Monday, October 29, 2012

Calling all Artisans

About four years ago, I asked my brother Don to take the Y-DNA (Y-33) genetic matching test. At the time, I thought the mysteries of the universe would unfold and I'd meet a distant cousin who could introduce me to Ellen. The fact is that I found Ellen by sifting through census records, but that has a weak story line and I really want you all to continue reading my blog, so let's just say that rather than mysteries unfolding, mysteries were confirmed.

The Y-33 DNA test matched genetic markers with other members who'd been tested. I didn't consider at the time that, as an early adopter, I would end up with a relatively small pool of cousin data. The test did tell me that our fraternal line (Dad's) was part of Haplogroup R1B, a group called "The Artisans" who first arrived in Europe from west Asia about 35,000 - 40,100 years ago at the dawn of the Aurignacian culture. Considering that I'm only tracing ancestors back to the 16th century, my Cro-Magnon cousins aren't going to be much help. However, what I did find interesting is that 70% of people currently residing in southern England are members of the R1B Haplogroup. Where, you might ask, are the other 30%? Actually, there's a large concentration just outside Chicago.

About four months ago, offered a new DNA test (mtDNA, or mitochondrial DNA) that is shared by both sexes in a family, and so also maps the female genetic line. The Y-DNA test only maps the male genetic line. Now, I assumed, the mysteries of the universe would would unfold in an array of colored markers pointing the way to the elusive Hanson clan.
Donna, Gary and
Donald Richard Hanson, Jr

I wasn't as disappointed this time. The test confirmed that 90% of my genetic ancestors settled in Great Britain. More people are curiously taking this test and so now I have a greater pool of cousins from which to share information. Having said that, the pool is still rather small as the closest relatives who've taken the test are from 4 generations back (2nd great-grandparents), and all but one live in England. The one Australian cousin provided me with loads of lovely information about the Joyner (Joiner) family.

What was a bit disappointing was that I still haven't found the Hanson family's origins. I'd hoped to find a Sven or Ollie in the mix. My brothers and I are tall. Lots of redheads. Lots of blue eyes. Many athletic, opinionated Viking-like personalities. Except for my brother Don who with dark brown eyes and black curly hair must have picked up the 10% "Other" gene.

The tests aren't cheap: $149 for the Y-33 test and $179 for the mtDNA test. The Y-33 test was more akin to discovering your sun sign; you really need the rest of the planets to get a valid reading.  If you're interested in broadening the list of reunions to attend this spring, choose the latter but take a sweater; spring in Chicago can be a bear.


  1. Wait... What? You spent $300 on DNA testing? What happened to the Juice Giant? Weren't we saving up for a Juice Giant? ;-) (just kidding, great entry!)

    1. They were all out of Juice Giants and I had a coupon for the DNA testing. :-)

  2. - My 1st cousin 2x removed took the same test and we have the Artisan Dna too.