DNA Test Updates – Part 1/4

DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.

Richard Dawkins

Time for a DNA update, along with my current thoughts on DNA and whether it is helping me study my family’s genealogy. This has turned into a much longer-than-normal article, so I’ll split it up into multiple articles to make it easier to read and update.

I’ve now taken two different DNA tests and my results are available for comparison on four different sites. My autosomal test through AncestryDNA is available for comparison on AncestryDNA, MyHeritageDNA, and FamilyTreeDNA. I’ve also just received the results of my Ancestry and Health test at 23andMe. So far, those results are only available on their site. For a short time, I also had my AncestryDNA results uploaded to GedMatch, but removed my information when they were purchased by Verogen, a forensic genomics company. I may return there at some point, but am still debating on the extent of how I want my data to be used (he says, knowing full well that ship has probably long since sailed thanks to any or all of the other four companies mentioned above.)

My Ancestry

As far as where the services think my ancestors are from, there have been no real surprises on either side of the family. My genetics are about as generically northern European as they come. Although many, if not most, people who take the DNA tests are looking for where their ancestors come from, I already had a pretty solid idea, at least for most of my immigrant ancestors. I would have been incredibly (but pleasantly) surprised if there had been a viable portion of, say, Maori in my genetic code.

Current AncestryDNA Results

My AncestryDNA results have changed a bit since I initially took the test back in 2018. This is due to updates and expansions of the algorithms and the dataset. Like a lot of descendants of the British Isles, some of what used to be “Ireland” and “England” have moved into the “Scotland” category. I suspect this will change again in the future, as many people have complained about the unexpected and outsized Scottish percentages there.

Current 23AndMe Results

23andMe’s results, although different in the percentages, stay pretty close to AncestryDNA’s results. The .5% Italian is a bit interesting, but is so low down in the percentages that I consider it noise or ancient genetics. I don’t have a known Scandinavian (or Ancestry’s Norwegian) ancestor, but that could also easily be filtered through multiple UK and Irish ancestors.

On a personal note, I do wish more of my family (cousins and second cousins) could or would sign up for one of the tests. We’ve most likely lost the DNA of our immediate ancestors. With a family of ten siblings, if enough of their children (my cousins) were to take the test, we could begin to get a fairly clear virtual image of our grandparents’ DNA. If my second cousins did the same, we could start getting an idea of what our great-grandparent’s DNA looked like. There are certainly enough of us in my extended family. Using just my DNA, I’m mostly limited to descendants of my immigrant ancestor. With “virtual DNA” of my grandparents and great-grandparents, we could start to find cousins on both sides of the Atlantic.

9 Replies to “DNA Test Updates – Part 1/4”

  1. I too was surprised by a large Scandinavian DNA report from Ancestry but it has been adjusted downward

  2. I have had 23andme take my DNA. One of my grandmothers was Margaret Isabella Kaitting, daughter of William Kaitting (1928 – 1917) who was well known for his large size. He was 7 feet four inches and weighted about 450 pounds. He may have been related to the famous Barron John Keating’s twin brother, William. It is too bad some of these Keatings can’t be exhumed so that their DNA could be tested.

  3. I have a feeling that they overshot with this last release of results. I’m curious how much of their data is derived from known references and how much is derived from user trees? The latter is great for starting, but I worry that because it is so easy to propagate errors between user trees, that data will become skewed over time.

  4. My branch tends around six feet, although I’ve a few cousins who are around 6’6″. My immigrant ancestor was said to be 5’11.5″ and about 210 pounds. (Quite close to my own pre-COVID weight…)

    As much as my thoughts on ancestral DNA collection trend towards yours, I think the general populace would find themselves more than slightly disturbed if we started showing up to our family graveyards with shovels and swabs… 😀 As I was writing the next part of this article, regarding haplogroups, I was wishing we knew where the grave of Halis Keting lay. That’s far enough back that we can call it bioarchaeology and get grants for it.

  5. John, I’m also interested in where the Waardenburg Syndrome came from. I suspect the Hyland side of the family.

  6. Hi John,

    I’m not sure this will help you.

    I am a granddaughter of Garrett John Keating, born in Schuykill Co.PA around 1884. He was a bigamist operating under an assumed name and married 3 times. All three wedding took place in the Roman Catholic Church by priests. There were no divorces or deaths.

    I am a match to the descendants of his first family. He had no children with the 3rd wife. I seem to be the only one with a photo of him. As I wrote, he operated under an assumed name. He married my paternal grandmother as Michael John Keating in 1921 Manhattan, NYC. They had my father. Meanwhile his first wife and 4 children still lived in Schuykill County.

    He was a member of a huge Irish Catholic PA family. By the 1930s, he left my grandmother moved to Syracuse, NY, where he married a nurse with a college degree. She served in WWI at the hospital in Brest France. Seem that they both committed suicide.


  7. Jerry — I’ve often wondered what root of our tree that came to us via as well. We should sit down and try to list everyone in the family who we know has it, as well as those we suspect had it. For those outside of my immediate family, our Keatings are locally known for the strikingly attractive white hair many of us develop in our twenties and thirties. Several decades ago, it was determined that this was due to a form of Waardenburg Syndrome, a result of a mutation on the PAX3 gene on Chromosome 2.

  8. John, Interesting is a generous term. I haven’t called him that. My father died in 1997 and never knew he had an extended family on the Keating side or half siblings. Most if not all these ancestors came from County Kilkenny and the surrounding counties — specialized coal miners.

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