SORRY – Emails of Old Articles

First, I apologize.

I am doing maintenance to the 1200 articles on my blog. I had deleted several, then after consideration, decided to restore some of them for two reasons:

  • Historical continuity
  • I noticed that some people are still reading them

So, I restored them from the deleted folder.

What I didn’t know that that WordPress would resend them in an e-mail to everyone.

So, I’m embarrassed and sorry, both – and I’m done restoring.

I promise.

So please just delete those and excuse the ring.


Super DNA Sales – Amazon Prime Day – July 15 and 16 Only

Amazon Prime is a subscription service that includes free delivery and often that means one-day delivery, at least within the US.

On two days per year, known as Amazon Prime Day, subscribers get access to even better deals on Amazon items. Even if you’re not a prime member, you still receive the great prices, just not the free shipping.

Super prices coupled with free delivery make DNA kits even better values.

Check out the prices for the vendors products we know and love – you may come away with an amazing deal.

DNA Tests

Family Tree DNA – ethnicity, DNA matching and includes free return postage within the US – $49 (discount is applied in the checkout to receive this price)
MyHeritage – ethnicity, DNA matching, and Theories of Family Relativity – $59

AncestryDNA – ethnicity, DNA matching and ThruLines – $49

23andMe Ancestry only – ethnicity, chromosome painting and DNA matching – $99 (apparently no sale price price)

23andMe Ancestry plus Health – above plus health information – $199. There is no sale price from 23andMe on Amazon but a reseller is offering this product for less. In the past, Ancestry in particular has had problems with kits sold through resellers being invalid when the purchaser wanted to activate the kit, with the code already having been used, so when I purchase on Amazon, I only purchase from the actual DNA vendor. You can do as you see fit:)

Free Gift From Me!

If you’re uncertain about what to do after you receive your DNA test results, you’re in luck, because in a few days ago I published DNA Results- First Glances at Ethnicity and Matching. In the next week or so, I’ll be publishing a First Steps article that will get you started with matching, using your results and why they are important.

Just open your new test results and follow along.

Like always, you can share with your family, friends and on social media – and it’s free.

DNA Books

If you want to educate yourself with a book, below you’ll find  my favorite DNA books in no specific order. Note that two of these are brand new.

Advanced Genetic Genealogy: Techniques and Case Studies by Debbie Parker Wayne (this is a brand new book published in March 2019)

Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine Bettinger (published October 2016)

Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne (published January 2016)

DNA Guide for Adoptees by Brianne Kirkpatrick and Shannon Combs-Bennett (just released in May 2019)

Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past by David Reich (March 2018)


Yes, these are affiliate links. You save a bundle and I make a few cents for the effort of gathering this information in one place for you and publishing the article. Doesn’t cost you a penny – you don’t pay anything extra.

Thanks so much for helping to keep this blog free for everyone and keeping the lights on!


Father’s Day DNA Sale + New Y DNA Series

It’s a good week for genetic genealogy. Y DNA is on sale at Family Tree DNA, autosomal almost everyplace and I’m beginning a new Y DNA series of articles!

Father’s Day is approaching, and of course DNA tests are a hot item.

Y DNA – Makes Dad Dad

At FamilyTreeDNA – both Y and autosomal DNA tests are on sale. Every male has a Y chromosome to test, and Y DNA testing in conjunction with autosomal is a very powerful combination.

What better gift that to give your Dad the gift of history and matching to other relatives, both.

This week, Family Tree DNA notified project administrators of their Father’s Day sale pricing, and I’m sharing with you.

Father's Day 2019.png

Before we look at specific tests, let’s talk about why Dad might want to test his Y DNA. Y DNA is passed from father to son, typically along with the surname, and men tend to be very interested in their paternal line.

Y DNA provides information that autosomal DNA can never provide, because they are two completely different kinds of tests. To view a short article about the various kinds of DNA tests, click here.

8 Benefits of Y DNA Testing

What can Y DNA testing tell Dad about himself and about his genealogy?

