Author Topic: 23 and me... as a survival tool?  (Read 13804 times)

Offline David in MN

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23 and me... as a survival tool?
« on: May 12, 2016, 02:25:34 PM »
OK, let me star by saying I'm not entirely sure of my ethnicity. It's easy on mom's side. A 2nd gen Polish boy married a 3rd gen German girl in Chicago and poof that's grandma and grandpa. Dad is a bit of a mess, though.

I'm part German on that side. That much is sure. But I'm also a lot of other things. I recently learned from dad that my surname actually originated in England not Germany as we had thought. He found some paperwork on the family farm supporting this. Add to that the fact that we're not exactly sure how long the family has been in the states. He even has paperwork in what he calls "a language I don't even recognize". Having not seen them I can't add my thoughts. I might be part Dutch or Scandanavian.

My grandmother had always told us that her family goes back longer than the USA on this land and that we do in fact (in her words) "have Indian blood". No way to prove this. I've always doubted this as family legend.

So I'm thinking about getting DNA tested. For a couple hundred bucks I can have all the answers. And it's a good thing to know too because genetic history can be helpful in medical diagnosis and treatment. It'd also be great to find out once and for all what the roots are. If I am indeed part Lakota I'd love to know and get involved in the community. Until a few days ago I never knew I was part English. So I'm feeling very up in the air. I'm also fine with any surprise I might see. One never knows. I might just as easily be part Mongolian or French or Turkish. But it would be real fun to learn the history and connect with my lineage.

Anybody else do this? I doubt I'm the only mutt unsure of his heritage. I'd appreciate any experiences or advice.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2016, 04:37:43 PM »
I'm curious to hear how the testing turns out for you.  It's something I've thought about, mostly just out of genealogical curiosity, as I'm not fully convinced of its current medical usefulness.  I don't care about surprises in my ethnic background, but confronting potentially nebulous genetic risk factors is a whole different ball of wax.  Some things are worth knowing, some aren't.  And one's genetic heritage is not necessarily predictive of one's destiny, something I'm exceedingly grateful for.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2016, 04:47:43 PM »
total European mutt here.

Swedish was the last immigrants in the family, 5 gens back.  But French, Scottish, English, and probably dutch somewhere in there, seeing as how some were in upstate NY in the 17/18th centuries.  Also, Jamestown descendent, and family legend claims "from the tribe of Pocahontas"
I suspect, based on the fact that the only other folks I have seen with my maiden name (google search), excepting my fathers direct relatives here in Utah, are african-american, and based on some of the facial features of my relatives, and on the fact that my grandfather, born ca. 1900 was "very dark-skinned" (attributed to the native american), that the "native american" is actually african.  And that as bad socially as it was to be part "injun," it was infinitely worse to be part black at that time.
It is hard to trace however cuz someone changed his name when he moved states.

Like you, a DNA test would be the only way to prove it.

my kids, through their fathers family, add English and Native Alaskan.  Enough that my husband gets a royalty check every quarter from one of the "tribes"/corporations up there.  A very small check.  lol  but enough that I think they could check that cute little box on their census/college applications.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2016, 05:21:22 PM »
I gave this some thought a couple of years ago, and decided that the privacy risks were too great for the little bit of "oh, gee, that's cool" information it would give me.  The Google tie-in just weirds me out too much. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/23andMe

I'd still kind of like to do this, but it'd have to either be through some kind of anonymizing process, or with a company that I really, really trust.  (Mostly, trust to shred records on a regular basis.)

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2016, 05:25:20 PM »
Can the DNA tests reliably distinguish from European ethnicities?

e.g. there are people in Britain who are remote descendants of vikings, so they could appear scandavian biologically, but have lived in Britain for several centuries.

I believe the tests could reveal if you had a surprise ancestor from a race not anticipated, but not sure a DNA test can help explain where grandma came from.

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2016, 05:30:50 PM »
A friend of mine just got his results back with several really interesting surprises including some Asian ancestry in there that he has no idea where it came from.  I find it fascinating stuff, but haven't resolved that tickle in the back of my head that says I don't want big brother to have a verifiable sample of my DNA on record.

