Y-Chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) provides the only sure way to prove (or disprove) genealogical relationships. Either your DNA closely matches the DNA of other Skillmans or it does not. Y-DNA is passed down from father to son, generation after generation, with few mutations. Y-DNA is not passed to females, so female members of the Skillman Family Association should ask a close male relative with the Skillman surname, such as a father, uncle, or cousin, to test on their behalf. The test is done with two cheek swabs by U.S. mail; it is simple, painless, and completely confidential.

Thomas1 Skillman, the first Skillman to arrive in America, and his wife, Sarah Petit (Pettit), had only one son. That son, Thomas2 Skillman, was born in New York in 1671. Thomas2 Skillman and his wife, Annetje Aten, had five sons who produced sons of their own who carried the male Skillman line down to and including Skillmans living today. Those five sons, Jan (John)3, Isaac3, Jacob3, Benjamin3, and Joseph3, established five separate and distinct branches of our Skillman family tree.

The Skillman DNA Project was established in July 2009 at Family Tree DNA in Houston, Texas, the first and largest of the genealogical testing companies. As of July 2013, fifteen living descendants of Thomas2 Skillman, representing all five of his sons, have tested their Y-DNA and they are indeed related, thereby confirming the extensive conventional genealogy previously done on the Skillman family in America. It is therefore likely that American males with the Skillman surname will have Y-DNA closely matching that of Thomas2 Skillman, unless they are of African-American descent or there has been a non-paternal event* in their lineage. Two Skillmans in England have also been tested and they are not related to the Skillmans in America, nor are they related to each other. Therefore, the Skillman surname has at least three separate and very early origins.

Interestingly, the Y-DNA of three males with the surname Hart closely matches the Y-DNA of the eleven American Skillmans, indicating certain kinship. While the Skillmans can prove their DNA back to Thomas2 Skillman, born in 1671, the three Harts cannot trace their Hart ancestors much beyond the 1800s. Additionally, although they are very tightly related, they did not know one another until they received their DNA results, and they have been unable to identify a common ancestor among them. Moreover, their DNA does not match the DNA of any of the more than 140 Harts in the Hart DNA Project. For more information on this curious DNA connection, read the article “The Mysterious Skillman-Hart DNA Connection” on the Association’s website.

One of the objectives of the Skillman Family Association is to confirm the male line of all Skillman surnamed members to Thomas2 Skillman through Y-chromosome DNA testing. Our testing company, Family Tree DNA, has selected a variety of markers from the DNA chain to determine if two people are related. The more markers tested, the more accurate the prediction of kinship. Additional markers also help define the various branches of the family tree. The Association recommends the Y-DNA37 Test Kit (37 markers) at Family Tree DNA at a current cost of $149 plus $4 postage. However, if the member’s budget allows, the Y-DNA67 Test Kit (67 markers) may be ordered. Go to the Skillman DNA Project home page to order your test kit, click on “Join Request,” choose “Option B” and follow the instructions.

*A non-paternal event may include a name change, an adoption, or an illegitimacy. Adoptions by another family of young children due to the death of the mother from complications in childbirth were fairly common in earlier times, so it is entirely possible that a male with another surname may have been adopted by a Skillman family and raised with the Skillman surname. In such a case, he would not be a blood descendant of Thomas2 Skillman. It is usually very difficult to determine when a non-paternal event took place within a family line.

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