Our American Family
Our American Family
Compiled by John Johnson

FALL 2018!

A significant milestone, we have over 9,800 relatives listed now!


NEW! In addition to documenting our family’s genealogy, I’ve created a website and I am now working on a book on my father Buddy Johnson’s amazing life.

Next May 7, 2019, Dad would have been 100 years old.

Dad had a Western Swing band ‘The Colorado Rangers’ from 1945 to 1986. He was on radio for twenty years and on TV from the 1950’s to the 60’s. It was the dawn of TV which heavily used local talent with extensive tours by national TV, motion picture and music talent traveling to the new stations across the country. Dad hosted (and became friends with) numerous 40’s-60’s performers such as: Hank Williams, Ernest Tubbs, Johnny Cash, Gene Autry, Rex Allen, Roy Rogers, James Arness, to mention just a few.

On his afternoon children’s show ‘The Buddy Johnson Adventure’s Club Show’, it’s estimated that he hosted around 100,000 children. His band performed live both on evening TV and radio shows employing dozens of musicians over the decades. Also, in the mountains nearby, my parents had a large music hall and restaurant known as ‘Gayway Park’.

He was inducted into the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame and posthumously was awarded a Pueblo Music award for his decades of entertainment in Colorado and surrounding states.

So to commemorate the centennial of Dad’s birth, I’m now working on a book from all these materials. I will send out an email when the book is done.

If you’re a relative who remembers what a uniquely charismatic person Buddy was and those very exciting, fun times and you have stories or photographs of Dad, Mom, our family or Beulah, I’d love to see them. Particularly color images or images of our family which include the five of us as these are rare.

The new website (which is a separate website from this site) is at:


if you go there and want to return to this site click your browser back arrow.


How To Use This Website

On this Introduction page - To find a specific Person or Family:
Surnames” shows people with that name.
Index” shows surnames and individuals of that letter.
Sources” shows where I got the information.
Search” an individual by first or last name.
Home” shows the Bill & Roea Johnson grandparents’ card.
Contents” brings you to this Introduction page.
Contact” takes you to my contact information.

Only deceased individual’s information is shown here, living relatives should have no information showing,
though I also collect information on our living family today.

Family Card:
Top four boxes
contain the paternal and maternal parents.
Center is the couple or the individual.
Below is their children, if any.

When you move your cursor, names become underlined, when clicked, it opens a Person Sheet. Next to entries are source number(s), click to see where the information came from

The Person Sheet:
Shows information on that person, their spouse and family.

Media for a Family or Person:

Small camera near a name shows individual’s media.

Small camera near a wedding info shows family’s media.

Family Trees:
Small tree icon
near a name shows that person’s family tree. Click on an underlined name in the tree and you will see that person’s family tree.

Multiple Spouses:
IF below the center couple you see “Spouses: 1,2”, click other numbers to see other spouses and families. Each couples’ children are on the parents’ Family Card along with other spouses’ parents.

If You’re Lost:
Click browser back arrow (at upper left), or
Click the words on the bottom of the page takes you main website pages
Click “Contents” to return to this Introductory page.

If you would like a copy of something just email me.


Recent information November 2018:

We were sad to hear that 2C1R Vivian (Root) Shaw died on Easter, April 1, 2018. Vivian and daughter 2C Della (Root) Shaw have long had an interest in our family’s history and for years researched our genealogy. We owe a debt to Vivian and Della, for their excellent genealogy. Their work provided the basis for my own research and much of what you can enjoy on this website came from them. Thank you Vivian for what you discovered and preserved for our family.

Because of DNA I’ve discovered the Johnsons beyond Great Grandfather James Albert Johnson (1863-1948). In 1989, I started genealogy with information from my mother and my paternal grandmother, I wondered where the Johnsons came from. The Johnsons had been stuck for almost 30 years with James Albert Johnson’s 1863 birth until now.

I tested at Family Tree DNA in 2014 and December 2017 I ported the raw results to the free GEDmatch site where Karen Johnson, wife of 3C Gerald Johnson contacted me. At long last and only because of DNA, I found James. James’ parents were Clark Lawrence Johnson and Sarah Ann Stockdell. After further research I began adding many new Johnson cousins (mostly in Texas) and many new surnames (Stockdell, Cox, Adams, Cummins). The Johnsons now begin in 1812 with 3rd Great Grandfather Matthew Johnson (1812-1864) and his wife Mary Polly Cox (1809-?).

4C Esther Alberta Marie Lebeck sent information on her line down from MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor)
Morgan Ryan (1817-1895) and Susan Jane Patton (1821-1883).

Another line which has been verified is back to 3G Grandparents
Morgan Ryan (1817-1895) and Susan Jane Patton (1821-1883). Through FTDNA I contacted 4C Fred Staples and he sent me info from Morgan and Susan down to him.

2C Della (Shaw) Bailey sent word that 2C
Westly Floyd Strong passed away August 15, 2018. He was born September 30, 1946 to Roy Lee Strong and Edna May Root (his mother was the daughter of Charley Root & Lula Ryan. He married Barbara Reeser on December 18, 1965.

