Tuesday, April 2, 2019

#49- DNA, DNA, DNA and more DNA

DNA - the Craze that is Sweeping the Genealogical World
If you're just browsing genealogy, it's hard not to notice the DNA craze.
What you shouldn't expect from DNA is _too_ much. DNA is like buying a lottery ticket with greater chance of a pay out: sometimes  you get nothing for your money, and sometimes you get a lot more than expected.

In my case I took the DNA test and asked my father to do so for a very specific reason. I could only go so far with genealogical records: his paternal grandfather was missing from his father's birth record. 
I thought I might find a collateral descendant (if this fellow had other children).

My father who most of the DNA hullabaloo was nonsense (except for medical research) but consented to do his DNA for this particular reason. He had received not his paternal name, but his father's mother's name (Higgins) DNA could help us crack the case.

Five months rolled by and I received a message from AncestryDNA. "You might be my cousin." It turns out that the woman who contacted me had had her own father do his DNA. 

She was able to fill in the stories and give me some leads which I can pursue in research:

She told me three of her father's great uncles immigrated from Ireland to New York City at the turn of the century. They lost contact with the family in the old country. 

According to family stories, one moved to California and died in San Francisco, and the other two brothers remained in the greater New York area.

The brothers owned a liquor store in lower Manhattan, not far from where my great grandmother worked. 

In our case the DNA test confirmed that my father and her father had the same grandparents in County Cavan,Ireland. I now know my great grandfather's name, and his parents, and so on.

We also found out that my father's last name, had they wed, would have been Cassidy and not Higgins.

My husband's sisters wanted to find out their ethnicity from their brother's (my husband's) DNA. 

But DNA doesn't work that way, as some children will have a greater % of one ethnicity than the other. 
And, current DNA ethnicities are built around living data profiles of DNA, so the DNA of  a long distant ancestor is likely very different from your grandparents' of the same area. 

My all four of my husband's sisters contributed their DNA. With the DNA of 4 children (1 is deceased) of the same parents, we got about an 80% degree level of accuracy with regard to their ethnic makeup.

But, it was somewhat redundant. None of their ethnic background surprised us because we had a family tree that was filled out fairly accurately.

What's the use of DNA? 
1 Linking a family tree to a DNA test is probably the best thing you can do (unless you are looking for a missing parent).

2 Tie up "loose ends" - Take care of loose ends and brick walls. 

My grandfather's paternity was a loose end. DNA helped us find his family. 

But, my husband has a similar situation:
there is a family story that attributes a gr grandfather who died suddenly. 

He left no other children, no mark, no wedding license with his Canadian wife, and to make things worse for a researcher, his name was John Johnson of Boston. 
 That doesn't narrow the field at all. 

My husband has done a DNA test, linked his tree to it, and he has also done a Y-DNA test. 

We're still waiting for a "tug" on the line.
And many days I wonder if his gr grandfather was John Johnson of Sweden in Boston, after all.

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