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:
15% Great Britain
11 % Europe West
With the following low confidence areas:
≤ 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:
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?
Lillie’s father was William CHAMBERS. Either he or his father was one of four (or maybe six) brothers (Alexander, James, John and William) who left their family home and father (also named William CHAMBERS) in Londonderry, Ireland after some sort of quarrel with him. The brothers came to Ohio.
Her other grandfather–John D. MARKS–lived in Illinois. One of his daughters (Mary) was Lillie’s mother. She died when Lillie was a baby. Lillie remembers that her grandfather loved to tease. She used to ask him what the “D” stood for in his name. He would answer, “Devil, I guess.”
Arthur is a recurring family name–one of Lillie’s brothers was named Arthur and Lillie and Lee MILLER named their oldest son Arthur Lyle MILLER. A family member was named Daniel and called “Black Daniel,” apparently because he was “Black Irish.¹”
¹From what I read about “Black Irish” there’s a lot of debate about where that term comes from. Whether it is describing someone with black hair and eyes and a dark complexion or a derogatory term toward the Irish or some group of Irish people. This term isn’t often used in Ireland. See Irish Central
This information is from handwritten pages my mother wrote in a notebook probably around 1954 (based on the other pages in the notebook). Her grandmother Lillie Marks CHAMBERS MILLER died in 1956. [I have seen Lillie also spelled Lily in different documents and at different times–even by my mother!]
I have added additional notes [using brackets] from things my mother told me when I was a teenager and first became interested in our family history.
Lillie Marks CHAMBERS
born in Bates County, Missouri 9 June 1870
Since Marks is Lillie’s middle name MARKS might be a family name
Two brothers–Arthur and John
Two sisters–Ida and Emma
Went to teacher’s college in Bates County, Missouri [later my Mom called this a Normal school–which I learned is the name for schools which taught teachers]
School was a private school at that time
Lillie and Arthur traveled to Oregon
Arthur had a mine at Black Butte in Grant County, Oregon & later homesteaded in Fox Valley
Arthur went to Portland, got sick there and died at St. Vincent’s Hospital
Lillie taught school [in Grant County, Oregon], met Lee MILLER and they were married 14 September 1895
Lillie and Lee’s children–Lyle–my grandfather–(born 11 July 1896 in Canyon City, Oregon), Gene (in 1900) and Joe–J.C. (in 1908)
Family came across the plains to Oregon
They were a pioneer family that settled near Creswell, Oregon
His mother’s maiden name was Douglas
Douglas County and Douglas Cemetery near Creswell was named for them
There were two brothers–Lee and Cyrus [I’m not sure if my mother meant there were two sons or that Lee MILLER had two brothers in which case she may have written down “Lee” instead of the other brother’s name]
Lee MILLER had a livery stable in Canyon City, Grant County, Oregon
Mom thought the livery stable burned down and the family moved to Izee, Grant County, Oregon
Later they moved to Paulina, Crook County, Oregon and had a store there that went broke at some point
Lee MILLER died when Lyle was 16
Lillie started teaching school again and taught for many years in rural communities in Crook County, Oregon.
Lillie thought one brother lived near Denver
Next I will write about the information in the notebook Mom wrote about Lillie’s grandfather and family.
I will come back to Lee and Lillie’s family with information I’ve found in records and try to prove or disprove these notes.