26 February 2016

Connected : My DNA

Rooted in Elizabeth I may be, but those roots spread across the globe to places I never even considered. I recently got the results of my Ancestry.com DNA test. In one brief moment I suddenly felt much more connected to people and places I had never considered as part of my heritage.

I share little snippets of common genetic ancestry with people from Ireland to Afghanistan and from Lithuania to North Africa.

This is amazing.

My ethnicity estimates map. From Ancestry DNA.
The areas that are circled but not colored in are the "trace" areas.

The Mixology of Me

Here are my ethnicity estimates:
  • Europe East 34%
  • Italy/Greece 26%
  • Caucasus 10%
  • Great Britain 9%
  • Iberian Peninsula 6%
  • Europe West 5%
  • Middle East 6%
  • North Africa 2%
  • Ireland 2%
  • Scandinavia <1%
That all adds up to 100% me! These are my people.

Of course I realize that we inherit half of our DNA from each parent, but we get that in a random distribution. That's why siblings don't look exactly alike. I got half from each of my parents, who got half from each of their parents, and so on back through the mists of time. And then there's migration patterns and the whole span of history to consider as well.

It's only natural to want to try to sort out which of these little "snippets" come from where. I'm no DNA expert, and at this point my family tree looks a little more like a shrub since I haven't been at it for very long. But I have a very good imagination, so please indulge my meanderings. After all, this post is pretty much all about me :-)

It seems quite possible that the 34% from Eastern Europe would link me back to the Karvoius family and their roots in Lithuania. It could also include the Klein branch, which would also figure prominently in the Europe West category as well.

I'm guessing my Dixon line is that 9% British, and on back to Isabelle Porter, my great-great grandmother who, scanty records claim, came from Ireland. Hello 2% Irish!

The high percentage for Italy/Greece is certainly a link to my paternal line, the Traina and Maita families, who came from Italy. It is possible that the little bits from the Iberian Peninsula, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus might figure in that mix as well. You know how those ancient Greeks and Romans got around!

Those "trace regions" of 2% or less could be a fluke, and appear by chance rather than being an actual part of my genetic makeup. Still, it's pretty interesting to see them pop up there.

Making Connections

My DNA testing was mostly done on a whim and a sale. Ancestry was offering a pretty good discount on DNA tests back before Christmas. I also had a vague hope that I'd connect with some cousins. And that those cousins might help with the pile of unidentified photos that I've got. I'm a dead end, genealogically speaking, so it would give me great pleasure to share those photos with someone who might actually give a darn about them. We might also scale some of those brick walls together. You never know.

I find that I share DNA with someone who is likely to be a second cousin. Three people fall in the third cousin range. Two of them have no trees published so I have no idea what the link might be, and one of them shows a probable connection through my Ohio kin. And then there are the 21 folks in the 4th to 6th cousin range. Followed by 37 more pages (yes, pages) of possible 5th to 8th cousins.

I've started sending notes to the nearer matches. So far I've heard back from one very nice gentleman who connects with me through our mutual Hawley line. My great-great grandmother, Rachel Hawley, was probably the sister of his great-grandmother Harriet Hawley.  My cousin believes that their parents were Noble Hawley and his wife, Elizabeth. I'm looking forward to moving my research back a few generations and learning more about those folks.

What Next

  • I continue to research my own genealogy, looking for cousins the old fashioned way. Why just today I found some firsts once-removed, children of my grandfather's brother John Frank Dixon.
  • Also, I've been spending a good bit of time on Ancestry's YouTube Channel watching videos about DNA testing and what to do with the results. They have been interesting and helpful as I explore this new avenue to my discovering my ancestors.
  • A very dear friend, a total genealogy wizard, has recommended that I upload my data to something called Family Tree DNA . So I have downloaded my file from Ancestry.com and uploaded to FamilyTreeDNA.com. I'm waiting to see if there are any matches over there.
Have you though about DNA testing as an aid to your genealogy research? Have you tested already? I'd love to hear about your experiences with the scientific side of family history research.

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