  • Surname line matches – does he match other men with the same surname? Can they identify a common ancestor? The Y37, 67 and 111 tests will provide that information, with the Y111 test providing the most specific, granular information.
  • Ethnicity for the direct paternal line – the haplogroup will provide a direct line ethnicity test that will reveal continental level ethnicity plus generally regional information for the paternal line only. How much is revealed depends on whether you order the Y37/67/111 test or the Big Y test, which is the most specific!
  • SNP Maps – for people who have taken SNP tests (Big Y-700) that allow you to “step back in time” by viewing the locations of haplogroups on your personal haplotree.
  • Ancestral Origins and Maps – locations where the earliest known ancestors of your matches are found.
  • Haplogroup Origins – where your matches haplogroups are found in the world.
  • Migration Maps and Percentages – how the haplogroup migrated to where it is primarily found today and how frequently it is found in that region of the world.
  • Projects – over 10,000 projects to join for collaboration based on haplogroup, surname, ethnicity, region and many other options. Goldmines!
  • Science – the Big Y-700 test provides the highest level information both for individual markers (700 instead of just 111) and the most refined haplogroup possible. Many people discover that they carry new never-before-discovered mutations that define new haplogroups, allowing Dad to be a part of scientific discovery.

Results are provided on your own personal page along with more tools and features.

Here are the tests available along with their sale prices.

Father's Day 2019 2.png

What to Order?

I’m often asked which Y DNA test should be ordered.

Generally, I say to order what the budget will allow, because you can always upgrade later.

HOWEVER, I will also say that you can only upgrade a limited number of times. Upgrade success is dependent on the following:

  • Age of sample
  • Quality of sample
  • Amount of sample remaining

While we always think Dad can swab again later if needed, I GREATLY regret not testing family members at the highest level possible when I could – because I can’t now for any number of reasons.

Many of my early testers have passed over – so order as much as you can afford out the gate.

The higher resolution the test, the better the results without an upgrade and the more information for you to use.

Father's Day 2019 3.png

If you’d like to order a Y and autosomal test, for example, you can save another $10.

Family Tree DNA does offer an advanced match feature which allows you to see who you match on multiple tests, such as Y and Family Finder. Combined information can provide valuable hints and information.

What About Upgrades?

Father's Day 2019 4.png

If you’ve already purchased a Y DNA test, you can upgrade to the above levels for the prices indicated. To upgrade to Big Y-700, it’s best to have a sample from within the past 2 years, but the lab will contact you if they have concerns.

Debut of New Y DNA Series!

How many of you have been following along with my Mitochondrial DNA Series where I’ve been explaining all about mitochondrial DNA in bite size pieces beginning with an overview? You can take a look here, here and here.

Would you like to see a similar Y DNA Series as well?

You’re in luck, because that’s exactly what I’ll be writing, beginning about the middle of July when everyone’s results begin to come back from the Father’s Day tests.

Don’t forget, you can also test other men to represent your paternal line if your father is not available for testing. If you are a male, you can test yourself for your father’s Y DNA. What a wonderful way to honor your Dad!

I recommend having Y DNA results available so you can follow along with each article!

Click here to order.


If you’re interested in Autosomal testing that includes both ethnicity and matching, most of the major genetic genealogy vendors are having sales right now.

Vendor/Test Best Features Sale Price Link
FamilyTreeDNA -Family Finder Automatic Maternal and Paternal buckets, combined matching with Y and mtDNA $59 Click to purchase
MyHeritage Triangulation, Theories of Family Relativity $59 Click to purchase
AncestryDNA Database size $69 Click to purchase
23andMe Ethnicity $99 Click to purchase

Have fun and get your tree ready, because you’re going to be meeting cousins who share ancestors before you know it!

How To Subscribe to this Free Blog

Don’t know how to follow or subscribe (free) to this blog and want to receive the upcoming Y DNA series? It’s easy.

Click on the home link on the main blog page here. On the upper right hand side, you’ll see the “Follow” area. Just fill in and click to follow.

blog follow

Don’t worry, your e-mail is never used for anything except to receive the blog articles in your inbox.

Please feel free share links to my articles with anyone else who might be interested.



I receive a small contribution when you click on some (but not all) of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

RootsTech Meetup with Roberta

Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Folks attending RootsTech asked if there was a way to have a meetup. Given that I’m entirely new to this conference and venue, I wasn’t exactly sure how to make that happen.

Fortunately, Family Tree DNA has very graciously offered to host a meetup at their booth on Wednesday, February 28th, from 6:30 to 7:30 PM.

The RootsTech opening keynote happens at 4:30, followed by the Innovation Showcase. I’ll want to see those, and you will too! Fortunately, the keynote, along with some other sessions is livestreamed, so you can join in person or at home.

