About Me

Roberta EstesRoberta Estes has been a professional scientist and business owner for 25+ years, (BS Computer Science, MBA, graduate work in Geographic Information Systems), as well as an obsessed genealogist since 1978.

In 2005, reflecting her interest and expertise in genetics for genealogy, she formed DNAeXplain, a company providing individual analysis of DNA results and genealogical assistance.

In 2009, DNAeXplain and Family Tree DNA teamed to jointly offer Personalized DNA Reports for customers. You can order reports or a Quick Consult in the store right here today.

In 2000, thanks to FamilyTreeDNA, the infant scientific field of DNA for genealogy emerged, allowing DNA to be used to trace individuals to common ancestors. With traditional genealogical records already researched to no avail, and several brick walls needing to fall, Roberta was one of the early DNA surname administrators and pioneer adopters of DNA analysis for genealogy.

Roberta manages over 20 surname projects and is the founder of the Lost Colony DNA research projects. Her regional Cumberland Gap Yline and mitochondrial DNA projects have several thousand participants. She also co-administers several Native American and African DNA projects and serves in an advisory capacity for the Melungeon project and other groups.

Roberta speaks and writes widely about DNA and genealogy, including the Native Heritage Project at www.nativeheritageproject.com.

You can e-mail Roberta at roberta@dnaexplain.com.

414 thoughts on “About Me

  1. In my mtDNA matches there is a “Patricia Ann Campbell Hardy” and when I Googled her your site came up. Do you know her or how I can reach her? Thanks, Mary Villalba estre68132@msn.com

  2. Yes, she did test at FTDNA, and since she also posted that she was desperate to break down one of her brick walls, you would think that she might have put her e-mail onto the site, but she didn’t. I have contacted FTDNA to see if they can get a message to her, but haven’t heard back. Just thought this might be a resource….thanks, m

  3. When I originally commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify
    me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a
    comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same
    comment. Perhaps there is a means you can remove me from that service?
    Thank you!

    • All of the known Estes lines in the US descend from the Estes family of Kent, England, except for undocumented adoptions and such, of course. So, I would assume indeed that Phredonia Estes was one of the Kent line descendants.

  4. Hello I was wondering if you guys can help me out with what tribute I come from I’m adopted I just know my dad Indian Can you please help me thank you

  5. Hello, Roberta,
    I enjoy your blog posts very much. Until yesterday, I never was able to connect my 6th great grandmother, Rachel Estes (1762 – 1802) and her parents, Abraham Estes (abt 1729-1788) and Keziah Ferguson (1728-1787) to your line of Estes going back to Kent. I finally found the information I needed on David Powell’s website, which link you provided. Thank you! I now know I am descended from them through Abraham & Barbara’s son Elisha. Who is our MRCA?

  6. Roberta, I just read your 2009 paper on Beechland and your analysis of Tyrrell County census information. I am trying to understand the relationship of my Armstrong line to 3 “free people of color” family surnames in Tyrrell County: Hill, Bryan and Rousom. My GGGgrandfather, William G. Armstrong;, his brother, Bennett; his cousin Jones D.; his father Holloway and Holloway’s widow, Charlotte — all, at one time or another, had members of those families living with them. Twice — in the case of Micajah Rousom and Jack Bryan– they were in apprentice relationships, but there is no explanation for the presence of others. My GG grandmother, Mary Ann Armstrong Parisher, appears to be mixed (interestingly, her father, William G. was a slaveholder) and I am wondering whether she was somehow related to those families. (her picture is at http://www.goingdownhome.blogspot.com). Any tips on how to research the relationship of these free people of color to the “white” households where they were documented by the 1850 and 1860 census?

  7. Pingback: Last Call | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  8. Just a note to thank you for all of your leg-work on a subject (i.e., genealogy) that is dear to my heart as well. I am still endeavoring to unlock all of the roadblocks that lead back to my deep English ancestry.

