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MercurialCannibal

Who Are We Anyway: Tracing Our History

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My father has more DNA matches than I do, yet I still can't find anything past his grandparents. I've been making list of surnames I find and tracking the ones in common to see if that helps me any, but so far no luck. 

Makes me want to hire one of their "professionals" but  same as always, money.

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My mother took the 23 and Me test over the holidays. While she knows a lot about her mother's side of the family (we can trace our line back to the Mayflower through my grandmother), her father's side of the family was a complete mystery. My grandparents divorced when she was young, and my grandfather had been very abusive, and after the divorce stopped all contact with his children. His family which was from the South, was never really in contact with my mother or grandmother (who grew up in California and then Washington State).  However there was a long standing family belief that he was of mixed race descent. While my mother is very, very white, she has had a fair amount of African American people ask her if she has African American heritage. This is likely because of her hair, which while a kind of auburn in color, has many of the same characteristics of African American hair. My mother has had a salon refuse to do her hair before because "they don't do black hair". My mother also has very full lips, more then one lady at a make up counter has told her she can't wear bold colors with lips like hers.

Anyway flash forward to last month when she got her results back. It turns out she does have a West African Ancestor, that dates back about 6 generations ago. Which would have been around 1800. It was pretty emotional for her to find out. It doesn't change anything, my mother, and myself are still white with all the privileges that go with that, but I've thought a lot about that ancestor since finding out. 

 

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1 hour ago, Seventh Pup said:

My mother took the 23 and Me test over the holidays. While she knows a lot about her mother's side of the family (we can trace our line back to the Mayflower through my grandmother), her father's side of the family was a complete mystery. My grandparents divorced when she was young, and my grandfather had been very abusive, and after the divorce stopped all contact with his children. His family which was from the South, was never really in contact with my mother or grandmother (who grew up in California and then Washington State).  However there was a long standing family belief that he was of mixed race descent. While my mother is very, very white, she has had a fair amount of African American people ask her if she has African American heritage. This is likely because of her hair, which while a kind of auburn in color, has many of the same characteristics of African American hair. My mother has had a salon refuse to do her hair before because "they don't do black hair". My mother also has very full lips, more then one lady at a make up counter has told her she can't wear bold colors with lips like hers.

Anyway flash forward to last month when she got her results back. It turns out she does have a West African Ancestor, that dates back about 6 generations ago. Which would have been around 1800. It was pretty emotional for her to find out. It doesn't change anything, my mother, and myself are still white with all the privileges that go with that, but I've thought a lot about that ancestor since finding out. 

 

Wow, that's something. A lot of those anecdotal family stories turn out to be absolutely true. The southern US had the most admixing going on--white Europeans, black Africans and Native Americans all mixing together and producing children. 

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4 minutes ago, Crazy Cat Lady in Training said:

Wow, that's something. A lot of those anecdotal family stories turn out to be absolutely true. The southern US had the most admixing going on--white Europeans, black Africans and Native Americans all mixing together and producing children. 

But more of them -- especially the ones claiming Native American ancestry -- turn out to be false. There are just way too many Southerners who claim to have a Cherokee ancestor -- and it is almost always Cherokee, not another Native American nation -- for it to be true for most of them.

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2 minutes ago, Ormond said:

But more of them -- especially the ones claiming Native American ancestry -- turn out to be false. There are just way too many Southerners who claim to have a Cherokee ancestor -- and it is almost always Cherokee, not another Native American nation -- for it to be true for most of them.

I dunno about that. The Cherokee are incredibly admixed. There are Cherokee tribes all over the southeast and Midwest, even in Puerto Rico. 

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5 hours ago, Seventh Pup said:

 

Anyway flash forward to last month when she got her results back. It turns out she does have a West African Ancestor, that dates back about 6 generations ago. Which would have been around 1800. It was pretty emotional for her to find out. It doesn't change anything, my mother, and myself are still white with all the privileges that go with that, but I've thought a lot about that ancestor since finding out. 

 

I can totally relate to this.  Last year at the height of the Syrian refugee crisis, I got my DNA results back and learned that a 4th or 5th generation ancestor was of Mid-eastern origin, specifically, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran.  I found that really odd, so I looked for some historical context and found there were a lot of Syrian refugees coming to the US in the mid-late 1800's.  That has had such a huge impact on me, even without knowing for sure who exactly she was (this is my mom's side, so the males are fairly well documented, but not all the women are. There are several who's last name/parents are not known, and I assume it would have to be one of them).

So it's possible I may not be here if it weren't for a Syrian refugee.  How profound is that?

And that thought is probably one of the main things that has inspired me to activism. 

 

(I know it's a fairly minor thing, one out of 16, or 1 out of 32 grandparents, but still, it took them all to create me)

 

eta: I should add that later as I looked up dates and names, I realized that the person had to have come to the US closer to the 1800 mark, but I still felt the need to stand up for what I believe to be a great wrong.  (there were some immigrants during that time, but they are not as well documented as those who came closer to the end of the 19th century)

Edited by Lany Freelove Cassandra

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Thanks to Ancestry.com I found a big part of my family that I didn't know existed.

I also found out that I was Eastern European almost entirely - like 80% - and half of that is Eastern European Jew, aka Ashkenazi. And yeah, turned out that part of my family that I didn't know was all Jewish too, but they actually knew it. 

Turns out that most of my family on both sides fled Lithuania and Poland and parts of Russia about the same time, largely due to pogroms and other ethnic persecution. Both settled in the midwest, and both had pretty similar lives. And then met each other in Chicago 70 years later. 

