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James River Childers/ress DNA Site
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Welcome to the Childers/Childress
James River Viking Clan
Master Website




 Original Research Documentation...
A considerable amount of time, money and efforts was invested by the late Virginia (Childers) Zeboski in the search for original documentation in England.  Click here to review some of that material.
Mrs. Zeboski focuses her attention on the Childers/Childress name and descendents in the states of California and Oregon in these documents, including proposed family trees.
This file contains many of the original documents associated with the first settlement of the Childers progenitors, Abraham and Philemon, along the James River in Virginia.
The Childers/Childress surname appears on many of these original documents such as wills and land transactions that are associated with the family while in early North Carolina.
Does Caswell County, North Carolina appear in any of your Childers/Childress research?  If so, perhaps Mrs. Zeboski and her research group have preserved some data for you in this folder.
South Carolina was a big historical place for our Childers/Childress clans.  Mrs. Zeboski's original research on this state is located in this folder.
Wills, marriages, land grants, census records and other original documentation for the Childers/Childress connections in Eastern Tennessee are here.  Western Tennessee is here.
Click on the following locations for original Zeboski documentation for Texas/Oklahoma; Virginia and Buckingham County, Virginia.

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Mission Statement:  It is the mission of the Childers/Childress James River Viking DNA project to connect all Project Participants to the original "James River" Childers/Childress pioneers (Abraham, William and Philemon Childers, born circa 1600 A.D.) via a Master Gedcom  file created and maintained by Project Administrators.  We will use all available original family documentation and the results of sophisticated DNA testing to facilitate this objective.






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Project Background


Circa 1855 lithograph of St. Peter's Church in Leeds Parish

After careful consideration of what we believe to be facts, the James River Research Team has concluded that our most distant known and proven Childers/Childress ancestor to be named "Chelders."  Documented proof of the existence of this family line was discovered decades ago in the church records of the St. Peter's Church in the ancient city of Hunslet in the Leeds Parish of Northwest Yorkshire County, United Kingdom.  We have examined transcriptions of very early baptisms, marriages and burials at this website and believe that the conclusions reached by a committee formed by Mrs. Walter Zeboski in the 1980's were correct.  Among many entries in the above church records was the November 26, 1637 baptism of one "Philemon Chelders," one of the two earliest known progenitors of the Childers/Childress surname in America.

The reader will find numerous entries for individuals with the surname of Chelders in the very earliest part of our Master GedCom file now available online.  Interestingly, while there were about 55,000 individuals in the 2000 U.S. Federal Census with the surname of "Childers" or "Childress," there were none with the surname of "Chelders," indicating a disappearance of the surname before the immigration to America in the 17th century.

Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the history of Leeds can be traced to the 5th century when the Kingdom of Elmet was covered by the forest of "Loidis", the origin of the name Leeds. The name has been applied to many administrative entities over the centuries. It changed from being the appellation of a small manorial borough, in the 13th century, through several incarnations, to being the name attached to the present metropolitan borough. In the 17th and 18th centuries Leeds became a major centre for the production and trading of wool.   (source:

The James River Viking Clan is a Childers/Childress* family history research group established in 2013 currently made up  of nearly 100 individuals whose surname is Childers or Childress (or derivative thereof) and whose connected paternal ancestries have been firmly established by genetic testing of their Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA).  As such, we have chosen a clan name to distinguish our family lineage from several unconnected or far removed bloodlines who share our surnames, but not our complete Y-DNA signature. 

A progression of traditional family history searches conducted by various Childers/ress genealogists over past decades indicate that the origin of our clan dates back to the 17th century, coincidental with the arrival of our common ancestors in Colonial America and their settlement along the James River, near present-day Richmond, Virginia. The timing is supported by a simplified genetic analysis procedure that statistically translates minor Y-DNA signature differences (mutations) between individuals to the maximum number of generations back to their Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA).

