Family trees are full of mysteries. The one thing we can be sure that we know is that there is a lot that we DON’T know! :-) That’s a good reason to have a DNA test done. Hopefully it will help link us to others who DO know something about lines we are researching. Sometimes, instead of providing answers, DNA testing presents more questions. Yesterday jq1517 posted the following comment in response to My (free) Ancestry.com DNA results – a comparison to FamilyTreeDNA:
I looked at my results yesterday but was disappointed that my pedigree ethnicity was so different than my genetic ethnicity, enough to think perhaps there is a problem with my results. For instance, my results state that my genetic ethnicity is 91% British Isles, 6% Russian/Persian/Turkish, and 3% Other. This does not match my pedigree. My pedigree on both sides of parents is predominantly French, as most of my ancestors were French colonists of Canada, Acadia, and Louisiana. Out of the nearly 3,000 people in my family tree, I have none that are from the Russian/Persian/Turkish part of the world… that was a total surprise…
I can relate to his questions. I also had questions about my original autosomal DNA results through FTDNA. As mentioned in my earlier post, there were discrepancies on my grandmother’s paternal line. My grandmother was 17 when her father died. Four years later, she documented her family tree in my mother’s baby book, shown above. Here she documented Ernest’s birth place in Clarke County, Wisconsin. However, as “Grammer” aged, her account of her father’s heritage changed, adamantly stating Ernest was a half-sibling to his older brothers and his sister, having been born in South Dakota to a Native American. This simply did not seem plausible based on census records, what Ernest wrote on numerous documents for his own place of birth, and what my grandmother documented in Mom’s baby book when her memory would not have been influenced time and other factors. My grandmother stated there was a “cover up” in the family as it was not popular at that time to be Native American. I would be more inclined to give credence to this story if my grandmother had maintained it throughout her life. However, that is not the case, and now two DNA tests also refute the Native American myth in my family lines.
It is possible, however, that jq1517 has a bit of “covering up” going on his family tree. People remarry. People have affairs. Fathers raise children that are not their own. Sometimes the fathers don’t always know they are raising someone else’s biological child. Another scenario: I have a friend who was adopted and has met her birth mother, but has strong reason to believe that her adoptive father is actually birth father. (Hopefully one day she will complete DNA testing to confirm whether or not she has biological ties with her adoptive father’s family.) There are many, many explanations for why DNA testing reveals ethnicity that conflicts with our research.
The disadvantages of autosomal testing and my “wish list”
While autosomal DNA testing provides more opportunities for us to match with cousins, I’ve also found it quite challenging as times as it provides NO CLUE as to which side of your family you may be connected to potential cousins. This is especially true with more distant matches, as one has to research back many, many generations to find the common ancestor. To assist in this process, on my “wish list” for Ancestry.com (and FTDNA) is the ability to filter for event places. For example, last night I was reviewing the family trees of several of my potential matches on Ancestry.com, and after considerable time found we both have ancestors from Eden (now Bar Harbor), Maine, a likely place for a connection. In Ancestry, when viewing trees of your potential matches you can see the places of birth and death for individuals in the trees, where entered. However, wouldn’t it be neat to be able to see an indexed list of places for events of those listed in the tree? Instead of scanning the tree only for common surnames, one could also look at the places in the tree. It could easily reduce the time involved searching larger trees, if, for example, you saw your potential cousin had a great-great grandmother born in say, Penobscot County, Maine, and you know your great grandmother was born there in Bangor? With one click you could be taken to a list of individuals with events in Penobscot, thereby focusing your search into common geographic areas.
What’s on your wish list for DNA testing?