Special Report

The Most Unusual Ancestry in Every State

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Kansas
> Most unusual ancestry: German Russian
> Concentration in Kansas of residents with German Russian ancestry: 5.7 times higher than share of U.S. population
> Share of Kansas residents identifying as having German Russian ancestry: 0.04% (Total: 1,272)
> Share of US pop. identifying as having German Russian ancestry: 0.01% (total: 24,617)
> Share of all US residents identifying as having German Russian ancestry living in Kansas: 5.17%

Kansas is one of three states where German Russian is the most unusual ancestry. There are 1,272 people in Kansas who identify as German Russian, or 0.04% of the state population. This share is approximately six times the share of those who identify as German Russian in the overall U.S. population.

A large wave of German Russians immigrated to Kansas in the 1870s. Large settlements of German Russians emerged in Russell County and Topeka.

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Kentucky
> Most unusual ancestry: American
> Concentration in Kentucky of residents with American ancestry: 2.5 times higher than share of U.S. population
> Share of Kentucky residents identifying as having American ancestry: 16.11% (Total: 715,314)
> Share of US pop. identifying as having American ancestry: 6.40% (total: 20,678,613)
> Share of all US residents identifying as having American ancestry living in Kentucky: 3.46%

Some 16.1% of Kentucky residents, or 715,314 people, identify as having American ancestry, more than double the share of the U.S. population identifying as having American ancestry.

Individuals who claim American ancestry are often fourth-generation Americans whose grandparents or great-grandparents were born here. Many are also white Americans who live in the South. An estimated 84.5% of the Kentucky population is white, far more than the 60.2% share of Americans nationwide and among the most of any state.

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Louisiana
> Most unusual ancestry: Cajun
> Concentration in Louisiana of residents with Cajun ancestry: 34.5 times higher than share of U.S. population
> Share of Louisiana residents identifying as having Cajun ancestry: 1.21% (Total: 56,338)
> Share of US pop. identifying as having Cajun ancestry: 0.04% (total: 113,065)
> Share of all US residents identifying as having Cajun ancestry living in Louisiana: 49.83%

About half of all Americans who claim Cajun heritage live in Louisiana. The share of Louisiana residents identifying as having Cajun ancestry is 1.21%, 30 times the share in the U.S. of 0.04%.

The roots of most Cajun people in Louisiana trace back nearly half a millenium to the Acadians — people of French heritage who settled along Canada’s eastern coast. Historically neutral in French and English conflicts in the New World, the Acadians were driven from their home when the British demanded their loyalty in 1754. Acadians who refused to pledge loyalty to the Crown were killed or arrested, but many escaped. By 1784, thousands of Acadians were estimated to have settled in Louisiana, then a Spanish colony.

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Maine
> Most unusual ancestry: French Canadian
> Concentration in Maine of residents with French Canadian ancestry: 12.2 times higher than share of U.S. population
> Share of Maine residents identifying as having French Canadian ancestry: 7.95% (Total: 105,930)
> Share of US pop. identifying as having French Canadian ancestry: 0.65% (total: 2,095,503)
> Share of all US residents identifying as having French Canadian ancestry living in Maine: 5.06%

Almost 8% of Maine residents identify as French Canadian, 12 times the 0.7% share of Americans nationwide who claim French Canadian ancestry. Due to their proximity to their ancestral homeland of eastern Canada — Maine and Quebec share a border — French Canadian Americans may have been able to preserve francophone culture in America to a greater degree than other ethnicities. Some 4.2% of Maine residents today speak French, the most of any language other than English and the largest share of French speakers in the country.

French Canadians are an ethnic group who descend from French colonists who settled in eastern Canada around the 17th century. French Canadians began to immigrate to New England in large numbers for textile and logging jobs in the 19th century, and today the largest shares of U.S. residents claiming French Canadian ancestry are in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

Maryland
> Most unusual ancestry: Sierra Leonean
> Concentration in Maryland of residents with Sierra Leonean ancestry: 14.9 times higher than share of U.S. population
> Share of Maryland residents identifying as having Sierra Leonean ancestry: 0.10% (Total: 5,812)
> Share of US pop. identifying as having Sierra Leonean ancestry: 0.01% (total: 21,003)
> Share of all US residents identifying as having Sierra Leonean ancestry living in Maryland: 27.67%

The share of Maryland residents identifying as having Sierra Leonean ancestry is 10 times the overall share of the U.S. population claiming ancestry from that African nation. Nearly 28% of all U.S. residents identifying as having Sierra Leonean ancestry live in Maryland.

Recent archaeological findings in Anne Arundel County uncovered DNA from former slave quarters that was linked to slaves who were brought to North America from Sierra Leone.