Della sent word that
Robert Arthur Allen died August 26, 2018. He was born May 10, 1929 in Albany, Oregon to Arthur Ray and Vesta Loraine (Myers) Allen. He was married to Lois Burlene Friley on May 28, 1950.

Della also provided more on the Royal Marrit Root family, including:
Royal Marrit Root (1842-1928) and Mary Ellen Horner’s ((1847-1932) marriage license and a family portrait.

Recently, I was able to locate the very last of my wife’s ancestors’ graves, that of her grandmother’s younger brother
Vito “Pete” Soldano. He was born and died September 30, 1914. Though right now he has yet to get a headstone. I have now completed finding all of my wife’s American ancestors all of which are buried in Roselawn Cemetery Pueblo, Colorado. So now her American genealogy is complete, something which I doubt I’ll ever be able to achieve for my ancestors on my father’s side who are scattered from Colorado back to the Eastern seaboard. Many of the early lines disappear in the 19th, 18th and even 17th centuries with many graves undoubtably lost forever.

Sometimes research takes a round about route with the new Johnson ancestors discoveries I was now looking for anyone Stockdell. First I found Cody Harms who is married to a distant cousin, after writing a number of times his mother-in-law 4C Lori (Stockdell) Missel whose her father is John C Stockdell who showed up at FTDNA, Lori then referred me to her cousin genealogist 3C1R Alice (Stockdell) Nash. Alice has been great and has provided a great deal of information on 3G Grandfather
Milton Stockdell and his three wives. Thanks you Alice for proving that I’m on the right track with the Johnsons.

2C2R Sarah Viliocco provided me with information on her line to her Grandmother 2C Betty Knight and Great Grandparents
Hiram Monroe Ryan and Nancy Ann “Nicie” Ryan.

5C Dollie (Hurt) Blazek sent me her line from 4G Grandparents
Josiah Hurt (1771-1818) and Elizabeth Young (1780-1834) down to her. She also sent me a digital download of an out of print book on the Hurt line.

Also, with the same couple, 5C Patsy (Lawrence) Phillips shared DNA information going back to our 4G Grandparents
Josiah Hurt and Elizabeth Young.

6C1R Terry Allen Lytle with whom I share 6G Grandparents
Erasmus Holtzapfel (1710-1793) and Christina Rusher (1718-1792) sent me their line down to her. Interestingly, though we share ancestors, we don’t share any DNA, it sounds odd I know, but not that unusual because of what’s known as “recombination”. (See my DNA info at the bottom of this page and I’ll explain. You can have the same ancestors and not share any inherited DNA!) Christina Rusher, by the way, is the only known French immigrant ancestor that I have at this time.

1C Nina (Trabucco) Corscadden has kindly let her sister 1C Joann (Trabucco) Graham, a budding genealogist in her own right, copy a photograph of our maternal Great Grandparents
Pietro Antonius Goiettina (1844-1898) and Maria Teresa Seren Piocca (1846-1908). I now have a complete collection of Great Grandparent photographs.

Now I am trying to complete my collection of the Great Great Grandparents’ photographs of the Civil War generation. I’m missing only two images: Sarah Ann Stockdell (1837-1863) and Charles Henry Hurt (1840-1880). I’m not sure there are any images of Sarah Stockdell, but a number of cousins have told me that there are images of Henry Hurt.

Carrie (Bauer) Kelso sent information on my brother in law’s Gizewski line including death certificates on her Grandparents Victor Joseph Gizewski (1890-1980) and Anna Gorniak (1898-1993) which I received in an email from Babe (Gizewski) Vandenberg’s collection.

4C Loree (Hinde) Amos has added information about 3G Grandparents
Hiram Tuck and Mary “Polly” Russell’s children. The Tucks are one of the earliest lines of American surnames in the colonies with 6G Grandfather Bennett Tuck born 1695, about 1 generation from the Jamestown colony!

My wife’s grandaunt Frances Mae (Soldano) Baity provided photographs and information on her parents
Frank Soldano (1881-1959) and Pasquala Geanetta (1887-1960) and siblings which were presented in her book called “Sweet Memories” which she created with her late daughter Linda. Her interesting information on her parents’ early life is presented on her parents’ pages.

5C Ron Donaldson, again found through DNA, contacted me and verified our common ancestors who were 4G Grandparents
Cary Tuck (1762-1836) and Nancy Stanley (1771-1855). These are both significant surnames in early American history.

3C Alan Aimone’s wife Barbara, found through GEDmatch, provided details about Great Grandmother
Maria Teresa Seren=Piocca’ s sister Giovanna Seren=Piocca and their line. This was a special find as it provides more information and verification of my Grandmother Antonia Maria Goettina’s line which until DNA was totally unknown to me.

In major steps forward, 1C Joann (Trabucco) Graham tested her DNA first with Ancestry and then she tested with FTDNA and now we can triangulate our results to discover which are our Trabucco relatives.

