DNA Analysis of the Golladay and Golliday family

While every Golladay and Golliday family member will have many different ancestors who contributed to their DNA, we do share one common paternal ancestor (Joseph Golladay) and one common maternal ancestor (Joseph's wife Sybilla Kneisley). Hopefully DNA analysis will help link Joseph Golladay into his namesake ancestor in Europe. Proof positive of this connection has long eluded Golladay researchers. This is the most intriguing question that remains to be answered about the Golladay family in America.

The Golladay male Y-DNA

The Y-DNA for the male descendants has been established on Family Tree DNA going back to the first Golladay in America. Three different branches of the Golladay family have matched so far:

(1) A descendant of Revolutionary War soldier Joseph Golladay of Shenandoah County, Virginia
(2) A descendant of Revolutionary War soldier David Golladay of Augusta County, Virginia
(3) A descendant of Abraham Golladay of Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Abraham moved from Pennsylvania directly to Ohio, so this branch of the family never lived in Virginia.

Even though these descendants are from different regions of the country, their Y-DNA confirms they share a common Golladay ancestor. So far no matches with males currently living in Europe have been established at the 37-marker level. However at the 12-marker Y-DNA level, there are some matches with males in Finland as well as surnames other than Golladay. These other family connections may go back hundreds and hundreds of years.


The most interesting surname match is with a descendant of Jeremiah H. Gallatin, who was born in Stark County, Ohio in 1833. Jeremiah was the grandson of Albert Gallatin, who was the Secretary of the Treasury for Thomas Jefferson and James Madison from 1801 until 1814. Albert was born in French-speaking Geneva with family roots going back to Savoy (now part of France). There are other Golladay Y-DNA matches with males whose surnames are Gallatin, Gallentine, and Calentine, so this family link has been established.


Y-DNA testing on Family Tree DNA of males descendants of the Gallaudet family in both the United States and France is needed to resolve the origin of the Golladay family. This testing would determine whether or not the Gallatin and Golladay families are offshoots of this French family.

The family of John Pearson Golladay and Mathilda Hart

John Pearson Golladay was born in Virginia in 1838. When he was a child, he moved to Grayson County, Kentucky with his parents. In 2014, his granddaughter Charlotte Golladay Bryant had her DNA tested. She was 94 years old at this time.

Charlotte 's DNA was initially tested as part of the National Geographic's Genographic Project (Geno 2.0 kit), a scientific project into the origins of mankind and the paths of human migration throughout the world. Her DNA was next transferred to Family Tree DNA and tested using their Family Finder autosomal DNA test.

The autosomal DNA test indicated that Charlotte's ethnicity was 97% European and 3% Asian (from an ancestor of Mathilda Hart).

European DNA of Charlotte Golladay Bryant

European ethnic makeup of Charlotte Golladay Bryant (from Family Tree DNA)

Charlotte's ethnic makeup was split almost evenly between the British Isles (49%) and Western and Central Europe (48%).  Her DNA in continental Europe most closely matches the population in the region where France, Germany and Switzerland adjoin.

This ethnicity was expected as almost all of the surnames of the spouses of the early Golladay/Golliday's were German, English, French Huguenot, Scottish/Irish, and Swiss.

3% Asian DNA from ancestor of Mathilda Hart Golladay

Getting your DNA tested to learn your family roots

Here is a brief summary of genealogical DNA tests currently available.

Ethnicity testing (Autosomal DNA)

This is the first type of DNA test that most people take. Both males and females receive autosomal DNA from both their parents, so anyone can take this test. It is popular since it gives the percentages of your ethnic makeup which you received from your ancestors. It also reveals distant cousins that you may not be aware of, although their connection to your family may not always be apparent.

Family Tree DNA’s Autosomal test is called Family Finder. The map shown above is an example of how your ethnicity will be displayed by Family Finder. The advantage of Family Tree DNA is that the web site offers a full range of genealogical DNA tests. You can order additional tests at a later date from the same DNA sample as your finances allow.

Genealogists who are fans of Ancestry.com often take their AncestryDNA test. This is helpful for family tree development, as it integrates with their other products if you subscribe to their web site. It is strictly an Autosomal DNA test. Ancestry.com does not currently offer the full range of genetic testing.

Because of the way DNA segments are passed down from your ancestors, members of the same family may get different ethnicity test results from autosomal DNA testing. If you would like to understand why this happens, click here.

Surname research (Y-DNA testing)

Y-DNA testing traces a single paternal ancestral line. Only males can take this test, since females do not inherit the Y-chromosome from their father. Family Tree DNA is the leader for Y-DNA testing.

A Y-DNA test with 67 markers is best, but a 37 marker test is an acceptable option that is less expensive.

These markers are used for comparison purposes with others. When you get your results, you will be given a list of males whose Y-DNA matches yours. You can also voluntarily participate in surname projects to help uncover about the ancestral origins of your family.

Maternal Line Research (mtDNA testing)

Testing of female mitochondrial DNA is abbreviated as mtDNA testing. It traces a single female ancestral line. If you are having a difficult research problem relating to a female ancestor, mtDNA testing along with autosomal DNA may help unlock the answer. You must carefully select which person to take the test. The person can not be just anyone who descended from a certain woman. The person chosen for testing must be someone who is descended in a direct line from female descendants from the woman that you are researching.

The test results will give you the haplogroup of the maternal line and a list of people whose mtDNA match your sample.

Males do get mtDNA from their mother, so they can test their maternal line. However fathers do not pass mitochondrial DNA on to their children.

National Geographic's Genographic Project

Another option is the Geno 2.0 Next Generation Genographic Helix DNA Ancestry Kit. This is especially interesting for persons of mixed ethnicity who are not sure of their ancestry.  It is better to have a male family member tested, since you will receive the haplogroup of both the paternal and maternal line of ancestors. Women can only be tested for their maternal haplogroup since they do not inherit the Y-chromosome from their father.

You can help advance scientific research by testing with Geno 2.0, but if you are tight on money then you probably should select one of the other options based on your specific interests.

Some tips

Warning! DNA testing often confirms your family tree, but be prepared for surprises. Sometimes unexpected results are uncovered and there is always the possibility that your ancestry may be different than what you believed.

Genealogical DNA testing does not analyze genes for medical issues. It only looks at markers passed down from generation to generation.

Money is the deciding factor for most people when selecting a DNA test. You will have to prioritize your needs and decide what testing is most important to you. You can always order additional testing at some point in the future.

Consider getting elderly family members tested while you still have the opportunity. Due to recombination of Autosomal DNA, the descendants of a specific ancestor may lose Autosomal DNA from this ancestor over time. So an older person is more likely to have the informative segments of shared DNA that come from their specific branch of the family tree.

DNA test results may change in the future as more people around the world get involved with testing. This is a slow process that may take many years to unfold. Only a small percentage of people have been tested thus far. So expect new discoveries to occur and refinements to be made to existing data.

This page last updated on March 02, 2017