What’s the Advantage of Doing the Y DNA Test?

Recently a close relative asked me the question that is the subject of this post. I asked her to wait for me to answer the question on this blog. So here goes …

Until a few years ago I kept asking myself the question, “What’s the advantage of doing any DNA test?”  I want to know exactly who my ancestors are; I don’t want to take a test that will tell me who my ancestors might be. DNA tests won’t tell me that, I thought.

Then someone gave me a good reason for DNA tests–specifically the Y chromosome DNA test. Here it the one scenario where the Y DNA test can be useful (in my humble opinion):

Let’s say a someone named Sam Whipple wants to trace his Whipple ancestry.

  • Sam has heard that most Whipples in the United States descend from one of two Whipple families that immigrated to Massachusetts in the 1600s.
  • He can trace his Whipple line (going from father to father to father) until the 1700s in New York.
  • Sam’s earliest known Whipple ancestor is the son of two possible Whipples named Thomas who lived in the same vicinity as his distant ancestor.
  • One Thomas is a known descendant of the Ipswich Massachusetts Whipples; the other is a descendant of the Rhode Island Whipples.
  • Sam takes the Y DNA test and sees that it shows he is in the same haplogroup as other male descendants (“patrilineal descendants”) of the Rhode Island Whipples.
  • The Y DNA test results are a tie breaker between the two Thomases; he is able to trace his roots back to Captain John Whipple of Providence, Rhode Island.

Unfortunately, Y Chromosome DNA tests don’t always work out the way they did for the fictitious Sam Whipple above. Adoption, illegitimacy, and other stumbling blocks get in the way.

However, if your situation is the same as Sam’s, you might want to try a Y DNA test.

If not, then someone else needs to show me a good justification for a DNA test. (I’m sure  there are good reasons for them. I just don’t know of one that interests me.)