  9. Q: As an adoptee, I have the ethnic history of my mother but not my father. If I do DNA testing, would I be able to attribute new info to my birth father? That is, if Filipino or French ethnicity shows up – could I assume that was from Pop? Would DNA testing show info at those levels? We remaining siblings (5 of 9) are thinking about DNA testing as a way to get better info on our parentage. Pls resp to my email. THX Y Lyon

  10. Doesn’t the Gedmatch program only consider you a match if you use 700 SNP which is the default and Minimum and you use segment 7 cM which is also the default. Here is a quote on their page “Estimates of ‘generations’ are provided as a relative means of comparison, and should not be taken too literally, especially for more than a couple of generations back.” and “Autosomal results with a largest segment less than 7 cM are usually not considered a ‘match’.
    Leave the default values if you are unsure.” and “To qualify as a ‘match’ in the genealogical time frame, results must have a largest Autosomal segment that has at least 700 SNPs and be at least 7 cM.
    It must have BOTH”

  11. having tested with Nat Geo geno 2. what other information would I received or how much clearer would it be from Family Tree DNA. such as I have Neanderthal 3.2 % which I have no idea what that means were my Grandmothers in Germany having a good time ? I am thinking of the $199.00 kit mtdna
    I appreciate your help

    • You receive matches from Family Tree DNA and you also receive several tabs that include various types of data about your haplogroup and matches. Look at the article titled “Working with Mitochondrial DNA.”

  12. Hello 🙂 On 23andme a match at 30% and half-sister came up .. I sent the contact but no response – is there any way to tell if it was received or if the email bounced? If it was read and ignored? Or if it was sent and delivered successfully to their email but just not read yet? Is there any avenue to help with the contact? (I have been tokenized and pending batch processing on GEDmatch for a one to many in the hope of an email address there). Any help or suggestions much appreciated. I am adopted so this was very excited, totally ok if they chose no contact, but if its that we dont connect due to being sent to spam or an old email that is a shame. Thank you for any help.

    • No way at 23andMe to know. You can send a second request but after 2, I think that’s the limit. If you have not done so, contact the DNA Adoption group. Look under the help tab at the top of the blog for their link.

  13. Roberta, do you have any Apache info, are you interested in Apache info ? I have a lot of Apache info.

  14. Love finding your blog! It has been so interesting to read. I descend through the line of Joshua Warren Brock, Jr who parents were Frances Estes and Joshua Warren Brock, Sr.

  15. Gershom Hall, jr.:
    Dear Roberta,
    Thank you for all the help you have given people through your blog and through the various groups on FB.

    I believe the Gershom Hall you mentioned in your recent blog post is the son of Gershom Hall and Mary Hanks. I am not a direct descendant of the elder Gershom, I am a descendant of Gershom Sr.’s Parents, James Hall and Mehitable Wood, via Gershom Sr. ‘s sister Mary (1717-1778). Mary Hall is my 6th great grandmother.
    The line is via my Father’s side (Mary is his 5th great grandmother). I don’t know if this will proven useful to you, but I really hope it does – it would make me happy to know I helped you in even a small way, after all you have done for me.
    Andrea Noyes

  16. hi Roberta,

    I’m a beginner in the field of genetics my ydna is R1A1 and my mtdna is L2A1C, my FFresult are completed last friday which is as follows;

    African: 60%
    -west Africa :38%
    – Eeast central Africa 22%

    Middle Eastern: 36%
    -Eastern middle east: 21%
    -North Africa:15%

    European: 04%
    – Southern European:04%

    my question is that this result can be compatible with my YDNA AN MTDNA haplogroups or is it that there’s something that does not correct in this result ?

  17. Hi Roberta, I have tested with all three testing companies. I have several Estes matches at DNAGedCom.com and Gedmatch.com. One is a Robert Estes and another is a Roberta L. Estes who both tested with FTDNA. I guess that last one is not you since your middle initial is J.

    When I search for my match with these two people on FTDNA, I get nothing under a surname search but when I do ancestral surnames using Estes, I get 5 matches (none have the surname of Estes and none have the same e-mail that I have found on DNAgedCom.com or Gedmatch.com).

