Monday, July 24, 2017

Has My Prussia Origins Theory Gone Up in Smoke?

My maternal grandparents, Gustav Lange and Wilhelmina Schalin, considered themselves German, wrote to their siblings in German, read a German Bible, and spoke German in their home until their eldest daughter came home from her first day of school in tears because she could not speak English. However, only Gustav Lange lived in Germany, briefly, for five years from 1906 through 1911 when he worked in Essen in order to send money home and save for his passage to Canada. At this time I do not know from where in Germany our Lange or Schalin ancestors originated

The Lange-Ludwig grandparents of my grandfather, Gustav Lange, were born near present day Lodz, Poland, in the 1840s and moved to the Volyn Oblast in Ukraine in the early 1880s. The paternal ancestors of my grandmother, Wilhelmina Schalin, lived in the Greater Poland Voivodeship, about halfway between Poznan and Lodz since at least the 1790s. They moved to the Volyn Oblast in Ukraine between 1861 and 1863. I know nothing of Wilhelmina Schalin's mother beyond her name.

Migrations of the Lange (red circles) and Schalin (green squares) families;
created using Google Maps

But from where did the Lange and Schalin families originate? I assumed Germany since Grandma and Grandpa Lange spoke German as their native language, but I wanted to know more. I spent a lot of time delving into the history of Poland and Ukraine. I learned the area of Poland where the Lange and Schalin families lived was known as South Prussia after 1793 and the Second Partition of Poland by Prussia and Russia. So perhaps they were from Prussia.

When Ancestry unveiled its genetic communities, I looked at them for all the Lange-Schalin DNA tests I administered.

Lange-Schalin relatives I have DNA tested (red outline); created
using Microsoft Powerpoint

On the day after genetic communities were launched, we all shared at least one genetic community and it was Northern Germans, which included Prussia. But as Ancestry has continued to refine the genetic communities, the picture has gotten muddier. As of 30 June 2017, the genetic communities are now:

Genetic communities of the Lange relatives' DNA tests; created using
Microsoft Excel

It appears as if some genetic communities were refined and some of my Lange relatives lost some or all of genetic communities and new ones were added.

Map of Northern Germans genetic community; courtesy of

Northern Germans was the genetic community we all shared when Ancestry launched its genetic communities though it does not reflect the eastern migration of hundreds of thousands of Germans to current day Russia, Poland, and Ukraine.

Germans, Netherlanders, Belgians & Luxembourgians Ancestry genetic
community; courtesy of
The Germans, Netherlanders, Belgians & and Luxembourgians was a new genetic community and likely a refinement. It has a great deal of overlap with Northern Germans but extends more westward, which does not support my Prussia origins theory.

Northern (yellow) and southern (red) origins of Germans in the Midwest
Ancestry genetic community; courtesy of

Germans in the Midwest originated from both northern and southern Germany. So it could still support my Prussia theory.

And the problem...

German origins of the Germans from Baden-Wurttemberg in the Dakotas
Ancestry genetic community; courtesy of

There is no way, Germans from Baden-Wurttemberg may be considered northern Germans from the area that was once Prussia. So at this point my thinking is the genetic communities are interesting but not helpful. Pretty much what I have found ethnicity estimates to be. Sometimes they make sense; sometimes they don't.

On the settings page of each DNA test is a privacy section. That section states the following about ethnicity:

"Show the participant's complete ethnicity profile to their DNA matches. This means the participant's DNA matches will see both the participant's full ethnicity estimate and all the Genetic Communities. (If left unselected, the participant's DNA matches will only see the portion of the participant's ethnicity estimate and the Genetic Communities they share in common.)"

I have not selected this for any of the tests I administer, but I changed this setting from my test and my mother's test to select it. Then went to Mom's match from the home page of my DNA test. I could see all of her ethnicity estimates but not her genetic communities. And I should have been able to see them. So there is still work for Ancestry to do in this area.

No comments:

Post a Comment