My DNA is being extracted in the lab

I finally got around to sending in my Ancestry DNA test, and am dying of curiosity to see if what I know of family oral history lines up with the DNA. Oral history: straight Ashkenazi originally from what is now Latvia, southern Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus. Whatever documents I have managed to nail down match the oral history.

So who here has done this, and did you find out anything that really surprised you or didn’t line up at all with what you thought you knew? I should have my results in the next 2 - 4 weeks.

I’ve done it, only one big surprise, that my great-grandfather who emigrated from Germany was Ashkenazi (it must be him, everyone else is accounted for and the percentages are right for a 3rd generation ancestor). He wasn’t a practicing Jew, I don’t think, based on the circumstances of his life that I know about.

As for yours, don’t be surprised if there are small elements from faraway places. That part of Europe was something of a crossroads, wasn’t it? Passing Tatars and Cossacks and Germans and Austrians and so on might have left some little bits behind.

I did 23andme. In fact I bought kits for my entire immediate family.

Family oral history was that us kids were 1/8 Cherokee. Nope–not a drop. Not a huge deal, though.

Also, we discovered that my mother’s aunt had two kids out of wedlock (this in a super-conservative Catholic family), somehow hid them from everybody except her sister, smuggled them to an orphanage, and kept everyone else in the dark for 60+ years. The mother of these kids died but the other sister is still alive. Even once the DNA evidence (not to mention adoption records) was incontrovertible, she and the rest of the family stayed in denial for weeks. Eventually the remaining sister relented and admitted to the whole thing, and the family has reconnected with the orphaned kids.

I’m actually kinda proud of that one, despite the chaos it caused. The orphans (now 60+ years old) deserved to know something about their origins.

The links to other testers is the value; ethnicity is fluff and only very broadly accurate - areas linked to small percentages are essentially meaningless.

But if it gives you a parent/child match, that’s a parent/child/identical twin of a parent child. All other relationships fall into fairly predictable ranges. You can easily identify the presence (or absence) of biological connections to family lines if you’ve got some fairly comprehensive research to aid you. You may find adoptees searching for their biological family. Sharing your known tree is a kindness that helps others understand their match to you and assists people to further their own research. Many of your matches will never answer you because they have only tested to find out their ethnicity and see no further use of it. Every family has a skeleton - hopefully yours won’t be too unsettling when you find it.

My DNA results have expanded my knowledge of my family history immensely. The biggest find is that on my direct paternal line, the biology deviates from the paper trail. My great grandfather’s descendants don’t match my great great grandfather’s other descendants (even though they all match each other). Our branch stands alone. Instead, we have a bunch of matches around the world who all trace their line back to a small village in Yorkshire, and to a couple who had a son who emigrated to Australia - a son who lived one suburb over from my great great grandparents in the year prior to my great grandfather’s birth.

I did ancestry. My brother did My Living DNA. Ancestry is much more useful when building a family tree because of all of the documents that are linked there. If you want a scientific breakdown of your DNA don’t go with Ancestry. My Living DNA does a very scientific breakdown of haplogroups and also breaks out your mother’s DNA.

The big surprise is that despite our German name we are not German at all. Polish and other kinds of Eastern European. I’m slightly surprised that there is zero Ashkenazi.

The family tree does give a false impression. There is one branch where once I was able to find the documents I was able to connect into some very prominent and well documented trees. I was able to trace my direct ancestry to Edward Longshanks. My family tree is filled with Englishman but my DNA isn’t. It’s a small percentage of me but a large percentage of the ancestors I have been able to find. Most of the other branches hit a dead end much earlier

I did one which was offered by National Geographic (you only paid a tiny amount for S&H) and which for females looked at chromosomal DNA.

Finding out that my ancestresses hail from Southwestern Europe wasn’t what you might call a big surprise. The mother of my mother’s mother was from a tiny village up in the mountains of Asturias, the kind of place where someone from two valleys away is a foreigner and someone who’s seen the sea might as well be Juan Sebastián Elcano. A century after she left they still stare at strangers.

You’re limited to whatever database they’re matching the DNA to, whether that’s finding actual relatives or some sort of geographical preponderance of particular genes. I’m still not clear as to how this maps to some concept of “ethnicity”. It must be based on geographical preponderance, but with the various different mixes of peoples over time must make it pretty imprecise for any practical purpose.

I do know from documentary sources that seven or eight generations ago, one of my ancestors must have been an African slave in Jamaica: but a DNA test I took came back as 100% Western European. What I found more interesting was the historical record of where the distant ancestors on both sides went on their journey out of Africa - and am still puzzling over why the record suggests both lines took a sharp left turn from somewhere north of the Caucasus into western Europe.

