Going Down Home Timeline

May 2018 Third trip Down Home

July 2015 Second trip Down Home

October 2014 First trip Down Home

July 2013 to October 2014 Online research and interviews

July 2013 23andme results received

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ending 2014 with thoughts about my 2 percent

In the past year, I’ve uploaded my 23andme autosomal raw data to all Gedmatch admixture calculators, DNA Tribes and Family Tree DNA (where I have mtDNA results on file).  I sought out guidance on the accuracy of the tools that I’d used, and suggestions for better products. 

I wanted scientific precision, but have settled for impressionistic results that vary from tool to tool but basically reach a similar conclusion:  my ancestry is 98% European and 2% Something Else.

At 23andme, that Something Else is Unidentified.

At FTDNA’s “My Origins,” that 2% of my ancestry came from North African and Asia Minor.

At any of the Gedmatch admixture calculators, that 2% or more is +/- some combination of Amerindian and Sub-Saharan African, usually with a higher portion of non-European identified as African rather than Native.

I am, it seems, a geno-reflection of findings recently published in The American Journal of Human Genetics : “The Genetic Ancestry ofAfrican Americans, Latinos, and European Americans across the United States.

Using genetic information obtained from 23andme customers, Katarzyna Bryc, et. al concluded “the frequency of European American individuals who carry African ancestry varies strongly by state and region of the US (Figure 3A). We estimate that a substantial fraction, at least 1.4%, of self-reported European Americans in the US carry at least 2% African ancestry. Using a less conservative threshold, approximately 3.5% of European Americans have 1% or more African ancestry (Figure S8). Individuals with African ancestry are found at much higher frequencies in states in the South than in other parts of the US: about 5% of self-reported European Americans living in South Carolina and Louisiana have at least 2% African ancestry.”

Their findings also seem to illuminate my lower percentages of Native to African ancestry:  “Fitting a model of European and Native American admixture followed later by African admixture, we find the best fit with initial Native American and European admixture about 12 generations ago and subsequent African gene flow about 4 generations ago.”

My Native ancestry, which probably entered my “gene flow” in Eastern North Carolina twice as long ago as my African ancestry, has anecdotal roots.  Numerous distant relatives have repeated the story that my great, great grandmother, Mary Ann Armstrong Parisher, had Native ancestry, yet no one seems to know its origins. No one has ever offered up any anecdotal suggestions of African ancestry, even though it is likely that it would have been introduced more recently. Lacking anything but my own genotyping to work with, I suspect that Mary Ann Armstrong might be the source of both my African and Native ancestry.

I accept that I may very well never know the stories that explain my 2 percent --- although I would really, really like to know them.  For now, I’ll have to make do with the knowledge that like many predominantly European Americans with roots in the South that go back more than 400 years, I am a product of intimate knowledge that has been forgotten or hidden for generations, only to surface through genetic testing -- my most intimate level of body knowledge.

That going down home -- delving deep into an invisible storied past -- seems so scientifically possible, yet not.  I've met other people on the same journey, and suspect that in 2015, the journey itself will be what's important.


  1. Fabulous post, Deborah, and a fitting closure to this busy year of making new connections! I hope we all find some answers in 2015, but either way, I pray that we'll learn and grow as we all continue (together) on the journey!


  2. Deborah, do you have any Hinsons or Mozingoes in your tree? I have a match who is 98% Euro and 2% SSA and that is our match along with many others. Our MRCA was Needham Hinson (Mozingo descendent) born abt 1785 in Wayne, North Carolina. Bonne chance with your search.

  3. Hi, Denese. Thanks for commenting. No Hinsons or Mozingoes that I know of, but I'll watch to see if those names turn up. My 2% likely came from my Armstrong line, or possibly through a Jarvis, Hill or Bryant. These lines are rooted in Tyrrell and Washington counties, although the Armstrongs made their way to Tyrrell County after spending 2 generations in Talbot Coutny, MD (Eastern Shore) after arriving from Ireland in the early 1700s.

    Thank you for wishing me luck, and the same to you!

  4. Deborah, I lean toward the thinking (like you) that Mary Ann is the source of both the Native and the African Ancestry. But, what I don't know if you realize is how many people of African descent have that family story about a Native American ancestor, which turns out not to be true once their DNA is done. Since yours does show a trace, perhaps it is there someplace, but my guess is that it wasn't one of Mary Ann's parents. I think you have a better chance that you are giving yourself credit for. Stay tuned to your autosomal matches. Perhaps, one day, someone from the "right" family will come along to help push a puzzle piece into place. :)