Happy First Birthday Iowa DNA Project

The Iowa DNA Project was formed at the end of November 2014 and for its first birthday has now reached 361 members.  The project is ‘geographical’ in nature, and designed for those who have direct ancestors who lived in Iowa, or those researching collateral lines that lived in Iowa. Our focus is on autosomal, aka Family Finder results, but we also have members who have had or are in the process of having their mtDNA and YDNA tested.  Those new to DNA testing are especially welcome and their research aims are supported within the project.

The previous (August 2015) Quarterly Report can be viewed here.

Key Figures

  • Total Iowa DNA Project Members: 361
  • Family Finder Tests Completed: 305
  • Total Donations: $105  Current Balance $6
  • Highest number of database wide matches per member: 3000
  • Lowest number of database wide matches per member: 1
  • Average number of database wide matches per member: 858
  • Inter-Project Matches: 233
  • Highest number of Inter-Project matches per member: 11
  • Weekly Match Updates
  • 96 of 99 Iowa Counties Represented

iowa mapNuts and Bolts

The Iowa DNA Project Surname Index can be found here.  Surnames associated with specific counties can be found in our FAQ here.

  • Total Iowa Surnames: 667
  • Members with Family Trees:276
  • Members with listed Surnames: 317
  • Members with listed Most Distant Ancestors: 292

Iowan Family Groups

The Iowa DNA Project has many pioneers who were the first to test within their immediate family.  However, the backbone of the project is the inclusion of multiple generations and extended family members who have also tested.  These family groups assist in helping inter-project matches determine how they may be connected and which branch of their family trees to examine further.  In October, we teamed up with Göran Runfeldt of dnagen.net  to trial his ICW Tool to map out the interconnectedness of the entire Iowa DNA project.   Below is a depiction of the connections between our current members.


Using the ICW Tool gives Iowa DNA Project members easy access to a variety of additional information and charts including a tabulation of our members’ Suggested Relationships.  As you can see, our members are actively recruiting close family members to test.

match totals

Suggested Relationships

  • Parent/Child: 64
  • Full Siblings: 38
  • Grandparent/Grandchild/Half Siblings: 22
  • Aunt/Uncle/Niece/Nephew: 22
  • 1st Cousin: 22
  • 2nd Cousin: 30
  • 3rd Cousin: 62
  • 4th Cousin: 114

More can be learned about the process and results here*.

*Additional detailed information is available to Iowa DNA Project members


Project YDNAAs expected, the most common Y haplogroup is R and its subclades, with I and its subclades the second most common.  23 project members have completed the Big Y test.

Conf Y

Predicted Y

  • R-M269: 48
  • R (excluding R-M269): 44
  • I: 28
  • G: 3
  • E: 3
  • J: 2
  • N: 3

More information on the project’s patriarchs and YDNA results can be found here.

Project mtDNA:  The most common mtDNA continues to be H and its subclades with a variety of other haplogroups also represented. 105 project members have completed Full Mitochondrial Sequencing.

Member Haplogroups:

  • H: 68
  • K: 17
  • T: 16
  • U: 14
  • J: 12
  • I: 5
  • W: 3
  • V: 2
  • B: 2
  • C:1
  • X: 1

Complete information on our project’s mtDNA matriarchs, statistics and mutations can be found here.

conf mtdna

Declared Countries of YDNA and mtDNA Origin


mt COA

MyOrigins Leaderboard

Based on percentage points per member, the Iowa DNA Project populations are listed below in order of frequency.  Descriptions of each population cluster can be found here.  Additional admixture tools can be found at Gedmatch.

  • British Isles 12,333
  • Scandinavia 6931
  • Western and Central Europe 6558
  • Southern Europe 1710
  • Eastern Europe 1403
  • Finland and Northern Siberia 345
  • Asia Minor 296
  • West Africa 158
  • Ashkenazi Diaspora 120
  • Eastern Middle East 106
  • (Blended Population Cluster) Eastern, Western and Central European 100
  • Native American 87
  • Northeast Asia 78
  • Central Asia 75
  • North Africa 35
  • East Central Africa 5
  • South-Central Africa 4
  • (Blended Population Cluster) British Isles and Western and Central Europe 1

As a matter of interest:

  • 100% British Isles 3 members
  • 100% Western and Central Europe 2 members
  • 100% Scandinavian 1 member
  • 100% Eastern, Western and Central European 1 member

Coming Results:

Currently, we are waiting for 3 kits to be returned to the lab for testing: 1 Factoid, 1 YDNA 67 Marker and 1 mtFull Sequence.  We have 13 members who have kits that have been transferred but not yet unlocked. Current members, please keep in mind you cannot be checked for inter-project matches without a completed and unlocked Family Finder test.

