In 2018, after my grandmother died, I became very interested in my family tree, almost certainly because death has a way of making us reflect on our current lives. It makes us think about who we are, where we came from, and where we’re going.
A month or two later, I paid for the Ancestry DNA kit, and my results returned a few weeks later. The most recent update, which Ancestry.com indicates “the science changes but your DNA doesn’t,” shows my ancestors coming from the following places. This isn’t far off from the original disposition.
When I saw this, I was equally satisfied and surprised. My mother’s side of the family is all European Jewish, and it would make sense that 50% of my DNA comes from those populations. I knew my maternal great-grandmother immigrated to the United States from Poland and that her husband was from somewhere in western Russia, though I didn’t know the exact whereabouts for either. My maternal grandfather told me that, although he didn’t know exactly where his parents came from, he thought they lived in Jewish villages somewhere around southern Germany and Austria. Further research indicated the specific towns my ancestors came from, further supporting the DNA analysis that showed my ancestors’ roots.
But the surprise came from the other side of my lineage: the strong ties to Germany and England. I didn’t know I had that much German lineage and had no idea whatsoever about any ties to Britain. Considering it takes “two to tango,” this lineage obviously came from my biological father, but I didn’t know much about him because he and my mother divorced when I was young. My mom remarried a few years later, and her new husband officially adopted me shortly before my eighth birthday, so my ties with my biological father were cut completely. While I hadn’t spoken to my him since I was a child, I was able to find out information about him, his parents, and our bloodline.
I will write more in depth about the lineage in future posts, as this is purely meant to be introductory, but I will share for now that I have viewed historical documents that in fact show my ancestral roots from the Saar/Lorraine region of southwestern Germany and eastern France. My ancestors there lived in the towns of Saarbrucken, Karlsruhe, and Baden, among others. In England, I found documents that tied my ancestors who lived across southern England, even a few who lived in London. Then, there is the random ancestor who apparently came from Scotland.
Further research indicated I had ancestors from England who emigrated to the colonies of Maryland and Virginia as early as the 1600s, and I’ve been able to track relatives in Germany to the 1400s, thanks to the Germans’ incredible record keeping of births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths.
I had ancestors who served in the Continental Army in the fight for freedom against Great Britain, another who served as a colonel in the militia that fought the French in the French and Indian War, another who served in a Pennsylvania artillery battery during the Civil War, and another who served in the US Navy in World War II.
It was fascinating to learn about my history, and I think it was very much for the $100 for the DNA kit and the $100 for the six months of access to Ancestry.com’s records.
I’ll write more in the future under the “Ancestral Recall” heading and blog tag. If you have ancestry stories of your own, I truly would like to hear about them because I find all of this fascinating, so please let me know.