myOrigins – Mapping My Ethnicity

I posted previously about having my DNA tested and some of the results that I received from those tests. I tested with Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) and yesterday I received an email notification from FTDNA that they were launching a new tool called “myOrigins,” a feature that maps my ethnicity based on my autosomal DNA test results. 

The mapping also shows, with dropped pins, the location of individuals who are close DNA matches. Close matches in this case appears to mean either 2nd-4th cousin or 3rd-5th cousin. As far as know, no one else in my known family circle has tested with FTDNA but presumably, if they had been tested, they would be mapped and seen based on their relationship to me.

Below is the map of my ethnicity. No real surprises. My ethnicity is 100% European – 67% UK and Ireland (dark blue colour), 30% European Coastal Plain (light blue colour on France, Germany, Belgium, etc.), and 3% European Northlands (pale green colour on Norway and the Scandinavian countries).

I am admittedly no DNA expert so I cannot expertly interpret these results but they do make some sense to me. I have a lot of evidence of my ancestors coming from Scotland and Ireland. The influence of the European mainland is not surprising as that represents typical migration patterns to the UK and Ireland. Similarly, from an historic perspective, Norwegians, a.k.a. Vikings, used the north-east of Scotland as a base from which to launch further forays into the world.

The dropped pins feature is something that I found interesting even though it is certainly not conclusive evidence because it is based on the locations of living persons (I think I’m safe stating that). What I found interesting is that the map allows me to pin the closest paternal side matches or the closest maternal side matches from the FTDNA database. In my case, the database generated 17 paternal matches and 16 maternal matches.

These matches can be seen in clusters on the map. Of the 33 potential cousin matches, 11 are located in Ireland, 6 are located in Scotland, and 9 matches are located in the United States. Matches in Scotland and Ireland do not come as a surprise but I’m curious about the matches in the United States as there is a cluster in the Carolinas and Tenessee. Who knows this may well be a good clue for further investigation on where ancestral family members may have migrated at some point in history.

Are My DNA Results Propelling Me Into A Whole New Direction Of Research?

Last year I decided to venture into the unknown, at least to me, realm of genetic genealogy by completing a DNA test. I completed both a Y-DNA and autosomal test using the services of Family Tree DNA. I shared an overview of the Y-DNA test results in November and the autosomal test results in December.

I really had low expectations about the test results connecting me with a lot of new cousins. Rather, I was just plain and simple curious. What haplogroup did I belong to? What would my DNA test results indicate about my deep ancestral past? I found the results to be useful and perhaps even mildly amusing.

All of that seems to be changing now. I have been contacted by researchers who are very seriously examining the possible, maybe likely, connection between the Hadden family in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and the Hadden family of County Tyrone, Ireland.

A connection between the two families has been at least anecdotal  based on references in old family letters written by the Irish Haddens to visiting the home of their ‘old ancestors’ in Aberdeen. As it appears likely that the ‘Irish Haddens’ may have left Scotland about 400 years ago, there are no written records found to date that can confirm the family connection.

That’s where my DNA comes in and may prove it’s worth. I can confirm my Hadden ancestral roots in Aberdeenshire. My grandfather left Aberdeen with his parental family in 1923. Many generations of my Hadden ancestors lived in or around Aberdeen, Scotland and there are fortunately plenty of paper records that verify these facts. 

Family Tree Finder test results indicate that there are 978 matches of my Y-chromosome DNA with the Y-DNA of others in their database. Only six of the 978 are an exact Y-DNA match and bear the Hadden surname. Interestingly, three of these six individuals can trace their roots to County Tyrone, Ireland in the early 18th century. Of the remaining three exact Hadden matches, two do not list their most distant Hadden ancestor and one has traced his Hadden ancestry to  mid-18th century Pennsylvania in the United States.

So did one of my Hadden ancestors move himself and possibly his family from Aberdeenshire, Scotland to County Tyrone, Ireland sometime around 1600 – 1650? I don’t know right now but working with other researchers, who fortunately are much more knowledgeable in the field of genetic genealogy than I am, I may find out, and soon!

My Autosomal DNA Test Results Included A Surprise!

On November 18th, 2012, I shared the the results that I received from Family Tree DNA for my Hadden Y-DNA test, including my Haplogroup. I have now received the results for my autosomal DNA test, called Family Finder by Family Tree DNA.

Family Tree DNA states “Family Finder uses autosomal DNA (inherited from both the mother and father, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc.) to provide you a breakdown of your ethnic percentages and connect you with relatives descended from any of your ancestral lines within approximately the last 5 generations.” Autosomal DNA is from the 22 chromosome pairs beyond the gender determining X and Y chromosomes.

The first thing I wanted to review was the breakdown of my ethnic percentages. Having a paternal ancestry firmly rooted in Scotland and a maternal ancestry similarly rooted in Ireland, I saw little room for surprises.

My ethnic breakdown, by percentage, is 96.64% Western Europe (Orcadian), that is from the Orkney Islands, and 3.36% South Asia (Southeast Indian, North Indian). Huh? Where did that come from? The genealogy paper trails have led me to Ireland, Scotland (and from there to England) but nothing has suggested India but it seems like there might be an intriguing story somewhere in my ancestral past. The Orkney Island might also contain a great Viking warrior ancestry.

Family Tree DNA has also provided me with a list of individuals who have also been tested and who share DNA segments, measured in centiMorgans (cM), with me. A quick review of the list and the ancestral surnames associated with each of the matches doesn’t immediately reveal any ‘hits’ to me. There are a couple of individuals who may likely be cousins, second to fourth cousins, but I need to take a closer look at how we match up before I can really understand how I can best utilize this new information.

My Hadden Y-DNA Results

I have been wanting to have my DNA tested for a long time, but frankly it is not a cheap test to have completed. Fortunately, Family Tree DNA recently had a sale that I decided to take advantage of in order to see what the results might uncover for me.

Genetics can be another powerful tool in genealogy, allowing for a deep look at your ancestral origins. Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) is passed along the male or patrilineal line, that is, father to son, generation after generation, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is transmitted through the matrilinieal line, that is, from mothers to children of both sexes.

While my DNA test was not going give me any names of ancestors, it was going to provide me with my haplogroup, that group to which I belonged, sharing an ancient ancestor.

Well, the Y-DNA test results are in and my Hadden Y-DNA haplogroup is R1b1a2.

I really am a novice with this level of genetic research but so far I have learned that I probably shouldn’t be surprised with this haplogroup result. R1b1a2 is the most common group, given ancient population migration patterns, in western Europe. It is most predominant in Ireland, Scotland, and England as well as Germany and Belgium. Today, there is also a strong presence of this haplogroup predominantly in the eastern United States, not surprising considering migration over the past two to three hundred years.

There are more results yet to be received and I have a lot of studying to complete in order to understand the power that genetic tests offer. Good thing I’m now retired as this is going to require a fair amount of time.