Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Results Are In - AncestryDNA

The news of the day is that my AncestryDNA results are in. I'm guessing a big batch of results were posted yesterday (3/19), because quite a few of the genealogy folks I follow on Twitter were reporting that they had results in too.

The test results comprise two components - the Ethnicity Estimate and your Matches. Both parts are interesting in their own way and deserve some discussion.

First, the Ethnicity Estimate.  No surprises here.  My estimate is 97% European, with the remaining 3% spread out over other categories. 

The breakdown (in descending order of prevalence) :

  • Europe West (37%) - Primarily located in: Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein
    • Most of my ancestors on my paternal line (with the exception of my surname line and a few others) are from the German speaking areas of West Europe - many early German immigrants ended up in south-central Pennsylvania, so most people who have roots in that part of the country will have deep German roots
  • Ireland (27%) - Primarily located in: Ireland, Wales, Scotland
    • Between this category and the one to follow, this covers pretty much entire maternal line as well as the Irish components of my paternal line.
  • Great Britain (25%) - Primarily located in: England, Scotland, Wales
    • My maternal line is largely predominated by that group of immigrants known as the "Scotch-Irish" or "Scots-Irish", early settlers from Northern Ireland, originally of Scottish and English origin.  More than a few of these immigrants ended up in what is now known as Appalachia.
 These three categories make up 89% of my estimate, based on the averages that Ancestry has calculated (Ancestry describes the methodology used to calculate these numbers in some detail, and I'm not going to try to explain it in detail here, but  the averages are based on a number of trials which define a potential range of values, the listed value being an average of the values in the range).   The remainder of my Estimate is composed of what AncestryDNA calls trace regions - regions that have a positive average but where the range begins at 0% and which could thus appear by chance.

Trace Regions (in descending order with no commentary:

  • Iberian Peninsula (4%)
  • Scandinavia (2%)
  • Finland/NW Russia (1%)
  • Asia South (1%)
  • Europe East (< 1%)
  • Africa Southeastern Bantu (< 1%)
  • Melanesia (< 1%)
So, according to AncestryDNA, that's my genetic heritage in a nutshell.

Now, we turn our attention to the Matches component.  At the time of writing, I have 252 pages of  matches, ranging in predicted degree of kinship from second cousin to distant cousin (5th cousin or more distant) - most in the last bucket with verying degrees of confidence.  I have not had the chance to review all of my matches so far, but i've at least browsed most of my closer matches.  I haven't initiated contact with any of my matches, but two of my matches have contacrted me - one whose user name I recignized as a known cousin and a second who AncestryDNA pegged us as 4th cousins, but who has no recognizeable paper trail to connect us at this time.

Some observations:

  • I'm seeing a lot of matches on my maternal line, and in quite a few of those the degree of kinship is overstated, primarily due to the presence of Barnabas Curry as a common ancestor. I have, I believe, three Curry lines that trace back to him, so even though he is either my 4x great or 5x great grandfather, his impact on my DNA is somewhat disproportionate
  • I need to do more work on my Ancestry Family Tree, particularly on my maternal side to facilitate matching
  • I think I need to come up with a handful of templates to use in contacting prospective cousins, one or two for each of my maternal and paternal lines

All in all, still lots of work to do.

One final note - I have located a folder that documents a potential family unit for Christopher McNally back in Ireland.  In the very near future, I'm going to document that on the blog and tie that in to the Y-DNA testing I have going on FTDNA.

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