I am participating in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. The topic this week is “Favorite Name.”
My grandmother’s name was Olga Tekla Laura Nora Johnson. Her parents both came to the United States from Sweden about 1883. She had three sisters and two brothers and when I was a little girl I heard that my grandmother was the only one with a middle name–and that she had three middle names! (I’ve found out later her brothers and sisters did have middle names–but still they didn’t have three middle names.) One of my cousins is named Tekla Rachel Coleman Valley–so she has two middle names.
Another thing about my grandmother’s last name (Johnson). The story I always heard was that the last name the family came to this country with was Borg. (Maybe they were part of the Star Trek Borg!) However, when the family reached Minnesota there were no other families named Borg and that made them feel lonely so they changed their name to Johnson! A very funny story!
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?
The VALLEY family is my Dad’s Norwegian part of our family. My grandfather died when I was a little girl, but my Dad related what he knew about his father’s family:
My grandfather–Peter Coleman VALLEY–didn’t know too much about his parents. He was born in Wisconsin and he left home after his dad died because he didn’t get along with his mother. Peter said “my mother took up with other men.” After he left home, he lied about his age (he was 16) so he could join the Army in 1900. He was in the Philippines and later in the Boxer Rebellion in China during the Spanish-American War. [My father says his dad was born 28 August 1884, but military records when he joined the Army show 18 April 1882 and later military records show 28 August 1882.]
Peter’s parents came from Norway and their names were Fred VALLEY and Katinka Pauline WALLISVERD (or WALLISVERG or WALLESVERD or WALLESVERDH or some other spelling!). Peter didn’t know where they came from in Norway, but he thought the family name was changed from Neseldolen [my brother tells me the spelling should be Nesledalen] (which might mean nettle valley–and maybe it’s a Norwegian farm name?? Because he thought they came from a place called Neseldolen. [Nesledalen]) He also thought there was a family connection in Trondheim, Norway (a harbor city on the west coast of Norway) who might have been a ship’s carpenter or harbor master, but didn’t know a name.
Peter had a younger brother named William VALLEY (born in 1886). They also had a younger half-brother named John HOOD (born in 1894). They were all born in Wisconsin. Peter moved to Minnesota after he left the Army and married my grandmother Olga Tekla Laura Nora JOHNSON. Her parents were Swedish. Peter worked in sawmills in Minnesota and moved his family to Bend, Oregon in 1919 to work in a sawmill there. My grandparents lived the rest of their lives there.
Some questions I have:
I have found very little information about Fred VALLEY. I’m not sure when he died. This year I did find a state record for a Fred VALLEY who died in 1898 in Wisconsin. Is this my Fred VALLEY? I need to get a copy of the death certificate to find out what information it shows.
I found a Lutheran church record in Stoughton, Wisconsin for the baptism of William VALLEY in 1886, but I haven’t been able to find any birth record for Peter VALLEY. Differing records show he was born in Gilman, Taylor County, Wisconsin, United States. Another record shows Pierce County, Wisconsin as a birth site.
I found a New York Passenger List which shows Godfred Vallesvar and Katrine Vallesvar arriving in the U.S. in 1883 and planning to go to Stoughton, Wisconsin. Is this Fred and Katinka VALLEY?
Is John HOOD Peter and William’s half-brother?
I am thinking of going on a research trip to Madison, Wisconsin to search for state records for the VALLEY family and also do research at the Naseth Library (a Norwegian American Genealogical Society) also in Madison.
Year: 1900; Census Place: Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Military and Naval Forces; Roll: 1838; Enumeration District: 0102; FHL microfilm: 1241838; found on Ancestory.com