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Its crazy how finding out about your past can change your relationship to it. I've always assumed that I had ancestors that owned slaves. Both sides of my family can be traced back before independence in this country. Some ancestors where quite well off, but slaving is not really something that is pasted down in family knowledge the same way noteworthy uncles are. While I don't know for certain, I just kind of assumed that someone, somewhere back there, probably was slave owner. Now I know I have ancestors that also experienced the other side of that. I wonder how they would view me, a white woman who has no real knowledge of them. It makes me very curious to find out who they where.

Ormond we also had a family myth, that I think no one but my grandmother and great uncle really believed that their great great grandfather had taken "an Indian wife" (that part of my family has a pretty extensive family tree but know one really knew anything about this suppose Native American ancestor), no Native American heritage was found in the DNA results. 

ETA

Lany that is very interesting! 

Edited by Seventh Pup

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i love the stories that people uncover. Some are fun and make you think, others aren't as nice, but I think it's still good to know. My mom recently helped an elderly friend with some research that uncovered a sister she didn't know she had. Nothing nefarious, just that her father had a previous wife who died before marrying his second. The child went to live with her parents and he didn't really associate with her. I mean, there's still a lot of mystery there and speculation, but still an interesting find. The elderly friend, btw, is not going to tell the rest of her family. Everyone deals with it in different ways I guess, but I think this is kind of a shame. It's a throwback to an older mindset where you didn't talk about certain things, even within the family. My g-grandmother? had stillborn twins that they had a devil of a time even confirming because no one ever talked about it and pretended they never existed.

And on topic, my mom always thought she had Cherokee blood, but we can't find any trace of it. My dad also thought he had noble blood via family oral traditions, but again, no trace of it. That one's too bad because the story involved being chased by wolves as they fled.

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12 hours ago, Crazy Cat Lady in Training said:

I dunno about that. The Cherokee are incredibly admixed. There are Cherokee tribes all over the southeast and Midwest, even in Puerto Rico. 

Whaaaa? The indigenous people of Puerto Rico were the Arawak, also known as Taíno. The mean ones around there were the Carib. I was born and raised in PR. Never ever have the Cherokee been around. I mean, no offense, but, no. 

Edited by Baitac

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9 hours ago, Baitac said:

Whaaaa? The indigenous people of Puerto Rico were the Arawak, also known as Taíno. The mean ones around there were the Carib. I was born and raised in PR. Never ever have the Cherokee been around. I mean, no offense, but, no. 

I didn't say they were indigenous, only that they're there. 

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1 hour ago, Crazy Cat Lady in Training said:

I didn't say they were indigenous, only that they're there. 

Do you have a good reference for that?

The only site I can easily find on Google that claims that is dnaconsultants.com. They just make the assertion that there is an "organized Cherokee tribe" in Puerto Rico without giving any reference or other evidence. I cannot find anywhere else that makes this claim, and I am very skeptical of a .com site's claim with no further references. 

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13 hours ago, Crazy Cat Lady in Training said:

I didn't say they were indigenous, only that they're there. 

I'm pretty sure they're not, unless they're visiting.

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Count my family as one of those claiming Cherokee ancestry 'somewhere on Papa's side.'  Because my grandfather had few family ties it was taken as a given.  I started questioning it in college when I read an article about just how many people had the same claim.  I got married and my wife's Grandma swears by the same claim.  They have one side of the family mapped all the way back to England (not the Mayflower sadly, that would be cool).  But somehow they swear the other side has 'surprise' Cherokee.

DNA test says I am Western European.  Like, nothing else  My wife has a small amount of Eastern European mixed with her Dutch and Anglo heritage.

Neither of our Grandmothers trust the results (despite the fact that my wife's mom had the same results).

I did however find someone who had mapped out my namesake back to Germany, which was cool.  As my dad was adopted it doesn't explain my heritage but I did learn that I have a great-great aunt named Amazona and now I wish I knew her mother so i could get the name's origin.   

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pretty sure im just celtic all the way through; cornish and welsh and irish; think i even have family from brittany; only thing im missing is some scottish and manx ancestry lol

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I'm betting you have some Scandanavian DNA mixed up in there. Wouldn't be surprised at some Mediterranean or Iberian there as well. I know DNA results like that don't really mean a whole lot, but I find it interesting none the less. It sparks my imagination.

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On 11/21/2016 at 8:26 AM, Crazy Cat Lady in Training said:

 

I think a lot of people are finding out just how much hanky panky was going on back in the old days :D Not only that, but knowing that your ancestors were involved in things like wiping out the Native Americans and owning slaves (among other brutalities) might be hard for some to grasp. 

I think it's a pretty unhealthy attitude. Why should that reflect you as a person in any way that your great great grandwhatever was a slave owner. It's a stain on society as a whole rather than simply a stain on a family tree.

I'm thinking of Ben Afflecks appearance on the fantastic PBS show Finding Your Roots. Most of what they found on his relatives was quite positive but they found one great grandparent that owned slaves. Ben had too much pride and got the producers to omit that part from the show. Of course Ben was found out and the entire show was suspended thanks to Benny's shenanigans. It's since returned but still.

Bad enough when he ruined Daredevil, now almost ruined this great show.

Edited by DunderMifflin

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Tracking back to the early nineteenth century:

Mother's side of the family: Irish Catholic. Seemingly from Ulster.

Father's side of the family: A bunch of agricultural labourers from Somerset.

It's not as boring as it sounds: my great-great-grandfather was a convicted murderer.

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