It’s said we cannot know where we are going unless we know where we’re coming from, yet I hesitated participating in a genetic study to learn more about my ancestors. Echoes of “Big Brother” holding my most intimate of data – my chromosomes – and I was worried they’d re-engineer them to create a conquering army (it’s been done, you know, a long time ago). The request came from our daughter, and our family’s most successful author (brag), as she is doing her own research on her/our backgrounds. I spit in the tube and dropped it in the mail after remembering the amount of my blood that’s flowed in hospitals and donation sites.
Before the results, this is what I knew about the family tree: diddly squat. The Bride is our in-house ancestry researcher, and she found my family’s strong European roots, including a direct line to the American Revolution (hey, DAR, how you doin’?) and a Civil War doctor (Union, natch). Frankly, I’ve never been interested either way. Her work was interesting, but nothing changed the fact that I’m a tight-ass white guy.
Then the results rolled in. And they were a tad unexpected.
Here’s Generations One and Two from the 1900s. Nothing weird. Yet.
Generations Three, Four, and Five from the 1800s. Did not see that coming.
Recapping: when my ancestors weren’t trying to kill each other, they were having sex. There’s a thin line between love and hate, you know.
Then my ancestry went north, south, east, and west.
As you see below, the genetic percentages for some of these folks is fairly small, but, hey, let’s hear it for my randy great-grandparents.
The reality check here is not where my ancestors may have called home, but where they conceived and raised their descendants. It’s possible my ancestral lands are in Africa, Scandinavia, and Italy, but I think it’s more likely my ancestors were ashore in Europe and the Americas, and in tragic conditions (slavery and/or as indentured servants).
It’s likely they looked to the sky and prayed for a better life for their children and grandchildren, one of freedom and choice, and with less pain in their children’s lives than their own. If true, Grandmothers and Grandfathers, those of us in the 21st Century thank you for your strength, perseverance, and sacrifice. We thrive because of you, and now that I know you, you will never be forgotten. God bless.