    The surnames of my 5 “Ancestral surnames of Estes” matches are Garrett, Sessions, Jones, Pickel, & Kalkhurst. Of these, 3 have family tree’s uploaded to FTNDA and all of the Estes in their family trees are in the 1700’s and early 1800’s. (One is Ambrose Estes b. in 1737. I have to go back to your 52 Ancestor’s blogs, but didn’t you have an Amrose in your family tree?). Anyway, besides seeing your surname and my matches surnames and hoping that we also match in some way … I really don’t know how to proceed because no one has e-mailed me back and the e-mail from the two other tools mentioned above is not the same as on FTDNA where they tested. Additionally, I am adopted so I do not have a family tree to compare to theirs in order to track down where we match each other.

    Do you have any ideas on what to do here? Should I just let the surname go and work strictly with Chromosomes and try to sort things out that way? I am very new to understanding DNA, but I have signed up for a course through DNAgedCom.com called “working with Autosomal Results” that starts tomorrow.

    I have just started e-mailing people with the largest Cm on Autosomal DNA to ask them to upload their results to Gedmatch, but I haven’t received any answers so far. This is frustrating because I really thought the majority of people at FTDNA were actually interested in using DNA to track down their missing family links.

    Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated


    • There are a # of Estes intermarriages on my tree between Estes folk & surnamed Garretts/Jarretts, as well as Halls, across multiple states & eras. My paternal gggf was a Wm. Garrett “Gary” Estes, and that name, the similar “Jarrett”, as well as Moreau/Munro/Monroe, were repeatedly used by Georgia & TN Esteses for first & middle names. I believe I also have an Ambrose Estes; will look. Just fyi. 🙂

  18. I came across this resource on a podcast. It is a searchable database of @ 64,000 people who migrated to England from 1330 to 1550. I have not figured out how to use it, but thought you might want to know about it, as you had mentioned possible Italian heritage in the Estes line. The web page is http://www.englandsimmigrants.com .

  19. Roberta, I wanted to point out an issue with ancestry DNA Circles which I have not been able to get resolved because the developers at ancestry dna choose to assume that all circles display problems are due to someone changing a tree and the circle disbanding. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE! and I have given them specific evidence. I logged on one day a couple of weeks ago to find that every one of my circles had disappeared from my dna home page. This was just a couple of days after they launched their New Ancestor Discoveries. In going back to several matches that were known circle connections, I found that when I clicked on the match, sure enough, my circle connection was listed there with the person and I could click on the ancestor and get to all of the information about all of my matches within the circle. It is just not showing up on the home page where it should. You have to know who the circle member matches are to be able to find the circles again. Maybe you have some clout to help get this fixed and get the developers to listen to the customers who are giving them the solutions to their bugs. I hope you can move this issue along. Thanks

  20. Unfortunately, three calls over the course of a week, each time providing more detailed evidence have resulted in the same canned response. I would like others in the DNA community to be aware of the problem and keep an eye out if their circles disappear. They may be able to re-access the circles by going to a circle match. Also, I encourage anyone who has the same problem to call ancestry DNA and let them know. Thank you.

  21. Hi! 🙂 I have a problem. I can not find informations about my Y-DNA. On Familytreedna my haplogroup is R-M512. And is says:
    The undifferentiated R1 lineage is quite rare. It is found only at very low frequencies in Europe, Central Asia, and South Asia. This lineage possibly originated in Europe and then migrated east into Asia.
    So I am asking – do you have more knowledge about this haplogroup is it Slav-Celtic.. can you give me some more informations about it please? Thanks 🙂

  22. Hello, Roberta. Fascinating site. Thank your work helping educate the public about DNA. I just happened across your write-up on Baby Boy Hatch. If I may suggest, this is a story that teaches us some important lessons. Fore one, we learn that 1940’s were not an entirely wholesome and innocent time. It also teaches us that one person’s one-line comment can be another’s life revelation. This story would be great for an investigative Television documentary. It could get wide viewership that could perhaps help find answers. I don’t know anyone in Television, but I bet a Chicago based media company like Oprah’s Harpo Productions might be interested. Your thoughts?

