Saturday, June 17, 2017

What Do You Mean DNA Is Worthless?

     
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     A few days ago my copy of Family Tree magazine arrived in the mailbox.  Among the reader's letters was a diatribe about DNA testing.  The author of the letter asserted DNA testing was a waste of money and of no use to anyone other than adoptees and "obsessive" genealogists looking for far distant cousins.  I beg to differ.

     I've made quite a few discoveries using DNA.  For example-- my Dad's match with a descendant of our McGarr line from County Kildare put me in touch with a distant cousin who had information I lacked and that rarest of finds, a photograph!  Also in the McGarr line, another match strengthened my theory that John McGarr of Garrettstown in County Carlow is my 4th great-grandfather.  A Gunn match brought family details as well, and so did a match in my Vincent line. 

     Then there's James White, my perennially troublesome 2nd great-grandfather whose birthplace eluded me for decades only to be solved when several DNA matches pointed to Queens County, Ireland as the spot.  Recently I came upon another DNA match for the White's of Queens.  This one looks like a possible older brother for my James.  His name is John White, born in Queens though there wasn't much information about townlands.  What's particularly intriguing about this John White, is that the DNA match is rated "very high" and the ever useful Irish naming pattern.  While the tree doesn't have parents for John, it does list his children.  My James' parents were James and Margaret,  John named his first son James, and his second daughter Margaret, while my James named his third son John.

     In each of these cases, DNA helped me find people I was related to, garnered more information from the individuals who took the tests, and in several cases is the most compelling proof of a relationship to date.  Especially with Irish research where there are no early birth records for Catholics other that baptisms that may or may not have survived.  The same holds true for early settlers in America as they pushed westward from the New England states, there were no churches or record keepers in the wilderness.  To wit; a match in my Clements line for a mid-1700's relative in colonial New York (New England puts New York to shame on early record keeping) appears to confirm that I was right about Mary Clements being my 4th great-grandmother.

     To me it seems absurd to dismiss DNA testing out of hand.  I've found DNA to be an invaluable tool that I would recommend to other researchers in a heartbeat.  While the ethnicity part can be somewhat off, although mine was spot on, the science behind matching is solid.
     

2 comments:

  1. That's great, Ellie, I'm delighted your DNA test has yielded so many matches - it gives me hope. My ethnicity was also accurate - 100% Irish - quelle surprise ;-), but I'm still waiting for my cousins to do their tests - guess it's only a matter of time!!!

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  2. Thank you Dara! I'm sure one day soon those cousins of yours will get moving with the testing!

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