With the success of television shows like “Genealogy Roadshow” and ads about celebrities having their DNA tested, interest in Genealogy in general and DNA in particular, has exploded. Various DNA testing services have claimed to offer precise details of a persons ethnological heritage.
Those of us who have been involved in Genealogy for decades have seen a revolution in family tree research. First came the internet, giving you access to mountains of data which before existed only in libraries, often far from home, and the ability to instantly share research with others all over the world. Then came DNA testing,
I had been following developments in DNA for a long time. As the price dropped I began considering the possibility it could help on parts of my family tree where I had reached A brick wall. There are two main types of tests that have been of most interest to family history research. The First is testing the Y chromosome DNA. Since only the male has the Y chromosome the DNA on it Is passed solely through the male line. It mutates very slowly from father to son so the closer the Match the closer the relationship. The other major test is mitochondrial DNA Which comes Primarily from the Mother and traces a maternal line from your mother to her mother, grandmother etc. Since ordinarily the Male surname remains constant, and thus easier to trace the Y DNA is generally considered more Valuable for Family research.
Eventually I ordered a 12 marker test that was on sale. All DNA companies offer the 12 marker test with the hope you’ll order further tests to refine the results. the 12 marker test is obviously less precise than a test that covers more markers. I ordered the 12 marker to get a general idea of what to expect.
After a few weeks I the kit arrived and I used the brushes to rub the inside of my cheeks to provide the sample and sent it in. After about six weeks I got the results. I went online to get the information about my test and joined a group for my family surname, Davis. After reviewing the data my conclusions were as follows.
· The 12 marker tests primary value is in eliminating lines that aren’t related. This can save a lot of time by eliminating lines that you might otherwise have to research.
· A 12 marker match on a 12 marker test is not highly significant in and of itself. I had about 1300 matches many of whom did not share my surname. But there were about 10 Davis lines that did match, all of which had similar patterns of migration, (Virginia or N.C. to Kentucky to Al. etc). These lines could lead to something and suggest the need for further research.
· In my case the test revealed some promising leads which I need to research. It also ruled out some lines that might otherwise have been rabbit trails. It pointed to my ancestors probably originating in the British Isles which I pretty much figured out on my own. On the whole I got my moneys worth and when finances permit will probably upgrade the markers.
In short, in my opinion, If your just starting on your family tree, unless your willing to pay for more markers, trying to match a specific line or have hit a complete dead end, I’d hold off until the data base grows, (which it will daily) and possibly the cost of higher marker testing drops. The value of these tests will increase with the database. If you pursue this I wish you the best of luck. Good Hunting!