Offline David in MN

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2016, 06:08:06 PM »
Yeah I'm with the sentiment that I don't want my genome to be part of the public record. But given the choice of not knowing at all versus telling everyone it's a tough call.

I've got no disillusions that I'm heir to some Native American casino and can retire tomorrow but if grandma's rumors are true I'd love to know and embrace my ancestry. Same with any other genetics I don't know about. Suppose I'm part Maori... I literally don't know.

It's a bit of a struggle to find I'm a Brit. I like to joke about shooting the royals as Sam Adams and Ethan Allen would have wished. Now I find there's a possibility I've got a loyalist bloodline. It's a weird existential experience.

And it gets stranger. The places I "know" to be my ancestral homelands span the border of a multitude of wars, conquerers, and disputes. I could just as easily be part Mongolian, Hun, or Moor. And Lord knows the Romans covered much of that area when they had power.

I'm also realizing my ancestors might just have been wise enough to call themselves German in Wisconsin just to blend in with all the other Germans. The type of people who said "close enough" when they saw their name printed at Ellis Island and proceeded rather than make waves.

I'm glad I'm not alone. It's such an odd thing. I tell people I'm German (likely the biggest piece of the pie) and Polish but that's 5/8 at best. It's like I don't know the story of half myself. Still mulling.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2016, 06:15:55 PM »
I have done it. For medical reasons, and no ancestry surprises for me.

I then paid something like $20 for an online outfit that makes sense out of one area of the genetic markers and gives a report of that stuff, and that did show a mutation on both (...whatevers ...I am so tired right now...gene pairs ? ) Anyway, some locations we do know what they re associated with, and it was good for me to see some actual "proof" instead of the usual guesses of which supplements to take based on symptoms.


Found it. I then did a Methylation profile by GeneticGenie.org this uses the raw data generated by 23and me(who are not allowed to give any medical information) The mutation that was identified matches my medical problems/history. My doctor recommended 23and Me and this inexpensive profile. I also did a fancier report from " MTHFR Support"



Offline 1greenman

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2016, 10:49:40 PM »
This is all fascinating.  Never heard of 23and me before

Offline AvenueQ

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2016, 06:38:01 AM »
I recently had a similar family revelation in the form of an old diary one of my cousins found. I was always told that mom's side of the family is German and Irish; now there's Welsh in the mix too (Dad's side is easier; great-grandparents came over from Italy after WWI and my surname is very obviously German). The diary sort of matches the family history that I've been told, but the timeline is much older than we thought (it starts in the 1700s). I can't help but wonder if there's some more stuff in the mix that I don't even have an inkling of.

The future husband and I have been thinking about doing 23andme for a while. We have some friends who did it and loved the results. He also knows very little about his family ancestry, so it would be cool to learn about it.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2016, 09:07:39 AM »
I have done it. For medical reasons, and no ancestry surprises for me.

I then paid something like $20 for an online outfit that makes sense out of one area of the genetic markers and gives a report of that stuff, and that did show a mutation on both (...whatevers ...I am so tired right now...gene pairs ? ) Anyway, some locations we do know what they re associated with, and it was good for me to see some actual "proof" instead of the usual guesses of which supplements to take based on symptoms.


Found it. I then did a Methylation profile by GeneticGenie.org this uses the raw data generated by 23and me(who are not allowed to give any medical information) The mutation that was identified matches my medical problems/history. My doctor recommended 23and Me and this inexpensive profile. I also did a fancier report from " MTHFR Support"

Given some of the recent auto-immune and endocrine issues diagnosed in my family, we're considering this for all of us.

Some people view bad health as a binary thing, as if you'll suddenly die in your sleep without any suspicion beforehand.
Truth is most health problems accumulate over time, and often can be mitigated if not avoided if the patient understood they were pre-disposed to it.

Like heart disease and other cardio-vascular issues - once you trash your heart and/or circulatory system, it's REALLY hard to get healthy again.

Offline 1greenman

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2016, 09:38:11 AM »
Quote

Like heart disease and other cardio-vascular issues - once you trash your heart and/or circulatory system, it's REALLY hard to get healthy again.

