Sep 30, 2009

The Van Norman (etc.) Y-DNA Project Results

The results are in!

We now believe we have Y-DNA representation for early Van Norman (etc.) lines of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

There is a match between two of our early New York lines.

Two sets of results match 35 out of 37 numbers, indicating that these two lines have a common ancestor, likely within a dateable period of time – although we know these lines have no connection after 1794 at a minimum. Normally, the DYS numbers on the chart in red tend to mutate or change faster than the ones in black, but in this instance, we have one of each that has changed. It is these mutations that might eventually help us determine which line a particular Van Norman ancestor might connect to, when we are trying to knock down a brick wall in our research, once we have a larger database of results to draw from. (This is assuming that the mutation took place a few generations back, and is not a recent occurrence.) At this point in time, we do not know if both mutations occurred in one line, or if they each had one, but we likely now have a good idea of the Y-DNA of an early Van Norman ancestor who settled in New York State.

You will notice that the other four sets of tests do not match this pair or each other. This indicates that we have five different ancestors represented in the results. Because we have so few results at the moment, there are several interpretations at this time.

The first possibility is that "we" descend from more than one Van Norman (etc.) ancestor, and they were not originally related. This is plausible because the very origins of the name "Van Arnhem" indicate that the original ancestor came from (or "Van") the Town of Arnhem in the Netherlands. Naturally there was likely more than one person from that town who came to North America in the earlier years who could have adopted this phrase as a surname. Varied pronounciations of other early surnames also may have led to the adaptation of the Van Norman spelling.

Another possibility is that two or more of the lines trace back to an original Van Norman (etc.) immigrant, and the other lines are the result of one of the anomalies that we talked about earlier -- Adoption, Illegitimacy, or Infidelity, etc. As additional participant's results are added to our database, we will be able to get a better idea of what situations we are dealing with.

*However,we can now state with reasonable confidence that the Smithfield, PA Van Normans are descendants of a different line than the Van Arnhem New York families of Albany, and quite possibly the early New Jersey crowd belong to a third progenitor.*

As we stated at the start of this project, the rewards are not going to come overnight, but will benefit researchers of the Van Norman surname over the long haul.

Also listed on the chart is a Haplogroup that is predicted for each participant. These are generalizations used to "track" the various routes of migration of our early ancestors after they travelled out of Africa many thousands of years ago. While the actual results can be much more detailed, depending on the line, a general rule of thumb indicates that R1b lines are from Western Europe and R1a lines are from Eastern Europe. (There are many more categories than just those two as well.) The Genographic Project is a large study currently underway using this information to determine how humankind populated the earth. For more details go to and click on the icon near the bottom left hand side of the page.

In order to set up a workable database for our Van Norman Y-DNA research project, we need to determine the primary line or lines. That is to say, we need to know what the defining numbers should be for the original Van Norman ancestors.

To this end, I have drawn up a minimal Van Norman Y-DNA “Wish List” to show which samples would be desirable to establish this base. Ideally, it is beneficial to obtain a sample from a male descendant of the first son of an “early” couple, and from a male descendant of the last son of the same couple. These samples should be identical, or at least virtually the same and then it is presumed that any samples from the male descendants of any other sons born between the two are also the same. Of course, in real life, it is not always possible to do this, if some of the descendants haven’t been determined yet or if a line “females out”, etc…..

The Van Norman “Clan” appear to have three early geographic locations of our surname and it’s variations - New York, New Jersey, & Pennsylvania - families which we are unable to link together at this time. In addition, we have a multitude of “brick walls” from all over, most of which can be traced back to one of the three major centers.

So, until we have determined the actual ancestral line or lines, I have drawn up four separate groupings to work with.

We require one more sample to confirm our other set of results, preferably from a descendant of Jacob Van Norman who married Rebecca Hann / Haun. A match would establish the line back to the 1750’s….

We require a minimum of one more sample from our Pennsylvania descendants to help sort out our puzzle.

Originally we requested at least one from a descendant of the Joseph Van Norman / Elizabeth Wybern line; one from the William Van Orman / Elizabeth line (which would potentially have given us a line for the early Isaac Van Orman of PA); and one from the Samuel Van (N)orman / (Phebe?) line of PA. (as his ancestry hasn’t been determined yet.) A match would have given us a set of results dating back to the early 1700’s.

Now a third sample should hopefully be a match to one of the samples we already possess, to give us a better idea of what situation prevented this expected match. (A new participant from each of the three above mentioned lines would be the most beneficial....)

We require a sample from at least one line that can be traced back to Jan Dirksz and his wife Sarah Theunis to confirm the Van Arnhem primary set of numbers dating to the mid 1600’s. This could include any male descendant of the Loyalist line who settled in the Eastern half of what is now Ontario, or one from the line that settled in what is now Quebec, in addition to the many other lines that are now spread across the United States. Any other Van Norman line tracing back to the early 1700’s in New York, will also be represented here.

This is the category where all the ancestral “dead ends” and “brick walls” will be filed as they begin their journey, while we wait to see if their results match up with any particular line. Over the centuries, some lines may have a mutation and one of their numbers will change. If this mutation occurs far enough back in time, then anyone with the same set of numbers will be a descendant, whether or not the actual connection is known. This will assist us by giving us a direction for our research, which we might not have had otherwise.

Of course, there is always the possibility of a set of values appearing for a person that don’t match any of the others, either because adoption, infidelity or illegitimacy, etc. was involved sometime in the past.
- If you decide to participate, that is one factor you must consider.

As always, our results are posted on the Van Norman website maintained by Sherri, so you can follow our

Further questions may be directed towards myself or the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section at might also prove to be useful to you.

We also welcome donations from those who wish to sponsor a line (or make a contribution towards one) if they don’t have any male Van Normans (etc.) available to them. You can contact me privately at my email address above for details. Likewise, if there are any Van Norman males who wish to participate in the project, but are unable or unwilling to spend the money to have the tests done, please contact me as well. Either of these options can be handled anonymously if you wish.

Remember, it is strictly male Van Normans who may take the Y-DNA test, as it is only passed from father to son. This is why it is ideal for a surname based endeavor. Thank you for your interest in our project.


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