Question of the Week: Do you have Eastern European roots?

+12 votes

No photo description available.Do you have Eastern European roots?

Share your answer here and/or on our Facebook page.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)

Here are our some of "Eastern European projects" if you want to join.

Slavic Roots

Polish Roots


Hungarian Roots 

Jewish Roots

The result of my DNA test shows 7,8 % Eastern Europe DNA.

I have 2 proven ancestors, Jan I and Jan II, Dukes of Brabant and Limburg. Their possible ancestors include Béla I Arpad, King of Hungary and Yaroslav The Wise, Grand Duke of Kiev and Novgorod, their daughters are the link to Brabant.

I don't have any recent ancestors with Eastern European blood, so the DNA seems to come from them.....I can't explain it otherwise.
Definitely! 44% Eastern Europe and Russia which is narrowed down to Eastern Slovakia. But we can’t narrow down where else because each census has a different place named... Galicia, Hungary, Austria, Russia, Slovakia. We believe one (surname Fotta/Fota/Fetco) is from Hrabkov, Slovakia but haven’t traced further in that village. Other surnames include Komar, Fila, Nostar, Homza, Melodec/Melodetz, and Vislovsky.
My ancestors are Wends from Lusatia ( which is now part of Germany. The name is Lewitzka.

It was often mis-spelled and became Levitzke in Australia..Their History is revealed in "In Search of a home" by George Nielsen. Love to  contact other family members.

25 Answers

+9 votes
About 11% are from Eastern Europe, but I only know this through DNA testing and I have no first or last names for any of the Eastern European ancestors.
by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2m points)
Which DNA company or admixture calculator gave you the 11% number? Have you uploaded your file elsewhere to see what other companies/calculators say? You may be surprised at the extreme variability.
Family Tree DNA
That's the one company I haven't been able to upload anything to -- they declare my name invalid, so I can't make an account. (I don't know whether the problem was the hyphen or the diacritic. My patience for being called "invalid" is highly limited.)
I'd retest with 23andMe if I were you, Frank, it's ethnicity calculators are better.


If you are doing DNA testing for genealogical reasons then FamilyTreeDNA is by far the BEST. They are not only very accurate but they are the only company still offering separate Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. 23andme has a different agenda.

I have tested with Family Tree and found that they  do not match other companies. I found 23 and me and Living DNA to match the closest. Living DNA is out of England.
+7 votes
Most of my family traces back to CEE including the slavic states of Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Austria!
by Steve Harris G2G6 Pilot (337k points)
+7 votes
37%! My maternal grandfather's family were from Galicia.
by Christina Jobe G2G4 (4.3k points)
+7 votes
All of my known ancestors were born in the Carpathian Basin. It's smack dab in the center of the continent, but most categorizations call it "Eastern Europe". (Admixture calculators have all sorts of trouble with it, of course, because it has been settled and re-settled by people from all over the place over the last millennium or so; the various DNA companies classify me as 19.8%, 53.8%, or 66% EE.)
by J Palotay G2G6 Mach 4 (43.3k points)
+6 votes
My maternal grandfather was from Bohemia and he arrived in the USA just before WWI.
by David Hughey G2G6 Pilot (725k points)
+7 votes
My roots are in the Austrian and Prussian Partitions of Poland and my wife's lines are from south Bohemia. Most daunting challenge: deciphering records written by a priest with bad handwriting. Most exciting challenge: scrolling through digitized Czech archive records on-line for free!
Yes! I found my great-grandmother's birth record there, so exciting! Now I'm looking for some help with some census records with a lot of side-notes I can't decipher...
Where do you find Bohemian records online? Any suggestions to find someone with Bohemian roots?
Brian, I was able to research my line five or six years ago. has records online for Bohemia, also try the National Archive Czech Republic. I was able to find birth records for my grandparents and great grandparents.

