Family Trees are unbelievably fascinating to me. I started working on our family tree at least six years ago. I joined Ancestry.com on a whim. I had been looking through old family photographs and thinking about…Who were the people?…What did they hope to accomplish in their lives?…When did they marry or did they remain single?…Where did they originally come from?…Why did they look so serious or so happy?…How did they lead their lives?
Who? ? ?
What? ? ?
When? ? ?
Where? ? ?
Why? ? ?
How? ? ?
Literally, the basic and the most important questions that journalists attempt to precisely answer are “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why” and the inevitable “how”. These are the first elements of writing that I learned in my first journalism class in college. In trying to figure out the puzzle of a Family Tree, I thought about these questions and how they would give me more information about my relatives. As in any good story, the writer (or in this case…the researcher) needs to figure out what questions are not being answered. The best help can come from photographs and copies of old documents such as census or marriage records.
As I delved deeper into my family history, I knew that I would need new technology and scientific concepts. DNA appeared to be the direct route to the ultimate units of universal information.
The first portion my DNA results from Ancestry.com:
My Ethnicity Estimate According to Ancestry.com DNA Testing…
1. Great Britain
2. Europe West
4. Europe East
5. Iberian Peninsula
6. Finland/Northwest Russia
A second portion of my DNA results from Ancestry.com…Genetic Communities.
Genetic Communities™ are groups of AncestryDNA members who are connected through DNA most likely because they descend from a population of common ancestors, even if they no longer live in the area where those ancestors once lived.
For example, some Genetic Communities trace their roots back to groups of people who were isolated geographically. Mountains, rivers, lack of roads, or other barriers made it likely that each new generation would marry someone who lived close to home. Others have their roots in groups who typically married others of the same religion or ethnic group. In each case, these groups came to share a significant amount of DNA. Modern-day descendants who inherited some of that DNA make up Genetic Communities.
My Genetic Communities:
According to Ancestry.com, the majority of my relatives lived in the following locations…some for hundreds of years…some arrived in the mid to late 1880s…
1. Settlers of Northwest Alabama
2. Settlers of Western Tennessee, Arkansas & Northeast Texas
Pictured above is the home owned by my great-great grandfather in Nashville, Tennessee… as it looks today….a blue house with a picket fence. The house was built in the late 1880s and is shown in the top right picture in the early 1900s. My relatives are standing in the front of the house. The entry hall staircase evidently looks as new today as it did when the house was built. The house has had numerous owners and is now divided into four apartments. It is located on Park Avenue not far from downtown Nashville, Vanderbilt University and Centennial Park.
The information concerning my Genetic Communities is totally on target. My maternal great-great grandfather immigrated to Nashville, Tennessee from Oldham, Lancashire, England in the mid 1800s. He was a very young man. My mother grew up in Nashville and I still have relatives who live there. On my father’s side of my family, his relatives lived in Tennessee and moved to Arkansas in the 1800s. My grandfather was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the late 1800s. Later, he moved his family to Louisiana and then to Texas. I grew up in Northeast Texas. Through research, I discovered that my paternal ancestors were indeed very early settlers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
Ancestors. Family. Cousins. Aunts. Uncles. Some that I knew when I was growing up. Some that I am just now finding. My DNA results identified 1,498 4th cousins or closer who are currently living somewhere around the world! Unbelievable!!