Hans Martin Gunderson
The randomness of DNA inheritance always amazes me. My Norwegian-American father seems to have inherited more DNA from his Skjold grandad, “Dada,” than his Wold grandma, “Mormor.” Dad shares more than the expected amount of DNA with 3rd and 4th and double 4th cousins on his Skjold line. Of course this could also be explained by the slight endogamy in the area they come from, Etne, Hordaland. By comparison, Dad shares no DNA with a Wold 3rd cousin once removed and only a small amount with her mother. He shares more with a few other Wold cousins but it tends to be less than the expected amount with the more distant cousins on that line.
Recently I found two new Skjold cousins via DNA testing, Maria and Irene.
On Ancestry.com, a 3rd cousin match appeared for my brother which turned out to be a real 3rd cousin, a Gundersen relative who is descended from Dada’s sister Margareta. Her son who immigrated to Brooklyn, Hans Martin Gundersen, is pictured on the left.
On 23andme.com, I found a new 3rd-4th cousin on Dad’s list, who was found to be from another branch of our Holland relatives. The Hollands descend from Dada’s Aunt Mette (see my post with her portrait). My father’s newly found 3rd cousin twice removed shares 1.10% of her DNA with him: 4 segments totaling 84cM. This is on the high side, more like a second cousin once removed (click here for the article at ISOGG about the expected amounts of shared DNA).
So read on for the details of how I figured out the actual relationships with my new cousins.
It has been quite surprising to me to see how often 23andme claims Norwegian relatives are more closely related than they in fact turn out to be. This particularly shows up among those descended from the farms around the Stordalsvatnet (a large glacier lake upstream from Etne in Hordaland Norway) such as Skjold, Frette, Tveito, Lussnes, Sande, Hovland, and Håland to name just a few (Click here for a picture towards Frette from google maps). So when last at the library in Salt Lake City, I photographed pages from the Etnesoga farm books for all these ancestral farms in order to discover the many ways these folk intermarried in recorded genealogical time. I have been entering all this data on GENI and ancestry but have yet to discover good ways to display family trees with so many cousin marriages.
So Dad has an expected 3rd to 4th cousin “MB” from Etne who shares 4 good sized segments and .66% of her DNA with him. She is in fact twice a 4th cousin once removed and once a 6th cousin to him (so far). Most delightful however is that she has four generations of family tested. So here is a picture made with my segment mapper tool of her versus her daughter (.55%), two grandsons (.52% and .38%), a great granddaughter (.39%) and a great grandson (.26%). Clicking on the picture will take you to a copy of the actual output with mouse-over popups showing the centimorgan (cM) values.
As expected, her daughter is a solid blue line as she has half of all her DNA, thus one of every chromosome pair, from her mother. Looking at the two sons, you can see that they inherit some of the same DNA and some different. Notice how all of chromosome 21 has been passed intact all the way to her g-granddaughter. This is the smallest chromosome. The X inheritance is also of interest as MB’s daughter gave each son only one piece from her mother, and not the same pieces.
Back in the late 1800s our Norwegian ancestors and relatives came here in droves; about 80,000 Norwegians came before the Civil War and even more afterwards. Partially it was economic conditions in Norway but mainly it was due to the population pressures from improved medicine. The practice of dividing the farm among your boys does not work so well when you have ten children most of whom are now surviving to adulthood. So emigration to America was the solution for many.
Most of my relatives, like many Norwegian immigrants, settled out in the northern midwestern states: Illinois (Kendall County), Iowa (Story City), South Dakota and Wisconsin. However, my own ancestors stayed in New York. The ship’s carpenter Monsens and my g-grandfather Henry (Halvor Hans) Skjold settled in the Norwegian section of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, NY. Hans was known as Henry H. Lee in this country. He was the embodiment of the successful immigrant story (see this newspaper article ) making it big with his harbor businesses.
Two of his sisters, both named Anna, kept to more traditional endeavors and headed to Kendall County, Illinois with their husbands and children and farmed. We are in touch with the Stevenson descendants who have a yearly reunion in July in Illinois. We always wondered about the descendants of his aunt Mette Tvetden Haaland, his dead mother’s half sister. She went to Wisconsin with her eight children and her husband Sjur who tragically died soon after arrival along with the baby. My Stevenson genealogist cousin and I had long since given up on finding her descendants. But along came DNA testing and suddenly I had some good matches in Dad’s 23andme account with the surname Holland, could it be? Why yes!