Who We Are

The Kincaid DNA project belongs to the descendants of the Kincaid of all spellings family and is administered by a team drawn from the subscribers to the Rootsweb Kincaid surname list. Results are posted to the Kincaid list. Kincaid researchers and project participants are urged to join the sometimes lively list discussions. Testing is through Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) of Houston, Texas which is the oldest and one of the most respected genetic testing services available. FTDNA offers discounts when ordering through a surname project.

The first Kincaid DNA kit was returned on Feb 14, 2001. The project itself was organized by Peter Kincaid starting with a proposal to the Kincaid list in June 2002. In 2005, Peter turned over administration to Leslie McConachie. An administration team was formed in 2006 with Don W Kincaid in the lead for the next 10 years. (TBA) is the current lead administrator. Project progress can be followed in the list archives.

Why Test

Kincaids are like a thicket of trees with branches so interwoven it is hard to determine to which trunk a limb is attached. Science can help untangle the branches. With more than 200 members from North America, the British Isles, Australia and Holland, the Kincaid DNA Project has identified five distinct trees with more than one member and over a dozen seedlings waiting for growth. The Kincaid DNA project is not a scientific sampling of all Kincaids. It does represent those individuals who are interested in their genetic make-up and where they fit into the Kincaid family. Since the majority of participants are from the U.S or Canada, demographics have played a major role in determining the number of participants in each family. Over half the present participants can be placed in 1 of 6 identifiable subfamilies each descended from a single, ancient, unknown male. About 20% of participants descend from unique, unrelated, males. In some localities, genetically unrelated Kincaids lived side by side. The only way to tell which tree they branch from is through a DNA test. As additional Kincaids are tested the picture will become clearer.

Available Tests

The Y- DNA tests are for males with the Kincaid surname or reason to believe their genetic father was a Kincaid. The 37 marker test is minimal for classification on the y-chart explained below. 67 and 111 marker tests are available. New are the R1b Backbone Panel, more inclusive Big Y test and individual SNP tests for subhaplogroups. These are advanced tests that can be ordered if warranted.

The Autosomal Test is for anyone, male or female, with a Kincaid ancestor. This relatively new and exciting development in DNA testing allows those from daughter lines to take part in the Kincaid project but is also suggested as a supplement to the y-test. FTNA's autosomal test is Family Finder. There is a transfer test available for those who have tested with Ancestry. See below for more detail.

Mitochondrial test (mt). Mothers pass this to both sons and daughters. Daughters will pass it on, sons will not. While interesting to see where your maternal line originated, it is of little value for genealogical research within a historic time frame.

What is Tested. DNA Explained

CHROMOSOMES are bundles of DNA and proteins found in the nucleus of cells. The nucleus is a central structure separated from the rest of the cell by a membrane. Think of it as the yolk of an egg. The chromosomes carry the instructions to control the growth, form and function of a living plant or animal. Humans have 22 pairs of matching chromosomes. They receive one chromosome in each pair from their father and one from their mother. When an egg is fertilized the chromosomes carried in the sperm quickly find the chromosomes in the egg that control the same functions. Together they determine what the new being will be like. If the instructions on the chromosomes are different sometimes one will dominate (the instruction for brown hair wins over the instruction for blond hair) and sometimes they will blend (a blue eyed mother and a brown eyed father may have a green eyed child). There is another set of chromosomes in humans that may or may not match. These are the sex linked chromosomes X and Y. Males receive a Y chromosome from their father and an X chromosome from their mother. Females receive an X chromosome from both their mother and father. The Y chromosome is the most useful for genealogy as it is passed from father to son to grandson along with the surname. The new autosomal tests look at the rest of the chromosomes.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) is a very long molecule that coils up to fit in the nucleus of a cell. If stretched out it would look like a ladder. It is always pictured with a slow twist like a spiral staircase. The sides of the ladder give it structure but it is the rungs of the ladder that contain the code of instructions. Each rung is made up of 2 "bases". Each of the bases is firmly attached to the side but loosely attached at the center of the rung to another base. When the DNA reproduces itself, the center attachments "unzip". Each ½ ladder then attracts the correct base to make a new whole ladder. This happens again and again as new cells are made. First the DNA replicates itself then the nucleus splits into 2 identical nuclei then the cell splits into 2 identical cells. The FTDNA laboratory will make a DNA sample split again and again until there is enough DNA to count.

