Whose DNA Should You Trace?

Used with permission from Rootsweb Review

When analyzing DNA for genealogical purposes, it’s important to look at all of your ancestral names.


As discussed a few months ago by columnist Joan Young, in DNA and Genealogy – Beyond the Paper Trail (RootsWeb Review 9 Dec. 2009, Vol. 12, No. 12), DNA tests reports on direct pedigree lines, e.g., from father to son to son, or from mother to daughter to daughter, etc.

There is no cross-over between mtDNA and Y-DNA, so your immediate family members can only be tested for these two lines.

If you are looking for other ancestry – say, for example, your deceased father’s father’s mother’s markers, you can still determine them. Find someone who meets a direct descendancy criteria; this would be through a mother to son (grandfather) or mother to daughter to daughter(great aunt’s daughter) relationship.

Female Research
Known as mitochondrial or mtDNA, women inherit markers from their mothers, but not from fathers. The mitochrondion occurs in the cytoplasm of the cell, as opposed to the nucleus, and typically changes slowly from generation to generation. This is why researchers have determined that there is a “Mitochondrial Eve”, a common matrilineal (female) ancestor, from whom we all descend.

Male Research
Through the direct patrilineal lineage, we theoretically descend from “Y Chromosome Adam”, although the measurements for time periods are eons apart.

The reason for this is that men test their direct male lineage through Y-DNA, as they share a Y chromosome with their fathers (contained in the nucleus of the cell, as opposed to the egg that supplies the mtDNA). In the case of the paternal test, a haplotype is determined, based upon Y chromosome patterns which are distinctive and easily identifiable. Men also inherit mtDNA from their mothers, which is why they are logical test subjects for extended DNA testing.

Another advantage for testing men, is that unless there were an adoption or legal name change, a son would share a surname with his father, unlike women, who unless they had not married (or coincidentally a father-son combination had married women with the same surname), the family name would change at every generation.

Who should get tested?
To solve brick walls, consider testing,

1. Elderly male relatives, and a male at each living generation, to take an extended maternal and paternal test of at least the basic markers.
2. Any female from a unique and direct mitochondrial line to take a basic maternal test.

In my family, the mitochondrial line traces 7-generations to immigrants from Ireland. Several 32 marker tests have been submitted, and two matches of interest have surfaced. One is a 3rd generation American female of Irish descent, and the other is a male, confident of 5-generations of research on his mother’s side. So far, we have not determined the common thread, but we do know that, in all likelihood
The female match indicates the common ancestor is probably at the 8th generation or earlier.
The male match may (and most probably does) share ancestry with the immigrant family, although the common link could be earlier.
Few changes in mtDNA (known as mutations) have occurred from generation to generation.
Without DNA testing, we would not have the opportunity to collaborate.

Another ancestral family line came from Holland. We know the immigrant arrived in America in the mid to late 1700s, but little else. I am urging my male cousins, who share this surname, to take the paternal test, with the hope that a European match will surface.

Follow these charts to see whose DNA test would be the most beneficial for your purposes.

Follow along the colored lines to see the direct mtDNA connections. (Other mtDNA connections are noted by different colored lines and circles.) The Y DNA connections are noted by the color of the male’s box.

Whose DNA do you want? Who can be tested?

Your own…………You, a son or a daughter
Your father………Your father, your paternal grandfather (father’s father only), your brother or your brother’s sons (nephews)
Your mother………You, your brother, your sister, your mother, your mother’s brother (uncle), your maternal grandmother (mother’s mother only), your mother’s sister (aunt), your 1st cousins who are children of your mother’s sister or 2nd cousins via your mother’s sister (assuming they are her daughter’s daughters)
Your mother and father (at same time)…..Yourself, if you are male, or any of your full biological brothers
Paternal grandmother (father’s mother)…..Your father, his brother (paternal uncle), his sister (paternal aunt), the female children of his sister or the female grandchildren of his sister (assuming they are daughter’s daughters)
Paternal grandfather (father’s father)…..Your son, your father, paternal grandfather (himself), your father’s brother (paternal uncle), your brother’s son (nephew) or any male descendant that traces through the male line only.
Paternal grandmother and grandfather (at same time)…..Your father or his brother (paternal uncle)
Maternal grandmother (mother’s mother)…..You, your mother, maternal grandmother or your mother’s brother (maternal uncle)
Maternal grandfather (mother’s father)…..Your uncle, your uncle’s sons (nephews) or paternal grandfather (mother’s father)

Services which test and gather DNA results for genealogical purposes are:




RootsWeb articles of interest:

FamilyHart DNA Projects (Pennsylvania Dutch Families) by Don & Jeanine Hartman
Lost Colony Research Group (Successfully Using Autosomal Testing in Conjunction with Mitochondrial and Y-Line) by Roberta Estes
Mayflower DNA Projects (Canadian Society of Mayflower Descendants) by Susan E. Roser

Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 14 July 2010, Vol. 13, No. 7

Eating Meeting and Museum July 19

Our unofficial “eating meeting” where we visit and talk about what we want to (including but not restricted to genealogy) is going to happen at 6:00 p.m. at Peralta’s Restaurant in Quitman across from the Governor Hogg Park on Highway 37.

