There are two essential parts to a Y-DNA project: Identify a member's earliest known ancestor (EKA) and find out what Y-DNA haplogroup he was born into, then compare the genealogies with the other members of the same haplogroup in hopes of discovering the most recent common ancestor (MRCA). The first part is easy. But if the process accomplishes nothing more than the name of a haplogroup, it has greatly narrowed the research to specific geographical regions. (I now know there's no point, for example, to look in New York or Hertfordshire, England for my guys.)
The Cooley DNA Project has made a great deal of progress in recent years, but there are still a lot of questions to resolve. My long-term personal objective — even before I became co-admin — started by wanting to genetically identify all the early American Cooley immigrant families. I needed to know, for example, whether the Cooleys of Springfield, MA were related to my Cooleys of North Carolina. And were all the NC Cooleys related to one another? DNA has proven that the answer to both questions is no. Indeed, there have been a lot of no answers, but also some highly affirmative and informative yeses.
In fact, much of that is sorted out to one degree or another. The project's most severe brick wall now lay in identifying the various DNA groups in the British Isles. Of course, almost by definition, we'll find more Y-DNA diversity among the Cooleys in Britain and Ireland than in the U.S., Australia, and the other places our Cooley families settled. Still, we know that the CF02 Cooleys originated in and around the village of Tring in Hertfordshire, England. We also know that the CF07 group originated among the Clan Colla (of about 300 AD) in Ireland, although we've yet to find any representatives of these Cooleys in the Isles. (Surely, they're there.) We've learned that CF09 represents a large, diverse group in Virginia and North Carolina and that they're related to the CF02 Cooleys, but by more than 3,000 years! Similarly, DNA has shown that the forbears of the CF01 Cooleys (my tribe) probably settled in Scotland from Norway. (Following that SNP trail, the scent informs us that their movement across the North Sea might well have happened during the early Viking Age.) CF04, which includes the legendary heart surgeon, Dr Denton Cooley, has living representatives in England, the US, and Australia, but more testing is needed to find just where (genetically and geographically) the lineages diverged.
In order to better work out these problems, we need to reach out to the broader Cooley population. The popularity of ancestral DNA has brought a couple of hundred testers to us, but in typical American fashion, I want more! Facebook may be a good place to begin these efforts. To that end, I've just created a group called The Worldwide Cooley Y-DNA Project. Please join. Invite other Cooley researchers to join. And, especially, encourage Cooleys from other countries to join.
I keep track of the various Cooley groups in a number of ways. For example, here's the breakdown, as known to date, of the Cooleys found on the 1810 census of Pennsylvania and for Indiana in 1830 and 1840. However, very little headway has been made on the 1841 census for Great Britain. I'd like to see that change.