Question of the Week: Do you have Slavic Roots?

+18 votes
1.2k views

Do you have Slavic roots?

(You might be interested in our Slavic Roots Project!)

in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
I have family from various parts of Yugoslavia, mainly Slovenia. It is pretty hard though doing genealogy in those parts... especially when you live thousands of miles away. Maybe sometime, if we get more people we could start a Slovene Roots sub-project or something.
My roots are and have been in the northeastern part of Slovenia for more than 200+ years and we consider ourselves as Slavic. With numerous changes in the borders of the centuries you need to have a good knowledge of the history of the Pannonian region to get a good grasp as to where to research for records. Being first generation Slovenian-Canadian does help however the distance makes it difficult to visit and research at the various parishes my ancestors attended. From my DNA testing my haplogroup is V3 and from my research on various sites it's not an overly common one.
Noah I would be interested in a Slovenian Roots sub-project if one every gets setup!

Slovenia is next on our sub-projects agenda. In fact, one of our team members, Aleš Trtnik, aka the data doctor, lives there! 

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Trtnik-2

Great! Will keep an eye out for it!

30 Answers

+8 votes
Not a drop, as far as I can tell. I have a rather drab ethnic heritage.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+11 votes
I do, my mother was born in Yugoslavia
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (207k points)
Any idea what your Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroup might be?
No, because I didn't do a DNA test
+7 votes
I have no Slavic whatsoever, but that is to be expected with my family history.
by James Stratman G2G6 Mach 7 (72.2k points)
+9 votes
My late husband's paternal line was from Slovakia.  That's why I joined the project!
by Nan Starjak G2G6 Pilot (219k points)
+9 votes
It's hard to tell the Hungarians and Germans from the Slovaks sometimes, but yes, I do have Slavic roots. Even my ancestors in the middle of the southeastern Hungarian Plain were Slovak settlers, originally.

(Doesn't mean I hold out any hope of ever learning Slovak. It just has way too many consonants acting as vowels. Hungarian is much easier: totally regular stress pattern, a general avoidance of consonant clusters, and no grammatical gender.)

I do wonder when (or if) WikiTree will get to the point of having enough people to support a Magyar Roots (or Carpathian Roots?) project. I suspect the name fields will need to be fixed (or at least re-labeled) first.
by J Palotay G2G6 Mach 2 (27.7k points)
Hi J, I have been thinking about a Magyar Roots Project but I need to clarify it with the categorization team and project team. However, there is no reason why I can't make a Hungary sticker for people to put on their profiles. Stay tuned.
+9 votes
Slavic Roots implying an umbrella for all Slavs in Eastern Europe ... absolutely.  One set of great-grandparents are from Cieplice, Galicia and I have created a One Place Study for this village, transcribing records and adding over 4000 individuals.

I've also added research help information to the Galicia Page, sharing in my experience to make research less intimidating to other genealogy hobbyiests. [[Space:Galicia]]

I've had a difficult time getting anyone from the Ukrainian Roots, Polish Roots or Slavic Roots projects to contact me about how we can better connect all the various categories and pages so they are easier to find.  I also volunteered to be part of their projects, but ... nothing.  I'm very eager to help.

We also need to have a serious discussion about how to categorize places in Eastern Europe with it's changing borders and creation/dissolution of countries.  I would really like to help with all of this, but there seems to be a lack of interest or lack of knowledge?

Thanks!
by Skye Sonczalla G2G6 Mach 1 (14.6k points)
Hello Skye - The categorization team would probably be interested in your suggestions for Eastern European categories. We have a new projects team. Thanks for reaching out. I will contact you.
Thanks Maggie!  I'd like to help in any way that I can, please keep in touch. :)
+6 votes
Only by mtDNA. My mitochondrial DNA Haplogroup is HV7, is generally prevalent in that region and somehow in Sicily as well. mtDNA Haplogroup HV7 is relatively rare in North America. I have no idea how my matrilineal ancestry is connected to the region, but it likely is.
by Bill Vincent G2G6 Mach 8 (85.5k points)
edited by Bill Vincent
+6 votes
Ny mom's dad was born in the Bohemian Kingdom (now the Czech Republic).  I don'[t know if I have any other Slavic roots except for my Bohemian ones.
by David Hughey G2G6 Pilot (517k points)
Well last purely Bohemian king was here in middleages and that could be called Bohemian kingdom. Since then only occupants from abroad ruled our lands. (well there were some short-term exception and rebellions, but I don't count those)

