Top 10 Most Popular Articles of 2015

Wordpress 2015

WordPress, the blogging software I use, provides a year-end summary that is quite interesting.

I really like this report, as I tend to be very focused on what I’m researching and writing, not on stats – so this is a refreshing break and summary. I thought you might be interested too.

The top 10 most viewed posts in 2015 were, in order from least to most:

10thPromethease – Genetic Health Information Alternative – From December 2013

People are beginning to ask about how they can obtain some of the health information that they were previously receiving from 23andMe.  For $5, at Promethease,  you can upload any of the autosomal files from either Family Tree DNA, 23andMe or  They will process your raw data and provide you with a report that is available to download from their server for 45 days.  They also e-mail you a copy.

9thX Marks the Spot – From September 2012

When using autosomal DNA, the X chromosome is a powerful tool with special inheritance properties.  Many people think that mitochondrial DNA is the same as the X chromosome.  It’s not.

8thThick Hair, Small Boobs, Shovel Shaped Teeth and More – From February 2013

Yep, there’s a gene for these traits, and more.  The same gene, named EDAR (short for Ectodysplasin receptor EDARV370A), it turns out, also confers more sweat glands and distinctive teeth and is found in the majority of East Asian people.

7thMythbusting – Women, Fathers and DNA – From June 2013

I’m sometimes amazed at what people believe – and not just a few people – but a lot of people.

Recently, I ran across a situation where someone was just adamant that autosomal DNA could not help a female find or identify her father.  That’s simply wrong. Incorrect.  Nada!  This isn’t, I repeat, IS NOT, true of autosomal testing.

6th4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy – from October 2012 – This is probably the article I refer people to most often.  It’s the basics, just the basics.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the different “kinds” of DNA and how they can be used for genetic genealogy.

It used to be simple.  When this “industry” first started, in the year 2000, you could test two kinds of DNA and it was straightforward.  Now we’ve added more DNA, more tools and more testing companies and it’s not quite so straightforward anymore.

5thIs History Repeating Itself at Ancestry? – from August 2012

Is history repeating itself at Ancestry?

I’ve been thinking about whether or not I should publish this posting.  As I write and rewrite it, I still haven’t made up my mind.  It’s one of those sticky wickets, as they are called.  One of the reasons I hesitate is that I have far more questions than answers.

4thWhat is a Haplogroup? – From January 2013

Sometimes we’ve been doing genetic genealogy for so long we forget what it’s like to be new.  I’m reminded, sometimes humorously, by some of the questions I receive.

3rdAutosomal DNA 2015 – Which Test is the Best? – From February 2015

This now obsolete article compared the autosomal tests from Family Tree DNA, Ancestry and 23andMe.  23andMe, as of year end (2015), is in the midst of rewriting their platform, which obsoletes some of the tools they offered previously.   As soon as the 23andMe transition to their new platform is complete, I’ll be writing an updated version of this article for 2016.  Until then, suffice it to say I am recommending Family Tree DNA and Ancestry, in that order.

2ndEthnicity Results – True or Not? – from October 2013

I can’t even begin to tell you how many questions I receive that go something like this:

“I received my ethnicity results from XYZ.  I’m confused.  The results don’t seem to align with my research and I don’t know what to make of them?”

1stProving Native American Ancestry Using DNA – From December 2012 – this has been the most popular article every year since 2012. This doesn’t surprise me, as it’s also the most common question I receive.

Every day, I receive e-mails very similar to this one.

“My family has always said that we were part Native American.  I want to prove this so that I can receive help with money for college.”


I was surprised, at first, to see so many older posts, but then I realized they have had more time to accumulate hits.

Of these all-time Top 10, three of them, including the most popular, which is most popular by far, have to do with Native American ancestry, directly or indirectly. The most common questions I receive about ethnicity also relate to the discovery of Native American ancestry.

Thank you everyone for coming along with me on this on this wonderful journey.  It will be exciting to see what 2016 has to offer.  I already have some exciting research planned that I’ll be sharing with you.

Happy New Year everyone!  I’m wishing you new ancestors!



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11 thoughts on “Top 10 Most Popular Articles of 2015

  1. Thank you, Roberta, for the most comprehensive DNA blog on the Internet, hands down. You are THE authoritative source for genetic genealogy, for Y DNA, mtDNA, and Autosomal DNA research and I appreciate your candid assessment of all of the technologies out there and your abilities to demystify the various applications of genetic genealogy that there are. Thank you for co-administrating so many of the sites that relate to Native American ancestry with me and I look forward to more discoveries and history unearthed in 2016!


