Thursday, September 24, 2020

Report on New Recruits

The results for the new recruits for the Ackley Surname Project that I wrote about in a previous post are starting to come in. I feel a little bit like Steve Martin in "The Jerk" when the new phone books came in:

Here is some background on what is known about each of their ancestors and an update on how their results compare to the rest of the Ackley men already in the project.

The first new member is a descendant of James D. Ackley of Otsego County, New York. Presently, James is a brick wall for this Ackley line. The following biography from "History of Floyd County, Iowa" [1] gives a good overview about what is known about James:

There is also a good paper trail for James' descendants. I built a quick and dirty tree on Ancestry for our new member's family (leaving off the most recent generations to protect his identity):

The second new member is a descendant of William Ackley, of whom not much is known. I wrote about William's son Daniel Ackley in this post back in 2016, who is believed to have been born in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey and settled in Pennsylvania. As with the first new member, this line hits a brick wall at William. There is also a decent paper trail for this family up to Daniel; I have also created a quick and dirty tree on Ancestry for Daniel's descendants:

The third Ackley recruit is a descendant of Edwin/Edmund Ackley, born about 1832-1834 and died of typhoid fever in 1862 while a soldier in the Civil War. He lived in Livingston County, New York. Here is his quick and dirty tree:

The Results

Here is the exciting part. Two of the tests that have come back so far indicate that two of these men are almost certainly descendants of Nicholas Ackley. The third tester does not match any of the Ackley men in the project, and is just as certainly not a descendant of Nicholas Ackley. Although this may seem disappointing on the surface, the information we have from his test may help another Ackley line extend their tree several generations back in time as we learn more.

Recall that Y-DNA matches are measured by genetic distance; I won't repeat all the details on how this works here, but if you need a refresher, see this postThe relationship between genetic distance and relatedness is summarized in the table below. Since the new testers all took a Y-37 test, we will make our comparisons at the the 37 marker level.

In the table below, the two new testers who are descendants of Nicholas Ackley are highlighted in green; 938425 is the descendant of Daniel Ackley, and 938369 is the descendant of James D. Ackley. The genetic distances between the testers are contained in the cells of the table. The cells are color-coded according to the table above, and you can see that there are no red cells for the two new testers (in fact, there are no red cells between any of the Ackley men in the project). There are a few yellow cells, meaning "Possibly Related". The two men with whom all of the yellow cells occur (648886 and 177515) are both known descendants of Nicholas Ackley, so I believe it is safe to conclude that they are in fact related.

While this information is not enough to break down the brick walls that exist on these Ackley lines, it does narrow down the search tremendously; these two men (and anyone else who is a descendant of either James D. or Daniel Ackley) can restrict their research to the descendants of Nicholas.

Note that the third tester is not included in the table above. This is because the genetic distance between him and the rest of the Ackley men in the project is greater than the upper limit set by FTDNA for reporting. He has only two matches at both 12 and 25 markers, neither of which has the Ackley surname. Both of these matches have only tested to the 25 marker level. One of the matches has the surname Schroeder and the other has the surname Eckler. I'm not sure what to make of the Schroeder match yet, but the Eckler match could be significant. There is an Eckler family that had some members who changed their surname to Ackley. There is a published genealogy titled "The Eckler-Ackler-Ackley Family" [2] written by A. Ross Eckler. Without going into detail to protect the privacy of the testers, there is good reason to believe that the Eckler match to our Ackley tester is related to A. Ross Eckler. Further testing of more Eckler/Ackley men will be needed to further confirm (or refute) a possible connection between our Ackley tester and the Eckler family, but it is a promising path for further research.

The results for the final two testers are not expected until late October. I will write an update when the results are available. So far this recruitment effort has provided exactly the kind of information I was hoping for; I expect similarly useful information from the remaining two tests.


1. History of Floyd County, Iowa: Together with Sketches of Its Cities, Villages and Townships, Educational, Religious, Civil, Military, and Political History; Portraits of Prominent Persons, and Biographies of Representative Citizens. History of Iowa, Embracing Accounts of the Pre-historic Races, Aborigines, French, English and American Conquests, and a General Review of Its Civil, Political and Military History, Volume 2 (Chicago: Inter-State Publishing Co., 1882), p. 1082.

2. Eckler, A. Ross. The Eckler-Ackler-Ackley Family. Self-published, Morristown, New Jersey, 1970.


  1. My name is Barbara Ackley Joseph McCleary. I see my cousin's children are listed. Scott Loring Ackley daughters Rebecca, Cassandra, and A Ackley. Same family? We are from Maine, as my grandfather, Charles Harris Ackley born in Steben Ma in about 1878.

    1. Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for commenting. Could you clarify a little bit? You stated that you see your cousin's children listed -- where did you see them listed? I would like to answer your question, but I need a little more information on where you saw the reference to your cousin's children. Thanks!

      Mike Ackley

  2. Hi Mike,

    My name is Victor Ackley. I see that my cousin Jay is recently involved with the project. Our fathers were brothers and our grandfather is Rex Joseph who is on your pedigree chart. Since Jay is already involved and is going to do the Y-DNA test, is there any value in me doing it as well or will that just show the same things as Jay's results (as far as Ackley DNA is concerned) and not really add any value to the project?

    1. Hi Victor,

      Thanks for your question! The answer depends a little bit on your goals and on how much you want to invest in testing. I think Jay has ordered the Y-37 test, which is sort of the "entry-level" Y-DNA test. It will establish your line's connections to others in the project. It is likely that if you also did a Y-37 test you will be an exact match with Jay or may have a difference or 2 with him, so it won't necessarily provide a whole lot more information beyond what we'll learn from Jay's test.

      Your line is one of the lines that we are now pretty confident is related to Nicholas Ackley, but we don't know how yet. Not sure if you read this blog post (, but in it I discussed some of the things project members can do if they are trying to figure out those types of connections. It involves a deeper, more expensive Y test called Big Y-700. If you (and eventually Jay, and other descendants of Jehu Ackley) did Big Y tests, we would have a chance to establish which of Nicholas sons' lines you belong to given the Big Y testing that has been done or is now in progress. Big Y is a significant investment compared to Y-37. FTDNA is having a sale right now -- Big Y is $379 (regular $449), and Y-37 is $99 (regular $129). Today only they are also offering free shipping, which usually costs about $10. One good thing is if you wanted to start out with the cheaper Y-37 and then upgrade to a Big Y later you do get a price break on the upgrade. The Big Y sale right now is a better deal than a Y-37 now plus an upgrade later, but if you don't want to invest that much right now you could get the Y-37 on sale now and then wait for the next sale to upgrade. As I said above, a Y-37 for you right now probably won't give us a whole lot more information than Jay's test will, but if you view it as a way to get started in the project with more testing to come later, that would be a valid way to approach it.

      Sorry for the long-winded answer -- hope this answers your question. If you have any other questions, let me know. We are always looking for more people to join the project -- the more data we have, the more conclusions we can draw that will help people with their genealogy.

      Mike Ackley