About the Blog

Since 2012, I’ve been publishing articles about genetic genealogy right here.

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 unravel our ancestral history.

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

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!!!

133 thoughts on “About the Blog

  1. From my DNA test, I am 100pc English/Welsh/North Europe – which presumably would be standard for many whose gene pool is mainly Anglo-Saxon/Norman (my original surname has the latter origins).. This is consistent with both male lines of my family firmly in the west of England back at least to late 18c…. My main reason for taking the DNA test was to confirm/refute a family story that there were German/Jewish family of my maternal grandfather needing help to get to the UK befgre WW2. Presumably if this story is correct there should be some indication of family coming from Germany, which there isn’t, or some DNA evidence. Any clarification appreciated … I have found a 2nd cousin with DNA ethnicity including ‘2pc Germanic Europe’ … what does this actually indicate in ethnicity terms. Thank you

    • Ethnicity is only an estimate and will change over time. There are 2 articles that discuss this. Type ethnicity into the search box.

      • Hello. My recent searches ended at John Singletary Donham ( Dunham). There was a note documented that said “ Lost Colony of Roanoke.” I’m interested in knowing more.

    • I **really** wouldn’t put so much faith in Ancestry’s “ethnicity estimate”, especially when it comes to distinguishing between “England, Wales and Northwestern Europe” and “Germanic Europe”.

      I mean, why do you suppose the former group includes “Northwestern Europe” even in the name? It’s because Ancestry discovered that whether or not there are actually any samples from NW Europe in their reference panel for this region, this DNA is pretty commonly found on the European continent and not just in Great Britain.

      This isn’t because there was some huge wave of British migration to the continent, including Germany, but the other way around. Where do you think the Angles and the Saxons — who are tribes behind that term “Anglo-Saxon” — came from in the first place?

      But to be more specific, my ancestry consists of somewhat less than half British and Irish combined (about 41%), a little over a third German (34%), an eighth Menorcan Spanish (12.5%), a sixteen Alsatian (6.25%), and the remainder is French, Native American, and Swiss.

      This, however, is not what Ancestry says. No, they have me as 80% “England, Wales and Northwestern Europe”, 11% “Ireland and Scotland”, 6% “Germanic Europe”, 2% “Native American — North, Central, South”, and 1% “Finland”.

      Clearly, they have thrown most of my German ancestry — which is from the colonial era — in with “England, Wales and Northwestern Europe”. (And technically, Germany *is* in Northwestern Europe.) Possibly, they’ve put **all** of my German ancestry there, since it could be the 6.25% Alsatian that is responsible for the entire 6% “Germanic Europe”. This is comparatively recent ancestry for me — one of my 2nd great grandmothers was born in Alsace-Lorraine.

      Ancestry clearly isn’t identifying the DNA I inherited from her as “France”, so it has to be either under “England, Wales and Northwestern Europe” or “Germanic Europe”.

      They also don’t see my Menorcan ancestry at all. But two of my 2nd great grandfathers were born there. So my DNA inheritance should be about the same as if it were from one great grandparent. Yet Ancestry can’t identify any of my DNA as either Spanish — Menorca is part of Spain, after all — or as French. (Like the rest of Catalonia, there is also French influence present.)

      Does ThruLines show my connection back to these Ancestors? It certainly does, and I have DNA matches with descendants of multiple children of all three of these 2nd great grandparents. (Some of whom do show Spanish and/or French at Ancestry.)

      Also, my daughter and the daughter of one of my sisters both show a small amount of “Portuguese” ancestry. In the case of my daughter it’s strange, because *neither* of her parents shows this ancestry — although I probably should, or else Spanish or French. (And some of that remaining ancestry that I didn’t specify happens to *be* French, about 3%.)

      So please, please, please don’t take Ancestry’s “estimate” as the final word in where your ancestors came from. All they can say is that portions of your DNA seem to be like their reference panel from one region or another. And they’re not comparing you to anyone who lived when your ancestors did, but to other living people.

      They’d get similar results — in fact, they do — if they tested Europeans. Some people from the continent, with all of their ancestors from the continent, would **still** show a high percentage of “England, Wales and Northwestern Europe”. That’s because the British have ancestry from the continent of Europe, not because continental Europeans have significant ancestry from Great Britain. (Though, of course, some individuals probably do.)

  2. Roberta, I am working with a group of cousins identified via YDNA tests initially – one of which is a genealogist who has done a lot of research on the earliest generations of this particular family. Actually, lines of two of the four identified original brothers of the family have been researched extensively by noted genealogists, e.g. Brent Holcombe; but unfortunately, most of us in the group look to be from the other brothers.

    We have made some progress – using the knowledge of the earliest generations, tips provided by elder cousins from later generations; a lot of research and recently from clues I’ve found from DNA cousins’ trees. I realize these are just clues and it could be that these cousins’ family trees are incorrect. But I cannot seem to convince the “genealogist” in our group that the information from these trees may be correct and need to be taken into consideration – at least in terms of follow up research.

