March 12, 2009

DNA Genealogy - First Test Results on 12 Markers!

One month after my Y-DNA test kit was received by Family Tree DNA, they sent an email titled "New DNA Test Results Posted" It explained that "New Y-DNA1-12 results have been posted for your Family Tree DNA Kit" That was pretty exciting! The email explained that if I had ordered a Y-DNA 25 or 37 marker test, those results would be posted within a few weeks, as testing was done in sections.

The email went on to encourage me to join a Surname Project "Since genealogy is all about matching to people with your surname..."

Mention was made of joining a subsequent Geographic Project, and I was advised to add my DNA test results at Ysearch.org, the FTDNA sponsored public database.

Off I went. Adding my test results to YSearch was easy. Understanding my test results and matches was not. A second email had arrived the same day. Here is what it said
An exact 12 marker match has been found between you and another person in the Family Tree DNA database.

You and the other person match in all 12 loci. If you share the same surname or variant, this means that there is a 99% likelihood that you share a common ancestor in a genealogical time frame. If you match another person without the same surname or variant, you still probably share a common ancestor, but this ancestor most likely lived in the time before surnames were adopted.

I was so excited that I made what I assume is a beginner's mistake. I began writing to every single "match" shown on my test results page. This was a bit foolish on my part, and the answers I received from others demonstrated that they were as confused as I was!

I didn't wait for all my markers to be tested and I didn't stop to think that I needed to match with others carrying the same surname! (McGINNIS). I also manually entered all my markers from Family Tree DNA to Ancestry.com DNA pages
. That was mind-boggling and took quite awhile although I am glad I did it, as I found additional connections that way.

In my excitement I also rushed to pay an extra $15.00 to join the Genographic Project on the National Geographic website. In hindsight I wish I had waited until all my markers were tested and my complete DNA results in.

Because I did not understand what my matches on the 12-Marker results meant, I started reading every article and website I could find which explained DNA testing. By the end of the day I was more confused than ever. My husband was also reading up on DNA testing and seemed to grasp the concepts much quicker.

I did enjoy the National Geographic explanations and their charts and maps for my brother's Y DNA results. The website provided me with a Ancestral Journay map, a Genetic history of my lineage from Africa to the present and a Genetic Certificate. These were all printable and customizable with your own name. My brother's Y chromosomes were identified as haplogroup I1c (that sent me off to google that term to find out more!). My genetic history went on to say that members of haplogroup I1c carry these Y chromosome markers M168 > M89 > M170 > M223, and that this haplogroup is most common in Germany. There was also a nice little explanation of markers and haplogroup.

But what really confused me was that many websites noted that "I1c is now considered I2b-M223" What the heck did that mean?? I am still not sure I understand, so if anyone reading this story can explain it to me, please do.

The Geneographic Project had a very nice, easy-to-read Genetics Glossary. My husband and I read a great many articles and explanations. If you decided to test your DNA you must be prepared to read, and in many cases, struggle through an overwhelming amount of technical and scientific information.

Ancestry.com DNA pages, where I manually entered my brother's DNA test results, were very interesting. They referred to haplogroup I as "The Stonemasons" further adding that "The I1c haplogroup is found at its highest frequency in the German and Dutch populations as well as in Great Britain" Ancestry also provided an easy-to-use interface for me to see my test results compared with others.

I liked that they showed the matches as a chart with coloured squares. At the bottom of the chart was a legend explaining that the orange squares meant a match for a common ancestor within 1-6 generations, lighter orange meant 7-15 generations and so on. My top matches were with people who did not share my surname of McGinnis so that confused the heck out of me! But I was intrigued to see that one of my "matches within 7-15 generations" was for the Ontario McGinn family, who have long believed that their surname was originally McGinnis. Further explanations predicted that our common ancestor was within the last 200 years. Okay I'd have liked something closer but I'd start with anything at this point!

....to be continued

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