Finally, DNA Testing

After a long time of procrastinating, I have finally decided to get a DNA kit from Ancestry.com. If I want to revise and update my book, Gathering Leaves, I figure that I should at least include a chapter with a firsthand account/personal journey regarding DNA testing.

For the past few months, I have been binge-watching episodes of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Anyone who has watched that series will know that in each episode, once the paper trail has been exhausted, the science guys are brought in. Invariably, when some question is found in the paper trail, the subject’s DNA is examined to reveal clues and connections.

There are a couple of reasons why I have put off getting a DNA kit. My brother did some ancestry DNA testing a few years ago. A cursory examination of the results did not reveal anything that I did not already know. If I recall correctly, there was one minor exception and that was a connection to Spain that probably came by way of the Spanish Netherlands which became the Austrian Netherlands and then finally the Kingdom of Belgium. Also, up until now, I’ve only had one questionable area that can be potentially answered answered by DNA testing. Now, as of yester, day. I’ve also found another place where DNA can be applied to answer questions.

To get started, I subscribed to a DNA Ancestry.com kit and subscription. I need to cancel the subscription before November 22; otherwise, I will pay an additional $79 on top of the $129 that I paid for the DNA kit and the subscription to ancestry.com.

What did I get for $129? I got the World Explorer (US and International) package from Ancestry.com for three months plus the DNA kit, which should arrive in 7 to 10 days. I am a little miffed that they couldn’t have thrown in, paid for the shipping, and not charge me an additional $9.95.

I bought the Ancestry DNA Plus Traits package, which consists of…

  • Origins and Ethnicity.
  • Connect with DNA matches (opt-in).
  • Historical and Geographic insights about your ancestors.
  • 26 Personality Traits.
  • Access to World Explorer which is normally $149 for six months and this allows me to search US and international databases with access to billions of records from 80+ countries it says.
  • What it does not give me access to is the military archive Fold3 and Newspapers.com basic; however, I already have access to those two through the Clark County library system, free of charge and from the comfort of my own home.

The DNA kit is supposedly in the mail and the next step for me was to upload a GEDCOM file export from my database. I already had an account set up at Ancestry.com but that was only for the purpose of the limited searching and it was a unpaid subscription. Now that I have a paid subscription that entitles me to upload a database to ancestry.com. I believe I already have a database out there that I uploaded over 20 years ago. However, that database was a premature mistake that I disowned it in a couple of paragraphs in my book, Gathering Leaves.

The GEDCOM file that I uploaded to Ancestry.com contained 2287 families and 7275 individuals; this included sources and events. As far as I know, I am the only living person represented in the database that I uploaded; however, I will scan it to confirm that. When I first published GatheringLeaves in 2006, I noted that my database consisted of 2145 individuals. I believe the increase can be attributed to at least one factor: the inclusion of a separate database that I kept for the family line from my great great grandmother, Della Pickering. If it is correct, her pedigree coincides with the pedigree of European royalty, which is well documented and I have only duplicated something that is already well documented. I debated for a long time whether or not I should include that branch in my primary database name GatheringLeaves. It was a a few months ago that I merged the two databases when I created my tree at the LDS website familysearch.org.

The shareable link to this tree that I have created at Ancestry.com is CLICK HERE.

The link to the tree that I created at familysearch.org is CLICK HERE.

The first question that I hope to answer with DNA is regarding the line that I mentioned earlier of my great-great-grandmother. When I researched her database a decade ago, I discovered that there were connections to a couple of presidents, Bush and Obama. DNA should help to answer The Mystery of Della Pickering.

Currently, I am researching a family line of the branch that I share with my Prothro cousins, the Morgans of North Carolina. According to the story, a Morgan came over from Wales in the 17th century and settled in Massachusetts. He had three sons; one son stayed in Massachusetts, the other went to Connecticut, and the third went to either Maryland or Virginia. The sibling who went to Maryland is from whom I am descended through my great-great-grandmother, Martha Josephine Prothro. I believe it is the branch that went to Connecticut that eventually produced the famed financier J.P. Morgan. He is a distant cousin of mine. At least that is what it says on paper. So, I’m curious to see if DNA concurs with that paper-trail connection.

What I won’t be able to answer on some of the questions that have plagued those researching the family tree of my maternal grandfather, James Monroe Dobbs, Jr. , Unfortunately, my connection to the Dobbs family is through my mother and the questions that are being asked about Dobbs line require a patrilineal DNA comparison. That is one of a few questions that cannot be answered by my DNA. For example, my sister’s DNA could answer questions regarding the matrilineal line that connects my family to the Knox family of Northern Ireland through my great great grandmother, Mary Emily Knox. One of the family legends that was passed down on my mother’s side was that we were supposedly direct descendants of John Knox, the Reformer, the founder of the Presbyterian Church. That was found to be untrue by an examination of the paper trail. It would however be interesting to see what DNA might show us, but that would however, have to come from my sister.

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