From the FTDNA lab, we are waiting for:

  • 2 mtFull Sequence (1 delayed)
  • 1 YDNA 37 marker
  • 7 Factoids (same project member)
  • 1 Y Haplogroup Backbone (delayed)
  • 1 R1b-CTS4466 SNP Pack
  • 1 R1b-L21 SNP Pack
  • 1 Big Y
  • 5 individual SNPS (same project member, 4 delayed)

Do You have Iowan Roots?

I would like to thank the project members for their patience and many efforts over the last year.  In October, I attended the Irish Genetic Genealogy Conference in Dublin, Ireland and had the pleasure of attending lectures, meeting cousins, members of ISOGG and other project administrators.  Lots of great information came out of the conference as well as ideas to make the project better. I look forward to making and sharing our discoveries in the months to come.

You can read more about the benefits of joining a project at FTDNA here.  If you would like to join the Iowa DNA Project, please visit our homepage here.  The project has converted to MyGroups and has activated its Activity Feed to encourage collaboration. The Feed may be accessed after joining and of course our links section is available to all.


Surnames and Associated Counties

iowa map

With 441 members and 98 of 99 counties represented, the Iowa DNA Project is continuing to grow.  Each new member increases the likelihood of finding matches and learning more about our ancestors and the settlement of Iowa.  Is your surname represented?  If not, consider joining!  If you don’t already have a Family Finder test at FTDNA but have tested with another company, you may wish to consider transferring your raw data.

