Is this really a brick wall?

Brick wall or un-open door?

Brick wall or un-open door?

Sometimes what we call a brick wall is not really a brick wall. It is more likely a door that we have not yet tried the right key to open it with. That is understandable because when we work in genealogy we have so many keys to try. Keys such as census records, wills, interviewing family, city directories, marriage records, death records, birth records, church records, newspapers, cemetery records, funeral home records, military records, and the list goes on and on.

I do not wish to go over what would be an endless list but to discuss a new key, at least it is new to me. The key is called DNA and in particular the DNA program that is being run by Ancestry.com. I do not wish to argue the good and bad of Ancestry.com. I would like to try to show what I believe to be a powerful new way in which to open the doors to find more of our ancestors. Also I do not wish to go into detail of the workings of a DNA test. To be completely honest I only have a small understanding myself. However I do not have to be able to completely understand the workings of my computer to get it to work for me and such is it with DNA. Also I wish that we will have no misunderstanding that I receive any money or services from Anceresty.com for free or at a discount. In fact the opposite is true with me sending them my money for several years now.

My wife and I each sent a DNA sample to Ancestery.com at the cost of $99.00 each. Within a few weeks we got back a report which gave us a simple breakdown of the areas of the world that our DNA history showed we were from. They even gave a percentage of my genetic ethnicity. It seems I am 48% Scandinavian, 33% British Isles, 14% Southern European, and 5% uncertain. The uncertain they promise to keep working on. But the best part of this is you are then shown members who DNA match yours. If the person’s ancestry tree is public they will show you surnames that match and common birthplaces. If the tree is private you may e-mail them through Ancestry.com and ask if they would allow you to view their family tree. My wife and I each have hundreds of matches to investigate , with more being added each week. I already have met unknown cousins and a few small gains have been made in my research. Pictures have been shared and new friends made. It has not been all good of course. I have had e-mails go unanswered and request denied for information. Which for me is hard to understand given the cost these people have spent supposedly to gain new family knowledge

I do realize the cost for many people could seem a little high. However genealogy for me is a hobby, entertainment, and a search for knowledge. For me the expense is worth it. Also I would like to point out that many libraries offer Ancestry.com free to their members. While you would have to join Ancestry.com to reap the benefits of the DNA program the other vast collection of records would add greatly to anyone’s keys, to help open those stubborn doors. As I said I have not had a big breakthrough yet. I am much closer than I have ever been. That’s enough to have me checking my e-mail several times a day.

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24 Responses to Is this really a brick wall?

  1. Dame Gussie says:

    I just watched the Legacy Family Webinar about Autosomal DNA testing on 29 May 2013 called The New Frontier in Genetic Genealogy: Autosomal DNA Testing by Ugo Perego. It is free to view in the achieved Webinars until 4 June 2013. If you are a member of Legacy than you can view it anytime. He offered some great information on DNA testing and compared the top 4 testing sites with pros and cons. I learned a lot about this type of testing and how it helps us in our family search. Thank you for you very informative and encouraging post.

  2. chmjr2 says:

    Thank you for reading my blog. I will follow up on the information you left in your comment.

  3. EmilyAnn Frances says:

    I submitted my DNA sample to Ancestry two weeks ago. I’m very excited about learning my Genetic Ethnicity. It’s not just to find lost or unknown family members, but to find out more about myself. Despite growing up in a heavily ethnocentric Italian-American neighborhood I always felt a little distance from the heritage even though my Mom’s side expressed all that was positive and beautiful about the heritage. I’ve got Jewish, Austrian, Polish and Hungarian coming through my Paternal Grandmother. Friends have told me not to get the DNA cause it will “mess up my mind” in the sense the findings could be quite surprising. This is an example of closed mind = closed door. I’ve opened the door and am ready to invite the results right on in! Good post.

    • chmjr2 says:

      When you think about it knowing your DNA really does not change who you are. My DNA from Ancestry showed 14% Southern European. This would include Italian and the country of Spain. I have yet to come across it in my research, but it give me something to look for. Have fun that’s the best part of genealogy.

  4. C.K. Milson says:

    Reminds me of the saying: If your afraid of skeletons in the closet, do not take up genealogy. That said, thanks for sharing your DNA testing experience. It is something I hope
    to do soon.

  5. Janet Curley says:

    NIce post! I have been considering the DNA testing for a while. Your post has tipped me over the edge… I will do it! Considering that my family appears to have mainly Irish roots, it will be curious to see what else lies beneath. My mother says we go back to the Norman invasion. It will be interesting to see if any French show up. Into the closet I go!

