I have a very lonely surname according to estimates, there are only about 1000 to 2000 Bettingers in the United States. In the 1930 census, the most recent census which is indexed and available to genealogists, there were just 1,300 Bettingers. Therefore, not surprisingly, I was the first Bettinger to experiment with genetic genealogy and had the opportunity to start a Bettinger surname project, which I did. Sadly, however, my project still has just one member. I originally tried to email some potential relatives, but only a few seemed interested, and none decided to take the plunge.
My particular Y-DNA has an interesting story (I think that everyone’s Y-DNA has an interesting story, it’s just that I’ve decided to share mine!). My most distant paternal ancestor came to America in the late 1700′s and had six sons (and 1 daughter who didn’t live long), only 5 of whom passed on their Y-DNA. I am descended from the third son, and I call our line “Branch #3.” For the next three generations of Branch #3, each of my ancestors had two boys, one who passed on Y-DNA to the present, and one that has not. In my grandfather’s generation, he was the only male. He returned to the tradition of having two boys, but only one of those boys (my father) has passed on his Y-DNA. My father, however, decided to buck the trend and have three boys, while I’ve passed on my Y-DNA to my son.
So, to boil that confusing paragraph down, as of 2007, 193 years after Branch #3 budded off the Bettinger Family Tree, there are only 6 people alive that have that son’s Y-DNA (at least as of today). Four of those six still have the potential to pass on Y-DNA. You would think that after 193 years there should be hundreds of us, but that’s not how genealogy or genetics works.
P.S. I don’t mean this post to come off as sexist or biased in any way. I’ve spent a great deal of time tracing the female descendants of Branch #3, of which there are many. This was just a story about the descent of the Y-DNA (which I’ve tested and is connected with the Bettinger Surname Project) through Branch #3. I’m very interested in my maternal lineage (that is, my mtDNA line), and have already written about my unique maternal line here on the blog.