Why should you take a genetic genealogy test?
IMAGINE a world where every person knows as much about their recent ancestry as possible. Visualize a world where every person can be linked with as many blood relatives as they can. And, most of all, imagine a world where every person has access to their deep roots — the footsteps of ancestors that made them who they are today. That world already exists. Genetic genealogy testing, which has become more available and much more inexpensive in the last decade, provides all of these answers.
Genetic testing can help you find family around the world you never knew existed. It can even help verify family legends, dismiss them outright, or create new ones! Connect with new people who share your lineage.
Genetic testing can verify and explain your ethnicity or your mix of ethnicities. People who were adopted will likely benefit the most, but there are surprises for virtually everybody!
Knowing your mtDNA haplogroup is useful not only for tracking your maternal lineage. Every mtDNA haplogroup is also linked to its own specific blend of health benefits and risk factors which are useful to know.
Knowing your Y-DNA and/or mtDNA Haplogroup can also show you the big picture —the paths your many ancestors took from various corners of the world to make you who you are today.
How to get tested
We are not a testing company. Our mission is to reliably explain all that your genetic test results mean. Most people who are tested are not satisfied with the quality —clarity and detail, both— of the results given to them. That is where we come in. Testing is very easy and is relatively inexpensive. There are a dozen testing companies worldwide. Each has their own simple steps for being genetically tested. We have more experience with some and recommend the following:
Family Tree DNA, based in Houston, offers mtDNA, Y-DNA, and autosomal tests. They are more focused on genealogy than anthropology or health-related information.
23andMe, based in the Bay Area, offers mtDNA, Y-DNA, and autosomal testing. Their results can be used for genealogy, but their focus is more on health-related information.
Oxford Ancestors, based in Oxford, England, is one of the oldest genetic genealogy testing companies. Like FTDNA and 23andMe, they also offer mtDNA, Y-DNA, and autosomal testing.
What do my genetic test results mean?
Because you’ve been genetically tested, you probably know your haplogroup (mitochondrial DNA haplogroup or Y-DNA haplogroup). You may have read a brief history of your haplogroup provided by the testing company and were shown some of your genetic matches.
However, you or your family may feel confused. You are likely still asking yourself:
- What do my results fully mean?
- Why don't the results fit our family history?
- Who am I related to? How closely?
- Who were my distant ancestors?
- Could we learn even more? What are we missing?
- How is all of humankind connected?
Surprising Roots, Forgotten Ethnicity
A family of adult children in the American Midwest had the father’s Y-DNA and the mother’s mtDNA tested for haplogroup. Haplogroups are simply branches on the Human Family Tree. The father’s results were interesting, but not surprising. However the results of the mother —who has English, French, and Irish ancestry— surprised everyone. She is in mtDNA Haplogroup A. This haplogroup originated in East Asia and can be found in Europe in very small numbers. But, when mtDNA Hg A is found in Europe it is always as the branch A4. Instead, this European-American family—the mother and her siblings and her adult children—are not in A4 but in branch A2. This means only one thing, without a doubt: their direct maternal line does not reach back to Europe and European settlers, but to the Native Peoples of the Americas.
We can be even more specific than just saying this direct female line is Native American. Judging by their sub-branch and the identity of their matches, their native ancestry goes back to the Algonquian Peoples. Ethnic groups like the Abenaki, Mi’kmaq, Narragansett, Wampanoag, Mohican, Powhatan, Lenape, Menominee, Chippewa (Ojibwe), Cree, Blackfoot, Arapaho, Gros Ventre (A’aninin) and Cheyenne are all Algonquian peoples in language, culture, and ‘blood.’
They had no idea that they had Native American ancestry, let alone that it was through their direct female line. The results are a happy surprise for everyone; they are pleased and proud with the knowledge. You could also have Native American ancestry, especially if you are French-Canadian or African-American. If you know your mtDNA haplogroup, what does it truly mean? The testing company briefly mentioned that Hg A is primarily an East Asian group, but Footsteps of Ancestors painted the ‘big picture’ for them: How did Hg A get from East Asia to N. America, and how did this European-American family come to have a Native American direct female lineage.
