Genealogy and DNA testing

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by mattbrent, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. mattbrent

    mattbrent Well-Known Member

    Hi folks!

    A little before my daughter was born (she'll be 7 in January) I bought the Family Tree Maker program and started piecing together the family tree. I ended up stopping around the time she was born due to commitments to other things. (Y'know, a baby and all! :veryhappy:) Since then I've had a few "adventures" along the way, and recently I spoke to the Carter Society during their annual reunion.

    The Carter Society are individuals who trace their families to the Carters of Virginia. Robert "King" Carter served as one of Virginia's colonial governors, and his grandson, Robert Carter III, is known for his Deed of Gift, in which he emancipated hundreds of slaves in what was the largest act of emancipation in the US prior to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. The Carters were a rather wealthy and powerful family 300 hundred years ago.

    As I boarded the ship where my presentation would be, I saw two of my older cousins. They were going through the process of verifying their genealogies to prove they were in the Carter line. They suggested that I do the same, as the Brents, who arrived in Virginia in the 1640's, were also once a rather prestigious family and many married into the Carter line. I have all of my old stuff saved somewhere, but I've been thinking about firing it up again and trying to dive more into my family's past.

    Now offers a few methods of DNA analysis. I was just curious if anyone here has A) ever done a DNA test for their family tree or B) knows more about it. The tests aren't exactly cheap. They're about $100. I just think it would be neat to do, but $100 would also buy a 6 month subscription to's services.

    What are your thoughts about all of this? Should I go for the DNA test to find out more? Or should I go through it the old fashioned way? (Technically, I'd probably still have to do that, anyway!)

  2. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Do you know if Jimmy & Rosalyn are among them?
  3. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    I'm not sure I would want to do a DNA test. There might be the potential for some unpleasant surprises.
  4. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I think it's all fascinating and should be pursued. I know one person whose DNA test went back 3500 years and put her family somewhere in the far east of Europe. The Chinese are all about 敬祖 or ancestor veneration and so knowing more about your family fits in perfectly. As for unpleasant surprises, personally I've always held that it's better to know than not to know. Not knowing is life in an illusion and I prefer to live with reality, not illusion.
  5. mattbrent

    mattbrent Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't be too worried about unpleasant surprises. Sometimes those are the most interesting kind!

  6. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I can't think of any sort of ancestry that would be better left unknown, but neither would I go far out of my way to find out. I don't think any of this really matters, since it's not who your ancestors were that defines you, it's who you choose to be that does.
  7. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I can't think of any background in someone's ancestry that would be unpleasant unless someone really doesn't like a particular race or ethnic group. Whether I have sub-Saharan African, Caucasian, or Asian/Native American ancestry doesn't matter to me. Being African American, I knew that European would come up in my results. Almost every African American descended from slaves is mixed with European. Many African Americans turn to DNA testing because our ancestry is so difficult to trace.'s DNA testing is new. I, personally, would go with a company that's been doing it for awhile unless is using a database from a more established testing company. The sample size affects the accuracy of the test. Sometimes, your test results will change over time. I believe 23andMe and Family Tree DNA are cheaper. 23andMe has more activity than Family Tree DNA on the family connections end. You can join discussion groups based on your haplogroup.
  8. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    I can. The reality is that sometimes genetic studies can have devastating effects on families:

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2014
  9. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Okay, good point, that's potentially more tricky than anything I thought of. But that's probably because I have such high paternity confidence. :smile:
  10. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Well, is not offering paternity tests, but I think this is great. Not only is this great legally and morally, but it is also important information for the child in case any genetically-related health issues come up in the future.
  11. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    I think if you're already investing time into discovering your family tree, that it makes sense. I don't think $100 is expensive for a DNA test, no more expensive than a couple nights out for pizza.

