VNFA DNA Projects

Y-DNA Project

Open to any male born with a VN* surname.

Autosomal Project

Open to all descendants of any VN*

This project was started in May 2008 to see if some of the many questions about the origins of the Van Norman (etc.) surname could be answered and whether or not we descend from one Ancestor or several. We had also hoped to confirm our current research and perhaps to knock down some of the “brick walls” for those who had reached a dead end in their search.

The results have shown that not all of the VanNormans (etc.) descend from a single progenitor, but appear to have at least three sources of origin: 1) The Van Aarnhem line of New York; 2) The Van Naamen line of Pennsyvania and 3) The [Speculative] Van Immen or Vanaman (etc.) line of New Jersey. This is quite plausible, since our Dutch ancestors were using Patronymics in the 1600’s and the “Van” portion of the surname means “from”. So the Van Aarnhem (etc.) surname indicated that the person was from the Town of Arnhem, in the province of Gelderland, Netherlands, while the Van Immen (etc.) surname may refer to origins in the Town of Emmen in the Province of Drenthe, Netherlands. Naturally there was likely more than one person from each town who came to North America in the earlier years who could have adopted this phrase as a surname. Varied pronunciations of other early surnames such as Van Naamen and Vanaman etc. also may have led to the adaptation of the Van Norman spelling.

Also included are lines which are the result of one of the anomalies that sometimes occur -- Adoption, Illegitimacy, Infidelity, etc. – so we do have some kits that do not match any of the other participants.

Most of our Y-DNA test results can be viewed via the following link:
https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/vannorman/about/results
[Note: not all kits are shown on our Public Results page as some members have opted out.]

- New York (The Van Aarnhem line)
Two sets of results are an identical match and those results are a close match to the other sets. This indicates that all of these lines have a common ancestor, likely within a datable period of time. We know that the two matching lines [kits 121451 & 169963] are third cousins, and while their relationship to a third sample [kit 144050] is currently unknown, we know these lines have no connection after 1794 at a minimum and probably don't have a common ancestor born any later than the 1740's.
Two sets of results [kits 212123 & 216953] are descendants of Jan Janse Van Aarnhem & Hester Fonda through their son Isaac Jansz Van Aarnhem and are thought to be 6th cousins.
Two sets of results [kits 642767 & 497213] are descendants of the same couple via their son Abraham.

I feel that there is now sufficient data to predict the majority of the markers for Jan Janse Van Aarnhem (c1671 – c1708), the husband of Hester Fonda. Using the two separate lines of descent that have now been established via his sons Abraham and Isaac Jansz, combined with the “brick wall” lines, they give us [almost] enough information to work with. The 37 markers for Jan Janse, with the one noted exception, are likely as follows:

DYS393 13         DYS390 26              DYS19 15
DYS391 10         DYS385* 11-14     DYS426 12
DYS388 12         DYS439*10             DYS439i 14
DYS392 11         DYS389ii 31           DYS458* 15
DYS459 9-10     DYS455 11             DYS454 11
DYS447 24         DYS437 14             DYS448 20
DYS449*33        DYS464* 12-15-15-16
DYS460 [11 or 12??]
Y-GATA-H4 10     YCAII 19-23        DYS456* 15
DYS607 16             DYS576* 17       YS570* 19
CDY* 36-40           DYS442 12         DYS438 11
(An *indicates that these markers mutate more frequently than the others.)

The one exception, marker DYS460, while one of only two possibilities, becomes crucial in helping to determine the ancestry of the “brick wall” participants. Our confirmed descendants of Jan Janse and Hester’s son Abraham Van Aarnhem have the marker 12, while those of son Isaac Jansz have the marker 11 in their results.

If the original marker was 12, then all five participants with 11 as their result are likely descendants of Isaac Jansz, even though only two of them have documentation to prove it.

If the original marker was 11, then all four participants with a 12 as their result are likely descendants of Abraham, even though only two of them have documentation to prove it.