But if you said from Bohemian lands, that would be better.
+4 votes
I do, my moms paternal grandfather was born in slovakia and his wife i do belive was as well dispite being born in part of the austro-hungarian empire.
by Jennifer Robins G2G6 Mach 1 (15.4k points)
The area that is now Slovakia was entirely within Austria-Hungary. Specifically, it was the northern part of the Kingdom of Hungary. (There was no entity that could be called "Slovakia" before the Treaty of Versailles created Czechoslovakia.)
+5 votes
My mother's parents came from Ukraine around 1910. 23 and me finds Polish and Ukrainian genes. I was told that they have a larger Polish base and the results might be misleading. Considering how close they were to Poland, near Lvov/Lviv, I wouldn't be surprised to find some Polish. Some day I might be brave enough to try some genealogy in this area. My father's lines are so much easier, all written up in books, vital statistics for many, all New England.
by Sue Hall G2G6 Pilot (107k points)
How do you begin to find Ukrainian ancestors records? Most were kept in churches that burned during the war. My Baba is from Lviv and survived through the Holodomor and the war. she came to America with my Mom, Aunt and husband after the war.
+6 votes
Yes.  I am 7/8 Slovakian and 1/8 Bulgarian, so my heritage is 100% Slavic.
by Barbara Geisler G2G6 (7k points)
+6 votes
Yes, mostly Russian and Polish.
by Romuald Bokej G2G Crew (380 points)
+4 votes

The Slavic Roots Project is a "Top Level" project that presently encompasses sub-projects for profiles of those with Croatian, Czech, Polish, Romanian, Russian and Ukrainian ancestry. At a minimum it needs to include sub-projects for those with Slovak and Carpatho-Rusyn ancestors,

About a year ago I created a homepage for a proposed Carpatho-Rusyn project and asked for help in getting it added (there are over 500,000 Rusyns in the US alone). I was told someone would get back to me but no one did. Now I can't even find the page that was submitted. Can anyone involved with the Slavic Roots project help?

Thanks,

~Skip

by Skip Magyar G2G6 Mach 1 (15.6k points)
Skip, there is a sub-project for Slovak roots.  It doesn't seem to get the recognition the others do; we need to work on that.
Nan,

I was referring to the Slavic Roots Project homepage shown here:

 https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Project:Slavic_Roots

No Slovak or Carpatho-Rusyn sub-projects shown. Are you able to locate the page I put together for Carpatho-Rusyns?

Thanks,

~Skip

Skip,

Yes, I know.  There is a Slovak Roots project, but it's not recognized at the top of the page. You have to scroll down (5.6 on the contents list), which you might not do if you don't already know there is one. 

I did a freepage search and found your page for Carpatho-Rusyns in America, is that the one you're looking for?

 https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Carpatho-Rusyns_in_America

Nan,

Thank you very much. I'm afraid I don't understand much about freepages, projects and categories and how they all work but I am teachable. LOL

Sorry, I didn't scroll down far enough to find the Slovak Roots Project Page but when the "Top Level" is Slavic Roots it seems a little odd not to have Slovak listed at the top of the page alongside their Polish, Ukranian, et. al. brothers.

Also I really believe we should have Carpatho-Rusyns included there as a sub project as well. Do you act as or know who is the administrator of these groups. Someone was going to help me last year but I can't remember who it was. Any help or advice you can offer will be greatly appreciated. 

Thanks again for all your help,

~Skip

I totally agree that Slovak Roots should be at the top with the rest. But no, I'm not an administrator, just working on my late husband's ancestors from Slovakia.

