Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Trip through Genetealogy...

In 2011 I asked my husband and children for DNA tests for Christmas. Sound strange? Not if you know me and my genealogy obsession. I received three DNA tests and excitedly order the first test and waited for it to arrive. Genetic Genealogy or Genetealogy as it is being called is a great tool when you are trying to crack a brickwalls or to find if your research is correct.

I started to read everything I could get my hands on to educated myself. What I would tell you is education first then order a test. I am not going to go into a long explanation about the companies available and which one is best. I choose Family Tree DNA for two of the test and 23 and Me for one. I will explain why later.

If you have already done the testing you will probably not learn anything new here but if you are just starting or even thinking about testing there are a few things you must know first.

Find a good book, there are many that are recommended but if you have just started, I recommend, "DNA & Genealogy" by Colleen Fitzpatrick and Andrew Yeiser, It is basic and easy to understand. I have also heard good things about "Trace Your Roots with DNA: Use Your DNA to Complete Your Family Tree" by Megan Smolenya and Ann Turner. However good these books are they were published over 5 years ago and in Genealogy things can change daily.

I just started reading, "DNA and Social Networking: A Guide to Genealogy in the Twenty-first Century" by Debbie Kennett's, it gives more information about autosomal DNA and using online sources in your research.

Another recommendation is The International Society of Genetic Genealogy found at . Their Newbies section will give you everything you need to know to find the right test and even after to help with your results. There is also a Newbies DNA group on Yahoo . You can join both webpages.

Understanding that learning about DNA is just like learning a new language will help you in your journey. At some points I was pretty sure my head would explode with all the new terms and information. I took Biology 1,2 & 3 in High School and even Bio classes in College, although I was a History Major, I understand how it works, that was not the problem. The issue is trying to understanding what your results mean and when you ask for help the answers that you receive will just lead to more question. I found that anyone who has been doing this for a while cant or wont explain things simply. They expect you to already know what they know. If you take this into account and keep asking and searching you will find the answers.

So now you have read and re-read everything and you now have to test someone, it might be easy, like my first test I chose my husband. His Daniels ancestry was one of my brickwalls. Males carry the Y-DNA from their fathers and the MtDNA which is from the mother. Females only carry the MtDNA from their maternal ancestors. Then there is Autosomal DNA which basically allows you to find relatives but no proof of your common ancestor. A good explaination can be found here.

Remember to keep and open mind and make sure your research will stand up to review. You may find out things you had no idea existed or disprove thing you thought you knew.

Testing will depend on what you are looking for. I was stuck on his ancestor Christopher Columbus Daniels b 1832 Virginia and lived in Ohio. He fought in the Civil War but all but a few pension records are missing. He is found in 1850 Ohio census with his mother and stepfather.

Once you chose your "subject" and the company you want to use, check the surname to see if there is a DNA project for that name. Some offer free or discounted testing.

I also contacted several Daniel, Daniels and even Danielson DNA groups online. The one that had the best information was the Daniel Family of Middlesex County, Virginia


My first try at DNA testing would be a textbook case of what you want to have happen.

I had a 37 marker test done with Family Tree DNA and the results come back in sections. When the first 12 markers came back much to my luck it was a 12 for 12 match to over 150 people that were tested. The good thing 15 of those were to the Daniel's of Middlesex group. The admin of the group was a wonderful woman named Joyce and I credit her with how easy my first experience with DNA research was. Then the next section came in and the next. My husband and another man in Texas were a full match. It helped prove that a mutation that man carried was specific to one ancestor and we could then track from the original William Daniel b abt 1638 through his son William Jr and to William Jr's son Obadiah. Following each know person down the trail until we found the only person left that could be my husbands ancestor.
After years of searching in only 7 weeks the misery was solved and over 200 years of missing genealogy was discovered.
For those who understand the breakdown, my husband is an I1 which is of Scandinavia ancestry. 

This Daniel's family is a good example of how DNA can change everything you know about your ancestor. William Daniel b 1638 had 4 known sons who lived to adulthood. The oldest two William Jr and Robert are from a unknown 1st wife and James and Richard were thought to be from his 2nd marriage to a Jachebed. What DNA proved is that the 3rd son James was in no way related to William Daniel Sr. His DNA is matched to a Davis family. We will probably never know if William knew that James was not his biological son.

My next test was for me through 23 and Me, although they offer autosomal Testing, I was more interested in their health testing. I could have tested my MtDNA that would be my mothers, mothers, mother, ext. My furthers known maternal Mtdna ancestor was Hanna Sofia Conge born 1737 in Germany.  At this point I am not interested in researching her line. 
I have had some matches from my test for family members but in the 20 people I contact I heard back from 5 and we have never been able to find the connection. I am an H and 100% European ancestry.

What was great about the testing is medically I know know what I carry and what I can pass on to my children. My maternal grandmother and my mother both died of breast cancer and one maternal and one paternal aunt have been diagnosed. I have had yearly mammograms since I was 34 years old but thanks to DNA testing I know I do not carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation for early onset breast cancer. It does not mean I can stop being careful. The testing is a guide, something to add to your knowledge.

The final test has been a wild and bumpy road. My great uncle was kind enough to allow me to have his DNA tested for one of my Price lines. At 89 he was excited to find out what answers his DNA could offer. Unfortunately he passed away just 4 days after the test was sent in.

When the test results came back it was determined that he was an R1b1a2 which is one of the most common European ancestries. Further testing found he was in a smaller group of R1b1a1a1a1b4 that breaks down into L21 (see all Greek!) . I am still working on this part trying to see if I want to break down the L21 into subgroups that are available or wait until more groups come available or more common descendants have test done.

The fun had just begun when I started to search my matches on Family Tree DNA and Ysearch (Free world wide DNA database) I found that my Price family matched no other Price's ever tested in the world. At 37 markers it was a full match to two tested men with the last name Williams and a 37/35 to another. Since the original test I upgraded to a 67 marker test. The Williams men went to 65 to 67 and another person has been tested at the same group. So now I have 4 men named Williams all out of Pee Dee, South Caroline that match my ancestor William Price Sr. (see previous blog) who I know has been in New Brunswick, Canada since 1783.

So far only more questions have arisen than answers and some family members just could not understand how we were not Price's. Very simply it all goes back to before there were surnames. Both families are Welsh and surnames did not come into steady practice until the 1600's (1800's in some rural areas). A full explanation can be found at .

Now it will be a challenge to find when the line splits.

I have a few more DNA test to go, descendants of Peter Watson b. abt 1760 of Woodstock, New Brunswick next and Richard Flynn b. 1865 Ireland, lived Rhode Island and after that.  I am hoping to convince a distance Morton cousin to contribute his DNA to find our common ancestor Frances Morton b. 1803 possibly Nova Scotia.

The decision to test is up to you and how far you want to take the testing (and cost) as with the Daniel's I only need a 37 marker test to find what I needed. Unlike the Price's where I have upgraded twice and had tests done for more information on the SNP's. All I can do is re-emphasize educating yourself before you start and be willing to learn something new about your ancestry. 

If you have questions feel free to ask, I may not be an expert but I can point you in the right direction.  

Enjoy your hunt,

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