Answers

I received what I think will be the last email from my Finnish relative (at least for now), but also the most definitive and the one that provided all the answers I need. She wrote it in Finnish, so I am hoping I’ve made no errors in translation. She said “Pahoittelen, etten voi auttaa” [I’m sorry that I cannot help] and “Toivomaasi sukupuuta ei minulta löydy” [I can’t find the tree you want].

I didn’t expect that she would be able to, really.

She did talk about our family being “puolimustalainen” which I think means “half-Gypsy” and “tattare”, which I think is an offensive name for Finnish Romany, but she used them to mean the same thing –  “valkolaisen näköiset mustalainen”…light-skinned ‘Gypsies’.  The way she’s talking about this, clearly she finds this part of our heritage distasteful (and I honestly find the way she’s talking about it a bit offensive). I already knew this was a possibility. She seems to want nothing to do with either the Saami or Romany heritage that we have (the reason I can tell this, is because she said at least her grandmother married a “proper” Finn and she signed off with “En ole syvällisemmin perehtynyt sukuuni ainakaan” [I’m not deeper acquainted with my family, anyway], which I took to mean this was an end to the discussion).

Apparently, my female relative married a second time after her first husband died (she was supposedly the “tattare/mustalainen”), but because the second husband had the same name as the first, they took the name of the farm where they moved to as a surname (it also sounded a bit like this was looked down on or wasn’t an approved second marriage). This would explain why my search (and in turn their search) is so difficult. The names we both have stop at the same place – either right before or right after they left the country and they become, almost literally, different people. My relative says she thinks they moved just over to Sweden and that they maybe became “Lindi” there [“ottivat yhteiseksi sukunimekseen ostamansa tilan nimen, ehkä se oli Lindi”] before moving to the UK. This could make sense, as I have a great aunt called Lindis (an uncommon name in the UK) which could be a nod to our Finnish heritage (it’s a Fennoscandian name), as well as the preservation of the family name of Lindi/Lind.

It seems like the mixture of Saami and Finnish Kale Romany is something that she doesn’t want to talk about. I think she’s ashamed of it and now I have to try and find the answers on my own.

But, I finally have an answer of where they are from – Näkkäläjärvi, Enontekiö, Finland. Their surname was also either Näkkälä or Näkkäläjärvi, at least until it was changed. I don’t know for sure what they changed it to [Lindi seems like a guess (a pretty good one, considering many Finnish Kale Romany have Swedish surnames, anyway) from my cousin]. The other names I was given (Isak and Apollonia Suontajärvi) are names related to her family, but not to me. I don’t know the name of my female relative, yet.

I guess I have a lot of questions about everything:

What happened to Finland and the lands where my family lived during the wars between Sweden and Russia and the resulting depopulation/colonization? Where did the Saami and Kale go during those times? Were any of my family forced into the mines in Karelia? Did they flee into Sweden and then to the UK because of the conditions they faced?

I have other questions too: can I learn about Saami and Finnish Kale language and history? Are there Finnish Saami or Kale who will talk to me about their history and lives? If I want to say my heritage is part-Saami or part-Kale, can I?

I guess I will keep learning Finnish, so then I can at least read information in Finnish and maybe speak with some Saami and Kale.

I tried looking up stuff about the area, but honestly I can’t find much. I think everything is in Finnish, of course (why would it be otherwise?) and I am not good at reading it yet.

I don’t really know what to do now…

Where, oh where?!

I know it seems as if all my posts are about DNA and genetic research these days – and while I do post about that a lot on my blog, there are plenty of other posts around (like the one I just added about flowers, here), so please just keep checking out all my pages!

Using the new Genesis Gedmatch website, I was able to do a comparison match with my two different raw data sets and people who match both or only one of them (and which one). I’ll list the top results that match both (and their closest oracle 2 population results) for both kits here:

OI (4th cousin range). The oracle states they are:

64.7% Mexican_CV ( ) + 35.3% Swede_Saami ( )

AN (5th cousin). 60% Finnish_East + 40% Tatar-Siberian or similarly Finnish + Saami-Kola (the 4 gives me Icelandic + Karakalpak (Uzbek) + Latvian + Saami_Kola)

EG (4th cousin). 80% Frisian + 20% Italian_Bergamo

KMM (4th cousin). 85% Icelandic + 15% Sardinian

JL (5th Cousin). 91% Danish + 9% Portuguese or similarly Dutch + Spanish

KH (4th cousin). 55% Spanish + 45% Belarusian

RB (4th cousin).