If you go to the Slavic Roots project page, under "how to join," it shows the two leaders. I think you should contact them.  Good luck!

Hi Skip, my name is Russell, having been Anglicized from the Old Country Name of Rusnock or Runack. in the spellings I have seen.  My great grand father was Michael Ruňak which I believe would be the correct spelling for the last name. So I guess that make me Rusyn as well.

Ja Rusyn byl

+3 votes
It is interesting how people define Slavic. My mother is Hungarian (Magyar) who don’t speak a Slavic language and don’t identify as Slavs, yet genetically they are Slavs and culturally they seem pretty similar. Yet because of a 1200 year old  incursion by a group of Finno-Ugric speaking nomads, they’re forever their own little group.
by Davis Simpson G2G6 Mach 2 (21.2k points)

Davis,

Here's an interesting article that supports my own experience in dealing with those of eastern European heritage.

Hungarians are not Slavic.

"Aside from Austria and Romania, Hungary is surrounded by Slavic nations. So it comes as a surprise to many that Hungarians aren’t Slavic as well. The origins of Hungarians, or Magyars as they call themselves, is a topic of heated debate and fantastical theories abound. Most experts agree that the Magyar tribes originated somewhere between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains in present day Russia. Others schools of thought suggest that Hungarians have a Sumerian/Iranian origin.

Others still promote the idea of a far-east connection with Attila and his marauding Huns, as evidenced by ancient Magyar horsemanship and archery skills. There is also evidence that prior to settling in the Carpathian Basin (where Hungary is now) that the Magyars traded and aligned with Turks and Bulgars.

There certainly is a lot of controversy and some people take the Magyar origin topic VERY seriously. One thing I think we can all agree on: Hungarians are undoubtedly unique!"

Of course after centuries of living in close proximity to one another there is a genetic cross pollination, if you will, among all eastern European ethnic groups. I don't, however, know any Magyars (Hungarians) who claim to be Slavs.

~Skip Magyar 

Nope, Hungarians definitely do not self-identify with Slavs. No way, no how. But they are ethnically Slavs. It's like the English claiming to be Germanic and not the same people as Irish, although the Magyar are far more Slavic than the English are Germanic.

My mother is 100% ethnically Hungarian and I've tested her and one of her brothers at all the companies and Gedmatch. They are overwhelmingly Slavic. They have a tiny percentage of Turkish and Mongolian but so do many other East Europeans.

They do have a small percentage of Finnish and Estonian and many, many 8 to 12 cM matches in Finnland. My mtDNA has 0 difference with several people of both East European and Finnish descent. However, there are no Finns in the family tree. I can trace their family back 400-500 years in the same little cluster of villages in the northeast-Hungary: Bezded, Zahony, etc. This may be crazy, but I chalk that up to the Magyar, who originally came from the forests north of the Ural mountains and are of the same language group as the Estonians and Finns.

However, except linguistically, the Magyar was absorbed by the Slavic population. My Hungarian ancestors are very, very similar culturally to Ukrainians. But identity-wise, there is no way they would call themselves Slavic.

Davis,

In your first paragraph while referring to Hungarians,  I have to take exception to your statement, "But they are ethnically Slavs." Hungarians are ethnically Hungarian. The population of Hungary is over 93% ethnically Hungarian with other ethnic groups like the Roma at 3.2% and the Germans at 1.9% along with others like Bulgarians, Croats, Armenians, Serbians, Slovaks, and others making up the rest of the population.

Also you later state that, "However, except linguistically, the Magyar was absorbed by the Slavic population." Again I must disagree. The exact opposite occurred when the  Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled Central and Eastern Europe between 1867 and 1918. The Empire's policy was one of Magyarization. This was the government's attempt to have all non-Hungarian inhabitants of the Empire adopt the Hungarian culture and language. Social pressure and coercive policies were put in place to force assimilation but they were only marginally successful. The name Slavs as a term for the Slavic peoples comes from the Byzantine word for "slave." For most of their history the Slavs were serfs, unable to own property, and then simple peasants without political power.

