DNA - An Amazing Tool For Family Research
Once again the science of DNA has helped me find and solve another family mystery. This is the 4th time that using DNA has been able to definitively prove family relationships and I think it is amazing.
When I first decided to have my own DNA tested, it was to prove/disprove an old family legend, one that claimed some of my paternal relatives were Native North Americans. The testing disproved this myth, but in the process provided me with a lot of additional insight into my own heritage. My initial test was done with Ancestry.com using their mitochondrial test, the DNA test which uses both your X and Y chromosomes. Your X chromosomes are those passed along through your paternal ancestry while Y chromosomes (which only males have) are passed unbroken from father to son.
After having my first DNA test, I had both of my parents tested as well. I then published the findings on the Ancestry.com DNA family finder site and a few others. The genetic matches started coming in and soon I had found a number of previously unknown relatives, most of which were easy to prove (1st-4th cousins).
I then decided to take a Y chromosome DNA test, one which traces only my paternal lineage. This is when things got very interesting, very quickly. From the results of my Y DNA test, I was able to determine my paternal great-grandfather and discover a number of paternal relatives and piece together some more of my family history. In the process, I have since been able to help two other genetic matches find their birth fathers, the latest being yesterday. We all descend through the man who turned out to be my previously unknown great-grandfather.
Using a combination of the tools that are available - birth and death records, family records, family photos, census records and DNA, is a great way not only to find your ancestors and living relatives, but also to be able to prove they are YOUR relatives.
Keep searching - the answers you seek are out there!