Matthew Dexter is an active member of both his home community and of our genetic genealogy community. At home, he is a dedicated church member who is currently helping them install a new video and sound system. In the community, he is perhaps best known for his help in our FTDNA forums where he guides beginners through the basics of Family Finder results and especially X-Chromosome matching.
Rebekah: Please tell me about yourself. Are you currently working or retired? What are your other hobbies or interests outside of genealogy?
Matt: I currently work in the Information Technology (IT) field full time. Other than genetic genealogy research, my biggest hobby is photography. I actually had a professional photography side business until, you guessed it, I needed the time to start a second hobby, that being genetic genealogy.
Rebekah: How long have you been actively involved in genealogy, and how did you become interested in the field?
Matt: I’ve been interested in DNA testing since 2009 when I learned it could help me with my birth family research.
Rebekah: At what point did you decide to become involved in genetic genealogy?
Matt: Mentioning birth family of course points to the fact I was adopted. My adoption was somewhat of a family arrangement when I was eight months old. In 2008, I met my birth mother and sister and in 2009, I met my mother’s aunt who actually arranged my adoption years ago. We tested my alleged birth father and found he was not the one suspected, and the other person’s information had been lost years prior. Wanting to learn more about my paternal side of course was the point where I really got started into further DNA tests and research.
Rebekah: What genetic ancestry tests have you taken?
Matt: I’ve taken some DNA tests just out of curiosity, some to find out what they would say and some needed to verify my paternal side: FTDNA Y DNA 111 markers, FTDNA Family Finder, Ancestry (autosomal), 23andMe (autosomal), FTDNA MTDNA FGS, National Geographic, Genographic 2.0, FTDNA Big Y, and A CODIS STR test as well.
Am I done? Of course not. This is fun!
Rebekah: Have you tested family members?
Matt: I have tested my wife, our children, grandchildren, a nephew, a sister, my mother, my wife’s parents, daughter-in-laws parents, mother’s cousin and aunt. I probably missed somebody I think. All of these I mention have taken or been imported into FTDNA Family Finder, some I have tested Y-DNA on as well.
Rebekah: Have you ever been surprised by your or your family’s test results?
Matt: DNA testing confirmed my birth father was actually not the one alleged so as surprises go, that was one. This of course was one of the main reasons to start using DNA tests. Another surprise came when my wife’s father took the Y-DNA test and found out his closest matches did not match his surname. He had mentioned to us that his father may have been adopted. His DNA results confirmed this.
Rebekah: Has genetic genealogy helped you break through any of your brick walls or solve a family mystery?
Matt: One of my autosomal matches was a cousin of my mothers. This match allowed me to make contact with someone who really knew my mother’s mother. They sent me pictures I had never seen before and put my mother back in touch with two of her half sisters she had long lost contact with. In addition, on my paternal side I am beginning to find autosomal ancestry matches to ggg-grandparents back in the 1800s and while I have yet to bring all of the lines down to present day, it is exciting to learn I have ancestry from certain families and locals in the US. DNA matching is sometimes a slow process and it does take patience but I know a lot more about my ancestors than I did in 2008. DNA tests also confirmed my sister is a half sibling; yet my entire childhood I had been told I had a full sibling sister out there somewhere.
Rebekah: Are you involved as a group project administrator? If so, what made you decide to become involved? What projects do you administrate or co-administrate?
Matt: I am a Family Finder project group administrator.
Rebekah: Have you witnessed success stories in your projects?
Matt: I have not witnessed success for others in my project.
Rebekah: What advice would you give someone starting out in genealogy or personal ancestry DNA testing?
Matt: My advice is simple, patience, patience and patience. I would caution against putting too much emphasis on ancestry results at this point. The field is new and varying methods company to company equate to varying results. Relationship testing, such as an autosomal DNA test to find cousins, etc., is straight foreword and therefore is not going to be as varying as ancestry results.
Rebekah: What do you think the future holds for genetic genealogy?
Matt: I believe there are two things we will see in the future with DNA testing. First, larger databases and better results will probably allow us to start building pseudo family tree branches automatically in a way that we can look at our paper research and look at our DNA results and automatically see where the mistakes or missing branches are. Second, I think we will see more full sequence type tests coming as we have seen with the Big Y test.