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.