And 1C Felectia (Johnson) Lewis allowed me to test her DNA with FTDNA so we can also triangulate our results to discover which are our Johnson relatives.

Recently, I got substantial (12 generation) documentation from distant relative, Dr. Scott Swanson (a Butler University medieval history professor) through FTDNA on grandmother Nina Goettina (1892-1957). He translated the records of the little Northern Italian village where our common relatives lived for centuries. I had very little on her, but now I have most of her lines back to around 1700!

Through 1C Joann (Trabucco) Graham and her DNA research, I met 3rd cousin once removed (3C1R) retired University of Illinois administrator Jim Bono who provided grandfather
John Trabucco (1886-1971) and his mother Great Grandmother Caterina Michelas (1866-1945) birth certificates and added many generations on the Trabucco and Michela lines.

3C Kate (Klamm) Clabough, who I found in FTDNA and GEDmatch, sent me information on her line which goes back to our MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor) 3G Grandparents
Abner Ryan (1794-1865) and Rebecca Brown (1795-1855). Abner was a soldier in the War of 1812 and was killed in the “Kingsville Massacre” toward the end of the Civil War.

Each time I update this site I do try to mention everyone who has contributed though I probably miss some, sorry.


If you’re interested in DNA testing, I have new info at the bottom of this page.

Ancestors You Know

If you have any of the following ancestors, your genealogy is here.

James Albert Johnson & Mary Ann Hurt; Hiram Monroe Ryan & Nancy Ann Ryan

Pietro Trabucco & Caterina Matilde Michela; Pietro Antonius Goiettina & Maria Teresa Seran Piocca

Milan Milosavich & Helen Fidel; Richard Gomey & Elizabeth Soldano

Henry Newton Therwhanger & Rubye Belle Hart; Charles Henry “Charlie” Conner & Annie Belle Hudspeth

Joseph Ponikvar & Francis ?; Victor Joseph Gizewski & Anna Gorniak.
Not sure what Francis’ maiden name was, could use some help on this one.


How you might be related to me

The lists below will help you determine how we are related.

If we have the same Grandparents, we are 1st cousins (1C) inheriting approximately 25% of their DNA:
(NOTE: your 25% and my 25% probably are composed quite differently though)

Our Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) would be our Grandparents:

William Henry “Bill” Johnson & Roea Ann “Roy” Ryan
Giovanni Battista “John” Trabucco & Antonia Maria “Nina” Goettina

1st Cousins:

Gloria, Kay and Bill BARNETT

Bill, Madeline, Mark and Mike JOHNSON

Felectia, Jim and Linda JOHNSON

Cindy and Pam SCHRANK

Nina and Joann TRABUCCO

I know all of you very well and hope you like what I’ve done. When I started, no one had documented much of anything on the Johnsons and I felt our family should have a good genealogy, like other families.

This history is yours! You, your children and grandchildren can add significantly to it.
If you are the child of my 1st cousin, you are my 1st cousin once removed (1C1R).
If you are the grandchild of my 1st cousin you are my 1st cousin twice removed (1C2R).


If we have the same Great Grandparents, we are 2nd cousins (2C) inheriting approximately 12.5% of their DNA: (again, your 12.5% and my 12.5% are probably significantly different)

Our Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) would be our Great Grandparents:
James Albert Johnson & Mary Ann Hurt
Hiram Monroe Ryan & Nancy Ann “Nicie” Ryan
Pietro Trabucco & Caterina Matilde Michela
Pietro Antonius Goiettina & Maria Teresa Seran Piocca

2nd Cousins:

Geraldine, Laura, Preston and “Butch" AKERS

Randall AVARA

Gianfranco, Rosanna, Silvia BALLESIO

James, “Jerry”, John, Janice BATISTA

Roy, Ray, Neleta, and Wendy BEHNER

Charles, James, and Mary BESSO



Linda and Alfred CORRELL

Deborah and Alvis CRAIN

Jack and “JC” DOUGLAS



John and Jeanne FRULLO

Donald and David GOGLIO

Frances GOGLIO

“Katsy”, “Jack” and Frank GOGLIO

Joseph, Thomas and Mary GOGLIO

Madeline, Lois and Wilma GOGLIO

“Hays”, Sigrid, Derek and Robin GRISWOLD

Dreama, Deana and Kristi GRISWOULD

Rhonda and Gregory GRISWOULD

James , Barbara, Nancy and Diane HINDMAN

Colleen HUGHES

Mary and Vickie JOHNSON

Betty and Joseph KNIGHT

Alida and Franca LEONE

Jacqueline McINTOSH

Joseph, Elaine and James McKEE

Lora and Christine PIERCE

Giovanni and Annarita PISTONO

Rebecca, Clifford and Leesa POWERS

“Corky”, “Dutch”, "Chuck" "Onie" and Loretta ROOT

Vivian, Billi and Jimmy ROOT

Guelda, “Jody”, Emma and Edith ROOT

Marvinia ROOT

Renee ROOT

Robert ROOT

April and Kyle ROSER

Rene, Cynthia and Denise ROSER

Georgia ROSER

Vernon ROSER




Della, Christine and Charles SHAW

Sandy, Sharon and Karen STEWARD

William, Harold, Westly, Charlie and Royal STRONG


Walter and Danilo TORNIERO



Paolo and Monica TRABUCCO

Clarice and Maureen TURNER

Ann, Madeline, Emily, Minnie and Viola VALANZANO

Robert, Gloria, Thomas, “Jacci”, Patricia and “Edie” WARREN

Roy, Neal, John, Gina and Scott WATTS

Karla and Connie WOODWORTH

"Bob" and Richard WYLIE

I don’t know most of you, but I would love to hear from you.

