Using DNA Matches
to Break Down Brick Walls:
Update # 1

November 2011

The first page dealing with this topic (using DNA matches to discover family relationships and break down brick walls) was written around June of 2011. (To view that page, go to "Using DNA to Break Down Brick Walls").

Since that time, I attended an excellent webinar presentation about DNA and genealogy from Legacy Family Tree. The presenter, Ugo Perego, stated that it was a good idea, if possible, when doing a y-dna test, to test two male descendants from different lines, to make sure that there has been no mutation in one of the lines.

Also, one member of the B surname group was quite excited about finding someone with a DNA match who was fairly recently arrived in North America from England. While they had assumed this to be the case, the group has not had found any documentation which definitely proves it.

If it was possible to find a British line with the same y-DNA, it would 'kill two birds with one stone', so to speak: i.e., it would tell us who my grandfather's family was (although not specifically who the father was), and would help them to find out more about their ancestor and his family. Tracing the British side of my grandfather's paternal line back to the 16th century likely would lead to the discovery of their ancestor's roots in England.

One of my first cousins, the son of another of my grandfather's five sons, agreed to do a y-dna test through Family Tree DNA, the testing company that everyone in the surname project uses. His y-DNA is an exact match to my uncle's, where the same markers were tested, so there do not appear to be any mutations between the two lines.

More importantly, his y-DNA is very close to that of the B sub-group; he matches them on 36 out of 37 markers! The group administrator had no hesitation this time in agreeing to add the results to the group, as he felt it was a "very good match".

"Reaching Out". Wikimedia Commons.

So now, I have been attempting to contact people descended from this family in England, and trying to persuade one of the males to undergo a Y-DNA test. I managed to reach the spouse of one of them, who promised to scan some documentation and send it to me. She said she would get back to me on the DNA question.

My family tree research also indicated that one of the male descendants of this family had migrated to Australia. I found a tree on the Australian version of Ancestry which included the same couple as I had in my tree, and I contacted its owner.

She put me in contact with a B-family male-line descendant, who, as it turns out, also had a tree on Ancestry (I had written to him a few months before, but he had not signed on in the interim), and is very keen on finding out about his family history. He had no hesitation at all in taking a DNA test, and has ordered one from the US company used by the surname group.

And so we wait. In the meantime, e-mails and information are flying back and forth between Australia and Canada, as we attempt to trace the ancestry back a bit farther, and share what we know.

I also had an autosomal DNA test done through 23andMe, and have found two or three DNA matches among my cousins, so far. I suspect that some of the 500+ matches are through either my grandfather's father's line, or through his mother's line, neither of which we know much about.

So, I am having one of my two remaining maternal aunts tested. Since we are fairly closely related, we should have DNA matches on about 25% of our DNA. But more important in terms of this test (see my webpage on the Family Finder and Relative Finder tests), any people with whom both she and I match will be on my maternal line. It narrows the field considerably!

For Part I of this series dealing with DNA matches, go from "DNA Matches and Breaking Down Brick Walls" to "Using DNA to Break Down Brick Walls"

Go to "Brick Walls in Family History Research"

Go to "Genetic Genealogy: DNA Testing applied to Family History"

Go to familyhistoryalive Home Page

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