I became fascinated with the field of genetics in high school biology class. Mr. Crawford was a task master for his honors bio kids, but I never learned so much nor enjoyed a teacher more. In the beginning we learned about Punnett Squares, then advanced into pedigree charts to show heredity in familial lines. Sounds fun, right? I continued to push myself in the sciences and attended Indiana University with the intention of getting an undergraduate degree in Sports Medicine and to become a high school biology teacher. Three weeks into my freshman year I switched to biology completely, with the thought that I would teach, and then later earn an advanced degree in genetic counseling. However, I bet if I had known then that I could get a degree that would allow me to do genealogy research, I would have jumped on it.
After college, and a little over a year working in the “real world”, I became a stay-at-home mom. Even though I was staying at home I did my best to keep reading up on all those things that fascinated me. Never once did genealogy come up, by the way; I obviously wasn’t looking hard enough, or I just haven’t had enough sleep in 11 years. You wouldn’t believe how fascinated I was as I learned all the developments and breakthroughs that were happening. Things like this get me re-energized in the field.
This past summer I convinced my father to participate in a DNA testing project for his family surname, Combs. Finally, genetics and genealogy were merged in my life! My dad is participating in a Y-chromosome test. For those who don’t know what this means, this type of testing is done on men that have the same last name, as the Y chromosome is passed down father to son. For example, my dad’s father and brother could participate, but not his sister’s son as he has a different Y chromosome. Since I am an only child, and as of right now my father is the only living male in his line that we know of willing to participate in this study, I am a bit on edge to see what the results say.
After all that, however, we are back to square one. I found out that the company lost the sample, and since they are no longer in business we are investigating other companies to use. Eventually, when dad has this done, it is my hope that it will be able to tell me which of the Combs men from Virginia, born in the middle 1700’s we are related to. Over the past 6 months, I have traced the line back to Charles Combs, who was born in Virginia in 1793 and died in Indiana in 1866. All I know of Charles’s parents is his name may have been William, and that he was from Virginia. My question is: Is this where the Jamestown story my grandmother told me comes from?
Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Shannon Bennett of Locust Grove, Va. Read all her posts at Family Tree University.
Registration is now open for our Kentucky Genealogy Crash Course on Jan. 24, and our Tennessee Genealogy Crash Course on Feb. 23. Hurry to take advantage of Early Bird prices!