My Theory of the Biological Family of David Brazille Plunk

While stumbling my way through DNA, I’m reminded of the game we used to play as kids – rock, scissors, paper, shoot. Do you remember that game? The “rock” beats “scissors, the “scissors” beats “paper”, and the “paper” beats “rock”. I wonder if DNA is “rock” or “scissors”? Pretty obvious with the “paper”. Can I combine YDNA and Autosomal DNA and overcome the lack of “paper”?

Please remember that this is my thought of who the family is, genetically, of David Brazille Plunk based on my understanding of DNA and that I have absolutely nothing on paper to prove this theory. I’ve been hesitant to put this on the blog for the whole world to see because I’m afraid someone will take the information and start proclaiming it as fact when in truth it’s just my humble theory.

For years, all of his descendants thought he belonged to a Smith family because of family folklore. If you do a quick search of the public family trees at, you will find that several people are putting his name out there as David Brazille Smith Plunk as if it were a fact, but an inspection of their documents reveals there’s no paper proof, nor DNA analysis, to support the surname Smith.

Although DNA is stronger evidence than family folklore, this is still just my amateur attempt to use genetics to determine the biological family of my great grand-father, David Brazille Plunk. To do so, I first had to identify as much of my own biological family as I could. Then, using a combination of YDNA and Autosomal DNA, try to find who his family was.

YDNA is passed from father to son to son to son, etc. Thanks to two of his great grandsons, I have the Y line for the paternal line of David Brazille Plunk. But how do I turn that into a surname for his paternal line?

The YDNA tests for both great grandsons, descended through two different sons of David Brazille Plunk, was first done through The results were slim and other than matching each other exactly, their closest match was to a man whose family also had an assumed name. I then manually entered their markers at genetree, before it closed, and they matched a man, at 85%, claiming the following ascendancy:

Daniel Knipp, son of Varner Knipp, son of Christian Knipp.

I don’t know what marker for marker match an 85% match would be, but I think it’s pretty close to an exact 37/37 marker match. I will explain why I think that in a moment.

I then transferred my cousins YDNA to Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) and upgraded from 35 markers to 37 markers. Out of the hundreds of thousands of men tested, they had one exact match, 37/37 markers. This man was a descendant of Thomas Lee Boatwright. Thomas Lee had a brother, Lawrence Boatwright, and one of his descendants also tested. My Plunk does not match the descendant of Lawrence Boatwright, but he does match the descendant of Thomas Lee Boatwright.

The results from FTDNA include a TiP report which shows the matches percentages of a common ancestor within an amount of generations. The below shows the percentages comparing the descendant of Thomas Lee Boatwright and the descendant of David Brazille Plunk. This chart is also why I think the 85% match at genetree of the descendant of Christian Knipp is pretty close to the same 37/37 marker match:

Generations Percentage
4 83.49%
8 97.28%
12 99.55%
16 99.93%
20 99.99%
24 100.00%

The parents of Thomas Lee Boatwright and Lawrence Boatwright were J.M. Boatwright and Mahala Johnson. The parents of J.M. Boatwright were Thomas Boatwright and Lucinda Coker Nipp Boatwright. There’s that name Nipp/Knipp again!

When I look at the YDNA test results, I see a distinct probable relationship to the family of Nipp/Nepp/Knipp (and any other variation of the spelling of that surname).

At FTDNA, I have 300 matches of genetic cousins as a result of my own autosomal test. One of those matches has the surname Knipp as one of his ancestors. His relationship range to me is given as a 3rd to 5th cousin, and a suggested relationship of 4th cousin. I believe that would put the common ancestor in the 3rd to 4th great grand-parent range. According to the research of this match, his great grand-parents are:

John Alexander Reed m Altamira Britton
Jackson Hartman m Louisa “Jane” Bible
John Bible m Leann Knipp
Absalom Gray m Rebecca Lassley

Do you see it? John Bible married Leanna (Leann) Knipp.

I know all of my great grand-parents and David Brazille Plunk is the only one that I know of, at this time, with an assumed surname. If I only look at the above names, his biological family could be Reed, Britton, Hartman, Bible, Knipp, Gray, or Lassley. But, if I look at the above compared to the genetree and FTDNA probability of Nipp, then it’s my conclusion that the biological family of my nonPlunk is somewhere within the family of Leann Knipp.

However, she is his great grand-mother and I want a 3rd to 4th great grand-parent. According to the research of this match, Leann Knipp descends from:

Daniel Knipp m Regina “Peggy” Bowers (2nd great grand-parents of match)
Varner Knipp m Christina (3rd great grand-parents of match)
Christian Knipp m Mary Wismer (4th great grand-parents of match)

The very same family that the match at genetree said he descended from!

My thought, then, is that my great grand-father, David Brazille Plunk, would be a descendant through either one of the sons of Varner Knipp, or possibly one of the brothers of Varner Knipp.

Again, I remind you, this is my theory of his family. I will post my research into that family as it unfolds. Hopefully, someday, I will have the information pointing to his biological parents and the paper to back it up.


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