Long Migrations of our Ancestors
While I was rummaging through the internet researching my ancestors, I happened on a geographic DNA project run by the Mennonites. Since my direct paternal ancestors were members of the Mennonite church, I was immediately interested in their results. The members of this group mostly marry within the group, and so many family names can be traced directly back to the time of the Reformation. I was especially interested in our family name “Penner,” which had been changed from “Fröhlich.” Astonishingly, 35 of 36 people tested with this name belonged to the same haplogroup, which means that they have to have been related at some time within the last 500-600 years. Now I wanted to know if I belong to this group, and had a Y-Chromosome test done.
The result showed the haplogroup E3b, which means that I am descended from the first male ancestor of the Penners. The truly surprising part was that the DNA of the Penners showed the most commonalities with Spaniards and people descended from Spaniards. This is especially astonishing as their origins are attested in documents from the Low German-Netherlands region, from where they later emigrated to West Prussian and then in large part on to Russia. Apparently one of my ancestors must have come from Spain before the documentary attestation began. This likely happened when Spain occupied the Netherlands during the 30-Years-War, or perhaps a bit earlier, fleeing from the Spanish Inquisition.
Haplogroup E3b came to Europe via multiple routes, but still the Penner DNA evinces similarities with that of North Africans. They could therefore have come with the ancient sea-faring people the Phoenicians, or with the Muslim Invasion by the Moors in Spain. If this incredible history is correct, my ancestors must have come from North Africa, through Spain, the Netherlands, West Prussia, the Ukraine, Siberia, and Kazakhstan before my grandparents came back to Germany.
Since then, I have had the maternal ancestral line tested by iGENEA, so that I know now that I also have Germanic and Celtic ancestors, confirming European origins. These results certainly show that people of the past undertook amazing journeys.
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Stefan Fröhlich, Germany
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This story has been published on: 12.03.2013
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23.11.2013 - MJ chivers
Hey, my family roots are also Mennonite Penners with the same German Russian stories. Fascinating to see this DNA story.