It's been interesting to watch my personal evolution in testing - and to see how similar it is to other folks.
I started by testing myself. I was willing to upgrade to as many markers as we could get - because I wanted to find the branching within our huge Barton Lineage I (genetic family) which includes many of the southern Barton families. We have identified over 30 different Barton "families" (determined by having different "Earliest Known Ancestors" (EKAs)) We are slowly finding mutations that allow us to identify family clusters within our Barton Lineage I. However - no mutation has been identified that uniquely designates my Family - which goes back to a Thomas Barton, b c1620s. Ironically, I can "tell us apart" by our lack of mutations. But, that is potentially deceptive - as others who may be far distant cousins could also have no mutations. Someday - I expect that we'll finally find a mutation that identifies our Family - but I have tested multiple men to 106 markers with no success.
As a subset of the Barton project and my own testing, I tested my Great Uncle, my Uncle, my Dad and my Son. (this is not so usual - and I really don't recommend it unless you are as curious as I was) For me - it was useful - as I was able to isolate a mutation that started with my Dad - and later another starting with me. Most folks don't know where their mutations started - but I do. Interesting - and helpful in knowing my EKA profile - but not really so important otherwise. As a fun side note - my Son matches me 116/116. My son's (and my) yDNA profile should be unique - as we have two very recent mutations distinguishing us from our Lineage.
The next dna testing I did was on my Mother's brother - to see if we could find where her gg-grandfather came from. He had run away from TN as a teenager - according to family legend. Neither my Grandfather or my Aunt could find his family in TN. When we started testing, I was asking - was he a Hodges? Was he from TN? Who was his family? We learned he was definitely a Hodges, and could be from TN - or most any other southern state. He's a part of Hodges Lineage I - which is made of many of the southern Hodges families - but I still haven't found my own branch of the Hodges Lineage I. I now have a whole bunch of Hodges cousins - and we have started the Hodges-Hodge Society and have over 100 members. I also have a story on the Deep Clade Haplogroup ancestry - which will be a separate blog.
Then, I added my Mother's Cousin Weisinger - to represent her Mother's Father's family - and solved a mystery of the two Weisinger families in the "Dutch Fork" of SC - who had the same name and same children's names - because they were very closely related. And, soon added another cousin - this one quite distant - a 5th Cousin representing our Parker family. A Hassell cousin tested on his own volition, as did a Harlan cousin. Then, I helped sponsor a Rentz cousin and dallied until I lost track of an apparent Waddell cousin. Currently, I am seeking a Waddell, Clewis, Woodard, Woodward and many others. If I could, I would test a representative of every branch of my family. At this stage - the challenge is finding the right person. The explosion of surname projects - and the sharing - is helping.
Also -n the natural progression was testing for my children's heritage - through my wife's family. At this stage, we've managed to test two of my wife's male cousins - and now have the yDNA profile of her parents - Teaff and Medley.
I also got interested in mtDNA - testing myself (my mother's maternal line) and my Dad (for his mother's maternal line). We soon added my wife - for her (and our children's) maternal line. Then - we caught a sale and upgraded all three to Full Sequence mtDNA. The best news there has been a perfect match on my Dad's mtDNA - another special story which will get its own posting. Recently, I tested my Dad's cousin - who represents my Dad's father's mother's maternal line - and am still trying to understand what I've learned there.
The most recent initiative has been Deep Clade testing - which I've managed to get on my Barton, Hodges, Weisinger and Parker lines. I'll make another posting on that, too - as there is some fascinating learning coming from the details.
Having the dna stored for 25 years on many ancestral lines offers me the future possibility to learn more about my heritage - and to choose when to do the testing - and what to test. I only wish that I knew more of my cousins - and that I had more of their dna in the freezer at FTDNA!