Archive for the ‘DNA’ Category

When I was growing up, I was given a vague idea that my maternal grandmother’s mother wasn’t Dutch like the rest of my mother’s family, but German. Once I began to search my family history, I quickly saw that the records were Prussian, not German. That still sounded German to me. (Before you tell me there didn’t used to be any such thing as “Germany,” but rather German states, I know that, but they were “German,” to my mind).

My Prussians were quickly my worst brick wall, and although I picked at the threads of the mystery a bit over the years, I didn’t accomplish too much until a couple of years ago. That’s when I found some records for the births of my great-grandmother’s siblings. This was a short-lived accomplishment because my great-greats may have moved around for work, so I still had no idea which province of Prussia they were from.  Without that knowledge it is impossible to find their birth and marriage records. To find their parents and grandparents.

Very recently I began to piece together enough information and knowledge to theorize that my relatives were actually from Pomerania, which was the part of Prussia which bordered the Baltic and is now in Poland. I even wondered if they were from northern Pomerania, right near the sea, and even more, from Slupsk or that vicinity. The place names on documents are garbled and there are versions of each place in several languages, but a doc seemed to indicate Świecichowo (Polish) or Schwetzkow (German). This town is in Slupsk County. I explain this doc here. I felt  confident enough to present this theory on this blog, but I’ve been busy so I didn’t write that blog post.

Then something else happened. I went onto my Ancestry DNA “headquarters,” and looked up the new and more thorough ethnicity info–specifically for my mother since her maternal grandmother was the Prussian. And guess what? I don’t have to theorize any longer. Ancestry has done that for me. According to Ancestry, my mother’s Prussian Ancestry is precisely NORTHERN POMERANIAN and NORTHWESTERN POMERANIAN–and if you look at the map, most likely the Slupsk region. Furthermore, the reason Ancestry can fine tune to this region is that Mom’s ancestors lived in that area for many years.

I had to look up Slupsk, of course. From Wikipedia:

Słupsk (Stolp, in German) had its origins as a Pomeranian settlement in the early Middle Ages. In 1265 it was given town rights. By the 14th century, the town had become a centre of local administration and trade and a Hanseatic League associate. Between 1368 and 1478 it was a residence of the Dukes of Pomerania, until 1474 vassals of the Kingdom of Poland. In 1648, according to the peace treaty of Osnabrück, the town became part of Brandenburg-Prussia [and was under Swedish military control (Swedish dominion)]. In 1815 it was incorporated into the newly formed Prussian Province of Pomerania. After World War II, the city again became part of Poland, as it fell within the new borders determined by the Potsdam Conference.

In a nutshell, the area was Slavic tribes, then Polish, then Swedish, then Prussian, and after WWII Polish again. This is with little blips of time as German and Danish.

It’s very satisfying to feel this close to finding Gottfried and Alwine (Noffke) Waldeck’s origins. Maybe before too long I will find their birth and marriage records.

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I will be moving forward–I mean backward!–to other ancestors in my efforts to fill in the gaps. However, I’ve been gone for awhile, and I haven’t had a chance to do any research.

That said, Amberly did find records for me, and I will be posting about the results in the future. Also, the social security app I ordered for Charles Mulder arrived, but it did not give me any information I didn’t already have. The date on the application is 21 November 1955. Since Great-Grandpa was born in 1885, why would he apply at that late date for his social security number?

Ever so often I have wondered if being left-handed, as I am, is genetic, as I had been told. My mother isn’t left-handed, and neither was my father. But my grandfather, Adrian Zuidweg, was left-handed. I get my long-term memory and storytelling from him. I am good at math, and I believe he was, as well. So we have a lot in common.

Grandpa Adrian Zuidweg with my son Marc

Apparently, they have discovered the gene that causes left-handedness, although it’s not a cut-and-dried case of who gets to be left-handed, as it is with right-handers.