At 6 PM, the exhibit hall opens. After the opening session and Innovation Showcase, I’ll go directly to the Family Tree DNA booth, #1427, noted with the red arrow below, near the Cyber Café and Coaches Corner. Please stop by and say hello!

I’ll be wearing my purple chromosome browser DNA dress and will tell you the story about how it evolved, no pun intended.

The map below shows the entire conference area. The Family Tree DNA booth is designated by the red arrow, although the name isn’t shown on the booth on this map.

Here’s a close-up.

By the way, you can download and print a (much better) copy of the exhibit hall map at the link below that includes the names of the larger vendors. You’ll want to mark your printed copy with the location of the FTDNA booth.

Rootstech Expo Hall Vendor Map 2018

This map is slightly different than the official RootsTech map which only shows booth numbers. Being able to orient yourself visually by the vendors’ booths is really helpful, at least for me.

A very big thank you to Family Tree DNA. (PS – I bet they’ll have DNA kits on sale, although I don’t have any inside information – but they always do! You can swab right there or purchase one to go.)

See you at the RootsTech meetup – Wednesday evening, 6:30-7:30 – Family Tree DNA booth 1427.

Let me know if you’ll be at RootsTech. I can hardly wait – T-minus 3 days now!



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Family Tree DNA Sale, MyHeritage Transfers and Hurricane Fundraiser

As many of you know, the owners of Family Tree DNA, a Houston company, have committed a percentage of their sales during the month of September for donation to hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts. A daily running total is displayed at the top of their page.

I think they will top $20,000 today!

I know that with two more hurricanes (Irma an Maria) and two earthquakes in Mexico, Harvey, which ravaged Texas less than 3 weeks ago seems like old news. It’s not to the families whose lives have been upended and who have lost everything, not only due to the winds of the hurricane along the coast, but unprecedented flooding in Houston for the following week. Those families are still cleaning mud out of their homes, ripping off their sheetrock, and so much more. Thousands are displaced and have lost everything.

The best part about the Family Tree DNA fundraiser is that you can contribute to the relief effort without any additional cost to you. In fact, there’s a lot of benefit to everyone – you benefit when you order a test or upgrade, other people whose genealogy may depend on your testing benefit, and the families trying to recover from Harvey benefit as well. You never know, maybe the person you desperately need to knock down a brick wall will test or transfer now!

Everyone wins! But you only have another week, so don’t wait.

Family Tree DNA just sweetened the deal in three ways too.

Deal Sweeteners

MyHeritage Transfer

Family Tree DNA has just added MyHeritage as a transfer partner, meaning if you tested at MyHeritage, you can transfer your results to Family Tree DNA and see matches for free.

The autosomal DNA transfer option for MyHeritage as well as other vendors can be found, here, in the upper left hand corner of the main Family Tree DNA page, under DNA Tests.

Family Tree DNA accepts transfers from:

  • Ancestry
  • 23andMe V3 and V4
  • MyHeritage

Family Finder Just $69

The Family Finder autosomal test is on sale now for $69, a $20 savings. If you haven’t tested yet, or have transferred the 23andMe V4 or Ancestry V2 tests which only provide your closest matches, and not the more distant ones (due to chip incompatibility), now is a great time to order a Family Finder test. I don’t know how long the sale price lasts, so if you’re interested, buy now.

Unlock All Transfer Features Just $10

In addition, Family Tree DNA has dropped the price of unlocking the full suite of autosomal tools available after the free transfer of your results. You receive your matches for free, but by adding the $10 unlock, on sale reduced from the regular $19 until the end of September, you add three features:

  • Chromosome Browser
  • myOrigins (ethnicity)
  • ancientOrigins.

You will need a coupon code, so you can use mine. These codes are NOT limited to one use only, so please feel free to upgrade as many tests as you wish.


Here’s what the unlock gives you access to, in addition to your free matches.

Transferring and Unlocking is Easy…

  • Click here to upgrade, unlock (ATUL0917) or transfer your results from another vendor.
  • Then sign on to your own account to transfer, unlock or upgrade if you already have an account at Family Tree DNA.
  • If you don’t currently have an account at Family Tree DNA, click in the upper left hand corner of the page you’ll see to set up an account and transfer your DNA file from another vendor. Then use the use code (ATUL0917) to unlock all the features for just $10.

It’s that easy and you’ll be helping others too!



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2017

I’m super excited about visiting Dublin in less than a month. That’s right, Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2017 is fast approaching.

