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.
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.
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.