My DNA is being extracted in the lab

I think it’s interesting how many US families have an oral history claiming native American blood somewhere in the past, and how seldom it turns out to be true. My mother’s father also told us kids that there was some kind of native American blood in his family, but nothing ever came up in any genealogy search, and nothing came up in the DNA either.

My mother thought we had Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish, I guess) on her side of the family, which was possible I guess based on some of the names that have turned up in genealogy research (or maybe they’re just old-timey names that sound Amish to my ears). If it’s in the DNA, it’s lost in the northern European mish-mash that is most of my heritage.

I’m pretty much all Ashkenazi, all the time. 1% East Asian (thank you, Genghis) and a little North African (which may mean an Arab).

I did 23andme. Came back mostly as expected. Northern European.

And more Neandertal markers than 94% of respondents.

So I got that going for me.

I strongly suspect a skeleton (or several) on my paternal grandmother’s side. What I know from oral history (backed up by an entire sheaf of documents, as well as via cross-referencing with relatives I have met on is that her mother immigrated to the U.S. from what is now Belarus as a teenager, married in the U.S., had kids, was widowed very young, and remarried another man from now-Ukraine who had immigrated to Canada.

She then had 3 kids with him in Canada, and I am fuzzy on the details, but he abandoned the family and she had some sort of psychological breakdown (by the various descriptions I have unearthed, it sounds like possibly bipolar disorder or schizophrenia?), spent several years in Canadian mental hospitals, and the kids, including my grandmother, ended up in an orphanage in Winnipeg. I have copies of the microfilm of my grandmother’s orphanage file, as well as copies of my great-grandmother’s U.S. immigration file, complete with deportation hearing transcript circa 1923 with Yiddish interpreter.

My grandmother was a super-sweet, extremely passive woman who never had a harsh word for anyone. Her sister, OTOH, was a nasty, snarky, backstabbing woman who married a series of rich men who all proceeded to die and leave her all their money. When I finally met her again as an adult, I also realized that she looked nothing like my grandmother (she was a good 8 inches shorter, at least, among other things). She also threw a hissy-fit when she found out I was doing genealogical research and strong-armed my grandmother into revoking her permission for me to continue researching. I laid off until several years after they were both dead, at which point I told myself “screw it, it’s my history, too,” and finally wrote away to the National Archives for the (very juicy) immigration records.

Anyway, long story short, I have also never been able to find a marriage record for my great-grandparents, either in the U.S. or in Canada. It’s entirely possible that they just had a religious ceremony and never registered it with the government, but who the heck knows what else I might find out? Apparently my great-grandfather liked having babies with a bunch of different women, which is how I ended up finding all these relatives on

Sigh…and I wonder why my family is crazy! As my now-retired boss said when I showed him the immigration file, “if you’re crazy, at least you can say you came by it honestly!”

One of my aunts went with, and got results sufficiently divergent from our known family history that the most likely explanation was a mix-up of two samples in the lab. Every single one of my grandmother’s ancestors, to at least four generations, was German, plus a little more German on my grandfather’s side, and yet the test showed no German whatsoever.

My dad and uncle say their maternal great grandmother (whom they knew as children) was Native American. Unsure if full-blooded, because it’s never mattered enough for me to ask. Neither of their profiles show Native American DNA but my uncle’s mitochondrial DNA was tested and he was accepted as a member of the tribe based on it (this would have been 20 years ago and I’m not sure if you have to have a larger percentage now).

Also (according to an old post from a couple years ago), their database is mostly Central and South American Native American rather than North American. But then, they have a certain incentive to not ruffle feathers.

My brother had his tested, mostly because we cannot track down any information on our father. Turns out we are 1/4 Inuit, 1/4 Russian, and the rest is a hodgepodge of European nationalities, and a little more Native American.

We think the first two are from our father.

I did Ancestry and found out that I am 3% African and 0% Native American, which I expected to be the reverse. All the rest was predictable.