86.4% Fin_Saami ( ) + 13.6% Assyrian_Iraqi ( )

[see edit note below]

WM (4th cousin) 96% Belgian + 4% Italian_Bergamo

JI (4th cousin) 88% Scottish + 12% Turk (oracle match less than 1), 90% Scottish + 10% Assyrian (match of 1)

RB2 (4th cousin) 68% Swedish + 32% Albanian

There are other 4th cousin range matches with Frisian + Finnish Saami, Frisian + Saami, Scottish + Russian, British & Ashkenazi, Southern English/German + Abkhasian (Russian)…

In researching some of these results, I’ve learned some interesting things:

Icelandic: probably just parsing out Scottish, Scandinavian, or Finnish as “excessively northern” and plopping it into that category (as most of these regions have had a lot of interaction historically with one another). I also read that a lot of Scandinavian and Finnish DNA is commonly misrepresented as being British, Scottish, or English and my heritage from those regions may be much higher. Similarly, German DNA is often misrepresented as South English DNA.

Middle Eastern: I have a feeling that Assyrian, Iraqi etc may be a confusion between any Romany DNA we have and any Jewish-specific DNA we may have. Most of those people have similar amounts of S Asian/Indian DNA as me.  It could also be an over-representation of any ME DNA, as many Romany groups travelled extensively through these regions before reaching Europe.

Russian and Russian minority groups: Many Romany and Saami spent time (forcibly so) in Karelia, which is today NW Russia. There is also a NW Russian Saami group, the Kola, who are mostly integrated, I believe (may be wrong, if so please let me know). My Siberian, Native (Amerind/Beringean/Arctic etc) DNA might affect this and lump me in with these groups.

Spanish and Italian: I am not entirely sure about this one. I could have Italian ancestry, though my results on other sites show as Spanish. I am just wondering whether this is inferred from certain admixture results (going to look at a spreadsheet and see just how much I correlate with the Spanish/Italian populations there – my guess is not very much at all). It could also be related to the French result that I consistently see. If those relatives were from the Pyrenees area they could easily have originally come from Spain or shared Spanish DNA. One tag that consistently came up for me in both French and Spanish DNA was “Basque” – which is an area of NW Spain and SW France. It could also reference Iberian Jewish heritage. Not sure about that yet, either.

I would love to know the genetic admixture common to Suomen Romanit (Finnish Roma). I think it’s probably similar to Romanichal, except mixed with more Scandinavian and Finnish. This could explain why I get Swedish and why a lot of my matches have Swedish, as well. It could also explain the Swedish surnames that I find in my tree (Lumberg/Lundberg/Algren) as I’ve found Finnish Romani tend to have Swedish surnames. I find it interesting that so far I’ve found myself or my relatives placed in general Saami, Swedish Saami, Finnish Saami, and Kola Saami groups. My guess is that the admixture calculators for these aren’t particularly well defined and different tests pick up different reference points (so in one I may just be Saami and in another I may be Swedish or Finnish Saami).

Well, back to the drawing board I guess (I think I’m going to contact the top ten on my matches and see if anyone will get back to me – so far, only one person has).

[EDIT] – RB, the 4th cousin listed above replied to my email. She was adopted in the US in the 1950s and doesn’t know any of her birth family. So, back to square one!

Follow up post

I decided to write a brief follow-up to my post from the other day. In my research I’ve discovered some important things.

Firstly: the DNA samples that most sites, but GEDmatch in particular uses are not a good match for me. When I look at their “oracles” (which match your DNA with certain populations or mixes of populations), I get very odd results. Basically, it ranks the population it thinks you’re closest to for a given calculator (such as MDLP or puntDNAL) with a score. The closer to 1 you are the closer you appear to be related to that population. A zero is a perfect match.