There are also regional archives that have records on line. There are not always easy to use.  You may try contacting the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society in St. Paul,MN.
Thanks. I will check those out, some of which I've tried before.  Trying to find ancestors of my GGP Joseph Holy (or Holly) and Mary Zachek (or Zacek) both from Bohemia and lived in Wisconsin after immigrating with their parents in the late 1860's or 70's.

My research so far was around the Prague area, the Prague City Archives are very extensive, including birth, marriage  death and census records. I also found very useful the Militar Almanach Schematismus (Annual listing of the Bohemian and lately Austro-hungarian Empire) because several of my ancestors were career military men. The volumes for several years in the XIX century are for free in Google Books. You can try also Hungaricana ( they have a lot of records from the Austro-Hungarian Empire times.

Interesting new sources; thanks for the tip. It would also be nice to find out when and which armies were marching through our ancestral south Bohemian villages; could be the reason for some of the fatherless birth entries in church records. And how could an invading army not affect our ancestors' lives?

To use the Czech archives, you're going to need to know your ancestral village. I've had some luck with Czech language newspaper obituaries in that respect. Here in Chicagoland, the Denni Hlasatel is indexed by name and the microfilm is available to view as well.

I'm not sure how far along you are in your research, but here are links to two south Bohemian archives:

Trebon (very user firendly):

Plzen (Pilsen)

There are plenty of aids to help you decipher the script which is some form of Czech, Latin, or German depending on the location of the village and years of the records. This is a nice site for beginners, but I still refer to the various dictionaries.

A nice cheat sheet to changes in script is essential since the Czech language, esp. spelling and handwriting, changed significantly over the years that the records span.

Have fun. The longer you work at it, the easier it gets.

C Behrendt

As written above - you need to know the village your ancestors were from. And then go to select proper region, search for proper village...

Some reegional archives are user friendly, some less. In some villages there exists index, so you can search there first.

Sometimes it is very hard even if you know proper location and know language. Some villages are not included, some records are unreadable, some are not digitized yet.. Searching in bigger towns is harder, but even in villages there are often many families with same surname.

One of my ancestors was from very small village, only 10 houses, but there were 2 families with same surname (and not brothers)
Guess I've got a lot more digging on my father's maternal grandparents in US records as all I've found to date is just Bohemia (no other location). And since they lived in Wisconsin, it's hard to get information on-line and there were also similar families with the same names in each of the families. and to make it harder, I haven't come across and DNA matches to help.
Check out this site for the Leo Baca Czech Immigration Books. You might find them on-line, but the hard copies are available near me. If you think it would be helpful, I would check out any surnames for you at the library which is one suburb over from me. You might get lucky with a ancestral village this way. Bohemian families with the same last name and same first names? Let me guess: Frank, Anton, Joe, and Marie.
+6 votes
My mother's father's family is from what is today Buzias, Romania. At the time of their emigration it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Their ethnic identity was Hungarian. They spoke a dialect of German.
by Kathryn Rice G2G Crew (380 points)
They would likely be considered Danube-Swabian Germans.  Tens of thousands were exiled after WWII and sent to Germany, as retribution for what the Germans in Germany had done.  They were shipped, sometimes in cattle cars, to Germany where they had no connections and just dumped there, in a country reeling with massive devastation and unemployment.

A forgotten piece of WWII history.
Nope, they weren't Donau-Schwaben and they emigrated prior to WWI. They were ethnic Hungarian. There were minority Hungarian communities in the Transylvania region at the time.  Thanks for the post-WWII history. I didn't know that fate of the D- S.
+7 votes
I don't but my 3 oldest children who have yet to be DNA tested possibly do from their father. He was the first in his family born in New Zealand but his parents were born in Holland. His mother's family I have reason to believe my have been half Jewish as his grandmother, Oma (Dutch) talked about having to hide the children in the attic during WWII and steal food scraps from the Restaurant where she worked to feed the children, while her husband was "in a camp".
by Sarah Jenkins G2G6 (9.1k points)
tbf, a lot of non-Jews were in camps, whether they were Resistance, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, Slavs, Communists, Roma/Gypsies, or just plain refused to cooperate in some way. One very famous victim of the Holocaust, Maximilian Kolbe, was a Roman Catholic priest who volunteered to take the place of a stranger and was killed at Auschwitz.