    These matches are generally around 14 – 20 cM which would correlate with the distance of our supposed ancestor. (In the meantime, I am ordering autosomal DNA tests for all the older members of our group as they are a generation older than I to see if they also match the same DNA cousins and to hopefully discover new matches)

    Is there a particular article you’ve written which I might use to convince her of the importance of using autosomal DNA as an additional tool when researching and tracing a family tree? I certainly appreciate the importance of finding land deeds, wills, etc. to prove a line. But I think DNA matches – particular those with trees that seem to match the same family line – and an individual ancestor you have identified- can be just as useful. Thanks, Deborah

    • Wow, I can’t believe any professional genealogist today would need to be convinced. Absolutely DO test all of the older generation.

  3. Hi Roberta, first I appreciate that you blog about genetic genealogy and are willing to answer questions on the topic. My sister, daughter and I all did DNA tests with 23andMe. My sister and I had mtDNA of A2g. My daughter’s mtDNA is A2g1. I’ve read that older women who have one result may differ from a younger woman from the same family due to “aging” of the mtDNA. My sister was 78 when her test was done. I was about 63, and my daughter was 37 or so. Could you weigh in on an explanation of why our mtDNA differs?

    • The references may have changed between them and now. There’s really no way for me to guess. Have you asked 23andMe? It would not be due to your ages.

  4. I’m a little late to the party, but regarding your blog posting of Dec. 28, 2014: “Agnes Muncy (1803-after1880), A Grieved Mother, 52 Ancestors #52”. Agnes’ daughter Rebecca is my great-great grandmother. Would my DNA results from Ancestry.com be of interest to you?

    • Hi Van. You’re not late – you’re right on time:) You can transfer your file to Family Tree DNA and participate in matching there too. In terms of mitochondrial DNA, do you descend from Rebecca through all females from her to you? If so, you carry her mitochondrial DNA and yes, I’d be very interesting in communicating about that.

  5. Sir — I have done extensive research into my family tree and find virtually all 256 ggggg-grandparents are from either France or Quebec, with notable German exceptions. Furthermore, the majority of my French ancestors are from Normandy. Given this information, I am surprised to see a high proportion of Baltic area contribution using Eurogenes 13 model in GEDmatch. And recently your 3D PCA analysis has shown me to have some Russian/Swedish/Finnish contribution, which I find interesting and confusing. Can you elaborate on why a French guy from Louisiana has so much of this “non-French” DNA? Thanks. CJC

    • You have me confused with someone else. I’m not a sir, I don’t do 3D PCA analysis and I have not done any analysis for you. Maybe you posted this to the wrong place?

  6. My Dad and I recently took a MyHeritage DNA test. I have 49.9% of his DNA which is to be expected.
    His account shows Person “Y” an extended family match of 93cM, 6 segments, largest segment 33 cM. Person “Y” doesn’t match to me at all. I’ve tried running the MyHeritage triangulation tool and Person “Y” doesn’t match me even at 2cM. . I acknowledge this could be random chunks of DNA but it doesn’t seem very likely. Is there another possibility?

  7. I’m wondering if you could give more information about your DNA reports such as what information is provided and what information you require. I’ve taken an MtDNA full sequence at FTDNA.

    • Hi Kathy,

      I ask each client for their questions, and their tree, as much as they have. I provide a report that provides about 20 pages of educational material, then the rest is your results with explanations of what they mean. The reports are at lease 70 pges, but often 90 pages and sometimes more, depending on what is able to be discerned.

  8. Roberta,
    If you are the author of this piece, we are definitely cousins. I am a descendent of Antoine through his son William Henry, and his son Joseph Francis. My mother ( now age 93) knew very little of her father’s family. This is fascinating, but may “rock her world view” of her father and his family. I am not sure if we can connect through these pages, but hope you are able to contact me directly. We still own a home in Warren County PA. We have a huge amount of genealogy on the maternal side of the family, but my mother’s maiden name (Lore) and the paternal side has always been a mystery, You have enlightened us! I, of course, wonder if the the mystery was because my grandfather did not want to reveal his heritage. He became an engineer AND Methodist minister, The strict Catholicism and possible piracy/drowning of Antoine may have been something he might have wanted to keep quiet, Interesting!

    • Hi Carey. Indeed, I am the author. I would love to connect with you. I will email you in a day or so when I’m where I can. Thus is exciting!

  9. father, mother, daughter tested same company. My daughter has significant results that neither of us parents have? I’ve scoured your website, and can’t find an article that would help us understand this? Can you direct me to one?

    • Each person will have about 15-20% of their matches they are identical by chance. That’s the phrase you are looking for.

