While I was shocked to learn through DNA that my paternal ancestry links me to the first Chaves family to arrive in New Mexico in 1600, there was no surprise that DNA confirmed that I descend from the Chaves family on my mother’s side.
I already had the long paper trail that established my maternal grandfather, Louis Telesfor Chavez, as the 8th great-grandson of Pedro Duran y Chaves, the progenitor of the family. Still, I have also learned that the paper trail of baptismal, marriage and other written records covering 400 years and multiple generations can sometimes be wrong.
I decided to pursue a Y-DNA test on my mom’s side of the family to confirm my Grandpa Louie’s genealogy. Since my Grandpa died in 2006, I turned to one of his sons, my Uncle Mike Chavez, to take the test. My mother couldn’t do it, because you can only trace the Y-DNA through males.
|Mike Chavez Sr.|
As expected, Uncle Mike’s Y-DNA put him in the I1 haplogroup, proving his genetic ties to Pedro Duran y Chaves. That means the proud Chavez name my uncle inherited from his father, and my Grandfather, runs through his blood.
|Louis T Chavez Sr.|
It also means that, genetically, I am a Chavez on both my father and mother’s sides of the family tree. My genetic ties to Pedro Duran y Chaves, and his own roots in Valverde de Llerena, Spain, are particularly strong.
But while both sides of my family are part of the I1 haplogroup, there are some differences. My Uncle Mike’s DNA tested 37 genetic markers; of those, 35 were exact matches with my paternal Y-DNA. That may sound nearly perfect, and it proves we both descend from the Chaves line; but the minor differences in those two markers actually means we share a common ancestor several generations back.
The way I understand it, mutations occur over time, and as one Chavez brother stayed in the Rio Abajo area, and another migrated to Rio Arriba, two genetic markers changed slightly. Without a complete paper trail on my paternal line, it’s difficult to pinpoint where that happened.
I have made contact with another Chavez relative who tested identically with me on all 37 genetic markers. I need to do more follow-up to see if we can determine where our family trees intersect.
But the bottom line, which still boggles my mind a bit, is that I am a blood relative of the original New Mexico Chaves family on two of my main bloodlines.