The Dutch have some of the best genealogy records on Earth, so with a little research you should be able to determine the truth.
+6 votes

23andme DNA says I must have. The first candidate for this is an ancestor born about 1635 from Bohemia. He went for study to Franeker, in the Dutch province of Friesland http://[[Dopkewits-2|Bartholomeus Dopkewits]]

ago by Minke Wagenaar G2G3 (3.8k points)
edited ago by Minke Wagenaar
An ancestor born in the 1600s is pretty unlikely to be showing up in your DNA in a classifiable/localizable way. What percentage does FTDNA give? If it's below 5%, and isn't supported by anything on paper, it's likely to be noise -- admixture calculation is guesswork, not scientific fact.
FTDNA is 23andme-DNA. That their 'guess' is true, I don't know. 23andme changes in time, because their data is growing. They also state that I have Scandinavian 23,5 % and British Irish 15,4%. This may be a result of all the Frisians that emigrated to the USA-Canada and mixed up with Scandinavian, British and Irish people. All my ancestors up to 1750 are Frisian people - documented.
OTOH, Dopkewits sounds like a Slavic name.
Consider Dopkiewicz or more likely Dąbkiewicz in Polish.
Please read all the research for this particular person, done by the Dutch Roots Project. If you can add to this, be welcome ;-)
This was my idea at first too, but the research of the Dutch Roots Project showed another region as most likely. Please honor their investigations for this person by reading their reports.
Some fascinating research and history on this profile page. Thanks for guiding me there.
Your welcome ;-), Wikitree is a wonderful world.
+10 votes

Talk to me if your ancestors were ethnically Polish or Ukrainian, and they may have written they were from Austria.  They are most likely from Galicia.

Check out some resources on the category page for the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

ago by Skye Sonczalla G2G6 Mach 1 (19.5k points)

Skye, your work on the Galicia pages are stunning! For the first time in my life, I understand "Galicia" smiley Thank you for all your work.

Skye - you just blew my mind!

My 2nd great-grandfather on maternal side, in the 1905 census listed them as being "from Austria"...
If you have any questions please feel free to message me.  I am happy to help! :)
Thank you Maggie!!!  It's been wonderful to be able to ease the confusion about the whole area! :)
Thanks!  I wouldn't even know where to being.  Haha.  This line is my Brick Wall.  I'm still trying to process what you just told me.  Granted, as a geographer and just educated person in general.. I realized countries changed hands blah blah, but ya know... you start to dig into things and you completely forget about it.  Haha.
+5 votes
My maternal grandmother's parents, both sides, were from the Poznan, Poland region. They emigrated to the U.S. about 1880.
ago by Carol Baldwin G2G6 Pilot (166k points)
I have no ancestors from Poznan so I haven't used this database, but it sure seems worthy of a look. It's called the Poznan Marriage Project, and here's a link to a familysearch page that discusses it.
Thank you! I'll check it out!
+6 votes
Yes. My mother's family identify as Polish, but are from an area that is currently Lithuania and has also been Russia. They changed their last name at some point in time and so it's been difficult to try and track the line.
ago by Danielle Piper G2G Crew (380 points)
+7 votes
I always thought that my maternal family came from Austrian roots, but in the past years I have discovered that a whole lot of them, including my maternal direct line came from Bohemia, nowadays in the Czech Republic. My great-grandmother and her siblings were all born in the outskirts of Prague (today Prague 5). The Czech archives are awesome! (if anyone can help me a bit with XIXs old czech/hungarian handwriting I would be sooo grateful!) .

