We want to help you find your cousins and ancestors through the comparison of Y chromosomes.
Many of us already have compiled information about our relatives and ancestors from family members, and from sources available online, in published genealogy books, and from public records.
Another source of information is carried in the body of every male Sisson - our Y chromosomes. When one man's Y chromosome matches another's, they know they are cousins descending from a common ancestor. There is a man who matches me, though our most recent ancestor-in-common is seven generations back. If I didn't already know from documents about that ancestor, I would certainly know about him now!
To find out about our Y chromosomes, we have begun the Sisson DNA Project. We take cells painlessly from the lining of our mouths, put them in little vials, and send them to Family Tree DNA, the company that handles the testing. When all 12 of our markers match another participant's markers, we know that we descend from the same ancestor.
· Every father passes on his Y chromosome to his sons.
· Our surnames usually pass that way also.
· Our Sisson surname and our Y chromosomes act as if they are linked since they both usually pass from father to son.
· Analysis of our Y chromosomes can tell us who we are related to.
· It can point out cousins we never knew we had.
· It can tell us when we share an ancestor even though we were not previously aware of it.
· The Sisson ancestor we share may have lived fairly recently, maybe in the past 300 or 400 years, or he may have lived centuries ago.
Who is eligible to participate in the project?
· Everyone named Sisson is eligible to participate in one way or another.
· You are eligible for direct participation if you are a male, born with the Sisson surname, and descended in a line of male Sisson ancestors as far back as you know - your father, his father, his father, etc.
To apply, please go to the Family Tree
· You are not directly eligible if you are a man whose Sisson ancestry comes through a female Sisson because she did not have a Y chromosome. Her sons bore their father's Y chromosome. You have your father’s Y chromosome.
· You are not directly eligible if you are yourself a woman. Same reason.
If you are not directly eligible, here is how you can participate anyway.
Please urge your male Sisson relatives to join
us. Invite your Sisson sons, brothers, nephews, fathers, uncles, and male Sisson
cousins. In this way a woman who was born a Sisson can submit her brother's or
Please consider donating any amount over $10 to
· Please consider sponsoring your male Sisson relatives by inviting them to participate and ordering a kit for them through the application system. (Please don't order the kit until you have received their expressed approval.)
are some of the details about the
What does the fee cover?
The laboratory's analysis of your
o If you sign the release form sent with the kit, your individual results will be reported to you, to me, to your cousins on the Sisson E-mail List, and to the other participants in the Project.
o If you choose not to sign the release form, you will remain anonymous, and only you and I will be notified of your match.
o We encourage you to sign the release so that you can trade information with your new-found cousins.
is doing the
· Family Tree DNA is the company which is helping us to carry out the project.
comes most highly recommended of all of the
has a contract with a laboratory at the
o The lab's findings are sent to FTDNA, and then sent to me and to each participant.
frequently-asked-questions will give you a good overview of the subject
How safe is your
1. Placing an Order
When you enter an
order, you supply your name and postal and email addresses. This information is
then stored on the secure Family Tree
2. Receiving the Test Kit
In the test kit
is a short and simple release form. Signing the release form authorizes us to
share your name and email address with those whom you match. When you have a
match, you will see the name and email address of your
3. Sending the Test Kit to Family Tree
When your test
kit is received at Family Tree
4. A Batch Goes to the Lab
Every two weeks,
5. At the Lab
The lab handles hundreds of tests each week. There is no way for the sample to be connected with any person, but only with a surname. Even with a very rare surname, the lab has no idea where the person resides.
The samples are
stored in a locked refrigerator at the lab for 25 years at no additional
charge. Storing it offers many benefits. The sample can be used for future
tests that become available as a result of scientific advances in the
field. Any of the tests currently or newly available from Family Tree
The lab performs the
test requested and the test results are returned to Family Tree
6. Processing the Results at Family Tree
When your results are posted, you receive a notice by email that your results are available for viewing. If you have a Y-Chromosome DNA test, your results are a string of numbers – 12,25, or 37 numbers – depending on the number of markers you have had tested.
Your test result is
stored in the Family Tree
In other words, your test results are not unique to you since others to whom you are related will have the same or close result.
I am concerned about the fee. Is there any help?
· If you are eligible, but have a concern about the fee, you may write David S. Martin at [email protected] for information about partial help from our special fund.
· Once in a while someone's test results surprise us with a "false-paternity" event.
· It indicates that there was a non-Sisson father in some unknown generation in the past, and his Y chromosome has been passed from son to son rather than the chromosome of a Sisson man assumed to be the ancestor .
We members of the Sisson family regard all
family relationships as firm and lasting, regardless of
Announcing the results of
Where can I read about the technical details of Y-Chromosome research?
For a good summary of what paternal-line
What results have we obtained so far? (Updated last on 23 June 2008)
Analysis by Sharon Sisson Miller:
As of June 23, 2008, we
have 83 participants in our Sisson
Many of the haplotypes are close enough
matches (i.e., 12/12 or 11/12) to be
considered related within their groups. A few have been surprised to find that
they didn't match anybody. We've also had the opposite
surprise. One man was aware of an adoption story in his family, but
Our results represent the three major North
American immigrant lines of Sisson from the 1600s: Richard of New
England, Robert of Virginia and Thomas of Virginia,
Southeastern States Line: A cluster
of North American men trace their lines to a set of probable brothers, William,
David, and John Sisson, who were in the 1790 census together in Union County,
South Carolina. These men are DNA matches. The father of William, David, and
John, may have been a Thomas Sisson. Further research is ongoing for tighter
paper documentation of these links. DNA matches in
As we hoped, the test results are proving useful to the Sisson group as a whole, and to individuals within the group. We look forward to more results, each of which gives us a little more to work with.
Carol Sisson Regehr
Co-Coordinator of the Sisson Y-Chromosome DNA Project