~Skip

I used the incorrect word. I meant their autosomal, genetic ethnicity. Magyar do have western Christian religion, some distinct customs, and a non-Slavic language. 

The English are ethnically distinct from the Irish and the Scots as well but genetically, not so much. Calling the Irish and Scots Celtic and the English Anglo-Saxon is a matter of self-identity and like with the Hungarians and the Slavs, I'm not really sure it can be justified on any objective measure. 

However, self-identity is what is important here. But my DNA ethnicity will still come back as Slavic, not Hungarian. 

Hi Davis,

Thanks for the clarification. I suspected that semantics was clouding my understanding. Below I have posted the latest estimates (they continue to refine them) of my genetic ethnicity as determined by Ancestry's atDNA (autosomal) test. As you can see Hungary & Slovakia are listed together under yet even more general categories. A thousand years plus of living side by side in the Carpathian Basin and the inevitable intermarriages have watered down or homogenized the original gene pools. Also I have to wonder whether or not that particular DNA test will ever be capable of differentiating between those two groups. I have also taken the following tests at Family Tree DNA, Family Finder which is their atDNA test, Y-DNA111 and their mitochondrial DNA test.

I've found lots and lots of new cousins through DNA testing  but often determining the genealogy that actually connects us is not possible.

~Skip

Despite what the DNA companies would have you believe, ethnicity is not genetic. It is a self-determined category closely related to (but not at all the same as) language and geography.

Because neighbors can interbreed a whole lot more easily than people who live far apart, there is a correlation between location and DNA, but equating the resultant groupings with ethnicity is sloppy thinking at best, and doesn't work at all in places as mixed as the Carpathian Basin.

The DNA testing companies are not currently able to tell one eastern or central European from another. Ancestry doesn't even try; 23andMe does, and gets it completely wrong. (It suggests that I'm most likely to have ancestors in the past two centuries from Poland. I have zero ancestors from Poland, going back at least 250 years.) If they improve their databases of reference samples, the various companies may eventually get to the point of being able to correctly identify a county or region that a person's ancestors came from, but 17th-18th century settlers will continue to confuse matters.

J, I certainly get your point and agree with you. Like Celts, Slavs is a very old group and it likely describes some shared cultural and technological characteristics rather than tribal or even linguistic characteristics. Modern-day Slavs are distinguished by religion, culture, and a common language group

Skip, as far as different Eastern European groups - I think it is possible. They just need many more data points. Ancestry pegs my mother's 200-year-old ancestry pretty much exactly when they utilize user data and family trees. I suspect there are some autosomal distinctions in there as well. 23andme likewise puts her in Hungary, although they don't use Hungarian as a genetic "ethnicity".
The Huns came from what is today, modern Mongolia and eastern Kazakhstan.  From each study I've read, they were a small warrior class that conquered and ruled as a minority, not unlike the Ottomans.  Some of the DNA studies I've read indicated that less than 5% of the Hungarian population today has actual Hunnic DNA traces.  It had always been my impression that the Huns conquered, left their language, and eventually were absorbed by the existing population - not unlike the Ottomans who conquered Anatolia and the Goths who conquered Spain.
There were Celts, Romans, Slavs, Huns and more Slavs in the Carpathian Basin in the first millennium, the Huns being about in the 4th to 6th centuries. I doubt any Hunnish DNA survived from then.

The Byzantine Empire and their Turkish allies forced the Magyar west into the Carpathian Basin about 895AD. The Magyar language is actually the same language group as Finland and Estonia, not Turkish at all. I also see Finnish DNA traces in our autosomal and mtDNA, although proving that is Magyar is far more problematic. They Magyar certainly acted a lot like the Huns, though, and were a terror to the region for a hundred years.

Then Cuman nomadic tribes settled in Hungary about 1089. My mother and uncle have some Turkish and Mongolian DNA (about 1% and 1%) on 23andme and formerly on Ancestry before they lumped them to 95% Slavic.

