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A couple weeks ago, when I was writing about lineage societies for the open thread, I cut a paragraph about how lineage societies don't accept DNA evidence for membership. The diary was getting too long, but it's a good thing I deleted that statement, as it is no longer completely true.

Follow me over the the Great Orange Doodle for more about how DNA research is being used to enhance traditional genealogical research.

As I've written here before, I've had DNA analysis done, and it hasn't led me to any new discoveries. I'm the sole McGee family in Group 2 of the McGee project, for example.

Ancestry has very recently changed how it reports autosomal DNA results. This change didn't change the matches ~ just the ethnicity results. Anoither explanation/analysis of the changes is ate the blog The Genetic Genealogist (that blog is very much a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the topic).

Under the previous way of reporting results, I'd been about evenly split between Scandinavian and British Isles ancestry, with a bit of unassigned. Under the new version, it's 43% western Europe, 30% Ireland, 11% Iberian Peninsula, 4% Great Britain, and smaller miscellaneous others. It also now reports a range for each ethnicity (the above percentages fall about in the middle of the ranges), so I'm guessing my western Europe is closer to the 22% that is the bottom of the range, as I only have two lines that I've found that don't go back to Britain/Ireland in the 1600 to 1700 range, so even allowing for earlier/prehistoric migrations, 43% seems high....but we'll see ~ I'm sure testing will get much more detailed in my lifetime.

But no actual matches for me closer than about 10th cousins (and only a couple of those, with a common ancestor from about 1650) so far :-(

Despite the lack of success personally, there is a lot of interesting work being done with genealogical DNA testing.

So, on the DAR ~ it won't be accepting lines based only on DNA, but it will (as of January) allow Y-DNA evidence to be used with other, more traditional proof of descent for new memberships.

Thoughts on this: guessing it won't really change much in how lineage societies do their memberships, at least as the technology is now. Likely most useful for cases where two unrelated men with the same name settled in the Midwest (or other places, like northeastern PA and northwestern Maine, where land was given in place of cash pensions) after the Revolution, and DNA can sort out which family in older settlements each man belongs to ~ but the research/paperwork to show the DNA connections may be more than the traditional requirements by a fair bit, as proving multiple lines will likely be necessary.

Some of what is being done is just plain fun ;-) It's a few years old, but this study of Genghis Khan's DNA is a good example of how one powerful man's DNA can survive.

Another interesting finding was that Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (despite having the same family name as her husband, with both lines originating in the same small village in Slovakia) didn't share a Y-DNA line (her father was tested) with her husband. Note: video is 17 minutes long ~ we'll wait if you get distracted ;-)

Scientists of identified relatives of Otzi the Iceman, a 5000 year old body found in the Alps in 1991. Similarly, scientists found relatives of 'Cheddar Man' in the same area of England, 9000 or so years later. Another round-up of ancient DNA results ~ only short bits about each finding, but with links to more details. Ditto for this summary of 'famous' DNA.

The International Society of Genetic Genealogy has links to many geographical DNA projects.

An 80 year old man, raised in an orphanage, found his birth family.


Have you have a DNA test done? If so, which kind (Y-DNA {straight paternal line), mitochondrial {straight maternal line}, or autosomal)? Have the results led to any new discoveries?

Have you seen other fun stories about DNA-related genealogical findings?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (22+ / 0-)

    Link heavy diary ~ but hope you find something that fascinates you....I kept getting distracted as I looked for ideas of what to link to ;-)

    The worst sin - perhaps the only sin - passion can commit, is to be joyless. (Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers)

    by mayim on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 08:55:18 AM PDT

  •  Interesting diary (11+ / 0-)

    I haven't had DNA testing done but have been thinking about it. I'm afraid I wouldn't get much info for the money they charge.

    As a female, is my only option to do mitochondrial DNA?

    Pah. Deaf with a capital D.

    by raina on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 09:06:00 AM PDT

    •  Autosomal works for women, as well... (10+ / 0-)

      that's the one that does the more general ethnic ancestry as well as possibly identifying relatives ~ the general test at Ancestry, FTDNA, and the other companies doing the tests at the moment.

      It was $100 to get the autosomal test done ~ figured if it showed anything, that it would be worth it. And it may still show something.... the accuracy and usefulness increases as more people get the testing done, as it's comparisons, and the databases are still being built.

      The worst sin - perhaps the only sin - passion can commit, is to be joyless. (Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers)

      by mayim on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 09:11:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, mayim. (11+ / 0-)

    I haven't had any DNA work done. Need to get my Y-DNA to help sort out some issues in the male line. I'd also like to get the autosomal done.

    Just read about the Otzi relatives story a couple of days ago. Fascinating!

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 09:07:09 AM PDT

  •  where did my comment go? (8+ / 0-)

    my comments section shows I did post it.

