Friday, February 10, 2017

Genes Day Friday - DNA Circles at last!!

One of the cool things about DNA testing at Ancestry is their use of DNA Circles. The circle is basically a group of people who share autosomal DNA with at least 3 other people in the circle and have a common ancestor in their family trees. This means that Ancestry figures, because of the comination of DNA and family tree matches, your shared DNA probably comes from that common ancestor. Because autosomal DNA inheritance is random, you won't match everyone in the circle, even though you have the same ancestor. Ancestry looks back as far as 9 generations in your tree, so you could potentially be matched with some pretty distant cousins.

When I first got my DNA results, I didn't have a tree uploaded to my account. I've kind of been holding out for Ancestry and Rootsmagic to get their sync issues worked out, so I postponed putting up my tree for a while. But when I saw their recent blog post about how the tree sync feature is delayed (as any complex software could be) I decided to post my tree. Because I had no tree, I wasn't put in any DNA circles, so I figured my circles would show up soon after uploading the tree. I was pretty disappointed when, after a couple weeks, I still had no circles. So I did what I always do when I have to wait for something - I distracted myself with other projects, and came back later. And voila - it worked!!

All I've really had time to do so far is check out which ancestors the circles are centered around. The variety is really interesting. I have 12 circles so far, and 8 of them are for Norwegian ancestors! The closest to me in generations are Betsy Martha Olson and Knute J. Bergstad, my 2nd-great-grandparents (and spouses to each other interestingly). Four more of the circles are dedicated to each of Betsy and Knute's parents - Betsy's parents were Andreas Olson and Ingeborg Fadness, and Knute's were Johannes Sjursen Bergstad and Torbjorg Knutsdatter Fadness. The other two Norwegians in the lot are Knute Gulleikson Fadness and Ingeborg Olsdatter Rongen, who turn out to be Torbjorg Fadness's parents. That means half of my circles come from one ancestral couple and their parents or grandparents. Either these ancestors have a LOT of descendants, or my Norwegian DNA is strongly biased towards them. Or both.
All of these Norwegian ancestors are from my maternal grandfather's paternal side, the Bergstads. There aren't any DNA circles for his maternal Norwegians, the Hammers. I wonder if I'll see any of those pop up later?
My remaining four circles cluster around another family group. Adoniram Shute is my 3rd-great-grandfather on my paternal grandmother's father's side. His wife was Mary Groff, and her parents were Paul Groff and Susanna Garlinghouse. So that group of circles basically covers the ancestors of my great-great-grandmother Eldora Shute (Adoniram and Mary's daughter).
Of my four grandparents, my paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather have ancestors represented in these circles. That means I have no circles as of yet for any of my paternal grandfather or maternal grandmother's lines. My grandpa's lack of circles, I can understand - relatively small families and recent immigrants to the Americas (1840s-1900s). My maternal grandmother's side though, I'm surprised. Colonial English, plus German immigrants with large families, plus French-Canadians with HUGE families. And no circles for any of them? Maybe they'll pop up later. I wonder how often Ancestry updates their circle roll call.
All in all, very interesting to see who my circles center around, and what ancestors pop up in my DNA. I'm very much looking forward to delving deeper into this!

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