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  • Just Starting Out and Confused

    I am pretty new in this fascinating field of genealogy and DNA science. I have a family tree that I have created over at Ancestry, and it's getting more and more complex.

    I recently did my autosomal DNA testing done over at Ancestry, and it is sending me further in to this rabbit hole. Someone suggested that I transfer my DNA Ancestry to FTDNA, which I did yesterday. I also paid the additional $39 to unlock my autosomal DNA for the Family Finder.

    Sooo...I have been puttering around on the site trying to make sense of things. I already see that I have over 900 matches on FTDNA, several of which appear to be very close matches (2nd - 4th cousins), although none of their names in several instances are highlighted to indicate a surname match. This puzzles me. It also appears that *none* of my mother's paternal surnames are showing up as matches. I also noticed this over at Ancestry. Yes, another big puzzle, and possibly a skeleton in the closet. ;-)

    I have read mention of haplogroups. Is this something I can locate through my determine through my autosomal DNA testing and results here? I am also trying to get a better understanding of the chromosomes and how to make sense of them through the matches that have appeared here.

    Also, with my Ancestry DNA, here is how my ethnicity played out, some of which threw me a bit.

    Great Britain - 73%
    Ireland - 6%
    Trace regions - 21% broke down this way:
    Italy/Greece - 6%
    Finland/Northwest Russia - 5%
    East Europe - 3%
    Scandinavia - 3%
    European Jewish - 2%
    Iberian Peninsula -1%
    West Europe - < 1%

    By comparison, FTDNA shows me as
    93% Western and Eastern Europe
    5% Finland and Northern Siberia
    1% Eastern Europe

    The Italian and Greek ethnicity definitely throws me, as does the Finnish and NW or Northern Siberian ethnicity. Based on family stories that I have heard, and from what I know, I thought I had almost exclusive Great Britain, a bit of Irish and Northern European ancestry. As far as I know, my family on both sides has been in North America going back 5 generations or more.

    My mother is no longer in the picture, and I have very few, if any, available maternal relatives to dig further in this.

    I have been able to get quite a bit of ancestral information on my father's lineage, with the exception of his father's direct lines in Maine. Lots of roadblocks have come up there.

    I have also had quite a bit of success on my mother's *maternal* line (lots of early research was done), so that's not a huge challenge.

    Also, if anyone can better help me understand autosomal DNA and centiMorgans and what those mean exactly, so that I can better understand these matches I have, I would be very grateful.

    Thanks for helping this newcomer become a more proficient amateur genealogist and sleuth!

  • #2
    Hi Jennsunshine,

    Welcome to the forum. I'll post just a short response to get you started. You won't be able to get any haplogroup information from your Ancestry results. Testing for your haplogroup will provide you with information for your direct maternal lineage - your mother's mother's mother, etc. If your father is still "in the picture", or if you have a brother, paternal uncle, etc., you could test your direct paternal lineage - father's father's father, etc. Also, if your father is available, you could have him test with Ancestry, or directly with FTDNA, and that would help sort your autosomal matches between the two sides of your family, and it could help refine your own ethnicity estimations.

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    • #3
      Thank you, Vinnie. I suspected as much. I might bite the bullet and do my own mtDNA test here, and persuade both my brother and father to take the test. In particular, I think it would be helpful if my father took the Y-DNA test, especially since there are some unknowns there.

      Another question for clarification - what does it mean if I have a match that says I have Shared cM of 85.75, or any other number?

      Also, if someone can help explain how the Chromosome Browser works, and how to optimize its usefulness, I would love to get started on it.

      Apologize for all of the questions. This is perplexing and fascinating at the same time.

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      • #4
        Take a look at the chart in this page:
        http://isogg.org/wiki/Autosomal_DNA_statistics

        Centimorgans is a unit of measurement for DNA. Have you uploaded your AncestryDNA data to Gedmatch.com? It is free and has additional tools. It could also give you a few more matches who did not test with Ancestry or FTDNA. Since you already have your data on the 2 main DNA testing companies, the rest won't give you much. The tools can still be useful if you have a need for them.

