Objectives and Results
by Nathan W. Murphy, MA, AG®, Administrator of Doss Surname DNA Project
Phase One Objective
The initial phase of this DNA surname project focused on building a foundation for Doss families in the US to be able to identify their genetic kin. We used material developed by the Doss Family Association (a one-name study that has tracked persons with this surname throughout the United States and the United Kingdom) and its many members, most notably Libbie Griffin, former president of the Association, to track down living male descendants of men we believed to represent three distinct and unrelated Doss families that settled in the Colonial South (future United States). Members of the Association and readers of our Doss Surname List helped finance initial testing. The oldest identified ancestors of these three representatives are:
- John Doss
- Joshua Doss
- Joel Doss
We began this project with the hypothesis that all Dosses with colonial roots in what is now the Southern United States descend from one of these three men. We have found no documentation in historic records that any of these three men were related and research in extant Colonial Virginia sources has been exhaustive, so we expected each to have distinct haplotypes. In the future, as more Dosses are tested, we look forward to learning if our hypotheses prove correct and discovering what percentage of American Dosses tie into one of these three families.
After results came back from the lab for the three participants in Phase One, we learned that the descendant of Joel Doss does not share a direct patrilineal ancestor with John Doss or Joshua Doss. Additional testing of descendants of other sons of Joel should be undertaken to ensure that no illegitimacies or other surname discontinuities occurred among this line of Joel’s descendants (representative descends from Joel’s son Hamlet).
According to FTDNATip Report, there is a chance that John and Joshua descend from a common ancestor, albeit a slim chance. Traditional genealogical research in historic documents had not predicted this result. These men’s representatives differed by one step in five markers (four of the markers are highly volatile and more prone to mutate). These ambiguous results (John and Joshua might be related or they might not) will require additional testing to confirm or discredit. This is important because it provides clues about undocumented relationships among the Doss family in Colonial Virginia. Haplotypes for each of the three men have been established and we look forward to viewing comparisons with future participants, which are needed in order to complete Phase One.
Additionally, during this phase a descendant of Thomas Doss was tested. Thomas’s ancestry cannot be firmly established through traditional methods. He stated that he was born in Virginia about 1794 and it is proven that he mustered into service in the War of 1812 in Stokes County, North Carolina, where descendants of both John Doss and Joshua Doss are believed to have resided at the time. This descendant’s haplotype did not match either John or Joshua and we have since learned that the person tested may have a break in normal surname inheritance practices in his Doss ancestry. According to an unconfirmed family tradition, children in one of his ancestral families took the surname of a Doss step-father, a man who was not their biological father (representative descends from Thomas’s son Matthew). Descendants of Thomas Doss’s other sons should also be tested.
A male descendant of Rev. John Wesley Doss, a Methodist and Baptist minister in Tennessee just prior to the Civil War, was also tested. John’s parentage is currently undetermined; however, it is known that he was born in Virginia about 1800. This line has been tested to use DNA to find relatives who could not be identified through traditional genealogical research. At this stage, John Wesley Doss’s descendant does not match any other American Doss families. Further testing should pinpoint this man’s relatives.
For more information, visit the official Doss Surname DNA Project web site at www.worldfamilies.net/surnames/d/doss.