Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Brave New World: Genetic Genealogy and Me

Last Friday I received the results of my DNA test through the company  23andme .  I was lucky enough to get in on the "DNA Day" sale on April 25, thanks to a tip from fellow Geneablogger Barbara Poole from Life at the Roots .

 I was astounded at how quickly 23andme was able to get the  results back to me, considering they had predicted 6-8 weeks.  My results were ready in less than two weeks!  Kudos to 23andme for being so efficient when they must have had an enormous response to their sale!

The very first item I looked at on the results was ethnic make-up, or Ancestry Painting, as they call it on the 23andme website.   I was a bit shocked to find out that my ancestry is 100% European.  This is contrary to all the many long-lived stories from the my paternal grandmother's family that she, Minttie Mae Bruton, and her mother, Siloama Whitecotton were part Native American (see my previous April 5 2010 blogpost "They Believed They Were Cherokee" ).

So the question remains: Where did all the brown-to-olive skin and black hair in my father's family REALLY come from?

The second part I looked at was the  medical risk portion of the DNA test. It was extremely interesting and edifiying--and can be very reassuring if you are concerned about some genetic condition that runs in your family (or worrisome, if you end up being at risk for it).

Overall, I believe the 23and me DNA test was very accurate in my case, as they were able to correctly predict my eye color, blood type and my unusually high tolerance for pain (just ask my physical therapist).

The third part of the website I explored was their Relative Finder page. So far, there are 296 clients of 23andme with a DNA connection to me.  I have attempted to contact several from the first page, especially those with the highest percentage of shared DNA.

So far, I have  been contacted by only three people through this website, and have spent the last few days trying to track down our ancestors-in-common.  So far, I have been contacted by:

--an individual who shares 60% of my DNA; it appears we have a great number of shared ancestors who settled in and around Stamford, Fairfield Co CT (ancestry of my maternal grandfather R B MARTINE).

--a man from Newfoundland, Canada whose mother shares DNA with me.  We were unable to find any specific ancestor-in-common in Canada, but I suspect there may be one further back, in England, Ireland or Scotland (likely from the ancestry of my maternal grandmother Ruby Bolton BROWN)

--an African American woman whose mother is from Virginia, and who shares European DNA with me. This has been the most interesting and the most challenging, as I have many different English & French ancestors who were plantation owners in the lineage of my maternal grandfather R B Martine, and a few from the lineage of my maternal grandmother Minttie Mae Bruton.  Fortunately, the location of this woman's ancestors in VA and NC has provided some very interesting clues. We may be connected through the surname WALDEN, a mulatto family of Surry Co VA and Northampton Co NC who were not slaves--they were "free persons of color" -- from the mid-1700s onward. At the very least our ancestors  lived in the same communities at the same time--and likely were well-acquainted with each other, according to several  records that I found.

While all this is genetic genealogy sharing is extremely interesting, it is also extremely frustrating.   I now know I share DNA with these people. But unless we both have done extensive genealogical research, it's darn near impossible to say exactly HOW we are related.

Have a great day!


© Betty Tartas  2010


Barbara Poole said...

Betty, I am astonished at how quickly you received your results. Ours didn't come today, so maybe Fri. or Saturday. I'll write you an email, but I wanted to drop you a note here. At least part of your puzzle is answered. Great news!

Renate Yarborough Sanders said...

Betty, that is so interesting! I also took advantage of the 23andme sale. Hopefully, I'll get my results back soon, too! Thanks for sharing your news with us. :)


Greta Koehl said...

This is really interesting. I hope they have a sale again, and I'll give it a try!

Anonymous said...

Betty,just came across your 23andMe thread...we are related by way ow Ann M. Frazier Way. Check out my name on the public page. Yvonne LaRusso

Anonymous said...

Betty, I just came across your thread re: DNA w/23andme. We are related by way of Ann M. Frazier Way and I would like to see if our DNA shows that connection. Check me out on the pulic page on 23andme.