I'd like to take a DNA test to confirm some stuff but I can't afford it right now. So, hurray for the free access sites! :)
ago by Cristina Corbellani G2G1 (1.3k points)
Glad to share this link with you. I've printed out these script "cheat sheets" and keep them alongside me when I do archives research. What's nice is that this version shows the changes in script over the years. Check how the "č" developed from the more Polish "cz". At some point, the Czechs incorporated more diacritical marks to avoid the long strings of consonants (like in my Polish cousin's almost unpronounceable surname Chrząszcz).
+5 votes
My gr-great grandfather came from the Austro-Hungarian empire but I do not know where. Because of his name I think he was from Czechoslovakia (Covacevich) but the various entries in the federal census state he was from Austria, Trieste, born at sea so who knows. My mother thought he was Hungarian. He settled in Florida about 1837 before it became a state.
ago by Nancy Downing G2G2 (2.5k points)
It is a pretty ubiquitous error in American records to truncate all forms of "Austria-Hungary" to just Austria, and the -vich ending occurs in both northern and southern Slavic languages, so he could've been from somewhere that's now Slovenia, Croatia, or Serbia. (Do any records say Italian? Istria belonged to Venice for quite a while....)
+4 votes
23andMe says I'm 14.8% Eastern European. That's all from my Mom, whose tree mostly traces back to Posen, Prussia (6 of 8 greatgrandparents are Prussian, the other two we aren't sure).
ago by Dave Ebaugh G2G2 (2.2k points)
+4 votes
If 81% Eastern Europe & Russia + 8% Baltic States from Ancestry qualifies, then I have Eastern European roots.
ago by Bruce Opalka G2G Crew (450 points)
+5 votes

My paternal grandparents were ethnically Carpatho-Rusyn. Carpatho-Rusyns (pronounced Kar-PAY-tho ROOS-ins) are an ethnic group that originally settled in a region in eastern Europe known as the Subcarpathian Rus'. This ancestral homeland encompasses parts of southern Poland, eastern Slovakia, western Ukraine and part of northern Romania. So I am by bloodline 50% eastern European. FamilyTreeDNA shows me at 48%. Geographically my grandparents and their ancestors were from present day Slovakia.

ago by Skip Magyar G2G6 Mach 1 (17.8k points)
+3 votes
Speaking of Eastern European, WikiTree has many projects that embraces "Eastern European" ancestry. My own Eastern European comes entirely from my maternal side. It runs the gamut from Volhynia, Russia Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

As for the ethnicity calculations, I found MyHeritage to be be pretty accurate with my paper trail. I actually landed on many active family historians on MyHeritage for Poland and Hungary and brought them over to WikiTree. We have been collaborating; shared pictures and church records. I am not a subscriber anymore (can't afford it) but I keep a basic tree under 200 people of my Eastern European side for free access.

In AncestryDNA, I made a load of connections in 4th cousins matches because many Eastern Europeans immigrated to Canada and the United States. The tricky part of finding them and connecting our trees is invariably, the surname changes. Many Eastern European immigrants alter the spelling of their surnames themselves (NOT at Ellis Island - that's a myth) by a letter or two.
ago by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (752k points)
edited ago by Maggie N.
+4 votes
My great grandparents were from what is today northeastern Slovakia (then part of the Kingdom of Hungary). One of them was Rusyn, sometimes referred to as Rusnaks (Rusyn: Rusnakŷ), Carpatho-Ruthenians, or Carpatho-Rusyns, but not to be confused with Russians. This is an interesting group of people with their own language and culture. The largest population of Rusyns apart from Slovakia and Ukraine is in the US.
ago by Keith Riggle G2G2 (2.6k points)
Skip & Keith, I also have a couple Ruthenian ancestors, further back. It was quite exciting to see it written in the records and also read up on the Rusyn culture and villages in Slovakia (former Hungary).
+3 votes
I forgot to mention that my two biggest Eastern European DNA matches from my Hungary and Russia Poland side found me at WikiTree! I add my "WikiTree Compact Tree link" to MyHeritage, 23andme and AncestryDNA. I also utilized the gedmatch connection here at WikiTree and found many other matches.
ago by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (752k points)

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