Category Archives: DNA

In which I plunge head first into the pond of genetic genealogy research.

Not so new – New Year’s Resolutions

Fireworks 2016 bIn typical fashion, it’s almost February and I am finally getting around to my New Year’s resolutions. Well, I bet some of you out there who made your resolutions in a more timely fashion have already fallen off the proverbial wagons. So perhaps I’m ahead of the game.

Here are my New and Improved resolutions for 2016;

  • Develop an organizational strategy that works for me
  • Focus my search for DNA matches
  • Get back to writing about my family history
  • Write about the process of genealogy research in Eastern Europe


Of course, I did not accomplish everything I planned to do last year. But I have made some progress and revisions in my approach to research. My resolutions for 2015 were;

  • Organize my research by following the Genealogy Do-Over plan
  • See what I could learn from DNA
  • Continue writing about my family historyFireworks 2015 b

I planned to follow Thomas McEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over plan to redo my genealogy research the right way. Well that lasted a couple of weeks. I may have learned something from the experience however. I am not sufficiently disciplined to stick to my to-do list. I am not going to stop chasing BSOs. But I am doing better at documenting what I learned from the BSO detours.

I am still trying to find a format for a genealogy research log that will work for me. McEntee recommends a formatted Excel spreadsheet. Geoff Rasmussen from Legacy Family Tree webinars uses an MS Word document and then copies his research notes to the general notes section in the Legacy periodically. I have always written notes in a spiral notebook so I have a record of what I have done but it isn’t very accessible. I review the notebooks periodically and sometimes find things that I didn’t see the first time through.

Today I started with Notebook 1 reviewing my notes and adding To-Do items into Legacy. This way I can actually find the To-Do items by ancestor or location.

The really big thing for me in 2015 was getting deep into DNA. I confirmed a family story from the 17th century and found some very distant relatives in the process. I will write more about that later.

I was surprised to find that I actually had some DNA matches. However they are all pretty distant and I have yet to find a common ancestor for any of my matches. Instead, I have refocused on traditional genealogy research to fill out more of my family tree so that someday I may hit the ancestor jackpot.

I have my work cut out for me, so I had better get back to it.

Here’s wishing you a Happy 2016, and may all your genealogy dreams come true!

Say What? Is this MY DNA?

say what cat picIt has been a very exciting week in my genealogy life. I finally got the results of my Family Finder autosomal DNA test! YEAH!

When I wrote my first DNA post in December,  I said

“ I don’t really expect to find any relatives, although that could be fun. But I am interested to see if the background results match the family stories.”

Well, my family tree is all Hungarian, and Székely (ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania, Romania). Except great-grandmother Anna from Moravia who was Czech or Austrian or maybe Polish. So I expected the MyOrigins maps to show mostly Eastern European and a maybe little Western Europe for Grandma Anna.

What I got was not at all what I expected.

My Ethnic Makeup_no name

Turkish I could understand. I thought that traced back to the Ottoman occupation in the 16th-18th centuries. But my new FTDNA buddy tells me no. That goes way back to the original migration from Asia in the 900s, or perhaps earlier.

The southern Europe piece might be from the Romans. Or who-knows-who was migrating back and forth around Europe centuries ago.

But the British Isles piece blew me away. I pondered that for a couple of days. Then just as I was about to fall asleep one night it hit me like a ton of bricks! Is it the Celts? So of course I got up and googled ‘Celts in Hungary’ until 2am. Apparently they occupied the area from The British Isles to Northern Hungary in the 3rd century.

Here’s a map. What do you think?


This is a lot of conjecture on my part, so if you know more about ethnic distribution of DNA in Europe, please let me know what you think.

Back to the finding relatives thing.  I have  56 matches!  54 of them are considered distant or ‘speculative’ matches. But there are 2 ranked as ‘3rd to 5th cousins’.

shared origin


Székely Guy, my closest match, lives in a village 15km from where great-grandmother Barbara was born.  We didn’t find our common ancestor, but he has a great-grandmother with the same surname so we have a good idea where our connection comes from.

