Blog, genealogy

Is Everyone Curious About Their Roots?

Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

I have done a lot of research on my ancestral roots as well as my husband’s. We both try to figure out where we come from. That is a common curiosity among Americans I think because we always come from somewhere.

Unless you are indigenous to this country, even if you were born here, your ancestors are not from here. I know one branch of my family comes from England. We have traced that branch back to the 1100’s. Other branches have brick walls and came to this country at a time when there was poor documentation especially for those traveling from Ireland. My husband has a German branch but again poor documentation has left us with gaping holes in the family tree.

I have taken DNA tests which link me to three known distant cousins in the UK and one in Greece. I also have one in Tokyo and 2 in Guam which could mean more likely Americans possibly in the military. It is fascinating nonetheless.

DNA findings unleash hidden stories that can sometimes be difficult to process. For example, I have no DNA match to my third cousin (there should be some at that close relationship) so there is must some misappropriated parentage somewhere. Not sure if it is my line or her line. Or in the case of my sister who gave up a child for adoption, he possibly was never told he was adopted. Many adoption records are sealed.

During the early years in the U.S. it was also not unusual for children to be given to friends or neighbors if parents died. These relationships are often not annotated on early census records. Then there is the case of women relatives whose surnames were lost over the years and of course many children born out of wedlock which was definitely frowned upon and often the true parentage hidden.

I finally found my grandfather on a census record when he traveled for work with the railroad. Many times first names were not used and surnames were spelled incorrectly. He was in a boarding house with many other workers.

It made me wonder if this is more of an American obsession or if everyone in the world has the same curiosity about their roots.

How about it? Do you know where you come from?


23 thoughts on “Is Everyone Curious About Their Roots?”

  1. It is also increasingly popular here, Maggie. Because much of England was occupied by Danes and Saxons for centuries, most results come back with ‘German’, ‘Viking’, or ‘Scandinavian’. My mother’s family probably originated from Sweden, but I know very little about my Dad’s heritage. I certainly don’t care about it enough to pay for DNA testing, that’s for sure. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. Interesting, Pete. DNA testing does not promise you will find connections, but its generalized locations are fairly accurate. I want to pass down as much information as I can because I know they are too young to care too much right now.

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  2. Regarding your 3rd cousin it is my understanding that about 10% of true third cousins will not share any DNA. I think that the average amount of shared DNA is about 0.78 so you can see how this can happen

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    1. Charles, I thought so, too, but it may be a much smaller percentage than 10%. For privacy reasons, I have never uploaded my DNA results to other testing sites which might have some answers. Most DNA pros I have discussed this with, insist there would be some shared DNA at that relationship.


  3. I love family history and I’ve been researching it for years. My grandmother got me started on that as she had a family tree researched for my grandfather and gave it to him as a gift. He was Swedish, but we can’t find a birth certificate. That’s on my mom’s side – on my dad’s side we had one member who did the wood carvings that decorated the insides of trains…such interesting stories! I even had someone contact me and apparently I have relatives in Tasmania!
    I’ve never done the DNA thing though.

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    1. Cheryl, it is quite interesting but takes a great deal of time ironing it all out. Right now I’m doing most of my research on Ancestry with local travels – that does not help much when it comes to ancestors from Europe.


  4. Many people here are just as fascinated, Maggie. I think, though, we only become really interested when we reach a certain age and when young don’t think so much about where and who we’ve come from. I so wish I’d listened to all the stories Dad told me about his grandparents and great grandparents. It would have given me a head start. I’ve never done the DNA testing, though.

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    1. Mary, I did not pay attention either when I was younger. I wish I had. So many ‘half stories’ in my head and no dates and names to go along with them.

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  5. I’m sort of interested in my ancestry but not enough to do a DNA test. My husband does not care at all about his ancestry. I might get into the search at a later time but right now our right now is enough for us.

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      1. My cousin did go through ancestry and found some amazing discovery’s however I never did ant and she just shared a part of her discoveries but I never really liked at my roots on a research level. But I’ve always been curious just never gone and attempted it

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  6. My daughter gave me the Ancestry DNA test as a gift. It confirmed what I always had been told. My mom’s side is from Ireland, French Canadian, and German. My bio dad’s side is Russian and German. There were tons of 2nd and third cousins. I have not done much with it as of yet.

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  7. My most amazing discovery was that we were attending the same church as my forebears from the 1630’s! And we had moved across the country and had no idea.

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