Scandinavian DNA

I worked on my father’s lines for awhile last week, in the search for Scandinavian ancestors. Denmark, Norway and Sweden are part of Scandinavia. From my father I have inherited 4.9% (he has 12.5%) and from my mother, 2.8% of Scandinavian DNA. The reason I worked on my father’s lines is because most of my paper family tree on his side is complete going back a couple of hundred years, so I thought it would be easier to confirm or rule out.

One of the things that 23andme does is assign a time frame for DNA. It states that my Scandinavian ancestor is most likely my great-grandparent, second great-grandparent, or third great-grandparent who was 100% Scandinavian and born between 1810 and 1870. My father’s report says the same thing but from 1820 to 1870.

I did make a lot of headway in finding some additional ancestors and was able to complete my father’s entire family going back to my fifth great-grandparent level, yay!!!! When I say complete, I mean names, I just still have to record a lot of the important dates into my software program for a lot of the fifth great-grandparents. But yay!!!!

Anyway, my father is mostly Dutch (Germanic French as it is called). As I’ve mentioned before, the Netherlands has excellent records going back centuries, so it is very easy to confirm/verify where an ancestor was born, married and died in the Netherlands. I was able to confirm that every single ancestor of my father’s in that time frame was born in the Netherlands (32 ancestors). There is absolutely no one from a Scandinavian country during that time frame. It’s possible there is one full Scandinavian ancestor in previous generations but it may be difficult to confirm that the further I go. I still have to go through those 64 ancestors, but I already know a lot were born in the Netherlands.

So I started reading more about Scandinavian DNA/DNA testing, wondering if any DNA in the Netherlands could be coming up as Scandinavian DNA.

As a reminder, DNA ancestry tests work by comparing the subject’s DNA with the DNA of individuals who are assumed to be able to stand in for reference populations. When long segments match, they can be assumed to be IBD (identical by descent). It doesn’t really tell you where the segment originates. Since the primary customer base of the commercial testing sites (Ancestry, 23andMe, etc.) are Americans of mixed ancestry, heavily concentrated with European ancestors, the companies are content to use large geographic areas as their reference populations: Britain and Ireland, France and Germany, South Asia, etc.).

I read that Scandinavian DNA is most commonly found in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, of course, but, interestingly, it is also found in Great Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Baltic States, and Finland. Specific to the Netherlands, between the 9th and 11th centuries, the Vikings raided and settled in that area. Around the year 879, Friesland, which is part of the Netherlands, fell quickly under the control of the Vikings. The heavy Norse presence is evidenced in the high percentage of Scandinavian DNA in the northern area of the Netherlands there, as well as Zeeland and the province of Holland. This came from the MyHeritage website, citing Britannica’s “History of the Low Countries”.

Friesland is in the very northern area of the Netherlands. The Verkruissen line, my father’s mother’s family, are all from Friesland, going back to the 1700s, beginning with my great-grandmother, Jacoba Verkruissen. I have read that if the Scandinavian DNA is over 20%, that large of an amount probably would indicate a more recent ancestor. However, being a smaller amount, it is probably an inheritance of small amounts from different ancestors.

So perhaps the Scandinavian DNA comes from that line because of the location, and maybe it is an inheritance from the great-grandparents and great-great grandparents?

Of course, we have to always remember that it’s all an estimate, and the ancestry companies interpret this information from comparing the subject’s DNA with the DNA of individuals who are assumed to be able to stand in for reference populations. So we can’t really completely rely on it unfortunately. But as the testing companies become more advanced at it, it will become more exact. I’m not sure when that will be but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Until it’s all figured out one day, here’s one interesting article on Dutch DNA:

Believe it or not, I’m not nearly done with DNA testing although I’ve tested at two different companies. This time I’m not doing autosomal testing, which is what most do, but mtdna testing, testing specifically the matrilineal line, my mother’s line. Every woman passes down her mitochondrial DNA to her children, but only females continue to pass that down. It’s like y-dna for males. More about that in a future post!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday Weddings – Jan Verkruisjen and Janke de Graaf

These are photos of records from 1845 from the Netherlands from the marriage of my paternal great-great-great-great grandparents, Jan Verkruisjen and Janke de Graaf. Jan and Janke were married on December 28, 1845 in Leeuwarden, located in Friesland. Jan was 27 years old, and worked as a “koopman”, which means “merchant”, and Janke was 22 years old.

