In Which I Take a DNA Test

I know that when I first started this blog I mentioned that I wanted to post occasionally about my genealogy research. Which, of course, I haven’t done. A part of this is due to privacy- I mean, do I really want strangers to know all about my family history? Also, would you even care?

And then I go and read other people’s genealogy blog posts which proves that there is at least (1) weirdo who likes prying into other people’s family history. (Seriously, most people who know me understand that once we get to level 2 friendship, the first thing I’m probably going to ask is, “Hey? So where does your family come from? Do you know?”)

Anyway, I’ve been contemplating doing one of those ancestry DNA tests for years. I haven’t before this because 1) they are expensive and 2) do I really want my DNA stuck in a database somewhere? I mean, if I was an evil super-villain, I would attack an ancestry DNA database to get DNA to build clones who could do crimes for me. Wouldn’t you? Image result for young frankenstein gif

But then Ancestry had a sale. I like sales. I like genealogy research. Therefore, my qualms did not stop me from spitting into a vial so a mysterious entity could examine it for profit.

I’m starting to think I would not last long in a sci-fi novel.

A lot of people question the accuracy of these tests, but since I already had a pretty good idea of what my ethnicity is (or should be, according to my research) I thought it would be interesting to see how it would match up. All of my mother’s ancestors came to America no earlier than 1910, and while my dad’s family has been in the U.S. longer, I’ve gone back pretty far on that side of the family, enough to know that he should be about 50% German and 50% Irish/English. So based on that, I was judging that my results would roughly come out around these percentages:

25% Eastern European (Polish)

25% Scandinavian (Danish)

25% Western European (German)

12.5 % Irish

12.5% British

Now, while we get 50% of our DNA from each parent, I know that what we get is shuffled around and not evenly divided (for instance, Mom might give me more Polish DNA than Danish, while Dad might give me more German than Irish. Since I think I look more German and Polish than anything else, that’s what I would have expected.) I also have one ancestor on my paternal grandmother’s side who was possibly Native American (Wampanoag, to be exact); however, short of time travel, there’s not really any way of knowing. Being my 9th great-grandmother, it would be doubtful that I would even share any of her DNA, so while I had a slim hope that something might come up to tell me one way or the other, I wasn’t really counting on it.

And….I got my results back. I AM SO GERMAN. Everything except 2 of my “low confidence” regions were the ethnicities I was expecting, but the percentages –except for the Eastern European, which at 23% is almost on-the-money accurate– was way off. Also, I would need to get my mother tested, because unless she has some western European in her, there’s no way I can really be more than 50% “Europe West.” (as Denmark borders Germany, I’m thinking that some ethnic mixing might possibly be why that category is so high in my DNA- the areas even overlap on ancestry’s map. Meanwhile, since my great-great grandmother on my Danish side was actually Swedish, that may be where the stronger Scandinavian DNA is coming from.)


But where is the British and Irish in me? Where? Poor Nanny. I did not inherit much from her, I’m afraid. Except for the >1% Finnish/Northwest Russia (which was a surprise, and something I assume comes from the Scandinavian side) I think everything in the low confidence region is coming from her. Including the biggest surprise: 2% Iberian Peninsula.


The Iberian Peninsula was even more befuddling that the <1% South Asia! I’ve heard before that sometimes trace amounts of Native American DNA can come up as Asian (though usually East Asian), and more research has also suggested that it might also be evidence of a Romani connection, both of which seem more likely than an ancestor from India, especially because, with my other grandparents’ DNA generally accounted for, my paternal grandmother seems the most likely source. I have her English side going back to early colonial America (early as in the ship they came over from in the 1600s) but the Irish side of the family is the one that’s the most mysterious. I know my great-great grandparents were born in Ireland and came to America sometime around the 1870s. But before that, I have no earthly idea. I don’t even know where in Ireland they were from- I just know they were Quinns and O’Briens.  Apparently, from what I’ve learned after much googling (not always the most reliable method of information gathering, but a very convenient one) there is a genetic connection between Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula and so that’s the only guess I have as to where that ethnicity is coming from.

Additionally, the percentages themselves are a little shaky, as even ancestry admits. All together, each percentage only adds up to 97-98%. When I click for more information, each ethnicity gives me a range. On all the portions of my DNA tested (40 of them in total) I got different percentages. The range is between the lowest and highest percentages they got; the ultimate percentage they give me is the average. For instance, on one portion of DNA, my European West heritage was as low as 34%, on another, as high as 88%.


You can read more about Ancestry’s method of testing here. Some of the ranges for me were quite large; Scandinavia was between 0% and 25%; Europe East between 12% and 33%. In the low confidence regions, Great Britain got up to 7%, while the Iberian Peninsula and Ireland/Scotland/Wales got to 5% and 4% respectively. The two lowest, Asia South and Finland/Northwest Russia, both started at 0% and got as high as 2% and 3%.

Ultimately, I found the whole thing fascinating, but it’s also made me want to get my parents and grandparents tested so I can narrow these ethnicities down a little more. Though I doubt I’ll ever pinpoint which ancestor it’s from, the Finnish/Russian connection was interesting! And it’s made me even more eager to uncover more from my ever-elusive Irish side.

So, if you’ve read through all of this, I think that makes us level 2 friends? Which means I get to ask: what countries are your family from? Have you ever taken a DNA test like this? What did you find out?


