Review: Ancestry DNA

I was inspired by the Sith Lord several years ago to consider doing Ancestry DNA and 23 and Me.
(FYI it’s called 23 because you have 46 chromosomes with 23 from each parent.)

The Sith Lord said that each website does it differently and provides different information. I’m still working on getting both done. At a retail price of $99 per test, you really have to want to do it.

In brief the Ancestry test gives you two things:

First, the obligatory breakdown of origins. Where in the world did your ancestors come from? Some of the breakdown is logical but there are some trace outliers that raised a few questions with me. Hopefully 23 and me will address these when I get around to doing their test.

Second, Ancestry provides a list of other people that are related to me in some way. The trick is they don’t say how. It claims that 998 people in their database are my 4th cousins or closer. I know one person in their list but the others, nope.

Ancestry lets you use an online version of Family Tree Maker to try to add information to build-out your family tree. If you haven’t done this before you can really get carried away. Ancestry treats all family trees on their website as containing valid data and relationships. The old saying about garbage in, garbage out applies here.

I have some information about my family history and I still had to correct instances of the same spouse or child appearing on the tree as different people. You can only go back so far before the trail gets cold, unless someone really famous crops-up in the list. I traced my mom’s father back to William the Conqueror in 1066 AD. To get such results you must rely on other people and if one relationship is incorrect then the whole tree turns to nonsense. Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify” applies to genealogy research too.

I researched a couple of nagging issues from a few years ago and did turn-up new facts while on the website this time around. The main one being a wedding record of my great-great-grandfather. His first wife died three years before the birth of my ancestor and this has always been unexplained until this summer. Since I looked last time, Ancestry has added more records to their database and I was able to answer one of my questions about this period of the family history.

I think its worth doing if you’re curious about genealogy.