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  • Whoa - No idea what to do

    I am a 55 year old female and my 90 year old mother is still alive. She was one of 8 children and her genealogy is fairly well traced.

    My father was an only child, is deceased, and only had daughters. I would love to know more about his family line, as my paternal grandfather's background is unknown.

    What should I do? If purchased a test for myself, and one for my mother, would I be able to figure out my dad's background by process of elimination? As you may notice, I am completely new to this and have lots of reading to do.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions on where to start to find out about my father's family.

  • #2
    Family Finder's My Origins can be interesting if you have some fairly recent exotic markers from one parent or the other. If both parents are plain European, the results will probably disappoint.

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    • #3
      Get data from all daughters

      Each of you will have gotten one X from your mother and one from your father. The X from your father will be some combination of his father and his mother. By comparing as many siblings as possible and your mother, you can get the maximum amount of information about your dad's side of things. There is a thread under X-Chromosomes on these forums that discusses doing this. The bottom line is - the more children that you can include the better.

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      • #4
        Testing both yourself and your mother is helpful. If the two of you share some matches you can use that to determine that those matches are on your mother's side. There are some caveats with matches with minimal matching cMs, etc. but this will help you pinpoint things.

        If you could convince a sibling to test that would also help. They would get matches that you might not depending on which parent they received more DNA from. And if you could find a cousin somewhere on your dad's side on a different branch that would still be helpful. Same goes for relatives on your mom's side of the family. They'll get different matches than you will.

        I've tested a smattering of people on different lines and it has really helped narrow down my own matches. I've tested both my grandmothers (both 90 now), my mom, one of her sisters (they get very different matches), my dad, a first cousin of his on my dad's paternal side, and a half-1st cousin of my paternal grandmother. My sister is also interested. I'm still looking for more volunteers.

        My dad and his paternal 1st cousin have helped me narrow down which of some of my mystery matches are from that side, the German Russian side. Either all three of us match those individuals or they match me and my dad or me and my cousin or my dad and his cousin. But because of that I can establish the link on that line.

        Oh, and having tested both my grandmothers and my parents I can take a look at the segments I inherited and see just how much I inherited from my grandmothers. Interestingly I inherited a lot more from them than my grandfathers.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by MikeP View Post
          The X from your father will be some combination of his father and his mother.
          This is not correct. A man has one X chromosome, inherited from his mother, and it gets passed down in-tact to all of his daughters.

          A man's X chromosome may be a mixture of his mother's two X chromosomes, which the mother inherited from both parents. However, it's also possible that he inherited an unmixed X chromosome from the mother's mother OR father. (The same applies for the X that a woman inherits from her mother.)

          sarabeesara:

          To give you a direct answer -- yes, if you test both yourself and your mother for Family Finder (autosomal DNA), you'll be able to determine which of your own matches are from your father's side instead of your mother's side.

          We provide tools called In Common With and Not In Common With to compare the match lists between yourself and another person. In your case, you would use the Not In Common With to compare your match list with your mother's match list -- those NOT on your mother's match list should be from your father's side.

          I do agree that it may be useful to test your siblings as well, not because of the X chromosome being different, but because of the autosomal DNA being different. Since you each inherited a random 50% of your father's autosomal DNA, you and your siblings will have some matches in common with each other and some different matches as well.

          Elise

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          • #6
            Exactly the information I needed! I will order these kits immediately. Thank you, Elise, and everyone who posted.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by sarabeesara View Post
              I am a 55 year old female and my 90 year old mother is still alive. She was one of 8 children and her genealogy is fairly well traced.

              My father was an only child, is deceased, and only had daughters. I would love to know more about his family line, as my paternal grandfather's background is unknown.

              What should I do? If purchased a test for myself, and one for my mother, would I be able to figure out my dad's background by process of elimination? As you may notice, I am completely new to this and have lots of reading to do.

