It is a while now since I had my did my first genetic DNA test. I pick up the Ancestry kit at RootsTech in the USA a while before kits were available in Australia. So much has changed since I first spit in the little tube.
At that time, because few Australians or New Zealanders had tested, my matches were concentrated in the USA and U.K. I felt positive that even this early on DNA would help progress my research. Soon after my matches were listed I as was lucky enough for a distant cousin to contact me. We had common ancestors, the couple Richard Kitto (1898-1878) and Sarah/ Sally Bice (1798-1871), my 3rd great grandparents. Straight away I knew that a match is so much more useful when it is attached to a public tree and even better when sources are attached to the tree. Then you can review the quality of the tree.
Ancestry stated that this DNA cousin mentioned was in the 5th to 8th cousin grouping. Today Ancestry does not even put this cousin into my group of 172 4th cousins or closer. So don’t forget to check the link to “View All DNA matches” now and then. For me, I have many cousins with only a small amount of matching centimorgans and one or two segments though I have common ancestors with them. Thus leading me to the plea to anyone that has taken a DNA test to create a tree. A tree makes even small matches more useful.
Although having a tree is not everything. Cousins just testing, has its benefits. Many of my first cousins tested and while they have small trees it is having their results in the database that means I can readily nominate if a third person is more likely to be on my paternal or maternal side of my tree.
Ethnicity Results Improving
One thing that stands out is the improved quality of ethnicity results. Initially, many genealogists remarked about the inaccuracy of the ethnicity results and this created much debate at the time. I cannot remember anyone mentioning that it would be the ethnicity data that attracted many non-genealogists to get tested. This made the tested pool so much larger, attracted more people to create trees and has helped us progress our own research.
For me, the improved ethnicity results has helped my story. Initially at my ethnicity report had me at 36% for Western Europe. On my paternal side, my great grandmother was born in Jersey in the Channel Islands so some ancestors may have come from France. On my maternal side, there is a family story of an ancestor coming from France. However, I have traced her birth to Leicester and her mother appeared to be also born in England. But who knows until you do the research. I might have more Western European ancestors.
Here are snapshots of the January 2017 and July 2019 Ancestry Reports:
Now I see details on migration to New Zealand, DNA matches and background history more specific to my story.
Since I first spat in the tube the DNA kit sellers have improved many features and added tools to their offers. While these should help us understand our genetic cousins I really have to work at understanding how to get the best out of my DNA results and keep up with the changes.