About Me

Roberta 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.  Please visit the web site at www.dnaexplain.com

In 2009, DNAeXplain and Family Tree DNA teamed to jointly offer Personalized DNA Reports for customers.  http://www.dnaxplain.com/shop/features.aspx

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.

252 thoughts on “About Me

  1. I think that the idea of “Asian” for many people is China and the surrounding areas. They forget that Asia is the largest continent in the world and includes many other areas such as Russia and the Middle East (i.e., Middle East Asia).

    The boundaries of Asia are traditionally determined as that of Eurasia, as there is no significant geographical separation between Asia and Europe. The most commonly accepted boundaries place Asia to the east of the Suez Canal, the Ural River, and the Ural Mountains, and south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas.[4] It is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean and on the north by the Arctic Ocean.

    Here is a list of some of the countries that are in Asia:

    * WEST ASIA – Isreal, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, and all other Arabic nations.

    * CENTRAL ASIA – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia.

    * SOUTH ASIA – Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India.

    * SOUTH EAST ASIA – Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indoneisa, Brunei, Papua New Guinea, Philippines.

    * NORTH EAST ASIA – Mongolia, Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea.

    As you can see, many of these countries are near, share borders with, or share shipping/trade routes with Europe.

    If you are talking about Y-DNA, you have to remember that goes back further than a paper genealogy trail can go, PLUS, you have to remember that populations of people were not static and moved to find a better life, moved into an area to conquer more land, or had families with natives of areas where there were shipping/trade routes.

    • Wow, thank you for your extensive reply. My paternal great uncle’s Ancestry DNA results showed a trace region of 3% from Caucacus. Could this be where the Haplogroup came from?

  2. So interesting, my relatives come from Central Asia and maybe from Eastern Asia. My maternal grandparents were from Ukraine. I haven’t been on this site for over a year and have my DNA analysis from 23andMe at being Caucasian but I don’t know the percentage and also from Eastern European. Now what Haplogroup is it that you are from, mine is T2b3 and would like to communicate with you..

  3. Hi I’m not sure if my earlier comment posted or not but here it goes again…23 and me DNA report stated I am 36% Native American and my haplo group is C1D. How accurate is this report and is this haplo group extremely rare? Thanks in advance

  4. Hello Roberta –

    I be reading about this because lately I have have been running into “Get relatives tested!”. Unfortunately, i am the only one interested in genealogy alive today, in my family. I am sure my brother and my parents would do it, but unfortunately they have “moved on”. My brother’s ashes are still available (provided the “Wicked Witch of the North” would lend access to them.) I do have two sisters and some cousins and a second cousin (who is into genealogy) but I do not know how much their DNA would offer.

    What would you recommend I do? Have have had all three of mine done for sometime now.

    Thanks, Jim

    • Absolutely test your two sisters and your second cousin. Your sisters will both carry part of your parents DNA that you don’t, so it will help immensely in terms of matching. Your second cousins will too. If you match your second cousin and someone else on the same segment, for example, you’ll know the match came from that line in the family.

  5. Hi–I am trying to help someone get into the DAR. We were wondering if you have a Will for Jacob, son of Henry who married Elizabeth Inksell? I would hope that the will would show son Peter. Thanks in advance! (past Registrar, Major James Kerr Chapter, DAR, Kerrville, TX

  6. I am finding a number of “fairly significant” matches (i.e., 20-30 cM) for which the MRCA seems to be of early German/Dutch ancestry in Albany NY, most of whom were born somewhere between 1615-1630. I have DNA tests results from siblings, first, second, third, fourth cousins — and even a couple of 9th cousins, who also share matches with these people. My only portal to this group is through who I think is my 2rd great-grandmother (this is what I’m trying to establish). Help me make sense of this please!

    Nancy A

  7. Hi, Roberta, I think i would be useful if you could post, in “About Me,” your autosomal account usernames on 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and FTDNA, and your kit number on GEDmatch — assuming as I suppose that you have all these.