It is mutations like these that might eventually help us determine which line a particular Van Norman ancestor might connect to, when we are trying to knock down a brick wall in our research, once we have a larger database of results to draw from. (This is assuming that the mutation took place a few generations back, and is not a recent occurrence.)
As you can see, locating a descendant or two to participate from Jan Janse’s son Jan Dirk is vital to solving this quandary we find ourselves in. Matching the results from all three lines “two out of three” should point out which number is correct, thus giving us a starting point to work from. Then everyone can see exactly how many mutations have occurred in their own results throughout the years.

Please Note: The above is based on the assumption that these participants are all descendants of Jan Janse Van Aarnhem and Hester Fonda. While no current “Van Aarnhem” (etc.) named male descendants of his brothers are known to exist, it is a possibility that cannot be totally ignored. Also, identical but independent mutations can occur on the same marker, although I don’t think they have had any effect on our results at this time.

- Pennsylvania (The Van Naamen line)
Two sets of results match 36 out of 37 numbers, indicating a common ancestor, while the two identical sets are known to be distant cousins. We believe that these three represent descendants of two sons (Isaac C. & Benjamin) of Joseph Van Norman & Elizabeth Wybern born in the 1760's - 1770's in Lower Smithfield, Pennsylvania. Again, there is one mutation between the lines of the two brothers, which may prove helpful in the future.

A second pair of matching early Pennsylvania Ancestry is presenting more questions than answers. Thought to be descendants of Isaac Van Naaman (& Mary Williams), it was anticipated that they would be a close match to the descendants of Joseph Van Norman & Elizabeth Wybern, but that was not the case. Additional testing of other descendants of Isaac is required to confirm their results.

- New Jersey
With only two participants with early New Jersey ancestry in our project, we are unable to make any determination at this time. The DNA samples do not match although it was predicted that they would. Their Van Norman spelling might be a variation on the Van Immen or Vanaman (etc.) family names, but no people with those variations have participated in the project yet.

As we stated at the start of this project, the rewards are not going to come overnight, but will benefit researchers of the Van Norman surname over the long haul.

Stephen Wood
19 August 2019
Read previous Y-DNA project updates

We've just launched our Autosomal Project and are seeking:

Family coordinators
- To be a coordinator you must be a descendant of a VN family and have taken an autosomal DNA test, or be the manager of the DNA kit of a VN descendant
- You must be able to navigate through those DNA matches to locate other VN descendants (you don't have to share their information, only the first known shared VN ancestor. For example, you would report that the DNA Match is a great-great-grandchild of "First Shared VN Ancestor")


Test subjects
- To be a test subject you must be a descendant of a VN family
- You must also have completed an autosomal DNA test (DNA kits purchased through Ancestry, MyHeritage, 23 and Me, and Living DNA are autosomal tests. The Family Finder test on FamilyTreeDNA is also autosomal).

GEDMatch test kits (We need a minimum of 50 participants to start a GEDMatch Ancestor project!)
- To participate you must upload your raw DNA results to GEDMatch

We are seeking donations to cover the costs of Y-DNA kits for male VNs who would not otherwise be able to afford one. The more male VNs who contribute to the Y-DNA project, the better able we'll be to sort out the VN family lines.  Donations can be made directly to the Van Norman project at FamilyTreeDNA.  (At this time we are not seeking monetary donations for the autosomal project as those kits are frequently on sale at a reasonable price).

Join the Y-DNA Project

  • To Join:
  • You must be a VN descendant, or manage the Y-DNA kit of a VN descendant
  • You must have an account at FamilyTreeDNA 
  • You must have either already purchased a Y-DNA kit, or are prepared to purchase a Y-DNA kit.

Join the Autosomal Project

  • To Join:
  • You must be a VN descendant, or manage the DNA kit of a VN descendant
  • You must have completed, or manage a completed, autosomal DNA test (doesn't matter where!)


Join the Autosomal Project

Have you completed an autosomal* DNA test?

Send us a message and let us know:
- What DNA company was used to test
- Your VN ancestral line (who is your earliest known VN?)

*DNA kits purchased through Ancestry, MyHeritage, 23 and Me, and Living DNA are autosomal tests.  The Family Finder test on FamilyTreeDNA is also autosomal.

Join the Autosomal DNA project

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© Copyright 1996- Van Norman Family Association
* (VN = Van Norman, Van Orman, Van Arnhem, etc. - if the surname sounds similar it's a VN!)