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Paternal DNA

Once again, it’s Father’s Day and DNA Sunday here at The Legal Genealogist … so how better to celebrate the day than to give the men in my direct paternal line the gift of more information on their DNA?

A lot more information.

I mean, what else do you get the guys who have everything anyhow?

First off, here’s the line-up:


(Left to right)
Hermann Eduard Geissler (1855-1933), in Gera, Germany, c1880.
Hugo Ernst Geissler (1891-1945), in Germany c1914.
Hugo Hermann Geissler (1921-1994), in Chicago IL 1935.
My brother Evan, the one who tested, when he was — ahem – a little younger than he is now.

Now… here’s what we know. Evan was tested at Family Tree DNA; we’ve got results for both his Y-DNA — the kind of DNA that exists only in the male-gender-linked Y chromosome and is passed directly from father to son to son1 — and his autosomal DNA — DNA from all of the chromosomes except the gender-linked X and Y chromosomes that can help link cousins across genders.2

Based on initial testing, we knew that our predicted male line haplogroup was E — a high level haplogroup estimated to have originated 50,000-55,000 years ago in East Africa.3

More specifically, it was predicted to be E1b1b1,4 now called M35.1 for short — a subgroup that may have originated around 22,400 years ago in Eastern Africa.5

Now this is a pretty cool club to be in. Folks who reportedly were M35.1 include Albert Einstein, the Wright brothers, Michelangelo, President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Sir David Attenborough.6

But we wanted more specificity, so we tested further. And it turns out that we’re not only E, we’re E-V13. That’s a subgroup, called a subclade,7 that’s most commonly found in the Balkans that may be one of the more recent population movements from the Middle East into Europe and that may have had its big movement into the rest of Europe by following the Danube River. There are lots of theories about its spread in Europe, with one fun possibility being some sowing of wild oats by Roman legionnaires from the Balkans.8

So… where do we go from here?

Well… there are some possibilities.

• We can test more of my brothers (I have a ton of them — five to be exact). We may discover some small divergence of one from another. These small changes can occur even from father to son, or between brothers, and will give their descendants the information they may need to distinguish one of our lines from another. With Ancestry completely pulling out of the YDNA market,9 Family Tree DNA is realistically the only game in town for a basic YDNA test and we could choose that for costs ranging from $169 to $359 depending on the number of markers we test.

• We can look for more cousins to test. That’d be with the autosomal DNA test — called the Family Finder — and there’s a sale on right now at Family Tree DNA that drops the cost of the Family Finder autosomal test down to $79 each. The sale lasts through Tuesday, the 17th of June, so if this is something you want to do, don’t dally.10

• We can greatly expand what we know about our paternal line alone by moving to what’s called the Big Y test at Family Tree DNA. This isn’t your basic genealogy test. As Family Tree DNA explains, it “uses next-generation sequencing to reveal genetic variations across the Y-Chromosome”:

The BIG Y product is a direct paternal lineage test. We have designed it to explore deep ancestral links on our common paternal tree. It tests both thousands of known branch markers and millions of places where there may be new branch markers. We intend it for expert users with an interest in advancing science.

It may also be of great interest to genealogy researchers of a specific lineage. It is not however a test for matching you to one or more men with the same surname in the way of our Y-DNA37 and other tests.11

The launch price for the Big Y was $695. A bit rich even for this “I-never-met-a-DNA-test-I-wouldn’t-take-(or-get-a-relative-to-take)” DNA geek. But this Father’s Day sale brings the price of this amazing scientific test down to $595.

Tempting. But still a little rich.

And then came the email. Could I use — could my readers use — a coupon for another $100 off on a Big Y test?


I bit.

So… dear readers… if you, like me, have been tempted but holding back on the Big Y.

If you, like me, have been sitting there thinking about it but not quite ready…

And if you, like me, would fling caution to the winds and throw your (or your brother’s) DNA into the mix for this still-in-beta “let’s see what we learn for the sake of science” test if you had another $100 off, bringing the price down to $495, lemme know (clicking on this link should enter my email address into your email program).

I have these coupons, see… and I can’t use them all.


  1. ISOGG Wiki (, “Y chromosome DNA test,” rev. 5 Mar 2014.
  2. ISOGG Wiki (, “Autosomal DNA,” rev. 31 Mar 2014.
  3. Wikipedia (, “Haplogroup E (Y-DNA),” rev. 23 Mar 2014.
  4. myFTDNA: Y-DNA Haplotree, test kit 217117, Family Tree DNA ( : accessed 16 Jun 2012).
  5. Ibid. See also Wikipedia (, “Haplogroup E1b1b (Y-DNA),” rev. 11 Jun 2014.
  6. See “Famous E1b1b1-M35.1 Albert Einstein, Caravaggio, Wright Brothers and more,” Haplogroup E1b1b1 – M35.1, posted 6 Jan 2012 ( : accessed 14 Jun 2014).
  7. Wikipedia (, “Subclade,” rev. 3 Apr 2013.
  8. See generally Wikipedia (, “Haplogroup E-V68: E-V13,” rev. 11 Apr 2014.
  9. See Judy G. Russell, “Why, Ancestry? Why?,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 8 Jun 2014 ( : accessed 14 Jun 2014).
  10. There is also a Father’s Day sale through today on autosomal tests at AncestryDNA, but my paternal cousins are all in Germany, and AncestryDNA does not ship its kits overseas.
  11. BIG Y,” Learning Center, Family Tree DNA ( : accessed 14 Jun 2014). Emphasis added.
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