Looking at ourselves and the world through the lens of the 21st century.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Knowing Where You Come From

Where do I come from? I can give you the easy answer. I come from Vernon, Texas. That’s where I was raised. That’s where my mother and my grandparents and their parents were raised. My mom’s side of the family could even say that they are a founding family of the Vernon, Texas area, a blink-and-you-miss-it town off Highway 287 on the way to Colorado from Dallas. That’s where I come from. But, what is in my DNA? I had always heard that my family was Irish; more frequently, I was of Native American descent.

My father was always interested in genealogy and instilled that interest in me at a young age. Before the internet was a massive thing, my dad and his cousins, Bob and Lavonna, kept a notebook with paper records of our family tree as far back as they could research. When Ancestry.com launched in 1996, it wasn’t long before my father had a membership. He worked off and on for years building our family tree.

In the summer of 2015, I moved to Eagle Mountain, Utah, and lived there for eight months. While exploring Salt Lake City, I discovered the Family History Library. When I walked in, I was greeted warmly by the attendants and asked to be seated in the auditorium for the next presentation. The other patrons and I were shown a video on ancestry and the Family Library. Afterward, we were escorted to a large computer lab and assigned a computer. Attendants helped us make a FamilySearch account and assisted us in building our family tree.

I wasn’t sure, at first, how to get started but an attendant sat with me and showed me how to search and get real results on FamilySearch. After hours of searching and building, I left the library with a partial family tree built. I returned to the library several times that summer to work on my family tree and talk with the attendants. My family history was fascinating to me. I knew a few names and origins, but I wanted to know more.

A few years later, I received a free trial for Ancestry.com and began to transfer my family tree from FamilySearch to Ancestry as well. I also was able to discover my late father’s Ancestry account. More of my family members also made Ancestry accounts and we were able to compare family trees and connect. My cousin Lavonna and her husband Tommy sent in their Ancestry DNA kit a few years ago to discover Tommy’s birth family. Lavonna also discovered that we had a cousin named Mary, an unknown child of my uncle Kenneth’s. That discovery made me want to try Ancestry DNA.

While doing research for the podcast, I finally purchased an Ancestry DNA kit, and my results were somewhat surprising. Although two of my great-grandmothers were reportedly full-blood Cherokee, my results did not show any Native American DNA. I was also under the assumption that I was mostly Irish, especially on my father’s side, but I am actually almost equal parts English, Northwestern European, and of Scottish descent. I am only 11% Irish. What surprised me the most was that I am 5% German.

As I developed my family tree more, I discovered more things about my family:
  • My family only spent a generation in Northern Ireland and before that, we were in Scotland.
  • My family was not only Scottish, but they were Lowland Scottish Gypsies (or Romani).
  • My family has royal ties in Scandinavia.

The more I look into my family, the more I hope to discover. In the meantime, I want to hear from our readers. Have you bought a DNA kit through Ancestry or a competing company? Did you get any interesting results? Let’s continue the conversation below!

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