Don’t forget: Ancestry (and most similar services?) will let you download your DNA data. You can then upload it to and use its many tools or look for matches with its large database. (Gedmatch is in the news recently — the police have used its huge database to zero in on rapists’ identities from their DNA.)

My wife and I should have our results from ‘My Heritage’ in a couple of weeks, too. I’m expecting a fairly run-of-the-mill Western European outcome though.

I only want to do it in hopes of finding some non-white ancestors, which would be upsetting to some of my current family.

Also, you’ve seen those news stories in which old murder cases are solved because someone’s DNA was used from 23&me? It might be interesting to see if that makes anyone nervous.

Yeah, I’m just a troublemaker. :slight_smile:

Well I just ordered two sets. I’ll gift one to my daughter.

I’m so excited to finally learn if I have any Native American Heritage.

This, a thousand times this. Unless you get a large percentage from a continent you didn’t expect you should not give the ethnicity results much weight.

You will find a lot of post hoc rationalization of the results, like “Oh, it’s because of Viking influence in Britain.” This explanations make superficial sense, and they are valid in the sense that the influences mentioned are a real contributor to genetic similarities, but when Ancestry dubs a certain pattern “Scandinavian” and a different pattern “British”, that’s a fairly loose guess on their part and with a difference reference group you could easily argue the other way.

This is particularly obvious if you compare results across companies, or if you do 23andme and dig into the confidence level they offer. The standard is 50%. If you change it to 90% almost everything blurs from “Norwegian” and “British” to “Northern European”.

You don’t get an exact percentage of your DNA from each ancestor. One would think you’d get 25% from each of your grandparents, but that might not be the case, one might only get 20% from one. Going back 7-8 generations there might not be any DNA left over from some of your ancestors.

I did the Family Tree DNA test about 10 years ago. Have only been able to match with one person that I know where they are in my tree. I took the Ancestry test in early December, but somehow failed the test. I retook it and am still waiting on my results. I’d like to find more known relatives if I can and see what things they might have or know. I have so few photos of ancestors, but I’m sure there are some out there.

My brother’s son discovered that his mother’s father is not the same person as her brother’s (his uncles) father.

My brother convinced his son not to tell his mom.

I’ve done both 23andme and While the percentages differed slightly, both showed 96% or so Northern European (English, Scottish, Irish, German). Neither indicated the presence of American Indian blood. Oral history says that there was an American Indian in one line of the family. I haven’t found any going back as far as 1800, where some of the lines trail off. Maybe there was one, but no one can give a person’s name, or what specific line it was in. My gut feeling is that it was one of those made-up stories to explain the somewhat darker complexion of some of the family, since in the Deep South, the suspicion that someone might have a drop of Black heritage could have had dire consequences.

The real interesting story, though, will be what we find out next month. My wife was adopted, and she has NO information on her biological family. She also did 23andme some the same time I did, but her closest relatives were 3rd cousins, which, if you don’t already have some leads, makes it challenging to narrow down. The results are due in a couple of weeks, so that might help narrow things down. Her chart also showed that she was 90% or so northern European, which was a surprise, since she also has an olive complexion. We had suspected American Indian, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Jewish, Levantine, etc. but none showed up.

My mom did Ancestry, and found that she had a percentage of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, something like 8%, maybe 13%. Everything else was as expected. I did mine at 23andMe (I got a good deal on the health test) and everything was as expected. My dad and brother did 23andMe as well and it was as expected.

Dad is about 50/50 German/Czech, Mom is all Slovak/Ashkenazi, and my brother and I are German/Czech/Slovak/Ashkenazi (or, 25% German, 75% Eastern European).

I did make some connections with people on 23andMe and they had some info on Ancestry and I was able to expand my family tree a bit.

I did 23andMe and it came back with about ~1.5% Native American.

Since my great*3 grandmother was Hispanic from the New Mexico/Texas Panhandle area, that matches my genealogical research.

I was a little disappointed that except for that percentage, I am lily white - no non-European ancestry at all, and mostly English/Irish/Scottish.

You can try the Leeds Method to try and narrow down who fits where in to her tree. From there you might be able to piece it together.

I had a patron just yesterday who discovered after having her DNA done that her father was not her father. She was taking it really well, I thought, and said after we’d worked together for a bit that she had always sort of suspected.

My niece did hers and found some Native American in her ancestry, which my mother said was probably her grandmother, who had apparently told them all she was part Indian. I told my mom that that was a great story and all, but I had found absolutely no evidence of it, and I felt it more likely to be on my niece’s mother’s side. Soon thereafter, my brother (said niece’s father) did his (I honestly believe it was at least in part to prove me wrong), and there was no trace of American Indian ancestry.

I was never interested but my wife said just this morning that she was curious how much Neanderthal DNA she had. Maybe we’ll do it, but we are both Ashkenazim for as far back as we are aware.