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Testing to discover your heritage: Would you do it?
Old 11-07-2009, 06:24 PM   #1
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Testing to discover your heritage: Would you do it?

There is a company I read about in the Wall St. Journal the other day that does DNA testing to discover what heritage or nationality you are. I find this really fascinating, and would actually be interested in doing it possibly.
I know that my biological father was from Greece (so, I'm a first generation American on that side), but my mother's family is an American mix of Irish, Italian, German and alot of Cherokee, but who knows? Her family has been here awhile, and I'm the 5th generation on that side.
However, they gave an example of a gal who thought she was, say, Portugese (I'm making this one up as I can't remember what she really was) and--much to her shock and surprise--found out she was like mostly Sephardic Jew. Her ancestors had moved around and not told anyone I guess? And she had absolutely no clue as to her heritage, so she was blown away naturally.
Like most Americans, most of our ancestors moved here and cut all ties with where they came from and eventually either changed their background on documents or hid their backgrounds for whatever reasons. Doesn't seem all that uncommon for immigrants to me. There are so many unspoken reasons people left their homelands for this country that we never know the "true" story to I'm sure. I mean, think of all the reasons today as to why someone would pick up and move to another country.
I'd be curious as all heck to find out what my lineage is: Am I part Miniature Poodle or part Hound Dog?
Has anyone else read about this study? And has anyone actually done any contacting these labs about doing this?
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Old 11-07-2009, 06:38 PM   #2
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I haven't contacted them, but I admit it would be interesting. Although geneological research has been done extensively in almost all branches of my family back quite far, my maternal grandmother was adopted. She had stunning, thick, knee length red hair when she was young and light crystal-blue eyes. There was speculation that she was Dutch, for some reason - - and I really don't know why. Anyway, it would be interesting to know.
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Old 11-07-2009, 06:50 PM   #3
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Did the Genographic mitocondria found via Nat Geo a while back. The female haplo group does not change as much over time and goes further back.

X(not the Native American branch) even though my ancestors came from Northern Europe to the best of my knowledge.

I forgot what it cost.

heh heh heh - latest guess is Basque/Portugal area but I suspect this will change as they get more data. Sometimes you may get more questions than answers . I was a ho hum maybe European H and then became an X with further testing. They got some extra money out of me.

At a stretch this supports my Mother's mother family legend of a branch from Lapland(now Sami). Still a raging debate in DNA research.
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Old 11-07-2009, 06:58 PM   #4
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I haven't contacted them either...but it sure sounds appealing.

I'd like to see if I've been fibbed to about being Dutch, Irish and American Indian....
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Old 11-07-2009, 07:39 PM   #5
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My Mom's grandparents on both sides, came here from Germany in the late 1800's, and their clan was all from eastern Europe.....no one ever went back to the 'old country' to visit or anything....they completely cut all ties, and started a new life in a new country.

My Dad's side is a bit more diverse. My great-grandmother and her parents, and other ancestors were all full-blood Cherokee, many of whom experienced the 'trail of tears'...and lived to pass their heritage down through the generations to follow. My grandmother was a first-generation mixed-breed. Her father's ancestors came here from Ireland in the early 1800's, and they were a mixture of mostly Irish, with some French tossed in.

Growing up it was nice to have elders who were extremely proud of their family heritage, and proudly passed it along to us younger generations! They also passed down the info on the less than desirable folks in our clan....even the horse thieves and what not.

But irregardless of my 'official' genealogical heritage, one thing I know for certain, is that I am, without a doubt, 100% pure-bred hillbilly! Mom's people came to IL from the hills of West Virginny....and my Dad and his people came here direct from the hills of south-central Missouri and north-central Arkansas...the Ozarks!
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Old 11-07-2009, 08:56 PM   #6
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Mutt.

English, Scottish, probably Irish, German...
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Old 11-07-2009, 09:13 PM   #7
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Isn't genealogy a fascinating hobby? I have been tracing my ancestry on and off (mostly off) ever since I saw the original broadcast of Roots, back in the 1970's. My ancestors in the direct maternal line were free people of color in Maryland before the Civil War. That is the line I know furthest back. That side of the family has been in the US for eight generations that we know of (counting my nieces), which takes you back to people born in the late 18th century. OTOH, my dad's parents were both immigrants from Barbados. I would love to find out where in Africa my ancestors came from, via Y chromosome and mtDNA testing.

