As was stated on the introduction page, at this point, we do not know if the different branches listed in the Family Tree pages on this web site are related to each other. Basque surnames tend to be derived from locations or geographic features, so even families with the same surname may not necessarily be related.
Traditionally, genealogists are accustomed to using records—information captured in some physical form—as the basis for their research. These records have been paper documents or images on film. We have sought them by visiting or corresponding with the libraries, archives, and individuals that held them.
Now we have access to DNA research, which can analyze the actual substance that makes each individual different from all other human beings. This new tool has already been used in widely publicized studies like those identifying the remains of the Russian imperial family, the Romanovs, or in linking Thomas Jefferson’s descendants to his slave and supposed mistress, Sally Hemings.
There are two types of DNA. One is found in the central nucleus of each human cell on one of twenty-three pairs of tiny structures called chromosomes. The one that is significant for family history is designated the Y chromosome. It appears only in males and is passed from father to son, except for random changes that happen infrequently over a number of generations.
The other, called mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), is found outside the nucleus in small structures called mitochondria. It is passed unchanged from mother to child.
Thus the Y-chromosome DNA is found only within the all-male patrilineal line—the line through which the family surname is transmitted to sons, unless their relationships reflect adoptions or marital infidelity along the way. The mtDNA is characteristic of the mother’s all-female line—the so-called umbilical line that’s difficult to trace because a woman’s surname changes with marriage in each generation.
The Y chromosome is passed from father to son as a nearly exact copy of itself. It is not an identical copy, because during the DNA copying process, small mutations can occur in the genetic code. It is these differences in DNA sequences that allow geneticists to distinguish one individual from another. The more closely related the family tie of two individuals, the more similar their DNA sequences will be, since these mutations accumulate over the generations. A father and son should have the most similar DNA sequences of all.
So, that brings us to the big question. In order to see if the various branches of the Etxeto Family Tree actually meet, we are proposing that some of us send samples for genetic testing. Four firms, Family Tree DNA , GeneTree , Oxford Ancestry, and Paternity Testing Experts , are currently providing DNA tests to genealogists on a commercial basis. They use samples collected by rubbing a small stiff-bristled brush against the inside of the cheek.
If you are interested, contact me and we will discuss this project. There is a cost involved, starting at $199 US dollars, and the testing takes several months. Results, (i.e., are we related?) will be added to this web page when they become available. Again the reason we are trying this is that we may never be able to establish relationships between the branches because at some point in the past, written records will not be available to use for genealogy purposes.