  23. Hi Roberta, Your blog is awesome! Having just begun with 23andMe in March, and having done amateur genealogy in my spare time for over 10 years, many of your posts here are really useful to me —— I have made a new website for my extended family to share information, and for me to document my progress. http://genealogy.fanucci.us/ with some links to your pertinent blog articles, to give you attribution for your valuable work here. Thank you for what you do!

  24. hi Roberta,
    please i need your help today i find this terms in my haplotree page “The undifferentiated R1 lineage is quite rare. It is found only at very low frequencies in Europe, Central Asia, and South Asia. This lineage possibly originated in Europe and then migrated east into Asia” despite i am R-M459 haplogroup confirmed so what this term means?


  25. Roberta- I am a descendant from Laban Goins(Mulatto) and I have some pictures and most of the family tree completed. I also took a DNA test and it shows 1.5% sub-Saharan African blood. Would love to talk to you.


  26. My father is 3/4 Chippewa indian we dont know what the 1/4 is. Now my mother is irish dutch english and Scottish. What percentage of Chippewa indian am I?

  27. My name is Daniel and I’m an adoptee, I would like to know where I can find information about my adoption. I was born in ioanina Greece by a family from brooklyn N.Y. I cant seem to find any information about my adoption , i’ve tried websites locator services and even the Greek embassy without any results, any help would be greatly appreciated.

  28. Roberta, I just got mtDNA results back from Family Tree DNA. My paternal grandmother’s great-grandmother is a dead end for our family. However, family lore has always said she was Native American (photos seemed to prove this true, although I know you can’t always tell). My grandmother’s mtDNA Haplogroup is L2a1a1. Does this rule out my great-great-great grandmother being 100% Native American or is it possible that this haplogroup is also found in Native American populations? Also there were 0 matches on family tree. Can you recommend other websites where I could look to find matches? Thanks so much!

  29. Roberta, am fairly new to your site, but am following it closely now as I
    a/ find it fascinating and b/ encourage others in my genealogy club to read it, while on their DNA journey. I just read your article ‘ The Kings and I’. I could feel your elation. I also recognized some similar surnames, so out of curiosity, I plugged the names into my Ancestry DNA search and voila…every surname in your right hand column ( at bottom of the nobility page) came up in my matches’ lists. All the ones from Estes, Bolton, Claxton, Muncy, Brewster, Ludlow to Windsor. I was stunned, even though I realize that this could all be coincidence. But what a coincidence! Suggestions on what I should try next with this new found info? It was rather unexpected, although I knew I had some gentry from England and Ireland way back on my paternal side. I am also on Gedmatch and have tested with the three main genetic genealogy companies…Family Tree, 23andMe and Ancestry. I have a huge brick wall trying to find my maternal line, hence all of the testing. Although I am in Canada, some of my ancestors came from the US, ( Michigan, Ohio etc), but mostly the UK. Having seen your article and our common denominators, might we be connected? Perhaps this love of DNA sleuthing is in the ‘family’ genes?

  30. Hello, I am interested to know can a person match (mtDNA) full sequence with two different family names. I understand the mtDNA is passed from grandmother to mother to daughter. However, with regards to men, can they inherit mtDNA from say father’s mother and mother’s mother? The other question I have is if a child is born through surrogate mother, can the child inherit the mtDNA of the donor egg and the surrogate mother?

  31. Hi. Do you have a recommendation of DNA testing centers? Would they be more accurate than home testing? Thanks!

  32. Roberta – I’m a faithful reader of your blog and have become wrapped up with the family names and stories that are your heritage. As I do every day this morning I was reading through the names in the death notices section of the Detroit Free Press, Sept. 25, 2015, edition and came upon a name that may interest you. A 90-year old woman by the name of Virginia Lee CRUMLY died on Sept. 17. She was the wife of the late Dale Crumly and also Ellsworth Moore. Children listed are: Patricia Ullrich (Walter); Carol Spears (John); and, Debbie Woods. There are 5 grandchildren and 3 gr-grandchildren. She was the sister of Ray Pigman. From what I can determine she died at a hospital in Jackson, Mississippi.

