According to family stories, my Great Grandmother was 100% Native American. Whenever I share this, the common response is “man, you could get free college, did you know that?”. (BTW, I did a quick google on this and the rumor of free college for Native Americans is not true.). As a child I was known for getting extremely tan in the summers and everyone used to say “must be that Cherokee in him!”. So funny.
I already paid for college education, but, I have to admit, I desired to claim I was Native American. In fact, I could not wait to see how much of a mutt I was. Heck, the more the merrier was my thinking. So, with great disappointment, allow me to share my results….
How amazingly boring! I am 96% from modern day England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales. Where is Great Grandmother’s Native American blood? I so badly want to drill into the measly 4% and get me some good ole diversity out of it. I anxiously waited 4 weeks to be boring, /sigh.
I met my Great Grandmother and she definitely was a Native American. I question the results but really, what do I know. I searched around for an alternative DNA service and discovered www.23andme.com. At the time I was searching, 23andme was $300 dollars to genotype your DNA versus $100 at AncestryDNA. I decided it made more sense to genotype my mom, dad and my wife for my $300. Here are my parents results:
Boo! Still not seeing Native American ethnicity. Despite my lack of cool ethnicity, the AncestryDNA service is actually very very cool. Let me explain.
AncestryDNA will take the genotype results from its many members and look for family relationships. If by chance the matched DNA members’ trees have names in common in their tree, it will also point those out for you.
As you can see above, my Dad has a potential 3rd cousin match. Clicking on “Review Match” will show the shared ancestors. My dad and I have hundreds of potential matches where the majority of them do not have shared ancestors on the trees. That is where the hard work begins. IMO, to get the most out of the service, you have to completely fill out your tree. Prior to genotyping my DNA, my tree just contained my direct lineage. I did not take the time to fill out my great great grandfathers brother and sisters. I was focused on just my pedigree so my tree was tall but not wide. To get your tree to match up to a potential 5th cousin, my tree has to be “wider” consisting of my great aunts and great great uncles. This will take some time!
Here is my theory of how to figure out my surname:
- Get my tree as wide as possible.
- Focusing on my dad’s DNA match result, try to get as many shared ancestors on my tree as possible.
- DNA matches that I cannot get a shared ancestors in the trees, are candidates for containing my true surname. AncestryDNA will tell you what potential cousin generation so I can find that approximate generation in the matches tree. Look for doctors living in Tennessee in their trees around the same time.