It’s in my DNA

We attended a local food/local history event in town recently and I was a winner in a drawing for a free DNA test from Ancestry.com.

So I mailed off some of my spit to them. Last week the results arrived.

Ancestry

So it seems my origins are mostly British. In fact, as it turns out I have slightly more “British” DNA than the average native Brit.

I was somewhat surprised at the results. I was expecting at least a little France in me, and I wasn’t expecting any Scandinavia. But thinking about it, I realize now that it shouldn’t have been surprising.

I knew I was half Scottish. All four of my mother’s grandparents came from Scotland. Once here they proceeded directly to the Appalachian mountains, already populated with their countrymen, and became quintessential hillbillies. A couple of generations later my mother came down out of the mountains to live with her sister who, like so many poor people of that day, had taken a job in the cotton mill.

She met my father at a movie theater in town and soon afterwards they eloped. His American ancestors had been here much longer, and all of them had lived within a 100 miles or so of this farm. The original American Guerrant was a Huguenot refugee in 1700, settling with other displaced French Protestants in the Huguenot settlement at Manikintowne, near present day Richmond. But that French blood was diluted over the centuries by English and Irish forebears, leaving me with very little French DNA to go along with my French surname.

The Scandinavian DNA is common in Scotland and parts of England and no doubt came along with my British ancestors. The report identifies as “trace regions” North Africa, Iberian peninsula, Western Europe, Finland, Italy and Greece. The “trace regions”aren’t considered reliable and in this case seem unlikely as there have never been any Spanish, Italian, Greek, Finnish or North African people here. Of course it’s possible that some European ancestor contributed these traces.

DNA testing technology is rapidly improving. Maybe in a few years we’ll be able to just spit into a test tube and a computer will print out our family tree.

The ethnicity results were interesting, but what I found even more fascinating is that report also identifies hundreds of people in their database who have posted their family trees on the site and to whom my DNA reveals I’m related. Someday, when I have the time, it will be interesting to connect with them. Maybe I’ll discover the answers to some family mysteries.

But this is the busiest time of the year on the farm. It’s light at 5 a.m. and doesn’t get dark till after 9:00. Even with all that time, I can barely keep up. I’m digging up literal roots these days. The other kind will have to wait till winter.

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