Playing Detective: DNA Test – Ancestor Search

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  • AJ on: June 16, 2017 at 4:26 am #1104

    Just wondering if any of you have done an ancestor search with a DNA test on a site like If so, did you find anything interesting or unexpected?

    I had my brother do one recently (I had him do it because I had read that there is more DNA information in the Male DNA), and while we didn’t find anything unexpected, we did sort of fill in a hole in our family tree.

    All families on my mothers side have been researched thoroughly, so we knew there would really be nothing new there. On my dad’s side, his mother was an Addington, and you can’t hardly swing a dead cat on without finding an Addington it seems.

    BUT, it was my paternal grandfather’s family that was the mystery. My great-grandfather was Bert Ryan, and apparently, Bert had always told his children that his real father’s last name was Harris, and that his real father was hung for being a horse thief, so Bert’s mother went back to her family and assumed her maiden name of Ryan, and gave that name to Bert. We were pretty sure that most of that was a tall tale, except that we were pretty sure he was telling the truth about how his actual father’s last name of Harris. But, there were no records at all for Bert before 1910 when, by that time, he was already married with a son. There were no birth records or even any census information before that date. Assuming he was correct, finding his real father’s family would have been worse than finding a needle in a haystack.

    Then my brother does the DNA test, and I send it in to Flash forward several months, and we now have a whole list of people in the database that we match with. I was looking through the list there was one DNA match on there that seemed peculiar. They were fairly close…3rd or 4th cousins, but there were no names on their family tree that I recognized. EXCEPT…they had a whole line of Harris’s.

    If I traced their line back to where Bert’s father would be, I found the Elijah L. Harris family in Lafayette Mississippi. I was pretty excited about this because I thought: this could be the Harris family that my great-grandfather came from! So I did a search for any of my matches with the last name of Harris. Several came up, and among those, several who all traced back to the Elijah Harris family in Lafayette Mississippi, and most notably, the ones who were the closest DNA match to us were decedents of Elijah’s son Claiborne. 

    At a certain point, when looking at the census data, I saw a link on the page that said: See others on this census page. I thought, Okay, let’s see if I can find a Ryan family. I clicked the link and looked, and sure enough, there was a Ryan family living practically next door!

    That’s some good evidence, but I still don’t have enough to fully convince me. So, I start looking for information on that Ryan family. I found a census from 1900 (my great-grandfather would have been 15 at that time) that listed who I believe are the same Ryans, and they were living in Gregg County, Texas at that time. The very interesting thing about this is that I knew that for a time Bert had lived in Texas, and when I did a little more digging, I was able to pull up his marriage license…issued in Gregg County, Texas.

    Still not 100% confirmation, but I’m pretty convinced that this is the family that fills up the hole in my family tree. Since then I’ve only found more matches that link to them, so, a pretty good indication that I’m on the right track.

    SO…. that’s my story. Do any of you have one?

    ElectricOutcast on: June 16, 2017 at 11:11 am #1247

    Well I know one thing, I might be going to 23andMe over Ancestry because a lady I follow on YouTube and she posted a video of Ancestry and 23andMe and the differences between the two. Apparently the latter company gives you a more comprehensive research on your family origins, so I may be going to them in the future.

    Ancestry, from what I’m hearing, might be involved in some shady shit:

    AJ on: June 16, 2017 at 1:11 pm #1248

    I would rather we stay on topic. Which is if you have already used or any similar service and have found anything interesting and want to share you can do that here.


    Carole on: June 16, 2017 at 4:31 pm #1250

    I’ve thought about trying Ancestry because I have very little family history available.  My father came to the US as a young child and my mother was born here, so we don’t have solid facts on anyone older than my grandparents, and I know very little about their lives before they emigrated.  My father’s side came from the “Austro-Hungarian Empire” which covered a lot of Europe before WWI, and my maternal grandmother came from a small country called Galicia, which was back and forth under the control of Poland and Russia and vanished after WWI.   I’d like to pin down more of my history.

    AJ, how long did it take to get your results?

    AJ on: June 16, 2017 at 10:09 pm #1255

    It took a couple of months. We periodically get updates when other people do their test, and they match with us.

    IDFAN on: June 17, 2017 at 3:03 am #1257

    My brother recently sent off his DNA sample to He hasn’t gotten his results yet, but has asked me to share info on my paternal grandparents and their origins. I made a memory book for my grandfather when his memory was failing. I went through his family records and my grandmothers and built a sort of family tree with pictures, names, and any other facts I could find. I’m going to send my brother the names/dates/places so that he can work on the research he wants to do. I’m interested to see what he comes up with. My mom is still living and has a lot of info from her side of the family, so she promised to send him that as well. I’ll let you know what he comes up with when he gets some results.

    sarinalustosa on: June 17, 2017 at 4:03 am #1258

    Is the cost of the DNA tests worth it? I can track my family’s history pretty far back, so I was wondering how far back this DNA test goes. My family was pretty well known in Ireland since we “ran” the clan.

    AJ on: June 17, 2017 at 2:20 pm #1260
    Irishmegs88 wrote:
    Is the cost of the DNA tests worth it? I can track my family’s history pretty far back, so I was wondering how far back this DANA test goes. My family was pretty well known in Ireland since we “ran” the clan.

    It depends. If you have already traced all or most all of your family tree, then it may not be worth it to you. For me, since we knew next to nothing about my paternal grandfather’s family, it was well worth it, since now because of the DNA matches we’ve gotten, we have a pretty good idea of who our ancestors are on that side.

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