Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tuesday's Tips

DNA Testing and Family Stories

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Six years ago my husband and I were asked to lead the Computer Group here in our area. The lady who founded the group was ninety-three years old and she was having health problems. She told my husband, “We need some new blood in this group.” My husband being a computer whiz, having degrees in mechanical engineering and computer science, was the person with the experience to lead the group. We both were experienced in genealogical research. She asked him to take over the group and lead it. He accepted the challenge, and with excitement and experience took over as leader. There were about twenty members left in the group, and the group was dying.

My husband made some positive changes in the group; those changes were for the best and the membership started growing. That was in 2009 and the group continues to get new members and several visitors at each monthly meeting. In the beginning, both my husband and I were getting questions about DNA testing. We began to read about DNA testing and gathered as much information that we could find about DNA. Both my husband and I had been involved in genealogical research for ten years. We decided it was time to take a DNA test. We were leaders of this group and we needed to learn about the latest tool in genealogical research so we could teach members.  

Both my husband and I dived into the DNA testing “hoopla” taking the Family Finder autosomal and mitochondrial test with Family Tree DNA Testing Company. My husband later took the YDNA with Ancestry DNA, and a couple of years later took the YDNA test with Family Tree DNA. In 2012 I had my brother tested for the 67 Marker YDNA Test. My husband and I both tested with 23andMe DNA Testing company, and when Ancestry DNA was introduced to the public we tested with that company. We then started a DNA Interest group (DIG Group) for our area.

That was five years ago and the interest in DNA testing continues to grow. The question asked the most is, “Which test do I take?” The other question is, “Which company do I test with?”  We prep new test takers with the information they need such as:  Why do you want to DNA test? Have you researched your family lines? Do you have a pedigree chart back at least 4 or 5 generations? Or do you know how to do genealogical research? What do you want to learn from the test? What are you trying to prove?  The other tidbit of information for the test taker that we remind them of is, a DNA test may reveal information that you aren’t aware of, or family secrets. Are you prepared for that? Do you know of family secrets? By informing members or nonmembers of this important fact then they can prepare for the test results when it comes in.

My father was the results of a non-paternal event, and he was privy to this information. I will forever be thankful to my grandmother for telling Daddy, when he was a little boy, about his biological father. Daddy shared this information with my older sister and brother. When I ventured into my new found hobby of genealogical research, my sister who is ten years older than me said to me, “Now Fay you know Daddy’s daddy was Uncle Johnny Edwards?” I dismissed this tidbit of information as a family tale, but it was tucked away in my memory. When I hit the ultimate brick wall while researching my Eley family, I decided it was time to look into YDNA testing.  Maybe that will reveal new information that will help me determine which Eley line is mine. When the test results came back I looked at the results and didn’t have a clue how to analyze it. I had joined the Eley DNA Project at that time. Later, an Edwards cousin contacted me to find out about my brother’s YDNA 67 Marker Test results. After corresponding with this new found Edwards cousin he educated me on the test results. He was the Edwards Project Administrator. Then I recalled my sister Ruby’s tidbit of family information. The test results confirmed my father’s biological father.

This information was very helpful in researching my patrilineal line. It also helped me understand how important it is for families to be truthful in sharing information. Family secrets can be hurtful when the truth comes out, so it best to reveal the truth and get it out in the open. In my immediate family this non-paternal event happened and is out in the open.

My siblings and I are all right with the truth that was revealed in testing my brother. The event that took place was many years ago, and a different time period. It doesn’t change how we feel toward our grandmother and our Edwards family. Only those who were involved knew the real reason as to why this event took place. However, anyone when they decide to delve into DNA testing, needs to understand, there may be information that comes out in the test results that they aren’t aware of. There may be unknown relationships that show up or there may be untold family stories that are revealed. When you are aware of this information then you can decide if you want to take a DNA test or not.  When you are aware of the possible outcome of the test then you are prepared for the information that will be revealed in the results. I know from experience, it is worth it to go ahead and DNA test. I realized this was not going to affect me in any way, and I changed my research plan, laid the Eley plan aside, then researched my Edwards patrilineal family. Working with my new found Edwards cousin my Edwards genealogical research has been proven and Daddy has his rightful place in the family tree. Our Edwards family has been revealed and proven to 1791 Virginia, and that is most likely where it will stay. I am not interested in going “over the pond.” I am content with where I am in researching this particular family.

It wasn’t like the Edwards family were strangers to my family; they weren’t. Our families visited and had family reunions, and stayed in close contact. I have fond memories of the times our families visited and shared reunions together.

When you DNA test and the results shows information that surprises you, what will you do with it? You will either decide, not say anything; or you will want to know the details of the story about this particular event. You will make the decision to share the information or to keep quiet about your new found information.  If you share the information with family, handle it carefully and be sensitive to others and how they may react. Only you will know whether to reveal or not reveal your new found information. ■



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