"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press - 6 June 2002

DNA and Your Family Tree

Need a new idea to break through your genealogy brickwall? Think about using a new tool, DNA to locate your missing family members or to prove a supposition that two men were brothers when you are unable to locate the parents.

FamilyTreeDNA http://www.familytreedna.com/, founded in 1999 by Bennett Greenspan, is America's first DNA genealogical testing company. The goal of the company is to work with you and existing genealogical records to help you fill-in the gaps where no records exist.

The Y-DNA testing is performed at the University of Arizona under the strict supervision of Michael Hammer, PhD, Geneticist and Biotechnology Research Scientist and several other doctors.

FamilyTreeDNA's service will revolutionize the art of genealogy, as the Y-DNA will produce a genetic signature of the Y-chromosome that is passed from father to son.

Although Y-chromosome signature will change over time, the pattern is very stable over hundreds of years. This means that male relatives who have an uninterrupted male-male link between them will share the same, or very similar, Y-chromosome signatures. Y-DNA is useful when a connection between different branches of a family, males with the same surname, is suspected but cannot be proven from written records. By comparing the Y-chromosome signatures, FamilyTreeDNA will provide the answer if there is a family relationship.

This technique is very important if you are researching a family with many distinct branches. For families trying to do family reconstruction, it is prudent to test two known male cousins from each of the different branches. There are several types of tests. Y-DNA analyses 25 different genetic markers to construct a Y-chromosome signature.

Since the Spring 2000, when this test was introduced, over 75% of the family reconstruction projects worldwide have used the test. Current, FamilyTreeDNA has 125 surname projects underway including the following families: Beal, Benton, Boone, Claiborne, Dooley, Franklin, George, Glennon, Graves, Howery, Kincaid, McCabe, Mitchell, Shelton, Skidmore, Steadham, Walker, Worthman and many others.

The DNA test kit is easy to use and consists of a cheek scraper and a collection tube. You will perform a painless cheek scraping; the effect is similar to brushing the inside of your cheek with a soft bristle toothbrush. A back-up scraper and tube are included to insure that a good sample is obtained. You will use both test samples, one-day apart. It will take your less than 3-minute to perform the test.

This test cannot be used to prove paternity or the potential for diseases. It is solely a method to determine ancestral links. However, FamilyTreeDNA does offer testing to determine if you are of Native American descent. I know many of us have heard stories about having a Native American in our family but couldn't prove it. Now you can determine if you have a Native American genetic marker with a simple scrape of the inside of your cheek.

If you are concerned about privacy issues. Your privacy is assured because test kits are only labeled with the surname and a code number.

After meeting with Mr. Greenspan, I have decided to try this system of trying to break through my major brickwall, the parents of James S. Shuffield of Milam Co., Texas and formerly of Bartow (Cass) Co., GA. It has long been family lore that that Daniel Newton Sheffield, of Milam Co., formerly of Marshall Co., AL and Paulding Co., GA was James' brother or half-brother. My goal is to locate a living male descendant of Daniel with the surname Sheffield and compare his DNA with the DNA of a male descendant of James with the surname Shuffield.

I will keep you up-to-date on the progress of my research and the test results. Keep your fingers crossed, I may find brothers and that might open the door to finding their parents!

You can contact FamilyTreeDNA: e-mail bennett@familytreedna.com, 1919 North Loop West, Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77008, telephone: 713/828-4200.

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 22 August 2002 and was last revised on __________

Copyright 1999, 2001, 2002 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604