Zdynia, Poland

Konrad Fusiak
my great-grandfather

My paternal cousin has been doing a lot of research on our Ukrainian roots and has shared some of her discoveries with me. Our grandparents spoke Ukrainian and emigrated from there in 1909 and 1910, but it seems our grandmother’s parents were originally from elsewhere. I’ve always considered myself half Ukrainian and identifying 41% “Eastern Europe & Russia” on my DNA test seems to bear that out.

But Ukraine wasn’t showing up looking closer under that broad Eastern Europe grouping. Instead, my DNA was indicating “Poland, Slovakia, Hungary & Romania.” And then my aunt’s DNA was matched with another family from Poland! (Apparently the DNA was too diluted for my cousin and me to show up as DNA matches with these distant cousins of our great-grandfather, Konrad Fusiak.) Here’s the tentative line, yet to be proven with documents:

Piotr Fusiak (b. 1760 in Lug, Małopolskie, Poland)
Gregorius Fusiak (b. 1798 in Lug, Małopolskie, Poland)
Gabriel Fusiak (b. 1827 in Zdynia, Małopolskie, Poland)
Konrad Fusiak (b. 1855 in Zdynia, Małopolskie, Poland)
Katerina/Katherine Fusiak (my grandmother, b. 1887 in Luzok Horishni, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine)

Orthodox church in Zdynia by Tomasz Bienias

The province of Małopolskie is also known as Lesser Poland, a historical region. Zdynia is a tiny village, population 220. I can’t seem to locate Lug. (Perhaps it is Ług in Podlaskie?) From what I can tell from a cursory search there were several ethnic groups living in southern Poland. When my grandmother Katherine came to this country in 1910 she identified as a Ruthenian on the passenger ship manifest. Another aunt told me that Katherine’s mother, Ludmila Karaseck, was born in Prague and came to Ukraine to work in the salt mines. Wonder how she met Konrad from Poland? So many questions!!!

So, I’ve ordered a book, The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999 by Timothy Snyder, who “traces the emergence of Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian*, and Belarusian nationhood over four centuries.” I hope I can make some sense of the history of the region and gain some insight into my eastern European ancestry.

*Lithuania is a Baltic nation and in December 2019 I had 3% Baltic DNA. In September 2020 my son had 3% Baltic DNA and I didn’t show any. It seemed to be replaced with 3% Balkans. I suspect a mistake was made somewhere along the line. It will be interesting to see what shows up the next time they do an update/adjustment! See: ethnicity estimates.

ethnicity estimates ~ 9.16.20

Barbara’s latest ethnicity estimate from Ancestry DNA

Eastern Europe & Russia 41%
England & Northwestern Europe 26%
Scotland 12%
Germanic Europe 9%
Wales 7%
The Balkans 3%
Norway 2%

Tim’s latest ethnicity estimate from Ancestry DNA

England & Northwestern Europe 71%
Ireland 13%
Scotland 6%
Wales 6%
Sweden 2%
Norway 2%

It’s only been 9 months since our last DNA ethnicity results have been updated! See last ones here.

As you may know, we’re constantly evolving the technology and methods behind AncestryDNA®. Using a combination of scientific expertise, the world’s largest online consumer DNA database, and millions of family trees linked with DNA results, we’re releasing our most precise DNA update yet.
~ AncestryDNA email

Of course I find it terribly exciting to make note of all the fine-tuning that has been done. Ireland and Scotland got separated and I wound up with no Irish, but with 12% Scottish ancestry. Baltic and Italian heritage disappeared, but Norwegian held steady at 2%, and new are Wales (7%, separated out from the old England, Wales and Northwestern Europe grouping) and the Balkans (3%). Eastern Europe & Russia percentage stayed about the same, but the map extended much farther east. In the years to come perhaps there will be more fine-tuning of my Ukrainian roots, as I have so little to go on for my father’s ancestry.

Wales got separated out for Tim, too, at 6%, and he’s still plenty of English, Scottish, Irish and Northwestern Europe. New for him is Sweden at 2%. He maintained his 2% from Norway.

And now, to see how it plays out for one of our children:

Nate’s latest ethnicity estimate from Ancestry DNA

Germanic Europe 26%
England & Northwestern Europe 20%
Eastern Europe & Russia 18%
Scotland 12%
Ireland 6%
Sweden 5%
Wales 4%
Norway 4%
Baltics 3%
France 2%

If we try to add up the percenatges, they don’t add up. 🙂 Nate has more Germanic Europe than we could possibly have given him! (Thank goodness he turned up as our son, though, on the DNA test – phew!) And the Baltic which disappeared from my estimate showed up on his at 3%. And where on earth did France come from??? (Although, on my first DNA test estimate 2% Iberian Peninsula showed for me. And one of my ancestors was said to be a French Huguenot.) Yes, these are definitely estimates, subject to further change, but the gist of it does seem to follow the paper trail. 🙂

It’s important to remember, too, that even though we give half of our genes to each child, each child gets a different mix of half our genes. Tim’s brother doesn’t show any of Norway or Ireland, but has a lot more of Scotland than Tim does. (Maybe someday I will get my sister on board with getting a test!)

Until next time!

ethnicity estimates

Barbara’s latest ethnicity estimate from Ancestry DNA

Eastern Europe & Russia 43%
England, Wales & Northwestern Europe 28%
Germanic Europe 20%
Ireland & Scotland 3%
Baltics 3%
Norway 2%
Italy 1%

We recently added more ethnicity populations and communities. Based on this update, you might see changes to your results.
~ Ancestry.com

Tim’s latest ethnicity estimate from Ancestry DNA

England, Wales & Northwestern Europe 71%
Ireland & Scotland 21%
Germanic Europe 6%
Norway 2%

The last time we examined our DNA results was in 2014, about 5 years ago. (penetrating the past) We both have some interesting changes in our results!

For me, the Italian connection all but disappeared, which seems about right because I could never find one on the paper trail. Norway shows up solidly in about the right amount for my 3rd-great-grandfather, and Ireland as well, for his wife, my 3rd-great-grandmother. My father’s Slavic (Ukrainian) origins gained a larger percentage in my DNA. I’m intrigued with a new category, 3% Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania).

Interestingly, Tim also seems to be 2% Norway. But he’s a whopping 92% England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Northwestern Europe. And this analysis turns up absolutley no European Jewish ancestry, in spite of having a Jewish maternal grandfather. Still a mystery.

So, on Christmas Eve, we were sitting around our table working on a jigsaw puzzle and listening to holiday music with my sister and brother-in-law. I had made the shuffling playlist for my iPod years ago and had included tunes from many traditions. When the Dreidel Song came on my sister asked Tim if his family had celebrated Hanukkah when he was a child. The answer was no, although his stepgrandmother often brought Jewish foods to the house during the holidays. And then, much to my astonishment, he mentioned that his maternal grandfather had converted to Judaism. What!?!

This definitely would explain the lack of European Jewish ancestry for Tim!

It never ceases to amaze me how memories are stirred up in the oddest ways. And how a non-genealogical question lead to a spontaneous answer containing an important clue, which led to the solving of a genetic conundrum.

It will be fun to see any future changes in our DNA analyses as the scientists fine-tune the estimates as their population samples continue to grow.