Tuesday, February 21, 2017

DNA, like diarrhea, runs in your genes

My computer has been down for a few days.  WiFi wouldn't connect.  Took it into the shop and said the WiFi wouldn't connect, though the TP-Link adapter had worked for a month.  Went in today to check.  He said the computer Wi-Fi didn't work and he couldn't fix it. I had told him that when I went in. Oh, well.  In despair, I brought it home, fired it up and the TP-Link worked.  And is still working.

This was the blog post I was working on when the WiFi disconnected, so I will pick up where I left off.

Where people came from, how they got there and how they got to where they are now has always fascinated me. My theory was that everyone came out of the Asian Steppes because there was nothing to do but fight and flirt, and in the winter it was too clod to fight. Fortunately my brother Stan is very interested in where languages came from and how they got to today's polyglot.  Languages and people tend to move together so we both read many of the same books.

These are the books my brother recommends on the movement of peoples out of Africa (linked to Goodreads.  I have read four of them. He says there are no recent books that he could find which surprised him.  Given the advances in the past decade there should have been some.  Stay tuned.

The development of DNA analysis was a huge breakthrough in understanding the origins and movement of people.  Up to that point it was all based on archaeological evidence only.  Combining archaeological, genetic, and linguistic findings provides a more complete picture but refutes many commonly held assumptions.

1.      The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey  -  Spencer Wells (2002)
2.      Mapping Human History: Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins – Steve Olson (2002)
3.      Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors  – Nicholas Wade (2006
4.      The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry  – Bryan Sykes (2001) 
5.      Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland – Bryan Sykes (2006)
6.      Out of Eden, the peopling of the world – Stephen Oppenheimer (2004). 


DNA analysis is now cheap enough that people can use it to satisfy their own curiosity - where did their ancestors come from, who are they related to, etc. This link is a great primer for people who are just learning about genetics. From DNA to Genetic Genealogy - Genetics 101 for total beginners. This link has highly detailed information. Genetic genealogy

This article in my email jarred me into finally begun digging information on DNA for family treeMatch making: DNA testing, sometimes a gimmick, can also be a godsend for genealogists.
What I am most interested in is NOT finding more relatives but rather the countries where my ancestors may have originated many generations ago (not “Europe” but narrowed down much more than that) and  mtDNA and Y chromosome analysis can go a long way back.


The Irish Hingstons can (likely) trace their antecedents to the son of James Hingston, organist to Charles I and Oliver Cromwell.  He was apparently given land in County Cork in the mid-1650s as part of Cromwell's Irish settlement program.  There are serious genealogists working on this so I will not worry too much about it.  

However, my maternal grandmother's family, Bielby, originated in Yorkshire.  Their name comes from the name of a village which derived from Old English for White Farm.  The Russian word for white is belyy, as in Belarus (White Russia). Scandinavians also known as Varangians traded up and down the river systems from the Baltic to the Black Sea.  Scandanavians also raided, traded and settles in Yorkshire.  Some could have been the same people.  So, could I perchance have Varangian blood lines in my background? That would interest me.

Finding relatives may be important to people whose knowledge of their ancestry is limited.  Millions of people were displaced during and after WWII, for example.  Birth and death records tended to be kept in churches in Europe, years ago and many of those records have been destroyed. 

I found three commercial laboratories doing DNA analysis for genealogical purposes though there are likely more out there. 
Extending Family Trees with DNA Testing This guy wants to sell you stuff, sort of a consultant but the website has useful information. He recommends these three DNA testing companies for Genealogical DNA tests; he says do all three as they each have different data pools.

One of these day, I might just do that. 

16 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. You will love some of those books I recommended then.

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  2. I have never been able to put too much confidence in DNA to find your roots. Ancestors increase exponentially: 2 parents, 4 grand parents, 8 grt. grandparents, 16 grt. grt. grandparents etc. If we consider a generation to replace every 20 years then around 1460 - 29 generations - we would have 500 million grandparents; it just so happens that the world population about 1460 reached 500 million. Granted that doesn't mean you were kin to everyone in the world in 1460; but the odds are that that far back your bloodline is so watered down that DNA is useless. These numbers of course are ballpark; but they are in the ballpark.
    the Ol'Buzzard
    by the way - my wife was curious about the cat topiary on your top picture in the margin - can you give us any information about them?
    O'B

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    1. The photo is from The Topiary Cat http://thetopiarycat.co.uk/

      Your calculation of 500 million grandparents is a common assumption and ignores the fact that if you trace any family tree you will see many common ancestors, as families loop in and out of marriages to distant and not-so-distant relatives. The RC Church once held that anything under 7 degrees of separation between husband and wife was incestuous. This was in the main ignored except by rich men desiring a divorce who "suddenly" found that they were too closely related to their wife. Kings used this a great deal.

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  3. Very interesting! I will check the library for the books you listed.
    Thanks!

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    1. Maybe the librarian can find some more recent, too.

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  4. I agree that especially in remote or sparsely populated regions the blood line is thick with kindred-ship. Also with the seven degrees of separation - but the numbers are fun and still the exponential increase remains true. Just proving the fact that we are all related at some point.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. Actually, we are all related to "Mitochondria Eve" and "Y Chromosome Adam" who lived maybe 150,000 years ago. They may never have met and there certainly were many more genetic lines around but over time they all disappeared leaving us with just those two. As to thick blood lines, thick or thin, are you really "related" to your fourth or fifth cousin? Or even third?

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  5. Try "The Tribes of Britain" by David Miles.

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  6. I've read \'The Seven daughters of Eve" but not the other books. I'll have to make a note of them and see if the library has them when it re-opens.... it's in the process of moving to a temporary location for a year while a new library extension id built.

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    1. I loved that one and The Journey of Man (Y chromosome studies)

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  7. I'm the semi-official keeper of our family's records. I don't have enough time to devote to it, so my work to date has consisted of putting all our current knowledge into a genealogy database. It goes back as far as a Henders (or possibly Hinders) in County Wexford, Ireland in 1765. Someday I'd love to dig deeper into it. DNA research is fascinating, too - now you've given me more books to add to my TBR pile! :-)

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    1. My brother Stan and cousin David are the genealogists in our family. They have contributed to the Hingston One Name Study.
      http://www-civ.eng.cam.ac.uk/cjb/hingston/hingston.htm
      If you go to Hingston maps and the farthest southwest corner of Ireland and click on the marker it take you to the Irish Hingstons. We can go as far back as 1726 but with some possible information not verified. I tried Henders and Hinders in the One-Name Study Guild website http://one-name.org but no luck.

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    2. Thanks for trying! That last record of Henders in Ireland has been a dead end for our previous family researchers. There was some speculation that the Hinders might have moved to Ireland from Germany, but nobody's been able to substantiate that. My personal theory is that somebody needed to change their name in hurry for some unnamed and probably nefarious reason. ;-)

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    3. The red hair is either Irish or Viking but the name change is certainly a possibility. You may have to go with DNA testing to get past that little road block

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