Lumping everything into Slavic leads me to think Ancestry regards the mix of DNA in Hungary as yet indistinguishable from its neighbors, including the nomadic traces. But I think that's a lack of samples. If they can split up the English and Irish, they can certainly split up the Hungarians and Russians.
Hungarians are cool. Hungarians and a Finnish sub-populace are of the same root stock. No way are Hungarians part of whatever geopolitical group they happen to be drawn into.
+3 votes
I do.  My population percentage based upon DNA indicate I am 12.1% Zaporizhian Cossack from Ukraine.
by Robert Grosse G2G Crew (320 points)
+3 votes
Yes! My grandmother was born in Moravia.  It was part of Austria at the time but now Czechia.
by Thom Anderson G2G6 Mach 3 (31.5k points)
+4 votes
Yes.  Paternal grandfather was born in  Lublin, Poland.  Maternal great-grandparents were both born in Cieplice, Galicia and Lodomeria (Austria-Hungary).
by Peter Bec G2G Crew (320 points)
+5 votes
My roots are 100% Serbian, however that now involves several modern countries (Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia) as well as former ones (Yugoslavia, Austro-Hungarian Empire).  I am also aware of at least one established branch in the New World (Guatemala and Mexico), and notes of past relations moving to Argentina and the United States.
by Jelena Serovic G2G Crew (350 points)
+3 votes

Here are Ancestry's latest estimates of my ethnicity based on their autosomal DNA test:

Eastern Europe & Russia.                     54%

Poland, Slovakia, Hungary & Romania

*Hungary & Slovakia

*Eastern Slovakia & Southern Poland

Ireland & Scotland 19%

England, Wales & Northwestern Europe 15%

Sweden 7%

Germanic Europe 3%

Baltic States 2%

The Sweden component, as best as I can determine, dates back to the time of the Vikings and their forays along the Volga River.

Ja Rusyn Byl,

~Skip

by Skip Magyar G2G6 Mach 1 (15.6k points)
edited by Skip Magyar
Hi, what type of DNA testing / which company did you use to get this finer distinction between European ethnic groups?

I am a Afrikaner Boer in South Africa, although most people think we are of only Dutch decent, in reality our Afrikaner Boers consists out of many different European bloods. Based on my family tree alone, over 500 years, I have German, Flemish, Dutch, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Ukrainian and potentially Russian forefathers/ mothers.  

I would like to do a detailed DNA test which could give me an estimated % of  my DNA makeup across the different European ethnic groups.pl are can you advice me on suitable DNA tests?

Jaco,

I have a long standing practice of not making recommendations for any professional genealogical services or products. I am, however, happy to suggest a course of action.

I would choose 3 or 4 companies out the top 10 or so doing genealogical DNA testing and ask them if the particular test you are considering is able to differentiate between Flemish and Dutch or between Norwegian and Swedish. In other words make sure that the results will meet your expectations. At present, given the state-of-the-art, in DNA testing I'm not sure that is realistic. 

Also I agree with J Palotay who posted above. These are genetic tests trying to predict ethnicity by looking for clusters of similar results in a geographical location. Statistically acceptable in a broad brush scenario but suspect when a finer granularity is needed (expected.)

DNA cannot tell you what language I speak or what religion I practice or if I celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve (Italian custom,) all important factors in determining my ethnic background.

I wish you luck my friend,

~Skip

+4 votes

Maternal Great Great Grandfather (HORNYAK/HORNICK) immigrated 1870's from "Hungary", what is listed on his naturalization papers & most Census records, however, the family has always said Czechoslovakia. My 23&Me DNA test pinpointed my Eastern European genes to Kocise, Slovakia (which is right on the Hungarian Border) and Podkarpackie, Poland (Lesser Poland).  The Polish may be from my German Paternal Grandmother, though.  Thanks!

by Kimber Dascani G2G Crew (410 points)

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