DNA Love and Your “Big 8” – Plus Valentine’s Day Sales!

We’re approaching Valentine’s Day, and I’m reminded just how much I love genetic genealogy. I already loved genealogy before the genetic portion emerged. Since DNA has been added to our toolbox, I’m head over heels.

I can’t even begin to count the number of breakthroughs I’ve had using DNA. On EVERY LINE.

In order to further my own genealogy, I’ve purchased countless (I don’t want to count, truthfully) kits and tests for other people. I don’t regret any single one of those dollars, because they all helped ME. Yes, even kits that didn’t match helped me.

Why? Because they might have matched. Some did match. Some provide haplogroup information for my ”Big 8” meaning for all of my 8 great-grandparents.

Click to enlarge

As you can see, I still need to find test candidates for two of my great-grandparents to complete the “Big 8.”

My now-deceased aunt tested for the Margaret Claxton/Clarkson line before mitochondrial full sequencing was commercially available. When I wanted to upgrade her test to full sequence and autosomal, I couldn’t because the archived DNA quality was too poor. Now, I need to find another testing candidate to discover her full haplogroup aside from the rather generic H. Lesson learned – now I just order the whole shebang out the gate!

A second mitochondrial test that I need is for Evaline Miller, my Brethren great-grandmother.

Do You Qualify For a Free Test?

Shameless plug – If you descend from any of the following women through all females to the current generation, where testers can be either males or females, I have a free mitochondrial AND autosomal test for YOU at Family Tree DNA. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • Margaret Claxton (1851-1920) Hancock Co, TN
  • Elizabeth Speaks (1832-1907) Hancock Co., TN
  • Ann McKee (1804/5-1850/50) Washington Co., VA, Lee Co., VA
  • Elizabeth, wife of Andrew McKee (1766-1814) Washington Co., VA
  • Evaline Miller (1857-1939) Elkhart Co., Indiana
  • Margaret Elizabeth Lentz (1822-1903) Montgomery Co., Ohio, Elkhart Co., Indiana
  • Fredericka Reuhle (1788-1863) Beutelsbach, Germany, Montgomery Co., Ohio
  • Dorothea Katharina Wolfin (b 1755) Beutelsbach, Germany
  • Dorothea Keubach (1729-1790) Endersbach, Germany, Beutelsbach, Germany

Let’s say you want to do the same thing, find people who are candidates to test for specific lines.

Finding Test Candidates

How might you find these people? Trees of autosomal DNA matches are a good choice. I mine my DNA matches at all vendors to see who might match me in the direct line needed to carry the Y or mitochondrial DNA of the desired ancestor. If someone has already DNA tested, they at least understand the subject and you’re not introducing the topic of DNA testing from scratch.

The three main testing vendors (along with GedMatch) each have a variety of tools to help find candidates.

  • Ancestry: Green leaf hints DNA+Tree Matching
  • Family Tree DNA: Phased maternal and paternal “bucketed” match results, trees and in-common surnames
  • MyHeritage: DNA+Tree Matching called SmartMatching
  • GedMatch: Search all GEDCOMs and GEDCOM 1 to All

As luck would have it, all three vendors are having Valentine’s Day DNA Sales too.

Valentine Day Sales and Testing Strategy

Now is a great time to test and transfer your autosomal DNA results for maximum matching.

Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA is having their “Sprinkle Some DNA Love” sale where the Family Finder autosomal test is on sale for $59.

If you want the option of Y, mitochondrial and autosomal, Family Tree DNA is the vendor to select, as they are the only vendor performing Y and mitochondrial testing and matching. You can purchase the Family Finder test today and add any of the other tests, either now or later. $59 is the least expensive price of all the vendors this holiday and you can transfer to MyHeritage and GedMatch for free!


MyHeritage is on sale for $69 (or $59 if you purchase 2.) You can transfer Family Tree DNA kits to MyHeritage and vice versa without losing any quality or matches because Family Tree DNA’s lab runs the tests for MyHeritage. In fact, this is a great approach because transfers are free and you can fish in both ponds. Both vendors have advanced tools. MyHeritage tends to have European testers not in other data bases, so whether your transfer or test, you’ll want to be there if you have European heritage.

The transfer is free to Family Tree DNA, but there is a charge to unlock their advanced tools, so the best testing strategy would be to test at Family Tree DNA (where the test is less expensive) and transfer to MyHeritage. Total cost – $59 at Family Tree DNA where the total cost of testing first at MyHeritage and transferring to FTDNA is $88 (or $78 each if you purchase 2 kits.)


Ancestry’s test is also on sale for $69. You can transfer the Ancestry results to Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage, but the Ancestry test only covers about 25% of the same test locations as either Family Tree DNA or MyHeritage. As a result, at Family Tree DNA, you only receive your closest 20-25% of your matches and at MyHeritage, they utilize imputation to compensate for the shortcoming. Ancestry’s matching data base is quite large and their tools, though not as comprehensive as elsewhere, are easy to use.

You cannot transfer any results TO Ancestry, so my recommendation if you’re going to test at Ancestry would be to also test at Family Tree DNA and transfer your results to MyHeritage.

Of course, all three of these tests provide the much-sought-after ethnicity estimates.