  6. As another ancestry.com fan, I love this post! I have hit many brick walls, especially once you reach the original ancestor who came to America! If others haven’t already done the research, I’m not very good at finding the lines in other countries! I’ve thought about doing the DNA testing many times, but haven’t for various reasons, mostly economic, but it has become very affordable! I already know I am a melting pot American, with Scottish, irish, English, French, Italian, German, even apparently some Danish and Russian! I’ve also met and made friends with about 50 new cousins since joining ancestry! I too have paid them a mint! LOL But I never really thought of the DNA helping me through one of the brick walls potentially, so now I have another reason to do it! Like Janet Curley above, I think I’m ready to jump in! You are very inspirational! Helen

  7. Cynthia says:

    Hi! I didn’t know I could send DNA to Ancestry and have it analyzed. Cool!
    I am not saying we are at all related but just pointing out a coincidence that my maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Moore.
    Thanks for visiting my blog! I’ve already learned something from yours.

    • chmjr2 says:

      You have a very nice blog and enjoyed looking it over. You never know we may be related. My Moore family is one that I have not been able to trace back as far as I would like. I have them coming from Tioga County in New York and Potter County in Pa. Thanks for reading my blog and your comments.

  8. Beth says:

    The AncestryDNA test has been a completely positive experience for me. I’ve learned so much with the new connections that I’ve made and I’ve been able to help others which is always wonderful. I’ve been able to confirm a couple of lines that I had stuck on for quite some time. I’m really looking forward to future results.

  9. revgeary says:

    Thanks. May help explain the family story (with no records to confirm or disconfirm) that this Irish name came from Germany.

  10. Thanks for visiting my blog – you left the very first comment – much obliged!

    I did DNA testing three years ago through familytreedna.com. It’s been a fascinating experience. On my Y-DNA side, I discovered I’m in the E-M35.1 haplogroup with some very odd mutations. I believe this is one of the oldest group types, tracing its origins from Central Africa, through the Sahara, the middle East, and Eastern Europe. The most surprising bit for me was to discover that all my close Y-DNA matches come from Ashkenazi Jews. I think it’s phenomenal! Genealogy is certainly full of surprises. My great grandmother was one of the biggest anti-Semites I ever knew; I can well imagine she’s spinning in her grave.

    I hope your DNA genealogy experience is fruitful.

  11. theotherlisa says:

    I’m so glad that I came across this post, as I’ve been debating the idea of DNA testing for quite a while and, just last night, started looking into the testing offered by Ancestry. Although I’ve always been interested in the genealogy of my family, it wasn’t until I gained the time and resources about five years ago to start taking it seriously. The identity of my grandfather’s mother is unknown to anyone in our family. We’ve exhausted avenues of research in trying to locate the information and she is the reason that I would consider DNA testing. My hope would be that DNA testing could guide us in a direction that we wouldn’t otherwise consider. I’m interested in hearing more about your 5% uncertain when/if Ancestry is able to determine it. Thank you for sharing!

  12. jenorv says:

    I too did DNA testing and was able to link two families to our Norvell lines. Narvils and Norvilles who had no clue to their earliest ancestors, were linked within 6 generations. This meant a lost son of one of our early lines and a common grandfather somewhere in the past. It does work.

  13. I really enjoyed this post especially since I have several locked doors with missing keys! I have been a member of Ancestry for well over 15 years and have gained so much from their site. However, I have never submitted my DNA but have been giving it some consideration. Now that I’ve read your post and positive outcome, I think I may be doing the same in the near future. Really like your blog and will be coming back again…Thanks so much for sharing!

    • chmjr2 says:

      Thank you for reading my blog and your very kind words. I agree with you about Ancestry as it has been a big help to me. Good luck with your DNA results when you do it. Let me know how it works for you.

  14. kjw616 says:

    I, too, have considered DNA testing and these positive responses are tipping me to do so sooner than later. I have ancestors on my tree in which I only know the country, which makes it frustrating to find the area even in a small country such as Ireland. Having family from Russia is truly like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But it sounds like finding others who have similar DNA could help me narrow in on a region easier, is that correct? Thanks for the information.

  15. chmjr2 says:

    Thanks for reading my blog. In answer to your question, yes and no. If you are a member of ancestry.com you will be given names of people you have a DNA match to. Both my wife and I have had a DNA test done with ancestry. While the list of names are many the positive results are slow in coming. Many people will not respond to you or they will not cooperate with you, or you and they just can’t find the common ancestor. However I have made some positive results. Some being as follows; photos of ancestors, a family twig added to the tree, and proven matches for some generation into the 1600s. This all being said I think it is worth the money and the effort. Genealogy is slow and detailed work and this is a tool to be used.

  16. PrairieChat says:

    I would love to hear further about your DNA testing experience and any interesting connections you’ve made as a result of the testing since you published this blog. The whole subject seems somewhat confusing especially taking into account the need to test different members of your family to get a complete picture of a family’s heritage.

  17. Pingback: Robert Hogg–Will DNA Solve His Mystery? 52 ancestors in 52 weeks | Heart of a Southern Woman

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