Focus Your DNA Efforts on Your Brick Wall and Use Coupons to Help

You still have time to order that DNA kit in time for the holidays.

Even if you don’t have someone in mind to give it to immediately, stockpile while on sale so that you have one handy when you need it.  And you WILL need them – guaranteed – hopefully sooner than later.

I offered to pay for three tests last night.  So far, I haven’t heard back, but hey, it’s still early!!!

Truth is, it’s really more a gift for you than it is for them, but I won’t tell if you won’t.

What I’d like for you to do is to think about your most favorite, or maybe that should be your least favorite, brick wall.

The one you’d really like to fall.

For many of us, that’s the one closest to us in time. Or maybe it the one most long-standing.

Think about how DNA might be able to help you break through that brick wall, or at least reveal more information about that person, which in turn might help you break down that brick wall. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Here what to do.

What Do You Want to Know?

I’m going to use my Nancy Moore for an example.  We know she married John R. Estes on November 25, 1811 in Halifax County, Virginia and around 1820, she and John headed for Claiborne County, Tennessee.  Nancy’s parents were the Reverend William Moore and his wife, Lucy, whose surname we don’t know.  Of course, that also means we don’t know anything else about Lucy’s heritage.

For Nancy Moore, I’d really like to know about her mother’s heritage and her father’s line as well. Like they say, for every brick all you break down, you get two more as a reward!

Paternal Lines

Because information about the patrilineal line can be gleaned from Y DNA inherited by males from their fathers, Nancy’s descendants can’t test directly, but descendants of her brothers can – and have.  We have the Y DNA of Nancy’s brothers’ descendants from two different lines – so confirming that their common ancestor, Nancy’s father, also carried that same Y DNA.

In this case, we’re waiting for additional Moore Y DNA matches from someone whose ancestor goes further back in time than our known Moore line.  I’m beginning to wonder if our Moore line was really a different surname in the colonies – meaning that somehow the DNA and the surname got separated, forming a “new” Moore line.  We have few Moore matches and only through known descendants of William or his brothers, but then again we don’t have any close, high quality matches to other surnames either.

Matches provided through Y DNA testing are invaluable, because they help you focus on the direct line paternal genealogy.

While waiting for those matches to materialize, I could offer to purchase an upgrade to the autosomal Family Finder test for any or all of the Moore cousins who have already tested. That might help immensely.

If you don’t have the Y DNA of a paternal line, check your Family Finder matches at Family Tree DNA, or your matches at Ancestry, particularly if you have a Circle for that ancestor, and see if there is a male by that surname who would consider taking a Y DNA test.  MyHeritage has a search function for matches and trees.

Review the trees for your DNA matches and see if you can run any male line forward using genealogy and then contact currently living people, asking if they are interested in genealogy.

I never broach the subject with DNA, just with a general inquiry.  If you can’t generate any interest, they aren’t likely to test anyway. Ask about or offer to share photos if you have any. That’s always a good ice breaker. Inquire about oral history too.  Even if they aren’t interested in DNA testing, stories are a goldmine of their own.

When I find a candidate, I simply offer to purchase the DNA test.  I don’t want them to hesitating even for a minute while thinking about price. I explain that I have a testing scholarship for that line.

In the chart below, you can see that Y DNA is passed along the direct paternal blue line and mitochondrial DNA is passed along the matrilineal red line.  Neither the Y or mitochondrial DNA is ever mixed with the DNA of the other parent, so it acts as a direct line periscope peering far back into time. A veritable gift direct from your ancestors.

Matrilineal Line

Nancy Moore and her mother Lucy are complete blank slates. I hate that.

As with so many other early lines, there’s always that rumor of Native heritage. That rumor seems to be very prevalent when a female’s surname is unknown, and I suspect that “must be Indian” became a very early “reason” for not knowing or being able to find a female’s surname.

