Saturday, June 25, 2016

DNA - Just what does that mean?

DNA, just what does that mean to you and how will it help you in understanding your family tree?
To me it is diagnosing possible family connections, negotiating the information provided, and applying that information to your compiled family tree.

Since the first of the year our family has participated in two autosomal tests through and then transferred the results to FTDNA to attain more possible matches. It has been exciting to find people we match to in our family connections, comparing the information provided and then applying the information to our compiled family tree. The tests are for my husband and myself and we hope to soon have the results for a third test. These tests provide ethnicity estimates and matches from all lines of our family tree. While we have no compiled family tree at or FTDNA, our family tree for those who are deceased is available at

We have also participated in three YDNA tests and one mtDNA test at Family Tree DNA. These test results are more limited and will require more work to more fully utilize them.

For now the test results are in notebooks, with pedigree charts and lists of those matches that can be compared through online family trees.

On Thursday my uncle came to visit and we discussed the tests results for him and other family members. He only has eight matches in his results, one being from Portland, Oregon, near where we were meeting. We decided to go out to lunch and on the way we stopped for the mail. It was a wonderful surprise to find the test ordered for his autosomal test was there. At the restaurant, while still in the car, he did the spit collection and we sealed his test to put in the mail.

My uncle's  YDNA test provides the male line for my mother's father on back. There is only one other uncle and four male cousins who could do this test for our family. He has eight matches.
My brother's YDNA test provides the male line for our father's father on back. There is only my other brother and three male cousins who could do this test for our family. He has thirteen matches.
My mtDNA  test provides the female line for our mother on back. My sister is the only other person who could do this test for our family.
For our father's mother there are no direct females who can do this test for our family. There may be some distant cousins who can do the test.

My husband's YDNA test provides the male line for his father's line on back.
In transferring his test to FTDNA we discovered that his mother is a perfect match. We had no idea she had even tested prior to her death.

So just what does all this mean? It means that we need to spend considerable time to understand the results and organize them into useful information. The YDNA and mtDNA tests will require education and skill to utilize the information. The key is that the tests have been done while there are still people who can provide us with the connections that we need.

Serendipity continues to happen as we explore these new avenues of researching our family connections. Some of what we do is for pure entertainment, but most of it provides still unforeseen answers to knowing who we really are. Occasionally there are surprises and those can surely cause one to pause and ponder the history of our families. They can also provide answers to long sought after questions. What are you doing to seize the opportunity to know more about your family history?

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