I did three different services and got fairly different results. They all were definitely reading my DNA because they correctly identified known relatives, but the origins vary:
23AndMe says:
French & German 50.4% (Switzerland, Germany)
British & Irish 34.3% (United Kingdom, Ireland)
Scandinavian 2.4%
Sardinian 0.6%
Greek & Balkan 0.3%
Broadly Northwestern European 11.3%
Ancestry says:
Scandinavia 39%
Great Britain 22%
Italy/Greece 21%
Ireland 6%
Europe West 4%
Europe East 4%
Iberian Peninsula 3%
Finland/Northwest Russia <1%
Family Tree DNA says [with contour map overlay that I spelled out here]:
British Isles 67%
Southeast Europe 18% [Italy, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia]
East Europe 10% [Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia]
Iberia 5% [Spain]

By the way, my four grandparents were fairly pure English, German, French, and German, according to extensive genealogical research going back many generations.

:: bump ::

Update: my results just came in, and they are Earth-shakingly boring. Apparently I am 100% European Jewish, and there is an extremely high probability that I am related to my father. And there are a bunch of 3rd and 4th cousins.

The only bit of mystery is how I can be 100% European Jewish if my father isn’t.

Now I am tempted to do 23andme, too, to see whether I can find anything more interesting.

My understanding is that they sample your DNA at a number of specific points and then compare those points against their dataset. So, for example, if there’s a point where the base could be C or G and C shows up 75% of the time in Jewish populations, if your dad and mom each are CG and you are CC, you could get a higher percentage of Jewishness than your parents.

Mazel tov?

:: bump :: so for totally unrelated reasons, as well as nagging curiosity, I sprang for the 23andMe test, too - the results arrived today. And they were almost just as boring:

23andMe also thinks I am 99.6% Ashkenazi Jewish, 0.2% broadly Northwestern European, and 0.2% . I was kinda hoping for something more exciting than that possible Siberian ancestor…although I am wondering about the 0.1% Siberian and 0.1% broadly East Asian/Native American!

Dammit, it sounds like any drama in the living memory of anyone in my family is all Ashkenazi, all the time. I guess if I want more info, I should try contacting some of the 1100+ DNA relatives, particularly the ones with last names that I know of on my paternal grandmother’s side!

I did a 23 and Me kit back around the beginning of the year. My wife, her sister, her parents have all done it, and my wife also sprang for one for one of the grandkids, who is mixed race. Their tests all had results from all over the globe. So I was a little disappointed that my results were all from Europe. Primarily German and Polish, which I already knew, but also lots of Eastern and Northern European. And 1.2% Ashkenazi.

My results came back 100% eastern European Jewish as well. No real surprises; I guess I was hoping for some variety but apparently our family history was quite accurate.

Since this thread was bumped, and I had responded earlier, we have identified my wife’s biological parents (both deceased).

On one side of the family, she has no half siblings, but three first cousins. The cousins were pretty excited about welcoming a new family member into the fold.

On the other side, she has no first cousins, but three half siblings. She’s made contact with one second cousin on that side, but not the half siblings yet.

Bumping to report results just received:
65% England, Wales, Northwestern Europe
24% Ireland and Scotland
8% France
2% Portugal
Emigration to New England in early 1700’s.

It wasn’t a brand new surprise, but rather confirmation of an earlier surprise – 23andMe tests confirmed (indirectly – through tests of myself, my father, my father’s brother, and some other relatives) that my father’s father was 1/8th sub-Saharan African. His dark skin had always been attributed to supposed Native American ancestry (for which we have a trace, but not nearly enough to likely affect skin tone), but this was almost certainly a ploy to hide the truth (he was from the deep South), though I don’t know if he actually knew about it; he died before these ancestry tests became widely available.

No plans to get any testing, since if I have wealthy relatives, they are too far removed to list me as an heir