For me, the most interesting article about left-handedness is one that argues that the Netherlands has the highest percentage of left-handers in the world. I’m not presenting this as “gospel,” but it is fun. Click here or click on the image:

I read one article that insists that there is an environmental component to handedness, as if it isn’t innate. Trust me, my hand preference was completely innate. With two right-handed parents and no siblings until I was eight years old, I used the hand that came naturally to me.

Here is a very clear image of Grandpa with his cousins Dick and Phil DeKorn in the 1920s (the boys were born in 1920 and 1922). This could possibly be Long Lake in Portage, Michigan, but my family was associated with several different lakes, so it is impossible to know for sure.

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Can we talk DNA for a minute today? As you may or may not know, Ancestry has updated their DNA Story. They have revised their ethnicity estimates based upon a larger pool of test results than was used in their prior estimates. That sounds good, right?

So why does it seem not any more accurate? I’ll qualify that by saying that is no way to be “accurate” with this stuff as it’s just a hint. Since my ancestors were all European, and there was so much movement in Europe over time, my DNA result should look like a bit of a blended cocktail–and it does.

I might share DNA with this woman, but I don’t know her name

Great hat though!

One of the biggest problems with my own DNA is the Dutch portion. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I have a lot of Dutch ancestors. But Ancestry doesn’t locate “Dutch DNA.” I don’t think any of the DNA companies do. It might show up as British and/or Scandinavian, for instance. It’s pretty annoying. Then there’s that Prussian thread. They probably lived close to Sweden, in what is now Poland. Is that Polish, German, Swedish DNA? Finally, the Alsatian portion of my DNA. What is that? Is it French or German? Well, it’s a little difficult either way because Alsace is currently in France and, in general, French people don’t get their DNA tested! That came as a shock to me, but it is illegal to do DNA testing in France where it is possible for paternity to be established. (I hope that sentence makes sense!) So there isn’t a big enough database of French and Alsatian people to help with ethnicity estimates.

Back to Ancestry’s update. I’m only going to discuss some minor findings in my new estimates as a way to show how screwed up they are. Previously, Ancestry predicted that I had 10% Eastern European DNA. I thought that must be the Prussians making a strange appearance (after all, these were Germans who lived in Poland). Now Ancestry has reduced the Eastern Eurpean DNA (nevermind that 23andme shows me with an actual specific gene that is considered Polish) to 2%.

Now my “Scandinavian” genes are no longer 6%, but I have 11% Swedish. This makes sense to me because the Prussians lived so close to Sweden that I figure there was a lot of mixing in. But then this could be Dutch DNA since that often shows up as Scandinavian. Wherever it came from, I thought it explained why my grandfather had a congenital illness that can be traced to Swedish or Italian heritage: Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.

For kicks, I looked at my parents’ ethnicity estimates for the Swedish components. Well, gee whiz.  Mom only has 2% Swedish! I wondered if and how I could get the rest of the Swedish from my dad, but while I was checking out Mom’s I saw that she has  15% Eastern European now! and 7% Norwegian! and 3% Baltic states! She’s the Dutch and the Prussian connection, by the way. But see how different her results are from mine.

Let’s look at Dad’s. He’s got 3% Norwegian and 2% Swedish! Even if I add up both their Swedish, it only comes to 4%, and I have 10%. And wouldn’t the average be that I would get 1% from each, totalling 2%? (hahaha)

I’m going to let it lie there because I think the Swedish part alone shows that Ancestry has a LONG way to go.

So I went over to my 23andme results. 3.6% Polish. Hah. 3.1% Scandinavian! That’s a far cry from 11% Swedish. And, weirdly, 1% Balkan. I will note that Ancestry did show me with some southern European and even Iberian DNA before, but they have taken that off the table now.

It makes me mad when I hear stuff like how My Heritage tells almost everybody they have Nigerian DNA. Oh yeah? Hah, I highly doubt it. (Mine shows .9% Nigerian). It’s because the company is new, and a lot of work needs to be done before the results of our tests really should be analyzed. I think I’ll ignore the fact that they believe I have 26.5% Balkan ancestry. Geesh.

Maybe the DNA companies should explain that these estimates are just for FUN and you shouldn’t put much stock in them.

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