So yesterday I wrote about my mtDNA or maternal line DNA test. Today I’m going to share my experiences with Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder DNA test. According to their website, this is what Family Tree DNA says about the Family Finder test …
- Family Finder is an autosomal DNA test that automatically finds your relatives within 5 generations. It works by comparing your DNA to the DNA of other users in our massive database.
- Discover unknown family connections
- Confirm uncertain relationships
- Connect with living relatives
- Gain a genealogical leg up
- myOrigins will give you a very detailed geographic breakdown of where your ancestors came from. It works by comparing your DNA to the DNA of hundreds of ethnic groups around the world.
- Learn your ethnic background
- Gain insight into your ancestry
- Confirm family lore
Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, let’s see if it lives up to expectations. Let’s start with the Family Finder test Dashboard:
The first item on the dashboard is my MATCHES and here are the top matches I was paired with:
The first question you’re probably asking is … how accurate is this test? Well, pretty accurate when you consider that Alice (seen above) is listed as potentially between my 2nd and 4th cousin and in reality she’s my third cousin once removed! Yep, we’d crossed paths via email a few years back through this blog. When I emailed her through my Matches page here, she reminded me of that. With that in mind, I think we can accept the legitimacy of this test and lay any doubts to rest.
If you click on any of my matches, a pop up box will come up that looks like this. (Again, I blocked out personal info to protect the privacy of my cousins.)
It gives you more info on what that person is looking for and their dead ends. With my cousin Alice, it gave us a match score of 83.27, the highest there. My second highest comparison score is Michelle at 63.38. On the website, they describe this score as: “This is the sum of the autosomal DNA, given in centiMorgans (cM), that you and your genetic match share.”
Next on the Dashboard is the Chromosome Browser. Here’s how the website describes it: “Chromosome Browser page allows you to compare your matching DNA segments (blocks) with your genetic matches. You may assign a known relationship to a person by clicking on the Assign button.”
I did a comparison between me and my known cousin Alice, and this is what it showed:
Is this a lot? I’m not sure, but it’s enough to make us 3rd cousins.
The Known Relationships button on the dashboard is just a place for you to keep track of those you’ve officially found a connection to.
Next is My Origins. This is what I see when it first opens up:
Well, there you have it. I’m 99% European and 1% South/Central Asian. My Asian actually comes out of the middle of Afghanistan! Humm… maybe that explains why my mother has crocheted me so many afghans … interesting ….
When I hit the Expand under my Ethnic Makeup, this is what you see:
When you break it down, I’m:
- 55% British Isles
- 20% Southern Europe
- 9% Western and Central Europe
- 8% Finland and Northern Siberia
- 7% Eastern Europe
- 1% Central Asia
Some of this makes sense right off the bat. Firstly, my maternal grandfather’s history is 100% English, so that accounts for 25% right there for The British Isles. My paternal grandfather’s history is 100% Scottish and Irish. Put those together and at least 50% of my DNA should say British Isles. With the 55% they list, I say that’s pretty accurate.
So what about the rest?
My paternal grandmother is a mix. Her father has very deep roots in Bavaria, Germany. Her mother has deep roots in modern-day Slovakia. They’re saying that the area of Slovakia is Eastern European and German is Western and Central Europe. With that in mind, you’d think both my Eastern and Western/Central Europeans would be about 12.5%.
My maternal grandmother’s parents were both born in Bavaria, Germany. Her mother’s parents are: Father Germany, Mother … not quite sure. This is the elusive Regina Van Glahn who we aren’t sue if she came from Germany or Holland. Since I’ve got this strange 8% of my DNA coming out of the region of Finland and Northern Siberia, I’m wondering if the Van Glahn line of my family is somehow connected to that part of the world. This is also the family line that we have Jewish roots on. Could that be my Central Asian connection as well?
My real question is where is all the Southern European coming from? I mean 20%? That’s a lot! And I have no one from that area for like 16 generations! Yes, I have some VERY Distant ancestors that were in Italy for quite a few generations. To give you an idea of old they are, here’s who I’m talking about:
- Sir Roger De Hautville, Grand Count of Sicily. Born 1030 in Sicily. (My 22nd Great Grandfather) His father was born in England.
- Count Roger II, King of Sicily. Born 1093 in Sicily (My 21st Great Grandfather)
- King Tancred of Both Sicilys, Born 1130 in Sicily (My 20th Great Grandfather)
- Aaron Fitz Roger, born 1249 in Rome, Italy (My 19th Great Grandfather)
- Aaron (or John) Fitz Roger, born 1260 in Rome Italy (My 18th Great Grandfather)
- Aaron Fitz Roger, born in Italy (My 17th Great Grandfather)
- John Fits Roger, Gentleman, Morn 1335 in England (My 16th Great Grandfather)
So you can see there were 7 generations of the family that were born in Italy, but that was about 900 years ago, so I’m not sure that’s what’s accounting for all that Southern European. I also have very old roots in Spain. Here’s an example of them:
- Alphonso VIII, King of Leon and Castile, Born 1105, Spain (My 23rd Great Grandfather)
- Ferdinand II, King of Leon, born 1137 in Toledo, Spain (My 22nd Great Grandfather)
- Alphonso IX, King of Leon, born 1171 in Spain (My 21st Great Grandfather)
- Ferdinand III, King of Castile and Leon, Born circa 1198 in Spain (My 20th Great Grandfather)
- Princess Eleanor of Castile, born 1244 in Castile, Burgos, Spain (My 19th Great Grandmother)
- Eleanor moved to England and married King Edward I (Longshanks) Plantagenet.
Again, this seems so distant to account for the 20% in my DNA. I’m really at a loss to understand how this number could be so high.
So that’s about it. Was it worth the money? That remains to be seen. One of the reasons I did this test was that I’m searching for a long-lost close relative. I’m hoping perhaps we can find each other through our DNA as conventional searching hasn’t worked so far. I’ve also downloaded the raw DNA data from Family Tree DNA and uploaded it onto another site, www.gedmatch.com. I’m curious to see if this yields any matches. I uploaded my data there today, but he site says it takes a few days to process the info. I’ll post again to give a review of that site. I would have loved to be able to upload my DNA data onto my Ancestry.com account, but they don’t let you do that there. Seems a little unfair as you can upload your Ancestry DNA data onto Family Tree DNA’s site.
Jennifer Geoghan, Genealogist and author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.
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