The earlier history here is yours! You, your children and grandchildren can make important contributions to what is here.
If you are the child of my 2nd cousin, you are my 2nd cousin once removed (2C1R).
If you are the grandchild of my 2nd cousin you are my 2nd cousin twice removed (2C2R).


The Rich Spectrum of American History

Our family’s story, is a tale of coming to America, settling small towns and homesteading the Eastern wilderness or on Western prairies. One line might have begun with the nation itself at Jamestown, we’re only one generation away. Yet to be proved.


The Old World

Some ancestors arrived through Ellis Island or other ports early in the 20th Century. Often they suffered discrimination and lived hard lives working as laborers, coal miners, mill workers or farmers often with the added difficulty of learning English.

We have many lines back ten, or more generations with no ship to America in sight. These lines are intriguing considering what still might be discovered.

From the Old World are interesting stories of government officials, religious intolerance, and of moving to America for economic or other reasons.

An “American Genealogy”

My initial goal has been to create an “American Genealogy” which traces all my lines back to the person who came to these shores, or conversely, to discover those who were always here. Our oral history has Native American ancestors in it, but this is still to be proved.

When you look up an ancestor here and see a foreign flag, this is an emigrant ancestor. Without their courage and belief that America would be a better place for themselves and their children, we wouldn’t be Americans today.


America at War

Many Great Grandfathers were involved in significant historical conflicts. Peter Brakebill (1760-1844) was with George Washington crossing the Delaware (as shown in the famous painting by Emanuel Leutze in the masthead above). Christopher Moyers, Jr. (1748-1815) was with Washington at Valley Forge.

Currently, we have eleven Grandfathers in the Revolutionary War. David Shely (1750-1823), his father John Shock Shely (1723-1821) and his father-in-law Henry Hurst (1729-1801), were all Virginia volunteers.

During the Civil War we had participants on both sides. Union veteran GG Grandfather Wiley Jay Ryan (1840-1907) in the masthead at the top of this page on the far right. Wiley fought in many battles and was wounded during the Battle of Franklin (Tennessee). His photograph was taken in 1904 and provided to me by a fifth? cousin Olen R. Gowens of Indiana.

Ancestors were in about every American conflict, many of which you’ve probably never heard much about: the War of 1812 Henry Fuller Ryan (1795-1860), while his son Morgan Ryan (1817-1895) was in the Second Seminole Indian War (Florida), others were in the Battle of King’s Mountain (South Carolina) John Blackburn (1740-1808) and The Old Northwest Indian Wars’ Battle of Fallen Timbers (Ohio) John Shock (1771-1854), and more recent conflicts such as World War II Nick Milosavich (1925-).

When you look up an ancestor see a soldier, this is a military ancestor for whom I have no photograph.


America at Peace

Most ancestors though followed much more peaceful pursuits as farmers, railroaders or shop keepers, like Hiram Monroe Ryan (1868-1904) who is said to have built the first (and probably only) steam merry-go-round.

We have a few who possibly were on the wrong side of the law. One early Ryan cousin might have ridden with Jesse James’ gang, an oral history we are still trying to prove.

And we have relatives who were musicians, artists and writers. William Henry Johnson (1896-1980) was a shop keeper and salesman who wrote stories and poems his entire life or his son Buddy Johnson (1919-1986) who was on television and radio for decades and had a Western swing band “The Colorado Rangers” for over 45 years.


Our Grandmothers

Our Great Grandmothers often had many children, one had 17, sometimes they died in the process or had to remarry after their husbands died sometimes at the hands of Native Americans. They were spirited like Margaret Ann (Burke) Hurt (1840-1930) (shown above left center), who argued with Union soldiers who tore off her porch to roast her cattle which they butchered in her yard. Her husband, Charles Henry Hurt (1840-1880) possibly was a Confederate bush whacker (yet to be proven).

At 16, G Grandmother Nancy “Nicie” Ann Ryan (1871-1938) fell in love and eloped with Hiram Monroe Ryan. Her father Wiley Jay Ryan followed them and found them stuck in a buggy in the middle of a river and forced them to marry at first light. Monroe died at 36 leaving Nicie with 7 children to raise. Over the years Nicie took an additional 4 husbands. Some were older and she took care of them and they helped her and her children survive. The third husband Isaac Willett (1837-1914) served with New York’s 9th cavalry in the Civil War at Gettysburg and many other battles, I have his medal. His Union Army discharge paper is seen above. Years later when Nicie died as an old woman, she was buried next to Hiram, her first love.

