Monday, August 23, 2010

DNA Results of Jonathan and Sarah Godden of Boone Co., Iowa ARE IN!!!

We have been very fortunate that 1) there have been many willing Godwin participants who have submitted their DNA for testing and 2) many of our Godwin DNA samples have come back similar or closely matched.

The latest batch of DNA results came back from a descendant of Jonathan Godden and Sarah Godwin. According to family history, they were first or second cousins.

This family interests me because Sarah Godwin was a descendant of Etheldred Godwin. She was either his daughter or granddaughter.  In 1852, Sarah Godwin and her husband, Jonathan Godden, sold off her 1/7th share of land she received as legacy from Etheldred Godwin’s estate.  I included her family in a series of posts I wrote last year entitled “Finding the Heirs of Etheldred Godwin” using deed records from Putnam County, Indiana. 

I believe this Etheldred Godwin to be the brother of Nathan Godwin; and although I have not officially “proven” it yet, I believe Nathan Godwin to have been the father of my ancestor, Elijah Godwin of Lawrence County, Arkansas.

Ok, so you’re probably wondering why is this DNA test so significant if I’m only interested in Sarah Godwin’s family???  The DNA test, after all, only follows the male descendant’s line, which would be Jonathan Godden’s line. 

Remember when I said that Jonathan and Sarah were cousins?  Well, according to my research, it is possible that Jonathan’s father Enoch Godden was a brother to Etheldred and Nathan Godwin as well!
So my goal was to compare the DNA results from Jonathan Godden’s descendant to my grandfather’s DNA which I presume to have come from Nathan Godwin, Jonathan Godden’s uncle. If Jonathan’s father Enoch Godden and Nathan Godwin were brothers and Nathan Godwin was truly my ancestor, Elijah Godwin’s father, then their DNA should be exactly the same, barring no mutations or non-parental events took place. 

So far there are about 30 Godwin/Gooden/Godden family participants in this DNA study. Of those 30, there are 3 primary groups to which most of them (19 total testers) have been assigned. The remaining do not match to anyone other than themselves. The group to which my ancestor, Elijah Godwin and Jonathan Godden of Boone Co., Iowa’s descendant have been assigned (Lineage II above) is by far the biggest group with 12 members.  Jonathan Godden’s descendant’s results vary slightly from the other 12 members. These differences are represented by the blue blocks. A difference of 3 markers is called a “genetic distance” of 3. You see on the 12th marker, all 11 participants have a value of “29,” however, Jonathan Godden’s descendant has a value of “30.” On the 13th marker, all others have a value of “16,” however he has a “15” and on the 31st marker, he has “15” and all others have a “16.” Alexander Godwin’s descendant also has a genetic distance of 3 with varying values on markers 24, 25, and 35 in this 37 marker test.

At least one of these markers, no. 13 is known to be a rapidly mutating marker, so the difference in its value could be due to a mutation. The other two marker differences would also be due to mutations. Mutations do not hinder or lessen the closeness of two families or the number of years back to the common ancestor. They can actually be a good thing because they can be used to separate lines from each other.  In this instance, the next step would be to find a descendant of another son of the oldest known ancestor to submit their DNA for testing to see where the mutations first show up. 

In this example, the oldest known ancestor would be Jonathan Godden (husband of Sarah Godwin).  The male that we tested was a descendant of Jonathan Godden’s son, Elias GoddenIn order to determine where the mutation occurred, we need to test a descendant of one of Elias Godden’s brothers.  According to my notes, Elias Godden had 4 other brothers: (1) Sion, (2) George Washington, (3) William, and (4) Newton. I have sent emails to all known descendants of these lines asking them to keep a look out for male descendants of these 4 Godden brothers. I hope we can find someone to test.

In the next post, I will talk about interpreting the possible results and what the mutations might mean for distinguishing between lines.  I would like to thank and acknowledge Emily Aulicino of Genealem’s Genetic Genealogy for helping me work through these results and for offering suggestions on how to move forward. Thank you so much!

Exactly which Godwin ancestor or how far back we intersect at a commonality is not yet known. I have two long term goals going forward from here.  The first is to prove or disprove the theory that this line is somehow connected to the David Godden line from Ohio.  This was done and discussed in my "Process of Elimination Post" done in August. The second goal is to find a male Godwin descendant of Etheldred Godwin (Sarah Godwin’s ancestor) to submit DNA as well as a proven male Godwin descendant of Nathan Godwin’s line to compare to my own line to test my own theories that 1) my ancestor Elijah Godwin was the son of Nathan Godwin (I have a substantial amount of evidence supporting this theory) and 2) that Nathan and Etheldred Godwin were brothers.

This schematic is just a rough sketch of what we believe to be the ancestry of the Jonathan Godden and Sarah Godwin family of Boone County, Iowa. I thought it might help my readers to keep track of everyone. The one problem I have with charts like this is what do you do when the Enoch Godwin and Etheldred Godwin above are brothers? Shouldn’t they be on the same vertical line? According to this chart, it looks as if they are separated by a generation.  I tried to change a few things in my RootsMagic software, but I couldn’t get the chart to display correctly.  If anyone has any suggestions, please send them my way.


  1. This is great, Ginger! Congrats! Isn't DNA fun?!

  2. Thanks so much! Yes it is! And I am still learning with a lot of help from my friends ;-)

  3. Christina Mercelle CarlsonJuly 26, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    I am their great great great great granddaughter.
    I even have their picture too.

  4. Hi Christina, thanks so much for writing! If you send me your email address, I can include you in any correspondence we send out!

  5. My great great grandmother is Lavina Godden (Godwin) Price..The Daughter of Enoch Godwin & Viney Mabrey (That info is what I have found online as well, but I cannot trace our line past her, but getting some clues through ancestry dna :) But We did match the Godden/Godwin line but my grandma Lavina would have been The Brother of Jonathan Godden..

  6. We have been doing some research over the last year. We have submitted dna to and my great great grandmother Lavina Godden Price is the brother of Jonathan and the son of Enoch and Viney (I am not sure how much of her info is correct that I am finding online, I can't seem to get past her in our research on that side, but we did match some Mabrey's, and also the Godwin/Goddens)

    1. Hi, I would love to talk to you further about your DNA results. Can you email me at