology:

  • Genealogical Time Frame: “A time frame within the last 500 up to 1000 years since the adoption of surnames and written family records. An individual’s haplotype is useful within this time frame and is compared to others to help identify branches within a family.”8
  • Anthropological Time Frame: “A time frame of over 1000 to tens of thousands of years ago that predates recorded history and surnames for most people. The Y-DNA haplogroup tree traces SNP mutations over anthropological time.”6
  • Haplogroup: “A genetic population group of people who share a common ancestor on the patrilineal [all-male line] or matrilineal [all-female line] line. Haplogroups are assigned letters of the alphabet, and refinements consist of additional number and letter combinations.”10
  • Mutation:A permanent structural alteration or change in the DNA sequence. Mutations in the sperm or egg are called germline mutations. Germline mutations in the Y chromosome of the male are passed on to all of his male-line descendants.”11

I am not going into further detail in this post about the three mutations that Rebecca noticed in Male Cousin Pace’s Y-DNA kit, except to note that this does not mean my husband and his Pace side of the family are mutants :-).4 Nor will I go into an explanation about the two haplogroups. My Y-DNA experience is not yet ready to tackle those topics in a meaningful way. Those explanations have to wait until after I study under Blaine Bettinger at SLIG this January.

Next Steps?

Needless to say, the results of Male Cousin Pace’s Y-DNA test have made a mess out of the family’s research–some of his siblings and his wife have also been researching the Pace family history. I discuss the fallout and housecleaning efforts among my own research notes, and this family history blog, in my next post. I have to get my own house in order before I can help the others get theirs straightened up too.