Also 16, Grandmother Antonia Maria “Nina” (Goettina) Trabucco (1892-1957) came to America by herself after her mother died. Leaving a sister behind in Italy, she traveled to join two older sisters who were already in Colorado where their husbands worked in the coal mines. Little did she know that her future husband Giovanni Battista “John” Trabucco (1886-1971) had sailed to America on the same ship she subsequently took on its previous voyage. Though they were from tiny villages not 50 miles apart in Northern Italy, it was only after they each traveled half way round the world that they met and married in 1911 in Cañon City, Colorado.


How You Fit into this story

I’d love to see anything you have, if possible send information in digital form, with your sources, then I can just paste it where it needs to go.

Don’t trust sites which do NOT have sources. IF you use such information then you need to verify there it came from, otherwise you can’t really trust it. It’s easy to get misled and be researching someone else’s family.

I always return originals. I just want the information and don’t need to keep the original.


Published Genealogies which you may be included in:

I contributed to two large printed genealogical volumes.

5C1R Clovis Brakebill’s The Descendants of Peter Brakebill 1760-1844 A soldier in the American Revolution from Pennsylvania and Maryland who settled in East Tennessee, Copyright 1999.

My contribution was on the descendants of 4G Grandparents Henry Fuller Ryan and Nancy Brakebill.

I contributed to EDWARD TUCK c. 1730-1781 of Halifax Co VA and some of his Descendants 1750-2004, Volume 1: Cary Tuck” by Kathleen Guest Wilson, Copyright 2004.

I contributed the supplement entitled “Descendants of Hiram Monroe Ryan” which contains G Grandparents Hiram Monroe Ryan and Nicie Ann “Nicie” Ryan’s descendants.


Thank You to all of you who have helped me gather what is here!

I want thank my friend Michael Martinez who really showed me how to do genealogy.

Also, I cannot thank my cousin Della (Shaw) Bailey and her mother Vivian (Root) Reeves enough as they provided me with the core research on my RYAN ancestors. They have been extremely knowledgeable in all things dealing with genealogy research and have been working these fields far longer than I have.

And there are many others who have provided me information over the years, their names can be found in “Sources”.


This information is for you to enjoy and for those who follow us.

When you read our ancestor’s interesting stories, it makes you realize how easy our lives are today. When you consider what they had to overcome, our daily troubles are pretty insignificant. Genealogy helps us understand the debt we owe to those who came before us.

Since 1993, I’ve gathered what you can find here.

I thought about putting this into book form and may still do so at some point, but I decided that rather than just having my research sit on my Mac, I would put it on the web for others to enjoy.

Hopefully this website is a growing, continually improving source of information, rather than static like a book. Relatives can use it and add to it which will provide a more accurate picture of our family’s history for our descendants in the future.


John Henry Johnson


My experiences with Genetic Genealogy DNA Testing - November 2018.

In 2014, through the generous support of a relative, I did a DNA test with a cheek swab through FamilyTree DNA (FTDNA), the first company to provide ‘direct to consumer’ DNA testing, it was the pioneer in the field and was founded in 2000. Though other companies incessantly advertise, I still think FTDNA is the best for genealogical research. They don’t advertise, they don’t need to. It is the only DNA company created by and run for genetic genealogists.

That said, any DNA testing is better than none and will give you lots of research options that you just wouldn’t have any other way. IF you are serious about genealogy (and you must be IF you’ve read this far) DO IT.

IF you have lots of money, by testing at all the companies, you would have the widest net out there in order to find any DNA relatives, but that would be pretty expensive.

DNA testing combined with traditional genealogy research today provides an ability to travel backwards in time like never before!

Periodically since that first test, I’ve had FTDNA run additional tests of various types on my sample to further enhance results and verify my traditional research.

Genetic genealogy will NOT provide you with a family tree - this only exists when someone has researched and put it out for others to see! If no one has done the work, testing services won’t have anything for you in as to your family history.

Also, a major concern to consider BEFORE you run any test is that you never know what you’ll find. You have to be open to what it finds, otherwise I don’t recommend anyone do DNA genetic testing. Often results have radically revised what individuals thought about their heritage, their family and themselves.

Finally, I hope that news about law enforcement using genealogy DNA sites to track down criminals doesn’t stop anyone who wants to find out about their heritage. Government agencies will always be able to access any information IF the need is great enough. The vast benefits for someone wanting to discover their family history far outweighs this concern. There are lots of cousins out there looking for the same ancestors you’re looking for and this is really the only way you’ll ever find them.


How it works

Everyone has 22 sets of chromosomes and a 23rd set which determines sex. Also, in the outer area of each cell are countless small rings of Mitochondrial DNA.

Testing measures exceptionally small segments of matter in tiny bits known as centiMorgans (cM). The lengths of inherited material is important, as is where the DNA strands match between two individuals.

