Life update: Ancestry DNA

Its been a while since I’ve given an update on my life. Between motherhood, university internship and a bit of a rough patch, I haven’t had time to reflect much. I have now graduate from my Museum Studies program and finally have some time to catch my breathe and focus on writing a bit more.

So something I have been wanting to write about for a while was my Ancestry journey. For my birthday last July I bought a Ancestry DNA kit. Genealogy is something I’ve always been interested in, and I was curious how ethnically Italian I was. I am also a big believer in eating for your ethnicity. Since I got my results, I have been able to trace my family back several generations in various towns, uncover family secrets and found relatives all over the world.

DNA results

Before buying a DNA test, I did a bit of research on which company to go with. I found that Ancestry seemed to be the most accurate and have quite a large sample size.

After sending away my DNA to Ancestry, I received an email that my results where in. So when I logged in I was able to see my DNA story and DNA matches. My DNA story has changed since my initial results. The reason being is that your DNA doesn’t change, but the sample size and algorithm that is used to assess you DNA will change. Ancestry uses Autosomal DNA, which represents both one’s maternal and paternal segments of DNA. According to their website, their DNA test targets your most recent family history of the last 100 to 1000 years. You do your DNA with other companies that focus on paternal or maternal lines, called Y-DNA and mtDNA, which can focus on the last 10,000 to 50,000 years. However, when searching for relatives and using historical records to trace back family history, I think Autosomal DNA is sufficient.

As you can see below, that the majority of my DNA is Southern Italian. This was broke down further to idenity Calabria the place of origin, which you can’t see in this image. Caucasus was next, which is modern Persian empire. Then there is a touch of Middle Eastern and European Jewish. I was pretty astounded to find that 26% of my DNA came outside of Calabria. I wasn’t sure if this was because invaders had intermarried with the local population, or because a group of my ancestors resettled in Calabria at some point in the last 1000 years.

I was pretty excited about my results, which represented a crosssection of Mediterrean and Middle Eastern countries. There was no big suprises of rogue ethnicities in my family tree that I wasn’t aware of. Considering my grandparents are all Calabrese, I doubted it would be the case.

My results also put to bed a family legend on my mother’s side. My mother’s brother was told back in the 90s by a ‘genealogist’ that their surname, Gualtieri was of French origin. He sold him a family crest and told him that we descend from a French king named Gualtier. This king was apparently exiled and relocated to the south of Italy where he changed his name to ‘Gualtieri’, married into a poor family and lost the family wealth over generations. This was immeidately grasped by my mother, who had a conversation with an old Calabrese man years before in the cheese factory that she had worked in. He told her that her father family was orignally from the north of Italy and had came from France. Clearly none of this is true, otherwise I would have a trace of French or Northern Italian DNA, which is distinctive to Southern Italian DNA. Additionally, the surname Gualtieri is a common surname found in the area that her parents are from and originates from the Papal States. There is no known history of this story either, which lead me to believe it was a lie. A more plausable explanation for the story from the man in the cheese factory is that my mother’s had two great uncles, who immigrated to France and Piemonte. This man may have been from the same town and would have known them or her family.

Another, falsehood that I had be told growing up was that my father’s family is Greek. Their surname is Greco, which does mean ‘the Greek’. However, this surname origins from Tuscany and is one of the most popular surnames in Italy. My mother also believed that my grandfather’s family has a more Greek bodyshape, being long in the torso and short in the legs. My results show no Greek DNA. Additionally, I have been able to trace the Greco name back eight generations in the same town, which dispels this belief. It is possible that their town had originated from had Greek settlement in the distant past, as many towns in Calabria had. However, there is no reason why they would be more Greek my other ancestors.

Updated DNA Results

About two months after I received my results, Ancestry did a massive update. Everybodies results had changed based on a new algorium. I was really surprised that my results had changed so much and now focused on two regions. I was now 73 % Calabrese and 27% Turkish/ Caucasian . I was confused how I had such a significant percentage of Turkish/Caucasian, but not surprised that I lost my Middle Eastern and European Jewish regions. However, when this conversation topic came up on a Calabrese Genealogy Facebook group, it was apparent that no matter how ‘Calabrese’ we were, we all had signigicant amounts of Turkish DNA. This is most likey due to the fact, that during the Middle Ages Ottoman pirates raided Calabria and other parts of Southern Italy. This birthed the italian expression “Mamma li turchi!”, meaning “Oh mom, the Turks!”. Nevertheless, I am proud of my DNA results and I imagine I had a doppleganger living 100 or 1000 years ago, living a very different life to mine.

Have you done a DNA test? What company did you use?

Where you surprised by your results?

6 thoughts on “Life update: Ancestry DNA

  1. Congrats on completing your Museum Studies program! I’ve known another blogger recently try one of those Ancestry DNA kits and they discovered so much as they were adopted, like brothers and sisters they never knew existed. It’s fascinating stuff. I’ve no idea where I come from ethnicity and heritage wise so I’d be curious to learn a little more too. Wow, predominantly Calabrese with around a quarter Turkish/Caucasian. That’s so cool! Very interesting with how this ties in to what you were told growing up, yet finding no Greek DNA. It’s a bit worrying a new algorithm changed the results quite a bit though..!
    Caz xx

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    1. Thanks so much Caz! I haven’t found anything too crazy like that, but I have found other family members that found out they were illegitimate. I have great aunts and uncles that were kept secret, found many external family members married their first cousins and so many more cousins on another side of the world that knew that we existed but weren’t mentioned to us. You should definitely do it if you’re curious. I just warn you, it is very addictive. I think the algorithm on Ancestry is now is much more accurate. I think a lot of people were given results with too much Scandinavian DNA, but I know many other Italians that now have less Italian percentage than before. I also uploaded my DNA to get a breakdown from MyHeritage and that was definitely not correct. I guess in a way its gratifying for me, since I grew up being told by other Australians that I wasn’t really Italian or didn’t look Italian. But clearly fair skin and light eyes is found even in the south. xo

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  2. I did some genealogy research a few years ago and developed a suspicion that my dad was not my dad. A few months ago I did the Ancestry DNA thing and all those centimorgans and such seem to indicate that my real dad is the younger brother of my dad. That would make sense since my supposed dad was in Korea when I was conceived, coming back to the States 3 months before I was due. It would also make sense because my mom was living with her in-laws at the time, and dad’s younger brother was still at home, too.

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    1. Hi Russell, thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience. Sorry its taken me so long to get back to you. Thanks an amazing discovery, did you ever confront your family about this? Its amazing how often this use to happen and people assumed their secrets would die with them. I’ve been able to find many family members that were purposely never spoken off and others that found they were related to me through affairs or lost family connections. One of my cousins had a similar situation to you, except her real grandfather was not related and nobody knows how the affair happened. Unfortunately the ones that know have all passed away, so we will never know the circumstances.

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      1. I have been estranged from both sides of the family for 26 years so it probably was much easier for me to find out all this stuff than it would have been otherwise. Just confirms to me that I was right in telling everyone goodbye 26 years ago. As Louise Hay said in her pioneering self-help book, “You Can Heal Your Life”: “You didn’t have a choice into which family you were born, but you have a choice now as to who is in your family.”

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      2. I’m so sorry for that but it sounds like your better for it. I just became so what estranged from part of my own family after finding out grandmother had siblings, locating them and being found out for it. It hurts but considering the pain she has put me through it maybe better for me too. I just try to thankful for the people I have and gained that make me happy and don’t bring me down.

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