  10. Just heard your webinar. All but the last five minutes anyway. 🙂

    I was a user of Family Tree DNA starting in 2003. About the earliest thing I found was that I was related to a completely different Paternal line than the one my 2g-gfather was supposedly in. He was put in this family by a conventional genealogist in the 1970’s, maybe earlier. Not clear on when.

    When I joined Davidson/Davison/Davisson Research DNA Study Project I found I was in Family 1. The project administrator, also in Family 1, worked with me on this question.
    There was the possibility the father of the “wrong” family was related thru Y-DNA as well, but the given names in the available pedigree did not match up at all with given names used in my line. Especially the names of my 2g-grandfather and his sons. It is a little more complicated than this, but I was finally able to contact a male descendant of the other family. He is in Family 8 of the study.

    Unfortunately there are scores of Family Trees on Ancestry which have picked up and propagated the wrong pedigree. In addition, I have cousins who are very vested in the wrong pedigree as they have put in hundreds of hours of work based on it. For some, supposedly tracing back to Rev War participants.

    I have a few questions but will leave them for another time.

    Thank you

    • We re-recorded the last few minutes of the Webinar and Geoff is splicing them together. So as soon as he gets that done you can see the last few minutes.

      • Based on your terminology I am referring to my Patrilineal line. Hope this was obvious.
        Thank you, John D.

  11. I said yesterday I have other questions. One I would like addressed is about the FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder “X-Match” feature.

    If you prefer to direct me to papers, other references please do.

    The first concerns the difference between this and MtDNA.

    Case in point: In FTNDA Family Finder my mother (Frances) has a woman Paternal 4th cousin (Carol) through the woman’s Matrilineal line. This line eventually comes to the spouse of a brother of my mother’s 2G-gfather in my mother’s Patrilineal line. They are shown by FTDNA FF to have an X-Match. They have a shared cM of 42 (block length 16).

    How does this work? Is there another connection somehow? As to my understanding of the X chromosome. The male only gets his mother’s, the female one from her mother one from her father. Correct? So a son could have the X from his mother’s father. But MtDNA only traces through the Matrilineal line.

    We do not have any evidence they are also related through my mother’s Matrilineal line. There is no MtDNA connection at all. And this was very unlikely as there is an ethnic uniqueness involved not shared between them.

    Would there be a connection required somehow through my mother’s mother’s father’s mother? Would that be an avenue to pursue? i.e. finding another genetic connection in that line besides the one we know? Carol has looked at my Ancestry tree and did not notice anything of note.

    One other little anecdote about being related to Carol. When Carol and I started looking at our connections in my FTDNA FF results, we found a common cousin of interest. (She and I DO NOT have an X-Match but are at 45 cM block 16.) As I recall we were in contact with him. It was quite some time back.The three of us tried to determine how we each fit in together. Eventually it turned out I was related to him through my father, and not my mother through whom I was related to Carol. We did not pursue this further as there were and are easier problems to work on.

    Just realized something interesting. Can I have a greater cM number with her than my mother does? And be strictly related through my mother? I suspect not.

    Thank you for your time,
    John Davidson

  12. How can I get another email from you where I can confirm that I’d like to receive notifications of your blog? I guess I missed the original and keep signing in and am told to find the original. And I can’t find it.

    • The only thing I know to have you do is unsubscribe and resubscribe. All of that is taken care of behind the scenes.

  13. I received your invitation but the “Confirm Follow” button didn’t seem to click through. I don’t think I’m confirmed as a follower as yet. I did not receive today’s post.

    • Hi Linda. I just tried from a different email account and it clicked through fine, so I don’t know. Maybe try again? Or try subscribing from a different account? I’ve never heard of this before and subscriptions are automated behind the scenes, so as the blogger, I don’t see any of that. I apologize.

  14. There have been a few interesting articles about cold cases using non-follicle hair samples to exact dna from it’s core but none of the testing companies are able to provide any comment on this type of testing as it falls outside of the products they provide. Any thoughts on whether this type of testing will ever become a viable ‘off the shelve’ kit testing option or is it likely to remain the domain of forensic testing agencies for the foreseeable future?

  15. Among my inherited objects is my paternal grandfather’s watch fob. He died in 1961. I’ve often wished I had a sample of his dna. I just came across the watch fob, and wondered if this is possibly a gold mine with his dna, my father’s, my grandmothers, some uncles, etc.

    Is it possible, practical to get maybe 12 different individual’s dna from something like this?
    Thanks for your thoughts

  16. Abraham Estes Sr. was my 7th ggrandfather. I was referred to you by a shared cousin you have with me. I would love to share your blog on my Facebook since all 271 friends are acutely my relatives. Half of them are both of our relatives. Thank you for your work. Lori Whitbeck

    • Of course you are welcome to share the articles about our Estes family. I wrote about Barbara too. Pleased to meet you, Cousin.

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