              Thanks in advance for any suggestions on where to start to find out about my father's family.
              Have you tried researching the paper trail first? Because although people who match you but not your mother will be matches on your father's side, the vast, vast majority of them will be distant cousins who share about 3rd+ great grandparents with you. You'll be lucky to get a closer match than that and with such distant relations, it can be extremely difficult, to determine who your shared ancestors when you don't have a paternal tree of your own to compare them to.

              Unless there was an adoption or similar situation where one doesn't know who their parent/grandparent was and have no way of figuring it out with a paper trail, I highly recommend you first do your best to research your genealogy and build a tree - then use DNA to help you confirm your finds.

              That is assuming that you will be using the cousin matches to help build your father's tree. It's occurred to me that you may just be interested in the ethnicity results? In that case, unless it's very important to you, I would discourage against spending $99 on something which is only an estimate and subject to interpretation. Take, for example, my own ethnicity results. AncestryDNA says I'm 55% British while FTDNA says I'm 0% British. The only thing they can agree on with any accuracy is that I'm 63% Northern European (37% Southern European) - not exactly very specific, is it? The true value of the DNA test is in the people it matches you with and if you're not going to make use of those, I think test is overpriced.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Germanica View Post
                Have you tried researching the paper trail first?
                I would not recommend anyone delay on testing a 90 year-old relative who is willing. Especially a parent or grandparent, where the info can be so crucially useful.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by loobster View Post
                  I would not recommend anyone delay on testing a 90 year-old relative who is willing. Especially a parent or grandparent, where the info can be so crucially useful.
                  My point was just that if her main purpose for doing this is to find her father's ancestry (not her mother's), to have realistic expectations of the results. The DNA test isn't going to suddenly and easily reveal her paternal tree, even through process of elimination with her mother's DNA. Using DNA to build an unknown tree is MUCH more difficult than following the paper trail. Of course one can do both at the same time - I'm just pointing out that doing the DNA test without a tree will make things much more difficult than if she researches the paper trail too. Since she's already ordered the tests, I would recommend that while she waits for her results to come in, spend that time researching the paper trail!

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                  • #10
                    Yes, thank you for pointing that out, Germanica. Actually I am more interested in ethnicity, since I am certain that the paper trail from my paternal grandfather does not exist. He was born out of wedlock with a fictitcious father's name listed. This was in the coal-mining region of West Virginia circa 1900, a melting pot of ethnicities, and we have always wondered.

                    I appreciate everyone's help and suggestions.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sarabeesara View Post
                      Yes, thank you for pointing that out, Germanica. Actually I am more interested in ethnicity, since I am certain that the paper trail from my paternal grandfather does not exist. He was born out of wedlock with a fictitcious father's name listed. This was in the coal-mining region of West Virginia circa 1900, a melting pot of ethnicities, and we have always wondered.

                      I appreciate everyone's help and suggestions.
                      Fair enough if you think the cost is worth the ethnicity results - just keep in mind they are only estimates and subject to interpretation and different sample groups. I encourage you to upload your data to Gedmatch (it's free) to get other admixture results and get a second opinion. As someone who has several British branches but zero British results on FTDNA, I feel their ethnicity results can be very misleading. That's not to say it's inaccurate, just that it's not always representative of recent ancestry. The reason I have no British results is because my British DNA is heavily influenced by Vikings and Germanic tribes (like the Saxons) so my results are representative of the very early middle ages, NOT my recent ancestry. I'm just warning you because if, for example, I didn't know anything about my family tree, I might assume from FTDNA's results that I have no British ancestry, which would be very, very wrong. So just take them with a grain of salt!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by sarabeesara View Post
                        ...

                        My father was an only child, is deceased, and only had daughters. I would love to know more about his family line, as my paternal grandfather's background is unknown.

                        What should I do? If purchased a test for myself, and one for my mother, would I be able to figure out my dad's background by process of elimination? As you may notice, I am completely new to this and have lots of reading to do. ....
                        Both you and your mother can take the Family Finder test.

                        Then, in Family Finder, you can use the In Common With feature to find DNA relatives of you are not DNA relatives of your mother. These people will be related to you on your father's side. You can then use those matches to find out more about your father's ancestry.

                        This should be done in conjunction with regular genealogical research on your father.

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