About the Blog

For several years now, I’ve been writing Personalized DNA Reports, publishing articles in newsletters about genetic genealogy and blogging about the Native Heritage Project.

I post lots of free papers to my website at www.dnaexplain.com under the Publications tab, but I’ve often felt the need to be able to talk to and with people who have questions.  I learned long ago that if one person has a question about something, many others probably have that same question.  Blogging is an interactive, personal way to communicate.

Genetic genealogy is a world full of promise, but it changes rapidly and can be confusing.  People need to understand how to use the numerous tools available to us to unravel our ancestral history. 

People also love to share stories.  We become inspired by the successes of others, and ideas are often forthcoming that we would not have otherwise thought of. 

So, I invite you to follow along with this blog as I share things I learn, answer people’s questions and generally, have fun with genetic genealogy!!!

81 thoughts on “About the Blog

      • It’s a grey “follow” button, not a reply button. Are you already receiving e-mails when I post a blog? If so, then you are already following. If not, then go to http://www.dna-explained.com and then look just below the black bar and the heading photos on the right hand side. It says “click to follow via e-mail. Follow 548 others.” And then there is a grey “follow” button. If you are already following, it probably isn’t displayed, which is why I asked if you are already receiving e-mails when I post something.

      • I think I did the right thing. My email is homer1941@gmail.com. I have been a member of Family Tree DNA for several years now. I was interested in the story about indentured service. My ancestor was brought over in 1699 by a Capt Richard Willis. My ancestor name was Richard Willis also. We think he brought the younger Richard Willis over from England because he had not living male children to leave his estate to. I am told that he may have brought his blood family member over in indentured status because he would have received more land. He died in Feb of 1700 with out a will. His estate was valued at 7,000 pound sterling. The estate went to his sister because of the lack of a will and the younger had to serve out his contract because he had no was to press his claim. By 1707 he shows up in the Christ Church Register with his first child being born in 1707 and the second in 1709. His wife’s name was Martha. After 1709 there no more records on him in Middlesex County, Ga. The next record is of his son’s buying and land in Craven County, NC in 1740. We know that the Willis family in Craven County, Va are connedted to Richard and Martha because one of his sons the Rev James Willis showed him and Martha as being his father and mother as Richard and Martha Willis.

        Do you think it would be good for me to send my research to London to see if there is any record of the younger Richard Willis leaving for America. We know the ship name and he arrived in May 1699 then he must have left some time in March or April.
        Homer F Willis
        Kissimmee, FL
        Email: homer1941@gmail.com

    • Roberta, I had to smile when I read your post.
      My sister and I, went up to, Hawkins Co. Tn. looking for our 4 grandmother’s home on, Little War Creek, Her surname was, Sizemore,and she married a Moneyhun.
      Well, we looked all over,and could not fine it, however we saw two men up in the woods just off the road. I said to my sister “pull over I’ll ask them, if they no of a Sizemore,or Moneyhun house” She looked green, and said NO! But she did it for me. I got out of the car walked up to them and said.” Hey I’m looking for my old 4th Grandparent’s home. They were, Sizemores and Moneyhun.” The old boy looked at me and smiled, then said. “Well I’m a Sizemore, and he’s a Moneyhun”.
      I called out to my sister. Hey, I found dinner and some cuz.

  1. I am hopelessly confused – I would be interested in reading your information – please put me on the list – thank you.

  2. Thank you for your wealth of information.You ROCK Roberta! I just recently got my FTDNA Family Finder results back. The Population Finder details were Africa(West African)Yoruba 81.64%. Europe -French,Orcadian,Romanian & Spanish 18.36%. Does the interpretation means that I”m about 1/5% French 1/5% Orcadian,1/5% Romanian & 1/5% Spanish? Or does it mean that I”m about 20% French or 20% Orcadian or 20% Romanian or 20% Spanish? Where does the Romanian part come in? Is it not odd for the Romanian part? You are Awesome!