True

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2016, 11:07:35 AM »
...
Like heart disease and other cardio-vascular issues - once you trash your heart and/or circulatory system, it's REALLY hard to get healthy again.
It doesn't even have to be that serious to make getting healthy again an uphill battle.  I have a 75 year old neighbor who developed bad arthritis in her knees.  She went from walking two miles a day to stagnant over a course of maybe six weeks last year.  Less than three months she had a TIA (like a mini-stroke) due to her inactivity, then her doctor put her on Coumadin to reduce her risk of strokes and PEs and now her orthopedist doesn't want to do surgery on her knees. Her new sedentary lifestyle will kill her in the next year or two at this point.   

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2016, 09:42:52 PM »
As of the last month or so, 23 and Me is once again allowed to give genetic health information.  They had done it a long time ago, then the FDA said that was practicing medicine, so it was banned.  Then they changed the decision just recently.


It was perfect timing for me because I bought the testing kit when they couldn't give out that information, so they dropped the price accordingly.  Then the decision was reversed, but I was grandfathered in and got the medical/genetic data after just a short delay.


I had already imported my raw data into LiveWello, and I actually like their setup too - maybe a little more.  It's super cheap to use theirs, so it's not like you have to only choose one report.


On the ancestry side, I found I was 100% European (which I knew), more Irish than German (which is the reverse of what I thought), and .6% Ashkanazi (which got me all excited because I had no clue but was already considering converting to Judaism).


On the health side, there were a few from 23 and Me and Live Wello that made sense (seasonal allergies, sensitivity to caffeine), some I felt were missing (hypermobility), and some that were surprising (Crohn's, bipolar) but make sense in hindsight. Just keep in mind that it's a genetic tendency toward these health issues, not that you actually have them.


One kind of cool website that's pretty light on information but sort of fun is Athletigen.  It feels like fluff to me, but like I said, it's entertaining.  Now that I think about it, it's actually the only site that DID mention my issue with connective tissue (my hypermobility) because it related to the chance for sports injury and the ability to recover.  So maybe it's not all fluff.


Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2016, 02:14:58 AM »
I gave this some thought a couple of years ago, and decided that the privacy risks were too great for the little bit of "oh, gee, that's cool" information it would give me.  The Google tie-in just weirds me out too much. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/23andMe

I'd still kind of like to do this, but it'd have to either be through some kind of anonymizing process, or with a company that I really, really trust.  (Mostly, trust to shred records on a regular basis.)
This is pretty much how I feel.  It may be the touch of conspiracy nut in me, but I don't think that voluntarily putting my genetic info out there is a good thing.  To me it feels like Big Brother getting a lot of the population to step right up and volunteer to be put into a database.

But I don't want to get this thread tossed into the Tin Foil Hat forum

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2016, 06:40:35 PM »
I'm not very worried about someone getting my DNA, but I know I'm weird.  I'm pretty open book, mostly because I feel like it takes the power away from anyone that wants to make me look bad.


But like I said, I know I'm not the norm.

Offline David in MN

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2017, 07:46:14 AM »
So funny story here. We started putting together a family tree for our daughter and it turns out that mom isn't Polish and German. My great grandmother was born in Berlin but My great grandfather was... Austrian! How they met will befuddle me for years. But it seems that calling myself "German" might not be correct. I no longer know what majority ethnicity I am.

I kinda wish I had known Austria was an ancestral homeland before I visited. But it was pretty all the same.

I'm thinking a lot about this with regard to technology. Would it matter if the guy you met on the street shared an ancestor? What if you could prove your ancestor fought under Hannibal? So many of us know barely 3 generations back. So many of us have a family history that begins at Ellis Island. Maybe we need a Facebook group for descendants of Ghengis Khan. Descendants of those who fought in the Battle of New Orleans. Of pirates.

I have this funny feeling that we're going to learn through technology that we're all connected a lot more than we know. And I think it is a very empowering thing for humanity going forward. I suspect our self identity will change radically. Most people can't come to grips with the fact that they have twice as many female ancestors as male. Imagine if we knew the whole story.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #17 on: October 01, 2017, 07:52:53 AM »
Most people can't come to grips with the fact that they have twice as many female ancestors as male.

huh?  how is this possible?