I haven’t connected with British Woman yet, but I browsed her extensive family tree. Looks like her many generations of documented ancestors never came anywhere near Hungary. But she’s got lots of Irish, and I am guessing that some of her unnamed ancestors wandered pretty far south some 18 centuries ago.

DNA is mind-boggling. Think about every little cell in your body containing not only the complex blueprints and the instruction manual for building you.  It is also carrying around your family history from hundreds and thousands of years ago. Our ancestors are with us.

My brain is very busy planning which cousins I need to cajole into taking the Family Finder test so that I can sort out the family lines into Turks and Celts and Romans. Like every new discovery in genealogy research, it adds a dozen more questions to the to-do list!

Awaiting Lab Results!

Getting ready to turn in tonight but before I do, I just had to check on my DNA test.

Lo, and behold, the status has changed! My kit has been batched!







Hurrah for Batch#604!

So I clicked on the Check status of pending results link.

Hmmm . . .  3-4 weeks.  Longer than the commercial break.

Awaiting Lab Results




Do you ever think that TV shows give people unrealistic expectations about how long DNA analysis takes?



Where the Ancestors Are

Now that I have done my cheek swabs and sent in my DNA test, I am waiting impatiently.  Every day I tell myself they will send an email when they have processed my kit and that I don’t need to log on to their site. But before I go to bed, I log in, just in case there is some news.

Well they received my kit 4 days ago. I have no idea how long it takes for them to process. On CSI it’s done right after the commercial break, but I guess that is not a realistic reference.ancestral locations

Meanwhile, there are things to do on the site. Tonight I played with their interactive Ancestral Location Map.  Click on the ‘edit location’ button and you can enter either the current name of your ancestor’s hometown, or longitude and latitude. I put in the current town and it dropped a pin on the spot. So here are the locations of my oldest paternal and maternal Hungarian  ancestors. Sadly outside the current borders of the homeland. But that’s another story.

Happily, once the pin is in the map you can change the name of the location to the name it was known as way back then. So I did. Click on the map for a closeup. I think Gergely and Anna would appreciate that.

My 1st DNA Test

dna test 300pxI have been curious about DNA and skeptical about what it could really do for me.  But the kits were $10 off til the end of the year so curiosity and the lure of $avings won out.

A few days after ordering my  kit from FamilyTreeDNA a little envelope showed up in my mailbox.  That was smaller than I expected for such a momentous scientific test.

I read the directions carefully.  Not much to it. Just swab your cheek like on all the detective shows on TV. Except the swab has  lots of little bristles and looks more like a mascara brush than a cotton swab. And you are supposed to swab for 30-60 seconds which takes longer than you might think when firmly scraping the inside of your cheek. I counted in my head for the first cheek. Then I set my timer for the second side.

Then just sign the release form. There is a question about the country of origin of your oldest ancestor.  I wasn’t sure what to do about that. They were all born in Hungary, but the ancestral villages are in different countries now. Which one should I list? I sent an email to their help line but still have not received an answer. So I just wrote Hungary and packed up everything and sent it along.

They include a personal profile page on their website so I can update the country info and name of oldest ancestor and family tree if I choose.

So, now Im waiting impatiently for results. 🙂

DNA testingI have attended a couple of webinars and read a couple of books which makes me in no way an expert. This Guide to DNA Testing by Richard Hill, who is an expert, was the clearest explanation that I have read.

My very brief summary, and feel free to comment if you know better, is that there are 3 major kinds of tests.

Father’s Line – The Y chromosome test can determine if men are direct descendants of the same ancestor. This would be useful for determining if the Édes men I have met are really descended from the same family who settled in Madár in the 17th century.

Mother’s Line – Only women pass down mitochondrial DNA to their children. This test is used for confirming direct maternal line relationships between women. Not as commonly used as the other tests.

Cousin Finder – The basic are-we-related? test.  Autosomal DNA can be used to find relatives within up to 5 generations. The other reason for this test is to learn about your ethnic background and ancestry. I am starting with this one. I don’t really expect to find any relatives, although that could be fun. But I am interested to see if the background results match the family stories.