Thursday, August 19, 2010

Do the DNA Results Support the Story?

Autosomal Results – Maternal Lineage

In April of this year, I subjected both of my parents to another DNA test, Autosomal / Admixture, because 1) I wanted to know if DNA would support the story handed down from my momma all these years that grandmom said that one of her grandmother’s was half white and half Indian and 2) 23andme was having a fabulous sale that I couldn’t afford to let pass.

As noted in my post about my Dad’s autosomal results, the sampling process for 23andme is a bit different from the cheek swabbing that we had done for the other DNA testing (yDNA and mtDNA). With the exception of mom spitting on my hand one time after which I decided to hand the tube to her, mom’s sampling went much smoother than dad’s.

Before I get into the results, I will say that perhaps over the years, mom might have gotten the story a little reversed. I swear when I was younger I remember her saying that it was one of grandmom’s grandfathers. Anyway, through mtDNA testing and descriptions given in the census records, I think I can safely say that if there is any truth to this story, it more than likely comes via one of my grandmother’s grandfathers. Even more to the point, it’s probably her maternal grandfather. At this point, I’ve no clue regarding this set of great grandparents. The only thing I know is that according to census records, they were both born in Georgia.

Now, on to the results. Mom’s results came back as follows: 57% African, 30% European, and 13% Asian. With 23andme, Native American results usually show up under Asian. So, what do I make of the results. First, for the majority of African Americans, there is a certain amount of “statistical noise” that shows up under Asian. No one is sure why this is but it’s there and usually shows up at 6-7% as with my dad’s results. Mom’s Asian results, although still small in comparison to the remainder of her ancestry, were greater than the usual “statistical noise.” To make sure I wasn’t seeing just what I wanted to see in order to support the ancestral story, I consulted with Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, author of Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family and Trace Your Roots With DNA. Megan confirmed my initial thoughts and suggested that I have one of mom’s cousins and another descendant of the suspected line tested to confirm the results, etc.

Hopefully testing one or two of mom’s surviving first cousins won’t be an issue but I will have to wait until the next big sale before I can do that. Testing another descendant of the suspected line is a problem since I currently know of no other descendants outside my great grandmother Fannie's branch of the tree.

You are probably wondering how mom feels about all of this. Even though mom doesn’t fully understand all of the DNA testing I’ve been doing, she’s always excited to see the results. And her specific response to the autosomal /admixture results was “I told you I was all mixed up” followed by “I told you momma said…..”

How do I feel about all of this? I’m excited that the results appear to support my grandmomma’s story. It also makes me wonder, did my grandmother have a relationship with said grandparent or was this just handed down from my infamous great grandmother Fannie. Was the relationships between this set of 2nd great grandparents concentual or not? And will I ever determine this line of great great grandparents?  Lots of points to consider and work through when I one day return to trying to find out more about my great grandmother Fannie’s lineage.


  1. Mavis, this is fascinating!
    xoxo Pattie

  2. Hi Mavis,

    Some people in my family have also recently done the 23andme thing (...and I'll do it myself if they ever have that great sale again.)

    Anyway, just wanted to mention if you haven't already seen it there is a specific "Native American Heritage Finder" in the Labs section ( which is really straightforward.

    There is so much to explore in that system. I hope they don't ban its use before I get to do it myself!


  3. Thanks for following up on this line. This was a great post.

  4. Great post, Mavis. And thanks for following my blog.

  5. I would like to do autosomal testing on my parents too. Like you my father's side appears to have very little mixing in his line. My mother's family has stories of Choctaw ancestry and European Ancestry (slave owner). So I am interested to see how it would turn out.


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