Friday, May 11, 2012

Genes Day Friday - Two for the price of...two

The big news this Genes Day is - my paternal grandmother's test results are in! I now have double the data to go through! I've looked at her maternal haplogroup - U5a2b, similar to my paternal grandfather's U5b2a1 (well, not so similar, I guess). But both of their mothers were German immigrants (a fact which only dawned on me this week, actually), so it makes sense that there should be at least some similarity in their background.

One thing I noticed right away - she only had about 300 some matches, while my grandpa had over 900. I found this very odd, since her family has been in the US much, much longer (on some lines, at least) than his. Maybe it's just the luck of the draw in terms of who's tested, and who comes from where, but I expected my grandma to have many more matches than my grandpa. Just goes to show, you never know what you'll discover when you take these tests.

One thing that was somewhat of a surprise, but also somewhat expected (though I had no way of knowing for sure) was her genetic admixture - 100% European, just like my grandpa. With her mom being a German immigrant from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, I figured that side would be European. Her direct paternal line, the Wagners, were also Germans, with her grandfather being born just before or just after the immigration (that line is still kinda fuzzy, a situation I hope to remedy with further DNA testing in the future). It's her paternal grandmother's ancestry, the Shutes, that have deep American roots. Her 2nd-great-grandfather, Alexander Blood Shute, served in the Civil War, and many of the lines look like they go back at least to the 1700s here in America. Being that it goes so far back, I thought it at least possible that there was at least some ancestor who wasn't European. But, at least so far, it doesn't look that way.

One feature I really like on 23andMe is the Ancestry Finder, which tells you where certain segments of your DNA are likely to have originated (based on connections found with other people who have at least parents and usually grandparents from that country). The top two matches were Austria and Slovakia (0.8% and 0.6% respectively), which I thought made total sense, given that my grandma's mother's family came from Rosshaupt/Rozvadov in the Czech Republic. There were plenty of surprises though - Russia tied with Slovkia at 0.6%, Netherlands and Finland tied at third with 0.2%, and coming in fourth with 0.1% were the United Kingdom, Denmark, and - Germany? Wait a minute - my grandma's mom was German, her dad was half German, and Germany gets tied for last place? How does that work? I really expected it to be higher on the list. Again, it could just be a matter of who's tested, and where their ancestry is from, but with German ancestry being so much a part of my grandma's ancestry, I find this more surprising than the presence of Russia, Finland, and Denmark on the list of hits - though those are pretty big surprises on their own. I'm going to have to spend some time with this thing, and figure out exactly how this all works (if that's even possible).

In other genetic news - I've ordered a couple more autosomal tests. You'll probably think I'm crazy for doing so, and I'm inclined to agree with you. But 23andMe kinda forced my hand with their switch in policies this week. They won't be offering subscription based tests anymore - no more $99 and $9 a month. From now on, as of 5pm this Thursday, all autosomal tests are $300 flat (or something like that). That's going to change how and when I do my autosomal testing - so good thing I got my grandparents all done when it was affordable! I bought two more - one for my mom, to try and get an idea of what my maternal grandfather's autosomal DNA looked like, and one for another relative to be determined. All told, I'll have five autosomal tests - three grandparents, one parent, and one other relative somewhere. I'll have to test my mom's siblings down the road somewhere, but there's no rush at present (especially since I now have to figure out whether to keep it at 23andMe, or do it through FTDNA).

I'm still waiting for the results of my grandpa's Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. If I'm reading it correctly, the FTDNA site says the results will be ready at the end of June. I've already been waiting close to a month, and now I've got another 7 weeks to wait! I wonder if they're usually this slow, or just swamped with orders because of their DNA Day sale.

Also, I've finished reading a few books on the subject, that have really helped. In fact, the order I've read them in has turned out perfect for my education. Here they are, in the order I read them:

The Seven Daughters of Eve
Tracing Your Roots With DNA
Deep Ancestry - Inside the Genographic Project
DNA & Genealogy
DNA and Social Networking (currently reading)

CeCe Moore recommended these books to me, and they have been a HUGE help to me in getting my feet grounded in this incredibly complex field. I would heartily recommend them all to anyone looking to get started in this field.

So that's where things stand today. Two test results in, two more in process, and a couple of tests yet to be administered. I can honestly say I LOVE this stuff! It just excites me to no end seeing all the things I can learn from genetic genealogy. I know I made the right decision in jumping into this field when and how I did. I just need to keep learning, and keep researching, and (as money affords) keep testing.

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