Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Some new findings (20 June 2018)

Origins of the Winger family

The first discovery I will share with you concerns the ancestors of my great-great-grandmother Maria Birgitte Winger (1877-1942). The Winger line goes back to the mining town of Kongsberg in the early 1700s. The earliest definitely documented ancestor is one Ole Christophersen Aarstad or Winger who was born around 1723 and got married in Kongsberg in 1754. I haven't found his confirmation in Kongsberg, so he may have been from somewhere else. However, there is an Ole Christophersen who was baptized in Kongsberg in 1723; he was the son of one Christopher Kirsch (the surname is spelled in a variety of ways, but I believe Kirsch is the most correct spelling), who married Anna Svendsdatter in 1706. The couple had children in Kongsberg at least between 1708 and 1725.

Christopher Kirsch is listed in the Kongsberg Silverworks census of 1724, where his age is given as 42 (i.e. born about 1682) and his birthplace is listed as Kongsberg. His surname indicates a German ancestral origin. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find out any more about Christopher Kirsch's background as of yet. The Kongsberg silver mine was originally dominated by Germans recruited from Saxon mines; our original immigrant Kirsch ancestor is very likely to have been one of them.

I find it very interesting that our Winger family might originally have been called Kirsch. If I have found the right connection, then I wonder why they decided to change the name. The name Winger does seem to pop up out of nowhere; perhaps it comes in through Ole Christophersen's mother or wife. This did happen with the Knoff name, much more recently in my family history.


A great honour for Thomas Knoff


The second discovery I will share with you this week is that I found a notice in the London Gazette in 1908 announcing that my 3rd great-grandfather Thomas Hans Knoff (60 years old at the time) was to be made Honorary Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. He seems to have taken part when King Edward VII visited Norway. Thomas is said to have been "Attached to His Majesty King Edward VII", which would imply some sort of personal connection. This is an extremely interesting fact about Thomas' life, which I did not know about before.

At this time, Thomas was married to an Englishwoman (his second wife, Eva Capel Haviland), which explains his close ties to England.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

West Africa Update 3 - A possible connection?

One of the extremely few documented Black people in Norway in early modern times is a man known as Christian Hansen Ernst (c. 1660-1694). He is somewhat famous in Norway for being the country's first Black civil servant.

His original name is said to have been Christian Henry Ernest. He is assumed to have been born into slavery around 1660, probably in England, and was later brought from London to Norway around 1670 by Ulrik Frederik Gyldenløve (viceroy of Norway and later Count of Jarlsberg). In Norway, Christian Henry Ernest became known as Christian Hansen Ernst. For the next ten years or so, Ernst worked as a page or lackey - he might even have been a house slave - at Gyldenløve’s courts in Copenhagen and Christiania (Oslo), where he went by the nickname “Sorte Henrik” (“Black Henry”).

According to local tradition, Ernst started working as postmaster in the town of Kragerø in southeastern Norway in the year 1681 (however, according to documentary sources, he might not actually have been postmaster, but an employee at the customs office). Tragically, Ernst was stabbed to death in 1694, allegedly in a brawl over a woman (though this is also disputed). The street where this happened is known today as "Stabber's Alley". It is said that in Kragerø, Ernst "charmed women to such a degree that he fathered several children". In other words, there might be a large number of Norwegians out there who unknowingly descend from illegitimate children of Christian Hansen Ernst.

Could my family be among them?

As described in Scenario 2 in my last blog post on this topic, it is possible that “Our West African ancestor came to Europe early on (e.g. in the 1600s), either from the Caribbean or directly from Africa. [And that h]e or she had at least one child with a white person, and descendants of this child later settled in Denmark and Norway. [And that o]ne of these descendants - who might have passed for white and might well have been unaware of his own African ancestry - sailed to the Caribbean (not necessarily Haiti; descendants may have moved there later on) and fathered a child there, a child who became an ancestor of Robert Stark. This scenario fits with all the known facts.”

In Christian Hansen Ernst, we have a candidate for a (wholly or partly) West African ancestor who was in "Europe early on [and] had at least one child with a white person". In fact, Ernst might very well be the only documented candidate living in Norway in the 1600s. The fact that he is rumoured to have fathered a number of illegitimate children makes him not only a possible candidate, but a likely one.

