DNA and PORTUGUESE GENEALOGY
Doug da Rocha Holmes
In 2011, I sent in my DNA sample to a company called Family Tree DNA (FamilyTreeDNA.com)
Y- DNA test results
Due to my comprehensive approach to Pico and Terceira genealogy, I am in the unique position to conduct a whole series of research tasks to guide DNA testing in the direction that interests me most.
For example, just today I told an old acquaintance with known Pico ancestry how it might be possible to overcome a research problem with regards this person's paternal line. I'll use a specific example coming from the Pico village called São Roque on the north side of the island:
My research shows their paternal line going back to one Manuel Ferreira Bica, born in the mid-1600s in São Roque. From that point back, it becomes confusing due to name changes and similarly named couples. While I can probably sort it out with more research, it surely can't hurt to add a nice dose of DNA testing to confirm things.
My idea is to go back another generation or two, back to the late 1500s (luckily the church records still exist to allow it) and find another direct male line of descent that continues to the present day. There is always the chance the male line fizzles out and it is not possible. But since my research always includes EVERY Pico family, no matter how unimportant someone might consider them (some genealogists document mostly the wealthy families), I can see if anyone living today is a candidate to have this same Y-DNA test that traces back to this BICA family and if the two are a match, then I have resolved that problem and removed all doubts.
mt-DNA test results
It just so happens that the person with this Bica ancestor has a maternal line that goes back to one Maria Martins, who is also my own ancestor, born about 1562, as I currently estimate and if I can convince them to be tested, I would learn about this ancestor of mine that I can't do in any other way.
In theory, I could take each one of my most remote ancestors, often born in the 1500s, and for the males, look for any modern descendants on direct paternal lines who are candidates for Y-DNA testing. Then do the other mt-DNA testing for any female ancestors, looking for any in the direct maternal line. I would then have the task to contact these distant relatives and convince them to be tested. In this way I could learn more about each and every one of my ancestors - at least as much as DNA testing can tell anyone.
One thing the Family Finder test shows is called "Population Finder" and it shows what percentage of your DNA comes from which part of the world. In my father's case, there was a fascinating result of native Indian DNA from our roots in Chile. I have approximately half of this same native DNA. The rest shows all European ancestry.
I have heard from others that their DNA sometimes includes some Middle East DNA, which might indicate some Sephardic Jewish roots, in the case of a Portuguese person. It might also indicate some Berber ancestry from North Africa. Reading Portuguese history will help one understand just why that is.
Due to my mother's ancestry, I didn't know what to expect beyond Germany and Hungary, because some areas of the world are simply not so well tested. The Hungarian population should have roots in the steppes of Russia, if you go back 1000 years ago. So would mine have some Russian results? Well, it still showed European for me and I suppose in the future, as more are tested from Hungary, things will become more specific.
I would like to encourage everyone, no matter where in the world they have their origins, to get one or more of these DNA tests done.
FTDNA often runs sales for new customers. Maybe you are in the financial position to test not only yourself, but also one or more of your oldest living relatives. If your father or mother is already deceased, perhaps they still have a sibling who can be tested.
For my father, I find he is linked to many more with Portuguese than my own test shows. His Portuguese DNA is simply more pure than mine. Would that I could somehow get my deceased grandfathers or grandmothers tested. That's yet another generation older and that is always better.
Recently, I convinced a 2nd cousin of mine from my mother's side to get the Family Finder test. He has common Hungarian DNA with me. I was hoping by process of elimination that some of the people showing as somehow related to me might be divided into either Germany or Hungary. If they are also related to him, then of course, they are from my Hungarian side. If he is not related to them, then they are certainly from my German side. It's the first time I have been able to have a cousin do this and I am still working out exactly what I have now. I need to study the results.
But this idea of DNA by process of elimination could be helpful to anyone. Look over your own family tree and see which of your cousins would be good candidates and willing to perform a similar test for you.
I don't receive anything for my mention of this company (though that would be great), but I am so interested in this new field of genealogy research that I really want to have everyone get tested. It is purely selfish of me - your results might somehow help me! And of course, visa-versa.
Let me know if you should decide to get tested. I would be so interested in hearing back from you.
And good luck with your genealogy research!
Doug da Rocha Holmes
See the Portuguese Genealogy Professional Services Page for more detailed information.
Learn about my DNA surname project for the Hungarian name BALLA: www.dholmes.com/balla.html
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© 2016 Doug da Rocha Holmes