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DNA Testing Question (Which one to pick?)

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  • DNA Testing Question (Which one to pick?)

    Can anyone suggest which DNA test that I should take?
    I'm looking to track my father's, father's, mother's family (my great-grandmother)....her ancestors (as far back as possible) and any descendants (i.e. living relatives). Most of the documentation that I've seen focuses on tests that are either father's line or mother's side...but not really a combination of the two (that goes further back than what the 'family finder' one says that it does).

  • #2
    As far as genetic genealogy goes, FTDNA is the way to go. They also test the most ancestry specific parts of your DNA, which others don't. Moreover they have the most detailed mtDNA and Y chromosome tests on the market. I would avoid 23andMe unless you are interested in health related topics.

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    • #3
      bburychka, for your paternal grandfather's mother's family, it is not on a direct maternal or direct paternal line. So autosomal testing is the only test that will find matches for that great-grandmother's line(s), as it will find cousins from all your ancestral branches. At FTDNA, the autosomal test is called Family Finder.

      Yes, autosomal testing only goes back between 4 and 6 generations or so (it can vary). There is no other test that covers branches outside of the direct maternal/paternal lines, and goes back any further. By finding an autosomal match who is a recent cousin (2nd to 3rd), or even a more distant one (4th) and figuring the connection, you and the match can then compare notes and may work out the ancestors and other descendants to your great-grandmother.

      Have you found any information about this great-grandmother or her family, using traditional genealogy research? Do you know the siblings (if any) of your paternal grandfather (her son), whose children would be your father's first cousins? Are any of those living, and do they know anything about your common great-grandmother's family? Talk to the oldest of them now to find out these things, while they are still around. One may know of her siblings or parents, their occupations, birth/marriage/death dates, and places they lived, which you can then track using census and other civil and church records. You will need to know as much as you can to figure out your link to your DNA matches, who may be able to fill in the gaps for you. Traditional and genetic genealogy work hand-in-hand.

      If you have a maternal and/or paternal relative who is willing to do a Family Finder test, you can then use them to filter your matches into maternal and paternal groups, by uploading a Gedcom file and linking the relative to it. Then you can concentrate on matches on your paternal side, of which your great-grandmother is in a subset. See the page "Family Finder- Family Matching Tool" in the Learning Center for more information - when the FTDNA website is running normally again, that is.

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      • #4
        Thank you for your feedback. I was hoping that my answer wasn't the family finder, but I guess I'll have to. I took the family finder several years ago to see if a woman in Ukraine was my great-grandfather's niece. It showed no connection. However, I'm positive that we connected...just going back to a common ancestor in the last 1700s.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by bburychka View Post
          Thank you for your feedback. I was hoping that my answer wasn't the family finder, but I guess I'll have to. I took the family finder several years ago to see if a woman in Ukraine was my great-grandfather's niece. It showed no connection. However, I'm positive that we connected...just going back to a common ancestor in the last 1700s.
          Looking at the ISOGG chart for autosomal DNA statistics, you could inherit an average of 850 cM from your great-grandfather. A niece of his (daughter of his sibling) would be your 1st cousin, twice removed, and could inherit an average of 212.5 cM in common with you. 212.5 cM is not insignificant, and really there's no chance that you wouldn't share some segments. So she should have shown as a close match to you. The common ancestors would have been your 2nd great-grandparents (your great-grandfather's parents). Did you correspond with the woman from Ukraine, to compare her tree with what you know?

          Have you uploaded your file to GEDmatch.com? If you are still in contact with the potential niece, see if she has. GEDmatch will allow you to look at your comparison with the possible niece in more detail. Perhaps her relationship was along a different line, and you are more distantly related. Did she show as a 2nd or 3rd cousin, or more distant relationship?

          Keep checking your Family Finder matches, and look at any information they provide, such as surnames and locations, and family trees. You never know when one will help to answer questions about your paternal grandfather's mother's family.

          There are only 4 kinds of DNA that are currently tested for genetic genealogy: Y-DNA, mtDNA, autosomal DNA, and the X chromosome. Some introductory videos at Learn.Genetics show how each are inherited, and illustrate why autosomal DNA is the only one for your situation.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by KATM View Post
            Yes, autosomal testing only goes back between 4 and 6 generations or so (it can vary).
            Actually much further back than that on some segments.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by khazaria View Post
              Actually much further back than that on some segments.
              True enough. I've had a match who turns out to be related on two Maltese lines. These connect back at 7 and 10 generations.

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