I ran my DNA through all of the oracles I could and the top results from the majority of them were Scandinavian or Finnish and Spanish (Basque, Andalucia, Galicia, Valencia, etc). Interestingly, a couple had me as German and Indian (Paniya, Hakki Pikki) or Icelandic and Indian (Puliyar, Punjabi, Bengali), which isn’t too surprising as I do have a decent percentage of South Asian/Indian DNA. Most of the numbers are 3 or 4 and above, which is not a very close match.

I’ve tried to look for posts about the oracles, but honestly, they’re quite confusing. I think, particularly in my case, I’m mixed with uncommon populations. In looking for information, I found posts saying that 23andMe, Ancestry, and myFTDNA are pretty useless when it comes to Scandinavian, Finnish, and North West Russian DNA. In fact, Ancestry is pretty useless overall (I’d kind of figured that out on my own). I’m not even focusing on anything Saami at the moment (assuming that it’s a pretty tenuous connection at the moment).

I actually started going through my data and comparing it to the information in the spreadsheets and it’s so weird. I will match this and that for certain groups but then something is there in the mix that just doesn’t fit. My Asian component is too high for Norwegian (but not just South Asian, North and  East, too). My West Asian is too high for Finnish, as is my Samoedic and Siberian. If I take out, for example, the South Asian (that I know is Romany), then I am still left with a whole lot of oddities.

For example, in the puntDNAL K15 spreadsheet, my Siberian, Amerindian, and East Asian are too high for most of the European groups (though closer to North Swedish and Finnish). In the EU test, I don’t actually fit anything – I have levels in various populations, but no more than two or three approximate matches out of the eight admixture groups (such as South_Baltic, West Asia etc). I match two for Denmark, two for Austria, three for both Swedish and Finnish – but that’s not even half. Again with the EU Test K15 and all MDLP tests I am all over the place.

I guess I just need to start my family tree over and find out as much information as I can. I really want to learn Finnish (and I’ll probably start a vlog related to that), as it seems fairly certain at least I am Finnish (whether or not the Saami is being misread [even with the mtDNA group, it could easily be something else like N.W Russian] – have to confirm with relative matches for that one and will be easier to do if I know Finnish). Though, the locations I have for potential relatives in Finland are on the Swedish/Finnish border (and Finland has a long history of colonization by both Sweden and Russia).

Current ‘matches’ on the one-to-many on Gedmatch show surnames such as Sokka (Finnish), Vuorela (Finnish), Tuulikki/Palmu (Finnish), Abrahamsson (Finnish/Swedish), Vik (Norwegian/Swedish), Lindquist (Swedish), Sjödin (Swedish), Egea (Spanish), Serpa (Portuguese), Nasatir (Iberian Ashkenazi), as well as the Romanichal names Boswell, Mitchell, Cooper. The closest of these would be 4th cousin and most are located in the US, which makes me think they’re actually further out than that. Though my maternal grandmother always said we had someone come out to Birmingham, Alabama around the same time as Aunt Annie (maternal grandfather’s… aunt?) left for Australia … which is awfully specific.

GenerationRelationshipHow many?DNA %
7GGGGG-Grandparents1280.78
6GGGG-Grandparents641.56
5GGG-Grandparents323.12
4GG-Grandparents166.25
3Great-Grandparents812.5
2Grandparents425
1Parents250
0Self1100

According to this table, assuming I inherited the necessary segments of DNA from my family in order (this is a ‘perfect’ scenario), my results (let’s use wegene, first) of almost 25% Finnish, must mean that my mother was half-Finnish. So, either my grandfather or grandmother was fully-Finnish. [I’m thinking grandmother, as I know a lot about my grandfather’s family due to other family member’s research]. This begs the question, how did I not know this? Even if I assume that the DNA is inflating my results and my mother was only 25% Finnish, that still means a grandparent was half-Finnish and a great-grandparent fully so. Would they have changed their name? Would they have … I just don’t know.

I think my next steps are:

Begin learning Finnish

Look into the genetic heritage of Finnish Romani and any links between Saami, Karelian Russian, and Romani in northern Finland.

Look into finding UK immigration records to see if I can find any relatives who came to the country around the time I’m looking.

Maternal Haplogroup!

