Friday, January 1, 2016

Autosomal DNA

I just had a question asked by a member of the Hawkins DNA group who does not carry Hawkins as his surname.  That means that his yDNA test would not give him information on his Hawkins line.  So the test that he took was the autosomal test which FTDNA calls Family Finder.

The Hawkins DNA website that Phil Hawkins maintains does not even try to cover those of us who have done autosomal DNA testing.  The Family Finder is just too hard to organize in a way that makes sense.  Each of us who have done the Family Finder have hundreds of matches who can be as close as parent/child or as far as very distant cousin.  One can not tell without a great deal of looking which line the match might be on as it can be on either one's mother's or one's father's side.  Thus the surname is not simple to figure.

However, I told this man that I would try to add a post today that would have links to some places to read about autosomal testing and interpreting the results.

If you are a total beginner or want a refresher, here is a link to a video that explains very simply what autosomes actually are:

I think that a good place to start is the following link:

This site could keep us all busy for months!

Here is another link that is a bit more advanced:

Here is the link to the FTDNA site where they explain what you can expect to find from autosomal testing:

And then a link to the learning center at FTDNA that explains the three kinds of tests that they offer:

Then next are two links to blog posts on this site that I have written in the past:

I next tried to add the Ancestry DNA site's information.  They are having a special New Year's price for $79 and I impulsively bought it.  I am interested in seeing what tools they have with their results.  Now I can't seem to get to their help .....I just keep getting the confirmation for my kit....try googling ancestry DNA  for yourself to see what information they have for you.

I am not sure that this blog post is that helpful.....I just looked and here is a list of videos for those of us who prefer video to reading:

autosomal DNA

And last but not least, is gedmatch.  This is a volunteer site to which one uploads one's autosomal DNA results from any of the companies in order to have available matches from all of the companies....not just the company that one chooses to use for the test.

Here is the legal Genealogist's blog (Judy Russell is GREAT!)  about Gedmatch:

Here is a link to help understand this site:

I have heard Diahan Southward in person and she is excellent.  Here are links for her upcoming Free seminars:

And here is a link to some videos that are already available:

I think that I almost forgot Jim Bartlett:

OK....I need to get started on interpretation of some of the matches that I have available for the six FF participants (including myself) that I have paid for over the past few years.  Good luck to all of you!  I hope to find that one or more of you are matches to one of my children's lines.

Renate Sanders has commented on this post with excellent additions to the information that I posted above.  Please click on the word comments just below to continue to read more information about DNA and interpreting autosomal DNA testing from Renate!  There is also a comment made by Betsy sure to click on the comments below to see more information!


  1. Thanks for this excellent post, with its very helpful and informative links. As one who's been involved in, and workings with DNA testing for quite some time now, I can say that you did a great job of pointing out excellent resources for all of us. There is, however, one very important correction is like to make:
    In your post, you stated, that you had a question from someone in the group who doesn't carry the Hawkins surname, and then you said, "That means his ydna test would not give him information on his Hawkins line." This is absolutely, positively untrue!
    We've had this discussion before, but it must be stated again: a surname is not a genetic indicator! As we all know, DNA is passed on by sperm from a male fertilizing an egg from a female. When that event takes place, it does so without being assigned a name. It's only in the course of human events (i.e. marriage), that the resulting children are given surnames. And, as we also know, not every child is born to a married mother, nor is every birth the result of a marital relationship. That said, we MUST stop believing that ydna is only attached to a given surname!
    Anyone familiar with America's history will understand that there are thousands of families out here who, like it or not, are paternally-ancestored by many of our country's earliest European-born settlers and/or their descendants. My own GREEN line is one example. As I've shared since joining the project, my great-great grandparents, Nathaniel HAWKINS and Anna GREEN, were in a long-term relationship during Reconstruction. Between 1864 and 1879 (the year Nathaniel died), they had six children together. Because they were not married, all of the children carried the GREEN surname, which their male-line descendants continue to carry, today. (One line added an e to the name.) Thus, we have a y-line (represented clearly and undeniably in this project by my cousin, Kelly Greene, which IS informing my research about this y-branch of our family tree!

    Now that I've cleared that up, I just like to add that for those of you who are doing autosomal testing, no matter which company you've used, let me strongly encourage you to up load your raw data to Not only does the site provide many many useful tools that will help you to connect with others who match your DNA, but it also has chromosome browsers that will allow you to further disseminate and learn about your own genetic background!

    One other name I'd like to mention as an expert in the field of genetic DNA is that of Shannon Christmas. Shannon is beginning to make his rounds as a speaker, but has been well-known in the online genealogy community for quite a while now. He is a brilliant mind, and a helpful resource for anyone who is trying to better understand the intricacies of genetic genealogy. You can check out his blog, Through the Trees, here or just google his name to learn more about him. Oh, and by the way, he, too, is a HAWKINS descendant...


  2. PS... I apologize for my typos! I'll do a better job of proofreading any further comments!


  3. I would like to comment further on the challenges and rewards of finding Hawkins family y-DNA in the absence of the Hawkins surname. I am the five great-granddaughter of the immigrants Philemon and Ann Eleanor Howard Hawkins, who settled in Virginia. Renate Sanders and I are cousins through this line. Since I am descended through my great great grandmother Eleanor Howard Hawkins Haywood, I have been unable to find male cousins with the Hawkins surname. Those of us from the South know that through miscegenation and common law relationships that existed in the 18th and 19th centuries the surnames may not tell the story. Look at the Thomas Jefferson/Sally Hemings story or the South Carolina Ball family "Slaves in the Family" ad examples . I know many many descendants of the prominent North Carolina Hawkinses who included a Governor, Colonial politicians, Revolutionary War patriot and Aide de Camp to George Washington, railroad tycoons, legislators and ranchers - and their descendants who moved to Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and Texas, but who are not represented on the Hawkins DNA website because their surnames are not Hawkins. It was only through the serendipity of finding the family y-DNA link through Renate Sanders' cousin who is indeed a male descendant in my same branch but without the Hawkins name that I have been able to broaden my genealogical knowledge and share historical records from my ancestors that may interest others on this site. I own the Philemon and Lucy Hawkins Bible, a miniature of Philemon as a young man, portrait of Eleanor Hawkins Haywood, and Hawkins letters and slave records. I look forward to what the autosomal DNA might reveal and hope that the Hawkins Family DNA Project will be more responsive to those of us who can fill in the gaps historically as well as genetically!
    Sincerely, Betsy Haywood

  4. I am very new to this, but so grateful to find this site. Through my father being Hawkins I have found out within the last couple of days I've been able to go back as far as my 7th generation great grandfather, John Hawkins Sr. 1615-1675, 6th GGF John Haskins Hawkins, 5th GGF Benjamin Sr. Hawkins, 4th GGF Captain James Hawkins, 3rd GGF James Morton Hawkins, 2GGF Hardin Hawkins 1829-1903. All the information that I have been able to find on the internet seems to stop at the birth of my grandfather and his siblings, but thank goodness I have first hand knowledge of that information. This has been so overwhelming, as most of my Hawkins family members had passed on before I was born. Thanks to all of you that have put in so many hours of family research, I'm forever grateful. Candy Hawkins Bailes