  3. Roberta, Thank you for all you do to make the impossible seem possible in simple terms. My brother had 12 and 67 marker test #81487 leaving one more possibility for another test thru FTDNA. He passed away in October and now am wondering which test should we do with the one swab left at FTDNA. Best match 66/67 was with #226254 but can’t find connection by paperwork. Would appreciate your help.

  4. Hello, Mrs Estes, I made my Ydna which was given E1b1a *M2, and I was made register in your project, but I do not have does not know which SNPs I must choose to deepen in the research and to discover from where specifically my ancestre comes. . Can you indicate which level of SNPs to me I must choose? I also made my Family finder in another account of Familytreedna, but the result is not clear for me. I would like to continue research to know from the which people I come. I have knows that I come from African, of Europe and Indian America, but I want to really know in a specific way, not in a generic way as they made until now in the Ydna test, mtdna and family Finder. Thank you very much already for your attention and helps. Airton Rodrigues.

    • Hi Airton,

      My co-administrator, Aaron Brown, is a geneticist and work with the SNPS. You should contact Aaron and he will assist you in selecting relevant SNPs for you. As for your Family Finder results. Everyone wants to work with them more specifically, but it’s a large puzzle and you need to work through it by contacting your matches and seeing if you can identify common lineage. You can also triangulate your results to identify specific segments of DNA that you inherited from specific ancestors. There is an example of this in this article, under the “Ancestor Fishing” section. https://dna-explained.com/2012/08/19/autosomal-results-the-basics/

  5. I’ve recently tried to order my 23 and me test to supplement family finder but was informed that they were not allowed to test samples from New York State. What can be done to change this ridiculous example of Big Brother overprotection ? How long has this been going on ?What does 23 and me lack that the other testing companies provide ? Is the idea of spitting into a vial offensive to the NY State Health Dept.?

  6. Hi Roberta,

    Any recommendations for resources that I might use to persuade someone to join my DNA surname project at Family Tree DNA? Others have approached the potential cousin and he has privacy concerns and is thinking about joining. I’ve sent him a short plea why he is important to the project and a short discussion on genetic vs medical/criminal DNA tests. Recalling your post on DNA Bullying, I’m inclined to let this one go. I would be good to have something already written that I can send to prospective test subjects.

    I really enjoy your blog and often refer others to your blog.

  7. On a perhaps less-serious note; when can we expect an update on Big Foot DNA? One member of the researcher’s team had a Big Foot sighting in rural Newaygo County, Michigan, several miles from where I grew up. This raised my interest level several notches.

  8. Roberta, thanks so much for the consultation. I feel you went way beyond what I expected. And you did answer my initial question. I have to admit it did raise a whole series of new questions, but after all, wisdom and knowledge is not easily obtained. Especially dealing with my ancestral trail, they seem to have been a strange lot, given time frames to genetics to locations to haplo groups….no wonder I m confused ! What a riot, I m glad you cleared the air with the Neanderthal- Chimp thing ( I m not into grabbing women by the hair, nor am I overly fond of peanuts!) Again I thank you for going above and beyond in my regards. Chris Tyler

  9. I have been following for a year and am learning slowly (there’s so much). Would you please write a post about the GEDCOM and how to do it for newbies? I research so much but it is difficult for me to understand…do I need a software program and if so, which one?
    Also my brother allowed me to get his Y67 tested, but I am not sure if that would help with the new long Y.
    Last, ftDNA lists matches and ‘orders’ of separation and that is confusing to me when I match no separation from complete strangers…
    Perhaps what I need most is a class or book to review when I get questions. I work more than fulltime so my learning curve is steep. Thank you for all you do–I get the most understanding from your blog.

  10. Hi Roberta

    I enjoy your site immensely, its logical, clear and makes sense.

