Monday, April 17, 2017

Ancestry Revisited

Here’s what I already knew about my family history:

Father’s side:
My paternal grandmother was born in Scotland and came to America in the 1920s while my paternal grandfather was as far as we know, almost all German or at least continental Western European.  Both passed away in the 1990s so I did meet and get to know them a little bit.  I sure wish I had known them as an adult.

Mother’s side:
Both my maternal grandparents are still alive and I have vague memories of one great grandparent.  I know that my maternal grandfather is the son of Polish immigrants and my grandmother is mostly Polish with the possibility of some German mixed in as well.

My 23andme Results:
16% was listed as Broadly European, which means that it could not be confirmed to be a more specific region but it probably would add 4-6% to the top 3 categories so I’ll estimate it based on that assumption.
-38% Eastern European (includes Poland, Czech, Slovakia, Russia, etc)
-33% Western European (Germany, France, Austria, Swiss, Belgian)
-23% British/Irish (England, Scotland, Ireland)

None of that was a surprise and the percentages seem to be about right give or take a couple of points.  What was interesting is the trace regions that go back up to 8-10 generations and beyond my known family tree.  I did some research beforehand so none of this was a total shock to me but quite interesting nonetheless.
-3% Scandinavian (Denmark, Sweden, Norway)
-2% Balkan (Greece, former Yugoslavia)
-1% Ashkenazi Jewish (cool)

Because of migration patterns, I figured that the Scandinavian came from my father and the Balkan and probably the Jewish ancestry came from my mother.  I even guessed that the Jewish came from my grandmother and the Balkan from my grandfather.  I was correct on all accounts. 
Perhaps if I traced it 2 generations further back, I might find something else that would be quite interesting so I bought a test kit for both grandparents who agreed to do the test.

-Over 80% Eastern European (no surprise there) but as expected, there was 8-9% Western European mixed in as well.  That can be explained by migration as Poland borders Germany, which is classified as West Europe.  Somebody with mostly Russian ancestry would be less likely to show West Europe and more likely to have some Asian DNA. 

-Only 1% Balkan, which told me that came from my grandfather as predicted.

-3x more Jewish ancestry than I have so no doubt it came almost all from her.

-2 surprises, which included less than 1% British/Irish and less than 1% Finnish.  The latter did not show up on my report because it was considered too old.  My results show it was “washed away” but I say it’s still there.  While my results probably go back to about 1750, 2 more generation would take it back to 1700.  Anything from the 17th century or earlier probably won’t show up in the results but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  My niece and nephew may not show any Jewish ancestry but it’s still there.

Again, if you include the Broadly European with the Eastern Europe, he’s also over 80% Eastern European with 8-9% Western mixed in.

-8% Balkan,which was expected based on my results and was actually a little higher than expected.
The surprise was trace amount from Iberia (Spain/Portugal) that did not show up on my report either.  Definitely worth finding.

Some estimates:
I’d imagine my father is about 50% German, 45% British/Irish and 5-6% Scandinavian but there is always a chance that something unexpected could show up.  Perhaps there is a small amount of Eastern European due to migration but it’s likely not significant or else my percentage would be higher.

My mother is about 80-85% Eastern European, 8-10% West European, 4-5% Balkan, 1% Jewish with traces of British, Finnish and Iberian.  Pretty cool and none of that would have been known without this test.  No need to test her.  It’s highly unlikely that anything else would show up.  In fact, the Finnish and Iberian may have “washed away” by her generation.

To my knowledge, my brother in-law is half Irish and half Polish so my niece and nephew would have interesting results.  Figure about 35-40% British/Irish and 35-40% Eastern Europe and at least 15% West Europe.  The Balkan and Scandinavian would still show up but the Jewish, Spanish and Finnish may be “washed away” unless there is some in my brother-in law.

I knew that it was highly unlikely to see a trace of Native American or sub-Saharan African DNA but I did suspect a bit of Asian, Middle Eastern or even possibly North African.  Nope.  Both my report and my maternal grandparents show 100% European.  Again, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  It could have come from somebody born in the 17th century.  The Ottoman (Turkish) Empire had a strong presence in the Balkans and the Silk Road trade routes came through Poland.  

I might go ahead and try in the future to compare results.  I expect it will be pretty similar give or take a few points.  Which is better?  It depends on what you are looking for.  Here are a few examples:

Ancestry separates British and Irish so I could see how much of each I have.
23andme separates Italian from Balkan while Ancestry would list it as Italy/Greece so I might think I had a trace of Italian if I had done Ancestry.  Again, there’s still a chance that I do.
Ancestry lists many West African nations such as Nigeria, Congo, Ghana and a few others while 23andme simply lists it as West African, East African and South African. If you are African American, Ancestry would be highly recommended over 23andme.
Ancestry simply lists East Asian, South Asian and Central Asian while 23andme narrows it down to Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Mongolian.  If you are Asian-American, 23andme is your best choice.
Ancestry separates Middle East from the Caucuses region (southern Russia, Georgia, Turkey. Armenia) so that would be recommended if you have known Middle Eastern ancestry.

This is fascinating.

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