Offline David in MN

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2017, 08:09:21 AM »
It's an oddity of life. In the before time many men had multiple wives and many men had none.

https://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/09/05/the-missing-men-in-your-family-tree/

Kinda mind blowing.

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2017, 08:21:54 AM »
I have this funny feeling that we're going to learn through technology that we're all connected a lot more than we know. And I think it is a very empowering thing for humanity going forward. I suspect our self identity will change radically.

We can hope.

Offline Carl

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2017, 08:38:43 AM »
  My triple helix DNA was reported as undetermined ancestry so all I got was questions.

Actually I am Scotch Irish ,Mescalero indian ,and Mississippi flatfoot...so more questions than answers.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2017, 09:58:26 AM »
It's an oddity of life. In the before time many men had multiple wives and many men had none.

https://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/09/05/the-missing-men-in-your-family-tree/

Kinda mind blowing.

ok that makes sense.  not that your g-g-g-grandfathers other wives are in ONE of your genetic lines, but that THAT particular g-g-g-grandfather shows up multiple times.
as an aside, my family tree contains polygamists only 5 generations back.  :o

Offline David in MN

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2017, 10:19:23 AM »
ok that makes sense.  not that your g-g-g-grandfathers other wives are in ONE of your genetic lines, but that THAT particular g-g-g-grandfather shows up multiple times.
as an aside, my family tree contains polygamists only 5 generations back.  :o

Not surprising at all. It's been an adaptive strategy since time began. War, migration, and general labor often dwindled the supply of men. All too frequently in one fell swoop.

It's also worth remembering that women died in childbirth on a fairly regular basis and it would be common for the widower to remarry and sire more children. Life was a little more brutal.

Offline AvenueQ

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #23 on: October 01, 2017, 11:09:43 AM »
My fiance and I just got our results back last week. My ancestry was pretty much spot-on with what my family told me, mostly Irish with a little German and Italian thrown in. The surprise was that his was almost the same.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #24 on: October 02, 2017, 09:33:25 AM »

It's also worth remembering that women died in childbirth on a fairly regular basis and it would be common for the widower to remarry and sire more children. Life was a little more brutal.

Exactly. My grandmothers mom and dad were each on their third marriage, neither had ever divorced, there was alot more death. Complete blended family structure, even had 2 children named Bill in the same grade when they married. So, that is 3 generations back.

Plural marriage was 4 generations back in my family tree. Which is right after the civil war, so not alot of men, and harsh, pioneer days in Utah. Historically, poor men wouldn't generally have plural wives except when not enough men. Grandmothers mom mentioned above came from this second wife. Grandma says she immigrated specifically to join the church and make a new land, the promised land, Zion. The man she married was also from Scotland. The enclosure movement was brutal there, families kicked off of land, living in squalor in Glasgow with no prospects for land or the future, I think the prospects of making their own way, in a new land, harsh as it was, was appealing. She would have also been likely thought a spinster, she and another woman friend of hers immigrated out and over together. My grandma had a sketch she made of how they lived. There was an existing one room homestead shack, and when she came over and decided to marry that man, another one, mirror image was built on the other side of the fireplace wall, so one chimney even. Homestead shack duplex, one room for each family (at first). Likely a barn or outbuilding for him to retreat to.

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #25 on: October 02, 2017, 10:27:13 AM »
My fiance and I just got our results back last week. My ancestry was pretty much spot-on with what my family told me, mostly Irish with a little German and Italian thrown in. The surprise was that his was almost the same.

We had the same experience.  My wife and I used the service provided by ancester.com.  It was definitely on spot with both sides of our family trees.  Unknown to me my nephew used the same service and it notified us that we were close relatives based on DNA.  Net, it is legit.

Offline alpacamade

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #26 on: October 14, 2017, 02:50:10 PM »
DavidinMN: for genealogical purposes, DNA testing is not as useful as one might imagine from any company.
For medical purposes, it may be a different story as in the case of an adoptee finding out they have a
marker for tay Sachs disease.

