I finally did it. I succumbed to the lure of Ancestry.com and the siren call of its TV advertising. Unable to resist its special holiday pricing, I sent for my kit.
The compact box arrived with instructions on how to deposit saliva into a small tube, secure its integrity with a preservative, seal it, and return the contents, which I did. Several weeks later I received the results. Drum roll, please.
The results summary turned out like this:
Western Europe 42%
Great Britain (Northern England and the Midlands) 33%
Eastern Europe 6%
How surprised was I? Not very, to be honest. Family lore had always taught that our ancestors were from Germany and France on my father’s side, and England and Scotland on my mother’s side.
Scandinavia at 6% was the only bit of surprise until I remembered the escapades of the Vikings as they explored in England and Europe with a brief jog over to the New World. For the Eastern Europe segment – migration within Europe was not a surprise.
But wait a minute. The above stats only accounted for 92% of my ancestry. Where was the rest of it? Then I spotted a subheading called Low Confidence Regions. I read further to find out what that meant.
Per Ancestry.com: In a DNA estimate, low confidence regions are areas for which there’s a small amount of DNA evidence found in a sample. All ethnicities with predicted percentages of less than 4.5% appear as low confidence regions.
I clicked on the subheading and up popped the rest of my DNA answer. I found two very intriguing.
Southern Europe 3%
Iberian Peninsula 2%
Finland/NW Russia 1%
A little side research revealed the Iberian Peninsula is occupied by Portugal and Spain plus an additional area called Andorra and Gibraltar. The Caucasus is the region situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea at the border of Europe and Asia and is a little more complicated than the Iberian Peninsula in its make-up. The most recent map I could find was 2008.
As a writer, all sorts of story paths popped up. First, I realized how using a person’s DNA could inspire a fictional historical saga, played out over several books a la authors Ken Follett or Philippa Gregory. Or how you could create a character based on your history, a location and events of the time, and build a solo novel around him or her.
I’m especially intrigued by my results about the Iberian peninsula and the Caucasus. Many short story/novella/novel possibilities exist, whether anchored in history or playing out in the present geo-political world. Going to a mysterious or less familiar locale for a story always adds interest.
Other genres could be inspired like memoir, personal essay, and poetry.
All of this would involve research which is exciting and bound to reveal more.
I haven’t delved into my personal history yet. There are other avenues to pursue on Ancestry.com. The results so far reach as far as eighth cousins. Perhaps I have greatness in my past … or not. Perhaps I have relatives close by of which I am unaware.
I enjoy the genealogy documentary TV show Who Do You Think You Are. A recent segment revealed that Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont are distant cousins. They didn’t know.
Whatever I will find and perhaps choose to write about, so be it. I found this journey satisfying as far as I’ve gone. It made me remember, “We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us. On their struggles and achievements.” I’ll take this opportunity to say, “Thank you.” And fire up the computer.