Thursday, August 12, 2010

Updated Haplogroup I2a Tree

For several years Ken Nordtvedt has been sorting Y-DNA haplogroup I into different groups based on patterns in STR marker values (these are the "37 markers" etc. reported by genealogical DNA testing companies like Family Tree DNA, SMGF, These patterns can be found in Ken's FounderHaps.xls Excel file at his website If you don't use Excel, this website gives the patterns ("modals") in "Family Tree DNA order":

(You can click on the links to go to the websites, and you can click on my tree to enlarge it).

Although Ken was able to use his modals to distinguish several groups within haplogroup I2a, (he called the largest groups Dinaric, Sardinian, Isles and Western), most of these groups did not have a SNP to identify them. And without an SNP, many scientists, genealogy testing companies etc. did not accept these groups as proven.

In 2009 and 2010, four members of the I2a project at FTDNA did a "Walk on the Y" to sequence a portion of their Y chromosomes and 6 new SNPs were discovered. Some of these seem to be equivalent to previously known SNPs (L158 and L159.1 are equivalent to M26, and L178 is equivalent to M423. The new L161 SNP confirms Ken's modals: his Isles group tests L161+ while his Dinaric and Disles groups (and all the rest of I2a) test L161-.

But there are two new SNPs which showed us new things which weren't predicted by Ken: The new SNP called L233 separates Ken's old I2a*-Western group from I2a*-F and all the rest of I2a: Western and Western-Isles all test L233+, while I2a*-F and Dinaric, Sardinian, Isles and Disles all test L233-. This much was expected based on Ken's work. What wasn't expected was that a very small number people who he had placed in Western tested L233-. Closer inspection showed that they had slightly different 37 marker results from most Western, and a new group was found, which Ken called I2a*-Alpine because the few known members come from southwestern Germany, northeastern Italy, and Romania.

On my latest I2a tree shown here I am including I2a*-Alpine for the first time. You can see a previous version of the tree here: at that time we had not tested enough supposed "Westerns" and hadn't learned of the "Alpine" group yet.

The other very interesting new SNP discovered in the WTY is L160. Some of Ken's Sardinian group test L160+ and some test L160- and it can't be easily predicted from 37 or 67 markers. That is why I show the green I2a1a and I2a1a* triangles as overlapping, since their modals/marker values overlap a bit.

As of August 26, 2010 the ISOGG tree includes all SNPs shown here, and hopefully commercial DNA testing companies like Family Tree DNA and 23andMe will update their trees soon. You can see the most recent ISOGG tree at , and the current offical FTDNA tree at, and the working draft tree of Dr. Thomas Krahn at FTDNA at (use the drop-down box at top to switch between his draft tree and the 2008 YCC tree which is the oldest tree of all of these).
[this post edited August 27, 2010 to note that ISOGG has updated its tree, and to correct placement of L160 in my own tre--Bernie]

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The only American ever executed in Northern Ireland

Eddie Cullens was a Jew born in 1904 in the eastern Mediterranean, different sources say Crete, Cyprus, or Smyrna (Turkey). It is not known what his name at birth was, I think it's unlikely he was born a Cullens. At some point. he moved to the US and was naturalized as an American citizen in 1928 while living in the Bronx, New York. In 1931 he boarded a ship to England and his occupation was listed as "motion-picture projectionist", and he was traveling with a Mr. Zaro Agha, a native of Turkey. According a story from the BBC, Edward Cullens was involved with a circus exhibition of Mr. Agha, the "oldest man in the world" at age 156!

Eddie went to Belfast with another Turkish circus worker, Achmet Musa, who was found shot dead one day. Eddie was convicted of the murder and hanged at Crumlin Road jail, all the while protesting his innocence. As was the custom, he was buried in an unmarked grave on the Crumlin grounds.

Because of new construction at the site, the government is planning to allow the bodies of the executed men to be claimed by relatives, identified by DNA testing if necessary, and reburied in cemeteries. The Jewish community of Belfast is interested in burying Eddie in their cemetery, but so far no relative of Eddie has come forward.

I recently received an email from an interested party who is searching for any relatives or information. Eddie is believed to have had a brother who remained in New York. By searching databases, I was able to find Eddie's 1928 Naturalization index card, where he was listed as single, living at 1709 E. 174th St., and his ship's arrival record in Southhampton, England in 1931. I have not been able to find him in any census.

If you have any ideas or information, please email me at

Friday, December 04, 2009

1911 Irish census: Spelling variations

Cullen is much more common than any of its variant spellings or similar surnames (except for Collins of course). Here are some of the different names/spellings found in the 1911 census of Ireland.

What is interesting about this? Some of the names that appear somewhat common in the U.S are rare or absent (Cullens and Cullins for example, also Cullum/Cullom is rare--maybe it's more of an English name?) Also names mentioned in the surname histories as being variants of Cullen are absent (Culloon, Culhoon).
If a number is not given, there were less than 10 people with that name in the census, usually only 1 or 2.

CULLEN-7181 names

variant spellings and very rare surnames:

Then there are some names that are clearly different families, not just spelling variations:
CULHANE (611, mostly Limerick)
CULL (232, Down, Leitrim, Antrim and a few other counties)
CULLINEY (44, Mayo and Clare)
CULLINAN (863, Waterford to Roscommon)
CULLINANE (1240,Waterford to Roscommon)

Then there are the variant of McCullen:

This list is only for names containing CUL, so names like COLLEN, COLLINS, KILLEN, QUILLEN, and McQUILLAN are not listed

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tree of Y-DNA Haplogroup I2a

Besides the Cullen DNA Project, I'm also interested in my Y-chromosome haplogroup, which is a way of placing people into the grand family tree of all humanity. I drew up this tree to explain some of the new research on haplogroup I2a, and I'm placing it here so other people can easily see it. This tree is based on Ken Nordtvedt's Warped Founder tree at

My cousin in Ireland and I belong to I2a1-"Sardinian" which gets its name from the Italian island of Sardinia where it is most common (this is just a convenient label--our ancestors probably never lived in Sardinia--some distant "cousins" probably were among the first settlers of Sardinia thousands of years ago).

