And the DNA survey says…wait, what?

Weeks ago, I attended the UGA Conference in Salt Lake, and while there, purchased a Y-DNA test for my dad from the Genetree booth. I had him dutifully swish the mouthwash around, spit it in that cup and tighten the lid and we sent it off. I’d never done DNA testing for genealogy before, but there’s a certain amount of brickwalls in his paternal line that I was hoping it might help me narrow down a bit. I am well aware that DNA testing in genealogy doesn’t solve brick walls, but if I could make a connection, any connection, that would help me get a bit closer, maybe find a new cousin to collaborate with some generations back to try to nudge that hurdle…well, it was worth a try, right? No harm, no foul.

Oh, geez, let’s be honest; I’ve been excited as heck to get those results back.

Today they came. Yes, they came! I got an email from Genetree – results ready! I got it in the middle of my work day and I could hardly wait to get a quiet moment to go check out what it said. The whole time, my brain was whirring with excitement: would there be a connection? Was there someone else in the world even now getting an e-mail saying they had a new match, and both of us, potential unknown cousins – would soon log into our profiles to find those Y-DNAs had a significant number of matches?

Apparently not.

I’ve spent a couple hours today figuring out what the results mean, and I know I have more to learn. I know it isn’t a fix-all, or even always an instant connection. But I admit, I had been hoping for one, and I didn’t get it. In the Genetree database so far, my father’s Y-DNA results have turned up a couple of matches, some up to 95%, which I thought would be good enough! But the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) was estimated at 11-13 generations back.


I really was hoping for something more in the 5-6 range. So, I thought, I will try another database. So I took those results and entered them at FamilyTreeDNA and AncestryDNA to see what comes of it. I’m still waiting on verification from FTD, but Ancestry came back relatively quickly with some results that seemed much more promising – 6 generations back! That was more like it! But, wait…what?

The surname was different. And not just a little different. This is no spelling variation. This is a WAY different surname. So…does that mean there was an adoption? An illegitimate child? And in which family? What does this mean?

I really thought I had the basics down on DNA testing in researching genealogy after the webinars I’ve watched and the articles I’ve read, but this has left me in a real tailspin. I knew finding matches could take time, especially close matches, but I figured those would at least have a variation of the surname I’m looking at, being it’s a Y-DNA test. I’m not really sure where to go from here, or if I should bother contacting that possible connection.

© 2011, copyright Genealady & JustFolks


And the DNA survey says…wait, what? — 2 Comments

  1. I would be interested in knowing if you hear back from I really like this venue. My husband is the most tested Martin out there in his group. He is an R1a1 and has been tested for 67 markers. I am hoping to get my mother’s test upgraded at XMAS for a full test. She is “H” which is the most common.

    • I’m planning another post to cover what’s transpired since then, Juvanne, in point of fact. There’ve been some interesting developments. Thanks for stopping by and reading!

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