CategoriesFunGenetic GenealogyZalewski

Where was my Y-DNA and mtDNA in 1808?


I saw a post over at The Genetic Genealogist about this and I thought it’d be interesting to check my information.Though, it’s kind of a downer since I don’t really know exactly where my Y-DNA or my mtDNA was in 1808. I can only trace my Zalewski line back to about 1858 with Frank J. Zalewski, in what I think is Prussia (which could be many things.) I’d guess it was in the same general area, so it turns out to be about 4487 miles away traveling at about 22.5 miles per year.

My mtDNA line only goes back to about 1852 with the birth of Ida Schwinte, also in Prussia. I’m guessing the German part of Prussia on this one compared to the Russian/Polish part for my Y-DNA. I can really only assume it’s about the same distance, give or take a few hundred miles.

Well, this didn’t turn out to be as exciting as I though, but it’s still interesting to think about. I have many other lines traced back much further, but just not these two. Maybe it will help spark me to work more on these lines (though I’ve always had an urge to research my Zalewski line more.)

So, how about you? Where was your Y-DNA and mtDNA in 1808?

CategoriesFunGenetic Genealogy

Genetic Memory

I am a video game player. I enjoy my games. It gives me something to do that lets me escape the real world and relax after a stressful day at work. I am currently playing a unique game called Assassin’s Creed. You play Altaïr , a member of the Hashshashin sect (the original “assassins”), whose objective is to remove nine historical figures who are propagating the Crusades. As the player finds and kills these targets, a conspiracy is unveiled. The player is able to travel through three cities: Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus.

All gameplay and backstory aside, the interesting thing about the story in this game and what is has to do with genealogy/genetics. In the game you technically play the role of a descendant of Altaïr named Desmond. Desmond is taken hostage by a company who created a system called Animus that allows you to play back and live out your ancestors memories. They explain this by saying that your genes not only hold your traits, but also you ancestor’s memories. They use Desmond to do their bidding. What is their bidding? I’m not sure yet since I haven’t made it that far.

This got me thinking. What memories of my ancestors would I like to play out? Would it be their first view of America? Would it be taking a walk around their original homeland? There are a thousand things that I’d love to see in the time of my ancestors. So many places and people that it’s tough to choose. Are there any memories from your ancestors that really interest you?

CategoriesGenetic GenealogyPersonalZalewski

Ancestry DNA

As the news mentioned last week, Ancestry has opened it’s DNA area. I’ve been a user on Ancestry for many years and I also have become involved in Genetic Genealogy via the National Geographic study and also Family Tree DNA. So, I was more than happy to test our Ancestry’s system.

It was easy to transfer my data over from FTDNA to Ancestry. Currently, they can only transfer from FTDNA or National Geographic, though I imagine if you have your data handy you can convert it yourself. You just need to bring up your DNA data and type in the values into Ancestry from one of these two companies.

It took a few minutes after I entered it for it to find some matches, though unfortunately there are none before 26 generations out. They show you your matches in a nice graphical format including a map. They also give you an estimate of the number of years, along with generations, that this person and you may have a common ancestor.

If you have an account and also have received your DNA info, I would recommend trying this out. Any and all data can help everyone!

Link: Ancestry DNA

CategoriesFamily TreeGenetic GenealogyZalewski

Hanging Out My Genes


I saw a show on the National Geographic channel a few years ago about Genetic Genealogy, or Genetealogy as the cool kids call it. It really interested me. I’ve recently become more interested in world history, especially in the areas of my ancestors and how they lived (This would’ve been helpful in college, when I needed to know it.) This show was telling me that I could order a test and find out exactly where my ancestors came from, at least, my paternal ancestors. Sign me up! I ordered the kit and sent it back. I waited a few months and received my results. They tell me that my DNA data falls into the “R1a1 haplogroup.” That makes complete sense, doesn’t it? For more on haplogroups and genetic genealogy, visit the Wikipedia article.

This what the National Geographic’s Genographic project, who ran my tests, says about the R1a1 haplogroup.

Today a large concentration of — around 40 percent — of the men living in the Czech Republic across the steppes of Siberia, and south throughout Central Asia are members of haplogroup R1a1. In India, around 35 percent of the men in Hindi-speaking populations belong to this group. The M17 marker is found in only five to ten percent of Middle Eastern men. The marker is also found in relatively high frequency — around 35 percent — among men living on the eastern side of present-day Iran.