I found these on one of my favorite websites, WieWasWie.

(Ignore the left page)

I’m confused about the names, but Dutch names confuse me. Is it Jankese Graaf or Janke de Graaf? I’m guessing Janke was a shortened version of Jankese but why are they different on the marriage record?  Surnames can also be confusing. I know many surnames used prefixes, like “de”, which means “the”. When I read about Dutch surnames, I found out they did not become mandatory in the Netherlands until 1811, when Napoleon required them, so then everyone had to choose a surname, which could be absolutely anything. Many chose the patronymic surname their male head of household was using, others chose surnames based on their occupation, place of origin or other things. According to some resources, De Graaf is an occupational surname, and was the most common name in 2007. It means “the count”. It also appears Verkruissen was actually Verkruisjen way back when and the Americanized version became Verkruissen.

Thanks for reading!


Two of my more difficult family lines have been the Kros and Verkruissen lines, my paternal great-grandparent lines, so I was working on those a little bit last week. I was really focusing on where some of the Kros family ended up and if two Kros brothers married two Verkruissen sisters (hence the title).

I already knew that my paternal great-grandparents, John and Jacoba (Verkruissen) Kros were married in 1900 in Roseland and settled there (see my April 21 post). I also already knew that both of them came from the Netherlands. I was doing some research on the website WieWasWie, which is owned by the Center for Family History in The Hague in the Netherlands that has made all Netherland birth, marriage and death records accessible to the public (fantastic website!). This is where I found that Jacoba has a sister named Janke, and also where I found that Janke was married to a Kornelius Kros. At first I thought it was a mistake, but you’ll see as I go on that it wasn’t.

It’ll help if I begin with the parents of each:  John’s parents are Kornelius Kros and Lena Slagboom; Jacoba’s parents are Jan Verkruissen and Antje Koopmans. I have known this for a long time and there are multiple resources confirming this.

So this is what I found — the marriage record of Janke Verkruissen and Kornelius Kros which took place on March 29, 1893 in Haarlem, North Holland. Janke’s parents are listed as Jan Verkruissen and Antje Koopmans, and Kornelius’s parents are listed as, you guessed it, Kornelius Kros and Lena Slagboom.

Here is the record transcript of it:

Here’s a closeup of the signatures from the marriage certificate:

So now we know that John had a brother Kornelius (later Cornelius) who was married to Jacoba’s sister, Janke. My father doesn’t remember hearing this in the family but this really is going a long way back.

Here is a clip from their immigration record — Cornelius, Janke, and John (originally Jan in Dutch) sailed together from Liverpool, England on June 8, 1893 on the Parisian, and arrived in Quebec, Canada, with their port destination being Kensington, Illinois. I’ve almost given up on finding Jacoba’s immigration record, she came separately a different year and I’ve tried all different name variations and searches. The only way I found this immigration record was by using a Soundex search for the name Janke Verkruissen and it happened to be listed under the misspelled name of Verkruistsen, and thinking she came from the Netherlands, decided to look at the record anyway even though it was from Liverpool. Also, what a person reports on census records for their immigration year can be very different than what it actually was. In the 1910 census, they all reported that they immigrated in 1889, which was actually four years off from their actual immigration year. This was quite a find!!

In a future post I’ll discuss more of this line and how part of it splits off to Indiana.

