Genetics and Genealogy

I envy those researchers that can say I’m here and descend from there on any given line.  I’m unable to do that because not only do I have a great grandfather with an assumed surname, but I also have Native American ancestry that I haven’t mastered the art of researching yet.

I am not an expert on DNA nor am I a certified genealogist.  I’m learning as I go and finding my way.  There are all kinds of tools available and scientific data that I may be interested in later, but for now I have another agenda in my research.

As far as I know, there are presently three types of DNA being used for the purposes of genealogy research; mtDNA, YDNA, and Autosomal DNA.

mtDNA is passed from mother to daughter to daughter, etc.  In my genetic line it reads Plunk, Haywood, Bridges, Pugh, Routon, Gilliam, Robertson,  and Woolridge,   Women only inherit this from their mother, however, men also inherit this as well.  I have two half brothers and all three of us have different mothers, so each of my half brothers inherited mtDNA from their respective mother, and on up her female line.  The three of us would have totally different mtDNA.

YDNA is inherited only by the male and is passed from father to son to son to son, etc.  If I wanted to use genetics to trace my Native American ancestry, one of my half brothers would have to test since we all have the same genetic male line.

Autosomal DNA is inherited across all lines, male and female, and the results are “genetic” cousins.  The test can’t tell you though which of those ancestors you and a match have in common.  This takes a lot of work finding the connection.  For instance, every one has two parents, four grand parents, eight 2d great grandparents, 16 3rd great grandparents, 32 4th great grandparents.  The test will tell you the degree of kinship you have with your match and then you have to compare your ancestors with theirs to find who you have in common.

I am attempting to use all of these DNA tests in an effort to identify the unknown biological parents of my great grandfather. 

The YDNA test works great if you find a match, but apparently his YDNA is rare in that in all of the hundreds of thousands of men that have tested, I have only found one exact match who is apparently also from an assumed surname line.

The mtDNA test is useful in that I did this along with the Autosomal test.  By comparing my matches from the Autosomal test to the results of the mtDNA I will eventually figure out which one of them match my mtDNA line.

Hopefully, the Autosomal test will lead me to the biological mother, or even father, of my great grandfather.  At present, I’ve been matched with approximately 300 genetic cousins.   Ideally, those matches would have uploaded their gedcom (tree) and I could take a look to see where we might have a common ancestor, or be willing to share their 2d and 3rd great grandparent information.  It’s heartbreaking when you run across the ones that want your information and won’t give you anything in return, but thankfully, the majority of the people I’ve met are very giving and sympathetic to my cause.



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