DNA Tests and Family Mysteries


“We’re Americans, with a capital ‘A’, huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog. We’re mutts! Here’s proof: his nose is cold! But there’s no animal that’s more faithful, that’s more loyal, more lovable than the mutt.” Pvt John Winger (Bill Murray) Stripes 1981

A few weeks back I spit into a test tube and sent it in to see what it revealed about my DNA. I thought that it was pretty clear cut as people on both sides of the family have done a lot of research into the subject even publishing books. Pretty much I am a Mutt.

Now the DNA test revealed some things that I was pretty sure about. According to it about 70% of my DNA make-up comes from the British Isles. I have parts of the family from England, Scotland, Ireland and the Outlaw Josie Wales. That much was pretty sure. We have records of these relationships, some extending back to about 1060 in Scotland on my dad’s side of the family.

My mom had said for years that part of her grandmother’s family was Scandinavian though she did not know exactly where they came from. The DNA test said that about 20% of my DNA was Scandinavian. Now the trick is to find out where they originated and how they got to be part of me.

Finally I was thrown for a loop by the last 10% of the DNA. I expected something out of Western or Central Europe, French or German based on some family histories and speculation, as well as the outside possibility that one of my slave owning ancestors, and yes I had them could have brought some African DNA into the mix. I was prepared for any of those possibilities and none of them bothered me in the least. I thought that they might be fun to research.

However the final 10% of the DNA was Eastern European, which could be the Baltic States, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Hungary, Slovakia or any of the Balkan States. That is a mystery because none of the records or accounts that I have seen indicate any Eastern European ancestry. However it is there and it is a mystery.

It will be interesting to see how this develops. Could there be an anglicized misspelling of a name that we thought was English but is Eastern European, I do think there is a possibility of that. Likewise there is the possibility that a connection exists that we do not know about.

Of the next few days and weeks, we will be doing some digging into the family tree to figure out the gory details of this discovery.

What is interesting is that no matter how things work out or what we discover, the fact is that most Americans whose families have been in this land ever since we wiped out most of the Native Americans to take it are a blend, sometimes of races and ethnicities that we never could imagine. I for one think that is a strength and something that we should be happy about. Not the part about wiping out the Native Americans, that is pretty awful and shameful, but rather that most of us are a blend of God knows how many races, cultures, religions and ethnicities. Having seen the results of inbreeding, cultures that have stopped evolving and religions that would kill in the name of God I think it is pretty cool that somehow in spite of ourselves sometimes that we are E pluribus unam- Out of many, one. 

Have a great night.


Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under History, philosophy

One response to “DNA Tests and Family Mysteries

  1. Some of that Scandinavian blood could have brought the Eastern European with it. The Swedes were some pretty ferocious warriors in the late Middle Ages and Rennaisance, until they adopted their staunch neutrality. And both Russians and Poles got around quite a bit, as did the Baltic states, so that could be a challenge finding that Eastern Europe slice! 😀
    I always get frustrated with the anti-immigration goofs who fire off comments about “original Americans”. Unless your relatives lived in teepees or wigwams, you are NOT a native to this vocuntry, no matter HOW many generations you’ve lived here. Imagine if the true Native Americans got on an anti-immigration bent? 😉

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