Tuesday, March 4, 2014

DNA Testing

FTDNA West Surname y-DNA Results
by John G. West (this article was previously published on the West, Fike and Affiliated Lines on the MyFamily.com web site and edited for this blog). 
I want to list some interesting facts about some of the results for the West Surname Project at FamilyTree DNA http://web.utk.edu/~corn/westdna/.   Our WEST surname ranks 115th in frequency in the U.S.  Because WEST is a geographic name, it was adopted by many unrelated individuals when surnames came into use.   In addition to the original adoption of surnames, new lines are created when a surname change occurs as a result of adoption, marriage, and other events.  Y-chromosome DNA gives us the ability to identify genetic relationships when the paper record has been lost.

357 males named West have their results posted in the FTDNA results with 117 unrelated lines (of these there are 38 groups with 2 or more individuals). There are 80 (if I counted correctly) of the 117 lines being individuals without any matches, yet!  A number of these 80 may not come from a West ancestor... meaning there was an adoption, name change or a "paternal mix-up." However, some will get matches and will become a group.

Our group is Group #5 (of the 38)... we currently have the most (slightly) with 20 participants matching. We are unique in that among most surnames, we have the value of 10 for marker #385a with few others having that value. Of the 38 groups in our West surname there are only 2 groups of the 38 and none of the unmatched that have a value of 10 for marker #385a. The other group is #27 with only 2 individuals that otherwise do not match our group. This means that there are only 22 of 357 that have that value of that marker in the West surname project!

Being the largest group with 20 participants, we are still only 5.6% of the total tested by the West name. This means that there is a 94.4% chance that if you meet someone by the name of West that they will not be related to you!  Of course, that is assuming that our DNA sampling is even remotely representative of all people named West. I will suggest that it is somewhat reliable to expect that most people you happen upon with the name West will not be related.

The fact that most people named WEST are not related to us, should encourage us to get as many people we meet with the WEST surname to take a y-DNA test. These results can become even more important since we can prove that they are not related and eliminate another line from our research. It will be a way to 'weed' out some of the Lord Delaware and other suspected, but un-related lines!

Hal Beumer and I corresponded for quite some time trying to connect his West family to mine… we finally decided that we could not find any documentation to prove a relationship and agreed to stop correspondence, at least to a time that we might find something new.  Several years later, Hal wanted me to take a y-DNA test to see if I matched with one of his West cousins.  I was really skeptical of the results and felt the cost was too much for me to speculate on this tool for genealogical research.  Hal talked me into taking the test to once and for all settle the question… were we related or not (we thought there might be a good chance that we were related). We were! His cousin and I matched.

As we can see, DNA testing can eliminate an unrelated West line or it can prove a relationship.  Then it is worth all of the time to document that relationship.  If you have not done a DNA test, please consider  taking a test to see who you match.

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