Are you intrigued with the idea of using DNA to break down your brick walls? Have you done a DNA test but don’t know what to do with your results? Have you wondered what the future holds for DNA and genealogy? You might want to consider attending RootsTech 2017 where more classes than ever will focus on DNA. Popular genetic genealogist, CeCe Moore, will be giving the Saturday keynote address and she is certain to entertain and educate.
“Moore, who’s been on the leading edge of genetic genealogy as one of its leading proponents and pioneers, is a sought-after media consultant collaborating regularly with ABC’s 20/20, showcasing her cutting-edge work reuniting individuals of unknown parentage with biological relatives through genetic genealogy. She also appeared as a genetic genealogy expert on the CBS Morning News, Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, and Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. where for three seasons she has worked as a consultant and scriptwriter.”
I like this quote from Cece:
“Genetic genealogy is showing us that our ancestors are an important part of who we are today. Thousands, even millions, of us are learning that our very own DNA holds the key to so many mysteries and incredible discoveries.”
My First Experience with DNA
My personal DNA journey began in 2006. I had traced my Royston line back to John Royston who married Polly Cessna in 1803 in Greene County, Georgia. I was fairly sure that he connected with Thomas Royston who arrived in Virginia in 1635. I had done a lot of research piecing together Thomas’ descendants from records I discovered at the Family History Library.
I was a fairly new genealogist. Nevertheless, I confidently posted my findings on RootsWeb. Not long afterwards, another Royston researcher contacted me, wanting to know how reliable my postings were. He had been relying on research from other Royston researchers in Virginia but our results weren’t always matching up. What! There were others researching the Royston family? This was long before Ancestry Family Trees and the FamilySearch Family Tree and I had no way of knowing I was duplicating research.
My new-found cousin informed me that he had started a Y-DNA test group to prove the descendants of Thomas Royston of Virginia. All I needed to do was find a Royston cousin in my proven line that could provide a DNA sample. Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Wayne in their new book, Genetic Genealogy in Practice, explain the basics of the Y-DNA testing.
“One of the oldest and most powerful genetic genealogy tools is the Y chromosome. Y-DNA testing offers numerous benefits to genetic genealogists, due in large part to its inheritance pattern and lack of significant recombination. Because each man’s Y chromosome is nearly identical to the Y chromosome that his many-great grandfathers possessed, the Y-DNA line can be traced back very far – on the order of thousands of years.”¹
My dad’s grandmother was Dora Algie Royston and because the Y-DNA has to be an unbroken patrilineal line, I needed one of her brothers’ sons to test. Fortunately, my dad was in contact with his second cousin, Bill Gene Royston, who agreed to provide his DNA. My dad generously funded the test and we were off and running. I was pretty ecstatic when the results came back and cousin Bill’s DNA matched all 43 markers with Don Royston (featured in one of our spotlights) and 42 out of 43 with two other Royston descendants. What did this prove? I was on the right track connecting my Georgia John Royston with the Virginia Roystons. Another Royston family comes out of Maryland and our Virginia group did not match the DNA with their descendants who also came through Georgia in the early 1800’s.
How Y-DNA Can Help with Research Challenges
You may be wondering why we had to resort to DNA to figure this out. Thomas Royston who arrived in Virginia in 1635, settled in Gloucester County which suffered significant record loss. Without vital records, court records, or land records, we’ve had to piece together his descendants using surviving church records, legislative petitions, newspaper notices, and military records. Few of those records provide direct evidence of family relationships, so my tie-in to the Roystons was met with a healthy dose of skepticism. DNA proved to be the final piece of the puzzle. Once the Y-DNA test proved that my line of Royston’s who had migrated west matched the Virginia Roystons, I was invited to be part of a Royston research group. Sharing information and opinions freely via email proved to be invaluable.
Ten years later, I am revisiting my Royston research as the subject of my 4 Generation Project for Accreditation through ICAP Gen. New records have come to light to reinforce my original findings, but I will be forever grateful that my Royston cousin found me through my Rootsweb postings and invited me to participate in the Y-DNA test group. Cousin Bill Royston who provided the DNA has passed on, as has my father. Call it a blessing or family history serendipity, I now have one of my lines traced to the beginnings of this country with a good degree of proof, thanks to Y-DNA testing.
DNA testing has exploded across the genealogy world in the last few years. We now have three companies to test with, and several varieties of tests we can take. I did the autosomal testing through Ancestry a few years ago and am still in the process of learning the best way to use those results as more and more cousins appear on my result page.
Learning About DNA at RootsTech 2017
I am looking forward to boosting my DNA knowledge by attending several sessions at RootsTech 2017 on DNA. Here are the offerings.
Wednesday, February 8th
3:00 pm “DNA: The Glue that Holds Families Together” by Diahan Southard (beginner level)
Thursday, February 9th
11:00 am “How to use DNA Triangulation to Confirm Ancestors” by Kitty Cooper (intermediate level)
11:00 am “Family Finder, 23andMe, and AncestryDNA: An Intro” by Tim Janzen (beginner level)
1:30 pm “Writing About and Documenting DNA Test Results” by Thomas Jones (no level listed)
1:30 pm “DNA Matching on MyHeritage” by Dana Drutman (beginner level)
3:00 pm “My Ancestors are in My DNA!” by Angie Bush (all)
Friday, February 10th
11:00 am “Using genetic evidence in your family tree” by Ross Curtis (intermediate level)
11:00 am “Using Autosomal DNA to Help Extend a Lineage” by Thomas Jones (all)
11:00 am “Jewish DNA: Successes and Lessons From the Journey” by Israel Pickholtz (intermediate level)
1:30 pm “Putting Your DNA Matches to Work” by Anna Swayne (beginner level)
3:00 pm “How DNA Works: The Science Behind Your DNA Results” by Harendra Gaturu (all)
4:30 pm “DNA: Citations, Proof Arguments and Conclusion” by Angie Bush (advanced level)
Saturday, February 11th
8:30 am Keynote speaker: CeCe Moore, The Genetic Genealogist
1:30 pm “How to Get More from Your DNA with GEDMatch.com” by Shannon Christmas (beginner level)
3:00 pm “Supercharge Your Research with DNA” by Emily Aulicino (beginner level)
3:00 pm “Beyond Ethnicity – How DNA Connects us to our Past” by Ross Curtis (beginner level)
Come for a day or come for the whole conference. I guarantee you’ll leave supercharged and ready to go to work on finding your family. Register for RootsTech 2017 today. I hope to see you there!