Happiness Genes Discovered

According to a publication in the Journal Nature Genetics, for the first time in history, researchers have isolated the parts of the human genome that could explain the differences in how humans experience happiness.

Now, before we all run out to get our genes changed via CRISPR, realize these genes do not make you happy. And in fact, epigenetics can influence how genes are expressed. The researchers found three genetic variants for happiness, two variants that can account for differences in symptoms of depression, and eleven locations on the human genome that could account for varying degrees of neuroticism. The genetic variants for happiness are mainly expressed in the central nervous system and the adrenal glands and pancreatic system.

I have not seen the full article yet, it is behind a pay firewall. So be leery of what I say next. A previous study using data from the World Values Survey in 2014 found a correlation between the allele value “A” in the “FAAH” gene rs324420. Nations with the highest prevalence of the “A” allele were also those who perceived themselves happiest.

So just for fun, I decided to look up values for this allele in 23andme data for some of my family members. Here are the results:

  • AA – Sandra
  • AC – Courtney, Debra, Jamie
  • CC – Jim, Rachel

What fun!  I better watch what I eat!   I’m looking forward to finding a copy of the full study to see what the 16 real alleles are.   Meanwhile, Rachel and I had better practice smiling! 🙂  BTW, this is a real tongue in cheek posting.  Nothing said herein should be taken seriously.  My biorhythms are just running high today.



The following is from the book “Surnames, DNA, & Family History”; by George Redmonds, Turi King and David Hey.

Son of Robert

 Another difficult task for non-specialists is to discover what type of origin a name has and how it relates to similar names with much the same meaning.  Some of the issues emerge in a study of three surnames that all mean ‘son of Robert’.

Robinson, with a total of 95,495, is an excellent example of a multi-origin name, but it is characteristic only of the northern counties of England and is not generally popular.   In 1881, even after centuries of internal migration, Robinson was still very uncommon in all the counties in south-west England and was rare in both Wales and Scotland, whereas in Yorkshire over 20,000 people bore this name.  Of course, the totals for the biggest or most populous counties can be misleading, and this is where the relative concentration of the name comes into question.  These statistics, which are also provided on the Archer CD, show how significant a name Robinson was in the smaller or largely rural counties, notably in Westmorland, Cumberland, and the North Riding of Yorkshire, and in Lincolnshire, which was virtually the southern limit of the surname. Continue reading


A generation is defined as the average time between a mother’s first offspring and her daughter’s first offspring. The generation length is 25.2 years in the United States as of 2007 and 27.4 years in the United Kingdom as of 2004.

“Imagine a dinner table set for a thousand guests, in which each man is sitting between his own father and his own son.  At one end of the table might be a French Nobel laureate in a white tie and tails, and with the Legion of Honor on his breast, and at the other end a Cro-Magnon man dressed in animal skins and with a necklace of cave-bear teeth. Yet each one would be able to converse with his neighbors on his left and right, who would either be his father or his son.  So the distance from then to now is not really great.”  (From Bjorn Kurten, Singletusk: A Story of the Ice Age, 1986) Continue reading


The following is from a newspaper article found in the Iowa State Reporter: Waterloo, May 26, 1875.

Township Histories

Poyner Township

The first settlement in Poyner Township was made by Amasa Nims on section 26 in 1850. In 1852 he sold his claim to Benjamin Winsett and moved out of the Township.  John and Joseph Perry and George Arthur came soon after, the same year.  Edmund Sawyer, Nathan and Tomas Poyner and John Van Etton came in 1853. When the Poyners  came there were seven families in the Township. Continue reading


Black Hawk County (BHC) was created in 1843 by the Territorial Legislature of Iowa and attached to Delaware County for judicial, election and revenue proposes, because there were few, if any, white settlers at the time.

The Saux and Fox (Meskwaki) Indians had lived here for many years, owning the area until 1837. The county was named after the renowned Sauk Chief Black Hawk, although he never lived here.

In 1845, BHC was attached to Benton County, and in 1851 to Bushman County again for judicial, election and revenue purposes. Not until Aug. 17, 1853 did BHC have its own government.

The first permanent white settlement in Black Hawk County was started in March 1845 by William Sturgis and his brother-in-law, Erasmus D. Adams. They named their settlement Sturgis Falls. The two came to the area in search of homes and desirable waterpower. Upon arriving in the area, Sturgis and Adams were charmed by both the beauty of the area, and also by the possibility of a town site in the area. Continue reading


Between 1845 and 1850, more than a million Irish people starved to death while massive quantities of food were being exported from their country. The agricultural system just before the outbreak of the Famine  had a major impact in what would happen. The land was then owned by British landlords (many absentee) who rented out plots to the native farmers. Most of the land was employed to produce crops for export, while the farmers, in order to provide food for their families, used tiny plots. The potato was the crop of choice because it could be grown in poor soil and because it produced a large yield even in a small area. The result was such that the native people of Ireland were, by 1845, dependent – for their food and to enable them to pay the rent for their living quarters – on the reliability of the potato crop.

There were, however, problems brewing on the horizon – a disease called ‘blight’ (caused by the fungus ‘Phytophthora infestans’) had already wiped out the potato crops in America (1843) and all across continental Europe (1845). It was only a matter of time before it reached Ireland, the spores of the fungus carried by the wind, rain and insects from England and mainland Europe. While the US and Europe had other foods on which to rely, the native population of Ireland was not so lucky. Continue reading