Jumping All the Way into the DNA Testing Pond

A couple of years ago, both my husband and I took autosomal DNA tests with Family Tree DNA. A few months later, we both took mtDNA tests, again with ftDNA. (Dave still needs to take a Y-DNA test. Maybe he’ll have a birthday or Father’s Day gift this year!)

While the results were fun to peruse, neither of us had any real surprises except for one match on a collateral branch of the family that appears to be through a non-paternal event.

I’ve considered off and on about testing with Ancestry and/or MyHeritage, but kept putting it off as I had no compelling reason to spend the money. However, on Black Friday weekend 2018, those two companies offered basic autosomal tests for $49 and $39. That was an offer too good to pass up, so Dave and I both jumped at the opportunity.

Results are in. First, there are still no big surprises in the findings as ethnicities are in the ballpark of the paper trails and I can figure out a very high percentage of first through third cousins who appear as matches.

The first thing to remember here is that all the ethnicity results are ESTIMATES.

The definition of ESTIMATE: an approximate calculation or judgment of the value, number, quantity, or extent of something

Before we look at the numbers, I have to add that while these companies keep their control testing populations a secret, I hope that in the future, when those control group numbers are much higher, that these ethnicity estimates more closely align with paper trail research, barring any non-paternal event episodes, adoptions, etc.

Dave actually has many more close matches than I do, which is the result of a paternal great grandfather having a dozen children and his mother being one of seven siblings. There are a lot of cousins out there on both sides of the family.

My matches are generally 3rd-4th cousins and more distant because my great grandparents had small families, as did my grandparents.

The ethnicity breakdown is interesting for both of us. Here are Dave’s for each of the companies, plus MyHeritage’s interpretation of ftDNA’s results, which I uploaded to MyHeritage when it first invited users to do so.

Family Tree DNA:

British Isles = 35%
West/Central Europe = 22%
Iberia = 21%
Scandinavia = 18%
West Africa = <1%
South America = <1%
West Middle East = <2%

MyHeritage’s report based on the above ftDNA results that I uploaded:

Ireland, Scotland, Wales = 42.1%
Scandinavia = 47.5%
Southern Europe – Italian = 2.4%
Middle East = 5.7%
West Africa (Nigeria) = 1.2%
Ashkenazi Jewish = 1.1%

MyHeritage’s report based on their own DNA test:

Ireland, Scotland, Wales = 41%
Scandinavia = 52.1%
Southern Europe – Italian = 1.7%
Middle East = 4%
Ashkenazi Jewish = 1.2%

The British Isles difference between 35% and 42.1% isn’t really very big. MyHeritage didn’t include English ancestors and that might be fairly accurate, as I know there were Welsh and Scottish lines in his mother’s family.

However, Germany seems to be blended into the Scandinavia results (47.5%) with MyHeritage, which then would bring the ftDNA estimate of 40% (west/central Europe and Scandinavia) fairly closely aligned with ftDNA.

I have no clue where the ftDNA of 21% Iberian heritage comes from! Yes, I do know that ethnicity estimates are somewhat educated guesses, but 21% is a pretty high percentage for someone with no known Iberian ancestry.


England, Wales, Northwestern Europe = 70%
Ireland and Scotland = 16%
Germanic Europe = 5%
France = 3%
Cameroon, Congo & So. Bantu People = 1%

All three companies reported around 1% West African heritage. I am sure that is the result of one or more Southern ancestors, of which Dave has many, fathering a child with an enslaved person. Cameroon, Congo and Nigeria are all geographically close to each other; slaves from that region were sent to Virginia and South Carolina. Dave has ancestral lines in both of those colonies.

MyHeritage – results from the actual test, not the uploaded results from ftDNA to MyHeritage:

Linda’s Results: My results with ftDNA are a bit more perplexing in terms of my Eastern European heritage. I am 50% Carpatho-Rusyn on my father’s side of the family. I’ve traced his lines back to my 2X and 3X great grandparents who all lived in Carpatho-Rusyn villages in today’s Slovakia. My mother’s side is all colonial New England with one Dutch line, and a Danish-Swedish branch of the family (my great grandmother’s line.) There is no Carpatho-Rusyn blood in my mother’s line. There just weren’t any Slovaks running around the U.S. or Canada in the 1700s and my DNA matches completely align with families in New England and New Brunswick, Canada whose immigrant ancestors came from the British Isles.

Look at the Family Tree DNA estimates. It’s just not possible and doesn’t match the other three test results closely at all.

Family Tree DNA:

British Isles = 4%
Eastern Europe = 96%

MyHeritage’s report based on the above ftDNA results that I uploaded:

England = 43.9%
North and Western Europe = 19.3%
Finland = 9.0%
Eastern Europe – Balkan = 13.6%
Eastern Europe – Baltic = 9.6%
Ashkenazi Jewish = 3.2%
Middle East = 1.4%

MyHeritage –  results from the actual test, not the uploaded results from ftDNA to MyHeritage:

England = 53.6%
North and Western Europe = 8.4%
Finland = 9.1%
Eastern Europe – Balkan = 15%
Eastern Europe – Baltic = 10.6%
Ashkenazi Jewish = 3%


Eastern Slovakia = 40%
Germanic Europe = 25%
Sweden = 19%
Baltic (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) = 7%
England, Scotland & Wales = 6%
Ireland & Scotland = 3%

By the way, Dave’s mtDNA test places him in haplogroup T2a1a, a very old European haplogroup.

My mine is H1e1a8, which is a fairly common European origin haplogroup.

Now that we’ve both jumped into the DNA pond and gotten soaked, have we had any extraordinary surprises? No.

Have we validated research results? Yes, in that no DNA results seem to conflict with any paper trail findings.

Have we located any new cousins? Yes, mostly on Dave’s side given that he has so many first and second cousins out there.

A final note – I do wish more of the people who post their DNA results would respond to messages. That seems to be a pet peeve of many genealogists.



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