The mystery and ensuing frustration regarding Deborah (---) Wallace, possibly the daughter of Josiah Berry, and the lack of documentation for the principal players and have brought up the notion of using DNA to prove or disprove this relationship. My colleague who is working on his own Hidden ancestry (Mary Hidden the wife of Josiah Berry was the daughter of a (---) Crockett) has mentioned this to me more than once. Can one use MtDNA (mitochondrial), which is the DNA passed mother to child, and thus through females it is the same in some form for generation after generation, to prove a relationship more than 200 years ago? I've already had my MtDNA identified and "stored" with the accompanying paper trail for future generations. I'm part of the haplotype U5. And my MtDNA line does not include Deborah, so it's a moot point. I know that it would be possible to prove such a relationship, but is it practical? Let's explore that possibility.
Deborah (---) Wallis had three daughters, one of which never married. Of the two daughters that did marry both had daughters of their own. So, I would start off with trying to research down to the present, the female lines of: (i) Meribah Drew, born Holderness, N.H. 1801; (ii) her sister, Aseneth b. 1814; and (iii) their cousin Mary B. Whipple, born 1828 in Moultonborough. The first two women are daughters of Joseph and Elizabeth (Wallis) Drew and the last the daughter of John and Deborah (Wallis) Whipple. I'm pretty sure that Mary B. Whipple is the same woman who married at Rochester, N.H. on 5 December 1865 to John S. Blaisdell. So we have these three lines to research and document. At the end of this we must find a living person, either a female or male, whose line is female to female back to Deborah and have them take a DNA test.
So, the first impractical thing, outside of the research, which is tedious but do-able, is convincing a total stranger to do a DNA test. Of course, you would have to pay for it so, chalk up $400.00 there. Then you need to convince that person to share their results or get the DNA testing company to give you a copy. Let's say you get all that done. That's only half of the equation, and quite frankly, it's the easy half.
Next, you have to find a MtDNA descendant from your proposed ancestor. In this case, a sister or some other female to female relationship of the Berry family in question. Deborah Berry had a sister Mary, but she doesn't appear to have married. That means you go up to her mother Mary Hidden and see her sisters. Only one, it seems, married: Anne Hidden married Benjamin Billing in 1742. Then you have to trace all the female to female descendants for this couple, some 200+ years worth. Now, in this particular scenario, we could kill two birds with one stone. Since we also don't know the identity of the mother of Mary Hidden, we could trace all the known sisters of our potential (---) Crockett, that is, the other daughters of Joshua Crockett and get them, female to female, down to the present, some 300+ years worth of research.
Again, let's say that was possible. Then you have the same scenario as above, convincing a total stranger to have a DNA test (shelling out yet another $400). I've set aside the possibility that (i) these lines "male" out or die out; (ii) female to female is the hardest sort of genealogy to do because it involves constantly changing surnames and multiple marriages; and (iii) tracing a tree down is, IMHO, tougher because of the movement of families. All told, if you were to do this correctly, with the documentation to prove this line has this type of DNA and we can prove genealogically they were related then ergo, this line must be related because they have the same DNA, I'm guessing the bill would be roughly about $2,000. That includes DNA tests and research time and money. So, that's quite an investment.
Someday, there will be a critical mass of people's DNA being studied and in databases. Matches will be made by descendants seeking each other. However, today, seeking out another descendant is a costly and, I believe, impractical research route. Some people are paranoid about turning in their census forms. How do you convince a total stranger to take a DNA test and turn over the results to you? And how frustrating would it be to find such a person only to have them turn you down? However, if you've turned over every other research stone, it may be the only thing left. I've yet to see a scholarly article that used DNA a part of the genealogical proof. I know male to male lines have articles written about them, but not yet MtDNA.