This is the last meeting to discuss what we’re doing at the Old Settlers’ Reunion celebration the first week of August. If you have forgotten what you volunteered to do, show up and we’ll get out the list. If you would still like to help, show up (or contact Deason Hunt) and we’ll put you on the list. We are still looking for ideas.

Also, as a special treat, after we finish visiting and eating, member Barbara Coleman has arranged for those who are interested to tour the Wood County Historical Commission Museum on the courthouse square in Quitman. Pretty good for an unofficial meeting, huh?

All members, guests, and visitors are welcome to come to either or both. There’s no charge unless you eat or drink something. We have arranged to use a room near the back of the dining areas so we won’t disturb others at the restaurant — too much. Some people there might not like hearing laughing and fun. You never know.

Brigham Young University Genealogy Resources

It’s hard to avoid getting excited in the weekly workshops taught by new member Vickie Petersen at the public library in Mineola.

Sharing that excitement usually starts with someone making a “Eureka, look what I’ve found” noise like “wow” or a similar noise. Sometimes, however, it’s just finding a new resource.

One such experience last Thursday (note: meeting Thursdays 10-noon at the library near the genealogy room) was when Vickie shared the Brigham Young University genealogy resources pages. You can get there by going to familyhistory.byu.edu. We started out on the page where you can print free blank forms to use in research at http://lib.byu.edu/sites/familyhistory/print-forms-research-helps/, but starting anywhere will give you lots of links and pages to explore.

If you want to take a look, set aside some time. There are links all over the first page (and subsequent pages) which can take you to interesting and helpful information and resources.

This is not the FamilySearch or New FamilySearch site, but there are links that will take you there and to lots of other trustworthy and interesting genealogy sources. Some are pay and some are free, but even the pay ones will let you look around at some things without any charges.

The Problem with the web is…

Vinton CERF, a Google vice president and computer scientist, recently pointed out what those of us experienced in genealogy have known for a while: We don’t know if the information we find is accurate.

He added that knowing whether information is accurate didn’t start with the world wide web. ” The problem is,” he said, “this is true of books and every other medium” in an article in the July/August 2010 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine.

What we’ve got to do is what he suggested. We must learn to evaluate information. In genealogy, we talk about that in terms of the evidence we find usually evaluating the relative reliability of the source of the information. It’s something our hobby (addiction?) requires that we do.

It is also the use of such critical thinking, problem-solving skills which can keep our minds sharp as we grow more experienced (a nicer label for the aging process).

It’s the good life!

Quitman Library Asks Budget Increase

Quitman Public Librarian Delene DELAROSA recently presented the Wood County Commissioners Court a request to in crease the county’s support of the Quitman library from $7,000 yearly to $25,00. The request was from Quitman Mayor Jerry EDWARDS, and he and DelaRosa appeared before the court.

She pointed out that 70 percent of those patrons using the library live in the county outside of Quitman. County residents showing proof of residence and a photo ID can receive a library card at the library at no charge.

Cox Family

Children of Christopher Whitemire COX and Mary Ann DANIEL COX:

Children of Christopher and Mary Ann Cox

From left: Sarah Lucretia Cox Burnett, Mary Edna Cox Corbitt, Zachariah Christopher Cox, Susan Anna Cox LaRue, and William H. Cox. -- Photo provided by member LaHoma Clanton

Welcome to a new member

Welcome to Vickie PETERSEN of Mineola who has joined our society. She is teaching a genealogy workshop this summer at the public library in Mineola which several of our members are attending. I hope she will find a home among all of us here in the genealogical community of Wood County.

Query: Redwine

Shalynn FOSHA-ANDERSON has posted a request for information on a Wood County family surnamed REDWINE on the Rootsweb Wood County Message board. The message is at this link: http://boards.rootsweb.com/localities.northam.usa.states.texas.counties.wood/602/mb.ashx.

Query: Request for Obituary Lookup

A researcher named Harold has requested someone to do an obituary lookup. You can email him for details at gosnell36@bellsouth.net.

If you are planning to offer to help, please also post a comment to this message so that we will know he is being helped.

June Newsletter on Its Way

The June 2010 newsletter has been mailed and should reach all currently paid-up members soon. It is also posted on the member-only site which can be accessed from the link at the top right column of this page.

An updated member contact list (as of July 1, 2010) has been uploaded to the member-only site.


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