OK, The DNA does not match and now you have lost 1/8th (or more) of your ancestry. ~ How To!

Just because we have our “paper” well documented, does not mean we have our ancestors. DNA-for-genealogy is teaching us that many lines in even the most respectable families have had one or more “non-paternity events” (mis-attributed parentage) some time in the past.

DNA testing might disprove some of our most cherished ancestral lines, but the same tests can give us back exciting new ones. By working with close and not-so-close relatives, we can figure out many of these new ancestral lines.

One of my great heroes in the field of genetic genealogy, Blaine T Bettinger, Esq., joked about how regularly genetic geneaologists encounter these irregularities when he said something to the effect of, “I caution you, there are errors in these trees… …I know I was surprised too…”

I read the quote early last year on Facebook and was so proud of our teacher and his ethics. He remains an inspiration, because the trees are a mess and caution is important.

I am proving all of my ancestral lines, one after another, using various combinations of all the DNA tests.

01a Copy of cherie known dna haplogroups

Few know to question ancestry trees. Worse, there are those in the industry who sell the product and I have heard the quote, “…it would not be any fun if people could not have the ancestors they want…” I could not disagree more.

I believe people should and will come to love their real ancestors better than they ever did the false ones. And with all the kinds of DNA tests available today, we can now verify our paper ancestries in ways we never could before.

In the out-of-date and incomplete chart of my early ancestors above, you can see I have begun proving my ancestral lines with the help of several relatives.

First of all, you must have autosomal DNA results for yourself and for any living  relatives who will help you prove common ancestors. You will also get help from your and your relatives’ y-DNA and mt-DNA when you can find it.

A man might want to test the y-DNA of a male cousin to verify they both have the same y-DNA haplogroup, and that they match other men in the same patriarchal line. (Y-DNA traces your father’s father’s father etc.) To be positive, you and the tester are cousins, you must also compare autosomal tests to prove you really are cousins.  And since we cannot see all matches, even with all our real cousins further back than about 3rd cousin, we might have to test more than one cousin to verify each line. You might and will likely find and be able to verify some 5th and 6th and even farther – but very few and with great caution. And if you both have mistakes in your trees then you could have an awful mess – so step by step.

But with the DNA science and technology we have today, we can now verify and document — genetically as well as with traditional research — each and every one of our ancestral lines.

Here’s how I identified my father’s y-DNA: He had passed, he had no brothers, his father was an only son. I went all the way back to my great grandfather and found that he had a paternal half-brother. Working forward through public records, I found this man’s living grandson (that is, his son’s  son). We are second cousins once removed, and it turned out with some coaxing that we remembered one another from long-ago reunions.

He tested, and his autosomal match was on the low end for our relationship at 45cMs, but it was enough. And his y-DNA matched the other Knight-surname males just as it should have. We also found y-DNA matches with several men named McKnight, showing us for the first time that the family name must have changed for some of us. Using y-DNA and autosomal DNA we proved we are all the same family.

The Knight/McKnights show how important it can be to verify the lines genetically. All the Knight/McKnights also match several men named Wilkerson. The process is simple; if you test enough people, you can figure out where the break in paternity took place. We traced back to several generations of men who lived in certain places at certain times. We saw some Knights and McKnights who migrated to the South and the Appalachians in the 18th century. They match some early Canadian McKnights and another group from eastern Pennsylvania. Some of the later McKnights went to western Pennsylvania, and it is there that we first meet the Wilkerson families. It becomes clear from the DNA that the sons of Mrs. Wilkerson are in fact McKnights.

Later, my paternal aunt tested and found she shared 204 cMs of autosomal DNA with my great grandfather’s grandson — the Knight 2ndC-1x that I started with. Yet I nearly missed matching him, with only 45 cM in common. That shows how unevenly the DNA can be passed down, and why you should be prepared to test more than one cousin if you don’t find a match at first.

To identify my maternal grandfather’s y-DNA, we tested my mother’s brother’s son. He matches me as a first cousin should with 834 cMs, and his y-DNA  matches others of his surname — in some cases back to the “old country.”