Surnames and Associated Counties

  •  Adair: Aspinwall, Bates,Hoisington, Lounsbury, Scott, Sias, Nichols, Stillians/Stillions, Newcomb
  • Adams: Shiffer, Riggle, Henry, Jones, Newcomb, Ankeny, Rogers, Fleharty, Knee, Runge
  • Allamakee: Whalen, Regan, Devine, Laughlin, Danaher, Ryan, Fitzgerald, Born, Dee, O’Conner/Conner,Kruger, Winke, Flage, Henning, Ludeking, Baxter, Butler, Buckley, Ralston,Archibald, Sires, Duff, Speigler, Healy, Brady, Werhan
  • Appanoose: Milburn, Awalt, Morlan, Murphy, Brown, Robinson, Phares, Flowers, Crawford, Martin, Jackson, Gates, Wilcox,Watson, Zimmerman, Richards, Bowman, Richards, Van der Heyden
  • Audubon: Drake, Finch, Burns, Chase, Follmer, Liles, McGuire
  • Benton: Gallup, Dilley, Stewart, Cue, Calhoon, Younglove, Hinkle
  • Black Hawk: Belt, Whaylen, Corrigan, O’Neill, Stewart, McNaughton, House, Purdie,Mallett, Richmond, Bates, Robinson, Kerns,Beirschmitt, Duffy, Kane, Forrestal, Burns, Flaherty, Kennedy, Harned, Singer, Robertshaw, Olsen, Jensen,Hansen, Morgensen, Baer, Bender, Buehner, Call,Carpenter, Fuller, Hare, Haun, Meisch,Neisen, DuBois, Kelly
  • Boone: Lyman, Benjamin, Fenn,Harmon, Smith, Miller, Peachey, McGregor,Ballentine
  • Bremer: Harned, Singer, Baer, Bender, Buehner, Call, Carpenter, Fuller, Hare,Haun
  • Buchanan: Leach, Chicken, Grim,Duffy, Kane, Forrestal, McCloskey, Kinney, Clark, Harned, Singer
  • Buena Vista: Jessip, Carney, Marshall, Howard, Dale, Ginn, Taylor,Larson, Johnson,  Lydell
  • Butler:  Bigsby
  • Calhoun: Osborn, Godwin
  • Carroll: Wilkens, Piper, Conner, Wenck, Best, Rabe, Brunen, Wilberding, Grever/Grefer, Willenborg
  • Cass: Scovel, Baker, Gillpatrick, Randles,
  • Cedar: Orcutt, Dutton, Baker,Gaines, Gillpatrick, Randles, Wagner, Knipfer, Mottschall, Follmer, Liles
  • Cerro Gordo:  Hacker
  • Cherokee: Beyer, Schubert, Sorensen,Smith, Larson, Johnson, Lydell, Gengler, Niehus, Foerster, Heinis, Niggeling, Nothem, Engeldinger, Wanderscheid, McCulla
  • Chickasaw: Robinson, Colligan, Pierson/Pearson, Hawkins, Glass, Pangborn
  • Clarke: Sowers, Lee
  • Clay: Ewing, Knee
  • Clayton: Scovel, Cagley, Hulverson/Halverson, Sass, Roth, Kamin, Wilke, Meye, Clark, Weideman/Wedeman, Stevens, Greene, Beckmann, Stutheit, Hempeler, Ewing, Richards
  • Clinton: Berg, Wink/Wienke,Johnson, Halversen, Halverson, Halvorsdatter, Maklebust, Hansen, Johannesdatter,Dossland, Ask, Olson, Carter, Edwards, Hazlett, Whitaker, Coffman, Cunningham, Van Cruijningen, Alcorn, Chase, Hartson, Clark
  • Crawford: Endrulat, Reese, Jahn, Krause, Kutschinski, Wiese, Klaus, Eyer,Neddermeyer
  • Dallas: Hanlon, Brady, Shiffer, Cone, Ballentine, Andersdotter, Jonsson,Curfman, Nichols
  • Davis: Lohrengel, McGachey
  • Decatur: Davis, Newcomer, Lushbaugh, Webster, Roselle, Dale,Marksbury, Higgs, Weable, Anderson,Sly
  • Delaware: Klaus, Clark, Webb, Arnold, Duncan, Field, Alloway, Fuller, Anderson, Rexford, Paddleford, Walker, Cline, Willenborg, Braun
  • Des Moines: Peterson, Childs
  • Dickinson: Guthrie, Lambertus, Franker, McCulla, Nicolas
  • Dubuque: Wentz, Consor, Krueger, Metcalf, Noesen, Nattrass, Robson, Daykin, Hoffmann,Heiter, Pauly, Gloesener, Kayser, Miller/Mueller, Jordan, Singer, Boock, Wilberding, Johanning, Feldmann, Schaupmann, Jasper, Siemes, Tauke, Braun, Kleespies, Albert, Blitsch, Conzett, Jecklin, Mathis, Moser, Osterberger, Schauer, Strauch
  • Emmet: Hansen, McCulla, Allen, Crim, Doyle, Wilson
  • Fayette: Glass, Pangborn, Kappes, Bodensteiner,Vanginderhuyser, Wise, De Temmerman, Georgi, Kern, Amundsen, Kerns,Beirschmitt, McCloskey, Gifford, Johnston, Tope, Mittelstedt, Wroe, Burns/Burnes, Clark, McCann, Houlsworth, Perry, Wait/Waite, Finch, Kuhens/Kuhnes, Ewing, Johnston
  • Floyd: Miller, Klaus, Reed, Stickney
  • Fremont:  Garcia, Enos, Davina
  • Guthrie:  Dilley
  • Grundy: Campbell, Whitehead, Miller
  • Hamilton: Teget, Toedt, Pahl, Wing,Johnson, Dale
  • Hancock:  Nix
  • Hardin: Wing, Johnson, Vinje, Kelsey
  • Harrison:  Kirley, McBride, Davis, Jordan, Lewis, Anderson, Bolte
  • Henry: House, Sample, Shelton, Allen, Billingsley, Malone, Houston
  • Howard: Osborn, Gifford, Cushing,Roberts, McCulla, Johnston
  • Humboldt: Hilbert, Ewing
  • Ida: Beyer, Endrulat, Grell, Haase, Helkenn, Reese, Schubert, Bauer, Meyer,Paustian, Ruhser/Ruser, Schroeder, Sorensen, Wink/Wienke
  • Iowa: Duffy, Burns, Masteller,Gallagher, Burns, Kinney, Murphy, Duggan, Welch