Ernst lived in Larvik and, from 1681, in Kragerø where he worked in the customs office under the supervision of another Englishman, James Wicker. Kragerø is not too far away from the Agder counties, where Daniel Davidsen’s ancestors lived (cf. map at the end of this blog post). There are many ways in which he could have met one of Daniel’s female ancestors and impregnated her.

Is there any particular branch of Daniel’s ancestors that is more likely than others to have come into contact with customs authorities (and, by extension, with Ernst)? I have looked through all the ancestors of Daniel Davidsen who were born between 1671 and 1695 (i.e. the ones who were conceived while Ernst was living in Norway). Almost all of them were children of farmers with strong roots in their local communities, and none of them are known to have travelled much. However, there is one who is different. That person is Daniel’s direct paternal great-great-grandfather, Søren Sørensson Neseim, born in 1691 or 1695. He was the son of Søren Jensen Floss, a Danish-born tailor, and his wife Marthe Cornelisdatter, whose patronymic might indicate a Dutch origin. The couple had at least two children who emigrated abroad – a son who went to the Netherlands and another son who went to Copenhagen. It does not seem unreasonable that Søren Jensen Floss and Marthe Cornelisdatter would have had contact with Norwegian customs officials at various points in their lives, for various reasons.

Could Søren Sørensson Neseim (1691/95-1770) have been one of the illegitimate children of Christian Hansen Ernst?

This question could have been answered quickly and precisely by performing a Y-DNA test on a documented male-line descendant of Ernst. However, I am not aware of any documented living descendant of Ernst, male-line or otherwise. I'm not even aware of any rumoured living descendant of Ernst. This makes it extremely difficult for anyone to prove descent from him.

What little we know of the circumstances surrounding Søren Sørensson Neseim's birth is that he was the youngest known child of Søren Davidsen Floss and Marthe Cornelisdatter, and that he was born in either 1691 or 1695. In my opinion, 1691 is more likely because his parents would both have been 46 years old at that time (in 1695 his mother would have been 50, an unlikely age for giving birth). Søren's known siblings were supposedly born in 1671, 1680 and 1685 respectively. We do not know where Søren was born. It might have been in Vanse, but he might also have been born before his parents moved there.


The English connection

One fact that points towards Søren Sørensson Neseim being a possible connection to Ernst is the fact that his Y-DNA (tested by my grandmother’s brother, his direct male descendant) seems to originate in England. The haplogroup is R1b-U106, and since my grandmother’s brother matches two persons with the ancestral surnames Kellam and Kallam, I contacted the administrator of the Kellam Y-DNA project at FTDNA. (The match list is short; the only Norwegian match is a known, rather close cousin, and the only other Scandinavian is a man with a Danish surname. One is an adoptee. The other seven all seem to be of English or Scottish descent on the paternal line). The project administrator is of the opinion that my grandmother’s brother’s Y-DNA lineage originated in England in relatively recent times. Christian Hansen Ernst did come from London, and it is not unlikely that he might have had a white English father or grandfather.

There is, of course, also the family story that my great-great-grandfather Nils Lister had English ancestors. The story that my grandmother and her sister had heard was that Nils himself was the illegitimate son of an Englishman, but this has been shown to be incorrect. However, might there not still be a kernel of truth to the family rumour? Perhaps the story originally referred to an older connection to England, as far back as the 1600s? It certainly fits very well with the Y-DNA findings. Søren Sørensson Neseim is Nils Lister’s direct paternal ancestor.

If Søren was an illegitimate son of Christian Hansen Ernst, it would explain both the English Y-DNA and the West African autosomal admixture, as well as the family story.


The Haitian connection

If our West African DNA does come from Ernst, and not from a more recent mixed-race ancestor from the Caribbean (as in Scenario 1), then we have to account for our family's Haitian-descended matches. How did we come to be related to them?

One of our more recent ancestors (on the line descended from Ernst) must have travelled to the Caribbean and had a child there, bringing West African admixture from Norway to the Caribbean. Such a voyage is very possible, since we know that there was trade between Vanse and Haiti, at least in the mid-1800s. Our genetic match to the Haitians suggests that it might have been one of my 3rd great-grandfather Daniel Davidsen's grandfathers who was the common ancestor. If it is Søren Sørensson Neseim who is our connection to Ernst, then the sailor who went to Haiti cannot have been Daniel's maternal grandfather Tønnes Salvesson Sveiga, since he is not a descendant of Søren. It must have been his paternal grandfather, Søren Davidsson Neseim (1751-1831), the direct paternal grandson of Søren Sørensson Neseim. Søren Davidsson is listed as a los, a pilot, in the census of 1801; in other words, he was a seafarer by profession, and might very well have sailed with the merchant fleet in his younger days, in the 1760s, the 1770s and even the early 1780s. By the time Søren Davidsson Neseim married his wife in 1784, he was already 33 years old.