The full story of our European-American family who discovered they have Native American roots in their direct female line can be found at the Examples page, as well as other example stories…
How we can help
Our mission is to give customers accurate, interesting, and clear explanations of their personalized genetic results. The genetic testing companies do a good job at testing, but that is where their job ends. Our job is to explain what it all means. Most companies do not truly have the resources or role to fully explain the meanings of the results to their customers. Knowing your Y-DNA and/or mtDNA haplogroup entails much more than finding a lost cousin in Ohio. A haplogroup is a branch of the Human Family Tree, and as such it connects you to all of human prehistory and history. How are you connected?
We have backgrounds in anthropology, history, linguistics, biology, genealogy, and education. This enables us to to take your genetic results and family information, combine them with research about humankind and its migrations, and use it to explain how your ancestors settled across the globe. It also enables us to take this story and present it to you in plain English that is enjoyable to read.
We use your haplogroup results and combine them with a comprehensive set of published research to deliver your customized Deep Roots story.
We can explain your most recent heritage, the origin and meaning of the surnames in your family, your Deep Roots and how you are related to all of humankind.
By sorting through your haplogroup and autosomal matches, we find the most relevant matches for you. You can connect with and start dialogue with these matches at any time.
Your customized document can be a PDF or a professionally printed and bound copy, and includes many illustrations and photographs to better explain the results.
Cousins in an Unexpected Land
A Norwegian-American family had their Y-DNA tested with our guidance. When their results came back their Y-DNA is Haplogroup I, the oldest Y-DNA lineage in Europe. Again, recall that a haplogroup is a branch of the Human Family Tree. More specifically, they are in branch I1d, which is common in Scandinavia. Although their haplogroup and branch were not surprising, their many living matches were notable. Where would you expect most of their matches to be? Norway and America? This is exactly what the family expected. The great surprise is that most of their living matches, by far, are from Scotland and Northern England.
Even though these matches and their families have a dozen surnames, one surname and its variants keeps appearing over and over —that of a famous Scottish clan. What appears to have happened is that this Scottish clan was founded by a Norseman (Norse Viking) around 1,000 years (40 generations) ago. This Norse settler had left brothers in Southern Norway behind. One of these Viking brothers is the n-great grandfather of the ethnic Norwegian family in the United States today. Our Norwegian-American customers had no idea they had any paternal cousins in Scotland. Not only that, but they had no idea that one of their n-great uncles had in fact founded a famous Scottish clan. If you are Scottish, do you have a Viking direct forefather?
However, their story is even older than any Norse or Dane Vikings and Scottish Clans. How did this male line come to Scandinavia in the first place? Where did they live before that? This is also part of their story and is also part of the amazing discovery the family uncovered with Footsteps of Ancestors. That is the story hidden in your genes which we can help reveal and explain.
The full story of our Norwegian-American family who discovered they have many cousins in Scotland can be found at the Examples page, as well as other example stories…
We offer various products. Our packages can be any combination of those products. A full package includes all of the products.
Your Deep Roots is the story of you and your family line. We craft it using a combination of your genetic results, known family history, and published research. This is the customized story which spans the origins of humankind to your most recent heritage.
Your last name is a badge you show the world. You may know a simple definition of your surname, but do you truly know all that it means and signifies? We present the full etymology to you, as well as any other surnames in your family if you desire.
This is a personalized list of your most relevant genetic matches. We sort through the potential morass of data so you don’t have to. Family Finding greatly assists with your genealogical diggings. You may later contact any of these new-found family members.
Absolutely amazing! When I had our family’s Y-DNA tested, the results came back and I was left with more questions than answers. Where to begin researching all of the background and history to understand? When is there time to dig through the databases to find other family? Some help was needed and Footsteps of Ancestors definitely delivered!Kevin W.-B
I only wish Dad were still with us because he would have found these discoveries fascinating, especially the history. He would have been amazed and pleased that one of the most common male lines in Europe is a ‘brother’ to the most common Native American line. Not only is the genealogy information helpful, but the ‘Deep Roots’ is extremely interesting.Deb K.
I think this service is certainly worth it. The genetic results were interesting but meaningless without context and Footsteps of Ancestors provides that context. And so, the money spent on explaining makes the money spent on testing actually worth it. I’d definitely recommend this! I’d say to [people] that if they want to know more about their family lineage, “you are definitely about to find out!”Matt S.