My AncestryDNA Results
I know I have mentioned several times before that I am a history major, so looking to the past is one of my favorite things to do. I have never gone down the genealogical route with my family history before, but it is something that I have been wanting to explore for quite some time. I talked to Austin about this a few months ago, and when my birthday rolled around in March, he surprised me with an AncestryDNA kit to discover more about my genetic background.
The kit comes conveniently packaged with an instruction booklet, a saliva collection tube, a collection bag, and a prepaid return mailer box to send the tube to Ancestry. Once you receive your kit, you go to this link to create an account and activate it. There are fifteen digits on the tube that you will enter here, and these numbers are essential because they identify your sample. The next step is gathering the DNA, and you cannot eat, drink, or smoke thirty minutes prior to this process. So, basically, you fill the tube with your saliva until you reach the necessary amount. Afterwards, you place the cap back on, and once you screw the cap, a solution is released to stabilize the DNA in the saliva. Finally, you shake it for five seconds and make sure it's sealed completely. The tube goes in the collection bag, and then into the return mailer box, and then it's good to go to the post office!
Austin got a kit as well, so we got to test our DNA together! He is fairly knowledgeable about his family history on his paternal side. Someone close to the family created a book that lists his family tree all the way back to the 1800's. He knew from his family that he had a German and Swiss background, too. I had always heard different things growing up, but I think it was all mostly speculation. I had Irish from my grandmother, Italian from my mom and her father, and Native American from my dad and grandmother. Nobody ever knew anything for sure though. Plus, we didn't have a lot of documentation to follow to say where we came from. It's just one of those unfortunate things with time where history gets lost.
We mailed our kits off, and we didn't receive our results for six weeks or so. Essentially, our DNA was tested across the enormous database that is Ancestry. I mean, it includes over four million people! It also found information about our ethnicity through twenty-six regions and ethnicity profiles of others who have taken the AncestryDNA test. The technology behind it is a "microarray-based autosomal DNA testing, which survey's a person's entire genome at over 700,000 locations, all with a simple saliva sample." This kit can do so much of the work for you in terms of genealogy. It's a wonderful way to get started if you have never done any research before (like me)! Anyways, our results arrived, and we sat down together to find out what Ancestry discovered.
These were my results, which were totally different from what I had originally known. As I mentioned above, I was told that I had Italian, Irish, and Native American roots, but I was mostly Western European in my ethnicity with 45%. 10% was European Jewish, which was a total surprise, and after all this time, my Italian DNA was only 3% when I thought it was much more than that. I had a little existential moment because I didn't really know who I was. It's hard to go your whole life thinking you're one thing and then finding out that's not really true after all. At the same time, I was so happy to know because I went through my teenage years and early twenties wondering about my heritage because my family didn't have any concrete proof. If you're wondering about Austin's background... Well, his was a little different, too. He had Western European at 43%, Great Britain at 15%, Scandinavia at 15%, Italy and Greece at 7%, the Iberian Peninsula at 7%, Ireland at 7%, Southern Asia at less than 1%, and the Caucasus at less than 1%. We're still wondering about his Asian background... Yes, it is less than one percent, but it's still something to be curious about.
Viewing the results was so interesting because it didn't just give us some insight into our genetic backgrounds; it also gave a view of the regions that we come from and brief history lessons about the people of that time, too. For example, my results showed that I have a likely connection to the early settlers of the lower Midwest and Virginia. An overview told me the following story: "By 1700, flourishing towns and small cities dotted the eastern seaboard from Massachusetts to North Carolina. Many new immigrants from England and Germany, and Scots-Irish from Northern Ireland, pressed into the rugged country to the west where they could find land, religious tolerance, political freedom, and economic opportunity. They faced threats from the French on the other side of the Appalachian Mountains and native peoples who resisted encroachment on their lands."
"Wars and treaties opened new lands in the west, and 'Kentucky fever' gripped settlers looking for land. The first to enter a new territory were often small or would-be farmers; wealthy landowners, bringing enslaved African Americans with them followed. New settlers began by building a shelter, typically a one-room cabin or a lean-to, and then cleared land to plant. Crops included corn, which could feed both people and hogs or be turned into whiskey. Families often settled near one another for protection and tended to be large because children were needed for labor."
"Steamboats, canals, and railroads helped connect the interior with the coast, which gave settlers and goods a way to new lands and new markets. Treaties and forced removals moved Indian populations further west, and the former frontier was now prime real estate. Kentucky's population almost doubled, Tennessee's population did double, and Indiana's population more than tripled. While some headed for Alabama, Arkansas, and Missouri looking for fertile land to farm, others found a place in growing cities and towns. By 1850, Cincinnati, Ohio and St. Louis, Missouri were among the 10 largest cities in the United States."
"With family ties to the South, proximity to the North, and economic links to both, the Civil War proved particularly divisive for those living in the lower Midwest. Kentucky and Missouri initially tried to stay neutral, and Tennessee was the last state to secede. Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee were strongly Union throughout the war. Kentucky in particular saw families divided between the Confederate and Union causes, and Tennessee was second to Virginia in the number of battles within its borders. Across the Ohio River, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa provided more than half a million troops and vital supplies to the Union."
"Following the Civil War, modernization, innovation, and transportation led to increased urbanization. Railroads in Missouri increased the number of farms, as rural communities could more easily get goods to market, but more farms also meant a drop in prices, and mechanization meant farms required less labor. These surplus workers found their way to the milling, meatpacking, and brewing industries in Missouri. In Indiana, they worked in steel mills, gas fields, and in an emerging pharmaceutical industry. Some southern migrants flocked to ex-Confederate states, such as Arkansas and Texas, with similar racial attitudes and land suitable for planting cotton."
"Life continued to change as people moved from farms to cities like Lexington, Louisville, Nashville, Indianapolis, and St. Louis. World Wars I and II sparked exoduses for factory jobs in northern cities like Chicago and Detroit, where workers faced housing discrimination and slurs that labeled them as 'hillbillies.' In response, many southerners banded together. Eventually cities like Chicago offered businesses, like BBQ restaurants and county music dance halls that catered to these new migrants. The growing population also found many jobs in the oil fields of east Texas, Oklahoma, and Los Angeles."
According to Ancestry, it is 60% likely that I belong to the early settlers of the lower Midwest and Virginia community. I have 561 DNA matches and 617,860 AncestryDNA members who are genetically linked to the group, too. I was born in Kentucky, and I have grown up here (with a few instances of moving in between), so maybe this explains why I am here (and my family, and my family before me). It is all just so fascinating. I can even go through each European region that I matched with and get historical information on those backgrounds as well. That has probably been my favorite part because I can see my history in relation to the things I have learned about. There might be a possibility that my ancestors had some connection to the parts of history that I have read about. I mean, I always knew that there was a chance, but this helps so much more because I finally know the truth about where I come from. I want to narrow it down even further, so the genealogical path will be next. For now, I have these results to tell me a story that I didn't know before.