I’ve always been curious to find out more about my family’s ancestry and its roots. My late brother had spent time working on our family tree, contacting relatives and putting pieces of the puzzle in place. I decided to take an autosomal DNA test using AncestryDNA.com to see what it came up with. An autosomal test will locate cousins from all parts of a family tree based on results.
The main online sites that do DNA testing.
Family Tree DNA –is most popular with genealogists. They offer a variety of tests. The company claims to have the most comprehensive Y chromosome, autosomal and mitochondrial ancestry database for genetic genealogists. Family Finder Test (Autosomal) is $99 (Currently $89), Y37 Father’s line is $169, (Currently $139) Y67 is $268, (Currently $228) Y111 is $359 (Currently $309) Mother’s line mtDNA is $69 and mtFull Sequence is $199 (Currently $169) The Y-DNA test is only applicable to males.
23andMe – searches for medical information related to your DNA. This is important if you are concerned about future health issues. A friend of mine claims it took her family back to the Neanderthal period and that is what the service claims. Cost is $199. The DNA test requires a saliva sample.
AncestryDNA.com – gives you the numbers. It determines the percentage of ethnicity using microarray-based autosomal DNA testing. which surveys a person’s entire genome at over 700,000 locations, all with a simple saliva sample. Ancestry DNA’s online interface integrates state-of-the-art tools for you to utilize your DNA results for family history research. Cost is $99.85. What I like about it is that you can connect it to your family trees, which is Ancestry.com ‘s purpose.
(update – AncestryDNA has updated their site so if you’ve already had your DNA done, some of your results may change and is more specific. It’s so cool! Check it out.)
National Geographic’s Geno 2.0 –uses an exclusive, custom-built genotyping chip that tests nearly 750,000 DNA markers specifically selected to provide ancestry-related information. It tracks the migration of ancient ancestors for hundreds or even thousands of years. Cost is $199. The DNA test requires a cheek swab sample.
Saliva testing (done by AncestryDNA and 23andme) may not be the best method for someone who is very young or elderly. It requires the subject to fill up a vial of saliva, which isn’t always easy. I had to take the second test because I had not filled the vial properly.
You can transfer National Geographic Geno 2.0, 23andme and AncestryDNA tests to Family Tree DNA.
My DNA test results
I knew I was Eastern European with one-half of my ancestry Jewish. Finding distant relatives in that part of the world is difficult because of the Holocaust. Jews wandered the continent and hid to escape oppression.
According to my AncestryDNA results, I’m 51% European Jewish, 46% Eastern European, (non-Jewish) 2% Scandinavian (Viking?) and 1% Asian.
My Eastern European roots (non-Jewish) originate from Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Russia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia.
I have a tiny bit of Scandinavian roots from Sweden, Norway, or Denmark. The most ancient Asian trace roots come from the region of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. That’s a lot of Stans.
AncestryDNA also provides a historical overview of the history of regions as they relate to your results.
Earliest relatives found
We found an ancestor on my father’s maternal side named Zvi Schonzeit who was born in 1818 in Augustow, Poland.
My Father’s earliest known relative (European Jewish) is listed as Fostot, born in 1835 in Bialystok, Podlaskie, Poland. My maiden name is Forstadt, which may have been changed a bit over time. Forstadt is a German word meaning near to the city. (or Suburb)
My mother’s father, Alexei Melinsky was born in 1885 in Buda, Russia. He left for America to work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania in 1906. (before the Russian Revolution) After relocating to another mine in Superior, Colorado he was lured back to U.S.S.R in 1936 after reading Soviet propaganda and was never heard from again. It’s presumed he was killed during Stalin’s purge. We haven’t found any other records of his family history yet.
My mother’s paternal grandfather was born in 1868 and her grandmother in 1873. They were both from the Saris region of Slovakia. Saris is a historic land in the northern part of Eastern Slovakia and was named after Saris Castle. It is made up of the districts of Presov, Bardejov, Svidnik and Stropkov, the first of these being the regional cultural and economic center. Among Saris’s popular leisure resorts are the Domasa Dam, and winter centers of Drienica-Lysa and Buce. Several of those relatives are buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Calhan, Colorado in El Paso County. They must be from the same lineage because they all lived in the tiny town of Ramah on farms. If you go to a site called Find a Grave, on their search page, you can actually see photos of graves. They have a huge database.
I have 2 well-known cousins. One is Ernest Kinoy, who was the first cousin to my father. He was an Emmy award-winning television and film screenwriter who wrote the screenplay for the TV series “Roots.” His brother, Arthur Kinoy, was an attorney and progressive civil rights attorney who helped defend the Chicago Seven, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and worked with civil rights leaders in the South during the turbulent 60s. He served as a professor of law at the Rutgers School of Law–Newark from 1964 to 1999. Ruth Bader Ginsburg called him “an inspiration.” Their mother, Aunt Sadie, must have been proud.
Do your dog’s DNA
I got so excited about my own DNA test that I had my two doggie’s DNA done too. Wisdom Panel only requires a simple cheek swab and you can find out what your mutt is descended from. I wrote more about it here.
If anyone out there is a relative of mine, please let me know.
Have you had a DNA test or worked on your family tree? Please leave a comment below and let us know what you found.