The fact that Christian Hansen Ernst is rumoured to have fathered several illegitimate children during his time in Denmark-Norway could explain why we have several matches on the African segment who are of Danish descent, with no known Norwegian ancestors. Admittedly, these matches can be explained in other ways too - they might be descendants of Black or mixed-race people emigrating from the Caribbean to Scandinavia in earlier times. However, hypothesizing common descent from a prolific Black man known to have lived in Denmark/Norway in the 1600s is perhaps more prudent than assuming several undocumented migrations of Black or mixed-race individuals from the West Indies to Scandinavia in the 1600s and 1700s. Or is it?

One friend of mine, an experienced genealogist, believes it is more likely that we descend from a more recent Haitian ancestor than from Christian Hansen Ernst.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!


Map showing the locations of Vanse and Kragerø. Source (Creative Commons 2.5). Place indicators added; otherwise unchanged from original.


Read more about Christian Hansen Ernst here (unfortunately, most of the web pages about him are in Norwegian):

https://www.modernghana.com/news/149526/africans-presence-in-europe-historical-perspective.html (telling the story in English)
https://lokalhistoriewiki.no/wiki/Christian_Hansen_Ernst
https://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Hansen_Ernst
https://snl.no/Christian_Hansen_Ernst
https://nbl.snl.no/Christian_Hansen_Ernst
http://www.norgeshistorie.no/enevelde/artikler/1246_mysteriet-om-postmesteren-i-kragero.html
https://oyvindholen.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/norges-forste-neger/#more-10422
https://www.kv.no/leserbrev/leserbrev/kongelig-embetsmann-christian-hansen-ernsts-liv-og-dod/s/2-2.3405-1.6621518

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

LM Genetics: Review of two reports

There is a new kid on the block - or, more specifically, a new DNA analysis company. LM Genetics, run by Lukasz Macuga, offers admixture reports based on your Eurogenes K36 results, which you can obtain from GEDmatch. Once you have your K36 results, you just send the numbers to LM Genetics by email; no raw data required, which is a very good thing from a privacy point of view. If you are not on GEDmatch, however, you will have to send LM Genetics your autosomal raw data file.

I decided to try this service because it's become quite popular in certain quarters of the online genetic genealogy community, and also because several people have recommended it due to its supposed ability to narrow your biogeographical admixture down to very specific regions all over the world, which would obviously be very helpful in genealogy research.

The report, called K36 Ancestry Report, costs 7 euros. I ordered two, one for my mother and one for my grandmother's brother. Both reports were ready five days after I placed the order, and were sent to me by email.


My mother


My mother's K36 correlation map. The darker the colour, the more genetically similar my mother is to the local population.


The LM Genetics report is lengthy and includes several admixture analyses based on different methods. I am not a statistician, so please bear with me; I will be interpreting the results to the best of my ability.

Since my mother's ancestral background is relatively homogenous, the best analysis for her is probably the nMonte3, which according to LM Genetics "works best for individiuals of a non-mixed background." My mother's nMonte3 analysis shows that she is genetically closer to Swedes from Svealand than to Norwegians. This might seem shocking at first (since she is Norwegian), but it actually makes sense, considering that most of her ancestors came from areas in Norway that are very close to the Swedish border, and she has close ancestors from Sweden itself. The report also shows similarity to populations around the North Sea, such as Icelandic, Dutch and English; although my mother does have known Dutch and Flemish ancestry, this is very distant (one line each in the 1500s), and the admixture estimates probably do not reflect recent ancestry, but rather affinities due to ancient common origins and historical migrations and mixing. But of course, you never know.

The most interesting part of my mother's nMonte3 analysis is her Eastern European and Finnish breakdowns.

My mother's Eastern European DNA is given a more specific origin: Central Poland. 0.4% of her admixture comes from this region, according to LM Genetics. Sadly, there seems to be no close connection with Ashkenazi Jews.

