Month: August 2012


Ancestry sent me an email a few months back giving me an early invitation to their new Ancestry DNA service. I couldn’t resist, so I ordered one and sent it back in. The results were recently posted and there are some cool new things in there.

The first interesting fact is that according to them, I am 50% Eastern Eurpoean (which is no news to me) but that I am also 45% Scandinavian. That is definitely news to me. The other 5% is lumped under “Uncertain.” Obviously, like an genealogy-related DNA test, according to Ancestry, “Your genetic ethnicity results may be updated. As more DNA samples are gathered and more data is analyzed, we expect our ethnicity predictions to become more accurate, and in some cases, more detailed.

My DNA results according to Ancestry DNA

This also doesn’t take into account recent history as DNA goes way, way back. I know I trace my family to Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, etc and none of those are listed. Poland and Germany can technically fall under “Eastern European.” According to their info, my guess is that I may descend from either the Vikings or the Goths.

While the Vikings were feared by the coastal towns of medieval Europe as seaborne raiders and violent pillagers, they were also well-travelled merchants and ambitious explorers. They raided the Mediterranean coast of Africa, settled areas as far south as the Black Sea, and traded with the Byzantine Empire.

The rise of the Viking culture spread Scandinavian ancestry far throughout Europe. Their earliest coastal voyages took them to Scotland, northeastern England and established the settlement of Dublin, Ireland. As their power continued to grow, the Vikings spread farther afield, down the Volga River in Russia, to the coast of France and Spain.

And it wasn’t just the Vikings who had an irrepressible urge for adventure. In the days of the mighty Roman Empire, the Goths, originally from Sweden, wandered south and settled in what is now eastern Germany.

That could explain the Scandinavian DNA. They settled (and probably sacked) a lot of areas I have ancestry.

The other part of Ancestry’s DNA area is the “Member Match.” The one thing that propels their test over 23andMe’s test is that it’s tired directly to member’s family trees that they uploaded. The matches are broken down into “Confidence” and “Distance.” I had 2 people match me within the “4th Cousin” distance with 96% probability. One was anonymous with no tree, so that wasn’t helpful, but I did leave them a message. The other was helpful and as soon as I saw their tree I knew how we were related.

On a side note, originally I had incorrectly linked my DNA profile to my family tree entry in my Facebook app Ancestry tree, not my full detailed main tree, which threw off the results. After I fixed this issue, when I went back to this match, it actually told me exactly which ancestor we shared. We both shared my 3rd-great-grandparents, William “Curly Bill” CORRIGAN and Mary MCCANN. I found that fascinating as I have not yet even found a genealogical match on my 23andMe test. Hopefully as more people add their DNA, I will get more matches. I do have a bunch of matches in the “5th-8th Cousin” area, but those are at Moderate confidence and I have yet to see any similarities.

Ancestry showing me exactly where we match in our genealogy. Click for larger version.

If you get an invitation or Ancestry opens the test up to everyone, I would recommend ordering one. Though, make sure you have a nice detailed tree uploaded and this will help a lot. I love the future of Ancestral DNA and it’s only getting better and cheaper.

It seems I took one of my unplanned breaks again. Sometimes the perfect storm of not having much time and my interest in other things comes together and I don’t get any genealogy time. It’s been a busy few months, especially the last few weeks. Last week I was finally able to visit New York City, something I’ve wanted to do for many years. My wife was attending a conference there, so the whole family tagged along. My main job was to keep an eye on our 21-month-old daughter while my wife did conference-y things. Due to that, I didn’t get to tour everything I would’ve liked to, but I am still young overall, so I will probably get another chance. It was still great to just see the city. (More photos below)

We were situated in Midtown Manhattan at the Hilton New York, so anything within walking distance was fair game. I took my daughter on walks almost everyday so we got to see Times Square, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center including 30 Rockefeller Center (aka 30 Rock, the NBC headquarters), and Central Park where we spent a lot of time. I would’ve liked to see things like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Castle Garden, and Ground Zero, but didn’t get the chance. Interesting fact, none of my direct ancestors stepped foot in Ellis Island (apart from maybe visiting, but I doubt it.) All of my family arrived before it opened. The only close one is my great-great-granduncle, Jacob ZALEWSKI. He arrived at Castle Garden in 1891.

To put it into a genealogy perspective, I don’t have very many ties to the city. It’s rumored that my 3rd-great-grandfather, William “Curly Bill” CORRIGAN, was born there after the CORRIGAN family arrived in North America. On my wife’s side, it is said that both her 3rd-great-grandparents (who were married), George LANT and Emma DOUGLAS were both born there in 1842 and 1844, respectively.

After visiting, I am interested in the city’s history. I did some reading while I was there, mostly on Central Park, which was actually very fascinating. It’s a beautiful park which looks so out of place right in the middle of Manhattan, but it is definitely a nice place to relax from the busy, busy city rush.

The trip was nice and was only marred by a “slight” 5-hour delay on our flight home due to storms. Normally, while that would be annoying for myself, it was much more difficult while traveling with a 21-month-old. We made it home safely and all is well.