No other Cullens are known to belong to any other group of I2a, all other Cullens tested so far are either R1b, I1, I2b1, or I2b2.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Complete 1911 Census of Ireland now available online, for free

One of my contacts just informed me that the complete 1911 Census is now available and easily searchable at:

Be sure to click through to see the original handwritten census returns.

The 1901 census will be made available within a year, hopefully. All earlier censuses for Ireland were destroyed, and later censuses have not yet been released for privacy reasons.

My own great-grandfather had already emigrated to Chicago by 1911, but his sister and other relatives in Tullycorker, Tyrone appear in the census.

In the coming weeks I hope to add some posts about Cullens in the 1911 census, about things like different spellings of Cullen, Protestant Cullens, and Irish speaking Cullens.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cullens in Chile

Here's a posting from Dr. Juan R. Cullen, MD, about his Cullen family who emigrated from Dublin to Chile, South America around 1908. Other members of the family ended up in Liverpool, England, and Louisiana USA.

I don't want to post Juan's email address here without his permission, but you can leave comments here or email me ( and I will forward them. Just be sure to leave an email address so we can contact you!

Juan R. Cullen wrote:

"I need any information about Robert Cullen (gr-grandfather), living second half of the 19th Century in Dublin (7 Greenville Terrace, South Circular Road). Robert was Assistant Curator Pathological Museum TCD (Trinity College Dublin). Married Catherine Delaney, and parents of Robert Cullen Delaney (my grandfather), who was born on February 17th., 1885. Robert Cullen Delaney emigrated to Argentina (first arriving to Sandy Point in Chile, and later settled in Rio Gallegos, Argentina) on board the ship Oriana, leaving Liverpool on December 16th., 1908. My grandfather had at least two brothers: Joe (Joseph), who emigrated to Louisiana, USA, around last years of the 19th. century, or most probably at begining 20th. century. I’ve no other details about his life. The other brother, Patrick, born about 1897, had to leave Ireland due to be pursued by the English army as it was an IRA member. He left Liverpool on 08 July 1920, at the age of 23 years, aboard the ship Orduna, and shelter with my grandfather in Rio Gallegos. Later he went to Louisiana to see the other brother, and finally return to the Republic of Ireland.

My grandfather also had at least one sister who joined a religious order and remained until about twenty years ago in a convent in Liverpool. She is almost certainly already dead.

My grandfather was married in Rio Gallegos with Lavinia Cox, daughter of an administrator of the coal mines in Chile, which had been recruited in Wales.

Robert Cullen Delaney, my grandfather, married and with three children (two men and a girl, all between five and ten years old at that time) had to leave Argentina for health problems, and headed to California to settle there, but the ship that they moved made a landfall in Chile, and they decided to stay in this country.

Any information regarding siblings of my grandfather and my great grandfather and other ancestors would be very grateful."

Great site for Cavan Cullens:

Mark Cullen of Canada has created a great site with the history of his family who went from County Cavan, Ireland to Quebec:

In Mark's words: "
John Cullen of Killinkere area and Elizabeth Carolan, daughter of Simon Carolan and Catherine Clarke of Doon, emigrated in 1826 to Bytown, Upper Canada and resettled to Templeton Township with their children Mary, Anthony, Michael, Bernard, Elizabeth, Catherine and John. They became important farmers and squared timber operators and leaders in church and community affairs and local politics."

This is of interest beyond Mark's own family--many Irish first emigrated to Canada before moving to the US (and of course some stayed in Canada). And eastern Cavan was home to a large cluster of Cullens, as my maps below show.

Mark has a comment submission form on his website.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

McQuillan connection?

It looks like we have found a DNA connection between 3 McQuillans from Counties Monaghan and Fermanagh, a Cullen from an unknown location in Ireland, and a Collins in the US who believes he can trace back to a Callan family from Meath...and these seem to all be related to the McMahon family who were chiefs in the area...Many different surnames, but first some maps of the McQuillan surname in the mid 1800s and today (click on maps to enlarge, and be sure to compare these with the McCullen and Cullen maps below. If you need the names of the counties, go to

The maps are very similar (unlike the McCullen surname which essentially disappeared in the last 150 years). There has been a large increase in McQuillans in and around Ballymena in Co. Antrim, and in general I would say that McQuillan is found more in towns and suburbs than Cullen for example, but then Antrim, northern Armagh and Louth are have always been densely populated places. Another change is a decline of the surname in Fermanagh, and a shifting of the main cluster of the surname in Monaghan from the Clones area to an area more to the northeast.

For the Griffith's data, there were many spellings but I think I caught all that contained "Quil", but didn't include on the map surnames like McQuillinan, McQuillcan. The BT phone book for Northern Ireland was easier to search than the Eircom for the Republic, and in the BT book I searched for all variants of Quillan and McQuillan but there were only two listings--one Quillan and one McQuillam. In the Eircom directory, I searched for McQuillan only. (note--I haven't mapped the phone listings for Dublin yet--hope to fix this soon)