FamilyTreeDNA / FTDNA


is the founding genetic genealogy testing company.

    • Bennett Greenspan, was the first to realize that genetics could assist in genealogical research when he started this company.
    • He has hired multiple Geneticists and an Anthropologist that simply keep making forefront strides in refining the accuracy of genetic testing as it applies to genealogy.
    • Only the samples of DNA that determine one’s male (Y-DNA test), female (MTDNA) or close cousin ancestral lines (Family Finder) are used.
    • FamilyTreeDNA has a strict double blind testing process. This is very important for one’s privacy. When you return a test to them, your kit goes to a lab in the University of Arizona where it is assigned a number. It is then shipped to the lab where it is tested. This second lab only has knowledge of this kit’s number and nothing else. You determine through choices in the sign-up process whether or not you want cousins to be given your email address if and when you have a match in ancestral DNA.
    • They are also known for their strict adherence to careful scientific procedure.
    • It’s teamed up with MyHeritage so joining FamilyTreeDNA gives discounts to online services like WorldVitalRecords.
    • You will get to see your chromosomal and segment information and compare it with other interested cousin matches!


All this sounds pretty formal, but I thought you should know what is important to hunt for in a genetic genealogy company.   Now I want to share with you why I personally like this company so much.  I’m the administrator for the Coats/Coates/Coate Family DNA study.   We have over 80 members and counting.

What did we learn as a group from participating in this?   To begin with, we actually thought we might break into 2 or 3 groups.   Through our YDNA group, our surname instead has broken into more than 20 family groupings.  My Coate surname it turns out is related to others spelled Coats and Coates, so the groups didn’t break apart by spelling derivatives.

Three different groups thought they descended through Big John Coate and we finally had enough descendants test to determine which of these 3 groups actually descended from him by having DNA evidence through his multiple children’s descendants match all in the same group.  Sure it was a disappointment to those who didn’t match, but at least they don’t have to waste their time trying to prove that now and can look in other directions.

We’ve been able to find widely distributed lines that go back through Robert Coates of Lynn, Massachusetts and only one of these persons suspected they went back through him before they joined our DNA study.

In my group, my family tradition said that I was related to both Marmaduke Coate, Gentleman John Coate, Little John Coate, and Big John Coates.  Turns out it looks like family tradition was correct even though I don’t yet see how the last 3 persons listed here fit it yet.  I’m still hoping for at least one more person to test for Little John and Big John from a different son of each when possible - to be sure we have that pattern correct.   What is great here, is when you finally get a participant that matches you, you can share data and work towards your common ancestor.   Usually one person in the group has more data than another and can bring everyone up to snuff.

Even better, if you are female or are male wanting to know if you have a cousin match to a surname other than your own, FamilyTreeDNA’s Family Finder test is the one for you.    For me with the Family Finder (autosomal) test, I’ve been able to start verifying my most difficult lines by throwing out the ones that aren’t matches and triangulating/proving the ones that are correct.   Yeahh!!!  We finally have tools to help us prove our weakest lines via DNA.   It’s the perfect test to order if you want to find cousin matches from any of your recent ancestors (up to 8 or so generations back) – not just your father’s father’s side or your mother’s mother’s side.   How cool is that?

Would I join a genetic genealogy group again? Absolutely.    If I was picking a company to go with again, I’d want to be where the vast majority of persons testing are.  It would have to be



About Linda Coate

I've been an avid genealogist for my lifetime. I caught the "bug" from my father's stories about my ancestor, Marmaduke Coate, who bought his wife from the Indians for a horse, bridle and saddle. As a librarian, I'm combining these two interest areas to guide the family historian to the best on the net in genealogy. So that you know my background, I have been interviewed multiple times by radio stations across the country and have been the guest speaker at various Genealogy Society meetings including Franklin County, Ohio on Genealogy Software Programs and Online Genealogy. My extensive family tree, a labor of love for over 30 years is at Maybe we are related!
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