Y-DNA Study

An unexpected byproduct of DNA testing used for forensic and paternity matters is that it can be a useful tool to augment genealogical research. A male inherits an identical or almost identical set of "markers" from his father; however, this is not true for females. Therefore, the majority of DNA-based genealogical research centers on testing males in a family to prove or disprove a relationship. The body has been described as a copy machine when it comes to Y-DNA. A father can pass on an exact set of markers to his son, or occasionally, there's a slight mutation. 

The markers mutate at a very gradual rate and it is possible for a male to have an exact match to a male ancestor who lived eight to ten generations earlier. However, it is in the very minor changes, or mutations to markers that can be most revealing in terms of tracing individual branches of a family.

Genetic testing for genealogical purposes became commercially available in 2000. The Van Zandt family's group study was launched in June 2003 when project administrator, Gary L. Van Zandt, of California submitted his test along with the test of a potential "cousin" to verify or refute a familial connection. As Project Administrator, Gary has provided a statement regarding the goals of the study:

The goal of the project is to create a permanent database of all the main Van Zandt family lines that arrived in America before 1820. Hopefully, ALL those who are UNCERTAIN about their Van Zandt roots will take the test. Eventually, as more and more people join, the project should make it possible for ALL participants to identify their founding Van Zandt family lines. DNA testing results do not become obsolete and they are very accurate. Even if there is no match for a participant today, there could be a match tomorrow as more people take the test. The key is to get your DNA data on file so that time is not wasted going down the wrong genealogical trails. This DNA test requires an all male-line descendant from the Van Zandt line's founder (or founders), i.e. participants must be males who have the Van Zandt, Van Sant, Vanzant, Vinzant name. Hopefully, female descendants can find a Van Zandt father, brother, cousin, or uncle who can act as a DNA donor for their line.

Testing is performed by taking a swab and rubbing it on the inside of the cheek, then, returning it in a special container that's provided by the lab. As of April 2010, more than males have been tested for the Van Zandt's family study. Currently, there are three levels of testing that can be performed on a sample, i.e., 25, 37 or 67-marker tests. The 25-marker test is the least expensive and can provide basic evidence of membership in a particular family. Approximately 60% of the men in the study descend from a common ancestor--in this case, Gerret Stoffelse van Sand. The interpretation is that these men have a 95% probability of sharing a common ancestor within the past 23 generations, and a 50% probability of a common ancestor within the past 7 generations. The 37-marker and 67-marker tests are more helpful in terms of tracing specific branches of the family and are therefore recommended. As time goes on, the costs of the tests are dropping. The costs are also reduced for people who participate in a family study.

Type of Y-DNA Test Van Zandt Group Member Cost  Cost if NOT in a family study




In 2008, the Van Zandt Society paid for three men with proven lines of descent from Adam Wensel van Santen and Joseph Janse Van Zante to be tested to obtain at least one sample from each founder's line for the sake of the study. The results have since helped a few men who were previously not connected learn from which line they descend. There are approximately six matches each for Adam and Joseph in the study as of April 2010.

For more information, go to http://www.familytreedna.com/ and type in "Van Zandt" in the Search by Surname box. Or, contact our administrator, Gary Van Zandt.