Sunday, September 3, 2017

Interpreting Non-YDNA Test Results

Several weeks ago I received a file of DNA test results from a biological male Whipple descendant of a disconnected biological male Whipple listed on the Disconnected Whipples page of the Whipple Website. The file had 668,961 lines of data from a test performed by a large genealogical company. I was unable to draw any conclusions from that file. (I lack the expertise necessary to interpret that file.)

Background: Y-DNA Tests for Whipples

The late Blaine Whipple of Portland, Oregon, first suggested the value of a specific DNA test to me in an email a number of years ago. At the time, he wanted to see if the Rhode Island Whipples and the Bocking/Ipswich Whipples were related.

He reviewed the elementary genetics that I had learned in college:
  • Biological males generally have one X and one Y chromosome—the X chromosome is received from their mother; the Y chromosome is received from their father.
  • Biological females generally have two X chromosomes. One X chromosome is received from their mother, the other from their father.
Only biological males have a Y Chromosome.

Blaine reasoned that Y chromosome DNA tests could be conducted as follows:
  1. Find a statistically significant sampling of biological male Whipples that can trace the male line of their ancestry to either Captain John Whipple of Rhode Island or Matthew Whipple of Bocking, England. (The “top” branch of these Whipples’ pedigree chart would all be males surnamed Whipple, connecting to either John or Matthew.)
  2. Test only DNA markers on their Y chromosome.
  3. Compare the results to see if the Rhode Island Whipples and the Bocking/Ipswich Whipples are biologically related.
Those tests have been conducted. The two Whipples aren’t biologically related.

Blaine also suggested that if the two branches aren’t related, male Whipples could use Y-DNA tests to see if they are descended from either of those two Whipple ancestors.

Non-YDNA Tests

During the years since Blaine Whipple first contacted me, DNA tests have made stunning advances. Companies have amassed huge DNA databases. At a conference I attended this summer, I attended a lecture by an executive who described the wonderful ways they could help individuals identify their relatives. I was impressed.

As I listened to the lecture, I quickly realized that determining biological relationships using Ancestry’s database should be left up to Ancestry.

Fortunately, I already know my Whipple ancestry. (I descend from the Rhode Island John.)

Which DNA Test(s) are for you?

If you are a biological male Whipple trying to determine your Whipple ancestry, a Y Chromosome DNA test is potentially a good choice. (I had my YDNA test from Family Tree DNA in Houston, Texas. Ancestry doesn’t offer a YDNA test.)

Otherwise, Ancestry’s DNA test might be helpful for you. Good luck as you seek to achieve your genealogical DNA objectives!

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