Beyond our English heritage, Y-DNA passed down to us through our paternal ancestors correlates well with that of many modern-day inhabitants of the Scandinavian countries.  This finding indicates that we most likely trace back through the Viking population, almost certainly via their 300-year long history of raids, invasions, and partial conquests of the British Isles beginning just before the 8th century.

* Childers, Childress, Childrey, Childrez, along with a few other variations, all derive from a common root surname. There is some debate as to what that surname might be.  Regardless, Childers and Childress are now the most common forms of the group in America, as shown in 2000 U.S. Census Bureau lists of surnames.  The two have often been used interchangeably both by individuals and between successive generations throughout our clan history.  To account for this, we often use the combined surname form, “Childers/ress”.


Visit Our Other (two) Supplemental Websites

This website, one of three maintained by our administrators, is the Master or “go-to” page to learn about the make-up and history of our clan and to obtain up-to-date information about our genealogical research activities.  Included are details on the progress we are making on our overall research effort, family history information, photographs of the Project Participants, historical photographs and more.  Consequently, this website will be helpful to longtime, new, and potential clan members.  For the benefit of the latter, this website also includes details on project membership requirements and join-request instructions.

We invite you to visit two supplemental websites associated with the JRV Clan.  These two websites are used to convey data derived from the James River Viking project.

The second website, also hosted by, displays the contents of a Gedcom (GEnealogical Data COMmunications) file that contains the relevant sections of a family history document known as the "Dennstedt Family Tree."  This treatise constitutes the centerpiece of our project’s collaborative family research effort as the document includes names and proposed family relations of the first (circa 1600 A.D.) and following generations of the original James River Clan settlers.  The online copy of the Master GEDCOM file, which we refer to as the “Modified Version” is subject to continual revision and expansion as existing and new clan members contribute additional information.  Simply stated, our objective is for every Project Participant to have a connection in this family tree.  To view the contents and both the original document and version being modified, click on the Dennstedt Treatise” tab at the top of this web page.  Note that as of October 14, the Master GedCom goes back three additional generations in history to one Ralph "Chelders," born circa 1545 in Hunslet, Leeds, United Kingdom.  The Research Team examined research undertaken several decades ago by a professional genealogist in England and elected to incorporate this data into the site.

The third website, titled the Childers/Childress James River Viking Clan Project, is the JRV Clan’s administrative website hosted by FamilyTreeDNA of Houston, Texas. The site provides information regarding the genetic-related aspects of our research, including a chart of Y-DNA test marker values of our members.  These marker values are commonly referred to as an individual’s “DNA-signature."  FTDNA hosts a similar website for all family tree projects they have launched since first introducing their DNA testing program specifically tailored for genealogic research.  The reader can view the most current spreadsheets reflecting results of the Y-DNA, Mt-DNA, "Family Finder" and other FTDNA tests.  Just click on the link in the first sentence, above.


Looking for Research Volunteers!  If you have any interest in assisting us in doing extended research into the Chelders/Childers/Childress family trees, please let us hear from you.  We devote much of our time to online resources such as, as well as online archives on various websites.  We sometimes do original document research in libraries, court houses, etc.  If you've got some spare time and enjoy the challenge of putting together various bits and pieces of data to come up with a solid conclusion, you can help us in this project.  Drop an e-mail to Patrick Childress at



Simply stated, the project’s primary goal is assembling a master clan-wide pedigree chart that will map members’ respective lineages back to our MRCA (most recent common ancestor).  Accomplishing that goal, of course, will require more than the typical passive approach practiced by most family history projects. It will, in fact, necessitate a much higher degree of engagement and collaboration among the members and coordination, support, and encouragement on the part of project managers. To help ensure that the desired level of teamwork is created and maintained we have six co-administrators of the project. These individuals are working closely with each other and routinely communicating with clan members in carrying out their respective project support duties.  They are:


Above, Left to Right:

Patrick "Pat" Childress - Pat's 111-marker Y-DNA results place him in Family Group 05, along with another Project Participant, Terrice Carlton Childress.  Pat and Terry's documented background led both to believe their Childress ancestry likely crossed paths somewhere in the past; this project has confirmed this and they continue to work together with each other to find their most common recent ancestor.  Pat and Terry's Family Group 05 likely is a subgroup of Family Group 01.  Pat serves as the project's Membership Coordinator/Webmaster.

