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Was Emma Licentious? Would it matter? Addressing Ugo’s DNA Critics

In this episode, we’ll discuss Ugo’s DNA critics. Of course there are critics of Dr. Perego, as well as Joseph Smith.  At Wheat & Tares, commenter Mike posed a question wondering if Emma had sex with one or more of Joseph Smith’s brothers, would that affect Dr. Ugo Perego’s test results?  (Apparently he is parroting questions popping up in ex-mormon rumor mills.) The simple answer is it would have zero impact on Dr. Perego’s results.  Here’s why.

For the record, I don’t like Mike’s assertion, but for a moment let’s assume that Mike is right:  Emma was fooling around with Joseph Smith’s brothers.  Even if this were the case (and there isn’t a hint of historical evidence to think this was remotely true), it simply wouldn’t matter with regards to Dr. Perego’s DNA test results, which state that 0% of Smith DNA has been found in any of the potential children.

Let me repeat, even if Emma had sex with Joseph Sr., Hyrum, Don Carlos, William, Samuel and gave she gave birth to a child of Joseph’s brothers (or even father for that matter), all the while Joseph Smith is completely clueless (or somehow didn’t care) to this improbable scenario, 0% of Smith DNA was found in Josephine Lyon, John Hancock, Oliver Buell, etc.  That rules everyone in the Smith family out.  It simply doesn’t matter if Joseph’s DNA is confused with his brothers because 0% of Smith DNA is in the suspected children.  None.  Not only has the entire Smith family been ruled out as father of the potential children in Dr. Ugo Perego’s test, but the real father has been identified (Parley P. Pratt, Levi Hancock, Windsor Lyon etc.)  It is not simply ruling Joseph or the Smith family out, it is ruling Parley in, Levi in, etc.  It simply doesn’t matter if Emma had sex with anyone outside of Joseph.  Smith DNA is nowhere to be found, and the father of Josephine Lyon has been identified, and it is Windsor Lyon.  The father of John Hancock has been identified as Levi Hancock.  The father of Moroni Pratt has been identified as Parley P. Pratt.  Cases closed.  There is no question about who the fathers are.

So even if this highly unlikely scenario is true, Emma’s sexual habits simply don’t matter at all since the entire Smith family has been ruled out and the real fathers have been ruled in and identified.

What’s bothers me that most in this ridiculous conspiracy theory is that it seems to be an attempt (1) to discredit Dr. Perego’s results by throwing up a diversion while (2) impugning the Smith family as sexually licentious.  I know that several in the ex-Mormon community have no problem throwing Joseph under the bus, but it seems especially insidious to accuse Emma of being licentious as well.  There isn’t even a hint of Emma having sex with any of Joseph’s brothers (or anyone else) in any journals, records, newspapers, etc.  None.  I find such “brainstorming” extremely distasteful and beyond ridiculous.  The science is settled.  If you don’t understand the issues, read them.  They are published and these questions are not only distasteful, but the issues are completely settled.  If you still have questions it is because you are too lazy to read the articles.  (I posted links in my previous show notes.)

Ugo Discusses Smith’s Critics, and his own

This leads into my next episode.  Dr. Perego discusses a particular critic who said several derogatory things about Dr. Perego, as well as the Smith family.

Ugo:  You have to understand that there are people here.  No matter how curious you are about history, and how much of a National Geographic experience it is for you, or a Discovery Channel, whatever it is, there are real people involved.  People that are alive, people that are descendants of these individuals, and they have a relationship with their ancestors that is a lot different than you have with them.  You look at them as historical figures that you can trash, play with, speculate, say whatever you want about them.  But to some people, that’s family.  They feel very tender about their ancestors.  They are here on the earth because these people existed.  You have to have that respect.  You have to build that trust.

Very likely I met individuals who introduced me to other individuals to be able to—and I feel very much part of the family with regards to [be] more than a friend.  They welcomed me with regards to Josephine descendants and the trust that they had bestowed on me, but also with Joseph Smith descendants.

I always try to be very respectful and think about besides the DNA that you see on a computer or the kit, or the history that there are actual real people alive with sentiments, with feelings, with concerns, with worries about privacy, about misuse of data.  All it takes is one bad example or occurrence and then you kind of ruin their trust, and I value that.

