Family Finder can find your realtives

Bennett Greenspan is a pioneer in genetic genealogy. He founded the first American company to offer genealogical DNA testing directly to the general public in 2008. He is still in charge of this company as president & CEO and an enthusiastic genealogist, who manages also several projects and give lectures on the use of genetics in genealogy.

We speak about Family Tree DNA company, which developed first mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome tests. In 2010 they launched revolutionary Family Finder test, in which they test and compare 700,000 letters in DNA. While testing of mtDNA and Y-DNA results enable discovery of deep ancestry od direct maternal and respectively direct paternal line, testing of autosomal DNA can give matches up to 6 generations back from the donor (last 150-200 years) with great accuracy.

When to take a Family Finder test? In case you are curious to know your ethnic, ancestral origin, and relatives you have never thought to find. This test is designed to find relatives on donor’s ancestral lines within the last five generations by any male or female line. At the same time, Family Finder gives you a breakdown of your ethnic makeup by percent (myOrigins) by comparing your DNA to reference populations around the world that have been tested through scientific research, especially archaeological, going back in time for last 50,000 years. Once your test is ordered and paid, no other costs are charged for running a profile with matching results (see some help, how to find your matches)

In choosing a donor it is very important to find the oldest living ancestor and ask him/her to give a biological sample. He/she is much closer to a genetic and geographic origin of source population than people born from a third or fourth generation in America due to combining of DNA and increasing number of ancestors at each passing generation.

Nowadays we have a lot of online records to search for genealogy. But the most important new tools available only since 2008 can help you find your ancestors even though you do not have written records about them. DNA testing can help you make the first steps in your journey ‘Trough your DNA testing to your Slovenian roots’. Or to any other ethnicity, of course.

DNApool-SI-znak

Slovenian Historic Records in Latin and Old German

Despite Slovenians got their state already after the First World War (1918) in the Kingdom of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, Slovenia was not independent state until 1991, after her split from Yugoslavia. As Vatican was one of the first states that internationally recognized the newly created independent state of Slovenia in 1992, Slovenians will forever remember the Pope’s words in Slovenian at the occasion of his visit in 1996: “Papež ‘ma vas rad!” (“The pope loves you!”). Pope’s John Paul II visit was devoted to celebration of the gained independence of the Slovenian state and to commemorate the 1250th anniversary of Christianity among the Slovenians.

In 8th Century Slovene people start loosing their independance first under Franks, then under the German Holly Roman Empire. This influenced also the culture, including the langugae use. The Freising Manuscripts are known as the earliest document of Slovenian culture, created in 10th Century. These prayers are the earliest preserved writings in Slovenian, as well as the earliest Slavic texts, written in the Latin alphabet. ‘Monumenta Frisingensia‘ (can be listen and read online in translation from early Slovenian into five languages, including modern Slovenian) have documented the use of Slovenian langugae in Christian liturgy in Upper Carinthia, which belonged to the Freising diocese. Later the liturgy was hold everywhere in Latin as this was the official European langugae.

This means that general public still spoke Slovenian langugae, but official languge of nobles and the rulers became first Latin and from 12th century the German. Dictionarium quatuor linguarum is a 16th-century book by the German polymath Hieronymus Megiser that includes a multilingual dictionary with German, Latin, Slovenian and Italian vocabulary. While a large part of Europe in the 16th century adopted a humanistic cursive (“Latin” script, antiqua) as the dominant font, the duality between the “German” and “Latin” fonts was maintained in Central Europe until the begining of 20th century. So the archive documents could be found in Latin and German also for Slovenian origin. While the Latin records are easy to read, a German handwriting is more demanding and requires skilled genealogyst or translator. In both cases basic vocabulary needs to be learnt to understand written information, for example an occupation.

Despite all these historic records in German, and information at the imigration documents, that passanger’s state of origin was Austria, your ancestor may be of Slovenian origin. If you start discovering this by your genetic matches in Slovenia, do not hesitate to contact them – in every family you will find somebody, who speaks English.

Many Americans imagine Slovenia as an eastern communistic country, close to Russia. Which is far from truth. Firstly, Slovenia has a Central European geographical position, and secondly, her communistic party split from Russian policy soon after Second World War. As Slovenia was one of the six Yugoslav republics, certain level of self-governement was retained. For example, Slovenia got her first constitution in 1947. Nowadays we can read legislation and use Slovenian langugae in all official procedures not only in the Republic of Slovenia, but also in the institutions of the European Union. Whether this is a guarantee that a language spoken by 2 million of people will survive in globalised world or not, we can not say.

