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:
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.