My mother's Finnish ancestry is broken down into specific regional categories:

1.8% South West Finns
1.6% Ingrians
0.6% East & North Finns
0.2% Karelians


This gives a total of 4.2% Finnish admixture, which seems reasonable. In fact, it seems like the most reasonable estimate she has been given anywhere.

The regional breakdown is extremely fine-grained. The East Finnish part is obviously correct, since my mother's Finnish ancestors were Forest Finns who emigrated mostly from the eastern parts of modern-day Finland to Sweden and Norway in the 1500s and 1600s. The 0.2% Karelian is extremely interesting, because some of my mother's Forest Finn ancestors were in fact originally from Karelia (the Mulikka and Hakkarainen families). The 1.6% Ingrian might come from Izhorian or Votic ancestors (which is absolutely within the realms of possibility), but it is more likely a reflection of the fact that people from eastern Finland and the Karelian Isthmus not only migrated west to Sweden and Norway, but also southwards to Ingria where they became the modern-day Ingrian Finns. I am not sure where the 1.8% South West Finnish comes in, but it might be related to the fact that some Forest Finn families were from Häme (Tavastland) in the more westerly part of Finland.


My grandmother's brother


My grandmother's brother's K36 correlation map. The darker the colour, the more genetically similar he is to the local population.


My grandmother's brother's nMonte3 analysis is consistent with his primarily Norwegian and North European roots, a "North Sea mix" which includes Danish, Dutch, German, Scottish, English and Northern French ancestors. The analysis picks up his significant Scanian ancestry (given at 27.6%, which is an overestimate; the true number is 12.5%). His closest population is either Scanian or Danish, depending on the analysis method.

There are also some surprises...

First of all, the estimate contains Finnish categories (0.8% South West Finns + 0.2% East & North Finns = 1% Finnish total). Perhaps my grandmother and her brother have some Forest Finn ancestors? I have suspected this for some time, simply because they have ancestors who lived in areas populated by Forest Finns, but I haven't found documentary evidence for a Finnish connection yet.

The second biggest surprise is that my grandmother's brother has Eastern European admixture, from Poland and Russia (1% in total). This includes 0.2% Zaporozhe Cossacks, a very interesting group of Cossacks whom I had never heard about before.

The biggest surprise in my grandmother's brother's nMonte3 estimate is the 0.2% Sindhi admixture (not shown on the correlation map). At FTDNA, his strongest trace region is <2% Central Asia, which is centered on northern India and Pakistan. The Sindhi people live in this region. How does a Norwegian end up with Sindhi admixture? I can think of only one obvious answer: through Romani ancestors. I have suspected Romani ancestry on this side (in addition to the known Romani heritage on my mother's side) because of the strong Indian signal my grandmother's brother gets at FTDNA and in GEDmatch calculators. The LM Genetics analysis provides further confirmation that this admixture is real. The Norwegian and Swedish Romani are closely related to the Sinti of western and central Europe, and some believe that the word Sinti is in fact derived from "Sindhi". In the LM Genetics report, my grandmother's brother seems to have no significant similarity to any other South Asian population except Sindhi.

If there is a Romani connection, then the Eastern European percentages might also have something to do with that. 1% Eastern European plus 0.2% Sindhi gives 1.2%, which is consistent with a 4th great-grandparent. Since the Scandinavian Romani are known to have mixed a lot with the local population, my grandmother's closest Romani-identified ancestor would almost certainly have had substantial Scandinavian admixture in addition to the Sindhi and Eastern European, and should therefore be closer than a 4th great-grandparent - perhaps a 3rd or even 2nd great-grandparent.

My grandmother's ancestral tree is well researched quite far back, but she has one great-great-grandmother of unknown origin. Signe (Signild) Persdotter was born in Trolle-Ljungby in Scania, Sweden in 1798, and since the local church archive burned down in the 1800s, all information about her parentage has been lost. I have found no other likely sources of Romani DNA in my grandmother's family tree, so I deem it likely that Signe, or at least one of her parents, was ethnically/culturally Romani. It is not proven, though. I am still looking for DNA matches that might give more insight into Signe's origins.


Conclusion

I am very happy with the reports, and I am certainly not done with exploring the results. Remember that the reports are based only on Eurogenes K36 numbers. I am amazed that it is possible to get so much information out of so little!

