Family DNA results, part 3

DNA Circles

A DNA Circle will form around an ancestor in your family tree if your tree is public and linked to your DNA test, and if two or more of your DNA matches…

 

–are DNA matches to you and to each other at a 2nd cousin level or further out

–have public family trees attached to their DNA tests; and

–share a common ancestor (according to their trees).

I have six DNA circles–all from my maternal grandmother’s family. I need to study my circles a little more. All the “common ancestors” are in my family tree and I want to look more closely at the other people in the circles and see if I can add to my family tree or at least get some clues.

I need to remember that even though the DNA matches in these circles are related to me, but that doesn’t mean that their family trees are correct especially if they have no source records. I need to research to see if I can add new people.

My brother doesn’t have a family tree on Ancestry so he doesn’t have any DNA Circles. That’s also an important thing to remember–without a family tree and without a common ancestor in the family tree you won’t have a DNA Circle.

Ancestry has various levels of confidence for me in my DNA Circles–from Good confidence to Emerging confidence. I can also see the confidence level Ancestry has for the other people in my circles. I’m not sure why some of the people show higher levels of confidence according to Ancestry.

My takeaway and what I need to do
  • Look at each of my circles and see if I can figure out more ancestors to add to my family tree.
  • Try to contact each of these people and see what more they can tell me about their genealogy.
  • Remember that just because we’re DNA matches their trees might not be correct. (And maybe my tree has some mistakes so admit that if necessary!)

Do you have DNA Circles on your AncestryDNA? Have they helped your genealogy? Have you discovered new ancestors for your family tree from the DNA Circles? Have you found new cousins?

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Family DNA results, part 2–Genetic Communities

Genetic Communities™

Genetic Communities show where your family probably lived in the past few hundred years. We create these by identifying groups of AncestryDNA members who are genetically connected to each other.

As science improves and our DNA database grows, the communities you’re connected to might change. (quote from Ancestry.com)

I have a (possible–40% confidence) Genetic Community–“Norwegians in Sørlandet.”  Sørlandet literally means Southland. This is a geographical area on the southern coast of Norway not a governmental region. It roughly corresponds to two present-day counties (formed around 1900) in Norway–Vest-Augder and Aust-Augder.

My brother’s DNA shows two Genetic Communities–“Western Norwegians” (Likely–60% confidence) and “Early Settlers of the Ohio River Valley, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa” (Possible–20% confidence).

The “Western Norwegians” and “Norwegians in Sørlandet” overlap in the map shown on Ancestry. When I look more at these Ancestry Genetic Communities I think that “Norwegians in Sørlandet” are a subregion of
“Western Norwegians.” At this point I’m not sure exactly what that means.

When I read about genetic communities on Ancestry it is clear that they are changing as more and more people test their DNA on Ancestry. Right now there are 300 genetic communities in Asia, Europe, North America and South and Central America.

Within North America, for example, there are three regions and then within those three regions are United States (four regions), Canada (four regions) and Mexico (three regions). Drilling down into the United States shows there are four regions–Northeastern, Southern, Midwestern and Western–which also show more regions! This is all rather confusing though interesting.

My brother shows a possible genetic community within the Midwestern United States–“Early Settlers of the Ohio River Valley, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa.” Within that genetic community there are 5 more genetic communities! When I look at the map for this genetic community I can hover over circles see “Settlers of Central Ohio and the Potomac River Valley,” “Settlers of the Potomac River Valley,” “Settlers of West Virginia,” “Setters of the Upper Ohio River Valley,” another circle which shows “Settlers of Central Ohio and the Potomac River Valley” further west, and “Settlers of Western Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Southern Iowa.” Within these large circles are lots and lots of little circles, but I don’t see anything which tells me about those little circles.

I think these genetic communities can be valuable and certainly give hints about our genetic genealogy. My brother and I already know we have Norwegian ancestry, but don’t know for sure where they came from so the genetic communities shown give us places to start. We also know that some of our ancestors came from northern Ohio along Lake Erie. This isn’t a genetic community yet. However, I think we probably had various ancestors who came west into Ohio possibly along the Ohio River Valley.

I do like that Ancestry provides a historical perspective about the areas as well as where the people migrated from. It also shows our matches for each of our genetic communities.

  • My “Norwegians in Sørlandet” genetic community shows I have 33 DNA matches.
  • My brother’s “Western Norwegians” shows 15 DNA matches.
  • And my brother’s “Early Settlers of the Ohio River Valley, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa” shows 96 DNA matches.