    In particular, as I have some Millers who were Brethren in Pennsylvania in the 1700’s, there’s always that odd chance. Just for reference, my GEDmatch kit is A213425

  8. I’m posting here because I couldn’t find a email address for you. I’ve just started playing with the new maternal and paternal matching in FTDNA and am wondering what you think of it. I know you wrote a blog entry on it but I don’t recall mention of how good a job you thought it was doing, Its a propitiatory algorithm so I’m wondering if there’s any way to gauge how accurate a job its doing. As I understanding things its basically phasing with first cousins as well as more immediate relatives to form its judgments.

  9. I’m posting here because I couldn’t find an email address for you. I’ve been reading your blog for some time. If you haven’t already read it, I’d like to recommend the 2010 New York Times Bestseller, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloots. It reads like a detective novel, but I thought most relevant to you and what I’ve read on your blog would be the discussion in the Afterword talking about the use of human biological materials in scientific research – very necessary, of course, but can there be reform in how people are informed? Of course, things have changed since then, such as the U.S. Supreme Court 2013 ruling that genes can’t be patented (that DNA ”is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated), but much still needs to be resolved.

  10. Roberta,

    My mother never knew who her father was, but we always suspected one person. I recently saw a picture of her suspected father on findagrave and I see my mom’s face! It is important I obtain a high grade analysis because I am attempting to compare her to a suspected half sister (same dad, different mothers). The suspected half sister agreed and I am having her tested in Ancestry.com, 23andme, and ftdna, all applicable tests. I know it sounds like overkill, but I would like corroborated results.

    I would like to test my mother, but she is not in good health and is in a nursing home. The end is not too far away. She is not capable of providing saliva in the required quantities due to the poor health and dementia. Is there a way to “cheat” the saliva sample providing more dna, like a sterile cheek swab washed into the saliva sample with saline or distilled water, or a pin prick blood drop diluted with saline or distilled water? Is there a testing service that could use blood or tissue samples? I know these would be more “forensic grade” and more expensive. But the results are important to me and my family!


  11. Roberta,
    I have an endogamous population and we trace our line back to it then records are lost. We know we belong to this endogamous group but not how we fit in the larger picture. If we do a Y test with a male, will it tell us which line in that group we belong to or just that we are from that greater group? Can we pin down a line via Y testing?

    • The Y test will show you (hopefully) which direct paternal line you come from. So yes, you stand a good chance on that specific line. However, the Y is only relevant for that one line – but it’s VERY relevant.

  12. Thank you for your detailed information. I am still a bit confused as to which test to order…My father says he is 1/4 Native American indian, his father 1/2 NA Indian, and his mother was full blood NA Indian. I am female. so i can’t do the Y test…sounds like the mitochondria test will follow my mother’s side so do I do a combo? If so which would be the most accurate?
    Thanks, Cherie

    • You’re correct in that you can’t test for the Native line’s Y or mtDNA. You can take an autosomal test to test for ethnicity percentage estimates. You would be one eighth. You can also see if you can find someone in your family who descends from the Native woman through all females to the current generation (which can be male or female) so that you can test their mitochondrial DNA to see if it is Native.

  13. Both my father and brother are deceased and I wanted to confirm my father’s DNA. I asked 2 of my brother’s sons to do the ydna test and they both agreed. However, neither one of them is interested in genealogy and only did it to please me. I don’t think either one of them has ever accessed their results so they would be unaware of any contact by others. This is another reason why people get no response to a query.

  14. Hello Roberta

    Since being an avid follower of your blog for many years now I am constantly colouring in and handwriting fan charts for a range of different purposes for analysing the DNA of the accounts I am managing. I use Family Tree Maker for Mac but it doesn’t have nice charts like some other programs and charting companion only works on windows. I’ve googled around without much success, so was wondering if you knew of a stand alone program that would work for mac? I am loathe to abandon my FTM given all the information that is in there!


