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A. Why is this clan of males referred to as a "Viking" group?
B. Childres, Childers, Childress, Childears, et. al. - Which is correct and how did it originate?
C. Why are there surnames other than Childers or Childress in this James River clan?
Other Frequently Asked Questions
A. What is DNA testing and how can we use it in our genealogy research?
B.  Why may only Childers/Childress (et. al.) male descendents participate in this project?
C. M.R.C.A. - What does it mean?
D.  What are the chances of two similarly-surnamed males having an identical 37-marker test, but not being related?
E.  How do I participate in this Childers/Childress DNA project?
F. Where may I view complete DNA Marker Results for this James River clan?
G. What's involved in taking the DNA test?

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A.  Why is this clan of Childres/Childers/Childress males referred to as a "Viking" group?

One of the broadest categories that may be established by looking at DNA results is that of a "Haplogroup."  The definition of each of these broad groups into which all humans fall may be seen by clicking here.  Of the 120+ Childress/Childers donors, nearly half fall into the Haplogroup I - which is defined as "...nearly completely restricted to northwestern Europe. These would most likely have been common within Viking populations. One lineage of this group extends down into central Europe."  The remainder of the donor group fell into other categories.  What this means to us in this "James River Clan" is that we descended from the Viking populace which invaded the British Isles many centuries ago.

Leah Wark at FamilyTree responded to my question regarding “Haplogroups” and our DNA Participants thusly:  

“Most individuals from I1a are Scandinavian in origin.  I1c is found in Scandinavian and Eastern European populations. One of the Childers/Childress Surname project kits has been SNP tested which confirmed that he is haplogroup I.  He has not been tested for the subclades of I.  However, I looked at his results and he is almost certainly an 1a.  Anyone that he is related to on this line is also an I1a.

 I checked the two other kits as well and they too are I1a and do not require SNP testing.

 A good rule of thumb when determining whether or not someone is I1a is made by looking at DYS value 455.  Most haplogroups have an 11 here, but I1a's have an 8.   

Basically, you can think of haplogroups as the branches on the tree of humanity.  So, on the I branch, you have further branches like I1, which has further branches like I1a.  Not all of the branches have been discovered yet.  You can keep narrowing the branches into smaller branches as more are discovered.  However, there is a point where this is no longer useful.”

For those of you with an inquisitive mind, an excellent source of Viking history as it relates to the British Isles may be viewed by clicking here.  There are many interactive features of the BBC website that will give the reader a wealth of information about our forefathers.

If you've got some extra time and a healthy amount of curiosity, click on the above photo image and spend some time at the Viking Center in York, England.  You'll get a great idea how our clan patriarch's ancestors lived in England, Scotland and Ireland before the Norman invasion of 1066 A.D. when the Viking villages of England were destroyed.

If you've still got questions about the Vikings, click on the above photo.  This website was once voted the very best website available for questions and answers regarding virtually every aspect of the Viking culture.

B.  Childres, Childers, Childress, Childears, et. al. - Which is correct and how did it originate?

If nothing else, the DNA Project has given us scientific evidence that the two surnames "Childers" and "Childress" may be used interchangeably with no genealogical consequence.  Both spellings appear throughout the roster of the Abrah Childres, confirming the belief that many generations ago the name was inadvertently changed in spelling from the original "Childers" to "Childress" (or, vice versa) by census takers or some other government official (although there have been instances where an individual purposely changed his name to the alternative spelling due to a family dispute).

Here's an interesting example of the interchangeability of "Childers" and "Childress":  In the case of David Childress (born 1802), brother to this writer's third great grandfather, Obediah Childress, Sr. (1792 to 1852), the entries on the family Bible reflect the spelling of "Childers" for David and the first nine of his eleven children.  The entries for the last two children, however, reflected the spelling of "Childress," the more common spelling used by his direct relations.

As to the origination of the name, some researchers have speculated that it was derived from the time that the individuals so named lived in or near an orphanage, or it may have been a nickname for an orphan, based on the assumption that the name "Childers" was derived from the Old English word "childra-hus" which means children's house or orphanage.

This writer's personal belief is that the original spelling likely was "Childers" due to that name being much more predominant in current day England.  In any event, the reader should disregard any preference to one spelling over the other.

C.  Why are there Surnames other than Childress or Childers in this James River Viking Clan?

FamilyTreeDNA estimates that about 5% of all the DNA tests submitted to them place the DNA donors into surname projects different than their own surname.  These "misaligning paternal events" are due to one of the following four occurrences:

  1. An undisclosed adoption took place wherein a Childers/Childress male was adopted by another family name.  This event surely occurred in the pioneering days, when a related family took in children orphaned by natural catastrophe, death, etc.
  2. An adult male Childers/Childress simply changed his family name to another surname.
  3. Marital infidelity occurred between a Childress/Childers male and a woman married to a male with another surname.
  4. Descendents of a long-ago, "original" common Viking male had male offspring, some of whom took different surnames than the first "Childress" or "Childers."  (The reader should keep in mind the fact that surnames had their origin in Britain during the advent of the Doomsday Book day, around 1,086 A.D.  The Vikings invaded the British Isles in the 750 A.D. to 800 A.D. timeframe, so there were potentially several generations of Viking descendents, perhaps even scattered about in England, before the advent of surnames.) 