I suspect that comment got recorded as fact, and here we are today with many rumors and still no surname. But now, we have another avenue to pursue.

A mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test on Nancy’s descendants who descend from either Nancy or her mother through all females to the current generation would do multiple things for me.

  • I would immediately be able to confirm or refute the possibility of Native American ancestry in that line. Lucy, Nancy’s mother was probably born about 1750, someplace in Virginia, so Native ancestry is possible, if not probable.
  • DNA matches to other people could be useful, either directly in terms of matching or in the larger picture showing me likely areas that Nancy and Lucy’s ancestors lived before immigrating to what became the US. Am I looking at a German family, an English line, or what exactly? Looking at the mapped locations of the matches of Nancy’s descendants may help identify a location.  And that’s far more than you knew before testing.  Testers receive a wealth of information with a mitochondrial DNA test.

For example, here’s what I learned about my own mitochondrial DNA line.

Women pass their mtDNA to all of their children, but only females pass it on.  This means that men in the current generation can test for mitochondrial DNA as well.

Autosomal DNA

Cousins are the key to autosomal DNA which provides matching across all of your ancestral lines – assuming at least some relatives have tested.  Therefore, you need to test as many cousins as you can find and talk into testing.


Because those cousins will match you, and/or each other, on different parts of your ancestor’s DNA.  Barring a second unknown line, the common ancestors are your common couple, in this case, William Moore and Lucy, Nancy’s parents.

My goal is to find and test as many descendants of Nancy and of her siblings as possible. When unknown matches match to multiple Moore cousins, especially on the same segment, that’s a huge hint as to which line we all descend from.

Cousin matching is how brick walls fall.

After enough cousins have tested, I will begin to see repeats of matching to some family who is unknown to me.  For example, let’s say that I see the surname Henderson repeatedly in the matches descending from both Nancy’s descendants and Nancy’s siblings’ descendants.

That’s a powerful hint as to where I should look for either Lucy’s ancestry, or maybe William Moore’s.

The power of numbers, meaning in terms of cousins testing, is exactly how breakthroughs occur utilizing autosomal DNA.

Another benefit of autosomal testing is that you can make one test work for you in multiple ways.


Some cousins may have already tested elsewhere.  If that’s the case, ask if they will test at your favorite vendor, or transfer their DNA to that vendor, if your vendor accepts transfers.  For a list of which companies accept transfers from who, click here.

Transfers to both Family Tree DNA and GedMatch are free, and both offer advanced tools for either a minimal one-time cost of $19 at Family Tree DNA or a minimal monthly subscription of $10 at GedMatch. There are many tools at both sites for free, and since not everyone uploads to either site, you should have the DNA you need to work with at both.

Who To Test?

Still trying to figure out who to test?

These articles will help:

Family Tree DNA Coupons

It’s Monday during the holiday season, so that means it’s coupon day, courtesy of Family Tree DNA.  If you can use one of my coupons below to help focus on your goals, please do. If you are currently a Family Tree DNA customer, you have a coupon on your own page as well.

I just noticed, shipping is reduced too through 12-15-2017, so that’s an additional way to save. Return postage is included within the US.

Click here to check your coupons, or redeem mine!

Please feel free to add any of your own unused coupons that you’d like to share in the comments of this article.


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19 thoughts on “Focus Your DNA Efforts on Your Brick Wall and Use Coupons to Help

