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How About a DNA Test?

This month I find myself learning more about DNA and genealogy and trying to decide whether to take a DNA test.

Twice this month I have had the opportunity to hear a good speaker on this topic, Deena Coutant of DigiDeena Consulting ( She presented sessions on the basics of DNA testing to both our local Highlands Ranch Genealogical Association and our Norwegian genealogy study group at the Sons of Norway. When she speaks, she even brings along DNA test kits in case her listeners want to test their DNA on the spot.

I also recently acquired the new book in the National Genealogical Society’s Special Topics Series, Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne. Going through this workbook should give me a better education on how I could apply DNA test results in my own genealogical research.

Over the years I have been reluctant, for privacy reason, to take a DNA test for genealogy. But as Deena points out, DNA results have now become an essential piece of evidence for conducting the exhaustive research demanded to prove a case. So I am thinking about it.

I can identify three situations where a DNA test could provide some benefit in my research:

  1. I have an unknown great-grandfather. My grandmother Grace Riddle Reed was born to Laura Riddle in 1896 at Palisade, Nebraska. Twelve and a half percent of my DNA comes from Grace’s father, and I would like to know who he was.
  2. My family says that one of my great-great grandmothers was Katherine Stillenbaugh/Stanabaugh, mother of Anna Petronellia Sherman, born near Indianapolis in 1865. I have never found any record of this woman, and 6.25% of my DNA comes from her. I would like to identify her and her family.
  3. My direct maternal line comes from eastern Finland. I believe these people were Karelians who lived around Lake Ladoga. An mtDNA test would satisfy my curiosity about my maternal deep ancestry.

Should I take the test? The one I would want (autosomal + mtDNA) costs quite a bit. If I do it, I would then need to devote the time necessary to communicate with those who match my DNA. This translates into overcoming my reluctance to give up my privacy as well as committing a good deal of money and time.

I need to make a decision on whether I want to use this means to move ahead in the quest to identify my mysterious ancestors.

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