The 3-day conference takes place at the Royal Dublin Society October 20-22 and is being chaired and orchestrated by Dr. Maurice Gleeson. You can sign up here or pay at the door and it’s very reasonably priced at $10 Euro per day – or get a 50% discount by booking in advance here.

Actually, looking at the list of speakers, I think I’ve just about died and gone to DNA geekie Heaven.

Maurice has done an absolutely fantastic job of lining up speakers that you just can’t see anyplace else. Most aren’t normally on the “speaking circuit,” so to speak, so I really welcome this rare opportunity. Many work in specialized fields like ancient DNA or have specific focuses like the Ireland DNA project or the Iceland sequencing initiative.

I can’t wait to learn from each and every speaker. You can view the speaker profiles here.

Not only am I a genealogist, but I absolutely love science and combining technology with science to solve problems – in this case – genetics, to break down brick walls. While I’m not big on attending genealogy conferences, per se, genetics and genetic genealogy conferences make my eyes light up like Christmas tree bulbs and I hyperventilate.

Not only that, but at genetics conferences, we get to meet other genetic genealogists, geneticists, and academics and discuss all sorts of lovely things like mutation rates and segment size late into the night…in a nice Irish pub over brews. OK, so now I’m fantasizing…but maybe not. We’ll see.

My Sessions

Maurice has been gracious enough to invite me to present two sessions, which I’ve just recently finalized. After my ungraceful cobblestone dance in the Netherland in July, there was some question about my attendance, but let’s just say I have made every effort to be present – and barring something unforeseen, I’ll be there, not tap dancing, but limping a bit and trying to travel very light.

My two presentations will be:

  • Nine Autosomal Tools at Family Tree DNA and How to Use Them
  • Autosomal DNA Through the Generations

Both of these are new presentations developed specially for Genetic Genealogy Ireland.

The first session looks at how to use the various tools available at Family Tree DNA, their options and utilizing the tools successfully together. Family Tree DNA provides us lots of ways to break down brick walls. I can’t say for sure right now, but there might even be a surprise in the mix. Stay tuned.

The second session utilizes 4 generations of the same family that have tested, and looks at what we can learn about inheritance. We will be discussing segments and phasing, along with the Family Phasing tool at Family Tree DNA that allows you to connect your DNA to your tree, along with that of your relatives to show you if your non-connected matches are related to you maternally or paternally. This is a fun presentation, actually built cooperatively with my teenage granddaughter who is very interested in genetics. It’s imperative that we infect the next generation, you know!

If you have a child or grandchild that might be interested, this is the perfect subject because you can test multiple generations too – and let’s face it – science is a lot more fun when it’s YOUR story.

You can read my complete speaker profile here.

Past Lectures and Social Media

Can’t attend, but want to follow along? Do you have Irish ancestors, and not just on St. Patrick’s Day? Does your DNA run a little green?

Well, you’re in luck. Genetic Genealogy Ireland has a Facebook group here.

Genetic Genealogy Ireland also has its own YouTube channel. You can view past lectures, here, for free. (Have I mentioned that Maurice, who has made this possible, is wonderful?)

And yes, I suspect strongly that this means that you’ll eventually have the opportunity to view the 2017 lectures as well, but seriously, if you can attend, please do.

Can’t Wait to Meet You

If you’re attending the conference, I can’t wait to meet you in person. Be sure to say hello. I’ll either be in the various DNA sessions or probably at the Family Tree DNA booth helping the volunteers there.

I hope to be able to blog from the conference. Depending on the wifi quality, the cost and my exhaustion level, I may have to wait until I get home, but rest assured, I’ll be sharing.

Thank You

The 3 full days of genetic genealogy lectures are sponsored by Family Tree DNA and organized by the ISOGG volunteers who will be attending and available to answer your genetic genealogy questions. Not a member of ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy)? It’s free to join, so please do.

A big thank you to Dr. Gleeson, ISOGG Education Ambassador who blogs here, Family Tree DNA and the ISOGG volunteers. This conference wouldn’t be happening without them.



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Family Tree DNA Steps Up to the Plate in the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

The good news is that Family Tree DNA is back up and running following the devastation wrought by hurricane Harvey.

The office has reopened. The power has been restored. The building was not flooded, but had a few leaks. The lab and DNA is fine.

However, all is not sunshine and happiness just yet. Most employees are what I would term damp and inconvenienced, and considering themselves lucky, but not everyone is so fortunate.