  1. I am stuck at the Moore line as well but my last known Is John born 1796 in PA. Family has been trying to get parents for him for over 30 years but no luck. I have found that there are Moore’s in Virginia n the late 1600s and early 1700s who show up on legal documents in the same area and in the same social circles as the other side of Dads family and I think they may be the same Moore family But haven’t found the descendants of these folks yet so haven’t proved it . I think both sides had sons who went to Augusta County and that’s why we haven’t found them where we think they should be. I mainly wanted to tell you that amongst the info I have stumbled across is that there was A male child who was raised by his Clayton Grandfather in Virginia and his father is said to have been a MOORE. I don’t know the time or exact area but I am fairly sure that it was pre revolution and I know that the Clayton’s were in Culpeper Co. as they were among the initial land holders there. Just thought I’d mention that since you brought up the possibility that your Moore might actually not be the bloodline you need to check. My Brother who is a Moore did the Ydna and Family Finder. His halo group is J2 / M172 ( or 179 ) I forget which one. Kit number is 237473.
    I am also interested in your Moore’s of Isle of Wight as Mary Moore Married William Williams and Ann Moore married Thomas White ca 1710 . These are my husband’s lines and possibly they are the Moore family with associations with my Clayton’
    Today’s code is $5.00 off of Family Finder R323P86QWZ0Z. Expires Dec17

  2. Note that the DNA test (at least the one from FamilyTreeDNA) have an expiration date (about a year). So don’t stockpile too many!

    • Ugh! I hope not! I still have unused kits from last December’s holiday sale. I DO recall, however, that 23andMe (at least way back circa 2013) had an expiration date. My sister ordered a test and then chose not to take it. Money down the drain. Hadn’t heard that is the case with FTDNA.

  3. I was a foster child growing up I found my mother when I was 23I’ve done ancestotry testAnd did familytreedna y67From some help from a new cousin we kinda may know whom my father maybeMy stepbrother hopefully has tested on father’s  side but is Leary tho release test resultsFrom what he read on terms n conditionsI’m 56 and all my life wanted to know whom my dad isAny suggestions?Thanks

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  4. Here are more FTDNA – Codes I won’t use
    Expiring 12/17/2017

    R32Z2DNP870A $40 off mtFull Sequence
    R32DCC46AQGN $40 off Y-DNA111
    R3209296DVJ3 $10 off Family Finder
    R32VRGGDXYC4 $10 off Family Finder

  5. I had that kind of brick wall, a male foundling, but someone else started a new family name project and will work on it, both with Y-DNA and autosomal DNA. I joined the relevant samples that I manage, so my part is done. *dusting my hands*

    For the rest, it’s more a case of looking for more papertrail. In one case, I need to find whether the ancestor has any male descendant at all at one end, then wait for Belgium to put their archives online at the other end. They are still 40 years from the first relevant records.

    Then there are my lovely Atlantic Canada Scots cousins who couldn’t be bothered to note too much stuff down. I have almost connected two of my mt-matches together, I have one couple with McDonald surname, whose wife descend from a match last known ancestress, and one of my matches who’s last known ancestress is a McDonald, but they all have so commun given names, I can’t sort them out, in the census, among all the homonymous couples. I have, of course, no clue who to test to sort the mess. I can only wait for new matches to show up.

    Anyway, coupons of the week:

    $10 off Family Finder R329DZTNQU73
    $40 off Y-DNA111 R32XSGV7RHWE
    $10 off Family Finder R32GKG6NXDLH
    $30 off Y-DNA67 R32ZABDX1UMD
    $30 off mtFull Sequence R32G4D1K3UGH

    Bonus from last week:
    $10 off mtDNA Plus or mtFull R31VWV2VXSRP / expire today

  6. FTDNA – Coupon Codes
    Expire 12/17

    $50 off BigY R32YY6P9KK4W, R32FJO5RWGF8
    $20 off y37,67,111 R32RNX5IZXWG, R32L46D4HULJ, R321ZXX5N882
    $40 off mtFull R32F60GKMGRW, R32DK4E6VV0Y
    $40 off y111 R32OIWXOC31G, R32H2VFMTKPE, R3252M0TQ3WK, R32LO64D5SV2
    $10 off FF R3244L5NDRJ7, R32LLXJ4KF49
    $30 off y67 R32Y5PQWS174
    $40 off y67 R3219VZLZGL9
    $10 off mt+ or mtFull R317QA7KCP20

  7. Very good article!

    About March of 2017, made a STUPID policy change–all in the name of privacy. You can’t be the administrator of another test until the person who tested gives you that right. The person who provides the saliva sample must have an account and an e-mail account. The people with the best DNA are the oldest people. The older generation usually do NOT have Internet access and they do NOT own a computer or smart phone. This forces you to find a younger generation relative of the donor and get them to impersonate the donor or you have to impersonate the donor. STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!