        As you see in the chart, if you compared your DNA with a parent of yours or a child of yours, you would share somewhere near 3400 cM. You get half of your DNA from each parent.

        As for Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, you will have a lot less matches with those than with autosomal DNA testing (AncestryDNA, Family Finder). Autosomal DNA gives you data on all branches of your family tree within recent generations. Y-DNA and mtDNA give you data on deep ancestry from thousands of years ago. If recent relatives also test, then you could match them.

        I took the Y67 and have no matches, however I have an uncommon surname so there may be less of my line around to test. I tested my mother's brother and he got over 40 matches. As for my own mtDNA, I have 2 matches with a genetic distance of 3. The lower the GD (genetic distance) the closer the relationship is predicted to be. If you do the mtDNA test, make sure you do the full sequence and not anything below. However, from the 3 types of DNA testing, mtDNA is considered the least useful.

        Y-DNA tests look at the Y chromosome which only men have. It gets passed down from father to son like a surname does. The mtDNA tests look at mitochondrial DNA which both men and women have. It is passed down from the mother to the child. So mtDNA is used to research the maternal line and Y-DNA is used to research the paternal line.

        Never be sorry for asking questions here.
        Last edited by The_Contemplator; 13 April 2016, 10:36 PM.

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        • #5
          If you take the mtDNA test, your brother doesn't have to do it too, as the two of you have the same mtDNA. Likewise, your father and brother have the same Y-DNA, so only one of them would need to do that test.

          Since you cannot test your mother, an Ancestry test with transfer, would be the best bet for your brother, and if possible for your father too, or you could just get them to do the Family Finder here. You get more "cousins" with Ancestry plus transfer, but if you are doing a Y-DNA test here, they can use the same sample for a Family Finder test, either at the same time or at a future date because they store the sample.

          I wouldn't recommend anything less than the 37 marker Y-DNA test.

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          • #6
            Jenn, I am Finnish and do not have any known ancestors outside Finland in my family tree containing about 1000 ancestors. I have almost "purely" Finnish admixture (myOrigins 95%, DNA-LAND 98%), and therefore practically all of my autosomal matches have at least some Finnish ancestor in 17th century or later.

            But alas, you and me do not match. However, when I seek in GedMatch people who you and me (T187690) both match (at minimum 7 cM longest block level), I find many common matches who are Finnish living in Finland or who I otherwise know to have some Finnish roots. To you the common ancestors of our common ancestrally Finnish relatives are estimated by GedMatch to be about 7 generations away on average. The estimates are usually too close, or at least many tend to think so.

            In Americans Finnish ancestry is usually via the 17th century New Sweden colony, or via immigration in the end of 19th century or later. I myself have American FF matches via both the ways.

            Hopefully that gave some clues to your puzzling Finnish admix results.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by The_Contemplator View Post
              As for Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, you will have a lot less matches with those than with autosomal DNA testing (AncestryDNA, Family Finder). Autosomal DNA gives you data on all branches of your family tree within recent generations.
              She won't know how many yDNA and mtDNA matches she or her brother/father will have until they test, and as you've stated, they're three completely different kind of tests. The number of matches for each test shouldn't be compared to each other.

              Originally posted by The_Contemplator View Post
              Y-DNA and mtDNA give you data on deep ancestry from thousands of years ago. If recent relatives also test, then you could match them...
              However, from the 3 types of DNA testing, mtDNA is considered the least useful.
              Both of these tests will provide deep ancestry, but both, especially yDNA, can potentially provide matches along a continuum from the latest generations, through hundreds of years all the way back to the beginning of the haplogroups. With targeted yDNA SNP testing or Big Y, it's now easier to determine the TMRCA between two men. Generally, mtDNA isn't as useful genealogically because it changes much more slowly than y does.

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              • #8
                Do you know all 32 great-great-great-grandparents, and all 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents? If you had one Italian ancestor and one Eastern European/Jewish ancestor somewhere in there, that would be your answer (approximately - other solutions could apply too, of course).

                Iberian, Irish, Western Europe, and Scandinavia are all pretty common for "pure" Brits, so they may or may not mean anything.

