Did you participate in Y-DNA testing before the era of FamilyTree DNA and now have no access to your results? If so, let me introduce you to mitoYDNA.org, a free website where you can recreate the kits used in the project. MitoYDNA.org allows uploading or manually adding your Y-DNA or mitochondrial (mt) DNA test results from several testing companies. You can then use the mitoYDNA tools to compare kits and find matches.
You’ll likely recognize FamilyTreeDNA as the current big player in mtDNA and Y-DNA testing, but several others are currently testing or performed tests in the past. Among the lineup are:
- NatGeo 1.0
My Royston Y-DNA Research Project
When I started actively researching my family tree in 2003, I honed in on my Royston line – mostly because it was a huge brick wall and the surname wasn’t as common as Harris or Welch. Using resources at the Family History Library I pieced together the connection of English emigrant, Thomas Royston, to my Royston line and posted my tree on RootsWeb.
Not long after, a Royston researcher contacted me saying that my tree varied from some other Royston researchers. He invited me to participate in a Royston research group starting in 2004. The first thing the Royston researchers asked was if I would like to provide a Y-DNA test-taker for my Royston line. If I matched their test-takers who had traced their Royston lines back to Thomas Royston of Gloucester County, Virginia, that would be good evidence that my research was correct. Another Royston line came out of Maryland and I wanted to ensure I had the right line.
I asked my dad if any of his Royston cousins would test and he contacted his second cousin, Billy Gene “Bill” Royston, who agreed to test. We did the test through Sorenson Genomics and found that yes, Bill, did match the Virginia Royston’s. With that, I was welcomed into the group and spent the next few years collaborating on the research.
In total, six Royston men tested their Y-DNA with Sorenson Genomics in 2006 using the 46 Y-STR marker test. The results found that the descendants of English emigrant, Thomas Royston, matched on the 46 marker test within a genetic distance of 0-2. This meant that they were related within a genealogical time frame. They also shared the haplogroup J2b.
On the other hand, the descendant of Benjamin F. Royston of Maryland had the haplogroup R1b and matched on only 9 of the markers. This meant that the Maryland Roystons were not related to the Virginia Royston’s in a genealogical timeframe. The diagram below shows the Virginia Royston test-takers and their lines on the left and the Maryland Royston test-taker on the right. All the test-takers are now deceased except for Don Royston who has given me permission to use his results and name.
Once my Royston line was confirmed as belonging to the Thomas Royston line of Virginia, I continued working with the Royston research group to make connections through the documentary research. Severe record loss in Gloucester County, Virginia, hampered the research for Richard Wiatt Royston’s descendants – many of whom migrated to Georgia, including my John Cary Royston. However, the Caroline County branch of Thomas T. Royston was well documented. Having Richard Wiatt Royston’s descendants match a Thomas T. Royston descendant provided solid evidence for the research.
Fast forward several years and the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation database was sold to Ancestry.com which took it down in 2015 following an unfortunate series of events.1 The ability to no longer access those results online was disappointing but I didn’t know of a solution until talking with Mags Gaulden at RootsTech 2020. She told me about mitoY-DNA and how you can add your old Y-DNA or mtDNA test results and basically recreate your kits and projects.
Even if you don’t need to recreate a lost kit, you might be interested in uploading your Y-DNA results from FamilyTree DNA or another testing company in order to compare with individuals who have tested at other websites.
The first step is to register and create a log in. First, you’ll be asked to read the Terms of Service and check the box when you have agreed to comply. You’ll be agreeing to certain terms about uploading the DNA so read carefully.
Once registered you can create a kit. You’ll check whether you are uploading your own Y-DNA, that of a deceased individual, or someone living who has granted permission. You’ll then choose the testing company, add the earliest known ancestor information, the name of the test-taker, and a link to an online tree such as WikiTree, Genie, or the FamilySearch Family Tree. You can upload Y-DNA results or enter them manually. Because I only had a printout for my test-taker, I entered them manually. When finished, I had a lovely recreated Y-DNA kit shown below.
I created a new kit for each Y-DNA test-taker from the Royston 2006 project by manually entering the information from the original tests. One tip is to carefully review the data before hitting submit. You’ll be able to edit the personal information but not the specific DNA markers. However, if you make a mistake you can just recreate the kit and delete the inaccurate kit.
After adding each kit I used the Compare Tool to see how the various kits matched up. In the screenshot below, the top five kits are for the descendants of emigrant, Thomas Royston, who was born in England and came to the Virginia Colony about 1625. The bottom kit is for the descendant of Benjamin F. Royston of Maryland and you can see that he has a different haplogroup and many differences in the markers noted by the yellow. This confirmed the hypothesis that my research connecting my line to Thomas Royston was correct!
Integration with Other Websites and Getting Help
Several companies have integrated with mitoYDNA such as GEDmatch, WikiTree, and DNAPainter. The mitoYDNA YouTube channel has several videos that can help you get started. The Facebook group allows you to pose your questions and others will readily answer questions about mitoYDNA.
Being able to recreate the Royston Y-DNA project has ensured that this valuable data won’t be lost again! In the future, I hope to be able to use mitoYDNA as well as the other websites that allow integration to add more evidence to our Royston research.
Best of luck in all your genealogical endeavors!