  • Jackson: Berg, Meyer, Wink/Wienke,Johnson, Halversen, Halverson, Halvorsdatter, Maklebust, Hoffmann, Miller/Mueller, Johannesdatter, Naegle, Nagel, Mueller, Carter, Edwards, Zeimet,Winkel, Conzett
  • Jasper: Belt, Hyde, Pahl, Toedt, Holliday, Hickey, Debolt/De Bolt, Ross, Nichols, Weigel, McKlveen
  • Jefferson:  Wygle
  • Johnson: Minnich/Minnick, Lyle,Crossen, Fitzgerald, McCarthy, James,Bigsby, Coffman, Kile
  • Jones: Hanlon, Brady
  • Keokuk: Wilson, Willson, King, Belveal
  • Kossuth: Young, Hilbert, Becker, Richter, Sires
  • Lee: Childs
  • Linn: Stewart, Cue, Calhoon, Gaines, Rickert, Richard, Wagner, Poorman,Gates, Wilcox, Watson, Zimmerman, Richards, Bowman, Stevens, Webb, Osterberger
  • Louisa: Johnston, Herron, Ramsey, Smith, Hand, Vanloon
  • Lucas: Stevenson, Coffelt, Vickroy,Welch, Truman, Hickman, Hasting, Davis, Mumford, Cain, McGlothlen, Rodgers,
  • Lyon: Follmer, Liles
  • Madison: Shutt, Black, Cashman, Benedict, Marchel, Wolfe, Peed, Ross, Debolt/DeBolt, Gates, Wilcox, Watson, Zimmerman, Richards, Bowman
  • Mahaska: Heberer, Howard, Burke, Conklin, Holliday, Adair, Ives, Lowry,Ferrell, Addis, Adkisson, Zeppernick, Williams, Parr, Hoskinson, Myers, Wymore,James, McMains, Hollingsworth
  • Marion: McCombs, Howard, Godwin, Barr, Wilson, Cashman, Williams, Newman, Childs
  • Marshall: Wantz, Bryant, Brown
  • Mills: Gowdy, Chamberlain, Hambsch, Oestreicher
  • Mitchell: Baker, Gaines, Mackin,Kinney, Gerbig, Decker, Galt, Tretton, Gemaehlich, McCulla
  • Monona: Nepper,Ordway, Ziems, Freerking
  • Montgomery: Lee, Pittman
  • Muscatine: Orcutt, Allen, Kuiper, Heuer, Pasdach, Yeater, Huff, O’Brien,Cain/Kain/Kane, Cashman, Alcorn, Ipock, Yates, Freers,Schreurs, Washburn, Bigsby, Ager, Everett, Follmer, Liles, Fulmer/Fullmer, Kingsbury, Stiles
  • O’Brien: Stewart, Runge
  • Osceola: Hamann, Schubert
  • Page: Nicolson, Teget, Cox, Krey
  • Palo Alto: Williamson
  • Plymouth: Storer, Gengler, Niehus, Foerster, Heinis, Niggeling, Nothem, Engeldinger, Wanderscheid, Wilberding
  • Polk:  Smith, Hanlon, Brady, O’Connell, Wilson,Beatty, Stevenson, Coffelt, Burnett, Scovel, Foutch,Halterman, Boatwright, Davis, Freel, Stewart,Johnson, Warren, Flesher, Deaton, Powell, Freel, Butler, Shiffer, Brooks,Holliday, Lawrence, Cooper, Shutt, Cone, Mason, Baber, Nalley, Higgs, Kirsher,Huggins, Jones, Debolt/De Bolt, Nichols, Klaus, Poorman, Gates, Wilcox, Watson,Zimmerman, Richards, Bowman, Hendricks, Compton, Giese, Childs, Ewing, Mills, Bowers, Town
  • Pottawattamie:Shanahan, Gallup, Stuart, Dolan, Hale, Davis, Wires, Fitzgerald, McCarthy, Randles, James, Slingerland, Kirley, McBride, Johannsen
  • Poweshiek:Watson, Sebring, Krouskop, Carpenter, Krise
  • Ringgold: Hazen, McCurdy, Carpenter,Humphreys, Cone, Arnold, Thorla, Newman
  • Sac: Schroeder, Masteller,Staton, Ragsdale, Masteller
  • Scott: Conrad, DahlDall/Doll,Frauen, Grell, Haase, Hamann, Helkenn, Reese, Rusch, Steffen, Bauer, Schween,Heckt, Paustian, Ruhser/Ruser, Sorensen, Kivlin, Feeney, Baugh, Collins,Jacobs, Crouch, Wulfe, Brus, Aufdenspring,Murphy, Foley, Ginn, Mills, Jones, Reed, Elshorst, Boock, Eggers, Fendt, Meier, Runge, Tiedje, Parker, Snider, Miller, Herr, Villain,  Moravek, Byers, Finkenhoefer, Traeger, Busch
  • Shelby: Gallup
  • Sioux: Meyn
  • Story: McDowell, Allen, Wing,Page, Hansens, Guddal
  • Taylor: White, Pace, Stephens
  • Tama: Howard, Krise, Boock
  • Union: Krise
  • Van Buren: Downard, Payne, Freel, Miller, Marriott, Shipley, Watt/Watts, Childs, Billingsley
  • Wapello: Ward,Hartshorn, Lowery, Robertson
  • Warren: Stewart,Black, Halterman, Flesher, Turnipseed, Deaton, Freel, Shutt, Cashman, Braucht,Mason, Vickroy, Wiley, Douglas, Williams, Martindale, Pierce, Hasting, Michael,Daugherty, Grant, Davis, Stewart, Cue, Calhoon, Flowers, Crawford, Fulmer/Fullmer
  • Washington: Longwell, Jury, Phillips,Deen, Downing, Bradford, Lambert, Story, Carr
  • Wayne:  Hanlon, Jones
  • Webster: Carpenter, Porter, Feeney, Carter, McQuiston, Mabe, Berry, Cackler, Doherty, Coles, Kellum, Stillions,Shiffer, Burrell, Meyn
  • Winnebago:  Forrestal, Dahl, Bolstad, Loberg, Paulson, Moe, Horvei
  • Winneshiek: Dörr/Doerr, Untereiner, Kruger, Winke, Flage, Henning, Ludeking, Buddenberg, Carolan
  • Woodbury: Berg, Wink/Wienke, Storer,Jessip
  • Worth:  Halgrimson, Vold, Turvold, Moe, Horvei

