"My reaction was, where did my indian go?" Babette Nelson recently had her DNA analyzed to learn about her heritage. "I was totally surprised, but it is kind of neat." For starters she learned her roots were not as deep in France as she originally believed. Something she was able to joke about. "I took 4 years of French for nothing."
The Ogden woman - who was adopted as a child - has always wondered about her true genealogy. "Through the years I have wanted to know, who am I really?" The DNA answer is 93.3% European 6.6% Middle Eastern. She says she is fine with what she has learned about herself and her family tree, but says if you want to get your DNA analyzed you have to open to whatever you learn. "You have to be prepared about what you might find because that's who you are."
The man who told her who she is Bennett Greenspan. "Were doing between two and three hundred kits a day. And that's a standard day." Greenspan started 'Family Tree DNA' a decade ago. And it wasn't just about making money - he loved genealogy and was running into some dead ends with his own genealogy. "When I was working on the genealogy of my mother's mother's family, I found a family with the same last name, but we ran into a paper trail road block we couldn't get beyond. The only way to solve the problem was to use molecular biology and use that instead a lacking or missing piece of paper."
From that necessity - 'Family Tree DNA' became the first American company to offer the public DNA genetic testing for genealogy. "Between National Geographic and ourselves we have tested one point one million people from around the world in the last 14 years."
We met Greenspan during the RootsTech convention in Salt Lake City in March. His 'Family Tree DNA' booth was one of the popular ones. We had a chance to talk to him about DNA testing. He did the explaining and we tried to keep up. He is one part of our conversation. "There's the Y chromosome that looks at a man's father's father's father." "You can look at our mother's mother's mother's line by looking at the Mitochondrial." "There's a third type called Autosomal DNA."
Greenspan invited me find out what my DNA said about me and my ancestors. A one minute swab of the inside of my mouth was all it took. A month later I had the results. There were Y chromosome DNA matches across Europe - from Turkey to Ukraine to Spain. And then Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Ireland. (see photos/watch video) A 'Family Tree DNA' expert told me I had almost every European possibility one can have. 43 percent European Coastal Islands, 28 percent European Northlands and 10 percent Mediterranean Basin. (see photos/watch video). I also learned more about my ancestral line from thousands and thousands of years ago.(see photos/watch video)
"Think of it as DNA that re-combines like two decks of cards. This is one deck. This deck. Provided by dad and provided by mom and you shuffle once and that becomes you. You don't look exactly like your brother because those decks got shuffled again, but in a different order. Therefore you look similar to your brother, but you don't look identical to your brother." By the way, if my brother doesn't look like me - he's fortunate. But you can be the judge. (see photos)
Unlike Babette - I wasn't really surprised by anything I learned about my ancestors. But just like her - finding out about my ancestors was an incredible revelation. "It grounds you and tells you where you are from."
Family Tree DNA has nearly 700 thousand records. The company says its the largest ancestry DNA database in the world. A DNA test for your father's line is $169. A DNA test for your mother's line is $199. And the Autosomal test is $99.
There are other companies that do DNA testing as well. The links to Family Tree DNA, Rootstech and other information can be found below.