Look Who’s Using DNA for Genealogy Research

In mid-March I received this message from one of my siblings:

Just wanted to let you know that I ordered a DNA kit from ancestry.com. I will send you the results when I get them. Hopefully it will be useful in your research.

When his results came in late May he sent me this message and screenshot:

Hope this doesn’t mess up your research too much.

ethnicityI thought he was holding out on me, waiting to let me know only after he came to visit for Mom’s 80th birthday. But the results truly did not come in until the early morning of the day he was to arrive in Luxembourg.

He turned administration over to me as he thought I would know better what to do with the test results as he does not do genealogy.

I haven’t done DNA testing but my second cousin Laura [daughter of Geraldine Dempsey Workman (1931-2007) – the first person I know of who worked on our family tree] shared her DNA page with me earlier this year. Since Laura and I share great-grandparents (William Henderson DEMPSEY and Laura Belle INGRAM) 3/4 of her matches did not have anything to do with our common line. It, however, helped me to get a feel for Ancestry’s DNA page before my brother’s results came in.

The ethnicity results (above) of 100% European were to be expected although it blew the theory of a Native American connection right out of the water. Or so I thought. Where do the 10% Italy/Greece fit into our family tree?

After a week or so of trying to figure out some kind of system to work through the matches on Ancestry, I decided to download the raw DNA data and upload it to GEDmatch. After the kit was tokenized and while I was waiting for the batch processing to complete I did a heritage test.

Admix Results (sorted):

# Population Percent
1 Early Neolithic Farmer 43.00
2 Western European/Unknown Hunter-Gatherer 25.49
3 Ancestral South Eurasian 18.91
4 Caucas-Gedrosia 7.59
5 NearEast 1.65
6 Amerindian 1.43
7 Ancestral South Indian 1.20

1.43% Native American DNA for my brother. I understand he got about 50% of his DNA from our father and 50% from our mother (European). Family tradition is the NA connection is through our paternal grandmother Myrtle Hazel ROOP‘s mother Rebecca Jane CLONCH. If I keep doubling the percentage (which may not be scientifically correct) I get 91.52% at the 4th great-grandparent level. Dennis CLAUNCH and Nancy BEASLEY are the only known set. Another ancestor at this level was Levina DOSS who had her children with an unknown man. The unknowns are COOLEYs and TREADWAYs.

I admit this was just a game I was playing before I begin to get serious about using the DNA results for research purposes. But who knows, maybe I’m on the right track.

Oh yes, Laura and my brother are “predicted 2nd cousins” and share 381 centimorgans across 15 DNA segments.


© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.








Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

24 thoughts on “Look Who’s Using DNA for Genealogy Research”

  1. Good luck with using DNA. Some people have incredible success, some (like me) found it a complete waste of time and money. I think it depends on your background and how inbred your “people” were. In my case, European Jews married within families and certainly communities for centuries, so somehow we almost all share some DNA with almost any other person descended from European Jews. I think you will have better luck! It can be fun and challenging and interesting. I just wish I’d had better results!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As expected nearly all matches I’ve gone through (where there are trees available) are for the paternal side. I found a 4C1R from my Mom’s side – no surprise there as we’d done the paper trail years ago. Thank you Amy for wishing me luck. It is challenging!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Have you transferred to FTDNA and uploaded to Gedmatch? I have had matches who only tested with AncestryDNA and then they transferred to FTDNA and was bombarded by pages of 2nd-3rd cousin matches. All these matches were over 100cm.

      Gedmatch is amazing for comparing between the different companies, but it relies on people who upload.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I have literally 1000s of GEDmatch matches, and I contacted all with whom I shared more than 100 cm. I could not find a connection with any of them except for the ones I already knew about and one other, who I think is a distant cousin but we cannot prove the connection otherwise. I tested myself, my mother, my brother, a second cousin, a second cousin once removed, and a third cousin. So I tried it all. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this post but I don’t understand it all. I’ve had my DNA tested by Ancestry but have not investigated the results any further apart from contacting a few distant connections suggested by ancestry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been looking at the closest matches, making notes about how they are related when there is a tree attached. I’ve contacted about a half a dozen people who did not have trees. I’m only starting out but since I’ve been doing genealogy for so long I am finding many distant cousins who are already in my database. It is a learning process – maybe difficult but rewarding. Thank you Janet for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My grandparents, aunt, and uncle have all tested and told me I can work with their results. I want to… I just don’t know if I’m ready to add that much work to my schedule. I imagine it will take me a lot of reading to understand how to use the data accurately. Good luck! I hope you make some cool discoveries. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have had some amazing experiences with DNA, but I really do need to learn more about it so that I can have even more. It takes a lot more work than I initially thought, but the success so far has been worth it. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cathy,

    As always, I enjoy reading your posts.

    I have made some astonishing discoveries by triangulating DNA matches. Most of my matches are 4th cousin or higher, but finding the right matches can lead to new discoveries even at more distant levels. A 4th cousin match who had no tree, and who had not logged in to Ancestry for over two years, finally showed up last week and added a tree to his DNA page. This unknown cousin is an important match for me because of the other matches that we share. A while back I blogged about my great-grandmother’s only brother, who everyone believed drowned in the Ohio River as a teen. This match, it turns out, appears to be descended from the drowned brother. I called my 95-year-old aunt and we discussed the family story. She admitted that we don’t really know that he drowned as a TEEN. He may have drowned as an adult. All she knew was that he disappeared and no one ever knew what became of him. Apparently, he disappeared AFTER fathering seven children. Hmmmm….


    Liked by 2 people

  6. Cathy,
    I have several family DNA tests, including my own. They are all uploaded to Gedmatch. I attended Jamboree and attended several DNA classes. I still don’t know a thing about triangulation, but I’m slowly leaning. Should be quite a journey for us. Good luck with yours.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Diane. DNA is still in it’s baby shoes in Europe. Once the market opens up and the European pool grows there will be lots of matches for everyone. I have 2 matches on my Mom’s side (4C1R and 7C) and the rest on my Dad’s. I bet if my Mom tested she would get very few matches, mainly descendants of people who emigrated from Luxembourg to America.
      It will probably be a while before classes are offered in my area. I’ll have to home school myself in the meantime. 🙂 If you find a good article on triangulation….


  7. Having Ancestry.com test my DNA was the best thing ever! I haven’t blogged about it yet, but you’ve reminded me that I should!! 😀


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