Before we take a look at my DNA, I would like to add two books to the reading list. Both are recently published, and although they relate to UK families the principles explained are universal. In order of publication: "Surnames, DNA & Family History by Redmonds, King and Hey"; publisher: Oxford University Press, and "DNA and Social Networking" by Debbie Kennett; publisher: The History Press.
I would read the second first since it does not presume that you have some previous knowledge of DNA. They approach the use of genealogy DNA in different ways. Redmonds, King and Hey demonstrate its use in helping to determine the origin of surnames and whether they may have a common source. Kennett is more concerned with the testing procedures and the interpretation of the results, so they complement each other very well indeed.
I'm afraid that FT-DNA is the only testing company with which I am familiar, so my observations will continue to relate to their projects. Hopefully, before taking the Y-DNA test you joined/created your surname group - if only to get the discount - but now is the time to use it! Your results will be forwarded to your group administrator who will usually display them in comparative tables with others of the same surname and haplogroup. That for part of the R1a1a Ferguson group is shown below:
Here you can see the results for the first six markers for 4 persons, out of the 10 Fergusons who share the R1a1a haplogroup. Obviously, they are all the same, as indeed they are at 12 markers. But, at 37 markers only 3 are exactly the same, and at 67 none of us (although one member has not tested after 37 markers). Whether it can be said that people are related depends on the difference in the number of markers, the greater the difference then the further back in history you have to go to find a match. Of these 4, only 3 are likely to have a common ancestor within 8 or 9 generations, when determined at 37 markers.
From the results of the above FT-DNA will determine the probable haplogroup to which you belong, as I said, they calculate mine to be R1a1a which is called "Norse". I found extending my test from 37 to 67 markers made little difference to the comparative results at 37, in fact I had a change of only 1 marker when compared with the others. Chris Pomery recommends that 37 markers is sufficient in the vast majority of cases.
I am currently having some of my SNPs tested and will go into details of what they are next time.
© Ron Ferguson 2012