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™?