Let’s say that, you are a Graham and you know that there are other Grahams out there. You wonder if you are related or not. You are not from the same city or state. You have no known, common grandparents. If a male Graham from one family takes a Y-DNA test from FamilytreeDNA, and a male Graham from the other family does the same, and if the results of those tests show the same markers (numbers) sequenced in a row, THEN you’re related! You have a common ancestor.
Let’s say your name is Norton and you have traced your family to Grant County, Kentucky where there just happens to be TWO unrelated Norton families who lived there in the early 19th century. You would like to know which family you belong to. Y-DNA testing and joining the Norton DNA group will help to answer if you belong to one, the other, or…neither!
OK, let’s say that maybe your mother was…well…She had a lot of kids but was never married. And you have heard rumors suggesting who your real dad might be, but no proof! Y-DNA testing will link you to a family name—maybe Smith, or Norton, or Hollopeter! Anyway, it will show you the other males that you are genetically related to through a common male ancestor. (Y-DNA testing starts at $129 only at FamilytreeDNA.com.)
But Y-DNA testing is just for men. Sorry ladies, you don’t have the Y-gene, but you can do the next two tests.
Mitochondrial DNA is a little trickier. It’s going to trace your mother’s mother’s mother’s…and so on, X DNA. For me, that would be Billingsley to Beghtol to Phillips to Montooth to Sloan to Humphreys to Woods to Dickson…then screeching halt! This is a dead end for me, but….Let’s say I test my Mitochondrial DNA (men and women can do this test) and I match someone who can take their family tree to a Dickson and then to Martin. This will be a very strong clue that my next generation grandmother would also be a Martin. (And before my cousin-researchers get excited, “NO! I have not discovered Nancy and Polly Dickson’s mother.”—this was just hypothetical!)
I have not had the funds to experiment with Mitochondrial DNA, but it would be fun. My father’s X-DNA is not the same as mine—it can’t be because it comes from the mother. His line would go Gott to McAtee to Harper to Ratliff to White to Blackburn…then brick wall! One of my grandmother’s way back is Penelope Stout of New Jersey. She was possibly a Kent or a Lent, or married a Kent or a Lent, or she was a Van Princis or married a Van Princis, or maybe he or she was just a Prince. If we could find a descendant who had a direct female lineage from Penelope, we could test her mitochondrial DNA and then see if she matches anyone who might give us a clue as to her true last name. What a discovery that would be. (Mitochondrial DNA testing starts at $69 only at FamilytreeDNA.com)
But let’s say that what you really want to know is how much White, Black, Native American, Jewish, German, Middle Eastern, African, Asian, etc. etc. etc. you are. Autosomal DNA kits such as the kit offered by Ancestry.com and the Family Finder at FamilytreeDNA will tell you this. It will give you a breakdown of your ethnic makeup. It will also match you with cousins on all branches of your family tree. I thought I knew all my first through sixth cousins, but I was wrong. Being able to match with cousins helps to unlock the mystery of a missing maiden name for an ancestor. It might crack that brick wall in your research. Right now, I am working on a family where a mysterious neighbor might be a sister to my ancestor. My dad did not have any matches with descendants of the mysterious neighbor, but his near-cousin did…and it’s at the right range to make my theory possible. I have a pending kit processing that will hopefully show additional matches to this mysterious neighbor. (Autosomal DNA kits are $79.00 at FamilytreeDNA.com and Ancestry.com during the DNA Day sale, good until Tuesday, April 26.)
But, Dann, I’m not a genealogist. I don’t see the point of testing. I say, “That’s OK! But order a DNA test kit and share your results with your family genealogist. Most of us cannot afford to buy random cousins test kits. When I was single I purchased a few for my oldest family members. They have passed on now, but their DNA still helps me with my research. So, perhaps the best way to help out your family genealogist is to offer to pay for your older relatives to test. That DNA information is precious to the family historian.
So, if you are reading this, and you consider me your family historian, here is my wish list:
Find a male McATEE from Trenton, MO area who will take the Y-DNA test and join the McAtee DNA group. Also, add the autosomal testing to match with cousins.
A male GOTT to take the Y-DNA test. Autosomal matching would help out a lot too.
A male BILLINGSLEY to take the Y-DNA test just so that we can prove that all Billingsleys really do come from a common ancestor.
A MORRIS cousin to do autosomal testing. If there was a male Morris who could Y-test, that would be great, I just don’t know of any.
Any GH-spelling of BEGHTOL male to do Y-DNA testing.
Find a MEWSHAW male to do Y-DNA testing—we don’t know what the origin of that name is.
A SHAVER male to do Y-DNA testing to see if he matches any other Shaver family.
Mitochondrial DNA for my mother or her siblings, my dad or his siblings, any of my mom’s aunts or uncles, … actually any cousin’s mitochondrial DNA would be a new avenue of research for me.
Tests are not cheap, but they are on sale right now at FamilytreeDNA.com and Ancestry.com. FamilytreeDNA also bundles some tests to give you more research power from your sample.
Message me if you need help deciding what kind of test you should do.