  15. I had DNA marker 12 and 25 done in 2010 through FTDNA. It shows no connection to my birth surname. However, even though my family was never around the others with my surname, we have a lot of the same features, traits and 2 of the physical abnormalities. This was a total shock to the entire family and of course my long researched family tree cannot be true.
    Going back to my research, I found a census of my Great Grandparents. At that time they had. Ren married 2 years but my Grandfather was 4 years old, I have pin pointed that my Great Grandmother is his biological mother ( named after her brother).
    I’m explaining this because I don’t know where or how to go about trying to find out what paternal family we belong to. Any test available that would help. I am female, the DNA was done on my oldest brother! Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  16. Have you gotten your results from Living DNA yet? I’m awaiting your comments before I order a kit for my husband whose immigrant ancestor’s place of origin has yet to be determined.

    Thank you!!
    Theresa McKeon Griffin

  17. Hi I am trying to help my good friend find her Estes ancestors. Her 3x ggf is Joseph T Estes born about 1827 in Tennessee, married Priscilla Cox. There are some questions about if he was a son of John R Estes 1788 (?)-1886. Any help and guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
    Sandy Trowbridge

  18. Roberta,
    I fortunately was directed to your log by a post on the Clan Campbell Society facebook page. Some of your findings are extremely intriguing to me because I have hit a dead end in searching for the ancestors of my grandfather, Charles Clifford Campbell. Would you be able to discover if your Charles, John and George Campbell are part of my ancestry? The only “official” documents that I’ve been able to locate are a WW I draft registration that shows his dob as March 1882, in York, PA.; his marriage in Maryland in July 1902; and death in Philadelphia, PA in 1965. His death certificate indicates that his father was also Charles, as provided by my eldest aunt Elizabeth.
    Charles Clifford Campbell married Estella Martha Brinckman, and had 10 children between 1902 and 1932. The are: Elizabeth, James, Gerald, Lucy, Viola Marie, Charles, George (my father), Russell, John, and Verna. As I read about naming conventions I am perplexed by that fact that my grandfather Charles, did not name a child after his father (or himself) until the 3d male. I am also curious as how the children’s names were decided. It stands to reason that the male names were in honor of other relatives, and when I saw John and George, I perked up!
    I have been unable to connect my grandfather to any of the many Campbell ancestors that others have posted about. I have no reason to look in Tennessee, but your article showing a George and a John (both children of Charles Clifford), and connected to a Charles (from my experience a relatively unusual name in the Campbell lists) who has a connection to Pennsylvania, prompts this posting.
    I have had the Ancestry DNA done, but am awaiting the Y-DNA to submit to the Clan Campbell DNA Project. Is there anything in your research that might help me determine if I am part of the Charles Campbell line you reference here, or another. Thank you for you kind assistance.

    • You might want to look again. My Charles was born sometime pre-1750 and is not Charles Clifford. Having said that, my suggestion would be to see which Campbell descendants you match most closely on the Y DNA and also on the autosomal DNA. You should take the Family Finder test too if you have not. My Charles was probably originally from Pennsylvania and immigrated into Augusta County, VA. I’m also looking for his family.

  19. I got into this ancestry business last summer because I was trying to find my husband’s birth parents and I’ve been following your blog for awhile.

    I just noticed on ancestry.com that my husband has 53 5th-8th cousin matches with a Dodson/Dotson surname in their tree going back to the 1600s. The largest segment is 13cM.

    I have determined that my husband is a descendant of George Patterson and Anny Dods. Their daughter Elizabeth married James Cairns. My husband is a Cairns determined through y-dna testing and a 1C1R match with a Cairns maiden name. One of her four uncles is my husband’s grandfather. Could these matches be from Anny Dods 1757-1795 family?

    One of his matches lists Charles Dodson and Anne Dodson and their son Thomas. Several other matches list Thomas’s sister Elisha 1727-1791. Several others list the brother Abraham. I’ve only had time to look at the first 30. Three more were locked.

