Friday, December 10, 2021

Fingerprints of History Show up
in D N A Ethnicity Estimates


When puzzled by the strange results on your DNA ethnicity estimate, it might help to review the history of the land from which your ancestors emerged. In the case of Thomas Puchała, whose baptismal record pointed me to the current Polish village of Lubichowo, there was much to learn from the history of the region once known as Pomerania.

Lubichowo is a village of about two thousand people, located in the Pomeranian Voivodeship (think province) of northern Poland. That is its current geopolitical designation. However, the region known as Pomerania has an extensive history.

That depth of history, extending back much farther than any genealogical paper trail I'll hope to find, includes a "rich and complicated political and demographic history at the intersection of several cultures." Considering that very description could be used for the American city where I now choose to live—Stockton in California—it makes me wonder whether my choice of residence can be chalked up to a multi-ethnic message emanating from deep within my genetic roots.

Starting with the "Old Prussians" of the tenth century, Polish and German rulers attempted to subjugate this Baltic people group of the region, which eventually meant that it was assimilated by the time of the fifteenth century. Thus, though I have yet to figure out which ancestor might have emigrated from what is now one of the Baltic republics to northern Poland, these facts from the history of the broader region may explain how that trace of Baltic ethnicity landed in my own DNA readout.

Likewise, learning that that same time period was followed by international struggles which eventually saw portions of Pomerania overtaken by the Swedish Empire, I now am no longer surprised to see that small percentage of Swedish ethnicity in my DNA results. It didn't mean that any of my ancestors came from Sweden, but it certainly could have hinted at Swedish military attaches before 1648 temporarily residing in the part of Pomerania now claimed by Poland.

Meanwhile, back to the reality of whatever genealogical documentation can be found in Lubichowo—or any other town nearby—I need to examine what can be found for the names Puchała or Radomski, the surnames linked to my great-grandfather Thomas. Next, I'll gather a cluster of all entries—baptismal, marriage, or death—transcribed for either of those surnames, which we then can sort into possible family groupings.

Hopefully, a pattern will emerge to suggest which family members belonged to Thomas Puchała's own immediate family. After all, if I can't discover anything new about Thomas himself, perhaps his collateral lines will give up his secrets to me.


  1. Replies
    1. Oh, yeah...but now I have to figure out how to obtain a copy of the actual document...

  2. Very interesting perspective. I had puzzled over my 2 percent Norwegian DNA - I don't know of any ancestors from Norway. But there are other explanations. Thanks.

    1. As far as Norway goes, Lisa, both my husband and myself were in that same boat--until we figured out that Viking propensity to trade with coastal regions far and wide. Thus, our Irish, English, and Scottish ancestors may have had that Norway two percent come to them.


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