The full genome amount for an individual is around 6,800 cMs.with half inherited from the father and half from the mother.

Generally, a person receives approx. 3,400 cMs from each parent, giving each of their children similar though different DNA amounts, siblings share approx. 2,550 cMs with each other (though the composition can be quite different). Other relatives share far less DNA with you.

DNA genetic research is a search for cousins, for it is with cousins that you share your Grandparents, Great Grandparents, etc.

There are charts showing a range amounts for any type of family relationship. But because of the randomness of inheritance (called “recombination”), sometimes distant relatives, will share no DNA at all, even though you are related. You both share the ancestor, but you both don’t share the specific DNA from that ancestor.

I know it’s confusing, but it becomes understandable the more you work with it.

Genetic genealogy adds to traditional genealogy, it does NOT replacement it.

Different types of DNA tests provide different types of information. Traditional genetic genealogy testing does NOT provide health or medical information. For instance, FTDNA believes in an individual’s privacy about health information and scrubs their results of this information so only the genealogical information remains. Also, regular direct to consumer genealogical DNA testing DOES NOT provide legal proof of paternity because there isn’t a formal "chain of custody”.

How does it work? Simply put, the closer two people are related the more tiny DNA segments match in size and position.

Testing tells you how much you match another person and therefore how likely that you both inherited DNA from a common ancestor. The more segments, the longer these segments and their similar location, the closer you may be related.

A Parent give you approx. 50% of your DNA.
A Grandparent gives you approx. 25% of your DNA.
A Great-grandparent gives you approx. 12.5% of your DNA.

Siblings will NOT necessarily receive the same 50% DNA from their parents, as every individual has a unique composition of DNA. Only identical twins have a complete DNA match with each other.

The composition of the DNA from ancestors will be unique to each individual because recombination. When sperm and egg combine, their DNA recombine with some ancestor’s DNA included and some lost. This process happens over and over again down through the generations over time.

Because of recombination, ancestors beyond the great-grandparent level (which would be a 3rd cousin match), the matching DNA becomes so random that there may or may not be a match and that’s where your traditional genealogy research comes in and helps you make a connection.

3rd cousins
have a 90% chance of having a match, 4th cousins have a 50% chance of matching while 5th cousins only have about a 10% chance of matching.

Also, because of recombination, over a number of generations, an individual will NOT inherit DNA from ALL of their ancestors. Interestingly, because there are so many ancestors’ DNA recombining over each generation, a person is actually NOT genetically related to all of their ancestors.

That’s why when a match is discovered it is often of significance!


Everyone actually has 2 family trees

An important concept to understanding all this is that everyone has 2 family trees:

1. a Genealogical Family Tree which contains ALL your ancestors, and

2. a Genetic Family Tree which contains a smaller group of ancestors from whom you actually inherited your personal DNA.

DNA testing deals with your Genetic Family Tree.

Just like a copy machine makes mistakes in copies of previous copies (think of the old mimeograph machines and how if you made enough copies of copies it would change letters, like e’s became o’s and t’s became i’s), specific DNA changes are known to have occurred in certain places at certain times in the distant past.

It is the mutations in these branches which give a clearer picture of your genetic heritage. The point of all this is to find the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) you share, which in turn allows for exchanging information which often is very difficult to find through traditional methods.


If you want to compare DNA, we can compare it in there 3 ways:

1. If you’ve done AncestryDNA or 23andMe testing, you can port your RAW results to FTDNA for only $19, then matching with me is possible in a number of ways.

2. You can run tests at FTDNA and have total access to their extensive tools and resources for 25 years.

3. You can port RAW results to GEDmatch which is a free third-party site which lets people who have tested with different companies to compare their results. I use GEDmatch and LOVE it! It helps you find cousins from MOST DNA testing companies who have submitted their data.

As important as DNA genealogy tests are, so is the database to which you can compare results with. As of March 2018 the FTDNA database has almost 1 million records, it has the most comprehensive variety of genealogical DNA tests, a database: over 9,946 group projects with 559,130 unique surnames to research surnames, along with geographical projects to research ancestors in specific areas, heritage projects for cultural group research and finally haplogroup projects if your research moves along a more scientific route.


There are 3 basic genealogical tests (at this point in time):

1. Autosomal DNA (atDNA)
which includes X-chromosomal (X-DNA),

2. Y-chromosomal DNA (Y-DNA),

3. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).

Each test reveals different things about ones’ genetic ancestors. Think of each test as a specific tool. As science progresses, there probably will be more, different tests in the future, for there is lots of DNA for which no known uses are understood at this time, but the field is evolving quickly.


1. Autosomal Test (atDNA) “Family Finder” Test
can be done by men and women.

I’ve done “Family Finder” (Autosomal), “Y-DNA”, and “mtDNA Full Sequence” tests.

The Family Finder (Autosomal) test has been the most useful so far. It provides information on all male and female ancestors back about five generations. Autosomal tests provide information on: ancestral lines, the X chromosome, ethnic origins and close family relationships.

