While working on an article on ethnic heritage and genealogical societies (look for it in the forthcoming November 2011 Family Tree Magazine) I was inspired to figure out what, exactly, Leo is, heritage-wise.
And by “exactly,” I mean “theoretically,” because:
- you never know what proportion of genes you ended up with from each ancestor after the DNA-combining process
- geopolitical developments and population shifts can mean ancestors’ ethnicity is different from the country whence they came (Your ancestor from Russia would actually be German, for example, if he was one of the many “Volga Germans” who settled in Russia’s Volga River valley.)
- nonpaternity events, such as adoption and children fathered—unbeknownst to you—by someone other than the person named in records
- a lack of documentation or incorrect documentation about an ancestor’s origins
- all those ancestors yet to be discovered (unless you’ve found ‘em all)
With that caveat, figuring out Leo’s theoretical heritage combo involves first determining Mom’s and Dad’s percentages. Three of my husband’s grandparents came from Germany and one from Hungary, so we’ll estimate him at 75 percent German and 25 percent Hungarian. I’ll go back to my great-grandparents’ origins: I’m half German, a quarter Lebanese (the source for my last name), and one-eighth each English and Irish.
I just divided each of our percentages, added up the common German heritage, and came up with these numbers for Leo (I generated the pie chart online using Kids Zone):
He’s pretty typical as far as American ancestry: In the 2000 census, German was the heritage most often claimed by Americans and by his fellow Cincinnatians. He also shares in the second- and fourth-most-commonly reported ancestries: Irish and English, respectively.
What’s your theoretical heritage combo?