    Pah. Deaf with a capital D.

    by raina on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 09:07:34 AM PDT

  •  Question... (9+ / 0-)

    ...for those who have had DNA work done: is 23andme the go-to outfit, or are there other recommendations? I can't spend a lot of money....

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 09:10:53 AM PDT

  •  Excellent & interesting diary (11+ / 0-)

    Had no idea about the testing - learning more and more every day - thanks mayim!

  •  We love links!!! (10+ / 0-)

    I've been following many of them this past week as I distracted myself from the insanity of the Tea People and their "plans" to take back America by reveling in my Swedish and Dutch ancestry.

    These were lines I hadn't paid a whole lot of attention to lately and so it was like candy.  Sweet!  My maternal ties to the Enoch (Enochs), Teagarden and Vandever (originally Van Der Veer) families who first settled in New Sweden and then in Hampshire County VA (now WV) in the mid-1700s has been a source of great pleasure.  It's also been good to get out of my father's tree - all English, Irish and Scots.

    I had my mitrochondrial DNA tested thru the National Geographic's Genealogic project some 10 or 15 years ago. All that was was "deep" DNA going back 10,000 years and more. I'm just waiting for the right moment to order up a 23andme test unless someone has a better suggestion for me.

    Came across this in my travels down the superhighway this week and it suited me perfectly. Maybe it will you, too:

    “I have an attack of genealogical mania. It came on about ten days ago, superinduced by reading a family tree which a friend sent me. It is in a violent form but I trust it will soon abate. I have got up into the Cooke tree and am lost. Can you help me out?" Rutherford B. Hayes to “Uncle Scott,” Cooke, March 4, 1870"
    Thanks for the diary, mayim, and all the lovely links!

    Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

    by figbash on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 09:22:36 AM PDT

  •  I had mitochondrial done (11+ / 0-)

    for the National Geographic Genographic Project.  It didn't lead to any discovery (it wasn't a very exact test), but it did provide confirmation for what I had already researched.  I very much want to get my brother's Y tested, though.

    My husband's had both his Y and mitochondrial done, with very interesting results.  As the descendant of slaves and the resulting difficulty of locating documentation of their initial origins, he was very happy that he was able to find out that his Y traced back to the Tsonga tribe of Mozambique.  

    Regular slave trade didn't flourish out of Mozambique until the mid-1700s.  My husband's g-g-grandfather was a slave named York.  York was probably born between 1775 -1795.  This means it was likely that York's father or grandfather was the original captive.

    So I may not know the name of the person who was brought out of Mozambique in involuntary servitude, but I know a lot more now than I would have if it had not been for the dna evidence.

    DNA testing can be very useful.

  •  AIUI (10+ / 0-)

    DNA testing is most useful for recent generations - the 'deeper' you go in time, the less accurate it is. If they're telling you anything more than a thousand years back, it's like a horoscope: it's so general that it isn't useful.

    A few more-distant relatives have had DNA testing done: my Knapp line, for example, has been shown to match Nicholas Knapp of Watertown, but we're missing the generation or two that would link up. My Pickering line, from Samuel of Pennsylvania, is generic English Pickering, and the Salem Pickerings are a completely different family.

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 09:27:08 AM PDT

  •  Time for the Volunteer Call! (8+ / 0-)

    Would anyone care to volunteer for an upcoming Friday GFHC Open Thread?

    Current Schedule

    Oct 25    Desert Rose
    Nov 1     mayim
    Nov 8     Land of Enchantment
    Nov 15   fenway49
    Nov 22   open for adoption
    Nov 29   klompendanser
    Dec 6     open for adoption


  •  My brother agreed to do DNA testing (10+ / 0-)

    before he passed away this summer, and I will always appreciate his gift.

    It validated all the reserch we've done on that side of the family.  It was interesting that there are two branches of folks with our last name, in two different parts of the country, that appeared in America around the same time.  

    Genealogists on both sides had always discounted a relationship on the basis that the old chestnut "three brothers came over from Europe", was just too stereotypical.  However, the DNA testing done on males in both states has proven both sides are directly related, so to this extent it has been a surprising result.

    One thing my husband cautioned: if you do DNA research, be prepared for at least the possibility that one of your well-researched and verifiable ancestors may actually have fooled around, and your ancestors may not be your ancestors after all !

  •  will return for full read. in the meantime, (6+ / 0-)

    have i missed any diaries on genealogy protocols which take into account new marriage laws ?

    i'm planning to test my software's behavior when i establish a mother/wife as 'male,' and a 'father/husband' as female, which will be SO EXCITING the first time i get to really find such a case in my tree !!! ♥

    Addington's perpwalk? TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes. @Hugh: There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution.

    by greenbird on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 10:00:20 AM PDT

  •  Still waiting (8+ / 0-)

    Hobbs got a NatGeo DNA kit as a gift, daughter wanted to know. It's been quite some time since it was sent in - months now - and it's still "being processed." They're definitely not hurrying.