There are certain bits of admixture that are not picked up (such as the West African segment, which is admittedly extremely small), but the bits that are picked up are broken down into very informative regional categories, just as I was told. I am particularly pleased with the Finnish breakdown, which (at least in my mother's case) correlates very well with what is known about Forest Finns and their history.

I also like the fact that the report contains so many different admixture analyses, suited for different purposes and visualized in a variety of ways (the correlation map is very nice-looking). The report might look a bit technical at first glance, but once you start seeing what the numbers actually mean, if you are a geek like me, you will be absolutely fascinated. I always prefer getting information as unfiltered as possible, so I can draw my own conclusions. If you're used to the GEDmatch Oracles, reading this report will not be too difficult.

My only disappointment with the report is that there are no micro-level regional breakdowns within Norway - there is only Northern Norway (Troms and Finnmark counties, judging from the map) and the rest of Norway. I wish there was a way to provide more fine-scale breakdowns of Norwegian admixture. I guess more references are needed, and I hope they will be added in the future.

Thank you, Lukasz!

This week's finds

There have been no huge genealogical finds this week. However, there have been a couple of small ones, which are nevertheless important, and I want to share them with you.

I found the name of another one of my great-grandmother Aase's siblings. According to our family, she had 11 or 12 siblings, and I might have the names of all of them now. Since my newly-discovered great-great-aunt died quite recently and may have living children, I will not post her details here. This actually is quite a big discovery, even though it's not related to my direct ancestry. Ever since I started doing genealogy, I've considered it a mission to find out the names and stories of all of Aase's siblings and "bring them together" again, since many of them were displaced as children and did not know each other growing up.

I found the death record of my 8th great-grandmother, Marthe Cornelisdatter. To be sure, it was not difficult to find, but this is the first time I've had a look. Marthe died in 1727 in Vanse parish, Vest-Agder, at the age of 82 (meaning she was born in 1645). She was the wife of Søren Jensen Floss, a tailor from Denmark, and I believe it is likely that Marthe was also of foreign origin - more specifically, I believe she came from somewhere in the Dutch-speaking world. The name Corneli(u)s was first brought to southern Norway by Dutchmen in the 1600s, a period known in Norway as the "Era of the Dutchmen" (Hollendertida). Since nobody by the name of Corneli(u)s is recorded in Vanse in the census of 1664, Marthe was almost certainly not local. We also know that Marthe and Søren had a son, Kornelius Sørensen, who emigrated to the Netherlands and became a tailor in the town of Zierikzee, which might mean that Marthe had roots in that area. (She also had a son who emigrated to Copenhagen).

It might even be Marthe who is the source of our West African DNA, since the Dutch were active in the Triangular Trade and had colonies in the Caribbean. Marthe is the direct ancestor of Daniel Davidsen, my 3rd great-grandfather who had West African admixture. She might not have come from the Netherlands itself, but from one of its colonies. Unfortunately, I haven't found any documentary evidence supporting this hypothesis yet.

Marthe's death record (in the right column, under "Døde" = deceased):

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

What was passed down: My family's heritage claims

I've realized that although I've been talking and talking about my genealogical discoveries and DNA results, I haven't actually talked much about what my family told me about our ancestral heritage before I started on this journey of discovery. Our family stories are important because they reveal something about how our families view themselves in terms of origins and culture. It also gives clues to further avenues for genealogical research. I therefore dedicate this blog post to my family's heritage claims.

I use the term "claim" in the widest sense; I have included any ethnicity that has been rumored to be part of our ancestral heritage. Here is the full list, sorted by grandparent:

Paternal grandfather's side: Claimed only Norwegian heritage.
Paternal grandmother's side: Claimed Norwegian, Swedish and English heritage.
Maternal grandfather's side: Claimed Norwegian, Russian and Mongol heritage.
Maternal grandmother's side: Claimed Norwegian and Romani heritage.

Some of these claims have been proven true (my grandmother's Swedish ancestors were easily traceable, and the Romani connection has been proven through genetic genealogy). Some are uncertain (there seems to be genetic evidence for a connection to the United Kingdom, although our particular family story seems to be inaccurate).

Note that in spite of their long and strong connection to Norway, my mother's family does not identify as purely European in origin. In addition to Norwegians and Russians, family tradition tells us that we also have ancestors from Asia; more specifically, Mongols and Romani people (the latter having originated in India and mixed with many different groups along the way to - and within - Europe). The Mongol bit is something I only recently got confirmed as a real family story, and I find it extremely fascinating, especially since I've always loved Mongolian music.