So when Scott was working and had this approach, his approach, and this is what the Josephine descendants told me, his approach totally turned them off.  They were absolutely not interested in working with him because of the way he approached the research, the project.

Find out more of who Scott is, and what his issues were with Dr. Perego.  Check out our conversation…..

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Who’s the Daddy of Josephine (Part 2)? Joseph Smith or Windsor Lyon?

We’re continuing our discussion with Dr. Ugo Perego.  Last year at the Mormon History Association meetings he made a lot of news when he announced the official test results of his test on paternity of Josephine Lyon.  Sylvia was married to Windsor Lyon but sealed to Joseph Smith, and there has been some question as to whose daughter she really was.  Was it Windsor or was it Joseph?

Ugo:  It was a difficult test to do.  It was a difficult question to answer.  Josephine is a girl, so you have the strongest historical case because Josephine’s mother made a confession made a confession on her death bed….

[Josephine] does not have the Y-Chromosome with Joseph Smith.  That’s all I had to play with.  I only had a very accurate Y-Chromosome profile and I used it to answer six cases of sons.  Five of them were published.  One of them is not published; actually there are two of them that are not published but one of them is a little bit iffy.  I don’t know if it will get published or not.  Don Bradley was the one that was working with me then.  We kind of dropped the ball on it, and now I’m doing another one, the one I was [talking about] yesterday.  They are all sons, Orson Hyde, you know the one I told you?  They are all sons, Y-Chromosome.

GT:  Can you briefly mention who these sons are?

Then we have Mosiah Hancock; Mosiah, Oliver [Buell], Moroni [Pratt], Orrison [Smith], and the fifth one is?  I can’t remember the fifth one. [It was Zebulon Jacobs. [1]]

GT:  That’s good.

Ugo:  But they’ve both been published.  One was published in the John Whitmer Journal,[2] and the other one was published in the Journal of Mormon History[3]; three cases in one and two cases in the other, single articles, two articles you get five of them.

Problems with the Test

But when it came to testing a possible daughter, Dr. Perego ran into some big problems when testing Josephine.

I had 120 descendants of Josephine that gave a DNA sample and their genealogy.  I knew how they were connected.  Josephine had a lot of children and I had many different lines represented, very beautiful results of family.  It would make a great genetics study, but not technology to do it.  We were stuck at the Y-Chromosome and mitochondrial DNA at that time.

Then when the technology finally started coming around, all the sudden the data was sold to Ancestry.com and I was given word at that time by some individuals that were involved with that process that I could still access that information, that data that was moved.  Because these are samples that were collected and frozen but not the genetic data has been produced so you still need to run the data.  It’s not as if I have the data saved on a hard drive.  We didn’t have the technology to run and process that data yet.  So all at once, I lost all the samples that I had, all of it, 10 years of work of collecting these samples.

GT:  Because the company was sold.

Ugo:  The company was sold.

GT:  Oh that must have been heartbreaking.

Ugo:  It was.  So at that time, two things happened.  I lost control of the data.  It was given to Ancestry.  Very soon I understood that it was going to be very difficult.  I tried a lot of different approaches to get the data back.  In the meantime, I’m no longer working with Sorenson.  Sorenson Company doesn’t exist anymore.  I do not have access to a lab through them anymore, and I’m relocating to Italy, so I had a start anew everything with my family in a different country.  It’s been probably 2, 3, or 4 years that I absolutely did not even touch this case study anymore.  I mean I had no data, right?  What do I do with it?

At that time, Josephine’s family approached me, and I have a letter from one of the daughters because she was writing me.  I feel bad because she was writing me emails at that time and I wasn’t very quick in answering them because I didn’t know what to tell her.

There’s not much I really can do, so finally she actually wrote me a letter to Italy, and I got this letter, and she’s like, “we really want to know, what is it going to take?  Can we talk about it?  What is it going to take about money, samples?  Who’s going to run them if we get the samples?  Can you be our researcher for this?”  So at that time I became their personal researcher.  I gave my free time, my expertise and they paid for the testing.  I told them we’re going to build it, what we didn’t have.

GT:  You had to rebuild what you didn’t have.

