Roberta “Bobbi” Estes, is one of my all time favorite people. Well, her and Anne Poole.
Together, they formed the Lost Colony Genealogy and DNA Research Group. They are
on the forefront of Lost Colony Research through their combined usage of archaeology,
dna testing, and genealogy. And they have invited myself and quite a few others,
to come along for the ride.
A conversation with Roberta Estes, regarding her speaking on April 12th,
at the Hatteras Island Genealogical and Preservation Society’s History/Potluck Dinner…
Q: I don’t understand about DNA? Will I find out how it works for genealogy?
A: Absolutely! The first part of the session will be “DNA in English”. It’s brief and easy, and the graphics help a lot. You know, that old “picture is worth a thousand words” adage.
Q: How are you using DNA to look for the colonists?
A: That’s a great question. We’re working with lots of people to try to identify the colonists families in England. In fact, Andy Powell is one of those folks, and he is speaking about his new book and other exciting discoveries this evening as well. You really won’t want to miss that….trust me on this. In addition Nancy Frey, our British Isles genealogist is with us this evening. We need to identify the families of the colonists in England so we know what their DNA looks like.
Q: How will finding their families help?
A: Once we find the colonist families in England, and we are tantalizingly close in some cases, we can then test folks of the same surname found in early NC and VA to see if they match.
Q: If the colonists were absorbed by the Indians, would the surname be the same?
A: Now that’s a great question and I’m so glad you asked? The answer is that it’s very unlikely that the Indians many generations later would have known to select the colonist surname – so they are unlikely to carry the same surnames today – although it’s certainly not impossible. Part of this has to do with what we don’t know. For example, did they maintain a separate “English style” village where there were surnames and they were passed paternally, or did they meld into the matriarchal culture of the Native tribes?
Q: If the surnames aren’t the same, how can you find them?
A: That’s where DNA comes into the picture. If an Indian male in the 1700s took the surname Gibbs, because there was a white Gibbs trader he admired, but his DNA doesn’t match that of any other Gibbs groups from the British Isles, then we need to look at who he does match. We’re hoping that he would match a Dare, for example. If he did, then we’d know that the Gibbs family of today in Eastern NC matches the colonist Dare family – and then we could declare that we have indeed solved the mystery of the Lost Colony. We’re not there yet – but this is the type of thing we’re searching for.
Q:How does the Hatteras Families project work in this process?
A: The Hatteras Families projects is really a combination of various activities and programs. First, there is a Hatteras Y-line (paternal), mitochondrial DNA (maternal) and Families (everyone) DNA projects. I’ll talk more about them on the 12th. However, to support these projects Dawn Taylor and I have been compiling the genealogies of the early Hatteras families. DNA without genealogy is like a 2 legged stool. We’re in the process of creating a data base and we’ll have it along with us on the 12th. We will also share with you the results we have so far….and two particular families that are very interesting. Come and see if your family is one of them!!!