Comparing claims and DNA

Let's do an experiment. If we go by family tradition only, I should be of Norwegian, Swedish, English, Russian, Mongol and Romani descent. Does this fit with my DNA results?


It fits surprisingly well! Look at my 23andMe results above. Norway is, of course, my main country of origin. My second strongest connection is to Sweden (not shown on this screenshot, but it's there). Then, interestingly, there also seems to be a discernible connection to the United Kingdom within the last 200 years, which seems to indicate that there might perhaps, somehow, be a kernel of truth in my grandmother's family's story of English heritage.

The Romani does not show up as a specific admixture (any South Asian admixture seems to have been "washed out" before it reached me), but autosomal matching and traditional genealogy has confirmed that we do indeed have Romani relatives with whom we share a Romani MRCA.

The small Eastern European and East Asian percentages are consistent with distant Russian and Mongol ancestors. These chunks of DNA are too small (i.e. the ancestries are too distant) for the algorithm to be able to confidently assign it to a subregion. However, 23andMe's ethnicity estimate is only supposed to go back about 500 years, so my Eastern European and East Asian ancestors must have lived within that timeframe.

I already knew that one of my two East Asian segments comes from my mother, and now that I've heard the Mongol story, I'm starting to wonder if perhaps both segments come from her. There is significant East Asian admixture on my father's side as well, so it's difficult to say for sure unless one of my parents tests at 23andMe.

To sum it up, the family claims can be said to hold up very well in light of the DNA evidence.


Forgotten heritage

Of course, many additional ancestral ethnicities have been uncovered through genealogical research, and some of them show up in my DNA results. I have Denmark as a Recent Ancestor Location at 23andMe, as well as Finnish and Southern European percentages. These results are fully consistent with my paper trail (Danes and Forest Finns in the 1600s and 1700s, and Italians in the 1500s). In addition, my Y-DNA has unveiled Scottish ancestry from the 1600s on my direct paternal line. This shows that my family members' knowledge was not complete, and that parts of our ancestral heritage were in fact forgotten during the course of time. I find it particularly noteworthy that nobody in my family had any knowledge of Forest Finn ancestry before I started researching, even though at least three of my great-grandparents are of traceable Forest Finn descent.

Any DNA from the additional ancestral ethnicities I have uncovered - notably our West African ancestry - has been "washed out" and is not visible in my results. It is, however, visible in the results of older generations of my family. Those older generations also have other mysterious admixtures which I hope, one day, to get to the bottom of.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Take pride in your queer ancestors!

It's June, and Pride Month!

How does Pride Month relate to genealogy, you say? Well, first of all because all of us have living family members - close or distant - who belong somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum and need our love and support. However, secondly and most importantly, it is a fact that all of us (at some point in our family histories) have LGBTQ+ relatives in older generations, and even LGBTQ+ ancestors. These people were homosexuals who were forced into heterosexual marriages, bisexuals who had to suppress a significant part of their sexuality, transgender people who never got to express their real selves, and other kinds of queer people who were forced to conform. LGBTQ+ people have always existed; we just haven't always been allowed a legitimate place in society.


Uncle Ivar
My great-grandmother Gunvor was the younger sister of the accomplished singer Ivar Cederholm (1902-1982) (for more about his career, read the articles about him in the Great Norwegian Encyclopedia, on Wikipedia, and on IMDb). "Uncle Ivar," as he is still known within the family, was a gay man. However, during most of his life, male homosexuality was illegal in Norway (until 1972) and defined as a mental illness (until 1973). Uncle Ivar had at least two male partners that are known, but they kept quiet about the true nature of their relationships. The fact that Ivar was gay was an open secret within the family and among his colleagues in the world of art, but as far as I understand, it was never spoken about openly until after he had passed away. In those days, it was "don't ask, don't tell".


Mamma-Tina
My grandmother - the niece of Uncle Ivar - also speculates that one of her great-great-grandmothers might in fact have been a lesbian. Petrine Christense Berg, née Pedersen, was born in 1837 in Gildeskål, Nordland county, Norway, and married a successful and locally important man, Christian Fredrik Berg (1838-1908), a farmer who also served as the local sheriff as well as a Member of Parliament. Petrine - known as Trine, or Mamma-Tina to her family - was a remarkable woman. She was an accomplished woodcarver, and several of her works have been preserved in our family to this day. She also played the fiddle, but as this was not seen as suitable for a young lady of her standing, she was forced to play secretly, hiding in the attic. We can, of course, only speculate on her sexuality, but it is by no means impossible, as my grandmother has guessed, that she was either a lesbian or bisexual.