    I have a question(s) –
    Do you know why Natgeno2 transfers to ftdna do not show negative SNP’s
    2- they only show derived SNPs
    and also that on transfer, ftdna tree shows SNPs that cannot be tested and are noted as assumed positive …………are these your ancestral SNP’s?

    23andme show these “assumed positive SNP’s” ones as confirmed positive for me.
    Its very strange

    kind regards
    victor

    • Assumed positive is utilized for both equivalent SNPS and ones known to be upstream of the ones you’ve tested positive for. Of course, if new info on the tree is forthcoming, that can, and does, change. I don’t know the answer to the Nat Geo question.

  11. Dear Ms Estes:

    Some months ago you featured dnagedcom.com’s autosomal DNA segment analyzer in a posting. I followed your directions, accessed the website, found the tool wonderful, appreciated it so well that I made a contribution. I recommended it to cousins and friends. The website worked brilliantly for some months. It now seems to have hit some sort of brick wall.

    For the past six weeks or so, downloading data to the site runs into roadblocks. Today, for example, I downloaded data at 3:05. It started in as usual. Exactly five minutes later I got a message “connection has timed out” and “server at dnagedcom.com is taking too long to respond”. This has happened to me now any number of times and to friends who have been discouraged from using the site.

    It appears sometimes that the files actually do download, sometimes not.

    Today, when I opened the autosomal DNA segment analyzer, it said the page was created 20 June 2014 (today) and the last update was 30 April. The files in my account, however, were dated 22 May 2014. They had apparently downloaded successfully (despite the message I described above) , but they did not appear to replace the 30 April files, so they were downloaded to my but somehow inactive. Earlier, when I downloaded data, the new download simply replaced the older file with the newer data. Today, as I said above, I downloaded the data at 3:05, got the messages five minutes later, but waited to see whether the downloading process would carry through. It did not. It left no impression on my account where the date for my file remains May 21st.

    Since a number of us have encountered this problem, could you find out what has happened and post what you discover to your blog? Are there possibly new instructions about what we need to do to download our files? Is the site’s server now overtaxed? Is it falling apart? Customer service responded once, in my case, but not to a second request.

    For family finder matches that have arrived since April 30th, I’m now having to go into each match by hand and coordinate it with older matches, exactly the labor this tool was meant to replace.

    Many thanks for your help, and best wishes to you.

    Scott Swanson
    sswanson@butler.edu

    • Hi Scott,
      This is Rob from DNAGedcom. We sent you a private message, but I wanted to let everyone know that we had recently changed the FTDNA downloads to run much slower in order to avoid taxing the FTDNA servers. This was a request from FTDNA. This makes the downloads run much slower than they used to run several months back. Because of this, we have seen more time outs from the web browsers overall. I am making a modification which will hopefully be completed soon that will make it more likely that the files end up in the right location as the system runs in the background if your browser disconnects.

      We take support very seriously, even though we are a purely volunteer group. We rely solely on donations to keep the system running and appreciate all the help everyone has given. You can always e-mail at support@dnagedcom.com and if you don’t get a response within a reasonable time frame, you can elevate to me at Rob.Warthen@dnagedcom.com and I’d be happy to look into it more. I am the main developer for the site.

      Thank you very much for using DNAGedcom.com.

  12. Hi Roberts

    Do you know anything on Yhrd.org ?
    Is it worth joining?
    What do they do as they have been around for 15 plus years

    cheers
    victor

  13. Mother Chr 6 25248384- 27484674 1.6cM 891 SNPS
    Me 6 256226089-27048021 1.6cM 716 SNPS
    Sister 6 25405476-27448021 1.4cM 1040 SNPS
    Brother 6 25226089-27044044 1.6cM 704 SNPS
    Niece 6 2551764-294634092 1.6cM 1742 SNPS
    Niece 6 25476957-28204175 1.3cM 1086 SNPS
    Cousin 6 25226089-227044044 1.6cM 715 SNPS
    Cousin 6 25226089-26866458 1.6cM 926 SNPS