    Don’t know if any of this information is pertinent to your research but I couldn’t let it go without passing it along to you.

    I so enjoy your blog and all the DNA information you provide. Thank you.

    Karen Krumbach
    Dearborn, MI

  33. Hello Roberta,

    All the males on my father’s side had passed and I was resigned to never having DNA info on my paternal side. Then it occurred to me to check with Kaiser to see if they had any tissue samples of my father who passed in late 2010 and they did! The issue is that it is encased in paraffin, a common practice to preserve tissue.

    It appears that the common DNA ancestry companies accept only swaps to extra DNA. Do you know whom I could send this one (precious) paraffin tissue sample for analysis? Thank you!!

  34. I’d like to know what percentage of Native American am I? Paternal-Arterberry. Step Dad- Cullum. Maternal- Stennis and Sherrod. Please help?

    I’m 52 yrs old and I’ve been trying to find out what tribes my parents originated from since I was a I! Please help!

  35. Hi Roberta…. Where can I see a listing of your ancestors that you have been writing about. I have Combs and found that interesting. Also ran across a person recently with Estes in Illinois. There have been several times that I wanted to reread something about your ancestors and sometimes how you got from A to B. Do you have a listing somewhere on number 1 to number 95?

  36. First, thank you for your extensive research and willingness to share. I have been comparing the data you have collected regarding the ancient dna sample obtained from the Clovis Montana sample. In comparing my own dna to this sample in gedmatch.com, I seem to have a lot of shared segments. Although I have read through the articles you have generously authored, I’m still quite confused by the match. So, either I’ve misunderstood or there seems to be reason to believe I’m descended from this population. My largest segment is 4.0 centimorgans and my total of segments 1.5 cM or greater is 139.0cM. Any information you could provide is greatly appreciated. If there is more information I can provide, please let me know.

    Kindest regards,

  37. In your most recent blog post, “Jacob Kirsch (1841-1917), Lynching Saloonist With a Glass Eye, 52 Ancestors #109” you mentioned a “DNA testing scholarship.” What is that?

    • That’s where the DNA test for a Kirsch male (in this case) from that lineage is paid for. A lot of people offer scholarships for lines they need to have tested but can’t do the test themselves and can’t find someone else to do them.

  38. Roberta I have been sorting out my paternal line after testing 6 years ago. I was adopted and after unsealing my adoption records through the courts I found my mother’s family in an hour.

    Now on the Y-DNA tasting, I match two men 66/67 markers (ftdna) with one point differential (28 instead of 27). The two men share a common grandfather/father, a hal uncle and half nephew.

    This grandfather (deceased) had 3 sons all by a different woman. The uncle is illegitimate like me. These men all were in the same vicinity at the time of my conception and all within 5 years of my mother’s age at that time. My biological mother did not include the father on my birth certificate.

    All logic points to one of these three men being in the same geographic place at the same time. There is still one more living male that is from the 3rd son who may prove that I am one of the half uncles of the living family members and likely a son on the closest common ancestor, born 1903 and died 1967. He actually had an illegitimate son in 1965. I was born in 1954.

    I am a research investigator and genealogist. I can find things pretty quickly with evidence. Can you give me a hint as to who I am?

  39. What (specific) type of DNA test can be used on the remains of an old grave contents…assuming there are jaw bone with teeth or other viable DNA habitats still there?

