Monday, January 24, 2022

Where Do The Small-percentage Family Lines Come From?

A couple of years ago, I sent off to have my DNA checked for ancestry not health, as millions of us have, while I make the climb up my own family tree. When the results came back, I was not surprised to see the highest percentage of English DNA, 56%, a small percentage from Ireland (22%), and an even smaller percentage from Scotland, 11%. After all, both my paternal grandparents hail from Yorkshire, England, my maternal grandfather's lineage starts in Ireland, and my maternal grandmother's ancestors are from Scotland via Quebec, Canada.

What surprised me and for which I had absolutely no explanation was the small but measurable, DNA from Sweden, 2 percent. 

I have no recollection of any family history or stories about relatives from Sweden, I do not have any bodily resemblance to any Swede anyone has ever known, and there is no reason it should be there except this: If we go back far enough, all of us are most likely related to almost anyone else. That explains the less-than-one-per cent DNA from Africa. That is where the human race began all those eons ago. 

Having no reason to spend energy on something I could not explain, or even conceive of a reasonable explanation, and for which I found absolutely no evidence I gave no thought to my own Swedish connection other than believing that somewhere along the line, there might have been an ancestor who passed that way. I stopped looking.

Until January 24, 2021.

That was the day I found the Swedish connection in my family tree. Admittedly, it is way up and way out on one of those small branches that are only seen in the best weather. In this case, the first of my ancestors who came to this country is John Albert Anderson, born 10 Feb 1877, in Lindome, Halland, Sweden. 

He is the "uncle of the husband of a 1st cousin 1x removed of the wife of a 2nd cousin." This is what that looks like in lineal form, starting with my biological mother at the bottom:

Talk about way up and out there! But no matter how remote or far removed from my known ancestry, John Albert Anderson is the first relative of mine from Sweden to arrive in the USA. That would explain the percentage of Swedish DNA I have as not merely chance, but a real blood connection, no matter how long the lineage is between my mother and him.

While I am still working on verifying when he arrived in the USA and how--a very difficult process because "John Anderson" is a very common name, as you can imagine, and this is the first time I have verified that I even have a Swedish connection--I have verified that he took up residence in Worth County, Iowa (though I have not learned who his initial point of contact was), became a US citizen, registered for the World War 1 draft--I do not yet know if he served in the military--and he died in Iowa at 66 years of age in May 1943.

And I thought the most exciting discovery was finding that one English ancestor who had been knighted, Sir Whatzhisname! Who knows? I might just find a very-distant connection to someone in Africa, too.

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