    Hi Roberta,
    I have a question I realize normally small cM numbers such as 1.6 mean nothing. But in this case all maternal relatives listed above match a female that 23and me said was my sister’s 3rd to distant cousin. 0.47 shared 1 segment. Also according to 23and me it’s from my paternal side. My mother tested there and at ancestry. According to Gedmatch this person doesn’t match high enough to be considered a match. I do realize she could be related to both of my parents. Does this look like a solid maternal match. My two cousins are related maternally as I indicated. I am going with the 23andme match on my father’s side. These things happen. I am just curious if there is also a maternal match here.

    Thanks,
    Anthony

  14. Great article on October 21, 2014 on the settling of Europe. You are quite a competent writer. This article in Nature seems to agree with much of what you presented. It adds the idea that lactose tolerance did not arrive in Europe until much later than previously thought. Perhaps this was as much a factor as technology (chariots, weapons, etc.) in the late great change in Y dna. Lactose tolerance makes almost twice as many calories available from milk. Quite an evolutionary advantage.
    http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/141021/ncomms6257/full/ncomms6257.html

    Thanks for all you do.

  15. I don’t follow the DNA eXplained blog since many of the articles are lengthy and not applicable to me and I only have so much time to try and keep current with genealogyDNA. 2014 Top Genetic Genealogy Happenings – A Baker’s Dozen +1 Posted on December 30, 2014 was a good summary of DNA news for the year.

  16. Hello Roberta,
    I would like to do X-DNA test in addition to AT-DNA one. Which company (FT, 23, other) can provide more detailed RAW tests (I do no speak about their interpretation at present) ?
    Kind regards,
    Max

  17. Do you have any evidence of Estes moving to Granville, NC? This county is close to Halifax. I may have an Estes connection.

  18. Claiborne Co., TN is the site of majority of my paternal ancestry. My 3x gr grandmother was Margaret (Peggy) Dobkins m Elijah Jones. Have you used the Dobkins family in of your examples?

  19. Hi Roberta,
    I just found your blog and I am really looking forward to reading through your archives. I am wondering if you are or know a Bobbi Estes? On Ancestry I saw an excerpt from Bobbi Estes’ research on the history of Halifax Co. relating to Bartlett and Mary (Blankenship) Estes. I am researching the line of Josephus Estes (1807-1903) and I’ve made some recent progress.
    All the best,
    Nuee

  20. Hi Roberta,
    The excerpt from you broke one of my brick walls. I can’t thank you enough! I later found that Josephus wrote an affidavit in 1878 for his (half) sister Mary when she applied for a widow’s pension for Sterling Haley’s service. It’s a rather personal statement where he describes witnessing the marriage of Mary and Sterling. He also had relocated to Putnam County, GA and was at the time living near Rome, Floyd County, GA.
    Are the records of the death of Barlett and the court cases of Mary Polly Blankenship Estes digitized or available online? I’m in Alaska, so I have to do as much online reasearching as I can. I’d love to read the cases in their full context and I am looking for a citation for Bartlett’s death date.
    Many thanks,
    Nuee

  21. A mistake! I tried to subscribe to the Segmentology blog and another website spammed in and now I cannot connect to Your Blog again. I do not think it was the Adware virus but it apparently blocks our access to posting from this Blog let alone any about segmentology. We can always connect to the Archives but we enjoyed your weekly/daily e-mails about DNE/genealogy.