Some have been flooded out of their homes or have significant damage. Some people’s homes weren’t entirely destroyed, but they can’t stay because you can’t live in 2 feet of water, without power, for a month waiting for evaporation to occur.

This is a photo from one of the homes of a Family Tree DNA employee whose residence was flooded.

Of those who can get to the office, some employees are reporting hours-long efforts in trying to get back and forth to work. And I mean 4, 5 and 6 hours one way for what should be a half-hour drive.

Flooding in low-lying areas has not subsided and may not for weeks to come, causing hellatious traffic jams.

People for the most part aren’t complaining. In fact, I’ve heard incredible gratitude, such as “I’m just glad I have a car to drive.” Many don’t, as cars didn’t fare very well in the floods either.

Max and Bennett Step Up

As most of you know, Max Blankfeld and Bennett Greenspan are the founders and owners of Family Tree DNA. Both men are very low key, seldom if ever stepping into the spotlight, but both are extraordinary human beings. I’ve seen this over and over again in my 17 years in this field.

Having said this, I’m posting this from Max Blankfeld’s Facebook feed from yesterday evening, with minor edits:

Deisi and I as well as our friends and partners Robin and Bennett Greenspan are very fortunate to have been unscathed through Hurricane Harvey. While on the personal level we are involved in a few initiatives to bring some relief to those affected by this terrible devastation, additionally, we are doing two things:

• As a few of our company employees had their homes flooded, our company started a fundraiser and we will be matching dollar for dollar any contribution coming from their colleagues that went unaffected. We are also reaching out to our suppliers and business partners to contribute.
• We will donate part of the proceeds from our September revenues to the Houston relief efforts. Starting next week, a banner at our home page will display the cumulative amount raised.

Jewish law commands that we respond wherever there is need, and all the better if we can do so in the company of others.

From the Ethics of our Sages: “do not separate yourself from the community”.

Given the many requests from friends and customers to share the donation page, here it is:

MarketInsider published an interview about the Family Tree DNA giving program today, as well.

Sure enough, today, the banner at the top of the Family Tree DNA webpage today reads:

So, if you need more DNA kits (who doesn’t) or you got distracted and didn’t get a kit ordered that you will use during the upcoming holidays, now is a great time to order when part of the proceeds for the month of September will be used to help others. You can also upgrade a kit which also counts towards sales revenue.

Donating to disaster relief in this way won’t cost you any more that your purchase. What a great way to be benevolent.

In summary, there are two ways you can participate:

• If you can give and are inclined, you can donate to the YouCaring page for Family Tree DNA employees who have endured flood damage or been flooded out of their homes. Donations will be matched dollar for dollar by Family Tree DNA.
• Purchase a kit, upgrade results, yours or a family member’s. Buy something. Part of all Family Tree DNA proceeds for the month of September will be donated for disaster relief in the Houston area. Click here to make a purchase.

Please share this article to help spread the word.  You can share by clicking on the Facebook or Twitter links at the bottom of the article, sharing through e-mail or posting the links on various Facebook or social media sites.



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Hurricane Harvey Update and Helping Houston

I had another DNA article ready for my normal mid-week technical DNA publication, but given the suffering taking place in Texas right now, I just can’t.

The rains continue. The hurricane is now partially out to sea in the Gulf and may make landfall again. God help these people.

If Harvey isn’t yet, it may well be the most devastating natural disaster to ever strike in the continental US. Harvey has already dumped 9 trillion gallons of water on southeast Texas, and Harvey isn’t done yet. Yes, 9 TRILLION.

A Washington Post article says if Houston hits the 60 inches of rain mark, and they are close now, it will be a once in a million year event.

Sixty inches is 5 feet of rain, within a few days time. There just isn’t anyplace for the water to go. Two levies were breached today and a dam overflowed. And it’s still raining.

Estimates are that more than one fourth of the land in Harris County is flooded right now, with many of the 6.6 million residents needing to be rescued by boat. For details, this article provides bullet points.

Helping Houston

Personally, I simply can’t sit by and NOT help, but I’m not there. Thankfully, I think.

However, those of us who live at a distance can still help… and the need is great.

Many of you know that I’m a quilter. I quilt with two close friends, sisters of heart, and we make quilt tops that are then quilted by a fourth friend. We call ourselves the Quilt Sisters and the quilts we make are often donated to those in need. We call them “Care Quilts.”

One of the items sorely needed in Houston now is blankets according to CNN News and other sources.