There is a program that was done several years ago for PBS, called African American Lives. After tracing the ancestry of several prominent African Americans as far as possible with documents, they also did DNA testing. It was absolutely fascinating and I recommend the programs (which are available on DVD) to anyone interested in genealogy. One of the people profiled in Lives II was Peter Gomes, a professor of religion at (I think) Harvard. His y chromosome also came up Sephardic. I've forgotten the name of the island his father or grandfather immigrated from, but there were a goodly number of Portugese settlers there. As I understand it, some of the Jews in Spain and Portugal centuries ago converted to Christianity, and so the Sephardic genetic signature can pop up—unexpectedly but not inexplicably, one might say.
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Old 11-07-2009, 10:07 PM   #8
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As I understand it, some of the Jews in Spain and Portugal centuries ago converted to Christianity, and so the Sephardic genetic signature can pop upóunexpectedly but not inexplicably, one might say.
Also, in New Amsterdam - pre New York - a group of Sephardic Jews arrived from the Caribbean seeking refurge from the Spanish. Being Dutch, the 'Corporation' let them in even though Peter Styvesant was against it.

The Irish, as emigrants and / or indentured servants got around. My Jamaican friend is quite proud of her Irish great-grandmother, and enjoys confusing people on St. Patrick's Day.

me = northern Ireland, scotch-irish protesants and southern Ireland catholics. I can have fights with meself anytime I want!!

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Old 11-07-2009, 10:41 PM   #9
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No, I wouldn't pay money for this. I am who I am. I'm not even a little interested in what band of wandering people I'm related to. I never met 'em, they never met me. I'd be interested in genetic predispositions to various diseases, but that's not the subject of the thread.

As I've mentioned before, I don't "get" the whole ethnic pride thing. I'm proud (or not!) of my own actions and accomplishments, but I can't see being "proud" of things you not only didn't do, but which happened before you were born.

I guess I should take the advice of Robert Heinlein:

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This sad little lizard told me that he was a brontosaurus on his mother's side. I did not laugh; people who boast of ancestry often have little else to sustain them. Humoring them costs nothing and adds to happiness in a world in which happiness is always in short supply."
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:00 AM   #10
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How about being proud of "your" sports team? I never will understand it. They don't own the team, have money invested in it, the players probably are not from the city they play for, don't actually know anyone playing. ect.
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:29 AM   #11
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Did the Genographic mitocondria found via Nat Geo a while back. The female haplo group does not change as much over time and goes further back.
I did this too, when they were introducing it for free. It was very interesting but the history is very broad brush. They show the vast migrations you were part of coming out of Africa, crossing from Asia into Northern Europe and then moving down. But it didn't pinpoint detailed heritage. For example, all of my grandparents came from Ireland but the test didn't get anywhere near that level of detail. I can't remember whether we came from Sephardic Jews or not but I wouldn't be surprised. Remember, mitochondrial DNA shows that we all go back through one of a few major splits to the same "Eve" in Africa. Tell your Portuguese gal that she may be Portuguese but she has common ancestry with everyone else -- just like everyone else.
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:49 AM   #12
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The article in the WSJ caught my attention because the gal they interviewed had been raised Catholic and the family insofar as she knew had been Catholic for a looooong time. So, when she realized she had Sephardic Jew in her background, she was really shocked.
I just wonder what shocks I would find in my DNA is all....I'm so up for it. I wish I had known they were introducing this testing for free--what a deal that was! When was that going on, Donheff??

If Eve is the first woman and from Africa then shouldn't we darken the complexion some in the pictures of Adam and Eve? How stupid to make them look Caucasian if they weren't. And how misleading.
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Old 11-08-2009, 08:04 AM   #13
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I wish I had known they were introducing this testing for free--what a deal that was! When was that going on, Donheff??
I think it was about 5 years ago. I looked around for the folder that sent the results but couldn't find it. This may or may not be the same test that the OP referenced.
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If Eve is the first woman and from Africa then shouldn't we darken the complexion some in the pictures of Adam and Eve? How stupid to make them look Caucasian if they weren't. And how misleading.
Yes, that would probably be a bit more accurate.
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Old 11-08-2009, 08:33 AM   #14
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They show the vast migrations you were part of coming out of Africa, crossing from Asia into Northern Europe and then moving down. ... Remember, mitochondrial DNA shows that we all go back through one of a few major splits to the same "Eve" in Africa. Tell your Portuguese gal that she may be Portuguese but she has common ancestry with everyone else -- just like everyone else.
Actually, that migration went north out of Africa and then split in Eurasia. One group going west and ending at the Atlantic Ocean. The other group went east and split once again. One group going south along the coast of the India subcontinent across the island chain ending up in Australia. The other group continued on east crossing the Bering Strait and stopping at the southern tip of South America. Therefore, Europeans, Native Australians, and Native Americans are all members of the same "family."

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I just wonder what shocks I would find in my DNA is all....I'm so up for it.
One of the first things I learned during the search of my ancestry was the difference between "Genealogy" and "Family History." Please understand that using DNA to search for individual ancestry requires male DNA -- females must get a brother or father/grandfather (a male cousin can also work, kinda sorta) to submit to the test.

Generally, the biggest surprise you might find from DNA testing is that women are capable of being impregnated by someone other than their legally designated husband -- and they sometimes keep it a secret. With Family History, of course, the risk is in finding the feared "horse thief" hiding in the bunch.