  20. I am not sure who my Great-great-great-grandfather was or what his real name was! I had a match on Family Tree Y-DNA at 110 of 111 markers and several at 109 and 105 of 111 with a different last name. The only match with my last name was my brother at 111 of 111. Does that mean we should have the same last name as the person we matched? In the Family Finder section it indicated we were not related! Not even Cousins.

      • Yes, i did and no close matches with my sir name and only 3 than were 5th cousin.
        The family that I have never herd of before with the same Haplogroup Marker and 110/111 markers I have Dozens at 2nd cousin and hundreds of matches at 4th & 5th cousin and beyond!!

  21. Roberta, I was checking out some new matches on FTDNA and noticed that it actually assigned maternal /paternal designations to some as distant as 5th to remote. I thought it could only use second cousin info for identification. Has anyone evaluated the accuracy of this feature?

      • Thanks, Roberta but I’m still not sure I understand this. I have only linked one sibling and one first cousin on each side. Looking at new matches since 3/1/17, 3 show as maternal. One is paternal. My sister’s tree is the same as my tree and my maternal cousin has almost no tree and no links so just who are they phasing? Anyone who they estimate is at least a 2nd to 3rd cousin or is all this coming from people who match both me and my 1st cousins?

      • They compare the DNA of your matches to your DNA and the DNA of a relative, third cousin or closer, that you have linked to a side of your tree. If there is a match between you and the known relative to the third person on the same segment, they know that third person is from that side of your tree. They have a white paper in their learning center about how they do this, exactly.

  22. I looked through the learning center but I don’t seem to have hit on the white paper you referred to. Is there a magic search term that will lead me to it.

  23. Having read the white paper on Family Matching I have strong doubts about whether I can trust it in my case. In particular I point to the reference about “as long as both parents or neither parent comes from an endogamic population”. As an Ashkenazi Jew I currently have over 10,000 matches — 422 Paternal, 1037 Maternal, 34 Both. (That’s up from about 6-7000 just a few years ago). Neither of my parents were tested before they died so all relationships must be coming from my sibling and 2 first cousins who are the only family members I have linked.

    I wonder whether they are taking such things as pile-up points into consideration. I have a huge number of matches on chr 22 for instance. Is 9 cM a realistic threshold for endogenous populations? I would think that anyone with over 10,000 matches should certainly be suspected of being from an endogenous population.

  24. Unfortunately the FTDNA Family Matching facility does not appear to either take endogamy into account or allow you to adjust the parameters of their matching facility to take it into account. So you have to eliminate the probably bad predictions manually.

      • I don’t think I’m following you. I still don’t think its using reasonable parameters for endogenous populations and the white paper really doesn’t give me a clue as to how it thinks it doing an accurate job. Let me give you an example: I sorted my paternal matches in reverse order which put this person at the top. Note that we match on only 20 cM and the longest is 9 (not 10). I have heard that for Jewish populations it is unlikely you can make a connection if there is less that 25 total cm and at least on segment at least 12cM. Note also that this person’s ancestry is completely British and British colonial. While i do have 10% other in my ethnicity estimate I don’t see ANY names here that suggest a Jewish connection.