If you examine our James River Clan pool, you'll see that we have experienced almost three times as many non-Childress/Childers surnames in our group as FamilyTreeDNA would have expected.  It will be up to the individual DNA Participant to pursue their roots in whatever manner they wish; however, it is incumbent on all of us to endeavor to assist each other in tracing our common heritage.  That having been said, it is the opinion of this writer that at least one family in our Viking Group whose surname is not Childress/Childers and who can possibly trace the heritage of their name to the fourth event above.  The case of St. Clair may well be traced to the early English Viking population.  Click here to go to a website that details the evolution of the Viking name of "St. Clair."

Other Frequently Asked Questions


A.  What is DNA testing and how can we use it in our genealogy research?

Deoxyribonucleic acid, or "DNA," is a chemical structure that forms chromosomes in all human beings.  For those interested in the scientific details of DNA testing, the Blair Genealogy website provides what it calls a primer in DNA, DNA-101.  If one wishes to have additional background reading, he or she can find additional reading material at the DNA interactive website.

B.  Why may only Childres/Childers/Childress (et. al.) male descendents participate in this project?

Certain Y-chromosome characteristics are passed only from a male to only his male descendants and our DNA testing focuses on one particular segment of that Y-chromosome.  This is why this project is limited to only males with the surname Childers/Childress (or any derivative form of that name).  Any male can have his DNA tested for the purpose of genealogy, but their results likely will only be of use to individuals with the same surname, except in the exceptional cases associated with "misaligning events" as discussed in previous paragraphs.  Within the Y-chromosome we are analyzing in this project, we are concentrating on either 25, 37 or 67 individual "markers."  The greater the number of markers, the more expensive the test becomes, but the quality of the results also are higher.

The reader should please note, however, that we encourage the interest and contributions that are made to this project by females who wish to conduct Y-DNA research on their paternal Childers/Childress line.  In these cases, such individuals may appeal their male cousins, their fathers, uncles, etc. - any relative who has the surname of Childers/Childress and who is male.  The female may order a test kit and have it sent to their male "surrogate."

The results of the DNA tests allow us to "group" the participants together, based on each person in that group having the identical "repetition value" for each of the 25, 37, 67 or extended marker test.  There are exceptions to this, just to make things more complicated.  Of the 25/37/67 markers, some are considered "fast mutating" in that they may evolve at a different and faster rate than the remaining markers.  FamilyTreeDNA suggests that as a result, two males with the same surname likely have a common recent ancestor, even if one or two of their 25 markers don't exactly match, assuming these mismatches are the "fast mutating" markers.

To better understand the concept of "matches," one may wish to read FamilyTreeDNA's description at

The bottom line?  We're all looking for the oldest Childers or Childress male possible in our lineage.  This DNA project allows us to find our distant cousins and use the documentation and results of their hard work in the field of genealogy.

C.  M.R.C.A. - What does it mean?

The acronym "M.R.C.A." is very important to this whole concept of genealogy and DNA.  That's because the letters stand for "Most Recent Common Ancestor." 

Assuming there are two participants with the same last name who have a match on 25 of 25 marker values; then, there is a 50% probability that they shared a common ancestor as recently as seven generations ago, or in the early 19th century.  There is a 90% probability that that common ancestor could be found as recently as twenty-three generations ago, or in the early 15th century.  It is this statistical model that allows us to feel confident in sharing our genealogical findings with others who match our DNA profile.

D.  What are the chances of two similarly-surnamed males having an identical 37-marker test, but not being related?

A great deal of scientific and statistical proof could be cited here, but hopefully the reader will accept a summary position as being somewhere between "unlikely and impossible."  If enough alleles matches are found between two donors with similar surnames, the probability is high (much greater than 90%) that the two donors are related in "recent" times ("recent" being defined as within the past 1,000 years).  The benefit of the greater resolution testing (37- or 67-or higher, marker tests) is that the estimation of the number of generations since the common ancestor lived may be significantly enhanced.

E.  How do I participate in this Childers/Childress DNA project?

The greater the number of participants we have, the greater our pool of research becomes.  Click here to get more information and to join the other Childers/Childress participants.  If your test results place you in the James River Viking Clan, you'll automatically receive an invitation to join this sub-project.

F.  Where may I view complete DNA Marker Results for this James River Clan?

Most of this web page is devoted to only those contemporary Childers/Childress males who fall into this James River Clan.  The reader may go to the FTDNA public website to see the most current spreadsheet for the participants in this "James River Viking Clan."  For a complete view of the entire Childress/Childers DNA group on your internet browser, click here.  The reader may view the results for this Clan only by clicking on the banners at the top of the previous page.

(Note:  For a listing of internet Childress/Childers family histories available at the Childers~Childress Family Association website, click here.)

G.  What's involved in taking the DNA test?

After enrolling in the project, the participant will be sent a sample kit by the testing company.  The actual sample taking process is akin to brushing one's teeth - more or less.  For a step-by-step pictorial depiction of the process, click here.

H.  Still More Questions?

If, after reading the above on DNA you still have questions, you may want to try the Frequently Asked Questions page at the FamilyTreeDNA website.  The reader may also wish to visit the website which has some excellent information on DNA testing and Genealogy.

For additions, corrections or comments, please send an e-mail to Patrick Childress