  22. Roberta,
    I have downloaded and combined all of my FTDNA and GEDMatch data into a consolidated MSExcel spreadsheet. I have removed all matches of less than 7cM, and sorted by chromosome, in ascending order of Segment Start , then the Segment End. I used FTDNA “In Common With” tool and got about 40+ matches on Chromosome 15. I then used GEDMatch Tier1 Triangulation tool, and added another dozen+ matches at the same point. I was fairly easy to note the two sources use slightly different algorithms to determine start/stop/cM/SNPS as the same individual had different results. Of the 50+ matches, if I can identify a single common ancestor with myself, is it safe to say that all 50 of us share that CA?
    On another chromosome I have what appears to be a trail to a 6th Great Grandfather/Grandmother Common Ancestor. I didn’t think ATDNA was reliable that far back. Was I mistaken?
    Thank for your consideration,
    Don Sheaffer

    • Remember that your DNA at any address will eventually cluster into two groups, one from your Mom and one from your Dad, so no, you can’t assume if you find one that all of your matches at that segment are from that one ancestor. You can cluster them into groups by triangulation against each other however. And we often see DNA segments reaching quite far back. You can’t depend on that happening however. But it does, thankfully.

  23. My daughter was adopted from Korea.
    She would like to find what ethnic backgrounds she may contain in her DNA. Though she would like to find her birth mother, it is not a priority.
    The adoption agency has a minimal amount of data so we are somewhat at a loss.
    I have searched for information about foreign adoptions but there is a great void in DNA information.

    • I suggest you test her mtDNA and autosomal (Family Finder) with Family Tree DNA to start with. Their link is on the side bar of the blog. I also suggest that you contact http://www.dnaadopton.com to learn how to work with her DNA results relative to adoption. They may have a volunteer experienced in Korean adoptions that can help you there as well.

  24. I found this because I subscribe to the Brethren list on rootsweb. I have seen your name there many times. I certainly appreciate the work you have put into this. I no longer do much with genealogy but I do like to keep up with the Brethren. Thanks for being here. Ruth Hoese

  25. I asked for an Ancestry DNA test for Christmas on a whim and now I’m fascinated. I just found your blog and I see that I have reading material for the next few months. I have a situation where I have many connections to the same people starting in generation 8 (myself = 1) and culminating in generation 14 where 272 of the identified 353 people have multiple connections. I then broke it down by grandparent and 62% of the people with multiple connections are on my maternal grandmother’s side. Her entire ancestry goes back to the settling of the town in Massachusetts where she grew up. Have you ever addressed this situation and the effect it has on DNA?

    • That’s called endogamy where you have lots of ancestors from the same line. It means that your DNA may be difficult to track to some ancestors. Begin by reading the concepts articles on the blog. Search for the word “concepts.”

  26. Our son was adopted from South Viet Nam at the end of the war. Never totally had Vietnamese features so had a 23 and Me test. Confusing- Maternal haplogroup is B5ala and paternal is Olal*. Listed as East Asian Native American. Most likely his bio mom was southeast Asian and his bio dad was a Native American GI. But haplo groups don’t seem to confirm that – or do they?

  27. Ethnic breakdown is :East Asian and Native American 99.2% South Asian 0.4% European 0.2% A second breakdown was East Asian 54.5% Chinese 52.5% Southeast Asian 42.4% Broadly East Asian 2% Broadly East Asian and Native American 2.3%
    Still don’t see how the haplogroups work with this. I guess just because he was born and orphaned in South Vietnam – his bio parents might not have been Vietnamese
    Thanks for your help!!!!!

  28. Morning Roberta, I have recently had my autosomal DNA completed by ancestry.com
    Whilst I have a family tree that dates back to Scotland 1540 and can be traced through to England and Australia generation by generation my DNA reads 99% European … 67% West European ie predominately France and Germany, 19% Irish, 4% Great Britain, 4% Finland/NW Russia, 3% Greece, 2% Scandinavia and 1% India. NO SCOTTISH! My understanding is that the high French/German has to be a pretty recent ancestor, so is it possible that I have a ‘ring in’ ie great grandfather being the child of someone else other than my great great grandfather?
    Or, can this high percentage still run back through many generations when the French and the Scots were allied against England.