I have found the tried and true methods used by professional and amature genealogists alike to be the most useful.
Your library may have a public subscription to several sources in their "historical" section. I have used this
resource for years without ever having to pay an individual subscription to any of them.

The specific issue with northern eastern European ties has more to do with which country dominated at a given point in history. For example; my maternal line is Polish. However, they have self-disclosed as Polish, German, Prussian and Russian on census forms! The reason has everything to do with who dominated Poland at the time of emigration from Poland as we know it today. Same goes for Ukrainian and other border countries. Often the determining factor comes from clues in name spelling, family Bible's, or Parrish records of christenings, marriages and burials.

It can be frustrating when one hits a dead end but the discoveries are that much more rewarding. Imagine my surprise at discovering we have a common Amish last name married into our likely English or Scott paternal main line.

I wish you good success, You never know, your German/Polish line could easily cross my MN/WI/MI lines.

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #27 on: October 14, 2017, 06:02:58 PM »
The specific issue with northern eastern European ties has more to do with which country dominated at a given point in history. For example; my maternal line is Polish. However, they have self-disclosed as Polish, German, Prussian and Russian on census forms! The reason has everything to do with who dominated Poland at the time of emigration from Poland as we know it today.

Exactly.  In fact for a time Poland was only Warsaw.  At others it spanned a swath of what is recognized as Germany and even some territory all the way to Russia.  My Dziadzia spoke five languages fluently because of this.  Polish, German, Russian, Lithuanian, and English (which he learned in US).  He also knew some Bulgarian and Hungarian.  Funny, whatever gene helps with languages didnt get passed to me.



At ancestor.com my DNA picked up six likely relatives. It can help "widen" the family tree (finding common ancestors).

Offline David in MN

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #28 on: October 14, 2017, 10:59:36 PM »
Very true. We're also talking about areas of the world frequented by Mongols, the Ottoman Empire, Arab slave traders, even Romans. I know my maternal grandfather claimed to be (and to the best of his knowledge) 100% Polish. He spoke Polish and lived in a Polish part of Chicago. Doesn't mean that a foreign ancestor didn't sneak in. That can be said of a lot of our ancestry.

As an amusing comment on this, I used to frequent a Ukrainian bakery and butcher downtown. Despite the items being labelled in the native tongue, I would order in Polish and the guys there all knew it well enough. There's a little sibling rivalry with us East Europeans in NE Minneapolis and we love teasing each other a little bit. It's dying off these days which I find disappointing. The Polish bar where we used to dance polka and shoot vodka closed a couple years back. I like the old way with "pockets of cultures" rather than the homogenized modern America. I guess it's human nature (my daughter is even more a mutt than me) but I like that there were areas that kept culinary traditions alive and celebrated holidays from the old country. I grew up in a very strong Jewish community and I still make my family potato pancakes for Hanukkah. I think exposure to unique cultures is great. We used to be able to do that driving across the city. Choosing between Chili's and TGI Friday's just doesn't mean the same as choosing between Chinatown for duck, Greek spanakopita, and your favorite family owned pizzaria. For all our claimed multiculturalism I don't see the cultural enrichment I got as a kid. OK, rant over.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: 23 and me... as a survival tool?
« Reply #29 on: October 19, 2017, 11:01:40 AM »
I agree this might have bio-medical applications, but I am unsure this can verify where great-grandpa was really from.

Several centuries earlier, each respective region's gene pool was more homogeneous, so I'd expect correlating DNA to location would be fairly accurate back then.
Today populations are highly mobile.  Even discounting the "new world" we've had ethnic Germans in northern Italy, Greeks all over the Mediterranean, and the British Isles are filled with traces of invading cultures like Normans and Vikings.

My hypothesis is I'm mostly German with some British.  The "german" comes from 5+ descendants, and from at least 3 regions, so very possible to have some polish or other eastern european too.
Maybe there's some middle eastern, african or another surprise.  If so, I'm not sure how I'd go about attributing that on the family tree.