Testing (and Money Saving) Strategy

Of the four vendors who provide autosomal matching, the comparative costs during the Valentine’s Day sale are as follows:

  • If you’re only going to make one purchase, you can purchase a kit for $59 at Family Tree DNA, have it available for upgrades and transfer to both MyHeritage and GedMatch for free.
  • You can test at Ancestry and Family Tree DNA, both, and transfer to MyHeritage and GedMatch for a total cost of $128 and be swimming in all the best ponds!
  • If you’re an adoptee or seeking an unknown parent, you’ll want to test at 23andMe as well. Their Ancestry Service kit is on sale for $79 now, but 23andMe has dropped to a distant 4th in terms of genetic genealogy.

How about buying a genetic genealogy valentine bouquet for someone you love!

Click here to “sprinkle some DNA love” at Family Tree DNA.

Click here to purchase at or transfer files to MyHeritage.


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I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

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16 thoughts on “DNA Love and Your “Big 8” – Plus Valentine’s Day Sales!

  1. In response to their customer’s endless requests for a chromosome browser, Ancestry has introduced the, “DNA Player Card”. When you’re away from your computer, the “DNA Player Card” will remind you how disappointed and angry you are that Ancestry will not provide a chromosome browser for their customers. You can also show youngsters how to attach the “DNA Player Cards” to their bicycles, so the tire spokes will produce a flapping sound. I can’t contain my excitement for this latest innovation by Ancestry. It’s a new era in genetic genealogy.

  2. I’m so glad you said that even the tests that didn’t match helped. I wish every DNA newbie understood this. My very first discovery was a non-match. It kept me from going down the wrong path. I tested with SMGF in 2001, didn’t get results back until 2008, but discovered my non-match with a shared surname I’d corresponded with since 1997. Without DNA, I might still be looking for a connection. It really helps knowing what NOT to research.

  3. With respect to “Finding Test Candidates,” I have recently had good luck in finding candidates with existing GEDmatch Kits for (free!) targeted Autosomal DNA comparisons by taking the following steps:

    1. Go to https://www.familysearch.org/tree/find/name.

    2. Find an ancestor of interest.

    3. Trace each branch of the ancestor’s descendants to the most recent generation possible.

    4. At the bottom of the “Latest Changes” panel on the right, click on “Show all” to see everyone who has ever changed that descendant’s information. Any change agent other than FamilySearch is likely to somehow be connected that descendant.

    5. Click on the change agent’s hyperlinked name.

    6. Click on “Send a Message” at the bottom. It is faster and easier than sending email and FamilySearch will automatically email an alert to the change agent that he/she has a new message. The descendant’s name will automatically be entered in the About box for the message.

    7. Simply enter “FYI” in the subject line (or other text as desired).

    8. Paste a prepared boilerplate message (see example below) into the body of the message, and press send. With this approach, you can contact many change agents very quickly with very little typing.

    ===== Example Message (10,000-character limit) =====

    This individual is a descendant of Thomas-1 and Louisa (Beard?) Streeter. Descendants of Thomas and Louisa (Beard?) Streeter are encouraged to take an Autosomal DNA test with Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, etc.; then upload their raw data results to GEDmatch.com; and provide Perry Streeter (perry@streeter.com) with the GEDmatch Kit number to enable comparisons.

    For more information, please see Perry Streeter, “Streeter Immigrants of Greene and Steuben Counties [New York]: The Common Origins of Elizabeth (Streeter) Faulkner, Thomas Streeter, and William Streeter, at Dunnings Farm, East Grinstead, Sussex, England,” The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record’ (January and April 2011), which is freely available to all as http://www.perrystreeter.com/streeter.pdf; or contact Perry Streeter directly (perry@streeter.com).


    Good Luck!

    P.S. http://www.perrystreeter.com simply auto-forwards to a FreePage at RootsWeb.com so it is currently offline.

  4. Roberta, I’m confused, can you explain? Are My Heritage and Geni.com the same company? I remember when FTDNA introduced the “Partnership” button some time ago, and I went and signed up with, I thought, was My Heritage. Now, however, when I click that “Partnership” button, it connects me to Geni.com.

  5. For the last several months, FTDNA was unable to accept transfers from Ancestry. This is the message: “The specified file ‘name-dna-data-2017-11-11.zip’ could not be uploaded. The file is an unsupported version or in a corrupt/malformed format. Please place an order for Family Finder or download the file and try again.”
    I have uploaded several kits before Nov 2017 and had no problems. Now I have tried every couple of weeks and none will go thru.
    Maybe you know more about this or could find out more about this. We sure would appreciate it very much. I have several kits to transfer.
    Thank you.

  6. I love the idea of the “Big 8”! I have already done my Mom’s MTDNA and several years ago identified a cousin to her dad’s YDNA line. I created my own chart at LucidChart (great program, by the way) and filled in those two. Which left me with 6 out of the 8 to go. However, I was quickly able to identify 4 good candidates out of 6. (I think they will all be willing to take a test for me.) And I don’t think it will take me long to identify the remaining two. Exciting! Thanks for this idea.

  7. So, I just bought my full kit at family tree DNA. I transferred my previous kit from Ancesty, but found out I only get a few matches, not the complete ones.

    I doubt I’m related to you, but how do you know for sure?

    How can I combine charts other have?

    • What do you mean by “combine charts?” If you mean combining trees, you’ll need to create your own. Be careful to understand the sources of other people’s material. Early on, I was way too trusting and later discovered many errors and assumptions that were incorrect. My bad.

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