Saturday, January 31, 2015

Debbie Does DNA, Part 2: The One with Some Possible Funny Business in Ireland

I’m going to go through each of the big buttons on the FTDNA home page.  Here is what they look like:

First off is the MATCHES.  I have (well, Grampa has) several matches.  Most are old and I’ve already contacted them.  Most also do not have a family tree or GEDCOM information posted.  The first three on the list are our closest matches with a genetic distance of only two.

Here is what that means (as shown in the TiP report provided):

Basically, we are related somewhere.  But where?  You have to email Person 1 to figure it out.  Having done that, I can tell you that Person 1 has no idea how we connect.  Person 2 never responded and Person 3 asked me for a full GEDCOM and money so that he could put us into his CONNER CD.  Um…. No.

So where does that leave us?  Did we really learn anything yet from DNA?  Maybe not “learn” but an interesting thing to notice is that in all the matches, few are Conner/Connor. In fact, only 13% share our surname.

Why is this odd?  Well, to show you, I have to tell you about the test we took.  Grampa did the Y-DNA test.  The sex chromosomes are XX for women and XY for men.  These chromosomes carry the code that makes us a man or a woman.  We inherit an X from our moms always.  If we are a boy, we get a Y from our dad.  If we are a girl, we get an X from our dad.


X from Mom
X from Dad
X from Mom
Y from Dad

Since only men inherit the father’s Y-chromosome, it follows the paternal line back.  So in doing the Y-DNA test, we tested Grampa, his dad, his grampa, his great-grampa, etc.  We also tested, by default, his sons, Harry and Ricky, and their sons.  And their sons.

The test looks at certain markers (STR markers), which are places where the genetic code tend to vary in its repeated parts.  They change a bit from one generation to another, but slowly.  So when you test a bunch of them, you can see who is related to whom by how much (or how little) variance there is.

Now that we know this, let’s go back to that there aren’t that many CONNER/CONNOR/O’CONNOR etc. in the matches.  Shouldn’t they all be CONNOR/CONNER, etc. if we are looking at the Y only?  Possible that way back there somewhere in Ireland, a Connor wasn’t really a Connor…  

Just 10 minutes ago, I got an email notifying me of two new matches.  I'll write about those next time on...

Debbie Does DNA.

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