Paul Allan Childers - Based on his 111-marker Y-DNA test, Paul is part of Family Group 04.  Due to Paul's diligence and the collective effort of several of our other project members, Paul has been able to definitively document his paternal ancestral roots back to one of the very earliest Childers pioneers, Philemon Childers who was born in Virginia in 1630.  Recent discoveries suggest that Paul and one other member of Family Group 04, Clyde Childress, Jr., might have more recent connections than the remainder of the family group.  Paul is one of our Member Support team.

Ralph Loyd (Childers) - Ralph was adopted at an early age in life, but learned of his adoption only after his adoptive father passed away. He began the arduous process of seeking out his biological father several years ago and has been able to use this Y-DNA project to identify his Childers "cousins" and to discover much about past connections.  Ralph's 111-marker results place him in Family Group 02, who likely all descend from Philemon Childers, born in Virginia in 1630.  Ralph is one of our Member Support team.

William "Ted" Childers - Ted's 111-marker results place him in Family Group 01, whose common ancestor likely was Abraham I, born circa 1622 in Nottinghamshire, England.  We believe Abraham emigrated from England to America around 1655.  At least, that's when a deed reflected his residency in the New World.  Recent Y-DNA results suggest that Ted and another Family Group 01 member, Benjamin Meek Miller Childers may have a more recent family relationship than the balance of their family group.

Steve Stevens - My Childress line, as far as I can prove, goes back only to the 18th century with yet unproven Patrick Childers and Nancy Goyne of Augusta County, Virginia.  I have been researching my families since the mid-1980’s and even though the majority of my maternal side never left Virginia, they are nonetheless, difficult to find.  I look forward to renewing my association with the Childers/Childress researchers and hope that I can significantly assist in solving some of these “brick walls.”  I also maintain my own website featuring my Childers and Sprouse lines and invite the reader to take advantage of the information provided, including the Childers Timeline, a compendium of documentation back to early Virginia.

MaryJean (Childress) Voegtlin - I've been involved in genealogical research since 1972.  I was VP and Program Chairman for Ancestor's Unlimited, Inc of Jonesboro, GA. My research has been published in books, newsletters and journals. I've worked with the "Estes Trails" owner as a contributor / researcher. There are several or more connections between Estes and Childress. I'm an Estes descendant.  I also belong to genealogical groups here in the Atlanta area.  My Childress ancestor I believe to be Benedict (Richard) Childress out of Charlotte Co,VA, grandson of Jeremiah.


Click on any of the above five names to send that person an e-mail.


What’s a Clan?

In the traditional sense, a clan*** is loosely defined as a group of people who have a common ancestor.  In the case of the James River Viking Clan, conventional genealogic research suggests that our most recent common ancestor (MRCA) was an individual named Childers who was born in the late sixteenth century in England, most likely in the County York.  Public records generated in Henrico County, Virginia indicate that he and/or his immediate descendants immigrated to America sometime prior to the middle1600’s and eventually settled on land adjacent to the James River. Given names of "William," "Abraham" and "Philemon" Childers are common during this early period in this area of the country. Almost 400 years later, some descendants still reside in the general region of the original settlement, while many more have since spread throughout the United States.  The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2000 Surname Index estimates there were at that time about 30,000  people in the U.S. having the Childers surname and about 25,000 with the Childress surnames, along with a couple of thousand having related variations. There is a good chance that at least one-half of the 57,000 total Childers/ress surnames listed are descendants of the original James River settlers and could rightfully be considered part of this James River Viking Clan.