  29. What do you know about the company, Genos? They offer a sequence-based genome service that tests the majority of the DNA variants in all of your genes. It’s a whole gnome search for $399

    • It’s not whole genome, it’s exome which is a subset of your genome, the part most medically relevant. It’s not a genealogy test. There is no genealogy matching. It’s a medically focused test. I have taken this test and will publish an article soon.

  30. Are you experiencing trouble with the Advanced filtering option at FTDNA that allows you to filter results by projects that you are a member of? For several months now I have been unable to filter Family Finder results by project. I have reported the problem to FTDNA twice with no apparent resolution. If you find the same problem, maybe you can exert some pressure.

  31. In mtDNA Full, can you explain Extra Mutations and distance determination? I have T2b with Extra Mutations listing T5774C and T14110C. These are then included in the coding region with standard mutations and used in distance assignment. Isn’t this apples and oranges comparison. What is the definition of Extra Mutations? When all others are identical with a match that does not have these mutations, I get a distance of 2. Is this correct? Greg

  32. The confusion over my familly’s Native American Ancestry is ongoing and frustrating. Among the DNA from 10 of the prominent DNAs in Family FamilyTree Y-DNA, in ancestral origins it shows 12 marker exact match “United States (Native American) = 1 of 1487 and at a Genetic Distance of 1 = 6 of 1487 and 25 marker Genetic Distance 1 = 1 of 1094. It also shows in Haplogroup Origins.
    DNATribes autosomal shows Inuit Greenland as main, and of the Substantial, many South American. But Lumbee tri-racial community (North Carolina, USA – .66 with 13,996.88. Many Mestizo are at a high rate. Sioux and Native Alaskan dna as well.
    As well, My family cites, Algonkin Tribe (not Algonquian who resided up and down the east coast), Cherokee, and a tribe living on the coast of North Carolina since a direct grandfather ship captain, brought an Indian woman and married her. Adopted into the family was a Sioux man. Interestingly, a study of Lumbee Names from North Carolina coincide with many of my family names and local Eastern Shore of MD names. I would like to study this further. Is there a program for Native American DNA where DNA can be entered and results produced?

  33. In your latest article “Which DNA Test is Best” you mention the “Ancient Origins Project” as part ot FTDNA. Could you please indicate where this is on The FTDNA website? I would like to join.

  34. Roberta, I hate even to bring this up, it’s just a pet peeve of mine. I know it’s not something you are consciously doing, because everything you write is otherwise written so well. And this is my nitpick: every so often, you mention “MAC,” for Macintosh computers. “Mac” is the shortened name used by Apple Computer since 1998 for the original Apple Macintosh name; it is not an acronym.

    “MAC” in all caps can mean an acronym for several things (such as MAC address, Media Access Control address; or the store MAC Cosmetics; or MAC times, file system metadata which record times of events associated with a computer file). It can also look like one is shouting out the name. But any time those three letters are used for the Apple product, it is correctly “Mac.” As an aside, I usually use the term “Mac and Windows” vs. “Mac and PC,” since Macs are also PCs (Personal Computers).

    Again I apologize for nitpicking, it’s just a thing that grates on my eyes when I see it. You are certainly not the only one; I just wanted to let you know. I didn’t see an email address to contact you. Carry on writing your wonderful articles, we appreciate all your hard work.

    • Well, you’re forgiven. I used to write Mac and I was corrected for that. I know that Macs are also PCs, technically, but many Mac users don’t think so. So maybe I’ll just call it an Apple and avoid the entire discussion.

  35. Hi Roberta, My name is Jay Estes, I am new to this ancestory thing, but I have been trying to do some research on my families name and you have helped me a lot. I thought it was very interesting that we share the same surname and I was wondering if we share any common ancestors?

  36. Hi folks, I am a newbie but I have a general background in genetics. I would like to learn more about the genetic genealogy search process, especially for children of closed adoptions. Is anyone out there willing to share their DNA results with me? I understand there is a way to grant “View” access without granting “Edit Access.”

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