  40. id like to do this dna thing….i am a chiefs dtr…as my familial oral history is all i know of myself…because….accordinding to this oral history….there was only 13 original males who began population here….we were first humans….the 13 chiefs went to war never to return…so before they left us on the mountains they made us promise that the wives of the 13 would give their first sons back to the mountains to maintain the worlds balance….being that the burden was placed on the women and we were left here nearly annihilated…impoverished…i dont know what to do with this burden….i know of none of the other 12 original lines or their outcome…..i only know for 4 generations now my foremothers have been unwilling or unable…and my first son was killed….before i leave this earth i need to leave this burden with one of my daughters….i need to know how true my oral history has been to me about my tribe…before i lay this burden on another one of our generational mothers…i need peace and forgiveness from my ancestors above to know i tried my best…or i need to know it was all just false native legend so i can break this curse of my greatgreatgrandfather and greatgreatgrandmother chieftains..please help me put the pieces and correct answers into perspective….we are dyeng…and going extinct everyday…and its possible that history has already annihilated our 12sister tribes…id like to know who or where they are as well…my most recent tribal name is chela…my tribal name is the color of certain sun rays or amber…my dead mothers would be very opposed to the nature of this testing…i was indoctrinated to never be more than affilliated and certainly not participant to our current america…id like to break this chain of thought by taking these test and maybe learning some truths

  41. I am trying to find out how much Indian is in me and what kind. I also want to find out what else I have in me, if anybody has any idea how to do this please let me know thank you

  42. Hope this is not a double post …. a bit of trouble trying to comment on the article:

    “Happy to have your blog sent to me by a cousin and cohort in our mutual Mann family (yours included 😉 We have several involved in a DNA project but only one has used Ancestry for the test. Looking forward to more useful info here on interpreting our results and hopefully, how to share such detail with interested family members. Thanks for your time and effort! ”

  43. Roberta, through Ancestry.com, the first test I had was a swab test in 2010 and the results were Haplogroup H. Then I had a mtDNA test in 2014 and I received the ethnicity breakdown. The latest test was an Autosomal test and the results almost matched what I already knew with the mtDNA test.. As I am teaching a genealogy class and several of my students are interested in taking DNA tests, are the Autosomal test results exactly the same as my mtDNA results? Is there some other results that I should be looking for or is this the extent of the ethnicity breakdown for me? I didn’t get any specifics that they had received my Autosomal test at all…no one got back to me after that so I don’t know if my test was lost!!

    • No they are not the same. Your mtdna test shows you one line only into deep history snd dutodal shows you all your lines back about 6 generations. Search for the words “4 kinds” in the blog search box for a short article that describes the difference.

      • Thank you…does that mean that if Ancestry.com doesn’t do anything about my test results (Autosomal test sent in March 2015 returned with same results [???] as my mtDNA test done in 2014), I assume they didn’t get my Autosomal test, that they think that I will accept my findings from my mtDNA test in 2014, that they will not follow up with my lost test, or that they think that I will order another Autosomal test? Who is the best person to talk to about my test that I sent in March of 2015? I keep getting the same runaround at AncestryDNA. Is there another testing company that may help me or is AncestryDNA the only company offering the Autosomal test? These are not cheap tests as you know!!

        • You need to call ancestry about your results. They will get it straightened out. Yes, Family Tree DNA also does the testing but if you get your ancestry results you can transfer for $39 and be in both data bases.

          • Thank you so much for help…I’ve been waiting a long time to get any type of help with this and now, perhaps, I’ll get my answer!

  44. Hi! I have not done a DNA test myself but my paternal great uncle and maternal great grandmother have. I was wondering if you could do kind of a partial approximation of part of my ethnicity based on it.

    My great uncle (dad’s dad’s brother)’s AncestryDNA results were:
    33% Europe West
    23% Great Britain
    17% Scandinavian
    10% Irish
    6% Europe East
    4% Italy/Greece
    4% Iberian
    3% Caucacus

    My maternal great grandmother (mom’s mom’s mom)’s AncestryDNA results were:
    40% Great Britain
    18% Scandinavian
    14% Europe West
    13% Europe East
    7% Irish
    7% Italy/Greece
    <1% Iberian

    I understand that you cannot give me an exact amount, but I was wondering if you could give me this part of my ethnicity approximately. I know it's only 3/8 of my DNA. Thank you so much! Your site is amazing!!!!!!

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