Ugo:  Exactly.  Who’s still alive?  Who of the oldest descendants are still alive?  Can we get the DNA from them?  I pulled out my old genealogy, my old chart and asked, who do you have from this line?  3 guys from there, 3 guys from there.

(Don’t forget to listen to our previous paternity test!)  Check out our conversation…..

[1] Digital version can be found at http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1078&context=mormonhistory Retrieved Sept 3, 2017

[2] A summary can be found here:  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/695226318/DNA-tests-rule-out-2-as-Smith-descendants.html

[3] Digital version can be found at http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1078&context=mormonhistory Retrieved Sept 3, 2017


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How Do You Figure Out 150 Year Old Paternity?

We’re continuing our discussion with Dr. Ugo Perego.  Before we look into the question of figuring out a 150 year old paternity test, what are his thoughts on Joseph Smith?

Ugo:  So there are still, even in the 21st century many individuals that do not fully embrace the image of Joseph Smith associated with polygamy.  They are totally fine with Brigham Young evidence [having as] many kids and as many wives as he wanted, but when it comes to Joseph Smith I guess unfortunately this idea that he was involved in a lot of things.

They have Joseph Smith on this pedestal which has kind of hurt individuals because he was a great man.  I believe he did extraordinary things.  The Book of Mormon is definitely one of the biggest miracles that has to do with the restoration, but at the end, the Lord purposely chose an imperfect, limited resources and capabilities individual.  Otherwise the greatness of the restoration has to be measured against Joseph Smith’s humble origins.  That discrepancy in my mind, you have to really think about this.  It doesn’t matter if you accept Joseph Smith or not, you have to do a lot of explanation to justify how somebody like him did what he did.  Then you have to faithfully accept that.

But then sometimes you bring Joseph Smith into the grayness.  You think that he had, as a human, he was immune to certain things which is not [true.]  He was not the Savior.  It was like Elder Bednar once said, referring to him and the Quorum of Twelve.  We are ordinary people with extraordinary responsibilities.  That’s how I view Joseph Smith.

Ugo also asks some interesting questions, and explains why Joseph may not have had children with these other women.

How many wives did he really have?  What type of relationship did he have with each one of them?  Because you have to take every single case individually.  There is too much evidence that shows that not all the unions he had were lived in the same way.  Was he having sexual relations with all of them?  Would he have had them if he could?  Maybe he didn’t have a chance because of other surrounding events at that time.  Was he sealed for eternity or for time only or for both?  Were there any children?  That’s the big question, borne from any of these relationships.  We know that one of the reasons to justify the practice of polygamy was to raise a righteous generation.  Definitely Brigham Young worked at that.  He had 50 more children.

Joseph Smith was fertile.  He had nine biological children from Emma plus two that he adopted, so he was definitely interested in posterity.  To some degree like Nephi, was very concerned about his posterity, what they would do and what they would not do.  But no one has ever been able to fully, up to the DNA era, to fully to come forth, we know that these other children was born of him through a polygamous relationship.

There has always been circumstantial evidence that would bring historians to make such claims.  So-and-so is probably Joseph Smith’s son or daughter because of a, b, and c.  Before Josephine, which is the last case that I presented, there are other cases that I am working on, but that’s the last one that we reached a conclusion, an answer.

How do you figure out 150 year old DNA test?

Modern paternity tests are quite different than ones where the potential father is long since dead.  How does that work?

I believe it was 2002-2003 when I started working on some of those cases.  Those cases only involved sons.  Josephine is a daughter.  There is a different approach that you must take genetically to answer the paternity of a son versus the paternity of a daughter when it is something that happened 150 years ago.  Nowadays if you suspect your child is not your child, regardless of whether it is a girl or a boy, you do a paternity test.  You test the mother, the father, and the child.  There are certain markers, there are autosomal markers they are called, that are very unique, the combination of such can only be reproduced within a family.  So either somebody is 100% not your child, or it is 99.99999% your child, which is just another way to say 100%.  DNA is one notch stronger in excluding relationships than it is to include.  There is always a little chance that DNA matches because of chance.  But the markers that you test are so many that the reality that there is really a chance is [close to zero.]

Check out our conversation…..