About Our Quest for Living Relatives & Ancestry

August 2016

We now have DNA (two 2nd cousins) and other evidence that my grandfather’s father was Carl Henry Weil of Randegg, Germany, Saginaw, Toledo and Chicago. Ironically for us, having had no family information before 1902 we now have information back to 1135 AD about this respected Rabbinical family.

We are now 90% certain that we have also identified the mother due to DNA evidence and family tree information that previously eluded us. As things would have it, it is not the woman that we thought it was but her husband’s sister.

Original post stating background to our search

The patriarchal side of Our Family Tree is completely empty from about 1902 back at least between 1,370 and 3,150 years. We are looking for information that will fill in our ancestral past, backwards from 1902, when the 12 year old undocumented orphan Francis (Frank) Freeman McCallum walked out of North Dakota, USA into Saskatchewan, Canada settling on a farm near Hanley/Saskatoon, and then reaching back to some time between 640 AD and 1250 BCE Phoenicia/Canaan (parts of modern Israel, Lebanon, Syria). The reason for the ancient dates is explained below and elsewhere in this blog. Out of necessity we are approaching the search from both ends, the ancient and the modern, if 1900 counts as modern any longer. If we can find close living relatives, that would be the best, cousins 2, 3 or even 4 times removed, Frank’s sibling(s) grandchildren and great grandchildren. Are you one of these? If so contact us. I can assure you that it would be worth your time. Of the family that I know, there are many interesting, wonderful people. We want to get to know you.

As of September 2011, the tale gets curiouser and curiouser. DNA analysis shows us that he shared about 50% of his DNA with Ashkenazim. One of his parents was Jewish.  My 2nd Cousin, discovered in the fall of 2015, is 100% Ashkenazim.  Now we have her family tree to explore to find our Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) who is likely to be in her tree at the great grandfather or great great grandfather level, my 2nd cousin being my age less a month.

On the other hand, we could simply be Semitic peoples who originated in the region of Syria and particularly Lebanon. We can be quite certain in identifying a region of about 500 km in diameter, the northernmost boundary of which is about 30 km inside Turkey at the modern town of Harran which was the ancient home of Abraham around the same time. Interesting, for sure. Our E1b1b1c1a Y-haplotype suggests that our Most Recent Common Ancestor, i.e. the male who mutated and passed on that Y-haplotype gene originated in that region. Our haplotype is shared by a significant proportion of Jews and Phoenicians. The latter had a 3000 year existence based from the area now known as Lebanon. That is another fascinating story, one small part of which is the high degree of inter-relationship between Phoenicians and the early Hebrews. For example, Phoenician King Hyram became a friend of King David and provided King Solomon with a large volume of timber, stone and artisans to build Solomon Temple and palace. One of Hyram’s daughters became one of Solomon’s wives.

Also of recent development is that either Frank’s Wife, Molly, my grandmother or my mother or both may have had Mediterranean DNA.

We started this blog mid-2010 about our family search. Thursday, February 10, 2011, between 1,200 and 2,000 potential relatives have been identified. This progress is a result of using 23andMe, ftDNA, Ancestry and GEDmatch to compare our DNA with the DNA of some 6,000,000 others. We are contacting the most promising of these and organizing the family histories and genetic family trees together in an increasingly meaningful way. The exponential growth in people having their DNA analysed will yield increasing potential and relevancy in the months and years to come. It is a big job but the data is growing, the tools grow more powerful and, as a result of my DNA analysis, I have been told by those who read my genes that I have a superior chance of living to be 100 therefore I have more years to be able to do the work!

This blog is intended to consolidate and share accumulating information to fill in the intervening either 1,370 or 3,150 years and 11 months.  Due to a growing body of DNA analysis and a growing body of good genealogical records, we have collected verified information as well as a few rumors, suppositions, speculation and channels of investigation that look promising.

For example, we don’t know when or where Frank was orphaned.  In his WWI military records he identified Detroit/Wayne County as his place of birth but we have not been able to confirm that under the name McCallum.  Also, we do know that there were “orphan trains” running to Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana from New York, Detroit and Chicago.  We have not yet had the opportunity to go through those records.

We do know now that McCallum is not our ancestral name but when Frank or his ancestors associated with that name we do not know.  In 2010, Frank’s Great grand son,  David McCallum, initiated Y-DNA  analysis in May 2010 which proves it.  The McCallum Y-DNA begins with the letter R, common to most of northern Europe and the UK.  However, my son David McCallum’s Y-chromosome begins with the letter E and continues E1b1b1c1a as it does for all of us including Frank, my grandfather, as the Y-DNA haplogroup is passed down from father to son.

Academic genealogical research reported in July 2010 states that the time of the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) for that haplotype, i.e. the original progenitor of our haplotype, lived between 1250 BCE and 640 AD in Phoenicia.  He could have been pre-Semitic or Semitic.  Abraham could have been his MRCA although apparently that looks unlikely.

The specific journey from there is unknown.  We do know that the Phoenicians and our haplotype were merchants and traveled throughout the Mediterranean and even as far away as England, settling colonies in many places, particularly northern Portugal/Spain, Sardinia, Corsica, Southern Italy and several places in North Africa.   We also know that our penultimate haplotype makes up 25%+ of Jordanian men in the Jordan Valley and 10% of both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, and about 4% of Jews world wide.

Given the ethnic makeup of the major migrations to North America in the 1800s, it suggests a higher than average probability that our ancestors, perhaps even Frank, were born Jews.  So far as we know, few others of Semitic origin emigrated to the United States at that time.

Frank claimed to have known very little about his parents and his background therefore we know nothing about either. While he was known as Frank McCallum we have no corroboration of any of his names. As a result of the genealogical information gathered to date based on the DNA analysis we now know much more, ironically only up to 1,370 years ago.  But as was said to me, “You always said that you had no family history and now you have an extensive history, books and other documentation.” “How so?” I asked.  “The major book of your family history starts ‘In the beginning…'” That remains to be proven although our penultimate haplotype suggests that our origin was either Semitic, pre-Hebrew.

Our haplotype is E1b1b1c1a which means that the penultimate haplotypes, about which there is much more known in terms of origin and migration, is E1b1b1c1 and the one before it is E1b1b1c. There is information about all of them elsewhere on this blog.

As more and more people have their DNA analyzed, we expect that we will not only our missing ancestors but living relatives as well. Frank did have a lost brother he left behind. To that end we are attempting to enable those few but increasing people identified as E1b1b1c1a to make themselves known to the rest of us and by participating in DNA comparison find cousins who are first, second, third, fourth and fifth cousins and from their histories find where ancestral trails overlapped and diverged.

We are engaged in a detective story which we find fascinating and hope that you do too, for your own similar reasons.

Enjoy and contribute please.


Ian McCallum

Frank & Molly McCallum London early 1950s