In genetic-based genealogy, a paternal-based clan may be defined as a group of males whose Y-DNA signatures demonstrate that they descend from a common ancestor within the confines of a genealogical time period of about 1,000 years.  In addition, the number of minor Y-DNA variations (mutations) between individuals in such a group can be statistically analyzed to estimate the maximum number of generations back to their MRCA.  At a minimum, genetic analysis of a male’s 25-marker Y-DNA test results must show that he and at least one validated member of an established clan have at least a 25% probability of descending from a MRCA who lived within the past 24 generations (within the last 800 years or so).

Based on such criteria, several distinct genetic groups (clans) were recognized among individuals with Childers, Childress, or related surnames within a DNA-based family history project created by FamilyTree DNA (FTDNA) in the early 2000’s.  This project, called the Childress-Childers Family DNA Project, increased in membership from a handful in 2003 to over one hundred some ten years later. By 2012, one of the groups, designated as “Viking” in the project, totaled over half of the membership.  In March 2013, FTDNA granted full project status to the “Viking” group, who then adopted the name “James River Viking Clan Project” (JRV Clan).

Today, the JRV Clan project continues to increase its membership of both men and women (females can sponsor male sample donors).  The surnames of most members are Childers or Childress, along with several related variations.  However, 20% of the total males tested in our project have, for various reasons, other last names.

***  The scope of the term “Clan” is sometimes expanded herein to include all past and present direct descendants of our MRCA.  When applied as such, “James River Viking Clan” is reduced to simply “James River Clan”.



Clan Origins

As noted, public records indicate that sometime prior to the mid-1600’s, the founding members of our clan arrived in America and settled along the banks of the James River, about 8 miles southeast of present-day downtown Richmond, Virginia.  Clicking on the "1st Settlement" tab above will allow you to review photographs and topographic maps of the first known James River Clan settlement in and around the site labeled “Deep Bottom”, now the site of a county park of the same name. You can also examine an aerial view of the site and the surrounding terrain by entering “Deep Bottom, Henrico County, Virginia” in the search box of Google Maps or a similar map website then clicking on “Satellite View”.

More than forty entries recorded in Henrico County between the years 1656 and 1735 track the activities of the first five or so generations of the James River Clan, including the buying, trading, bequeathing, and inheriting land, livestock, and goods in the Deep Bottom and the surrounding area. Clan member names that figure prominently in county records during that time include Abraham, Philemon, Thomas, John, and Henry. As was common, these names typically repeat from one generation to the next during that first century and beyond.



All Childers/ress males who share a common Y-DNA signature with members of the James River Viking Clan are welcome to participate in the JRV Clan project.  Also welcome are female family members who sponsor the DNA testing of their Childers/ress grandfathers, fathers, brothers, and paternal uncles, cousins, and nephews.  In either case, if you or your sponsored male qualifies and you wish to initiate or enhance your family history research, you should consider joining the JRV Clan project and participating as well in our overall collaborative effort to extend and expand our master “Clan Tree." 

Sharing information, ideas, and resources among the membership is the key to successful family history research, both in terms of the individual members and the group as a whole.  For example, if you locate a common ancestor with one of our DNA project members, you can be assured that all validated documentation and research findings associated with his ancestor and lineage are pertinent to your research. Similarly, any new information you contribute will certainly benefit the research efforts of other members.

If you know or think you might share common ancestry with our members and wish to participate, but have not submitted DNA samples, you are encouraged first to join the original Childress-Childers surname  project.  NOTE that ONLY A MALE WITH THE SURNAME OF CHILDERS OR CHILDRESS (or variant thereof) is eligible for Y-DNA testing.  Eligible parties can apply to the "original" Childress project by clicking here.  After submitting your sample for genetic testing, you’ll receive notice from FTDNA verifying that you or your sponsored male’s Y-DNA signature matches either those of the JRV Clan or another family project. If your Y-DNA is a match with JRV Clan members, you will automatically receive an invitation to join from one of the Project Administrators.

If you're reasonably sure that your paternal Childers or Childress lineage coincides with this James River Clan, you can contact one of the Project Administrators or apply directly to this project by clicking here, then selecting the drop down tab for "Join Request."