10 thoughts on “In Which I Take a DNA Test

  1. Ohmygosh I LOOOVE genealogy. Both my parents got that test done, and basically I’m a European mutt. And my dad has a high percentage of Neanderthal. XD

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVE genealogy. My grandparents were huge into it and have tons of old photos (including a Swiss document or two) and research from before the internet ancestry explosion. I had a free trial to build my tree from what they had, then I purchased the test during a sale and got another free trial to work a bit more. I then got a membership during a sale. I really need to work on it this week.

    I was pretty good with my ancestry although I over-estimated my English. I think that could be because the average Brit (according to an ancestry article) isn’t 100% British although I don’t know how that would compare to ancestry.

    Here is my post is my post if you want to read.

    I believe Great Britain means Anglo-Saxon while Ireland/Scotland/Wales means Celtic. Mine is almost certainly Scottish because going by what I know of surnames and immigration patterns my British was northern, by the Scottish border.

    I know my Western European is Swiss (my grandfather’s grandfather was born to Swiss immigrant parents whose family’s lived in the canton of Bern since the 1500’s although that needs to be verified) with some German. Europe South probably comes from my Swiss side as perhaps does the trace Iberian.

    The Scandanavian is probably from the German and maybe English ancestors. I suppose the trace Finnish/Russian is from the former.

    I’m definitely going to test my grandparents to see their results. I think it would be cool to test my siblings to see their results as well.

    I only just started noticing my ranges, so I think I might look into that further. I mean I always knew it was new science.

    I’ve uploaded my raw DNA to Gedmatch but haven’t researched that further.

    Between what genealogy I’ve done and David Hackett Fischer’s book Albion’s Seed my migration patterns gave me chills for how well is matches with recorded historical migration patterns.

    And my ancestors had zillions of kids, I have thousands of CLOSE dna matches. I had one several greaths grandfather who had 23 children and 20-21 lived to adulthood.

    Also, as to your south Asian, you mentioned the Romani, the originated in India, I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! It’s always great to find others who enjoy genealogy! It’s neat that your ancestry test came out with migrations, too (mine didn’t, although I pretty much have a record as to where they lived already).

      I’ve only just heard of Gedmatch, so I might look into that.

      WOW. 23 children is a LOT! I have several great-grandparents whose children count got up to a little more than a dozen, I believe, but nowhere near 20, haha!

      Yes, I had read that the Romani originated in India, so if I do have a Romani connection I suppose I should have clarified that I meant I don’t have any *recent* ancestors from India 🙂


  3. This is fascinating stuff! A near relative of ours recently got his DNA tested, and for the major stuff I was going “Yes, yes, pretty much what I thought…”, (based on geneological research I had done) but then when we got further down the list, the results were sooo surprising. Like Irish/Scottish/Welsh…and Scandinavian?? It’s definitely made me a lot more curious to get my own DNA tested in the future, and maybe my parents as well!

    I read once that due to persecution of Catholicism in Ireland, some young men went to Catholic countries like Spain to seek their fortune (as mercenaries, merchants or what have you) and yes, some would return with a wife and kids. This might help explain the Iberian part?

    The Romani people traveled all over Europe, and though unlikely, an Indian ancestor isn’t impossible. Thanks to stuff like British East India Company, starting in the 1700s, there were people who came to Britain from India, and some stayed and began families.

    It’s amazing to think who your ancestors might have been hundreds of years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I find it curious to try and match historical events to where my family was at the time! It makes me feel like a little bit of me was there, too 🙂

      That’s a neat Irish connection! Since I know nothing about my Irish side before they came to America, I suppose anything’s possible.

      I did think about the English-Indian connection, but I doubt that impacted my family very much, since as far as I know all of my English ancestors came to America before the 1700s. I am more curious to see where exactly that Asia South comes from, though. It just makes me want to get my parents and grandparents tested! 😀


  4. I found this fascinating! Family history has always been a fascinating thing for me too, though I’ve never had a DNA test done. I know that my grandma came from England and that my grandad came out from Scotland in the sixties, I think (I live in Australia), and that on my mum’s side we’re descended from some English convicts who were brought here way back when. An “Aunt” (who’s actually a cousin three times removed or something) has traced my family back to that convict, and a bit further, but the bad record keeping in the 1700s makes it quite difficult to know what on earth was going on.
    Anyway, fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so neat! I’ve heard that a lot of Australians can trace back to ancestors who were brought as convicts, and I’ve always thought that was fascinating!

      Bad record keeping can really be a pain! I’ve only found one document so far that is helping with my Irish ancestry research, and it’s practically unintelligible. :/

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is so cool! Family history/genealogy is fascinating, and I’m intrigued by it (and others’ histories/genealogies) as well! My dad and one of his aunts did a lot of research and found out that their side of the family is primarily Welsh, English, and Irish (the Irish coming from my grandmother’s side). Then on the other side of the family, we’re Welsh and English, with a Scotsman or two somewhere in there. 🙂 But now you’ve got me wondering what percentage of each *I* ended up with…

    Also, your comment about not lasting long in a sci-fi story cracked me up!

    Oh, and I tagged you for the Sunshine Blogger tag, if you’re interested!


    1. Yes! I find other people’s ancestry’s fun to learn about too! I’ve always been interested in Welsh culture, perhaps because the language is so fascinating. (also, I’m a bit of a name nut, and Welsh names are some of the coolest, in my opinion 🙂 )

      Oh, and thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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