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Using Family Finder to Establish Country of Origin

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  • Using Family Finder to Establish Country of Origin

    Most people seem to be focussed on using My Origins to establish ethnicity (and some are disappointed to find that it's not perfect). I haven't seen much discussion about the possibility of finding distant cousins living in various countries. My family has been in the U.S.A enough generations that nobody really knew where we came from. I found some Dutch, German and British ancestry through traditional genealogy, but I still haven't been able to trace most lines back to their country of origin.

    But Family Finder has been a big help. While I haven't been able to track down any Dutch or German cousins, I have found Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish and Russian cousins... Some match me and my mother with a longest block of 10 or 11 cm (and none of them correspond to any known pile-up areas). My mother also has one possible French cousin with a matching longest block of 8 cm, but we'll need more matches to confirm French Ancestry.

    Has anyone else found cousins from other countries? If so, which countries?

  • #2
    Scandinavian Ancestry

    Beyond, looking for close ancestors and relatives, I don't find cM values very useful in doing genealogy. Genetic connections between you and a direct ancestor may be completely lost on the one hand while on the other some cM strands persist down through the generations. It is impossible to tell what cM's mean without some kind of a paper trail. If your American family has lost track of its (certainly) diverse origins, it is, of course, possible that you are descended from an actual historically recent immigrant from Scandinavia. It is, however, more likely that you are looking at Viking Ancestry and the Vikings settled in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England and Normandy (France) and Germany. They brought their women with them which means their genes did not disappear in the native population. Geno 2.O does an excellent job of explaining "ancient" and Viking DNA while Ancestry looks at your genes and compares them to modern populations in countries around the world. I tested my Dad's YDNA on FTDNA and he has 5th,6th and 7th degree YDNA connections with men living currently in Germany but their connection is very, very distant.

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    • #3
      I have no doubt that some of my 51% Scandinavian comes from ancient viking ancestry... But these 5th/remote cousins (and there are plenty of them) surely come from a more recent connection.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Frank Kelch View Post
        Most people seem to be focussed on using My Origins to establish ethnicity (and some are disappointed to find that it's not perfect). I haven't seen much discussion about the possibility of finding distant cousins living in various countries. My family has been in the U.S.A enough generations that nobody really knew where we came from. I found some Dutch, German and British ancestry through traditional genealogy, but I still haven't been able to trace most lines back to their country of origin.

        But Family Finder has been a big help. While I haven't been able to track down any Dutch or German cousins, I have found Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish and Russian cousins... Some match me and my mother with a longest block of 10 or 11 cm (and none of them correspond to any known pile-up areas). My mother also has one possible French cousin with a matching longest block of 8 cm, but we'll need more matches to confirm French Ancestry.

        Has anyone else found cousins from other countries? If so, which countries?
        You have to be very careful with DNA matches in foreign countries. It does not mean you have ancestors from those countries.

        How can you tell the difference between an ancestor/blood relative who moved from the home country to the USA and one who moved to a another country?

        You must follow the paper trail.

        My ancestry is 25% Danish, 25% Irish and 50% Polish.

        I have a 24 cM match in Sweden, but I have no Swedish ancestors. The person I match has an English father with an Irish ancestor.

        I have a 15 Cm match in Norway, but I have no Norwegian ancestors.The person I match has a Danish ancestor.

        I have matches in England, Scotland and Australia, but no ancestors from those countries. All those matches have Irish ancestors.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by jimbirk View Post
          You have to be very careful with DNA matches in foreign countries. It does not mean you have ancestors from those countries.

          How can you tell the difference between an ancestor/blood relative who moved from the home country to the USA and one who moved to a another country?

          You must follow the paper trail.

          My ancestry is 25% Danish, 25% Irish and 50% Polish.

          I have a 24 cM match in Sweden, but I have no Swedish ancestors. The person I match has an English father with an Irish ancestor.

          I have a 15 Cm match in Norway, but I have no Norwegian ancestors.The person I match has a Danish ancestor.

          I have matches in England, Scotland and Australia, but no ancestors from those countries. All those matches have Irish ancestors.
          That's a fair point. In my case, I've went through the family trees of some of these people and see that their ancestors have lived in their current country for many generations.

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          • #6
            Finding Matches with Same Origins

            FTDNA says I'm 41% Scandinavian.The map shows predominantly southeastern Norway. I am not aware of this ancestry. Is there a way to search my FamilyFinder matches with Norway origins?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by traxie View Post
              FTDNA says I'm 41% Scandinavian.The map shows predominantly southeastern Norway. I am not aware of this ancestry. Is there a way to search my FamilyFinder matches with Norway origins?
              Scandinavia could refer to Sweden, Norway or Denmark (that circular blob is always in the same place if you have Scandinavian Ancestry). There are a few possibilities. You could have ancestors from the British Isles or Western Europe that are actually partially descended from vikings. Or you could be descended from settlers of the New Sweden colony. Or FTDNA could be flat out wrong. I'm guessing that it might be a combination of the first two.

              Go through your family finder results and look for Scandinavian or Finnish names (check the family trees when possible to be sure). If you find one, use the "in common with" feature to find more. If you do find some remote matches, (and you're absolutely sure that there is no recent Scandinavian ancestry), it's likely that you are descended from New Sweden colony.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Frank Kelch View Post
                Scandinavia could refer to Sweden, Norway or Denmark (that circular blob is always in the same place if you have Scandinavian Ancestry). There are a few possibilities. You could have ancestors from the British Isles or Western Europe that are actually partially descended from vikings. Or you could be descended from settlers of the New Sweden colony.
                Thanks for your helpful reply, Frank. I definitely have British Isles and Western Europe. What is New Sweden colony?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by traxie View Post
                  Thanks for your helpful reply, Frank. I definitely have British Isles and Western Europe. What is New Sweden colony?
                  New Sweden Colony

                  And another link

                  It was a Swedish colony in the Americas.

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