The DNA mystery --

Hey, everybody -- I've been slacking off here, what with the beginning of school and so on.  After two weeks of teaching, I finally have a little space to breathe, especially since I'm sitting here with a cold, and I can't possibly do schoolwork when I don't feel well, right??

Last September, I ordered a DNA kit from, sent them a sample (had to spit in a tube until it filled up to the line), and on November 5, received the results.  We OrtBerns are all German, right?  We think so, right?  Here are the birth places I've found:

Looks pretty German, right?  That one over in Poland is where I think Joseph Ortmann (great-grandpa to EDC) was born, in what was called Prussia or Pomerania when it was part of Germany, but I don't know the town, so I can't be sure.

Well, the DNA results I got from were rather surprising, because here's how they say it breaks down:

Huh?  No Western European at all!  We are mostly from the British Isles, then next Eastern European (the Pommern connection, perhaps?), then almost 20% Scandinavian (from Denmark, very close to northern Germany, maybe?) and finally, almost 15% Southern European, that is, Italy, Spain, or Portugal!  How can that be?

Well, as far as I've gotten with the genealogy, it's only to 1685 on the ancestors of our great grandmother, Matilda Hug, which goes back to Matthias Bell, father of Daniel Bell, who was born in 1685.  A DNA family tree goes back hundreds or even 1000 years back into history, I guess before our ancestors even migrated to Germany.  But I am puzzled by the British Isles thing -- I can see German people migrating to England, but the other way around?  Hmmmm.

So far, I haven't gotten a lot out of this DNA thing from; every week they send me new connections to possible distant cousins, but so far I've only confirmed one, a very distant cousin descended from our mutual ancestor, Blasius Hug (b. 1725).  They've sent me a lot of possible connections, but so far that's the only one that's panned out.

Here's a video you can watch about it on, and the totally cool thing about this video is that Devin's company created it, and he was the one that did the animations!  (Correct me if I'm wrong, D.)  They won't let me embed it, so scroll down on that page to see it.  Here's what it looks like:

Soooo, through my connections in the genealogy world at this point, I found a much more interesting project at National Geographic:  The Genographic Project.  They are testing DNA and so far have tested almost 700,000 people, and are doing what looks like a more finely grained analysis.  They actually identify your "haplogroup," a group of people that all have a mutation in their genes that links them back to a single ancestor, long, long ago.  I think they have identified seven haplogroups that cover most of the people in Europe, and some of those go back all the way to the Middle East (like in Biblical times) or other places you would only come from in the way distant past.  What made me start fishing for my credit card was this:  The Genographic test can reveal whether we are related to a Neanderthal ancestor!  The Stone Age!!! Or there's another Stone Age ancestor in Russia that we could be related to.  Neanderthal!  When I knew that was possible, I was in.  

I sent in my sample -- this one from cheek scrapings (and don't scrape too hard!), and I see on their website that they're working on it.  So, two weeks down, four to six weeks to wait -- I'm excited about this.

Now, here's the one hitch to this thing:  My DNA only reveals the family history that comes from Mom/Grandma Walli, because I am a woman.  To get Dad/Grandpa Bill's side, we need a male member of the family, as close a relative to me as possible, to do the test.  So . . . my credit card is still out.  I'm buyin'.  Let me know.

Love to everyone, and stay tuned for those results --


  1. The things they're able to show you with a blood/cheek sample.. That's pretty awesome! And to see where it goes pre-Germany can only fuel your fire I'd guess. Looking forward to more!


  2. I'm finding the whole thing fascinating -- I wish I had more time to spend on it. When I'm done with school in May . . .

  3. Uncle Chris what do you say? I want to know more. It is so intriguing.

  4. Thanks Auntie for doing this.


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