In an article entitled “Missing Links” (WSJ), Donald Moffitt explores how DNA testing has become the new trend in genealogy. He writes:
“DNA Testing has the hottest tool in geneaology, allowing amateur slueths like myself to graft and prune their family trees. The process is simple, involving little more than a swab of the inside of your cheek. Advances in lab technology, meanwhile, have brought the costs down to home-appliance levels. And for your efforts, you can learn, among other things, some of the ancient ethnic and geographic origins of your ancestry. But beware: DNA can open doors you can’t close.”
Moffitt relates his own interesting story. Testing in his family uncovered a new branch on the family tree and a mysterious stranger by the name of Rutherford, who could “almost be a genetic brother.”
“The tests first showed that all of us shared a straight paternal-line ancestor, perhaps with 100 million or more males in Wester Europe and the Americas. The patriarch seems to have fathered a Stone Age clan in northern Spain that survived, grew and drifted northward as the glaciers of the Ice Age began to melt…. But our tests also showed that the four of us shared an extrememly rare mutation along the Y chromosome, a DNA pattern that appears in only a few hundredths of 1% of the R1b population. That match…was a virtual guarantee of close kinship.”
DNA insights in hand, Moffitt’s historical research takes him back to colonial Virginia, where he eventually finds…drumroll…a Moffitt and a Rutherford who are neighbors. The rest? Well, that must be left to conjecture.