Wednesday Weddings — John and Jacoba Kros

No, I don’t have a photo from the marriage of John and Jacoba (Verkruissen) Kros but I do have a clipping from the Chicago Tribune of them having applied for their marriage license in Cook County. Recently, my father told me about a free weekend the Trib was having and I ran to the computer to see what I could find. I enlarged the clip because it’s a little hard to see —

This was from the June 13, 1900 edition and they were married the day before in Roseland. John was 33 years old, and Jacoba was 24 years old. Per the 1900 census, they were living with John’s brother and his wife, Cornelius and Janke (Jennie) at 10459 Michigan Avenue.

Although I don’t have a wedding photo, here is another photo of them when they were older. Don’t they have nice faces? Thanks for the photo Dad!!

More about the women — Jacoba Kros

In genealogical research there is generally more information on the lives of husbands than wives because wives were busy inside the home taking care of the children and house. This picture made me think about this woman’s life. This is Jacoba (Verkruissen) Kros, my great-grandmother on my father’s side, and this is only the second photo of her in existence that I know of. Based on the style of her dress, I’m going to guess it was taken sometime during the 1920s.

Thanks for the photo Dad!!

According to Jacoba’s birth record on “WieWasWie” (“Who Was Who” in Dutch), a website that “contains digitally accessible historical documents and personal data”, Jacoba was born Jacoba Verkruissen on May 11, 1876 to Jan Verkruissen and Antje Koopmans in the Municipality of Barradeel, in the province of Friesland of the Netherlands. According to Wikipedia, Barradeel is a former municipality which existed until 1984, and is now largely a part of Franekeradeel, Netherlands. When I magnify the original document, it appears the father’s name is written in as Verkruisfen, and that he signed it Ver Kruisfen with a space. Prefixes were used commonly in Dutch surnames, which gives me another avenue for research on her father’s line under the name of Kruisfen. Nevertheless the translation of Verkruissen was carried down, as apparent in census records and Jacoba’s death certificate.

Jacoba’s birth record entry is at the bottom left

Jacoba eventually emigrated to the United States and landed in Roseland but there are date discrepancies for her emigration year. On June 12, 1900, Jacoba married John Kros and within a couple of years they had two daughters, Antje (Anna) and Lena, Anna being one year older.

In 1910, census records list the family as residing on Wentworth Avenue, with no further information as to house number or address. In 1920, census records list the family as still residing on Wentworth Avenue, Jacoba was listed as Coba, with her emigration year being listed as 1890. Anna and Lena were still living at home, and it appears John’s brother, Cornelius, was living with them during this time, and a young woman named Cora, 18, who my father said is his daughter.

By 1923, Lena had moved out after having married Simon Ooms, and Anna had moved out in 1926 after having married George Wiersma. Sadly, Anna, died from appendicitis not long after having married George Wiersma. I cannot even imagine the sadness.

In the 1930 census, John and Jacoba are listed as living at 10919 S. Wentworth Avenue — here’s a current pic of the house, which on the outside appears to be in fairly good condition. During this census, Jacoba’s emigration year is listed as 1900.

Thanks for the photo Dad!

In the 1940 census, Jacoba and John are listed as still living at the same house, she was 63 years old and John was 73 years old. According to John’s death certificate, he died that same year on July 5th. His death is listed as chronic myocarditis due to chronic nephritis and hypertension.

1950 census records will not be available until 2022, but I found more information about Jacoba’s later years on her death certificate and also from my father. Jacoba had been a resident in the Ogden Park Nursing Home in Chicago for a year and then Bowman Nursing Home in Midlothian the next year prior to her death, which was on June 10, 1960. Her residence was listed as 10919 S. Wentworth Avenue. She died extremely quickly of a non-traumatic cerebral vascular accident (stroke), twenty years after her husband died.

But this all brings me back to the first photo. What was Jacoba doing that day when this photo was taken? What was she thinking? What was her life in Roseland compared to life in the Netherlands? What was it like to emigrate from another country and how did she adapt to a new country? So many questions I wish I knew the answers to!