Thoughts on DNA testing?

+1 vote
I am curious if anyone thinks that there ia a benefit to DNA testing? I have my tree pretty solid for 6 or 7 generations but continuously become intrigued by DNA testing... I am a female so not sure it would be worthwhile to test myself but maybe my brother, uncle on my mom's side or my father? Any thoughts?
in Genealogy Help by Lindsay Tyrie G2G6 Mach 1 (18.6k points)
retagged by Chris Whitten
Thanks everyone for your answers. Kind of the general consensus of how I feel... will probably wait until I feel right with blowing the money for no real result... but still want to do it... it could help someone else down the way... or it could turn up something interesting...

9 Answers

+3 votes
I am a female with a well documented surname tree going back about 7 generations in America. I asked my brother to do the Y chromosome test which he graciously agreed to do. Our second cousin did the test too and the two men matched which takes us back to our great grandfather but we were sure of him anyway so no new info there. What did we learn that was new? Not a lot. We found out that our Y chromosome goes back to the Vikings but that is so far back we could not possibly trace to it. We found that a man in late 1700s Virginia probably fathered an illegitimate child because a supposed descendant of another well document family from our ancestral area got tested and he matched us rather than others from his surname. We found a lot of people who match us in New Zealand and Australia but have no idea how we connect to each other. We found several other North American descendants but they are not sure of their ancestry so it doesn't help any of us help much. We have had no hits to people in Ireland or Scotland (where we have been unable to find any records to assist us) which is where our surname ancestor was from and where we were hoping to gather more information. The experience has basically been frustrating. Maybe someday someone will be glad we did this test. I remain unconvinced that it was worth the money. My X chromosome test has provided even less in useful information because the X goes very far back in time with few mutations.
by Shayne Davidson G2G2 (2.2k points)
edited by Shayne Davidson
+2 votes
Some of my wife's family has had DNA testing done, but the information that was gleaned from it I would put in the "well, that's interesting" category as opposed to the "useful" category.  It's still fairly cost-prohibitive for most folks, but it can yield some interesting information depending on what haplotype comes back.
by Allen Minix G2G6 Mach 1 (17.8k points)
+3 votes
I've recently done a DNA test on myself, so it only tracks the mitochondrial DNA rather than the Y chromosome DNA.  I went with 23andMe because it not only offers an ancestral view of your DNA but also a health aspect - which I found fascinating.  I loved reading about the various diseases and ailments that I have a higher, lower, or typical risk for.  I especially found the area about drug responses super interesting - seeing what medications I've extra sensitive to and which ones my body is less likely to respond to.

What it comes down to in my opinion is whether or not you view "interesting" information as an investment and whether or not you want to find other distant cousins to connect and share with.  They might not be able to help you with a direct line much (although, you never know - one of them could have the family bible!) but they could shed some light on some interesting collateral lines.

The cost is high but it definitely offers an interesting scientific view to the paper trail you've created.  DNA testing doesn't guarantee that they'll find you cousins - or even that those cousins will have information to share - but it can be a fun investment and a cool thing to look at.
by Elyse Doerflinger G2G1 (1.5k points)
+2 votes
The DNA testing was very informative for our family because now we know we can't look to our own surname for the answers. Through DNA testing, I discovered I'd wasted forty plus years trying to find the parents of my g-g-g-grandfather. I even developed a huge website for this surname and spent untold hours corresponding with others who contacted me as a result.

Male descendants from three of my ancestor's sons participated in a DNA study so we'd be sure of his markers. We found out his DNA doesn't match anyone else with the same surname--not even his brother. And his brother doesn't match anyone else with that surname. Apparently, a woman either took in stray children or had children by different men. There's no way to tell, but a couple of others have done DNA testing and they match my ancestor--even though both of their surnames are different--so that at least this gives me another avenue to pursue and has caused me to halt building the website with the surname that leads to nowhere concerning my family's roots.
by Debby Black G2G6 Mach 8 (82.8k points)
+1 vote
I Believe that this SHOULD be done, because this would help every one with their research in their trees. I believe this should be done as soon as possible.
+1 vote

For me I turned to testing after hitting a dead end

but I found my answers and some wonderful distant cousins

 hope these links help



by Kathy Alexander G2G Crew (640 points)
+1 vote
Honestly, it totally depends on the situation as to whether or not it is worth it.  I did a DNA test through 23andMe and I found the health aspect really interesting.

My mom was adopted by her biological aunt.  So I know all about her maternal side, but next to nothing on her paternal side.  I have a name, an occupation, and I know the man was married and possibly had two teenage sons - but I'm not even sure how much of that is correct.

I got a match that was 3rd or 4th cousins (so pretty close) and we started emailing back and forth.  He has ancestors from the area in question, but none of them match the name or occupation of the supposed father.  So we match genetically - but we have no clue how where the connection is exactly.

Other than that, I haven't learned anything new.  The experience was interesting, but not necessarily worth the money.

However - my dad needs to be tested because we aren't sure who the father is of my great-grandfather.  I've checked the court records and bastardy records and come up with nothing.  His other siblings all have records in the court of who the father was, but nothing on him.  My dad is the last (known) male-through-male descendant that I can test.  I figure I'll enter him in the two or three suspected father's surname projects and see if he fits with one of them.

Hopefully he will someday accept taking the test so that I can truly learn who the father is.

So... in short... if you have a mystery to solve and you've run out of a paper trail - go for it!  If not, then it might not be worth the money right now.
by Elyse Doerflinger G2G1 (1.5k points)
+1 vote
Greetings, I have had tremendous success with my uncles DNA test. Our suname Lemons (and variations) has had a large amount of testing done for 20 years since the beginning of public testing.  My uncle upgraded his test to 44 markers in 2003 and at that point we got many matches, including 3 matches to a very well researched family who knew the immigrant ancestor.  So because of my uncle getting tested we found the immigrant ancestor which had been the goal of all of our genealogy work for over 40 years and 3 generations of family doing the work.

I have continued the research and found many living men who's branches were possibly connected to ours and paid for them to be tested and confirmed all of them to be related.  For our Surname y-dna testing has been very beneficial.

Family Tree DNA has recently lowered prices on the 12 marker test to $49. All other y-dna tests have been lowered also.  Start with a 12 marker test to get your haplogroup and then you can upgrade further as they have additional sales. You only need to take one sample, they then upgrade off the sample they have in the lab.

For women the MT-DNA test is worthless for geneaology. The Family Finder test is more useful. But I would start with getting the 23& test first (cheaper $99) and then transfer the results to Family Tree DNA so you get matches from both databases and you get the genetic medical screening that is part of the 23&me test.  

I am co-admin for the Lemon DNA project and project founder for the Khmer Cousins DNA Project at Family Tree DNA.

Kari Lemons
by Kari Lemons G2G5 (6.0k points)
+1 vote
My Y-DNA showed Haplogroup R1b which is common in western Europe. An additional test showed a P312 marker though to have originated around the Rhine River valley.

The mtDNA was H with three variations from standard.

Genealogy showed that my paternal line traces back to England as does the maternal line. There are a few others with H mtDNA with the same variation, all in the UK.

The maternal line is thought  to have been in the UK for a very long time and a paternal ancestor is thought to have invaded from Europe after the Romans left England.
by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.4m points)

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