If you are a new or potential member of either this James River Viking Clan or the original Childress-Childers DNA projects and wish to compare your Y-DNA signature with other participants having a Childers, Childress, or related surname, you should examine the “Y-DNA Classic Chart” of both projects.  Click here to view Y-DNA results for this James River Viking project or click here to view results for the original Childress-Childers project.  Logging in is not necessary to view these charts. Also, note that most JRV Clan members are also participants in the Childress-Childers DNA project, but are identified on its Y-DNA chart simply as “Viking”.

If you are not familiar with DNA analyses and terminology, the Y-DNA charts are sure to look a bit confusing and you’ll probably need to do some careful reading about the subject matter on the FTDNA FAQs page, Google, and other internet information sources.  For now, simply keep in mind that following the completion of his Y-DNA tests, a participant is matched to others who have similar genetic signatures, regardless of surname.  Depending on the level of testing ordered by or for the male individual, his 12, 25, 37, 67, or 111-marker Y-DNA signature listed on the chart is expressed by an equivalent number of values displayed in columns to the right of his name or sample kit I.D.  Each number displayed is the value yielded from the analysis of a prescribed Y-DNA marker identified by the alphanumeric characters at the top of the same column, beginning with “DYS393."  Each value reflects the number of times one of four essential DNA molecules (abbreviated “A-T-C-G”), repeats on adjacent rungs of the ladder-like DNA strand within a specified segment (marker) of Y-DNA.  This repetition is commonly referred to as a “Short Tandem Repeat” (STR).

Sometimes, down through successive generations of a family, the STR value of a particular Y-DNA marker will change from father to son because of a chance rearrangement (mutation) in the order of A-T-C-G molecules. The modified DNA signature of that son is then passed down through his male descendant line. However, his male siblings and cousins do not share that mutated STR at that particular marker and they and their descendants will continue to pass along the original marker STR value.  Mutation events such as this are, therefore, helpful in distinguishing the many separate molecular lineages (cousin lines) that can exist in a large and widely dispersed group of individuals who share a distant common male ancestor.

Some markers, such as DYS385 (fifth marker from left on the charts), have multiple occurrences (copies) at separate points (loci) of a DNA strand, but the STR value of each may vary because of mutations.  Note that individual STR values of all copies of DYS385 and other multiple copy markers are displayed together in one column. However, each is counted as a separate marker relative to the total number of markers tested (12, 25, etc.).  The multiple copies are distinguished by the suffixes “a, b, c” and so on.

Click here to review FTDNA’s overview of the value of DNA testing as it relates to our genealogical endeavors.  Pay particular attention to the interview with Professor David Roper and his quest for the descendents of Benjamin Franklin.

12, 37, 67, or 111?

If you are at all interested in using DNA testing to accelerate and confirm the research of your paternal ancestry, we urge you to order, or upgrade to, as many marker test levels as possible.  Doing so will significantly broaden your opportunities to identify fellow clan members whose respective paternal lines merge with yours more recently than do others.  These “closer cousins” can provide you the most pertinent leads, facts, and documentation relative to your initial research efforts.  As your research progresses, you can use STR marker mutations to identify more distant cousins who could share information that would be pertinent to increasingly distant generations of your lineage. 

So, although the 37 and 67-marker tests will place you in progressively more well-defined lineage groups, increasing your Y-DNA signature to 111 marker values will enable you to better identify and map considerably more discernible cousin lineages relative to your own.  At a minimum, we recommend you purchase the 37-marker test.



The purchase price of the Y-DNA kit depends on the number of markers you wish to have tested (see above paragraph).  Prices seem to be coming down and as of September 1, 2013, kit prices for the 12, 37, 67 and 111-marker Y-DNA kits were $49, $169, $268 and $359, respectively.  (The 25-marker kit is no longer offered for sale by FTDNA).  If you buy your kit in the process of joining a surname project, FTDNA currently offers a $20 discount on all but the 12-marker kit.  You are not charged for the kit until the kit is returned back to the FTDNA Houston office. 

Questions answered on the next page:

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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This site was last updated 06/27/17