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If Eve is the first woman and from Africa then shouldn't we darken the complexion some in the pictures of Adam and Eve? How stupid to make them look Caucasian if they weren't. And how misleading.
The Bible is misleading? I am shocked, I tell you, utterly shocked.
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Old 11-08-2009, 10:02 AM   #15
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" -- and they sometimes keep it a secret. With Family History, of course, the risk is in finding the feared "horse thief" hiding in the bunch."

MY FAMILY HAS THE LAST MAN HUNG BY THE FAMOUS HANGING JUDGE OF ARKANSAS, JUDGE PARKER, FOR HORSE THIEVERY:

The family came from Italy and brought James Casharago as a child over to America where they had to settle in Arkansas. Why? Because the Judge that they entrusted with their money--which had to be snuck out of Italy at that time--stole all their money, so they ended up squatting land there. What else could they do with no money now?
They had been successful owning a laundry and grocery stores, but they didn't want to stay in Italy (for reasons I've never gotten straight) and chose to come to the Promised Land instead.
The family name was really Casiraghi and they were from Milano, Italy. So, we are distant relatives of Stephano Casiraghi who was married to Princess Caroline of Monaco and killed in a speedboat accident. YES, you may call me Princess Orchidflower of Illinois now!
Anyway, my HORSE THIEF relative was the LAST man hung by the famous hanging Judge: Judge Parker of Arkansas. Lots on the net about him. After they hung James Casharago, my horse thief relative, they found out he hadn't done it. I've often thought how he must have felt knowing he didn't do it and knowing he would die. Bummer.
(See how they changed the spelling at Ellis Island from Casiraghi to Casharago. Like many other immigrants, the intake clerks messed up their names forever. The article says that the father changed the name "later on," but that's not true: it was the intake clerks at Ellis Island that changed the spelling.)


Faulkner County Historical Society
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Old 11-08-2009, 10:20 AM   #16
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Enjoyed your last post, Princess Orchidflower! I don't know that I would discover much about my family history through testing other than maybe some strains of marauding invaders who infiltrated the gene pool over the centuries in Europe. My Mom's parents were immigrants from Greece around 1905. My Dad's from Germany a little earlier, 1903. Both sides of the family prospered here with a lot of hard work and definitely considered that they had won the lottery in life with the privilege of living as Americans. Am I ever relieved that they made the move!
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Old 11-08-2009, 11:22 AM   #17
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....I just wonder what shocks I would find in my DNA is all....
I'm fairly certain that my DNA would contain vast trace amounts of Irish whiskey and home-brew corn liquor!

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If Eve is the first woman and from Africa then shouldn't we darken the complexion some in the pictures of Adam and Eve? How stupid to make them look Caucasian if they weren't. And how misleading.
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....The Bible is misleading? I am shocked, I tell you, utterly shocked.
To the best of my knowledge, the Bible never revealed to us their complexion or skin pigmentation. It was our Caucasian ancestors who may have misled us to believe they were white folks. They would most likely be much darker than we normally picture them, possibly (but doubtful) 'olive' tone skin....but 'white'? Nah, don't think so!

The skin color issue is really not important at all. The more pressing issue that absolutely needs to be addressed is, "did they have belly buttons?".
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Old 11-08-2009, 12:33 PM   #18
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My mother made me go to Bible School which I remember as learning little but having lots of fun at. Anyway, it's bothered me since I was little that the pictures of Adam, Eve, Jesus, etc. were all Caucasians when they either are from Africa or the Middle East. We need to revise all that work I've always thought. And, by the fact that we all accept these drawings of Caucasian figures when the subjects are either brown or olive skinned, that should tell us how deeply institutional racism is in our time. We need to change this IMHO.

Goonie: Have you not heard that nobody during those times had belly buttons? I know 'cause the pictures never lie.
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Old 11-08-2009, 12:46 PM   #19
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And they lived in a garden with a talking snake. And one of their descendants lived inside a whale. And two examples of all the animals in the world went on a boat trip in an ark built by a man and his sons.

No serious anthropologist uses the term "Adam" and "Eve" in any sense even remotely resembling the Bible story. I don't think the skin color of the illustration in some versions of the Bible has anything to do with the "Eve" referred to by these genetic researchers.
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Old 11-08-2009, 01:31 PM   #20
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... anything to do with the "Eve" referred to by these genetic researchers.
Can someone please elaborate the "Eve" hypothesis of anthropology?

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All modern humans that have ever been tested do have a mutation that happened on the mitochondrial chromosome of a woman that lived about 170,000 years ago. It is very unlikely that there are other mitochondrial DNA sequences existing because we are all so closely related. It is more an observed fact than a hypothesis. It doesn't however mean that she was the only person that existed. Selection pressure eliminated all the other sequences. Everyone that lived at that time and had children that weren't dead end lineages, like no children, were our ancestors.
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