Should I Take More Than One DNA Test?

I have helped several family members get DNA tests done at several DNA companies. My DNA manage list is very long. I have gotten tests done for everyone that is willing to do so. I personally manage 8 kits on ancestry, and 2 on my husbands ancestry account. I have uploaded all these kits to both my heritage and Gedmatch. I also manage two family tree DNA accounts, a YDNA for my husband and my mom’s MTDNA. I am still learning how to use DNA for genealogy, but I am learning more all the time.

My interest in DNA started with the search to find my husband’s biological father. The first test he did was in 2015 at 23andMe along with his biological mother and his two half-sisters. I then had him test at Ancestry, and I uploaded his ancestry results to My Heritage and Gedmatch.

In 2019 I also tested his Y-DNA at Family Tree DNA to see if I could learn more about his paternal line. There were benefits to testing him everywhere so he would be more likely to match with a close relative that could lead us to his father. He had several 1st or 2nd cousin matches here. I was able to sort the results by matches on his father’s side, but at that time there were no close matches for his biological father’s side.

My husbands ancestry ethnicity estimate

The next test he did was Ancestry’s DNA, here we similarly had several 1st or 2nd cousin matches. I sent a couple of messages but got no responses. This was frustrating for me because I only wanted information. I only wanted to learn more about my husband’s biological father’s family. At this point I stopped trying to message DNA matches, all I could do is wait to see if any closer matches showed up.

On My Heritage and Gedmatch I did not have any close matches, most of them were 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th cousins so I didn’t check these regularly. The search for my husband’s biological father quickly stalled. I would check his results periodically to see what new matches he had but still nothing closer was showing up that would help me with our search.

After about 5 years, my husband matched with a half-sister on 23andMe. This was a shock to all parties involved and we finally learned who my husband’s biological father was and learned of several half-siblings. I then decided to reach out to some of his close 1st and 2nd cousin’s on ancestry, 23andMe, and Family Tree DNA, however I only received one reply. He was a first cousin once removed and he happened to not live far from us. We have not yet had a chance to meet him due to the pandemic, but one day we hope to meet him. He was able to share a lot of information about my husband’s grandmother who had passed away a couple of weeks before.

On my side of DNA testing, I become interested in it to see what more I could learn about my Grandmother’ German family. I wanted to learn more about her family through DNA matches, but it turned out to be more tricky than I anticipated. I started by testing myself and my mom. I then asked my great-aunt, my grandmother’s sister, who lived in the Netherlands to take a DNA test. She told me that it was not safe for her to send her DNA in the mail and did not agree to do the DNA test. My grandmother passed away in 2013, so unfortunately she could not be tested.

I have a 2nd cousin once removed on my grandmother’s side who lives in Australia. We had been communicating by email for several years and I decided to ask him if he would take a DNA test. I really felt like if I could test him then I could use our shared matches to find some of my German relatives. He agreed and I promptly sent him the kit I had previously purchased. Now we had to wait.

My DNA Shared Matches Table. Yellow is my paternal grandmother, Red is my paternal grandfather, Blue is my maternal grandfather, and Green is my maternal grandmother.

I decided to use the Leeds Method (https://www.danaleeds.com/dna-color-clustering-the-leeds-method-for-easily-visualizing-matches/) and group my matches to see if I could match them by grandparent. My DNA results were pretty boring and because of the amount of information I already had it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I was able to do it by grandparent. I did leave off my parents, children and some cousin matches, since they would match on several sides and some would match on all the sides. These were just part of my matches. I was thrilled to so easily see the side they matched on.

I was hoping to see more matches on my German Grandmother’s side (Green in the table above), but I only had one and it was the cousin I tested who lived in Australia. I did not include any matches past 4th-6th cousins. This was just an experiment for me to see which side my matches were on and if we had any in common. I know that you can also do this in ancestry using shared match but I liked the table view. I was disappointed that I had only the one match. It was not going to help me as much as I thought it might.

My next step was to upload the results to My Heritage and Gedmatch, but there were no close matches on either of those. I also decided to have my mom take a MTDNA kit test with Family Tree DNA to see what we could learn. I recently received the results for this test but there were no close matches yet.

So why would I recommend testing with different companies? For me, we have matches with different relatives just based on where they choose to test. Had my husband only tested on Ancestry, we would not have see his half-sister match on 23andMe. Had we only tested him on 23andme, we would never have seen his cousin match there and learned about who his grandmother was.

Another reason for testing at different companies is that you never know where or when that match will come. Just last week, I was looking at My Heritage DNA matches and there was a new match for both my mom and me. One that is a close cousin to my German Grandmother, in fact they have the same surname of Burghardt and he lives in Germany. After sending a couple of messages back and forth, I learned that his grandfather and my great-grandfather were siblings. He is going to send me a family tree that a cousin put together. I can not wait to see what more I can learn from the information they have been able to research in Germany.

I know DNA testing can get expensive and not everyone can afford to test so many people and get so many results. The nice thing is that if you test with other DNA companies besides My Heritage, you can upload your results for free. You can also upload any results for free to Gedmatch. I also always look for sales on DNA kits. Last year they had a sale on Ancestry DNA kits and I paid $50.00 each for four of them. The are normally $99.00 each. I gave them to my children for Christmas gifts. I also did not do this all at once, I bought them over time and purchased new kits as I could.

I have learned so much by testing at different companies and have seen different matches on each one. I also know that as I learn how to use DNA with traditional research this will help me further my research.

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