What is worth mentioning, the Slovenian origin means ethnicities rooted in the geographic regions in Central Europe, where Slovenian speaking people have lived in the past millennium and have been using various Slovenian dialects (Ramovš, 1931).

slovensko-poreklo-grboslovje

Territory of Central Europe in Austria-Hungary Empire with Slovenian names of counties and towns.

Classic vs. genetic genealogy

Since 2000 genetic genealogy is available for commercial use, as the DNA testing became available. Since then, consumer genomics testing has been increasing exponentially, especially for genealogy purposes (can be ordered also for health, nutrition, etc.).  With the help of advanced techniques and information technology, for a consumer, a biological evidence is easier to compare than historical records.  Matching of potential relatives simply occurs on your screen. Of course, the investigation only starts with this and has to be done in combination with data from traditional genealogical and historical records. For the Anglo-Saxon world, great databases of genealogical and historical records have been available online, so your research can be done from anywhere anytime.  Also in our country, you can find great sources of historical information online, like in Digital Library of Slovenia, or the register of cultural heritage (a register of protected cultural monuments, including archaeological sites, secular and church buildings). But, what about the genealogy sources?

In Slovenia, the primary sources of genealogical information can be obtained from the civil and ecclesiastical archives (Ljubljana, Maribor, Koper), where these are largely still available in the form of original books or their duplicates, created more than 100 years ago. Younger books are still in use by official registrars at administrative units. Because of data privacy rules, an access to these registers at administrative units is very limited: you need to be an immediate relative or registered researcher with an authorization of a descendant to be able to obtain genealogy relevant information even for events 100 years ago.

The main registers, used for genealogical research are birth, death and marriage books, for which responsible registrars or priests enrolled the life events of the residents of a parish to which they belonged in a given period. Thus, it is necessary to know for each person a period in a history, the relevant administrative  or church territorial and hierarchical organization in the Habsburg Monarchy, to locate the register in the correct archive, parish and book. While the church records of settlements which remained in Austria until today are online, for settlements, which are today in Slovenia, this is not the case. Not even half of parish books have been scanned, but also the scanned ones are available via a very limited number of client screens, placed in the archives. A long waiting period, short working hours and long summer holidays make a lot of opportunities for dissatisfaction with the situation.

We would need the wisdom and openness of the enlightened ruler Maria Theresa, who introduced numerous reforms in 18th Century in these countries, still nowadays. Her military surveys have been revitalised by digitalisation and georeferencing in the MAPIRE portal, that serves today online to interested users. Old maps of cities and countries can be viewed in a synchronised and even 3-D view.

But, again in a case of cadastral maps, these are available for neighbouring countries of former Austria-Hungarian Empire. For Slovenia, only Krain/Carniola region is included. As the state archive has no interest to participate in a project. Maybe the Ministry has recognised the financial interest of a private company behind a user-friendly searching of historical places: first, they offer their services free of charge, to attract users and donors of material, then they start limiting the access and charging for their upgrades. However, Slovenia offers the Francis cadaster (SVN Franciscejski kataster, GER Franziszeische Kataser; Franz II, Holy Roman Emperor) of parcels of land and their owners and users for a period 1818-1828 online (zoom-in). 

Franciscejski kataster today

Good news is, that the Archive of the Republic of Slovenia offers also all cadastral maps and scanned registrars at their portal free of charge for low-resolution maps (high resolution can be ordered). These are in a bit rigid archivist form, which demands some knowledge of past territorial organisation. We share this knowledge below to enable their usage for Slovenian land (alphabetical lists of owners and other lists, which enable restoring the farms, are freely available). Nowadays statistical regions are indicated above the historical Habsburg regions for a given period:

  1.  Lower SavaSoutheast Slovenia, Littoral–Inner Carniola, Central SloveniaUpper Carniola:
  • Imenjska knjiga za Kranjsko (1539-1871)
  • Terezijanski kataster za Kranjsko (1747-1805)
  • Franciscejski kataster za Kranjsko (1823-1869)
  • Reambulančni kataster za Kranjsko  (1867-1882)