    –Marie Rundquist

  2. In one of your postings you mentioned making sure the segments start and end on the same chromosome at the same place for a match. Where do I find this and does work all types of tests? My matchs show only the number of segments and the maximen length. I have taking the 12 marker test,Family Finder, and Big Y with FTDNA and Relative Finder/ 23 andMe( Cumberland Gap). My brother was tested at 25 and 67 markers. My sister had the mtDNA Plus and Family Fnder and I just added an upgrade to mtDNA Full SEquence.. I sent kits to cousins on my mothers side. The Browser really lights up! I tracked down a male on the McDonalds and hade him take the 25 marker test. How do it tell which DNA comes from the Georges and which comes from the McDonalds? I was a I1* and the Big Y finally moved it to I Z140.

    • Actually, I *think* what I did was to mention that I used that as an example, but in real life, it seldom happens that way. That only applies to autosomal DNA matching.

      In autosomal DNA, to determine which DNA comes from which side, you’ll need to match against cousins with known ancestors from that line. That DNA is from that side of your family.

  3. I would like to use your article on “4 kinds of DNA” in the Cabarrus Golden Nugget, the journal of the Cabarrus County, North Carolina Genealogy Society. The next issue will be Spring 2016.

  4. Dear Roberta,

    Your writing is so well done that I feel am along for the ride on most of your journeys. You have such a great way of laying out your research that the impossible seems possible. I love the photographs and maps that you share about your folks.

    The journal of your trip to England a while back is also a favorite.

    Then, there’s the work. I cannot say it better than Marie Rundquist for sure.

    You are a treasure and you had my vote for that recent “contest” this year hands down.


    Wishing you and yours a healthy 2016. Happiness follows healthy.

    Linda McKee

    • One of my favorite saying I used to say a lot to clients that were looking at huge technology projects – some taking more than 5 years. The way you eat an elephant is one bite at a time:) Well, that’s how my genealogy seems to me some days. I’m really glad that others can benefit. And I’ve met some lovely cousins along the way too. I think that’s the best part.

  5. Happy New Year to you Roberta,and thank you for all the wealth of information you have passed onto everyone in one way or another.
    I have only been doing my family history for two years(nearly)and what I have found has been truly amazing down to being a DNA match with Kennewick Man and Anzick Boy.For an adopted person,this is a wonderful truly amazing find.Thank you,Pat Rodgers in Australia

  6. Happy New Years to you Roberta and thank you for sharing all of your knowledge. Looking forward to 2016 posts. Your family is so lucky to have you as their family historian. Blessings

  7. I have come across a letter written in 1844 that was found in an old (2011) Worthpoint preview for an eBay customer. This letter is the ancestor I am researching and had come to a brick wall with. My ancestor Avery Woodson Williams, most often known as A.W., born Portsmouth, VA had married Adeline Cornell born NY, most likely 1827 as she was 23 on the 1850 Portsmouth, VA census. She became a dead end for me until I came across this letter. I’ve tried to find the purchaser from eBay so that I might be able to read the remaining parts of the letter, but they do not keep the records for more than 3 years. I contacted Worthpoint to see if they had a copy and they do not. I am hoping to find this. Adeline and Avery had a son, Avery born in 1848 in New York and actually the information given on young Avery’s death certificate stated that he was born in Brooklyn. On the 1850 census in Portsmouth, Virginia, I find A.W. Willliams, 27,born VA, living in his father’s home (James A. Williams and Elizabeth Williams) with Adeline, age 23 b. NY, and Avery age 3, b. NY.. In 1855, Portsmouth was ravaged with the yellow fever epidemic. Nineteen members of this family were wiped out in a few months time. Adeline and 2 of her children (unknown names and ages, but I can assume they were born between 1850 and 1855) died in August 1855 in Portsmouth and then A.W., her husband died as well.

    In 1860, I find the father and head of the house, James A. Williams on the Portsmouth, VA census, and he is remarried, having lost his wife Elizabeth in the epidemic as well. He has remarried and young Avery is now 12. There is also Ernest Williams, age 6 (my ancestor born 9 Oct 1852) and Harrington Williams, age 5. Harrington was born in in 1855. I don’t know if he is their son or if the date is correct as I have a definite birth date for another child, born i March 1855 and we know that Adeline died in August of that year., These children survived as did 2 others that are not on the 1860 census, Claremont Clarendon Williams b VA 9 March 1850 and Clarendon H. Williams born 27 March 1855. These are unusual names and do not appear so far any further back, but they do appear in the descendants, I wonder if this a name that ties in with the Cornells.

    This sad story has a lovely twist in this letter. Avery Woodson Williams was obviously besotted with Adeline and is a beautiful letter. It is so nice to know that they married and hopefully had a wonderful albeit brief life together.

    Here is the link to the letter. If you have any ideas as to how to find this letter, I would so appreciate it. I know whoever has it must treasure it. I would love to know if there are clues in there for Adeline’s family as well as I would love to personally know what the rest of the letter said.

    Many thanks, Winnie

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