Michael Cooley's Genetic Genealogy Blog GEN • GEN
4 June 2016

Group Summaries for the Cooley DNA Project

The Y-STR genetic profiles for each of these groups and individuals in the groups are outlined at the Cooley DNA Project. What follows is a general description of the groups in terms of who, what, and when and, in some cases, recommendations on how to move forward.

CF01 (R1a) - Mostly descendants of John Cooley, Stokes County, NC: L448 > YP355 > YP609 > YP4252 > YP4248 > YP4253 > YP4491

John Cooley (c1738-1811) lived the majority of his adult life in Stokes County, NC. He appears to have had two daughters and at least eight sons. John likely died in Casey County, KY, 1811, where a substantial number of his family lived. I believe he immigrated from England in the 1750s to Virginia where he served in Col Washington's Virginia Regiment in 1755.

Included in CF01 are descendants of William H Cooley (1797-1877) and James Cooley (1808-c1872), both born in Pennsylvania. We're unable to place any of John's sons in PA, suggesting that these men were likely not John's grandsons. Furthermore, the descendants of the pair share with one another a couple of significant Y-STR differences with the Stokes County Cooleys. If that suggests a collateral relationship, they do share John's terminal Y-SNP, YP4491. In other words, they were closely related and not that distant from John.

CF02 (R1b) - The Benjamin Clan: DF27 -> Z2569 -> DF83 -> Z2565 -> Y15926

CF02 testers are close Y-STR matches to one another and many are genealogically-proven descendants of Benjamin Cooley of Springfield, MA. The descent, however, is not known for the vast majority of the testers. In fact, the descendant of Hezekiah Cooley (now CF03) doesn't have matching Y-SNPs. Until things are sorted out, I'm creating subgroups based on the latest SNP tests for those who have no known descent from Benjamin. For example, two testers are negative for U152, which Hezekiah is positive for. Another is positive for Y15926, the currently-known terminal SNP for a Benjamin Big Y tester, but the descent is unproven.

CF03 (R1b) - The unBenjamin Cluster: U152+

As stated above, the so-far single tester (a descendant of Hezekiah Cooley) has matching Y-STRs with CF02 but his Y-SNPs are quite different. Furthermore, genealogists have never found even remote evidence that would connect Hezekiah to the Benjamin bunch. A Big Y test would be nice but it would have little practical application to the overall Cooley project until a matching CF03 Cooley comes on the scene. Nevertheless, advanced SNP testing would help reveal ancient origins for Hezekiah.

CF04 (R1a) - The Pennsylvania Cluster: Z284 -> S4458 -> S5301 S6842 -> YP670 -> S7759/A -> YP1166 -> YP1167 -> YP4693 -> YP4944

Matching members include descendants of Robert and Francis Cooley of PA, who were almost certainly closely related, Daniell Cooley (1680-1729) of Maryland, and his son Richard (1722-1809) of Fayette County, PA. In a way, this group has a head start in that they closely match two testers having their earliest known ancestors living in England, in Yorkshire and in Oldswinford, Worcestershire. No one in this group has done advanced Y-DNA SNP testing, but they have been placed by the R1a admins into a group having a SNP trail as described above, though it needs to be verified. Furthermore, Big Y testing would provide a strong indication as to how closely the American group is related to the English group.

CF06 (E1b) - Descendants of Peter Cooley of Fredericksburg, VA

Peter Cooley (c1736-) immigrated with his family from London to Virginia in 1774. To date, no other Cooley E group has been uncovered.

CF07 (R1b) - The South Carolina Cluster: Clan Colla (BY3172+)

Big Y testing for this group proves they are of Clan Colla having descent from Ireland in the 4th century CE. They're likely descended from John C Cooley (c1725-1767) of Halifax County, NC and match to a tester who claims descent from John Cooley (1734-) of Franklin County, NC. A second set of Big Y results have been completed and is the subject of New Big Y Findings for Cooley DNA Group CF07.

CF09 (R1b) - The North Carolina Cluster: P312+ DF27+ BY3233+

This large, rambling group has roots in Virginia and North Carolina. The genealogical connection between most of them has yet to be revealed, but they are strongly connected genetically. The best known ancestor for this group is James Cooley (1758-1834) who married Penelope Gargus and lived in Halifax County, NC. If two descendants of James's were to Big-Y test, we'd have an accurate Y-DNA fingerprint for him that would provide a measurement by which the other testers can be compared.

CF10 (R1b) - Cooley / Firmin / Lippincott

William Cooley (c1753-1817) of Maryland and Fayette County, PA is the man Elizabeth Firmin really married, not John Cooley of Stokes County, NC. The initial test results were important to my research as they provided the very first spike used to drive into the Draculan body now known as The So-Called Dutch Cooleys. There's a surprising match in this group with the John Cooley (1749-1813) of Hunterdon County, NJ who married Abigail Lippincott. Advanced SNP testing could provide an approximation of the degree of relationship between the two groups. To date, their most recently-known Y-SNP mutation is the 6400 year-old M269, shared by nearly all European R1b men.

CF12 (I2b) - Presumed descendants of James Cooley of Pittsylvania Co, VA

Little to no genealogical information has been provided by members of this group. Traditionally, Chapman Cooley (1824-1905) is believed to have been a grandson of James Cooley (1760-1850) of Franklin County, VA and Roane County, TN, and great-grandson of James Cooley (c1732-) and Ann [Cornwall?] of Pittsylvania County, VA. With only three testers, a much larger sampling is needed before anything significant, genetically-wise, can be learned.

CF13 (R1b) - Adair County, KY Cooleys

The test results for this group helped rewrite the family of John Cooley of Stokes County, NC (CF01). Daniel Cooley (1765-1826) had long been considered a son of John's, but DNA proves otherwise. He did live near the family in Kentucky and later in Missouri and it seems there was some interaction between the two families indicative, possibly, of some kind of cousinship, perhaps even through a non-paternity event. But DNA is what it is. Among this group is the long sought-after John Cooley (1797-1880+) who was born in Adair County. John was a generation younger than Daniel but there's already a son named John attributed to him. Advanced SNP testing may reveal information regarding the relationships between the several individuals in the group.


These three groups have only two testers each. Little to no genealogical information has been forwarded to the project: CF14 (I), CF15 (R1b), and CF16 (R1b).

Unmatched (12)

The Cooley DNA Project has been successful on a number of levels as indicated by the fact that we have only twelve testers with no matches. But there are plenty of remaining mysteries. One of the most pressing is in finding the genetic identity of Samuell Coley (c1615-1684), married Anne Prudden. There are four genetic claimants but none match to one another. Only one (if any of them) can be descended from Samuell. I would encourage anyone who has a fully documented lineage from Samuell to get hold of both the Cooley DNA Project and the Cooley Family Association of America.