    Also, there is a new thing I heard on NPR about a computer program database that is cataloging all the DNA/family tree stuff world-wide, but the exact details are slipping my mind. Maybe google it and see if you find anything, I remember it sounded really cutting edge.
  12. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I thought I read $200. $100 is not bad. That's how much the other DNA tests cost.
  13. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    I'm just kidding around. But the sorts of unpleasant surprises I'm thinking of would be, for example, finding out that the man that you've called father all your life isn't your real father or finding out that those little dickenses that you've been calling son and daughter all these years don't have any of your DNA.
  14. mattbrent

    mattbrent Well-Known Member

    Hahaha... true, though in my case, I wouldn't be worried about that. I can look at my two kids and tell they're mine :) Same with my parents. My wife, however, is adopted and doesn't know her biological parents. For her, it might be interesting, although these tests don't tell you who you're related to (at least not that I'm aware of) but what types of ethnicities are in your DNA.

    I know my family, the Brents, came over to the Northern Neck (where I still live) in the 1640's. The family was extremely wealthy, which, unfortunately, isn't the case anymore... Still, it'd be nice to know more. I guess it's the history guy in me.

  15. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Matt: Thank you for replying to my post. I like the fact that you appreciate my sometimes warped sense of humor. In my case, I am still childless at the age of 52 but still cherish hopes of becoming a father someday, despite my advanced age. While I would like to be a Daddy someday, I'm not sure I would want to pass on my genetic information. While there are some good things about my DNA contribution, such as the fact that I am both good-looking and a genius, there are some downsides to my DNA contribution, like that fact that I have genetic info to pass on diabetes, epilepsy, and manic-depression and I would not want my future kids to have to know what it feels like to have wsasted two decades of their life being dependent on the government for Social Security disabiolity, Medicare/Medicaid, and food stamps while only occasionally holding some sort of little jobs that pay minimum wage or slightly above and no fringe benefits. So, in order to become a father without passing on bad genetic info, I will probably end up marrying a single mother and/or adopting. As for my father, I'm pretty sure that he is my real father. People tell my Dad and I that we look a lot alike.
  16. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    OT for Ted, everyone had crap. There is no perfect line of DNA; and if there were, that's still no guarantee.
    If you want to be a father, and the opportunity presents, I think you should go for it! :)
  17. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I watched a documentary on CNN a couple of days ago that interviewed children born from this sperm bank experiment. In the 80s, this sperm bank tried to recruit men with great traits (high intelligence, athletic, good looking, etc.). One couple went to this sperm bank because the husband could not have children. Their first two children came out brilliant. The third child had the same father as the second child, but came out with autism.

    Another guy born from one of these sperm bank donors came out highly intelligent, but he got his girlfriend pregnant at 16. He's now trying to support his three children by doing manual labor because his felony limits his options. He was apparently performing experiments with marijuana and was convicted of cultivating it.
  18. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Thank you, Jen!
  19. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Darn, he should have moved to Washington or Colorado!
  20. 03310151

    03310151 Active Member

    I got my done for $49 through 23andme (military special deal) the company that has a patent that when read through completely looks like it can be utilized to make designer babies and was founded by the ex-wife of one of the Google guys.

    Get it done, you'll be fascinated! I was astounded to learn that my ancestors were not as racist and xenophobic as people of today imply. Apparently my ancestors could not keep their pants up and did not seem to picky about who they bumped uglies with. I'm a mutt, through and through. Mostly Norwegian, Swedish, English and Scots/Irish but there is enough of a cross-section of just about everything from Sub Saharan African to Native American...we get around and we get it on!

    I always thought it was weird when people would somehow imply royalty and some sort of "lineage" in their ancenstry. Yeah, like I'd be proud if my ancestors were into incest to keep the blood lines "royal".

    Be preapred for this: All of your relatives have stories that are flat out lies. All of them. Once you start to sluething the truth comes out. Great fun at family get togethers. Embrace who you are and not the narrative lies of the past few generations old people with their weirdness and made of stories that hid the truth.

    Proudly yours in muttness,

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2014

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