Journalism and Feature Writing, Science

MY HERITAGE AND THE ANCESTRY.COM DNA PUZZLE

The Truth Behind my Ancestry and DNA Test Results

Ever wondered where your roots originated from? I don’t mean parents and grandparents. I’m talking the deep side of it all. Where your ancestors were born and who they were? I’ve always been fascinated by this subject, and have cousins living with me from my home country currently, plus my sister and her kids have just arrived for a month’s stay as well. All of them have travelled half the world to get here. Having my family so close to me again makes me want to delve deeper into my family tree, especially with what I’ve been through lately. I’m a bit of a loner and have never needed many people around me to be happy, but it sure is nice to be surrounded by loved ones right now. I don’t mean that I don’t have any friends, I have many, who will all tell you that I’m very slack at catching up because I’m always writing.

I needed my next blog to be a little bit more fun, as I’m still job hunting (which isn’t exciting for anyone), but I’m hanging in there and have a job interview lined up for Friday, which is a boost for the ego. Believe me, I currently need it. I probably should have taken a week off before I started searching, but it’s not in my nature to be idle. I miss writing too much, which is why I decided to finally begin to blog properly. I’ve had my own website as a work reference for quite some time, but I’ve never really blogged properly, and I’m thinking that it’s actually a great way to heal. Funnily enough, what you can’t express to even the closest friends sometimes, is much easier to do in the blogging world. So today, I’m digging up the cobwebbed roots of my ancestors, and looking into history again.

A cave and a girl
Photo credit: Tobi

WHO ARE WE IN THIS WORLD?

I’m originally from the Czech Republic which is where I get my creative streak, because as they say, we are the original Bohemians. If you have never heard of my country of birth before, you need to look at a map of Europe. I say this, because I am so tired of people never hearing of such a beautiful counrty. Its capital city is Prague, and it’s one of the most divine places in the world. No, I’m not biased, I simply speak the truth. I have lived in Australia for over 30 years and am a true Aussie, which all of my friends would vouch for. Regardless of the fact that I lost my accent many years ago, I still cannot deny that I have always been different due to my European heritage. The word quirky comes to mind.

About four years ago, my daughter and I did an Anserty.com DNA test because we were looking at some old photographs, including two photos of my great grandparents; Josef and Maria Pichl from the 1800s. You see, we lost family in the Holocaust due to being part Jewish, and we were curious to see what would come of it. It ended up being one of the most incredible experiences of my life. We found out that not only were we Czech, but we had so many other bloodlines in us too. You can see my beautiful great grandparents below. My great grandmother loved so deeply, she even renounced her title as a Baroness and married for love. I’m very proud of that fact. I definitely take after my great grandfather in looks, rather than my Jewish great grandmother. So do my kids. The green eyes and fair hair, not that you can see eye colour in the photos, but my brown-eyed grandmother always told me that I had her father’s eyes.

Josef and Marie Pichl

I know for certain that my ancestry has royal blue blood (as they call it), with my great grandmother being the German/Austrian Baroness. When I was little, I was also told many times by my deceased grandmother, that we are direct descendants from Marie Antoniette (which is kind of sad because we all know that her demise ended with the famous saying: off with her head), but I never really knew more, only that she was my Aunt about seven times removed.

THE DNA JOURNEY BEGINS – ANCESTRY.COM

So we bought our DNA kits, spat into the little tube and sent our tests away and waited for about a month. When the results came back, here’s what I discovered. Not only am I Czech and Jewish, I found out that I am also a descendant of other heritages. Here’s my breakdown:

Screen Shot 2019-03-13 at 6.38.30 pm

  • 71% European – Czech Republic, Russia, Slovakia, Poland & Lithuania (not surprised)
  • 14% Jewish -Poland, Germany, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary & Israel (definitely knew this part)
  • 6% Gemany – Germanic (expected more german with my background)
  • 4% Norway (had no idea)
  • 3% Baltis Sea – Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania (very surprised with this one)
  • 2% England, Wales & Northwest Europe – England, Scotland & Wales (absolutely shocked)

THE SECOND JOURNEY – MYHERITAGE.COM

But that’s not all. With these DNA kits, you actually get a report with your configured DNA data, and you’re able to upload those results into other online DNA databases, so you can try to find missing relatives on a larger scale. I did just that and uploaded them into the myheritage.com database and found so many of my lost relatives on my father’s side. Basically I found a branch from my grandfather’s brother, revealing second cousins and so on. I now have records spanning back 400 years. I was disappointed with not finding more on my mother’s side though, but with the Holocaust there were so many records destroyed. I’ve had matches with people, but none of us can confirm how we are related. This was still such a great journey for me and I’m not finished yet, which is the reason why I uploaded my data for the second testing. What surprised me, was that my results were a little different from myheritage.com ones.

Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 8.17.16 am

  • 50.3% North and West Europe – German, French, and Dutch (finally my German heritage shows)
  • 11.6% Baltic – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (still can’t get over this part)
  • 11% Balkan – Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Romania and Hungary (guessing it’s probably the Slovenia part since it’s right next door to the Czech Republic)
  • 10.4% East European – Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Belarus and Bulgaria (I’m going with the Czech part here)
  • 16.7% Ashkenazi Jewish – Czech Republic, Austria, Humgary, Romania, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia (without a doubt, the best match to my roots that I know of)

FINAL DNA RESULTS AND COMPARISON BETWEEN ANCESTRY.COM AND MYHERITAGE.COM

I don’t know what others have experienced who have done these DNA tests, but I can tell you that it’s a fascinating journey you take back through time. What is surprising, is how the same DNA results can differ a little between databases once they are entered and your DNA is studied.

Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 8.50.56 am

All in all, there’s no doubt that I’m European. The above map shows my ancestral heritage perfectly. I would definitely recommend for people to do these DNA tests just to find out who they are. For me, I imagine my Cro-Magnon ancestors roaming the hills of Europe and hunting and gathering to survive, without knowing that they were contributing to my future life, not to mention my mind. Wouldn’t it be great if one of them actually invented the wheel? Ok so that’s a long shot, but I have no doubt that some of them were responsible for our delicious Czech Cuisine. Svickova is a national Czech dish, and it’s my very favourite. I still make it today, although I like the root vegetable sauce to be thicker than normal as you can see. My mother would be proud!

IMG_5233

THE NEXT DNA ADVENTURE

So what’s next in this adventure? I keep searching for more information to add to my family tree while my cousin and his partner will do their own DNA test through My Heritage soon. The company has asked them to trial it, due to their popularity as famous Czech U-Tubers, and give their take on their experience. I can’t wait to see our matches when they get the results back and we are matched on file. It might lead to more discoveries. My boyfriend Matt will also be doing a DNA test soon, because my kids always tease him about his blonde eyebrows and suspect some Scandinavian, Norwegian and even Viking in him. He’s now curious too so it will definitely be an interesting ride.

If you’ve been on your own DNA testing journey, share your story in the comments section below.

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