Tick Tock…The FTDNA Lab Backlog

Naturally, we’re thrilled when any of the ‘Big 3’  DNA companies offers a sale. If the sale is big enough, like the FTDNA December 2014 sale, the additional strain is going to add to the burden of already busy labs.  Although new matches are wonderful, the flip side of the coin is that frequently, we will also have to wait for those results because of lab delays.

To add to FTDNA’s delay woes, the company that supplied the reagent needed to perform all YDNA 12 marker tests stopped production and caused a serious backlog in processing YDNA.  Although the reagent problem was sorted, and FTDNA hired additional staff to catch up, questions such as, “Batch 599 Delayed by Holidays?” and “For those awaiting Y results” are regular features at the FTDNA Forum.

Although the Iowa DNA Project is focused on Family Finder testing our microcosm of members are, across the board,  active testers.

Pending Lab Results

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As you can see from the Pending Results tables above, several of the Iowa DNA Project members took advantage of the sale and placed orders during December.  Many of them already had samples on file which normally reduces batching time.  As is pointed out in, “Poll/Survey about time frame/delayed results“, people whose tests are coming in on time don’t complain and a number of project member tests have returned on time in January and February and have since been removed from the list.  We hope the lab catches up and keeps churning out or results.  In the meantime, our project has learned:

  • SNP and YDNA upgrades are the most delayed
  • SNP tests from batches 587 and 600 have received no notification or explanation for delay
  • The most overdue test is from batch 587
  • 2 of 4 Family Finder tests have been delayed but have not required new samples
  • Autosomal Tests have been transferring within 5 business days
  • No recently ordered test has completed processing early but several have completed on time
  • Tests have received delay notifications but have had results posted within the week

Contacting Cousins: How to hit a Homer

All right, team, so you’ve checked your new matches and out of the blue you think you have a good one.  Maybe this new cousin will be the one brick that will finally bring the rest of the wall down.  Before you blast off an excited email to your new-found cousin, there are a few points to consider and a few bases you must cover.