2. Drava, Savinja, Central Sava:

3. Carinthia:

4. Mura:

5. Gorizia, Coastal–Karst:

Franciscejski kataster 1826

Picture above: Geographical centre of Slovenia Vače (German: Waatsch) on Francis cadastral map restored at mapire.eu show farms, fields, forest and other categories of land use together with names of settlements (Waatsch), field names and farm names (vulgo surnames), which are all of great importance for genealogy. Three examples on the picture give a basis for the surname explanation:

  • Hostar, the surname still exists today in a form of Hosta (etymology: by field name ‘na Hosty’ = in the forest)
  • Lebek, the surname is extinct (etymology: by field name ‘na Lebeki’)
  • Farbar, the surname is extinct, or it exists in a form of Brvar (etymology: the owner of the farm had also an occupation being a painter = ‘barvar’, from ger. Faerber, Färbar)

Barvar-Faerber

The Journey Begins

The more we go, the longer we see. Goriška Brda – the most western Slovenian land.

Autosomal DNA testing for genealogy has become popular and affordable. In some cases, it is a substitute for classic genealogy research in archives and libraries. Luckily, with the matching of specific codes of the autosomal DNA, there is a possibility of finding a cousin when both submit their biological sample for testing and make their results available for consultation. In 2018, the atDNA results for the purpose of ancestry testing can be obtained for less than $100 from some reliable providers (Family Finder test at FamilyTree DNA, MyHeritage DNA, Genographic test at National Geographics, Ancestry DNA, etc.). Testing of atDNA can be upgraded by testing of Y chromosome, X chromosome and mitochondrial DNA at FamilyTreeDNA, to get deep ancestry information for thousands of years ago and more precise affiliation to ancient tribes. Wast legacy kept in each human genome can be revealed. This is a good investment for the future and great opportunity to preserve our eldest relatives, parents, grandparents alive by their biological sample containing DNA information also after they pass away.

A basic question of this project is: Could we collect genetic genealogy results of Slovenians and Americans of Slovenian ancestry into a joint database and set standards for certain origin of Slovenian population? We decided to address this question to people, interested in Slovenian origin and their own pedigree (see the survey).

Before the World War I and during it, many Slovenians left their country for a better life. In the last decades before the WWI, it is estimated that the process involved up to 300,000 people. The emigrant wave was directed mainly to the United States, partly in German parts of Austria, Germany and Egypt, only to a lesser extent to South America (Brazil, Argentina). As emigrant and immigrant statistical records managed the expatriates by country of origin, to which Slovenians belonged in that time (such as Austrians, Hungarians, Italians, etc.) it is very difficult to find people. Many of them travelled by railway through Ljubljana to European ports as Trieste, Rijeka, Genoa and Western European ports, e.g. Cherbourg, Le Havre, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremen / Bremerhaven, Hamburg and other ports, e.g. Southampton in England (M. Drnovšek).

 

Ancient-Trieste
Port of Trieste was a starting point of many Slovenian emigrants. In 1910, there were 60,000 Slovenian inhabitants in Trieste and twice as much of Italians. Today Trieste belongs to Italy.

By passing four to six generations since emigration, many contacts between emigrants and their relatives in Slovenia have been lost during the last century. In the era of early 21st Century, we have the last chance to reveal our ancestral origin to founding populations from just a simple saliva or cheek tissue sample. From this sample, a unique DNA pattern can be determined, which can link individual Americans of Slovenian ancestry to their origins in the territory of Slovenian speaking people, before all information is melted in a contemporary mixing of populations and natural dissolving of inherited DNA through generations.

So, in our project ‘Slovenian DNA Pool’ all interested participants from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are invited to provide their GEDMatch number along with their real names and surnames and e-mail for the collection of Slovenian DNA Pool, as well as to share their DNA and genealogy data. Managers and administrators of the project will carefully consider the data before publishing. If an alias were provided, it would be displayed in place of the real name along with DNA results.

Collected information will be used for research purposes only. Anonymised data could become part of a bigger database, as it is more and more often for crowd-sourced genealogy. Furthermore, each individual can benefit from the database to find their long lost relatives and upgrade genetic ancestry by family tree.

Join our project as a donor of DNA testing results:

Thanks for joining us! Hvala, da ste se nam pridružili 🙂 

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

  • Header photo: a scenery seen from a tower in Gonjače in Goriška Brda. In the opposite side, the Port of Trieste and Port of Koper could be observed in the Nord Adriatic See.