Some of Mamma-Tina's works.

In my family, we certainly have many other LGBTQ+ relatives and ancestors whose stories will never be known. That is the case for all other families as well. We, their descendants, owe it to them to continue to fight for everyone's right to live and love freely.

Happy Pride Month.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Back in time

Today, just for fun and for the sake of nostalgia, I want to share some of my first experiences with DNA testing and genetic genealogy. Although I'm not yet 28 years old and have had this hobby for less than eight years, there have been so many technical and scientific developments that I already feel like what we Norwegians call an "old fox".


The Genographic Project

The first DNA test I ever took was National Geographic's Genographic Project Y-DNA test ("Genographic 1.0", as we might say today). It was a Y12, and I did not take it for purposes of genetic genealogy - I wasn't even aware that such a thing existed - but simply to learn my haplogroup migration history. I ordered the test in late 2010 and got the results in early 2011. The report I received was a long and detailed story about my haplogroup, R1b, and its journey from Africa to western Europe. At this time, the mainstream view was that R1b had been in Europe since Paleolithic times, and that they might even have spoken a language ancestral to Basque. My report talked about the ancient cave paintings in Southern France which, it was claimed, were made by my R1b ancestors - the Cro-Magnon people.

Now, of course, everything has been turned upside down. R1b in Western Europe is no longer associated with the Cro-Magnon, but with Indo-European migrations during the Bronze Age. For the longest time I was uncertain what to believe, since National Geographic held on to the Cro-Magnon narrative long after it had been scrapped by most others.

The Y12 test was one of two tests that were available from NatGeo at this time; the other one was a mtDNA HVR1 test. I never took this test at NatGeo, because soon after receiving my Y12 results, I transferred my test to Family Tree DNA, and when later on I did get my HVR1 test, I ordered it through FTDNA. However, I did look online and found a version of NatGeo's haplogroup H report which I saved together with my R1b report. It was around this time that I read Bryan Sykes' book The Seven Daughters of Eve, connecting with the story of my own "clan mother", whom Sykes had given the name Helena.

Here is the map from my original Genographic Y-DNA report, showing the migrations of haplogroup R1b. Even though their European chronology for R1b was way off, the geography is still pretty spot on:



FTDNA Population Finder

When I first got involved with FTDNA, the price of their Family Finder test was $289. Gradually, the cost of autosomal testing started to decrease, making it less cost-prohibitive for the general public. In 2013, Family Finder was $99, cheap enough for me to order. I was still new to the world of DNA testing, having so far only done the Y37 (upgraded from Y12) and HVR1 tests. Autosomal added a whole new dimension to my genetic genealogy experience, and today it's so ubiquitous that people sometimes forget that Y-DNA and mtDNA testing came first.

FTDNA's first admixture analysis program was called Population Finder. Part of the Family Finder test, it was the predecessor of myOrigins which was rolled out in the spring of 2014. Below is a screenshot of my Population Finder results from 2013. Seen in hindsight, it is not too inaccurate on the continental and subregional level (at least if we view "Orcadian" as a proxy for Northwestern European including Scandinavian). The "Russian, Finnish" category captures my Finnish and Eastern European DNA and probably some of my Scandinavian as well. I remember reading this result as genetic confirmation of my Forest Finn paper trails. Note the enormous margin of error! At least they were honest.


23andMe Ancestry Composition

My Ancestry Composition results have not been recalculated since I first received them in 2015 (I know this for a fact because I check up on my change log regularly); the tiny changes that have appeared are due to rounding up and down. However, although the numbers may be more or less the same, the design of Ancestry Composition has changed quite drastically. Below is a screenshot of my original report from 2015 (Speculative view). I quite liked this design, especially the way it showed all three regional levels in a pie chart that was wide enough to let even the smallest categories show quite clearly. Then, as now, Ancestry Composition was by far the best admixture analysis on the market. There was an earlier version too, which looked very different, but I was too late to experience that.



Those are some of my first test reports, and although some of them are dated and inaccurate, I still cherish them because they opened up a new world to me and introduced me to a great hobby, a hobby which I still love as much as ever.