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Who Are We Anyway: Tracing Our History

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On ‎8‎/‎3‎/‎2018 at 12:44 PM, Ormond said:

The discussion of Elizabeth Warren in US Politics prompts me to resurrect this thread ---

A couple of months ago I got my results back from Helix (National Geographic) which I used because the biology professors at my university claimed it was the most scientific of the commercial DNA testing places. It does not give breakdowns of % ancestry by specific country but by larger regions (for example, they told me my DNA is 56% "Northwestern European" and 13% "Southwestern European.)

However, Helix also gives you information about your deep all-female line through mitochondrial DNA and, if you have a Y chromosome, your deep all-male line through analysis of that.  I was stunned when I was told my mitochondrial DNA is B2C, which is Native American! 

Like a lot of Southerners, I had a family legend from some second cousins on my maternal grandfather's side that there was Native American ancestry, which with further investigation turns out to be almost surely something originally created as a joke to explain why my great-great-grandfather was an avid hunter. The mitochondrial result of course goes through my maternal grandmother, and no  one ever intimated there was any Native American ancestry on her side.

The furthest back person in my all female line who I have evidence of from official records is my 5-greats-grandmother Mary Holly, the wife of Israel Holly, maiden name unknown. Mary and Israel moved from Orange County, New York to Greenbrier County, Virginia (now West Virginia) in the 1770s or 1780s. I can't find a marriage record for Mary and Israel in Orange County from what's available online, though there are some records for other Hollys of a similar generation. I always thought it was odd for someone to move from the Hudson River Valley to the Appalachians of West Virginia back then, and I now wonder if part of the reason for the move was so that Mary could "pass" as having all-White ancestry when people back in New York knew she was part "Indian." But I am still amazed by this result from Helix.

I am having such a hard time believing this result that I am seriously considering having my mitochondrial DNA fully sequenced by Family Tree DNA, which evidently does the fullest sequencing of both mitochondrial and Y out there. Have any of you used Family Tree's DNA service? What were your results? They seem to be more expensive than other services but seem to be having a 20% off sale in August. 

https://www.familytreedna.com/

I think if my records for my mom and dad were reversed, I would totally do the mitochondrial DNA.  As it is, my mom's lines are fairly well mapped out, and there shouldn't be any surprises from it.  (that is one of the more recent lines to immigrate to the US (mid 1800's from Germany - I have not gone past the couple that immigrated though).

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I just got my results back from ancestry. No real surprises as I read up on the site before hand and knew what to expect. 75% of my "ethnicity" was England / Wales, Northwestern Europe and another 19% Germanic.    I was one of those oops babies whose father isn't who my name is. I found out like 30 years ago but the test confirmed it 100%. My strongest match, over 2000 is to a person with the surname I was told. Several others also showed up on that side of the bloodline so there is no doubt there.

Like many "American" families were were also told that we had Indian blood, and of course I showed 0 in the test, which is not uncommon. I posted some comments about it and a friend of mine has done family tree stuff before and she jumped right in and had me back to my           g-g-g-grandparents on maternal side within a couple of hours and 20 text messages. Furthest back is 1817 birth in Little Rock Arkansas, which also is where the Indian ancestors were supposedly from. However the names as of now don't back that up. We are still digging, well mostly her, I am learning.

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5 hours ago, dbunting said:

I just got my results back from ancestry. No real surprises as I read up on the site before hand and knew what to expect. 75% of my "ethnicity" was England / Wales, Northwestern Europe and another 19% Germanic.    I was one of those oops babies whose father isn't who my name is. I found out like 30 years ago but the test confirmed it 100%. My strongest match, over 2000 is to a person with the surname I was told. Several others also showed up on that side of the bloodline so there is no doubt there.

Like many "American" families were were also told that we had Indian blood, and of course I showed 0 in the test, which is not uncommon. I posted some comments about it and a friend of mine has done family tree stuff before and she jumped right in and had me back to my           g-g-g-grandparents on maternal side within a couple of hours and 20 text messages. Furthest back is 1817 birth in Little Rock Arkansas, which also is where the Indian ancestors were supposedly from. However the names as of now don't back that up. We are still digging, well mostly her, I am learning.

You probably do not have "Indian blood" because most such family legends, especially from the South, do turn out to be false. However, one should also point out that once you get back to the "six greats-grandparents" level, DNA from any Native American ancestor has a 50% chance of having completely "washed out" of your own genome. Once we go back eight generations, all of us are at the point where we have lots of ancestors who have contributed nothing to our DNA profile. 

