One of my eighth great grandfathers was Richard Dana (1617-1690), a New England Puritan, who landed in Massachusetts in 1640. Richard married Anne Bullard in about 1648.

My seventh great grandfather Daniel Dana was born on 20 March 1664 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Daniel was the tenth of twelve children.

In 1661 Richard Dana had purchased a farm of 108 acres near the area later called “Oak Square”.  Daniel probably grew up here.

Dana homestead

Dana Homestead in Little Cambridge from “The Dana Family in America” by Elizabeth Ellery Dana, picture opposite page 40.

Richard Dana and his family attended the “First Church” in the older part of Cambridge. Richard and his family crossed the Charles River each Sunday to attend church. Daniel was baptized in the church which was then in Harvard College Yard on 3 April 1664.

In 1689 Daniel served in the militia. In that year there was a revolt against the Governor, Sir Edmund Andros; Daniel may have played some part in this.

In 1694 Daniel married Naomi Crosswell.

They had nine children:

  • Thomas Dana 1694–
  • Caleb Dana 1697–1769
  • Richard Dana 1700–1772
  • Naomi Dana 1702–1726
  • Timothy Dana 1705–1705
  • Priscilla Dana 1706–1785
  • Daniel Dana 1708–1713
  • Ebenezer Dana 1711–
  • Hepzibah Dana 1714–1789

Daniel had been a cooper and a farmer and worked as a surveyor of highways and as a tithing man. In 1715 and in 1723 he served as a selectman – on the local board of government. In 1736 he served on an important church committee.

On 10 October 1749, Daniel died, age 86, and was buried in the Old Burying Ground at Harvard Square, Cambridge . His headstone made of slate still survives.

Daniel Dana gravestone

Headstone of Daniel Dana who was buried in the Old Burying Ground at Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Image from FindAGrave, photographed by Bill Boyington and used with his permission.

Daniel was one of twelve children and he himself had nine children; his descendants number in the thousands.

In 2016 I found that my DNA matched that of several people also descended from Richard or Daniel Dana.

In the brief notes that follow:

– AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, GedMatch and MyHeritage provide DNA analysis services

– a centiMorgan (cM) is a measurement of how much DNA is shared. Higher centiMorgans, more shared DNA

– fourth cousins once removed commonly share from zero to  117 centiMorgans. The average in one survey was 28cM.

Dana DNA tree April 2018

DS is my fourth cousin once removed. We share William Pulteney Dana (1776-1861) as a common ancestor. We share 38 centiMorgans of DNA across one segment. The amount of DNA we share is consistent with our relationship of fourth cousins.

AncestryDNA gives us limited information about our DNA matches. It does tell us though for perceived close matches who we share DNA with. DS and I share DNA with DV and EH who both descend from Daniel Dana’s son Ebenezer. 8th cousins have been found to share between zero and 50cM. The amount of DNA I share with DV and EH is within the range for 8th cousins and 7th cousins once removed.

Without more information about the segments shared I cannot make predictions that the shared DNA does come from Daniel Dana and his wife Naomi. If my matches uploaded their DNA data to FamilyTreeDNA, GedMatch or MyHeritage, those sites would give me information to see if the segments match. We could then infer using the principles of triangulation that our paper trail pedigree matches our genetic tree.

At this stage it seems likely, based on the information from AncestryDNA that we share DNA even though this information is not quantified.

I have two other DNA matches with Dana descendants. As we share only small amounts of DNA, AncestryDNA does not provide the information if we share this with any other matches.

With such distant common ancestors, it is quite possible that we share other ancestors that we have not yet researched and the shared DNA is attributable to another ancestor.

It would help enormously if AncestryDNA gave us more information about our shared DNA as do the other companies. Otherwise, if people who have had their DNA tested would be prepared to upload to the other companies, we would be able to understand more about our shared DNA and determine if we have correctly identified out most common recent ancestor and there confirm our paper pedigree with shared DNA. Uploads to FamilyTreeDNA, GedMatch and MyHeritage are free, no further testing or payments are required.

Although it is interesting that I can find that I share DNA with distant cousins who are descended from the same forebears, it does not tell me more about Richard Dana and his son Daniel. I have learned most from Elizabeth Ellery Dana‘s genealogy of the Dana family.