I previously blogged about my mixed feelings about doing a DNA test. Curiosity and a $100 introductory price tag got the better of me, and I did it. I have had a fair amount of time to explore the test results and how I feel about the whole experience.
First and foremost I am glad I did it. Now I have put my DNA in the world-wide genetic pool, privacy fears and all. May those folks who are making the bucks selling the information however diluted it may be, always remember that any data in the wrong hands can be a dangerous situation. My genetic history and markers have likely reduced me to an anonymous number that is some genetic researcher’s dream. I hope that it will contribute to finding the cause of diseases that prevent kids from becoming healthy adults. Selfishly I could wish to contribute to the cure for Alzheimer’s or cancer; they would be a sucky way to go, but I am lucky I have had a great life. Longer and so much more healthier than many others. Bottom line I made peace with that issue when I sent it in, and there is nothing to undo it so it is, what it is. No do-overs. Onward, enough of the philosophical melodrama.
Did I make any new connections? No, but I never expected to. I have been researching my family off and on nearly 30 years. Not some casual researcher, but someone who is looking for evidence to back up what I put down on paper. I have recorded many legends repeated by Great Uncle, and written by my Great-Great Aunt and Uncle. I have written to strangers. I have conversed with others who have made the trip back to the homelands and investigated even more. I have poured through archives, papers, and photos looking for answers and hints that might prove those legends, but not afraid when the preponderance of evidence is something far different from the legend. I have trace much of my family back through the wars of our country WWI and II, Civil War, War of 1812, Spanish American and even the Revolutionary War. My tree is pretty complete when it comes to names and numbers.
Did I make any ethnic discoveries? I would have to say yes.
First there is the family legend that every serious researcher on my Virtue family side has heard and/or repeated, that we are descendent of a Count from France. Yet none of us have found anything to support this. Serious researchers in our family have pretty much all discounted this as purely fiction. My DNA has told me that there were NO indication of any French blood in my DNA markers. Though DNA is still an evolving science, my DNA and all the research of others who are doing evidence-based family history research give me enough to say this one is fiction. Unless or until someone can bring me a tree with documentation, this is no longer open to debate for me. That we have a count from France in our Virtue history, is pure fiction.
Most of my DNA is based on a heritage from the British Isles. 51% in fact. This is not surprising to me in that my most recent immigrants in my family came from Ireland and England. But also when I trace families who have been here pre-Revolutionary War many of them were also from England, with a few from Scotland sprinkled in.
The remaining results were somewhat more of a surprise to me. Not because they contradict my research results, but I have nothing to support anyone coming from those regions. DNA is different from regular tracing your family roots, it isn’t so much about what country were they from or born in, but also what nations overtook other nations in years gone by. It requires that one look at world history much more than I have done in the past. I am now cursing the terrible world history teacher I had in high school who soured me on the subject. Here are my other DNA roots:
17% Eastern European – I have some names that I have not traced back to the old country or the country of origin really doesn’t seem to match the surname. This puts forth an interesting option to look this direction. But this genetic factor may be no more than remnants of when Alexander the Great was in power, or an invasion of the Ottoman Empire.
8% Southern European – This is another great mystery, but eight percent in many ways is pretty dilute in my mind. I suspect that this could be the results of the during the time of the wide-spread Eastern European influence and invasions. I have to say that Italy, Spain and Portugal were not even on my radar. I am not sure if my descendants came from this area or the genes of my ancestors are just mixed up with a few folks who came from this region
8% Finnish/Volga-Ural – In some ways this all plays in the Eastern European conqueror theory.
16% Scandinavian – Another big blank for me.
What wasn’t there was also surprising. No Germanic heritage. I had some ancestors who came from that region. The interesting part of this is though the surnames of the families don’t really seem Germanic. Were they really Slavic or Scandinavian. The surnames make it possible.
The analytical side of my brain also wants to know how creditable is this woman DNA stuff. I am still a little skeptical, and this really hasn’t made it any more or less so. I have one brother who is genetically the same as me, what would his DNA tell? Would his be the same as mine, or because he is a man, would his be different, carrying different markers? I wish I had won the lotto and money was no option. It would be fun to see what was revealed if siblings both did the test.
My husband whose family for the most part is only a generation or two off of the boat is now interested in seeing what one of these DNA tests would tell about his family. Ancestry is running another $100 special and he just ordered one for himself.
Maybe it is time for me to stop chasing the family stories on this side of the pond for awhile and go back just plain root chasing. I have mastered the fine art of finding history in the US, and looking for my history in the old world countries would give me a whole new set of challenges.
Was it worth it? I have spent $100 getting less feedback when tracing my family history. Skepticism did not cause me to tell my husband I thought he should not spend a $100 to do his, nor if money was no option would I not be thinking of asking my brother to do his. So I suppose yes it was worth it. I suspect as the data pool becomes better, my results may shift or become a little more specific. Don’t it expect DNA to be some great wall breaker, instead it is another tool that may provide an insight, inspire you to dig more, keep you plugging along when things had gotten stagnant in your research or just information for kicks and giggles. It is like everything else in the quest for the past, you never know what you will find, if it will be useful today or in the future. It is only those regrets that we did not check something or ask questions when we had the chance that bug us years later. If you can afford to do, I would say do it.