How many new contacts will you gain? I currently have 2,945 cousins showing in Family Finder. Reviewing the first few of my 99 pages of results will keep me busy for years. As new people match your DNA pop up, the order reshuffles with BIG matches on the first pages.

A caution about one of the main reasons people initially do DNA testing and that is, to discover their ethnic makeup or “admixture”. It is merely an estimate. It’s fun, but it’s merely the tip of the iceberg as to genetic genealogy. It’s the beginning, not the end, and you need to be able to take your results and go further with comparisons.

At this time, it cannot truly specify a country. It is done by comparing your results to the testing company’s database, that is, others who have previously tested that come from regions around the world. It CAN provide general regions like continents or areas with more detail possible in the future as the science evolves. Take it with a grain of salt!

The ethnic percentages you get from testing is for you alone.
Except for identical twins, even siblings will show different percentages and possibly slightly different ethnic results because of recombination.

Even among siblings, the DNA received from their parents for each person might reveal somewhat different ancestral heritage percentages.

Currently, I’m 93% European (49% West and Central Europe, 22% Iberia, 19% British Isles, 3% Scandinavia), plus 6% Middle Eastern (6% Asia Minor), plus Trace Results <2% East Middle East.

Like other DNA results, these percentages will change over time as the science becomes more sophisticated and the databases grow larger. Determining generally where you came from is fun, but it quickly wears thin as your desire to really learn about your family grows. Also, single digit percentages are probably trace elements and questionable.


1a. X-Chromosomal test (X-DNA) part of atDNA can be done by men and women.

It is part of the FTDNA’s “Family Finder” test. Everyone has 22 sets of regular chromosomes and one set of sex chromosomes (X or Y), it is this 23rd set which X-DNA deals with.

Women have two X chromosomes, one each from their father and mother. Men get only one X chromosome from their mother and they get a Y chromosome from their father (XY).

The X-Chromosomal test reveals a smaller subset of ancestors who could have transmitted X-DNA to you. When you have an X match with another person it is from a much smaller pool of ancestors to look at!


2. Y Chromosomal Test (Y-DNA Test)
can only be done by men.

It is about your father’s, father’s, father’s line and provides male line matches. Y-DNA is listed by how many markers are measured such as: Y37 (provides information 7 generations back), Y67 (6 generations) and Y111 (4 generations). Y111 is probably the most useful, as many people don’t even have 4 generations of traditional genealogical research done on their family’s history to tie into.

The ultimate Y-DNA test is called the “Big Y-500” and is only available through FTDNA. It documents aspects of a man’s 10 million base pairs and helps explore their deep paternal ancestry through a vast amount of time. It can actually contribute knowledge to DNA genealogical research.

The more points you test, the closer you get to our own time.

My Y67 test showed my male line is of the R-M269 Y-DNA Haplogroup, pronounced “hap-lo-group” which is from Western Europe and is what I expected.

Ideally testing results fall within the range of the traditional genealogical timeframe which is the last one to six generations, roughly 25 to 150 years. That’s usually the time period during which most people can fairly easily research their family’s history.

Y-DNA remains constant down through the generations so a distant male ancestor and his male descendants will have very similar DNA, but with numerous small changes over time. A mutation in Y-DNA occurs roughly every 144 years. As the locations where these changes occurred are known, Y-DNA can reveal where male line ancestors were at different times in history.

But, Y-DNA changes far more frequently than the female Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).


3. Mitochondrial DNA test (mtDNA) can be done by men and women.

It is about your mother’s, mother’s, mother’s line. The Full Sequence mtDNA test provides matches within the past 16 generations (400 to 500 years).

Mitochondrial DNA gradually accumulates mutations at a roughly regular but extremely slow rate, ticking like a molecular clock. There are a large number of mittochondiral surrounding the cell nucleus with each looking like a tiny ring.

My mtDNA test showed my female line is of the U3a1 haplogroup, which I expected as I knew that my maternal grandparents both came from Northern Italy and U3a1 is a major European haplogroup.

mtDNA is much more constant without changing over vast amounts of time than Y-DNA and therefore is used to discover identities of war or disaster casualties.

It was mtDNA in 1994 which proved that bones discovered in rural Russia were those of Tzar Nicholas II and his family who were killed during the Russian revolution in 1918! Also, that King Richard III (1312-1377), the same figure featured in Shakespeare’s play by the same name, was actually buried under a parking lot in Leicester, England.

These were the amazing results that gave rise to Genetic Genealogy!


The “big three” genetic genealogy DNA testing companies are: 23andMe, AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA. Recently a number newcomers have entered the field. Before using them, check any company for it’s ability to port your raw results to other companies and to GEDmatch.

IMPORTANT, when you test with a company, do you own your data or do they? Genealogy, which until about a decade ago was largely free, now sees a disturbing “corporatization” trend as it has become more popular with Baby Boomers.

