Genealogy, Rant

That’s Not Very Helpful

I can’t find Ramonsita Ortega’s family.  No birth records, no arrival records.  Was she hatched from an egg?  I’m not sure why her maternal haplogroup is V; was her mother a recent immigrant or did her family leave Europe long before?  Either way, why did they leave?  How did the family blend so seamlessly with Mexicans in their new homeland?  There are so many questions unanswered.

This is not acceptable.  My Ancestral Origins matches claim their furthest maternal ancestors were from Germany and the Netherlands.  So I’m thinking, I don’t have any mitochondrial DNA matches.  I only have results for HVR1 which means this is the broadest level of mitochondrial testing.  So let’s  simplify this and say I have 3 things I’m testing that will stand in for HVR1, HVR2, and the coding region.  Say, hair color, eye color, and skin color (mitochondrial DNA in no way codes for these things, it’s just a really simple analogy).  The first test, hair color, will be like the HVR1 test.  I’m looking for brunettes in the first test.  So people with other hair colors will be excluded.  The second test will be added to the first, like HVR1 and HVR2.  I’m now looking for brunettes with green eyes.  See how that narrows down the field?  This is why I’m disappointed I don’t have any HVR1 matches.  Keep this example in mind.

But wait, how do I have ancestral origin matches when I don’t even have any HVR1 matches?  I’m not sure if Family Tree DNA took into account all 3 of my mutations in HVR1 or if they looked at the two common ones and threw out the unique 3rd.  If they threw out the third, how likely is it that my ancestor’s origin would be very similar to the two matches given to me?  Or did my 2 ancestral matches just opt out of having their personal and contact information from being shared so they don’t show up in my match results?  I decided to ask FTDNA:


I have tested HVR1 with the Genographic Project and am currently awaiting for my upgrade to HVR2 results. I don’t have any matches at HVR1 but my ancestral origins page shows 2 matches, the ancestral countries being Germany and Netherlands. Are those 2 people full HVR1 matches? If they are, why don’t they show up on “my matches”?



Pretty straightforward I thought.  Here’s what they told me:


Thank you for contacting us. The matches referenced on your Ancestral Origins page are merely very distant genetic similarities that were found. Please refer to our FAQ for more information.

No shit Sherlock.  They told me the definition of a low resolution mtDNA match.  Understand that I’ve only tested HVR1 thus far and a perfect HVR1 match only has a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor with you in the last 1,300 years.  An HVR1 and HVR2 match has a 50% chance of sharing a maternal ancestor with you in the last 700 years.   And a full sequence match (HVR1&2 and coding region) has a 50% chance of sharing a maternal ancestor with you within 125 years.  So I know that these ancestral matches, even if they shared all 3 of my mutations at the broadest level of testing, would only have a 50% chance of being related within the last 1,300 years.  But FTDNA didn’t answer my question so I don’t know if they threw out my 3rd mutation for comparison’s sake or if it was included.  How would this help my genealogy search?  FTDNA says this about no matches:

Why Don’t I Have Any Low Resolution (HVR1) Matches?

You are the first person with your particular HVR1 sequence to be in our database. This can mean that your result is relatively rare and that, as a result, few people have it. It can also mean that no one else from your particular lineage has happened to test yet. The good news is that the database is constantly growing. The system will continue to search for matches for you whenever new results come in, and we will notify you by e-mail when a new match arrives.

I think maybe doing a Family Finder test might shed some light on my ancestry.  At the very least it would give me an ethnicity breakdown which wouldn’t be helpful, but would be interesting.  If I had any relatives who have also tested (you hear about cousins finding each other all the time), I would get contact information and familial surnames associated with them.  This could help me a great deal if I had any matches.   But it’s a high price to pay for the possibility of finding more information.  So I thought I would ask a relevant project administrator for leads:


Since you are the administrator of the BLANK Project, I thought I’d ask you this question.  I’ve hit a bit of a wall in my search for the female ancestor who passed on her mitochondrial DNA to me.  I’m interested in doing Family Finder to see if that gives me any more clues but I want to wait for a discount.  Would you happen to know when FF goes on sale?  Or, alternatively, do you know of anyone with extra coupon codes?

Thanks, and have a good weekend


This is what the administrator told me:


If I were you I would save the money and not do the FF test.  Wait until you get an Mt-DNA match and see if you get someone with a genealogy that can help you.



Ok, I appreciate that the guy was trying to save me money but I wasn’t asking him if I should do the test or not.  The project in question has a lot of participants so I would think if my maternal DNA were common I would already have matches.  And even if I did have matches, their genealogy information probably wouldn’t help me at all considering an HVR1 match has a fucking 50% chance of sharing an ancestor within the last 1,300 years!  I don’t have anything against this admin, but does he know how mtDNA and Y-DNA work?  That would be kind of important if you’ve decided to head a DNA project.

First world problems, I know.  I’ve wanted to participate in the Genographic project since I’d first heard about it so to finally do it has been awesome.  And I’d like to think that my weird little bit of information has been somewhat helpful to the project.

See that sad, lonely little pin in the southwestern United States? That’s me.

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