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On Resolving Conflicts Between Expected Results and YDNA mismatches

Posted by smithsworldwide in Smith Tangled Lines Forum June 4, 2014 Views:(407Replies (1)
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Have had the Smith DNA project in one form or another for over 11 years now. During this time we have gotten matches on at least two kits for 200 groupings from all over the world. When there are multiple people who match and particularly when there is thoughtful and thorough research, we consider the matches to be the baseline against whom new kits should compare. If a person, after testing, believes that there is a conflict between him or herself and a *baseline* group, we believe that the people involved need to get with the people in the group, discuss results, and, if there is a challenge, it’s up to the person who differs from the baseline to present evidence that the baseline is not correct for whatever reason.  The listings for a YDNA group are based on matches-therefore, if a person’s YDNA matches do not match a group, he will not be included with the group even though the lineages appear to correlate.

Here are some of the difficulties

Suppose that the paper trail and research is good for  2 people who do not match each other . That could indicate that one of the 2 people have an error in research. It could also mean that there is an NPE (non paternity event) where there is a different father than the one indicated. One way to determine if/when this might have occurred is to get a tester for a particular branch at various descent points down the line. Another way for a YDNA tester is to examine results against the entire FTDNA database to see if, on multiple markers, there are any other matches that might be possible, including with other surnames.  We also put people together to discuss trees and research and quite often with further inspection, the difference in trees is discovered, with the agreement of all parties.

But what if it’s not? We want to indicate to visitors to the Smith DNA website that there is a conflict as well as respect the testers who claim the same ancestry.  We put a note with the early ancestor that is at issue. We ask that those that have an issue remember that the people they are comparing to are presumed also to have spent a long time researching the line and do not come lightly to their conclusions.  If YDNA shows that one person does not match another, there are productive ways to handle this that do not veer into insulting the competing claim.


1. Christopher Smith of ENG > VA. This is a ubiquitous line with some muddled origins that quite a number of people laid claim to. To put it plainly, the paper trail connection is broken or at least hazy at some points, making it easy for researchers to push competing claims. But the issue has been that there are 3 different groups of people, with non-matching YDNA markers, that all believe(d) that Christopher Smith was their origin. We got everyone together to hash out what looked like the line with the most proof that everyone could agree with, with the proviso that should/when additional testers and research come along, the groups could be re-examined. That left 3 different groupings, with the earliest ancestor that could be proven for each kit in the group, and all in agreement about one person who appeared to have the most consistent proven line. Now that was a GREAT scenario.

2. Nicholas Smith of Gloucester VA. Another line that had 2 non-matching groups both claiming the same origin. One group had a compiled paper origin and some YDNA testers , the second had YDNA testers and some early documents showing the principle ancestors with a connection to the children. What we did here was put the 2 groups so that they begin with a different son of Nicholas. We expect to find additional testers up and down the line(s) as it seems that both sons should match each other. Both groups believe that they have the more legitimate claim and we cannot 100 percent resolve at this point.

3. Christopher Smith of Rhode Island. We have an established group R1b-50 and one new tester that has what he believes is an excellent paper trail but does not match. We are showing this as a conflict and starting his line with one of the sons of Christopher. As mentioned before, one way to resolve this is by finding one or more proven direct line son and comparing YDNA markers against both the baseline and the new YDNA tester. Kit # 2 is not listed with the matched grouping since that group is based, not specifically on paper trail, but on YDNA results.

4. Had a group where both people claimed the same ancestry but the second person not only did not match but had a strong match with a different surname when compared on FTDNA. Person # 1 matched a baseline group of Smiths, Person # 2 did not, but both sons of said ancestor can be documented in a census record. There is a possibility of adoption, or a marriage in which the children from wife of one of the sons were raised as the father’s but without further testing, its not possible at this point to know exactly at what point the NPE occurred. Meanwhile, Kit # 2 is not listed as part of Group #1.

Now I want to veer into the personal. Most people who have opted to pay for YDNA (or other types of DNA) results do so because they are attempting to find, or verify their ancestry. The largest part of these testers have done research and usually believe that they are correct, at least up to the point they cannot get beyond. When there are conflicts, the easy way to get someone else’s back up is to tell person # 2 that his or her research is wrong or faulty, that person # 1 is right, or that there can be no argument due to the science of YDNA. While it’s entirely true that when 2 YDNA results do not match, one of the people definitely has the paternal ancestry wrong, where there is not yet evidence to show where the branch occurred, we ask that members be considerate of each other. There’s been more than one person who, after testing, was completely surprised by the results. The results we have so far are based on over 11 years of testing, but to resolve these conflicts while finding additional relevant participants may take yet more time. Meanwhile, treat each person as if he or she has done at least as good a job of researching his or her own ancestors as you have.

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Posted by GaryS1876 on September 29, 2014 06:36:13 PM   go ahead
CommentID 97

  There is also among experienced genealogists the dictum that 2ndary information may or may not be based upon irrefutable records, and needs be taken with caution and a grain of salt, so, proper genealogical rersearch requires that further digging must in this case be pursued. Good researchers will cite an item's provenance.

  I've seen many family trees with each having the same erroneous postings down to the mispellings, and same wrong dates in the same wrong century (it's especially Oops-time when the parents shown were born ten years or so after the child in question).

  Looking into others' family trees is just one simple tool for possible clues or hints.