First Base

What is a ‘good match’?  Everyone is going to have a different definition of which matches are worth spending their time on. When I open my own match list I make sure it shows the Full View:

Featured imageFull view gives more information, such as the match’s longest shared block and haplogroups.  Total shared centimorgans do have their use (a large number of centimorgans in small blocks indicates multiple lines of shared descent), but a large single block is going to get my attention. It indicates our shared ancestry is recent, and hopefully, findable.

Unless it is an unusual situation, my tree is complete enough to know all of my first and second cousins.  When FTDNA gives me a 2-4th cousin match, I always investigate it as there is a chance that we will be able to figure out how we are related.  As a general rule of thumb, by all means scan all your matches for common surnames and locations, but throw your initial efforts into your closest matches.

Second Base

Identify yourself. You will find that many of your matches tested but don’t deal with their accounts themselves.  They may have tested to help out an interested family member, and often that family member will be your point of contact.  If that is the case, they may be juggling dozens of accounts and they will need both your name and the name of your match.  Sending an email saying, “Hi!  This dna stuff is pretty cool!  How do I know which one of my ancestors is yours?” isn’t going to get you many, if any answers.

If it looks like your match is from another country and English is not their first language, make an effort to communicate anyway.  Maybe you know someone who speaks the language in question who can help you.  If worst comes to worst, write your email in English and then run it through Google Translate and provide both versions.  At least your match will know you tried.

Third Base

Do you have an inkling how you might be connected? Briefly outline that theory to your new cousin and be sure to mention surnames and locations that you think could be important.  Don’t overwhelm them with pages of information, but be sure to hit the high points and offer them more information if they are interested.  For instance, you can point out you already have a tree uploaded at FTDNA or that you are happy to invite them to your tree at Ancestry.  If they don’t yet have a tree at FTDNA, that is also a good time for you to ask if they have a tree they can share with you.

Home run

Now that you’ve run the bases it is time to bring your grand slam home and compose your  message.

  • Make use of your email’s subject heading: “Leona Kern matches three cousins” is not only going to get my attention, but is going to make it easier to find your message when I have more information and want to update you later.
  • Tell them who you are, who you match and what your predicted relationship is
  • Ask them if any of your information is familiar to them
  • Offer them more information if they are interested and request that they share their tree and any ideas they may have with you

An example of a recently sent (and replied to) email with the subject line FTDNA 2-4th Cousin Match G Duffy:

Dear Mr X Y,

I see you match my grandmother G Duffy whose account I manage.  We are researching the names Mackin/McCloskey/Duffy/Burns/Forrestal and Kane.  Our areas are Mayo (Castlebar/Westport area) and the North.  The Duffy and Burns families are from Newtown-Hamilton in Armagh.  I currently am living in Co. Dublin.

Gladys has a tree uploaded at FTDNA and I also have a tree at Ancestry if you would like me to send an invitation.  Do you happen to have a family tree I might view? If any of these names or places are familiar I would love to hear your thoughts.

Look forward to hearing from you.  Hopefully, we will be able to figure out how our trees intersect.

Lori Alexander for G Duffy

After the Crowd has Roared

Sometimes they’ll reply, and sometimes they won’t.  At least 3 of my matches are deceased, which I discovered via their obituaries.  One account has been taken over by a daughter, and I received a reply from her seven months after my query.  Write the best introductory email you can and be patient.  After all, genealogy, genetic or otherwise is not for the rash.

Even if you don’t see how you relate to your match yet, collaboration is genealogy’s lifeblood.  You may not have all the information you need to connect the dots today, but if you develop a good working relationship with your cousins- after all- they are your cousins!-in time you may find the answers together.  And when they contact you, make sure you reply!  That 8cm 5th to distant cousin match may turn out to be just the one to hit that homer and win the game.

I bought a FTDNA test. Now what?

Congratulations, you’ve taken the first step in bringing your family’s story to the next level!  Whether you bought a Family Finder, mtDNA or YDNA test, there are a few things you will want to do to get off on the right foot.

Once you have made your purchase, you’ll receive an email with a kit number and password.  The kit number will be your ‘username’ each time you log into your account.  You can of course change your password to anything you like.  To do so, go to your main, or Welcome page and find the ‘Change Password’ entry on the left hand side.

