In the 21st century, many genealogists are turning to cutting-edge DNA technology to answer old family history mysteries. The process is becoming more and more affordable. DNA testing can help you sort out which people that you are and are not related to. It can help you break through brick walls that cannot be solved through a study of historical documents. Many Americans are taking advantage of this new technology to discover where their immigrant ancestors originated. The amazing thing is that 100,000s of people have already participated in genetic genealogy studies and all you may have to do to benefit from what they’ve discovered is visit a few websites.
One of the most popular commercial DNA companies, FamilyTreeDNA, is a good place to start. One of the great things about FamilyTreeDNA is they publicly display results for families that have been tested (identities of living people are not compromised as participants are usually identified by testing kit numbers or by earliest-known ancestors). Simply search for your surname on their website http://www.familytreedna.com/
If your surname has been tested, it will display on the results page:
Projects are available for 1000s of surnames. Some projects host their websites on the DNA company’s site, while others have their own private websites. For the Murphy project, the results are posted on FamilyTreeDNA:
Pull down the drop-down list and select “Colorized” Y-DNA Results option:
In the results table, I can identify my family because I know my earliest-known Murphy ancestor was William Murphey who was born about 1720 and lived in Henry County, Virginia:
So, what have I learned? Murphys in Blue Haplotype B are my relatives. The matches from County Cork, Ireland are interesting, because our family tradition is that our Murphys were from County Cork. I am not related to the Murphys in Yellow Haplotype A, Green Haplotype C, or Pink Haplotype D, so I don’t need to investigate their pedigrees to see if I can find a connection.
To learn more about how DNA testing works, watch this RootsTech video.
Have fun looking for your surnames and families!