I have used several different types of resources over the years when doing genealogy research and have had great success, but there were a few family branches that I have struggled to find any information on. These individuals just didn’t leave enough of a paper trail for me to find them. I had come to what is known as a genealogy brick wall. So I decided to take a different path in my research by using a different type of resource and that is DNA. I have been using DNA for a few years now and have been able to connect with several family branches that just didn’t have a strong paper trail. DNA has helped me break through many of these brick walls. It has also connected me with others who I didn’t even know that we are related to.
Use of DNA
Today, people are not only using DNA to help in their genealogy research, but those who were adopted are using DNA to find their biological families.
We are learning where our ancestors came from by the use of ethnicity estimates. These estimates go back tens of thousands of years, before the written word. This is possible from the DNA that has been collected from cultures, regions and ancient remains found all over the world.
Humans share 99.9% of the same DNA, but only .1% of their DNA is inherited specifically from their ancestors. Traits like eye color, hair color and type, height, shape of our nose, etc, come from this .1% that we inherit.
Types of DNA
There are currently three main types DNA test, Mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA). This DNA is passed down to sons and daughters from their mother, but only daughters can pass it on to their offspring. Y-Chromosome DNA (YDNA), is the DNA passed down to sons from their fathers, and only sons can pass it on to their sons. The third DNA test is the Autosomal DNA (AtDNA), which is made of 22 pairs of Chromosomes. We receive 50% of our DNA from our father and 50% from our mother. We have a total of 23 pairs of Chromosomes. The 23rd pair are different in that they are sex chromosomes. Our mother contributes an X Chromosome and our father contributes a X or Y chromosome.
Currently most DNA companies only offer Autosomal DNA testing. FamilyTreeDNA is one of the few who companies who offer all three tests.
We all have seen the ads on TV from Ancestry.com to have your DNA done. This has made DNA and genealogy very popular today. What they don’t tell you is how you need to have some understanding of DNA and have at least a basic family tree in place. They also don’t tell you how you need to have a subscription to their website to see other DNA participants family tree information. You can see your DNA results and your matches, but you need a basic family tree to know how some of these matches are related and some understanding of how DNA works. There are other genealogy websites that are free. So if you do test with Ancestry.com you can download your raw file of information from Ancestry and upload to other sites where possible relatives have tested. In the case that you are adopted and don’t know who your parent(s) are than I recommend that you test and/or upload your results to the four largest DNA companies.
The DNA test itself is very simple, depending on the DNA company, all you need to do is swab the inside of your check or spit into a vial and then mail the sample in the postage paid self addressed envelop that is provided. The most popular and largest companies are Ancestry.com, FamilyTreeDNA.com, MyHeritage.com and 23andMe.com. There are other companies but their databases are not as large are the above four. The cost varies between companies and depends on what type of test you want to have done. They usually have sales and you can purchase a Autosomal DNA test kit for under $69, sometimes as low as $39. There is usually a sale at least once a month at one or more of these companies. The Y-DNA and MtDNA tests are in the $150 and up range. I would recommend that you start with an Autosomal test because is contains info on both of your parents where the other two two are directed specifically to the mother or the father’s line.
Chagnon Family DNA Project
I have started a Chagnon Family DNA project to help descendants to be able to connect with relatives that they otherwise wouldn’t even know existed. I personally have connected with cousins who are all over the world and are related back as far as 5th and 6th cousins once removed. It has been a great experience and so much fun sharing our family trees. To join, all you need is to show you are related to Chagnon family tree. This can be done with providing a copy of your family tree and your DNA, either by uploading or providing access permission. If you are interested in having your DNA done and would like to participate in this project please contact me.
Free DNA Test Kit
To qualify you must be a direct Male Chagnon descendant of Nelson and Delina (Bouchard) Chagnon. You will need to submit your family tree that shows your connection to Narcisse “Nelson” Chagnon or one of his direct ancestors or descendants and you must complete this questionnaire form.
DNA testing can be confusing and takes some patience to have a good understanding. Head over to my Blog and read some of my DNA posts. Hopefully these will give you a clearer understanding.