The overview for “Early Settlers of the Ohio River Valley, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa” talks about the Ohio River Valley opening up after the Revolutionary War and that English, German, Scots and Scots-Irish moved to the frontier.

Ancestry’s overview of “Western Norwegians” says they were usually farmers or fishermen. They managed to live through wars, winters and economic depressions, but the cheap land in the United States encouraged many of them to move to the Midwestern United States where they often became farmers. Others became fishermen in the Northeast and Northwest.

My takeaway
  • Genetic Communities™ are going to grow and change as more people test their DNA and as science improves.
  • They give us hints about our DNA and genealogy. I think I can look at the Norwegian genetic communities and the matches my brother and I have and tag those matches as belonging on our paternal grandfather’s line since his parents both came from Norway.
  • The U.S. genetic community my brother shows is a little more difficult to figure out. For one thing Ancestry has only a 20% confidence this is correct for my brother. I can take a look at the matches shown though and maybe say they all come from the maternal side of our DNA since our paternal is all Scandinavian and those ancestors came to the U.S. in the 1870’s and 1880’s.
  • Genetic Communities™ can also show us an overview of migration patterns for a group of people and history of the areas.

Have you tested your DNA with Ancestry? Do you belong to any Genetic Communities™? What was your takeaway after reading about your community? Have you tested with other DNA companies? Do they have anything like Ancestry Genetic Communities™?

My family DNA results, part 1

My kids bought me a DNA test from Ancestry for my birthday this year. I’ve gotten the results back and it’s all so interesting–though I am still trying to understand it all! I got my brother to do his DNA, too, so I thought I would write a series of articles about what I think I’ve learned. This will help me figure things out in my own mind and I hope if I get things wrong maybe someone will comment and help me.

My ethnicity estimates are:
  • 68% Scandinavian
  • 15% Great Britain
  • 11 % Europe West

With the following low confidence areas:

  • 4% Ireland
  • ≤ 1% Europe East
  • ≤ 1% Iberian Peninsula

What I know  about my ethnicity from my genealogy:

  • My VALLEY and JOHNSON families came from Norway and Sweden.
  • The WINTERS and HARMS families came from Germany.
  • My great-grandmother Lillie CHAMBERS thought her family came from Ireland.
  • The story I’ve read is that my MILLER family came from Germany before the Revolutionary War.
  • We think the McCULLOUGH family came from Scotland.
  • There are several family lines which were in the United States in the 1700’s and we don’t know for sure where they came from and in some cases I’m not confident putting them into my family tree since I don’t have evidence they belong there. The PICKERING family probably came from Great Britain.

As anyone can see from the above information I haven’t really taken my genealogy across the pond. Based on what I am quite sure about I’m surprised I didn’t show up with more Irish and Western Europe (German) ethnicity. And I was surprised I show up with 11% Great Britain.

From what I have read these ethnicity estimates are just that: estimates. Also right above the Ethnicity Estimate on Ancestry it says “Thousands of years ago” so that seems to indicate this is not necessarily something that shows up in my genealogy.

My brother’s ethnicity results:
  • 63% Scandinavian
  • 23 % Europe West
  • 10 % Ireland

With the following low confidence areas:

  • 2% Europe East
  • ≤ 1% Iberian Peninsula
  • 0% Great Britain

Since my paternal grandparents were 100% Scandinavian and their families were probably in Norway and Sweden for a long time the fact that both my brother and I are so high with our Scandinavian ethnicity makes sense to me. He shows a bit more Europe West than I do (23% as opposed to my 11%) and quite a bit more Ireland than me (10% versus 4%). I’m surprised he shows 0% Great Britain and I show 15% Great Britain.

I do need to remember these are “estimates from thousands of years ago!” And I have read that the Vikings traveled into Germany and, of course, Great Britain and Ireland–and I’m sure they left some DNA behind! They were even into Russia and Eastern Europe. The ≤ 1% Iberian Peninsula both my brother and I show is surprising though I don’t think it’s very significant.

Well, I hope I haven’t made a bunch of incorrect assumptions based on my ethnicity estimates. I think the biggest takeaway for me is that the ethnicity estimates might offer a hint, but I shouldn’t use these estimates to say “I have Irish ethnicity” unless I have genealogy to back it up.

To anyone who has more experience with DNA  can you tell me if I’m on the right path with this?