If the new cells being formed are egg or sperm cells there is a slightly different process. The pairs of chromosomes split up. The DNA unzips and replicates but there are 4 cells formed. Each cell has one chromosome from each of the original 22 pairs and one sex-linked chromosome. Which chromosome of each pair goes into each new cell is random.

BASES. There are only 4 bases that make up the rungs of the DNA ladder. They are Adenine, Guanine, Thymine and Cytosine or A, G, T and C. The G and C always pair up. The A and T always pair up. The ladder can only have 4 types of rungs G-C, C-G, A-T and T-A. Now think of the ladder as written instructions with rungs as letters. The 4 "letters" of the alphabet can form words. It turns out that these words are amino acids or are "stop" and "start" signs. The words can be strung together to form sentences (proteins). The sentences can form paragraphs (genes). The paragraphs form chapters (a chromosome). All of the chromosomes together make a book of instructions for one individual.

Some of the letter sequences found on DNA do not form words. They are gibberish or junk. They may have formed if there was a mix up during the replication process, they may be just filler. Whatever the reason, they have no meaning. It is this junk that is measured for genealogical purposes. Sometimes junk sequences will repeat again and again. Genetic scientists have found places (loci) on the Y chromosome where the junk sequences repeat (alleles).

MUTATIONS. Sometimes things go amiss when DNA is replicating. There could have been a tangle or a loop in the DNA strand or the wrong base became attached. If this is in a "word" there could be life threatening consequences. If this is in junk DNA the change gets harmlessly passed down from one generation to the next. A common mutation in junk DNA is to have an extra repetition or to have a repetition drop off. Genetic scientists have figured out how often this type of mutation might occur at the alleles they have chosen to count. FTDNA has identified 111 alleles that mutate at a rate that is helpful to genealogists. Some of the chosen alleles tend to drop or add a repetition every 10 generations. Some have longer or shorter rates.

The Y DNA Chart

Y-test results come back as a series of numbers which represent the number of repetitions at each of the alleles the lab has counted. They are compared with those of other project members. The closer the results are to another member the more likely they will have the same ancestor within the last 300-400 years.

The chart sorts participants into family Groups. The participants in each Group represent branches of the same ancestral tree. At the top of each Group the Apparent Ancestral Values for the DNA of their common ancestor is given. The largest Groups are divided into Sets or limbs using the ancestral tree analogy. The division is based on what appears to be a mutation shared by many participants. Some sets are subdivided based on a secondary significant mutation. It is most likely that those in the same set or subset will find a common ancestor with each other before they find a common ancestor with someone in another set or subset.

Autosomal Test

This test selects sites from chromosomes other than y. They are much less likely to pass intact from parent to child. They have a tendency to get tangled and swap sections during reproduction. What an individual inherits is a mishmash of sections with base sequences inherited from many ancestors. The length of inherited sections tends to get shorter as measured in centaMorgans (cM's) with each generation. What you inherit is totally random. You may have a measurable sequence from a 6th great grandmother but not one from a 4th great grandfather. The autosomal tests rely on each descendent of an individual having an equally random chance of inheriting the same sequence as another descendent and that matching sequences in two individuals come from a common ancestor.

Your sequences are compared with those of others who have taken the test. You receive a list of cousins sorted into likely relationship ranges based on how many cM's of DNA you match on. Matching sections with start and end points on each chromosome are given for each cousin as well as how many cM's you have in common. You may then contact your cousins to figure out who your common ancestor might be.

A chart showing Family Finder testers and their earliest ancestors appears in the Chart section of the website.

Ancestral Information and Vetting

DNA testing in isolation has minimal value. It becomes an important research tool when your results and known lineage are compared with others. We urge all who test to fill out the Family Tree on their FTDNA page and contact an administrator with additional details about the earliest Kincaid you are confident you descend from. Some participants have chosen to have their lineages confirmed or vetted to that ancestor. Vetting is now done by sending to the Rootsweb Kincaid Surname List a post with documentation showing the linkage between each generation. The post is reviewed. If sufficient proof has been provided to convince a reasonable person that the linkages are true, the participant is then vetted to that ancestor. Some lines were vetted before the current system was adopted and have been grandfathered in. Vetted ancestors appear on the charts in blue. Vetting posts are in the Lineages section of this site.

Research Links

With a firm belief that sharing knowledge and research is fundamental to continued progress in understanding the complex Kincaid families, some of the most diligent researchers have created websites. Links to these and other sites valuable to Kincaid research as well as a link to join the Family Tree DNA Project can be found here: