Blog, genealogy

Excavating My Roots – Lost Genealogy

I have written about my genealogy research here many times before. It is an endless search for those who came before to help understand who we are today. There is an almost mystical connection to places that seem to be crafted in our DNA. Filling in the gaps is well suited for problem-solvers and it does not take much to reignite the flames if the search has stalled

Two weeks ago, Ancestry updated their ethnicity estimates. This is done as more and more people have their DNA tested and they can better correlate how our DNA compares to other people globally. It is a bit of hocus-pocus at best since there is, of course, no way to test the DNA of people long deceased.

The biggest change in this update for me was the more granular breakdown of England and Northwest Europe. My old results were:

Ethnicity estimates

My new results show the more definitive breakdown:

I am very aware of my English roots. They are very well documented on one side of the family. I am also somewhat aware of my Irish roots, but since it appears my Irish ancestors (two brothers) came to this country in 1774 and settled in York county, PA, there are no ship manifests from that time, so that is where my knowledge of my Irish heritage ends. I have no knowledge of Scottish or German or Swedish roots which I attribute to possibly fluid borders and migrations at the time.

Getting beyond these brick walls is necessary to go further back on your ancestral line. But, this little change was enough to inspire me to dig a little more into some of the brick walls. The big one for me is finding information on my paternal great-grandfather who I have written about on this blog before.

I decided to try an avenue I had never tried before. I contacted the church my paternal grandparents attended and eventually all of my nuclear family attended as well. Small churches’ documentation is not anything like what seems to be available to larger Catholic churches for example.

But, last night I received an email from the current pastor of the church. I received the membership records for my family back to my paternal grandparents. I now know when and where they were baptized and when memberships were transferred to other churches. I even know what minister baptized each of them. And that’s where I found my glimmer of hope.

My dad was baptized in the church by his uncle (my great-grandmother’s brother). He is also the same person that reported the death of my great-grandmother which means he may have had knowledge of what happened to my paternal great-grandfather who was run out of town on a rail according to family oral history.

The pastor is now seeking out conversations with a 90 year old person who was raised and lived in the community his whole life. It is a long shot, but I am hopeful one little scribble on a piece of paper may unlock a door that has been shut for over a century. Fingers crossed.


23 thoughts on “Excavating My Roots – Lost Genealogy”

    1. I have found those odd things, Ron. Things like a third cousin who I have known all my life yet have no DNA link to. I found my grandfather was married before my grandmother which I never knew. I also found letters concerning my grandfather in the National Archives. I discovered my great uncle was arrested for suspicion of robbing a bank. I love knowing all the little bits and bobs that make my ancestors more real to me.

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  1. When I got my 1st Ancestry aa few years ago, it lined up with what I knew. Then it began to change. Now like you the Scotch has gotten big. To my knowledge I don’t have Scotch in my background. I wonder if the Scotch represents Celtic blood lines.

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  2. Good luck to you. I’m nowhere near as diligent about digging in, but I’ve contacted people who are second cousins and seen pictures of people I never met but I’m related to.

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  3. It has never concerned me too much to delve too deep into my DNA. One look at the maternal line shows all the male children almost identical in appearance, with a Scandinavian or Germanic heritage of fair hair and blue eyes. By contrast, my dad’s famly have dark hair, brown eyes, and swarthy skin, hinting at a once-mentioned ‘Spanish’ connection.
    I only have your blog photo to go by, but I would suggest looking into that 3% from Sweden. You look a little Swedish to me. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. Pete, my hairdresser once told me I had ‘Dutch’ hair but I have never had any inkling of anything Swedish. And of course, there is no Dutch, either. I would just like to bridge the Atlantic with a bit of confidence.

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  4. How neat. My sister and I have talked about discovering our roots. Best of luck to you. And thank you for sharing, Maggie!

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  5. What a wonderful post! I haven’t done any genealogy, although some relatives have, but doing 23 & me some years back, based on my sister’s urging, revealed a lot of Northern European ancestry (Scandavian) as welll as British and Irish ancestry than I’d known about, based on family stories.

    Yes, I knew about the German and Dutch relatives, but relatively little about the Irish and British side. I had no idea that my heritage was so solidly from there, too — and the Scandinavian link was a total surprise. 100% Northern European, however, which seemed reasonable, given my coloring and hair (people in Germany and the Netherlands always figure that I live there!)

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  6. Often the best information still comes the old fashioned way through letters to people in the towns. I got a great history of a town that way from the town historian because I wrote him. Fortunately I began my hobby before on line searching was possible, so I gained some skill in writing directly to people.

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