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Are you my DNA cousin?

Monday, March 03, 2014

One of my hobbies is genealogical research. I mentioned that I was spending time searching for common ancestors among those who share DNA with me, and one of my Sparkie friends asked how that works. Since others may be curious, I decided to submit my answer in blog form. Here it is.

I heard about the DNA testing thing on the Oprah show several years back. Her guest was the founder of www.23andme.com . I went online and bought a $99 test. They sent me a kit with instructions on submitting a saliva sample to their lab. The lab results show the probable origins of my early ancestors.

They also provided information about markers in my DNA indicating high or low risk for diseases and conditions. The heath part is currently on hold, while the FDA determines that the company is not practicing medicine. Mine said I had the marker for obesity (surprise, surprise, surprise), which called for a need to manage food intake and exercise.

Everything else is still provided, including ancient ancestry. Since I'm a strong believer in unity in diversity, I was pleased to find that I'm 1% African.
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Good thing my husband was never a Klan member. He would be concerned that I've been handling his sheets all these years.

The company also provides an ongoing list of others in their data base who share DNA with me, and an estimation of how closely we are related, based upon how much DNA we share. We can invite individuals to share family tree information, in an effort to find our most recent common ancestor (eHarmony with dead ancestors). The most distant common ancestors I've found with a few of my previously unknown to me 8th cousins are sets of mutual 7th great grandparents. That's pretty far back. I've also located a few 2nd cousins and a whole bunch of 4th cousins with ancestors in the Smoky Mountains.

One by one, my husband, 3 daughters,& 3 grandchildren have since been tested, and the kids popped up as potential kinfolk, the daughters getting approx. half of their DNA from each of us, and the grandchildren about 25% from each of us. Jim's half-sister was recently tested, and she shares about 25% of her DNA with him. We are prepared, in case we ever have to appear on the Maury TV show.
My poor husband keeps hearing "You ARE the father" over and over in his head. No way out.

We also have clues to the identity of a mystery grandfather of his, due to people who share DNA at various cousin levels with him, with no explanation other than his grandfather being one of theirs. Many of them are trying to help us zero in on the actual deceased dude. It's unlikely that we will find out who he was, but his descendants are claiming kin anyway. So much for taking secrets to the grave!

DNA works like copy machines. With each generation, whatever gets copied fades. That's how they can predict how many generations away a common ancestor will appear in the tree of 2 individuals. Any of the following links provide free information in detail on how it works,.


The next link allows those who have been tested by any or all of the above companies to upload their raw data. It's free for anyone to use. Their computers crunch the numbers and provide lists of DNA matches from the data base of all.

Also free for anyone to use at GEDmatch, those who haven't been tested, but have family trees on their computers, can upload trees in a gedcom form, created by their family tree software. Each uploaded tree is assigned a # which can be entered in a gedcom comparison tool on that site. Their server does a comparison and shows a list of trees that include matching people from those trees.

It's a great use of internet tools to help people search for roots by comparing shared data. By adding DNA testing, we can confirm (or rule out) much of our paper research. My mother would have loved it.. I used to roll my eyes when she talked about my dead relatives.
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When she died she had been locating records to prove that some of my ancestors were the earliest to arrive in Tennessee. It was for a project called First Families of Tennessee, and I decided to complete her application, since she was almost done with it. And I got hooked like she was.

Same thing happened with the DNA thing.


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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • JIBBIE49
    I watch PATERNITY COURT and there was a young woman making comments that she had no idea who her biological father was since years back her mother had a "one-night stand" with a guy she never saw again, and she got pregnant with her. I suggested she submit to the 3 main companies, which include "23andME" and see if she is a match, but then she said they told her she would only match with a half sibling or parents, as they don't do cousins. Your information is interesting.
    I saw where they had found two serial killers by submitting DNA from murder samples and "made up" names by the police and they found matches. One guy's sister was among the 5,000,000 people and they then found this guy in California. So, "You ARE the Father" does work.

    950 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6913562
    Very interesting, I have records and can trace my family back to the early 1500.
    1949 days ago
  • no profile photo CD15469344
    I suspect we share some "addictive" genes and can't wait 'til they come out with 24andme, where the 24th aspect consists of M&M's peanuts ;) The only such testing I had was on the recommendation of one of my doctors - I had BRCA 1 and 2 testing. Fortunately, both were negative. Good for you, for your curiosity! I've heard many of us have African genetics to some extent. Given my food preferences (soul food's a favorite!), I'd wager that I do!

    Great post :)
    2105 days ago
    Daniel boon was a distant cousin of mine, through my father's side.
    2305 days ago
    I enjoyed this and your sense of humor!! A favorite was - Good thing my husband was never a Klan member. He would be concerned that I've been handling his sheets all these years.
    I haven't been sparking for awhile and just got on - saw your name as a friend with a new blog so read it. Glad I did. I don't have much free time today but glad I did this!!

    I'll do some more looking later - but do you live in Tennessee or the area? I so want to do this testing! And I would like to get my deceased husband's - I guess through his sister - to see how close we were. We looked at thought a lot alike!!

    My present husband - he might not care but I might try it. It would give him a new hobby. His work, passion, hobby - is Latin. And he knows his stuff!

    Well - off to the laundry - have a great day! emoticon
    2305 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12112105
    OMG, you're a hoot! LOL. My boyfriend's mom is totally into genealogy. She uses ancestry.com, but her membership just expired. She usually gives them a few months, and then they come back to her with a 50% off deal. She's been able to go back to the 1400's with her husband's side and to the 1200's with hers! My b/f is distant cousins with Grace Kelly and is somehow related to Winston Churchill. (Or was it Louis XIV? HAHA! Totally different people.) Me, I can't seem to get anywhere past my maternal great grandparents...

    Later, cuz! emoticon
    2683 days ago
  • CATHM26
    Wow - this is really interesting!
    2703 days ago
    Thanks, cousin (?) ANNARUTH.
    I'm beginning to think all of us mountain folk are cousins. My husband and I met in Michigan, and through all of this testing and searching, we have found that he is my 6th cousin once removed. President Obama is, too, on his mama's side. Dolly Parton is my 5th cousin. I could go on for days....
    2706 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/4/2014 11:39:26 AM
    Very interesting Barbara! I'm sure we are related somehow since we grew up in the same area. And as you know, everyone is related there! I'll have to try this, would be interesting!
    2707 days ago
    Thanks, DON.

    The downsizing has been done, the house in Wisconsin sold, and the Nashville area lovenest located.

    We moved into our 1100 sq foot apartment, with only our favorite belongings, on July 1st. The rest of the STUFF is gone. No more basement to clean. What a relief!

    Found a tap dance class. Recital June 14th. Trying to survive the biscuits and pies. We have an exercise room, pool and tennis court. Brought our bikes with us. Wonderful parks near us.

    2707 days ago
    Wonderful to hear from you Barbara!

    I'm pretty genealogically clueless with not a whopping amount of interest, however I have relatives who might appreciate this info.

    2707 days ago
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