Tomorrow morning I will be sending 5 items, 4 quilts (1 child, 3 adult) and one baby sized crocheted afghan to Austin, Texas for the people there who have been evacuated from Houston and southeast Texas in the wake of hurricane Harvey. I will put a note of encouragement with each one as well.

I am not posting photos of the quilts because I don’t want the quilts to overshadow the story or distract from the need.

I am contributing the quilts through The Linus Project. While the Linus Project normally provides quilts for children in need, they are providing what they can for everyone of any age at this time. Austin has thousands of people in shelters who have been evacuated from the Houston area and more evacuees are still flooding in. These people have lost everything and arrive, wet and cold, with literally nothing except their lives.

Anyone who has an extra quilt or a blanket, please send it to:

The Linus Connection
P.O Box 29491
Austin, Texas 78755

The Linus Project can receive boxes at their PO box, so long as they are shipped by the post office.

For more info contact

Not a quilter? You can still help.

Here’s an article in the New York Times about how to donate to help flood victims to a variety of organizations and how to avoid hurricane Harvey related scams. Yes, there are already scams.

Note:  Please feel free to share any part of this article, in any fashion.  You can share on Facebook or Twitter by clicking those links at the bottom of the article, for your convenience.

Family Tree DNA Update

Now, for an update on Family Tree DNA, most employees are safe and at least marginally dry. Some have evacuated. Many don’t have power. Communications is dicey. Everyone is affected one way or another and they all need your thoughts and prayers, not to mention patience, right now.

The office was closed on Monday and today, Tuesday as well. Amazingly enough, even though they have turned off their e-mail servers, their website is still up and functional. They still have power and the building is not flooded. Houston learned a lot when hurricane Ike struck a few years ago. Little did they know Ike was just a practice drill.

Family Tree DNA posted the following information on their Facebook page.

We are extremely thankful for your patience and concern for our employees. The Family Tree DNA building has remained fairly unharmed by the floods but our first concern is for our employees. Therefore, we have closed the office until it is safe for them to commute. We expect the office to open up later this week and will keep you updated.

In the mean time, we want to address many of the questions we are getting from our extended family at Family Tree DNA.

  • Is my DNA safe?

Yes, your DNA is safe. Our building has remained fairly unharmed and the lab is located on one of the top floors of the building. We’ve had people monitoring everything and can tell you that your DNA is safe and protected. We were well prepared for this at the building.

  • If I’ve bought a test recently is it okay to ship back or should I wait?

Yes, it is okay to ship back. The post office will hold it until they are able to deliver.

  • Can I still order a test, add-on, or upgrade?

Yes, you can still place orders online. Some customer service members are working from home but they are stretched thin. Therefore, we ask that you place all orders online.

  • Order fulfillment and shipping:

NEW KIT ORDERS: As soon as it is safe for our employees to commute we will hit the ground running to get any new test kits shipped out. We hope to be back in the office by the middle or end of this week. Therefore, shipping may be delayed by a few days.

EXISTING KIT ORDERS: If you have ordered an add-on test or upgrade we do not expect your results to be delayed by more than one or two days from the average fulfillment time. This is due to the fact that we already have your DNA at the lab.

  • I ordered a kit but have not received a confirmation email:

Our servers are currently turned off in the building. If you did not receive a confirmation email, expect to have one in your inbox in the next day or so. We apologize.

Again, we appreciate your patience and will continue to update you.


Family Tree DNA



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Houston, We Have a Problem…Named Harvey

In case you’ve been living under a rock, not only did we have an eclipse this past week, but we’re also having a hurricane. At least Texas is.

The eclipse was over in a flash, but unfortunately, hurricane Harvey is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Houston, the home of Family Tree DNA, is getting hammered. The strength of the hurricane itself has dissipated, but the rains….

Oh, the rains!

Today is day two of an expected 4 or 5 day “event.” Harvey is centered on top of Houston and is stalled, not moving, and it’s dumping feet of rain on the city. Yes, I said feet, as in multiple.

It’s bad folks.

The streets are rivers. Expressways are impassible.

You can watch the CNN coverage here, or pretty much anyplace.

Genetic genealogists are wondering about how Family Tree DNA is doing.

First, let me say that I’m NOT speaking for Family Tree DNA. I’m only speaking as a project administrator who has visited the facility multiple times after the annual conferences.

