DNA at FGS
So… the hot DNA news from the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Fort Wayne!
Um… the hot DNA news from…
Uh… the hot DNA news…
Okay, give me a minute here…
There wasn’t any.
Oh, a couple of wonderful things on the personal DNA front: I got to meet, in person, two of my DNA cousins.
Kay Haden and I match through our Gentry ancestors. The earliest Gentry we know of in America was Nicholas Gentry, who shows up in the York County, Virginia, court records in November 1680 with what looks very much like a garnishment of his wages as a soldier at the Mattapony Garrison.1
And Karen White is a cousin through mutual Battles ancestors. We both trace our ancestry back to a Revolutionary War soldier, William Noel Battles, who died in St. Clair County, Alabama, in 1840.2
Being able to say hello to both of them — to put faces to the names and to know that there are real people with big friendly smiles behind the segments of the chromosomes — is a treat that’s hard to explain. The instant bonding of kin is one of those things, I suspect, where you just have to be there to really understand it.
But there just wasn’t one single solitary thing “new” in terms of DNA that came out of the conference.
AncestryDNA’s Kenny Freestone was there, and repeated the promises made at the DNA Day sponsored by the International Society of Genetic Genealogy and the Southern California Genealogical Society in June that:
• There will be a “major revision” of the ethnicity results for AncestryDNA customers later this year. And, yes, most of us should see some fairly significant changes in the numbers particularly if we’ve been sitting there scratching our heads about the percentage of Scandinavian showing up in those results.
• AncestryDNA is well aware that limiting the ability to compare DNA results to the tree-matching is not sitting well with the genetic genealogy community and they are working diligently on what they believe will be “something even better” than a chromosome browser. And, no, nobody at AncestryDNA is giving so much as a hint as to what that might be, what it might look like or how it might work.
And the very fact that there wasn’t any hot news at the FGS conference makes you think that, perhaps, at least to some degree, we’re getting to the point that DNA testing is just one more in a long line of genealogical tools that are known to and used by genealogists.
Thinking back only a very few years, being able to search the United States census online, on our own computers, in our own homes, was a huge event — a major technological breakthrough. It was hot news! And now it’s just one more of those tools — so much a matter of routine that nobody even thinks about it any more.
Are we getting to that point in DNA testing? Are folks starting to consider it as just one more tool that, of course, everybody does — or at least wants to do when they get around to it?
What say you, loyal readers? Have you DNA tested yet? If not, why not?
- November 1680, order as to Nicholas Gentry, York County, Virginia, Deeds, Orders, Wills (1677 – 1684) 6: 268; York County Microfilm reel 3, Library of Virginia, Richmond. ↩
- Shiloh Cemetery, Etowah County, AL, William Noel Battles marker; digital image, Find A Grave (http://findagrave.com : accessed 29 Mar 2012). ↩