        5th Cousin – Remote Cousin

        0’Driscoll Abdall (Eng.) Asxland (Eng.) Atkins (Eng.) Adkins (Eng.) Alstrop (Eng.) Andrews (England&Australia) Buck (Eng.) Butcher (Eng.) Bitten (Eng.) Barford (Australia&England&New Zealand) Brooks (Eng.) Barker (Eng.) Brown (Eng.Australia) Bernston Bernstein (Eng.) Barnes Barns (Eng.) Cooper Cowper (Eng.) Cook (Eng.) Coates (Eng.) Clerke (Eng.) Cribb (Eng.) Cross (Eng.) Corke (Eng.) Curtis (Eng.) Carding (Eng.) Crowley (Eng.) Corless (Australia) Day (Eng.) Davaine (Australia) Disney (Eng.) Dickenson (Eng.) Dunn (Australia) Duncomb (Eng.) Diamond (Eng.) Evans (England&Australia) Ellis (Australia) Finnis (Australia) Griffen (Eng.) Grissel Grizzle Griszel Grisold (Eng.) Green (Eng.) Hay (Australia) Hopper (Eng.) Hicks (Eng.) Haigh (Australia) Hill (Eng.) Howell (Eng.) Hall (Eng.) Hollebone (Australia) Hallet (Eng.) Holland (Eng.) Hines (Australia) Hancock (Eng.) Harvey (Eng.) Hayward (Australia) Hartshorne (Eng.) Jackson (Eng.) Jones (Eng.) James (Australia) Johnson (Australia) Kellaway (Australia) Killforde (Eng.) Kinge (Eng.) Lee (Eng.) Lewis (Australia) Lane (Australia) McCormack (Australia) Mooney (Australia) Markham (Eng.) Negus (Australia) Nightingale (England&Australia) Norton (Australia) Norman (Eng.) O’Brian (Australia) Okey (Eng.) Osmonton (Eng.) Oliver Olyver (Eng.) Owen (Eng.) Pigott (Eng.) Potter (Eng.) Petrie (Eng.) Peters (Eng.) Poole (England&Australia) Pierce (Eng.) Price (Australia) Pearson (Eng.Australia) Parson (Australia) Parker (Eng.) Ruby (England&Australia) Roberts (Eng.) Rochester (Australia) Richmond Webb (Eng.) Reid (Eng.) Rathbane Rathbone (Eng.) Spicer (England&Australia) Spire (Eng.) Shekleton (Australia) Stoakes (Eng.) Stanford (Australia) Street (Eng.) Strange (Australia) Sheldon (England&Australia) Sellers (Australia) Smith (Australia England America) Smithson (Australia) Saunders (Australia) Symonds Symons (Eng.) Toogood (Eng.) Tayler (Eng.) Thompson (Australia) Tracy (Eng.) Throsell (Australia) Throckmorton (Eng.) Treleaven (England&Australia) Vass (Eng.) Wabber (Eng.) Weick (Australia) White (England&Australia) Wood (Eng.) Witham (Eng.) Wetherly (Eng.) Wallesen (Eng.) Wheeler (Eng.) Ware (Eng.)

  25. Hi Roberta! I have difficulty with pursuing Swedish matches, and an individual – who is a member of the Swedish Facebook group – offered to assist me. I have searched in your blogs for answers to this question: What can be done about “password sharing?” When an individual is NOT a project administrator, how can the mtDNA & FF testing at FTDNA be made available to this individual? I have permission from the family member for my access when I paid for the testing – and understand I need permission from the family member in order to share s/he access & info. But how can I share info about s/he matches from FTDNA for mtDNA & FF? Thanks! P.S. You are still my hero when you encouraged me to get my dad’s shaver whiskers tested! 😉

    • The only way to share passwords is to share the password, and yes, you would need the person’s permission. Have you joined the Swedish DNA project? They could help you and you wouldn’t have the password sharing issue.

      • I approached one of the Swedish member – who has volunteered to help and follow up on the matches. He has assured me he is the only one who would have access. And I would ask the relative for permission since it’s her DNA. But a project admin of one of the Dalrymple groups warned me to never give out a password – or mine or anyone. What is the risk?

      • Anyone you give access to can change anything in your account. Can communicate with your matches, posing as you. They can change your password and lock you out of your account. They can make selections the person has chosen to make private, public. They could even request that the results and test be deleted entirely. Administrators are prevented from doing much of this because FTDNA has limited their ability to many functions. Furthermore, if admins do something in appropriate, they will be removed as admins, and they know that so there are consequences. A kit number and password is a key to the kingdom. I would not do this with someone I did not know and trust. You can ask to form a private project for your family, join that person to that group, and then you can make that Facebook person a co-admin. That sounds like it would be the best of both worlds. To form a private project, e-mail groups@ftdna.com.

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