Saturday, October 19, 2019

Serendipity DNA

November 2, 2009 by  
Filed under DNA, genealogy

Finding your Roots with DNA

If you have ever hit the proverbial brick wall in your genealogy research, you will relate to my story.

DNA Genealogy Research

I’ve been trying for years to get our KERR family tree research out of Quebec and back to a specific place in Ireland (and ultimately back to the ancestral lands in Scotland).

My genealogy detective work at both the Quebec and Ireland ends has ranged from church records, contacts at the family history societies,  searching databases  to professional genealogists…just to mention a few avenues I’ve tried.

Yet another brick wall?

Nada, nothing.  No concrete leads.  I had a professional genealogist in Quebec tell me years ago that we might never find the connection!   How discouraging is that???

But I didn’t give up. I approached my brother and said “It is your turn!”

“What?!” he replied, “You’re the family historian, not me!  How can I possibly help?”

“You can donate your DNA for family tree testing for the KERR/CARR surname project.

That’s what you can do!”

DNA Surname Testing

I had been in contact with the coordinator at the KERR/CARR surname project and he recommended Family Tree DNA to do the testing.  (CARR is one of the KERR surname variants).  Only males carry the markers of interest and they are passed from father to son on the Y-chromosome.

We decided to go for the 37 marker testing. Family Tree DNA sent the kit, Bill did a saliva swab and sent the kit back for DNA testing.

It didn’t take all that long to get the results.

A DNA Match!

We found a match! For all 37* markers.

And get this…the person that matched my brother’s DNA had the exact same name, right down to the middle name.

How is that for serendipity! (or perhaps the result of common naming patterns followed by our Irish and Scottish ancestors).

And the best part. We now know more about the KERR family.  This other Bill Kerr’s roots extend back to the mid 1800s in England.   Finally a lead to work on…

We recently paid for an upgrade to 67 markers.  (fishing for more fish so to speak).  The match with my brother’s namesake was there again and the match extended all the way out to the 67 markers.  We also found other matches.

This is very encouraging and I feel it will be with DNA that we will ultimately solve this brick wall.  As more and more individuals submit their samples the migration patterns will be revealed and more connections will be found.  I highly recommend DNA testing if your own genealogy research has run up against that proverbial brick wall.

Perhaps there are already connections at Family Tree DNA waiting for you!

Try a search and see!

My Surname

Happy Hunting,

P.S. if you have KERR family connections please contact me.

UPDATE – *The initial test might have been for 25 markers.  It was February 2006 when my brother first tested.


8 Responses to “Serendipity DNA”
  1. Gerry says:

    I am fascinated by this type of work. How amazing to find all the markers like that. A great book called Saxons, Vikings and Celts talks about the Oxford Ancestors project. This project comes out of genealogy and genomics in Britain. You can read a review of the book at

  2. Hi Gerry,
    Thanks for the comment and for the book suggestion and review.



Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] also plan to follow up on the DNA leads for the KERR family (see my post of on Serendipity DNA).  Ultimately I believe it will be DNA that will solve the mystery of where in Ireland our Kerrs [...]

  2. [...] Serendipitity DNA – read the story of our family’s Y-DNA testing. Please link to this article <a href="; >Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Matrilineal Line</a>Did you like this? If so, please addthis_pub = '';bookmark it, about it, and subscribe to the blog RSS feed. [...]

  3. [...] Are you a Left Handed Kerr or Carr? – the most commented post on this blog! [...]

  4. [...] my brother Bill donated a DNA sample for a 37 marker YDNA test at Family Tree DNA.   In a rather serendipitous finding he matched 37 markers with a fellow with the exact same name, including middle name.   The other [...]

  5. [...] blogged about our family’s serendipitous findings with DNA before.  We are part of the KERR/CARR DNA surname study.  (At least my brother is as I’m [...]

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