 

 

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My mom is the genealogist in our family and anyone she can wrangle has sent in their DNA. The breakdown of ethnicities seem to be broadly correct (with our expectations, at least) but it does change as they update their algorithms and gather more data. I've gone from a high percentage of 'Great Britain' to a high percentage of 'German'. I should have both, but the values have varied widely. It's more for finding those DNA connections.

My father found a half-sister that no one knew about. It was a high school pregnancy that was hushed up and the child given up for adoption. The sister herself has passed away, but her daughter has contacted us. She's not really interested in getting to know us, and that's fine, but we were both interested in figuring out the connection. It wasn't clear that the match was his sister at first - we had to track down timelines for my grandfather and his sisters to figure out which one of them was the parent. It was quite a mystery for a bit. It's a good tool, but you have to be prepared for surprises.

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8 hours ago, Ormond said:

You probably do not have "Indian blood" because most such family legends, especially from the South, do turn out to be false. However, one should also point out that once you get back to the "six greats-grandparents" level, DNA from any Native American ancestor has a 50% chance of having completely "washed out" of your own genome. Once we go back eight generations, all of us are at the point where we have lots of ancestors who have contributed nothing to our DNA profile. 

 

 

Update, looks like we are now back one more generation. She found my g.g.g. grandfathers obituary and it lists his father in it, Samuel Dale and gives some info on him. Says his parents were Scot / Irish. Looked him up and he is a big name in Virginian history. Nick named the Daniel Boone of Virginia. Also, sadly, it looks like he and his son were involved in the Indian wars so there is that. He also was a courier to Andrew Jackson, and eventually a Brigadier General.  My friend who is helping said we need to do some digging to be sure this connection is accurate since obituaries from back then can be misleading. For George W. Dale (my confirmed through marriage certificates g.g.g. grandfather) as a Colonel in the army, someone who spearheaded getting Arkansas back in the union after the civil war(which he was in), also says he had many enemies and that his son was killed by an assassin. So...kinda hard to know what all is real.

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, the authenticating is important if you're serious about tracing your lineage. On Ancestry people build speculative and easy trees all the time (not sure how your information is being gathered - not casting aspersions on your friend because the obit sound legit). I tried tracing back a Bradford in my line and so many trees had a link to William Bradford who was the governor of the Plymouth Colony, but I couldn't make the dates match up - mothers giving birth at age 10, marriages that didn't line up - things like that. I'm kind of at a wall in one line because it is highly likely that John's wife Mary is the mother of his first child (recognized in a will), but there are no documents connecting the mother and child. It's frustrating.

Edited by Gertrude

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4 minutes ago, Gertrude said:

Yeah, the authenticating is important if you're serious about tracing your lineage. On Ancestry people build speculative and easy trees all the time (not sure how your information is being gathered - not casting aspersions on your friend). I tried tracing back a Bradford in my line and so many trees had a link to William Bradford who was the governor of the Plymouth Colony, but I couldn't make the dates match up - mothers giving birth at age 10, marriages that didn't line up - things like that. I'm kind of at a wall in one line because it is highly likely that John's wife Mary is the mother of his first child (recognized in a will), but there are no documents connecting the mother and child. It's frustrating.

Yeah my friend is the one keeping me in check, I am quick to just see the name in the obit and trust it. She is going through marriage certificates, obituaries, birth records and death records. She is confident about the George W Dale because she has found marriage and or death certificates with direct links to my maternal Grandmother. The newest one Samuel Dale is where she is telling me to reign myself in a bit. 

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hehe - it's tempting though, I get it :) You see all these sexy names that are important people and you get excited just as you notice that that ancestor's grave is in the wrong state ...

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And of course she was right, or most likely right. Did a little digging and found another article that states that there is no evidence he was ever married or fathered any children, so that kinda kills it! 

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On 3/2/2019 at 4:53 PM, Gertrude said:

hehe - it's tempting though, I get it :) You see all these sexy names that are important people and you get excited just as you notice that that ancestor's grave is in the wrong state ...

When I first started playing around on Ancestry, I was populating a lot of my family tree using other people's existing trees, but as I began noticing children being born 10 years after one or both their parents had died, or woman giving birth in their 70's, and children being born in other states even when there is no indication that their parents ever went more than 10 miles from where they were born, I realized you need to check and confirm everything.   Part of the fun is finding these errors and digging out the truth, whether they were just wrong, or they missed a generation and the parents should actually be grandparents.

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