You can do this with each of your lines. First trace  your ancestors back and then research their siblings and their siblings’ descendants. Many people see no use in this, but in addition to proving DNA lines it is often where you find the old family bibles, photos and letters that bring your ancestors to life.

And think about how many of your lines might already be proved. For example, I was able to confirm autosomal matches with some cousins on Family Tree DNA. And because that is the main company used to test men’s y-DNA, with its surname and haplogroup projects, I was immediately able to see the proven y-DNA for the male family lines I share with them.  This gave me my Lewis and Alexander y-DNA. I also tested with 23andme, where I matched a male Stripling cousin. So I verified my Stripling line, proving there was no break in the family ancestry haplogroup at least back to my 2nd great grandfather and we know the Haplogroup and can compare Stripling families using haplogroups.

If you have tested at other companies you can upload your autosomal raw data to ftDNA


And then you could join our family-and-friend project. If you have not tested yet or wish to look around, this is one of our projects on ftDNA and you can see aqbout testing but wait for sales – there are always sales. And ask about which companies to try with and why


The best information in the business for shared cMs to judge what relationship your match is, is from Blaine T Bettinger, Esq’s The Genetic Genealogist page – see below.

These are other blogs with great hints for these how-to questions:

Who begat whom? Choose your y-dna testing candidate(s) carefully.


You can look at surname projects to see whether any males from your family have already tested; if so, you may need only a minimal amount of testing to prove a relationship. Once you have verified that a man is related to you through an autosomal test, he may have other already-tested matches that will also be yours.

y-DNA ~ Begin with 12 STR Markers?


To see how many people are learning of different genealogies through testing:

I Have My Genealogy ~ Why Do I Need DNA For Anything? & Simplistic Questions, We Need Those The Most


Surname Projects Missed The Point Of “Not” Matching ~ “1 in 10 is mistaken about father’s identity”


And today we have – the latest artifact testing:

Are you a lick away from Granny’s DNA? Forensic DNA For Genealogy ~ Artifact Testing


This of course does not cover many of the steps we can use in identifying the biological families of those who were adopted or who have encountered near, close and immediate non-paternity events. We have several other tools from x-DNA and multiple databases to use to building additional family groups from new matches.

Copy of 1a Copy of 1 chart all dna crest 2019

Enter a caption

We do not get DNA from all ancestors. For splitting hairs, so to speak, even two siblings can give added detail from different grandparents lines.

cMs Copy of Co5py of dna tests admix percentage

See below for a link to the best charts and info in the business. This is my crude chart of what we have in our immediate family relationships. The amounts of shared centiMorgans varies, but within well documented limits. So far there have not been second cousins who have not matched. But from 3rd cousin – it begins all bets off. I see time and a gain 2nd cousin once removed where the DNA is really sketchy – so caution. We mostly see people who assume they know where a relationship “must be” but the distance is far too far to be relaistic.



1 chart all dna crest 2019

We only get DNA from a few of our ancestors, so you can easily miss heritage readings and cousin matching from a certain distance – and the autosomal DNA really us unreliable back very far. This is vital to remember. With “pedigree collapse”, we know that within 1,000 years we each have some trillion ancestors – so we are everything.

The terminology changes every year. There are two DNA for genealogy experts I love and I have heard both emphasizing one term and later another and one where the two disagree and I have asked both about their opinions.

non-paternity event v mis-attributed parentage.

The term mirror trees went out of favor – but i think that might be because someone thought to copyright the term – so no mirror trees. But hard to do that anyway since there are two very different descriptions that i have heard about what those are.

share any you have heard. The argument is way out on X-DNA or the X-chromosome and what is best – so lots of fun with language – well one of the earth’s languages. 🙂

My pages and projects are not monetized.

The best information in the business for shared cMs to judge what relationship your match is, is from Blaine T Bettinger, Esq’s The Genetic Genealogist page – see below.




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