This discovery is a great example of how genetic genealogy can help with our research. I had done traditional paper research on my maternal line back to Marie Louise Desmarais, born in 1716, using birth certificates, parish registers and the Loiselle and Drouin marriage indexes. The maternal line is your mother’s mother’s mother’s line and can be difficult to research because of all those name changes.
A dna test can help you get in touch with cousins who have information you don’t have and that is what happened here. Taking the mtDNA test, I found others with the W3a2 haplogroup and they had done the research between Marie Marguerie and Marie Louise’s daughter, so we overlapped two generations. I love it when the paper research and dna results sync up!
In addition, Marie Marguerie is very interesting. She is my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother. She immigrated to Quebec in about 1640 and it was tough going in those early days in New France. Her brother, first husband and son were legends – key figures in the fur trade and in relations between the early settlers and the first nations tribes. Marie Marguerie has hundreds of thousands of descendants in the United States and Canada. Mark Wade has gathered a lot of information about her descendants and her life. Also, she lived to be 80, which is impressive. Back then, the average life expectancy was about 35 years.
I am also intrigued that Marie’s daughter was named Gertrude, which is also my grandmother’s name. I think this is a coincidence. I don’t believe my great-grandparents knew about our family history. I still like it though! Gertrude, back in early Quebec, lived to be 78. Her husband also knew several languages of the first nations tribes and was a fur trader.
Genetic genealogy, especially mtDNA, can also give you an idea about your ancient ancestors . . .
Have you heard of the book The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes?
First, the bad news . . . if you find you are a member of the W haplogroup and you were excited to learn which of Eve’s seven daughters is your ancestor, prepare for disappointment. There is a low percent of Haplogroup W in the world and it is not one of the seven daughters of Eve.
However, there is some information available for the W line and here is a rough sketch of the key points from Mark Wade’s current hypothesis for the W timeline:
- 151,600-233,600 years ago – Mitochondrial Eve in Africa
- 130,000-200,000 – L haplogroups in Africa
- 56,000-87,000 – N haplogroups in the Near East
- 17,000-29,000 years ago – First W in India/Pakistan
- 14,000 years ago – First W3 in India
- 13,000 years ago – First W3a in India
- 6000-12,000 years ago – First W3a2 between Caspian and Aral Seas
- One branch ends up in Rouen, France
- About 1640 – Marie Marguerie migrates to Quebec and all of the W3a2 “French W” descendants in North America seem to trace their ancestry back to her.