A map of Europe cerca 1600 AD, courtesy of the United States Library of Congress.
A few months ago, I received an invitation to buy a DNA beta test from Ancestry.com.
Since I had already convinced my dad to do one, I figured I should jump on board as well. My kit showed up, I spit in a test tube, and sent it back. A month went by—an agonizing month—before I got the results back.
It was an excruciating wait for the results. This was an autosomal test, so I would be getting hints on my full ancestry. I wondered what the results would tell me. Would it show those ever-elusive Native American genes? How large a percent the UK plays in my genetic makeup? Oh, the questions were endless!
Finally I got a message in my inbox: the results were in. Talk about tantalizing excitement! The first thing that popped up was a chart of my genetic ethnicity. Largest percentage was British Isles at 55%. Not a real surprise, but my friends and family figured it would have been larger. Next was Central European at 24%; must be the French and German. Then came the odd one: Eastern European 20%. Huh, could that be the German and Prussian? There was a lot of movement back and forth across the borders. And 1 percent came back as uncertain. Well, that was that. No Native American princesses in there for me. Now what?
Ancestry has a service in which they will match you with suspected cousins. If they are close enough, and have a tree on Ancestry.com, they will even reveal how you are related. Well that’s snazzy! I spent a long while scrolling through potential 3rd and 4th cousins, learning all the ins and outs of the system. It was interesting to read their interpretations and conclusions of ethnic breakdown. So far, in my research, my mother’s families are all from the British Isles. My dad, on the other hand, has family from Switzerland, France and several Germanic areas. I wanted to see where these links would lead.
First up, I had two 3rd cousin hits. One had a tree and one didn’t. I wrote to them both, hoping to make a connection. Boy did I! One of them has written me back. His second Great-grandfather is my 3rd Great-grandfather, Jerome Brothers. Jerome was born in January 1825, in Kentucky, and died March 22, 1905 in Daviess County, Indiana. He married Elizabeth Minerva Cassell on Dec. 30, 1845, and they had 7 children. My line is through his eldest daughter, Rose Ann, and my new cousin’s family is through her younger sister, Josephine Helen Brothers. I looked at his line a little further, and noticed that his Grandmother was an Arvin.
Oh boy, an Arvin! We just have to be related there too. Arvin is not a common surname, and when you live in Southern Indiana, there are higher than normal odds that you’re all from the same family. My 4th Great-grandfather, Henry Arvin moved from Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland to Washington County, Kentucky and then onto Daviess County, Indiana. Many of his children, siblings and other Arvin relatives made these moves with him. Some stayed in Kentucky, but my line through his son Augustine finally settled in Indiana. My new cousin’s family tree shows that his 2nd Great grandfather was born about 1811 in Charles County, Maryland.
I think I have a new mystery to solve.
Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Shannon Bennett of Locust Grove, Va.
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