    I've never done one. I have so much information from records, it keeps me busy. No time to get curious about DNA. Though it might be interesting, I suppose. What I can identify is English, Scottish, German and French; from the historical perspective, I'd be curious how much of THAT is of Scandinavian (Viking) origin. I'm guessing it'd be a fair bit, as Vikings contributed to the gene pools of France, England and Scotland especially. (And, of course, France contributed to the English gene pool, too.) And there's probably various Eastern European in the German, since "Germany" hasn't exactly existed very long as Germany.

    Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

    by Land of Enchantment on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 11:12:19 AM PDT

  •  FTDNA results for me... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edwardssl, mayim, Jim H, klompendanser

    are in two tests, the Y-DNA and the Autosomal.  I've not matched with anyone closely, but at least I know why (in part).  Marker 464 can have as many as seven repeats, but going beyond four of them is fairly non-standard.  "DYS 464 is replicated 4 times in 98.5% of people from Europe and the Middle East...."  I have six!  Then, on my mother's side, I had a male second cousin tested at my expense.  He also is a bit unusual, as far as I can see.
       So when I opted for the Autosomal test, also through FTDNA, I received a lot of "hints" of possible relationships, but there was nothing in a comparison of surnames & geographic locales for my ancestry with that of my supposed matches that suggested how there might be a relationship.  When I got the opportunity to speak with Bennett Greenspan in person, he had the answer.  At least for now, when two people submit their pedigree charts with their cheek swabs, the names on the charts are reduced to Soundex codes.  Thus, a "match" is not really of names, but rather of Soundex codes.  So with my German (only) WAGNER line, I was getting matched with folks who had a Penna. Dutch WAGGONER line.  Sure, we could be related, but without a geographic "match" of the lines back in Germany, how would we ever know?
       But I'm optimistic that, as more are tested and more work is done in the analysis of result patterns, we'll move closer to better matches.  Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to FTDNA tightening the ethnicity estimates as Ancestry has done.  I'm currently shown as 100% European, but my approaching-50% German ancestry as shown by the records isn't yet acknowledged by guesstimates that would have me as being heavily British Isles with some Slavic origin.  I do have both -- I'm 3% Polish by my matrilineal line (only) and one-quarter Virginia Colonial through my maternal grandfather -- but because of my haplogroup at least a part of my Germanic heritage is getting pegged to Britain.

    "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

    by Zwenkau on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 01:29:42 PM PDT

  •  No DNA tests for me - it's the sequester/shutdown (5+ / 0-)

    I'm not kidding. I planned to finally get a DNA analysis done when I got my small annual stipend for some contract work for a contractor of a contractor.... Bottom line is that the check will be delayed probably for six months. When you've had no income for several years, this hurts much more than I ever imagined. Spending $99 for DNA analysis is not at the top of the list.

    But I'm going to treat myself to this luxury anyway.

    One might say that I'm an ideal candidate for breaking through my paternal surname brick wall using DNA analysis.

    The wall is at my 3rd ggrandfather who was born in 1788 in the Independent Republic of Vermont. There has been only one male descendent in each of 6 generations since then. I broke the trend. My two sons and two grandsons provide a total of five paternal DNA sources. This also means that I don't have any paternal cousins closer than a 5th cousin.

    I've been avoiding taking the DNA leap for years. I've been stubborn. I really want to solve the entire puzzle myself. I have done a lot of painstaking and creative research over the years and I am so close to a breakthrough that I can smell it. I know that I only need to identify one brick in the wall, my 4th ggrandfather, and the next 5 or 6 generations are immediately identified.

    I understand the dilemma that confronts lineage societies. They have always demanded evidence of an unbroken family ancestry. DNA analysis isn't that specific. There's no way to know for certain that your neighbor, Bill Ward, is a direct descendent of General Artemas Ward even if DNA analysis confirms a paternal DNA match. DNA evidence only validates other evidence.

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 02:26:20 PM PDT

  •  This week (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    klompendanser, edwardssl, Jim H, mayim

    ... I started reading, finally, Albion's Seed. I'm really liking it. It's not just a general story for me, as many of the people named in the Puritan story (the first one covered) are in my tree.

    I got it awhile ago, but thanks to the shoulder work, didn't start reading it right away. Too heavy! I weighed it, a used hard copy - it weighs 3.2 pounds! Anyhow, I'm nearly 100 pages in, so there's still along ways to go.

    I have a small connection to Quakers, and some of the Scots Irish, but little or none of the Virginia lowland aristocrats. So the most interesting part will probably be the first chapter on the Puritans.

    I am glad, finally, to be reading it.

    Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

    by Land of Enchantment on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 06:28:54 PM PDT

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