If I Take a DNA Test Will it Solve My Brick Walls?

Brick walls in genealogy are the bastion of every researcher. It’s the distant ancestor that pops up as if he or she was born out of thin air… The distant female ancestor who’s maiden name simply eludes you as you cannot find a marriage record or document to provide it… The Mary Smith’s in your family tree that could be one of six different Mary Smith’s living in the area at the time…. One of the most common brick walls is the family legend that you descend from Native Americans, but you can’t seem to put the pieces together on paper to show how….

So, let’s ask the question again, if I take a DNA test will it solve my brick wall? The answer to this question depends on your brick wall and the amount of participants willing to share their data. DNA testing needs samples from at least two people to prove if they’re related. The more samples that are pooled into a single project from different people, the better understanding you will have about your common ancestry. Genetic DNA in theory allows you to skip generational lines that are tough to research and prove that you do descend from a particular branch of a surname, even if you cannot prove how on paper.

Connecting the Dots

One of the easiest mysteries to resolve concerns two or more lines containing the same surname, with no common ancestor known, usually, because all lines have hit a brick wall.

Myrl Lemburg never dreamed during the years he had researched the Lemburg line, that there may be a “postman” as an ancestor, instead of one of his 10,000 documented Lemburg’s. But after he and two other related Lemburg’s from different branches teamed together and took the test, they found that the two others were related several generations distant, but that Myrl had no distant relative in common with them. How could this be? Truth be told, some female ancestor in Mryl’s line likely had a child by a different man then the Lemburg she was married to, or, one of his ancestors was adopted into the Lemburg line. Whatever the answer eventually proves to be, it is a question you’d never think of asking when conducting your research by paper.

To resolve this wall, takes a little work on the part of the project coordinator, as they will need to convince a couple of male descendants from each line (yes, it must be a male) to take a Y Line Test. Once you’ve compared the results, you should be able to determine if the lines descend from a direct ancestor, and approximately how far back that connection is.

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