Featured image

Next, go to the ‘Manage Personal Information’ entry. It is directly above ‘Change’ Password’.

From the Manage Personal Information page, there are a number of choices you can make to increase your chances of being contacted by matches, and responded to when you make contact.  First, add a profile picture.  It will make your account stand out among the faceless sea of 4th cousins.  Also, it’ll make it harder for ’em to ignore you!  You may also want to write about your research goals in the ‘About Me’ box, or mention immediate family that has also tested.

At the top of the Manage Personal Information page, you will see 5 tabs.

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Until you get your bearings, it is good idea to leave all the settings at their default position. Still, you have a bit of work to do.

Account Settings: Genealogy

From the genealogy tab, you can choose your privacy settings.  This is also where you will enter the names and locations of your most distant ancestors.  Be sure to add their year of birth/death and locations.  From here, you can also list your family surnames.  This will help you connect with matches.  If they see a surname or location that is familiar to them, they are more likely to contact you and you are more likely to determine how your trees connect.  Everyone, without exception should fill in this basic information.

Account Settings: Match and Email Settings

There is one setting you should not touch:  Family Finder Matches & Email Notifications.  If you change any of the defaults, it will not only turn off email notifications at that level. It will turn off matching at that level.  You will no longer see those matches and they will no longer see you.

Welcome Page: Family Tree

FTDNA has recently changed the family tree interface, and truth be told it is not great.  They have already made improvements and let us hope they continue in that vein. Meanwhile, it is still a good idea to upload your tree.  Although it is cumbersome to navigate, the new version does have one very important feature, and that is the search box in the upper right corner.  If you see a match with a surname or location you recognize, you can click on their tree and enter either of those terms into the search box. They can do the same with your tree.  Et viola, a connection is made!

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To upload a family tree you must have a file that ends in ‘ged’. All major family tree programs will export a file in this format. Once your file is prepared, go to your Welcome Page and click ‘Family Tree’.

Select ‘Upload a Gedcom’ and choose your file.  Alternately, you may build your tree from scratch directly at FTDNA.


Now that you have covered the basics to help matches find you, there is one more thing that you can do to help you find them and more importantly figure out how you relate.  FTDNA has a large number of projects, from groups for specific surnames , to groups which study mtDNA or YDNA haplogroups to groups that study families from a particular region, such as the Iowa DNA Project.   For YDNA testers, it is vitally important to join your project if you are hoping to learn more about your haplogroup or your terminal snps.  Your project leader will be able to provide more information on your place in the phylotree and to offer advice on additional testing if you are interested.  To browse the available projects, go to the top of your Welcome page and choose the entry My Projects.  Joining is free and you can join as many as you think could be helpful.

MtDNA Tests

There is one setting that is important for people that have tested FMS or their Full Mitochondrial Sequence.  Those testers have gone beyond the basic level and have values known as, ‘Coding Region Mutations’.  Go to your Manage Personal Information Page, then your Account Settings Tab and choose Results Display Settings.  You will be directed to ‘Click Here’.  Choose ‘Who can view my mtDNA Coding Region mutations?’ and make sure ‘Project Administrators’ is selected.  After you have learned your mtDNA haplogroup, it will be very important that your group’s administrator can see your coding region mutations in order to know where you fit within your haplogroup.  Once that is determined, you will be able to learn more about your deep maternal ancestry and make the most of your test results.

Where is my Test?

If you have ordered a kit and it hasn’t reached you within two weeks, call FTDNA and have them send you a new one at no charge.  I order my kits from Ireland and they usually arrive from Texas within a week.  FTDNA can be reached here and at 713-868-1438.  For more information on how to get the best sample collection see here.

The Wait for Results

Featured imageThere is a good chance it will take about month from the time you order your kit before it is ‘batched’ or received by the lab and testing begins.  If all goes to plan, from that point, it will be another 3-4 weeks for your Family Finder test to be processed, and generally at least 8 weeks for mtDNA and yDNA testing to complete.  In the meantime, take the opportunity to work on your family tree, especially extending your collateral lines as that is where you will intersect with the majority of your matches.  Also, take advantage of the Forums and Learning Center at FTDNA and download their free ebook, which is available from your welcome page.