This only applies to my direct male line, which is my Zalewski line. I only have that back a few generations, so it’s not too much help, yet. If I find a perfect match to someone else with the Zalewski surname, it means that we more-than-likely have a common ancestors in the recent past. Unfortunately, I’ve not run across this, even though I do have perfect matches with a few individuals. Since they’re different surnames, it probably means we share an ancestor prior to the use of surnames. This is why I set up the Zalewski Surname DNA Study group on the Family Tree DNA site. Hopefully, more Zalewskis will join the study and we’ll find some connections. Nothing yet, but we only have a few members. So, all you Zalewski men out there, get testing!

CategoriesGenetic GenealogyZalewski

Zalewski? Inquire within.

Ok, all of you Zalewski people out there, want to find out as much information as you can about the Zalewski surname and where it comes from? Is your Zalewski ancestor related to one of the many Zalewski families being researched by others?

With advances in genetic testing, genealogists now have another tool to aid us in our family history endeavors. The Zalewski Surname DNA Project was recently organized to determine whether there are genetic links between the various Zalewski families throughout the world. It can also serve to validate research within established lines, and to prove or disprove relationship theories when no documentation has been found through traditional research.

If you are researching a Zalewski family, we invite you to participate in our study! The success of this project depends on the number of participants, so please pass this information along to other Zalewski researchers!

Here’s how it works. The Zalewski DNA Project is a study of the Y-Chromosome DNA, which is passed from father to son unchanged, except for occasional mutations. The test provides you with a genetic fingerprint consisting of 12, 25 or 37 numbers, which will be compared with the results of other participants in the study. If two people have a match, that means they have a common male ancestor somewhere up the line. The test won’t tell you specifically who that ancestor was, but it can narrow down a time frame of when the most recent common ancestor (MCRA) lived.

We have chosen Family Tree DNA of Houston, TX as our testing company. They are leaders in their field and are associated with Dr. Michael Hammer, Ph.D., Geneticist, associate research scientist in the Division of Biotechnology at the University of Arizona. The test involves the collection of cells by a painless swabbing of the inside of your cheek. The laboratory then analyzes the sample and prepares the results for comparison with other participants in the study.

For more information about the test and Family Tree DNA, refer to my Zalewski Surname DNA Study FAQ.

CategoriesGenetic GenealogyLinksTips & Tricks

Interesting Links

Here are some interesting genealogy links for today. I’ll try to do this every few days.

Stay tuned for more interesting links!

CategoriesGenetic Genealogy

Genographic Project

Speaking of genetics and genealogy, I caved a bought one of those DNA tests from National Geographic for their Genographic Project. I find the tracking on ancestors and evolution via DNA very interesting. It turns out that I am part of the Haplogroup R1a which are believed to have been nomadic farmers in the steppes of northern Central Asia about 10,000 years ago. Current theories point to them being the first speakers of the proto-Indo-European languages and the first ones to domesticate the horse.

Along with this great knowledge of my paternal ancestors, it also allows you to transfer your Y-DNA info off to sites such as Family Tree DNA, which will then allow you to search other individuals who have submitted their DNA info. In some circumstances you can find a distant cousin who is directly related to you. Most of the time you’ll find a perfect DNA match with someone with a different surname, they say that these people are more than likely not directly related to you in the recent past, but more likely from the time before surnames were used frequently. Your genealogical DNA test would not show that information and you would not be able to be informed since medically related information is not revealed by genealogical DNA testing. “The testing lab would not know be able to find you positive for a genetic disease, as the lab is only testing your DNA and looking at  specific loci on the Y Chromosome, or in the case of the mtDNA, the markers associated with that test, which are located at different positions on your DNA molecule than where the genes for known gene related diseases are located. Genetic Genealogy DNA markers are located in the vast areas of “junk DNA” in between the genes.” [1]

Give it a try, it’s fascinating and it could help you get over that brick wall, or even find new distant cousins.

CategoriesGenetic Genealogy

Irish Descendants

There is a cool story over at MSNBC stating that a lot of Irish men descend from one Irish king from the 5th century. It’s similar to Genghis Kahn and his 16 million descendants.

DUBLIN, Ireland – Scientists in Ireland may have found the country’s most fertile male, with more than 3 million men worldwide among his offspring.

The scientists, from Trinity College Dublin, have discovered that as many as one in 12 Irish men could be descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, a 5th-century warlord who was head of the most powerful dynasty in ancient Ireland.

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