I also spent years in the technology consulting world, so I fully understand disaster planning, but this disaster is turning out to be far worse, in terms of flooding, than anyone anticipated or has seen before in Houston.

The good news is that Houstonians, and Family Tree DNA in particular, are not novices. For those who don’t know, the building that houses Family Tree DNA was damaged by hurricane Ike in 2008, including the lab. They were fine then, and they’ll be fine this time too – which doesn’t mean they might not have some challenges.

Family Tree DNA, along with their lab including DNA samples is located on the 8th floor of an office building on the Loop Road, on the Northwest side of Houston.

Looking out from their windows, you can see the freeway BELOW grade. Let me translate this for you. The expressway will fill up before the roads around the expressway flood. And then it would take 8 more floors of water to touch FTDNA.

If it gets that bad, the only saving grace would be some guy named Noah.

And no, for those wondering about leakage, they are NOT located on the top floor of the building.

There is automatic generator power for the entire building. Family Tree DNA also has offsite backup out of harm’s way.

However, neither FTDNA, nor any company, can control the communications lines from their carrier – nor the weather for that matter.

Not only has part of the infrastructure in Southeast Texas been damaged by the actual hurricane itself, but the resulting floodwater will be affecting the carrier’s facilities in Harris County.

The biggest problem, right now, is the safety of the residents, including, of course, Family Tree DNA employees. Flooding is nearly universal and is expected to worsen. Some homes are badly flooded, with residents being evacuated by boat, but others are “only” seeing flooding in their yards. Those homes may yet see more extensive flooding in the coming days.

Needless to say, if your street is a river, you’re not driving to go anyplace.

The mayor of Houston has asked (ordered?) residents to stay off the roads. If their street isn’t underwater, people have been deciding to venture out and then they get themselves into trouble, because most streets are impassible. There’s just no place for the water to go.

So, if the FTDNA site is slow, it could well be due to the fact that their communications lines are affected.

If the site goes down for some reason, don’t panic. That too may be a result of communications lines and does NOT indicate a problem at FTDNA itself.

Hopefully, the site will simply continue like normal, and no one will even realize that they are located in the midst of a disaster area.

Given that the rains are predicted to continue for the next two days, it’s unlikely that FTDNA will be open for business on Monday, or Tuesday, and maybe somewhat longer, depending on the magnitude of the disaster. Even if they are open, with a skeleton crew, please, please do NOT call. Whatever problem we have can wait until they finish dealing with this catastrophe of whatever magnitude it turns out to be.

My prayers and positive thoughts go out to people of Houston and Southeast Texas and especially the fine folks at Family Tree DNA.



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Mitochondrial DNA, The Forgotten Test

Mitochondrial DNA is probably the most under-utilized type of DNA available to genetic genealogists. Mitochondrial DNA is a special line specific to your mother, and her mother, and her mother, on up that tree of mothers. It’s not mixed with any DNA from the fathers, so it’s a pure periscope line that extends back in time indefinitely – much like the Y DNA for the paternal line.

Just as an example, as an administrator looking at the Estes surname project, I can see an order summary. For clarification, the Estes project welcomes males and females alike, along with men who are not Estes surname males, but who are Estes descendants through other lines.

So, of the first 16 project participants, 2 are female.  The columns titled HVR1, HVR2 and FGS are the available mitochondrial DNA test levels.


Only one, me, has had ANY mitochondrial DNA testing done. The rest have not.

By comparison, 14 (all the males) have ordered some level of Y DNA testing and 7 participants, almost half, have taken the autosomal Family Finder test.

By any measure, mitochondrial is way WAY behind.

Mitochondrial gets forgotten about, often, because it’s not as “in your face” as a male surname is to a male and doesn’t have the “pride factor” associated with it. In fact, you might hear men say something like, “Yea, proud to be an Estes (fill in your surname here),” but when was the last time you heard someone say, “Yea, proud to be a H2a1a!”? It loses something someplace.

Because the matrilineal line’s mitochondrial DNA doesn’t follow any surname, it doesn’t invoke that surname loyalty factor, but it is a rich source of information that is often neglected.

What can we learn from mitochondrial DNA?

Pretty much everything we can tell about Y DNA – except of course we’re not looking to see if we match a particular surname. We’re looking to see if we match someone with a common ancestor. But that’s not it, there’s a lot more.

