The View from Puncheon Creek: My DNA Heritage

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I knew growing up that my paternal bloodline traced back to German immigrant Hans Michael Risner. I assumed my mother’s maiden name of Marshall was British.

Her mother’s Patrick line were Vikings via Scotland and my dad’s mother was a Whitaker, again British. My other direct line ancestors by surname in no particular order are; Howard, Minix, Pucket, Fletcher, Joseph, Salyer, Cole, Adams, Meacham, Harvey, Arnett, Slusher, McMullen, Craft, Hagans, Noland, Owens, Robinson, and Harris.

Together these surnames account for 5 generations from me to my great, great grandparents. A little basic math tells me I should have more surnames. The fact is I don’t so the answer is simple, the same surnames appear multiple times in my lineage. As an example Whitaker shows up more than half a dozen times by the 5th generation. Like all isolated populations my ancestors didn’t stray far in search of a mate. I also descend from a closed population that seldom marry outside their faith.

Upon a perusal of these surnames it is evident that I am European. Most of the relatives of mine that have done DNA testing are showing close to 99 percent Western European. Not so my DNA. Instead of 1 European ethnicity I carry 4 distinct ethnicities. As one would expect at 82 percent I am English. Still that is a surprisingly low percentage. My second place DNA is from the Iberian Peninsula at a high 13 percent. Iberia is in the Strait of Gibraltar region off the coast of Africa. My maternal (mother) Haplogroup H5A is extremely rare. It indicates that some of my ancestors were in Iberia 7-8,000 years ago. The fact that I retain 13 percent of this ethnicity today is amazing to me. My paternal (father) Haplogroup G-L497 is relatively common and is associated with an ancient culture called the Linear Pottery Culture. The culture began on the plains of Hungary around 5700 BC, and quickly spread west to the Rhine, north to central Poland, and east to Ukraine. 

My 3rd ethnicity is Ashkenazi Jewish which dovetails with family lore that the Risner line were Jewish. A very interesting fact is that all of the Ashkenazi Jews alive today including me can trace our roots to a group of about 330 people who lived 600 to 800 years ago.  Albert Einstein was an Ashkenazi Jew as is about 80 percent (some 10 million) of all Jews living today. 

My 4th distinct ethnicity is East European which includes people of Belarusian, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Slovene, or Ukrainian ancestry. At this time DNA testing cannot tell me which country my ancestor lived in from this group but it appears my group lived in Hungary. After overlaying my ethnicities it is obvious that my roots lay in the United Kingdom, Germany, Iberia, and Hungary. 

With the low cost (as little as $49) for a DNA test most people can now afford to have their own test. I urge anyone interested in finding out who they really are to get tested. Aside from being fun it can inform you on vital information about your health.