My great grandmother Ernestine, my grandmother Eleanor, me, and my mother Eleanor at my Confirmation in 1964.
For a long time I have wanted to have an autosomal DNA test done. I had my mtDNA done a few years ago but it really doesn't give much information. mtDNA is inherited from the mother (maternally inherited). This means the information comes from my mother, then her mother, her grandmother and so on - it is passed straight down much as the Ydna in males is passed from father to son. The difference in that is that while the male last name remains the same through time, the mother's last name changes every generation, so its more difficult to use in tracing a family. That's about the easiest way to explain it. What you can get from the mtDNA is a haplogroup. A haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mutation in all haplotypes. Haplogroups are assigned letters of the alphabet, and refinements consist of additional number and letter combinations. Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups have different haplogroup designations. Haplogroups pertain to deep ancestral origins dating back thousands of years. Got it? Yeah right! I don't even get it all!
At any rate, my maternal haplogroup according to the testing is I4 which is a very small subclade of I.
It appears to have originated in the Near East or Caucasus Mountains about 40,000 years ago (well, at least they didn't say ...billions of years ago) not long after humans began migrating beyond Africa. Today the haplogroup is widespread in Europe, where it is present at levels of about 2%. Though fairly rare in the Near East, the haplogroup is found in a swath from the Caucasus region to Pakistan. I4 is nearly absent in the parts of Europe most distant from that area. Today it is most common among the Lemkos in the Carpathian mountains (11.3%), the people of Kirk Island (Croatia) (also 11.3 percent), and among Russians from Oryol Oblast (8.3 percent)
Now that kind of fascinates me - my family's heritage through my mom is basically German. My great-grandmother's family, though they claimed to be German, lived in what was then Poland under Russian rule. They spoke German, attended German schools and German churches. In those days it was called Prussia as there was no Germany as it is today, it was all city-states. I have only been able to trace this line to the late 1700's and at that point they were still in Nowy Witoszyn in Kreis Lipno - not easy to find on today's maps, but I did find it, just can't seem to copy it into this program. It would seem that some Russians, Croatians or Lemkos snuck in there somewhere!
To paint a better picture of my haplogroup, I need to add my biological father's YDNA haplogroup into the mix. His is apparently very rare and also a subgroup of a larger group - A3b2*. I thought at first the asterisk was something that was a mistake, but apparently this is included in the subclade! Haplogroup A contains some of the oldest Y-chromosome lineages on Earth and is very rare today. A has deeper roots than any other branch in the Y chromosone. It is most common among groups in eastern and southern Africa, such as the Ethiopian Amhara, the Sandawe of Tanzania and the hunter-gatherer Khoisan people of the Kalahari desert in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Many of the populations where haplogroup A is present speak click languages, using distinctive pops and snaps to communicate in addition to the vowel and consonant sounds employed by most of the world's languages. The subclade of A3b2* seems to be sub-saharan African and Nigerian which then spread into Greece, Turkey, Sardinia and Italy.
So then, what is my ancestry composition? My mother is supposedly pure German. My biological father is half Irish, half Italian. I redid my DNA with 23andMe because they do what is called autosomal testing. This means they can pretty much tease out and break down my ancestry into actual groups. Mine really had one big (well, it was .1% and from my mother's side) surprise. My results are:
95.2% European, broken down into
8.2% British and Irish
1.4% French and German
31.4% Non Specific Northern European
3.5% Non Specific Southern European
3.2% Eastern European (Ukraine, Poland, Russia, Hungary)
0.1% Ashkenazic Jew
46.1% Non Specific European
So, the .1% Sub-Saharan in my biological father's ancestral makeup didn't pass to me, BUT in my mother's DNA, I have .1% Ashkenazic Jew - that was a real surprise! I am sure it would be to my mom too! I would love to know how that all played out in my maternal line - did someone from Israel travel into the Ural Mountains and marry a Russian who then married a German in Poland?? So curious!
My husband had some real eye opener's in his DNA as well, but he really needs to have a cousin who descends from his Bowen line get tested to find out the truth in family stories! I'll get to his another day!