                If you have reason to think your mother's father has a different biological father than expected, try getting some of his paternal relatives to test, if you determine the results could be useful in proving or disproving that.

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                • #9
                  Thanks again, for helping me follow this trail. Nope, I don't know all of my 32 and 64 greats. I have a fair number of my greats that are (mostly) known, however, there is still a lot of information to fill in, particularly on my mother's paternal line. There are also none of the elder generation still alive to help fill in the gaps. From what I know, most of her side of the family resided in Ohio from the early 20th Century onward, and record-keeping and the passing of family stories or information was much looser than on my New England side.

                  Also, there were no Italian/Mediterranean/Eastern European surnames ever mentioned or written down on either side of the family. The only exception is my maternal grandfather's mother, who came from Prussia. The information on her is extremely sparse, and I have hit total brick walls on any further family lineage beyond her. Going back from my maternal grandmother's paternal line there are some Dutch/French Huguenot? surnames that trace back to the 1600's in New York State. As far as I can tell, those are the only evidence of non-British Isle family lineage.

                  I have gotten my maternal aunt to agree to an autosomal DNA test. Logic tells me that I can compare my test results with hers and see where there may be gaps in my maternal grandfather's line. The big question mark is surrounding my mother and her paternity; she hinted at something over the years, but nothing was ever verified. There are no paternal relatives still alive, with the exception of my aunt, whose paternity has never been in question. As was mentioned before, it doesn't appear that as many people have been tested with those possible genetic matches.

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                  • #10
                    Having a great-grandmother from Prussia with no background information might be sufficient in itself to explain these results, or at least a good part of them. She was not necessarily "pure" German, and the Prussian government recruited specialists from various areas to come work there, and some Jews converted to Christianity to obtain basic civil rights. Migration and changing identifications have been happening within Europe for a long time. Apart from people moving there, you can see from this map that Eastern European, Jewish, and Italian ancestry could all come from the Kingdom of Prussia:
                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdo...sia_(1871).svg

                    Haplogroup testing, if this great-grandmother has a direct matrilineal descendant, might tell something -- or not.

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                    • #11
                      I have zillions of matches, but virtually none of them ever contact me about it. I mean, what good is all of this? I put together my family tree at Ancestry. And so on...

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                      • #12
                        New to Forum-

                        I'm logged in & have searched everywhere I can think to look, but cannot find the "Post New Thread" button.

                        Can someone tell me what I'm missing?

                        Thank you!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Niagaragirl, go to the main forum page (Family Tree DNA Forums), and and choose a topic within a sub-forum. You'll see a blue "New Thread" button just above the list of existing threads on the topic's page.

                          For example, look at the top of this thread's page, which is "Family Tree DNA Forums > Universal Lineage Testing (Autosomal DNA) > Family Finder Basics > Just Starting Out and Confused". "Family Tree DNA Forums" is the main forum page, "Universal Lineage Testing (Autosomal DNA)" is the sub-forum, "Family Finder Basics" is the topic, and finally "Just Starting Out and Confused" is the thread in which we are posting.

                          Click on "Family Finder Basics" at the top of this page, and you will see the button for New Thread on that topic's page.
                          Last edited by KATM; 25 April 2016, 10:24 AM.

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                          • #14
                            New to Testing..

                            I am also new to the DNA testing. I did the DNA-Y37 test and was disappointed to only link to one very distant person. I did not feel I had received much value, yet... What recommendations do you have? Is the Family Finder the next step or is it repetitive? MTDNA for my mother's side? Or an I better off to try Ancestry?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mgprokosch View Post
                              I am also new to the DNA testing. I did the DNA-Y37 test and was disappointed to only link to one very distant person. I did not feel I had received much value, yet... What recommendations do you have? Is the Family Finder the next step or is it repetitive? MTDNA for my mother's side? Or an I better off to try Ancestry?
                              I took the FF and the MTFull Sequence and the FF has been much more helpful. The matches on my MTFull Sequence has not been useful yet. I have my tree going back to the 1500's on that side and still can not connect with my matches. On the FF it tests more recent ancestry and it has already paid off for me in finding cousins.

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