I finally got my mtDNA results back today and they came with another set of surprises, admixture estimates and matches. Of course, the main issue with all of these tests is that they are very US-centric – so comparisons and any “relative finders” for me are a little skewed and only have really distant relatives (generally 4th cousins and beyond with low level certainty). The only definite hits I’ve had, have been a 2nd cousin in Australia (my great aunt Annie sailed with her husband when one-way tickets were only £10 and our relationship is verified) and a 2nd or 3rd cousin in Finland. That one I’m still working on…

But, this is where my mtDNA comes in:

U5

Specifically, U5b1b1a1

This is interesting to me for many reasons. Firstly, I expected to be a general “H” [H1, H3 or H5]  – which is the broad category most common in Europe. Secondly, according to information I found, this is generally found in Scandinavia and Finland/Russia, more specifically in three general populations:

Saami
Northern Finns
Karelian (north western) Russians

Generally, though, it is found in the highest concentrations among Saami (Norwegian, Finnish, and Swedish). This of course, threw me for a loop. I had already matched Saami (under one or two of the admixture “oracles” on Gedmatch where there was a sample population to correlate with), but was assuming that it was picking up something else – maybe Karelian Russian or something and maybe it still is. Because this is my mtDNA, it’s on the maternal line (which I expected, because the Romany I know for sure is through my paternal line). I’m assuming, though, that any Saami ancestry is great-great grandparent level and that I am probably more generically Finnish than anything at this point (the estimator tool believes I have a fully German and French relative, which I haven’t even thought about and a fully Finnish relative or two.

My Finnish relative said that we have a shared familial connection with people born in Northern Finland, in a place called Enontekiö. Her great-great-grandmother (I think) was Appollonia Kätkäsuando Suontajärvi (not sure of her husband’s first name). I am not 100% sure of this and do not have a direct connection worked out (so if you know that’s impossible, please let me know and I’ll revise my search, as this would be our connection). I have had limited contact with my relative in Finland and though her English is good, it’s still confusing. It’s hard to do research from over here in the US (Ancestry charges a fortune for access to their “World” files… of course… and most of the files are in Finnish (and other genealogy research sites I’ve found are all in Finnish, too). She said that “they” (not sure who exactly that is…) left Finland and moved to Scotland (don’t know their journey… did they go through Sweden or Norway on their way or did they leave from a Finnish port? Did they stay long in the UK or did they continue on to the US? (or did other children leave, that could explain why I have a ton of potential 4th/5th cousins here). I’m also interested in whether Appollonia was Finnish Romani (Many Finnish Romani came from Scotland in the early 16th century because they were declared outlaws who could be hung without trial. At the time, they were only permitted to live in the north eastern areas of Sweden, corresponding to today’s Finland. Some were condemned to work in the mines of Karelia under extremely impoverished conditions and their children were often taken forcibly into care). This would also make sense if Appollonia’s family originally came through Scotland – especially as conditions for Romani and Travellers had marginally improved in Scotland in the 17-1800s and were certainly better than in Finland and Sweden, where women were often forcibly sterilized or had their children removed. So, it would make sense if they left the deplorable conditions in Finland to come back to the UK. I’m looking at trying to find immigration records either into or out of the UK… it’s hard though.

I also decided to download the raw data from this batch of tests (which is from a different testing service) and upload it to GEDmatch and several of the other sites I originally used. Interestingly, it provides completely different results. On GEDmatch, It ups the Siberian and South Asian components almost across the board, as well as Amerind in certain tests and changes the admixture makeup quite a bit. I’m not sure what this means, other than my DNA is probably not a good match with their reference populations as I’m a bit of an odd mixture.

What I can say at the moment:

I am paternally Romany (and possibly French/German)
I am maternally Finnish (with some Saami ancestry)

I ran my new raw DNA through the same wegene filters as before (I felt that was the most accurate), and it comes out with mostly the same results – French, Finnish/Russian, but instead of Hungarian it has me as Spanish (wondering if that’s misread Ashkenazi or something that it just can’t handle yet) and this one picks up my South Asian (Indian) DNA (of 6.49%).

I’m waiting for a couple of other sites to process my new data (I’ll update if they give me anything different or weird), but overall things look the same. I do want to learn Finnish so that I can at least dig into genealogy myself and find out exactly WHO I am related to! But, I won’t be claiming anything other than Finnish and Romany (my Ashkenazi and Saami ancestry is only based on these tests at the moment. Unless I can find concrete genealogical relationships, I won’t be taking things any further).