Haplogroup and Migration Path

Your mitochondrial DNA haplogroup tells you which continent your ancestor was from, meaning Europe, Africa, Asia or Native American, or an ethnicity like Jewish, and the path they took out of Africa to arrive on that continent. You may think you know, already, but do you really? There are surprises and you’ll never know if you don’t test.


Haplogroup Origins help to extend this information and tells you where your fully extended haplogroup is found in the world. Fully extended haplogroup means your full haplogroup, H2a1a, as opposed to simply haplogroup H. You have to take the full sequence mtDNA test to obtain your fully extended haplogroup.

Matches Map

Your Ancestral Matches and your Matches Map tell you where your matches most distant ancestors lived. This is most effective for full sequence matching because those are your closest matches. In fact, I only recommend full sequence matching today. You should obtain all of the ancestral information available and the only way to do that is to test the entire mitochondrial region.

Those who follow my blog know that I’m haplogroup J1c2f, and while that doesn’t make anyone gush at parties, it does provide me with information I not only didn’t have, but there is no way other than DNA testing to discover.

My most distant known ancestor is from Germany around 1800, but look at my matches map.


There is obviously a historical, or maybe not so historical, Scandinavian story. You can read about this discovery here.

Your matches are sitting there, waiting for you, but first you have to test.  After that, the genealogy to find a common ancestor may take some work, unless you simply get lucky – and some do.

If more people were to test and provide their most distant ancestor information and pedigree charts, there would be more easy matches with known ancestors!!!  Just saying…

Matches Never Stop

The great news is that your mitochondrial DNA results are fishing for you 24X7. In July 2013, I had 3 full sequence matches, shown below.

my matches J1c2f

Today, I have 16, and the more full sequence matches, the more granular and detailed the story. It’s like watching your ancestral story hatch, one match at a time. These people all share an ancestor with you, sometime, someplace. The fun is in unraveling that story.  What does it mean to you?  What information does it provide about your ancestors and their journey?

Proving Your Point

You can also use mitochondrial DNA to prove, or disprove, a specific type of historic relationship. Suppose you suspect two women are sisters. If you can find descendants of both women through all females to the current generation (which can be males) you can either prove those two women have a common matrilineal ancestor or that they don’t. In cases like this, mitochondrial DNA in conjunction with autosomal matching can be a very powerful tool.  Comparing multiple kinds of DNA, together, is available under the advanced tools.

Building A MitoTree

If you’re after quick answers, building your own mitotree isn’t for you, but if you’re willing to invest some elbow grease, you can figure out the ancestral pedigree chart of how your matches descended from your common ancestor, based on their mutations.

I presumed, based on the matches map locations, that I was fairly closely related to my match in Poland, because at that time, it was the only full sequence match outside of Scandinavia. I was wrong. That person descended in a parallel line from a common Scandinavian ancestor. So no need looking in those Polish church records hoping to discover something about my direct line ancestors because they aren’t there!

You can read about how to build a mitochondrial tree here. If you like puzzles, this is for you.

Finding Your Ancestor’s Surname

I like to obtain the haplogroups of all of my ancestors and build a DNA Pedigree chart. My ancestor, Magdalena married Philip Jacob Miller, but we don’t know her surname. We do know they were Brethren, and Brethren married within their own religion. We know where they lived, and to some extent, we know the other Brethren families in that region.

After I wrote my 52 Ancestors story about Magdalena with hopes of finding a descendant who carries her mtDNA, someone contacted me to say a woman with a tree on Ancestry fits the bill. Indeed she did, and she agreed to have her mtDNA tested.

She immediately had an exact full sequence match, in the Brethren community, and the match does NOT descend from Magdalena herself. Unfortunately, the match does NOT have her genealogy back far enough to discover the family who might, just might, be Magdalena’s family as well. However, I can research genealogy to extend her tree, and I will, come spring when the roads clear.

The only path to Magdalena’s surname, short of a family Bible appearing someplace, is DNA, because I’ve exhausted all other available records.

Can mitochondrial DNA save the day and pin point Magdalena’s family so that I can prove the relationship through records? Maybe. I’ll let you know as this story unfolds.

Don’t’ Forget Mother

Genealogy without DNA is incomplete. It’s the holiday season. Give yourself the gift of your mother’s matrilineal history. DNA testing is the gift that keeps on giving, and you can have it even if your mother has passed over and is watching from the other side. Everyone carries their mother’s mitochondrial DNA, males and females alike.

What is your Mom’s story?

Give her or take a mitochondrial DNA test yourself and find out!



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research