1. 23andMe formed in 2007 was founded by Google founder’s ex-wife Anne Wojcicki. From 2013-2015 it was prevented by the FDA from selling DNA analysis because of irregularities in their health testing, but have since been allowed to do testing again. 23andMe limits matches to 1,000 results though there are often more and only provides match percentages rather than centimorgans (cMs) measurements which is more useful for further research. Contacting matches with their messaging system is oddly difficult because it has a default privacy barrier. If you can’t easily communicate with related researchers much of the value of testing is lost. 23andMe’s strength is its health information.

As of July 2018 23andMe has a $300 million deal with drug maker BlaxoSmithKline to develop new drugs. You have to agree to opt in, but this is a very disturbing trend.

Results can be ported to GEDmatch and Version 4 is OK, but Version 5 is incompatible.

2. Ancestry, often thought to be part of the Mormon church, but its not. Ancestry is an annual fee service which had been associated with Microsoft’s Paul Allen. Ancestry has long been involved in traditional genealogical research and I considered using them. The AncestryDNA part of the company is relatively new and was founded in 2012. AncestryDNA doesn’t readily show how much DNA is shared. It has NO Chromosome Browser to compare your results!

Ancestry’s strength mainly comes from its size and for comparing family trees. If your match doesn’t have a family tree or doesn’t allow others to see it, then you’re at a dead end. IF you want to compare actual DNA matches, you have to export results to a program like GEDmatch or FTDNA which shows matches. Ancestry does NOT offer segment data which is a primary DNA tool. Ancestry has about 9 million users, the biggest number of people, but to do multiple tests, to actually compare DNA segments Ancestry users end up porting results. Lastly, Ancestry is an annual subscription service.

Results can be ported to GEDmatch and FTDNA.

The main purpose of genetic genealogy is finding people with whom you share ancestors and with whom you can share research with. Ancestry’s strength is its documents and historical data base, but these can be accessed for free if you have a library card.

Both 23andMe and AncestryDNA have aggressively advertised, corporatizing genealogy, which largely used to be free.

3. Family Tree DNA. I chose the third company, Family Tree DNA (FTDNA).

I liked its quality which is confirmed by the fact that it is the tester for National Geographic’s Genographic Project which is revealing how early humans migrated through pre-history around the planet. Considered the gold standard, it was the original.

At FTDNA you own and control your data, it’s not for sale by them.

Results can be ported to GEDmatch.

Some of the reasons I chose FTDNA:
1. It stores your sample for 25 years (as you go further other tests are helpful) and they offer inheritance of your information.
2. They processes tests in their own state-of-the-art DNA lab, others farm out testing.
3. It has the largest male Y-STR database in the world.
4. They have the greatest range of genealogical tests, others just test autosomal.
5. It has “projects” which help you find others looking for the same information you are.
6. Very easy communication with people who are related.
7. FTDNA’s “Big Y-500” test actually expands the knowledge of human genetics.
8. They offer numerous services: new match email notification, total control over your data, unique common ancestor calculator, research groups,etc., lots of things genealogists find useful and
9. NO annual subscription fee. Once you test everything is available.

NOTE: there are now numerous little companies popping up every day, most of these companies have NO history, don’t do their own testing and I wouldn’t recommend them because their results generally are pretty useless other than providing a general map indicating where your ancestors came from. Often these results cannot be ported to the major sites for further research and thus might require a tester to retest with a more established company.

NOTE: In a New York Times article from November 20, 2018, entitled Sigrid Johnson Was Black. A DNA Test Said She Wasn’t. In 2017, in a consumer guide to DNA ancestry testing, the Council for Responsible Genetics wrote, “These come-ons promise more than they can deliver, ignoring problems with accuracy while obscuring a business model in which customers pay for the privilege of giving away valuable information to venture capitalists who expect it will make them very, very rich.” Let the buyer beware!


There’s always something new when it comes to DNA testing. Some things are useful, some things are not. A new thing you’ll probably be seeing is ‘whole genome testing’ which sounds great. But as we are all more than 99% identical, testing all those excess areas is not really useful. It is not a replacement for genealogical DNA testing and comparisons.

Now something positive, a GREAT thing on the horizon, though way too costly right now, is artifact testing. Testing things which might have preserved an ancestor’s DNA like: hair, teeth, licked letters or stamps, etc. An extremely exciting possibility which IF you have an ancestor’s artifact might one day allow genetic genealogists to actually retrieve DNA of say a 10th great grandfather’s information!


FamilyTree DNA is the lab for National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project in which samples from individuals around the world are helping to discover the ancient migration patterns of humans around the world.


There is an excellent book “The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy” by Blaine T. Bettinger. Bettinger is a genealogist who also has a Ph.D. in biochemistry.

Before reading this book, the information from my tests was bewildering, but the book presents the science in an easy to read style. Bettinger even surmises that in the future, through as yet undiscovered tests, DNA alone might be able to recreate what our distant ancestors looked like and even possibly what types of lives they lived. Wow!

Feel free to email me IF you have any questions and I’ll try to help.
1 (719) 564-7924
3730 Canterbury Lane
Pueblo, Colorado 81005