Friday, September 20, 2013

AncestryDNA: Jenny's Ethnicity Estimate

Anyone that really knows me knows how much I love genealogy. I love the family stories. I love finding where my ancestors lived and where they are buried. I love finding royalty and other famous individuals in my family tree. I love submitting names to the temple and seeing them be sealed to their families. I love it all! So I was way excited when a year or so ago, came out with a new DNA test that was affordable and would be added to as the years went on and technology improved.

I ordered the test, got over the grossness of having to see saliva in a tube, and sent the test off to be analyzed.  A few short weeks later, I was notified that my results were in and posted online. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning as I went to the website to view my results. I was impressed, yet also puzzled. My results were:

I understood my 9% Southern European (Italy, Spain, and Portugal) ethnicity. My great-grandmother, Lucia “Lucy” Souza was the daughter of Portuguese immigrants. Her father, Manuel Ignacio Souza Sr., came from the Azores Islands and her mother, Maria Caldeira, came from the Madeira Islands. The Azores and Madeira Islands were settled by the Portuguese in the 1400s. It made perfect sense.

I somewhat understood my 9% Eastern European ethnicity (this included the countries of Greece, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, etc.) I knew that my great-grandfather, Carl Otholt, was the son of German immigrants. While Germany was not part of the Eastern European group, I figured hundreds of years ago, when people moved all over the European continent, it was very possible that my German ancestors were really from a little bit further east. This made sense too.

But then the 82% Scandinavian really threw me off! Nowhere in my family tree (that I have been able to trace), has anyone come from Norway, Sweden, or Denmark. Needless to say, I was confused! I knew that I had ancestors that came from England. These were all documented. I also knew that my great-great-great-grandfather, Michael Crosson, came from Ireland. I also knew that my great-great-grandmother, Jennie Agnes Welsh, came from Ireland. This was also well documented. It was also rumored in my family that the Crosson’s were Irish with black hair, not red hair. Red hair was a sure sign of Scandinavian influence, while the black hair signified a truer Irish lineage. My grandfather was very proud of his Irish heritage… his own father was ¾ Irish (and ¼ Native American). So then I thought… maybe we were wrong? Maybe hundreds of years ago our Irish ancestors really did come from Scandinavia. And perhaps my English ancestors did too. I’ve had a year to digest this information, and today I received a notification that I have been chosen to preview the NEW AncestryDNA Ethnicity Estimate 2.0. And as it turned out, it was a preview of my own DNA sample, and not just a random one for everyone to see. YES!!!!!

I quickly looked over my “new” results:

96% European… okay… I knew that. I’m as white as they come. Translucent even. Out of that 96%? 67% Great Britain! 16% Ireland! 6% Europe West (Germany, France, etc.)! It’s finally making sense again!

7% "Trace Regions"??? Huh? Time to investigate:

4% Europe East… okay, we had this one last time. 2% Italy/Greece… hmm... okay. <1% Scandinavia... well, that’s a bit more accurate and in sync with my family tree. <1% Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal)… BOOO!!! Where’d my Portuguese ethnicity go? *sigh* I guess I do look more English than I do Portuguese. Although I still wish I could have that darker skin back in my DNA to give me some sort of hope for a tan.

<1% Africa? Wait… this could get interesting. North Africa? Hey! I know where this might have come from! Not too long ago I discovered on my dad’s side that my 10 X great-grandmother was the daughter of a Moroccan sultan. She married a pirate from the Netherlands that had converted to Islam and their son (Anthony Janszoon Van Salee) went on to be possibly the first Muslim in America and owned a large portion of Long Island/New York City in the 1600s.

As for the other <1% ethnicities, I have no clear explanation, but only additional theories going on in my mind.
My official thoughts on this new AncestryDNA Ethnicity Estimate 2.0? I like it. There’s always room for improvement and I think that it will only get better. I’m even more motivated to trace my family tree as far back as it can go (accurately, of course). Happy researching!
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