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smithsworldwide (Admin)
Thoughts on YDNA versus Autosomal and NPE

Posted by smithsworldwide in Smith DNA Project Updates on August 7, 2022 Views:(147Replies (0)
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I have now had this project for over 19 years and have some personal opinions on the data. 

1. If you are able to, you should always do a YDNA test for Smith/Schmidt/Smythe, etc. You may have done an autosomal test already but knowing and proving that your surname is Smith and, hopefully, matching into a grouping, will help target your research. If you are a male Smith (ie, your last name is Smith/Schmidt/Smyth etc and you are a male OR if you are a female Smith (maiden name is Smith AND you have a brother Smith, father Smith, uncle Smith, male cousin Smith etc who would do a YDNA test for you, this is the best. If not, consider looking for a male Smith you know is in your line and asking them if they will do the YDNA test for you. I have personally paid for 37 marker tests for people with the proviso that if that person wants to expand the test, he will pay for it. (I found eligible testers from searching for trees on the internet that were in my line as the rate of success with asking people goes up if he or she is already a genealogist.  What we do here in the project is also make every effort to list the line so that the internet at large will see it and hopefully attract someone to do a YDNA test for Smith. Increasingly, over the years, have seen more male Smiths who do autosomal tests but have not done YDNA; I think this is because the autosomal tests are cheaper than YDNA, for one thing, or maybe males are not familiar with the YDNA test, but to beat that drum, the surest way to know your paternal line is do YDNA rather than sorting through every single line you have, based on varying degrees of passed down DNA, as with autosomal.

2. If you have done an autosomal test, you must make every effort to find someone who matches you on Smith in your match list. Lots of times people do not put their trees, so you will write to them, realizing that people do not take autosomal tests for the same reason as you.  For each match, you want to know what surname is represented, what DNA data do you match them on, did they answer you  back when you wrote them, etc. A good idea is to download the CSV file and put it into Excel. You can add some fields in Excel for surname/email/date contacted, segments you match on,  etc This project will look to see if we can find any obvious matches but rely on you to supply known matches from your list. Sometimes it happens that the member has matches on another vendor site. Ask the known matches to come join the project on FTDNA so we can compare. 

3. On NPE. First, just because you have a good line does not mean that Ancestor Smith is YOUR Smith. Have had people who had excellent lines and were even experts on the line but when DNA came back, the paternal surname match was not Smith. A few times there have been members where there was a family story about someone changing his name to Smith and the test was done to confirm that.. or not. We have a lot of groups in which multiple people have tested and match; then someone else comes along and, although the line should connect, it does not and the surname match is something else. OR, the opposite, where someone is X surname, not Smith, and gets surprised when he doesn't match the group of his own surname, but instead Smith. Another type of match is where there is only one Smith match but a whole bunch of very similar surname matches (like Ray, Rhea, Rea, etc) OR there is only one Smith match and the other surnames are all over the board, not pointing to one surname  in particular. 

Going to be blunt here about the possibly whys of this. If you are sensitive about reading about unseemly circumstances, read no further.
  • Immigrant to country changes his name (or has it changed for him) to Smith or Schmidt
  • Although I cannot find it again, one time I ran across a document that discussed fraud with Civil War pensions. Article from NY Times  Basically, some unscupulous scammers would change their name or misrepresent themselves as others in order to gain benefit or land. 
  • Although no one wants to think about their ancestors having children via adultery or out of wedlock, it happens. A child in a family might be actually the child of a different man than the father, or a daughter of a family has a child out of wedlock and the child is raised in the grandparents family, sometimes as their own child. I saw a tv western (fiction)  last year in which a baby died while travelling west and the baby was substituted for another family's in which the mother died and the father abandoned them. Along that same line, the Mormon Mountain Meadows Massacre had all the adults and children except babies being killed, and the babies being taken in to be raised by Mormons. More generally, have to wonder how often that happened when people were travelling west and the parents died, ie children brought up in someone else's family as their own. One member's ancestor, he believed, was sent to a home for unwed mothers, where the infant was given up for adoption after birth; because the home was a national one and at the time, people sent their daughters off from varied locations, knowing where the home was and baby was born would not tell you information about is birth via location. Although ugly to think about, there is also rape and incest.  Or prostitution. Who hasn't heard stories about military men on bases in other areas having relations with locals, including out of wedlock children in another country?  And now, in this age of complexities, what about sperm donors, families getting IVF, or nefarious things happening through insemination. I just watched a movie about a doctor who was using his own sperm to inseminate women who thought they were going to a family infertility clinic; the children found out through autosomal DNA matches. Along the same line, children brought home from the hospital but swapped at birth and only discovered later in life  The plot of the movie Soapdish is that Sallly Field's daughter born ouf of wedlock was raised by the grandmother and the daughter thought Fields was her aunt. 

All of the above shows the importance of doing a YDNA test to prove the paternal line (male to male to male). Let's say you did an autosomal test but you could also have done YDNA because you are a male Smith or you have a male Smith that could test for you. Should you do the YDNa test and find that you are not a Smith match, it might be that your Smith has not tested yet but it also could be that an NPE occurred. If the former is the case, your methodology should be to seek out another male Smith in your line to also do a YDNA with the view of getting a baseline done. One example I really love is in a different project I had for a long time, Sides/Seitz. One of the members had a theory about an early ancestor and also had an overseas location where the ancestor came from. He found a male Seitz from each one of the EA's sons and had them test. All but one matched. He then found a living Seitz in the overseas location and had him test. He matched. Essentially, you are looking at a point in time in which you know for sure you matched your Smith line. 

And, you do not want, especially if you can do YDNA for male Smith, to spin your wheels wondering which Smith might be yours in an autosomal match list. The match, for example, might be to one of the other related surnames. And, Smith being so ubiquitous, just about everybody has a ton of Smith matches THAT ARE NOT NECESSARILY THEIRS. Sometimes I will look through a match list and see members who I know are not related and have done YDNA to prove it. 

Why does the Smith DNA Project want to see your line from you up to whoever the early Smith/Schmidt etc ancestor is? Every once in a while a member will say , just go look at this other site's informationi to see the early trees and linkages. Assuming that the trees are correct, and that is NOT a given in all cases, it does not prove that the person who claims an ancestor is actually a match on DNA. You know the Shakespeare saying "there's many a slip twixt cup and lip". this applies to DNA genealogy as well and being able to WALK the chain is important. 

Incidentally, on autosomal, if you have not done so, the other thing you should do, if it is not possible for you to get a YdNA test done for your line, is start working your own line back on autosomal. That is, get your mother and father tested, or an uncle, grandfather, aunt, or, just like with YDNA, find someone who has your same basic line to do an autosomal for comparison. Because you might be looking for a maternal Smith with autosomal, having additional known matches in your line is extremely helpful. 

Now, how do you look for what the NPE could possibly be? One member matched into another surname, not Smith but where that other family traveled with them in the last century and they intermarried. Locations are also important. One of the NPEs in the project is a surname that is not Smith but matches Smith whose ancestors went to Illinois. There is a matching Smith group that came from New London CT and at least some of them went to a specific place in  Pennsylvania, which is where the member's ancestor was from before he went to IL. Will that fact tell us exactly what might have happened in PA? For example, did Early Ancestor X adopt the Smith children to raise after a massacre in the area (which happened)? Or was it something else? The records do not tell us.