Most genealogist today are getting excited about having their DNA done. I haven’t yet joined the bandwagon and today I thought I’d share my reasons:
Not Sure I’d Learn All That Much New: I saw this chart the other day on DNA:
So okay let’s use this chart, which they go on to explain isn’t exact, but rather I could get 25% of my DNA from my maternal grandmother and not any from the other three grandparents. Since I am a weird combination of my maternal great grandmother and my paternal great grandmother, I know I would see DNA from both those branches, but let’s just stick with the set percentages as a case of argument.
The main reason a person does DNA is to find out their ethnicity. Am I Native American, English, Irish, Scottish, French, Jewish…?
Well, now let’s look at my research:
My parents were both born and raised in TN. So 100% of the DNA I got from them would be white American.
Now my grandparents were all four born and raised in TN. They each give me 25% of their white American blood.
Now my great grandparents. All eight were born and raised once again in TN. They each give me 12.5% of their DNA, which is once again, white American blood.
Now to my 2nd great grandparents. Finally some diversity. One was born in GA, one in VA and the other 14, yup, you guessed it! TN born and raised. So each of them give me 6.25% of my DNA. Perhaps that one ancestor from GA had some native American blood (not according to family legend, but when your blood is as white eccentric as mine is, a girl can hope. :) )
So now let’s go to my 3rd great grandparents. They each contribute around 3.12% of my DNA. A percentage so small, that most companies call it trace DNA. One was born in VA, one GA, 2 SC, 5 NC, one I haven’t found yet, and 19 were born in TN. Even my trace DNA was born in the Southern United States.
So if I understand what I have been reading about DNA, the likelihood of my DNA test pointing to anything beyond European DNA is highly unlikely. I know I have some 7 and 8th great grandparents who were French Huguenots. So maybe if they have really strong DNA, I’d show up with some French blood? I know I have one branch that is from Germany. In fact, my 7th great grandfather was born there in 1697. Perhaps my German blood would withstand the test of time. My daughter is certainly loving her German II class.
Now I do have one 5th great grandmother who was said to be full blooded Native American. You think her Native American blood would be strong enough to counteract all my English, French and German blood to show up on a DNA test?
I Have No Desire to Give my Tree to Ancestry or Any Other DNA Testing Site: Yes, I know. I have shared family information with people who have put bits and pieces on there on my behalf. I just have no desire to do it myself, nor pay for the privilege. It’s really not my thing. And what good is a DNA match if there is no tree to find out how the match occurred.
I Have No Desire to Add 400 More Descendants to an Already Crowded Tree: No, I am not a genealogy snob. I love my cousins and interact with 2nd, 3rd, even one 8th cousin on a daily basis on FB. But the reason to do DNA is to meet another cousin that is researching your line and HOPE that he or she has information that you don’t already have. So far, I have managed to research my family tree fairly easily with conventional methods and met those cousins without DNA. I realize that few people’s families are as concentrated on one place on the globe as mine have been, nor do most places have as good records as Tennessee has for genealogist, and I am blessed by the work of many genealogist before me in a way that people who chose to do DNA are not blessed. One needs to keep in mind, I went to school with a majority of my 2nd cousins. I know all of them by name and we grew up very close.
I am 100% Convinced That It Isn’t Just a Fad: I see so many people say, “I just got new results from X and they are different than before. Where did my Jewish genealogy go?” Maybe the tests are getting more accurate. Maybe less. I can’t say, but I can say this: Twenty years ago, all my genealogy friends communicated on a minute by minute basis via Rootsweb. Today, most of that communication has moved to Facebook. Is DNA just another genealogist fad? I am not sure. But I am sure that I am willing to wait a bit to see.
Now, What I Am Not: I have heard many times from people who say if you know that much family history, you are selfish to not do your DNA and share. I am not a selfish genealogist. Around 15 hours of my week, each and every week is committed to helping other people, especially newbies with genealogy research. I am a Rootsweb mailing list volunteer (even if all the list gets these days is spam). I run a cemetery blog for the county my family is from and have a county Facebook page for the county as well. I blog about my family and if a cousin needs help with research, I gladly share what I have, even when I know they have nothing to give back in return. I share documents I find on my Facebook page on a regular basis and tag the correct family member who I know are into genealogy so they can have copies (with source citations). This also includes research information as well as family photos.
I Am Not Paranoid: I realized that identity theft is about stealing my credit card number and pin, not about knowing who my third great grandparents were. So I do protect my credit card and pin number. I have blogged about my third great grandparents on a regular basis. I also don’t have a problem with telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That is why one blog told about an ancestor who died after an abortion, one was a horse thief and another a Revolutionary Soldier. There is a saint and a sinner in all of us.
I Am Not Closed Minded: I realize that for many people DNA does hold the answers they need to solve genealogical problems. A few months ago, I was contacted by a young woman who I believe is a first cousin. She asked some questions about her parent, and I told her what I knew. She was vague about why she was asking and I tried to answer in a way that let her know I knew the truth. If she were to tell me the real reason she asks, I would suggest to her a DNA test. Personally, I’ve seen her Facebook photo, she really doesn’t need the DNA test.
So for now, if you ask, I’ll tell you, I am first a Tennessean, second an American, thirdly like most people in the Deep South, I am European. For now, that’s good enough for me.