    • Look at the account and then click on upgrade to see the price. You can also apply some coupons for a certain amount off above a specific level. This past week, there were several. I send the coupon links every Monday if this week’s that would work for you have all been used.

  8. I LOVE your posts!! I look forward to them. Sue Elfving turned me on to your posts. Thank you Sue! Here is my Moore problem(s).
    I THOUGHT I had two Moore lines. I thought for thirty years they were cousins, then came DNA, and I don’t know anything about either of them, now I don’t know if I am a Moore..
    My John Moore, b 1822 in TN, md. Elizabeth Gullion in Marshall County, Alabama, 1842, and remained in Marshall until mid 1850’s. He said in 1880 census, his father, and I don’t know who he is/was, was from VA. John Moore moved his family to Laclede Co., MO by 1860 census. That is number 1 Moore line.
    My OTHER or number 2 Moore line is said to be from North Carolina. The oldest Moore on that side is William Moore b. ca 1780 NC and who married Ruth Massey according to his daughter Nancy Moore. They moved to Pulaski County, MO ca 1839 according to some descendants. There are two William’s in Pulaski in 1840, and they are not related according to records. The older William died soon after the 1840 census, Ruth is a widow in 1850 census. William & Ruth’s son Alfred Newton Moore married Allie Wilson and had four children then died in the Civil War. Here comes WIDOWER John MOORE, he then married Allie Wilson Moore! Well, his wife Elizabeth had also died (childbirth) in 1864 and he did have all those kids. It gets worse. John had a son Robert Moore b. 1849 in Alabama, Alfred had a daughter Sarah Moore b 1852 in Laclede County, MO. At any rate, Robert and Sarah Moore married. Now she is Sarah Moore Moore. Their daughter Triphena Moore married Benjamin Stacy (his family from Russell/Scott County, Virginia and Perry County, KY, then to INdiana then to Missouri). Triphena and Benjamin Stacy are my grandparents. If the male gets DNA from his mother (my dad would inherit his mother Triphena’s ABUNDANT MOORE mtDNA) IF my father can’t pass it on to me, do I have Moore DNA? And since there are apparently two different Moore lines, does he have DNA from both Moore lines? Or not? Science was never my strong subject. I’ll take math and history. If I am matching Moore DNA (and I do get hits) does that mean I have a female mtDNA ancestress somewhere in my ancestry. I hope these are not dumb questions. I am serious, I need to know if I am knocking myself out for nothing, looking for Moore’s? My Moore males, If I have one or two is G M201. There are not many of them. This is Alfred’s Haplo. WE don’t have a male DNA from John. We thought they were relatives so designated them both G M201. Nadda! So discouraging all the way around. Thank you so much for reading this. I hope it is written in nongibberish. Barbara Stacy Mathews

    • No, it doesn’t necessarily mean that. Your Moores sound like a vine. 🙂 The best thing you can do to try to sort them out is to find Moore males to Y DNA test. That will provide you with at least some guidance.

      • Thank you for your reply. A Vine?? EEEk! That is probably the most astute description ever! Problem with my Moore’s they had more females than males, and the males were not as “hardy” as the females. However, I will keep looking. Thanks again. Barbara

  9. Holiday codes expire Dec 17 at midnight c.s.t.
    R323DP9jGCEA 10 OFF FF
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    R31MAZ71HXAj 20 OFF YDNA 111
    R32ISQVTFLjU 30 OFF YDNA 111
    R321Z62V9W3Y 30 OFF YDNA 111

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