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KNOWITALL's avatar

How many of you are familiar with your ancestors?

Asked by KNOWITALL (27840points) October 28th, 2013

A lot of the record-keepers in our family have died or are getting older now. Do you know your family’s origins or is there a designated record-keeper in your generation?

Are you the record-keeper?
(My uncle is the keeper in our family)

What are your dna mixes?
(Mine is Dutch, Irish, English and Native American Indian.)

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73 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

My father’s side goes all the way back to England in the 1600,s, my mother’s back to Wales, same era. I’m not the record-keeper. At the time it was done I wasn’t interested in that.

marinelife's avatar

Mine is confusing. I have been meaning to look into it.

ucme's avatar

I’m descended from Tarzan, Lord Greystoke as was.
This probably explains why I like to run into the woods, wearing only my underpants & roar like a demigod on steroids.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@ucme haha, nice visual buddy.

So since a lot of Americans have English roots/ history, what do most English have as their roots?

Headhurts's avatar

Very very unfamiliar.

ucme's avatar

I’m pretty much certain most English folks can trace their ancestry back to one romantic evening back in the day. A cool summer moonlit night, a spit roast cooking over a crackling fire & the mass of viking warriors raping the shit outta the buxom local wenches.

Seek's avatar

My mom’s side is Irish, German, and Scottish.

I’m either first or second generation Irish American on my dad’s side. He was adopted at five years old, and I only vaguely remember the stories he and his adoptive mother told me when I was a child.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@ucme No Druids on their secluded Isle of Wight? Man, had to be Vikings and Saxons didn’t it?! :)

ucme's avatar

@KNOWITALL Druids? Now you made me think of the stonehenge set in Spinal Tap hee-hee

Sunny2's avatar

Another relative has records from my husband’s family going back to their arrival in the US. His back ground in English, Scottish and Irish. My side, we have only a couple generations and it is German, Swiss, Norwegian and Polish. My daughter didn’t like it that she was a “mutt” and wished she was all Irish or something. I don’t think she still feels like that. Our Polish side is Jewish and she took instructions and read from the Torah with her class a couple months ago.

rojo's avatar

@KNOWITALL Nobody ever credits the Angles

Seaofclouds's avatar

I had a great aunt (on my mom’s side) that was working on our family history. All of her information was passed on to me. I haven’t had much time to do much more digging to go further yet. My mom’s side of the family can be traced back to a Cherokee tribe here in the US and some ancestors from France. Along the way, we have added in some Irish. So from my mom’s side of the family, we are Cherokee, French, and Irish.

I don’t know much about my dad’s side of the family, but what I do know so far is we have Irish, Scottish, and some more Cherokee.

cookieman's avatar

On my mother’s side, I only go back as far as my grandparents — who were both born in America. Their parents were from Italy (Naples area).

On my father’s side, my grandfather was born in America, but his parents were from Italy (Sicily). My paternal grandmother was born in Nova Scotia and I’ve seen photos and know a little about her parents (my great grandparents).

Whatever I know about my family history is by word of mouth. Nothing is documented by anyone in particular.

My running joke is that I’m ¾ Italian and ¼ Nova Scotian. The bit of Nova Scotian keeps me from killing people.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Mother’s side has 8 generations ( done in 1920’s, redone in 1950’s and time was 1980’s ) her uncle was 1950’2 last on was a cousin. Ancestors are German and Scottish.
Father’s side my sister just did one going back seven generations. Ancestors are French, German, Swiss, Irish, English, Passamaquoddies and Algonquin.

rojo's avatar

Let’s see, Dads side, Publicans and merchants back as far as 1764 In the Valley of the Horse, Berkshire & Publicans and farm laborers to 1840’s Devonshire, England
Moms side, Scouser dockers as far back as 1890’s, Liverpool, England & Irish immigrants from Desertmartin, Derry, Ireland about 1872ish.

muppetish's avatar

My ancestry is in bits and pieces. We don’t have a designated record keeper or a formal family tree. My mum can trace her heritage back a few generations, but I am unaware of my father’s side of the family because of not-so-pleasant relationships.

My mother, as best she can trace, has roots in England, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, and Russia. My father’s roots are Mexico and Spain.

Personally, I can only name family members back to my grandparents (and I only met one—my paternal grandmother.) The cultural heritage that dominated this bracket of my family is American. I am very much a stranger to the heritage that I have inherited.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@muppetish Same here with my bio-dad. Supposedly his family were rich plantation owners in the deep south at one point but that’s all I really have on them. My grandfather’s family supposedly have some kind of Russian roots but I can’t trace it back.

ragingloli's avatar

My glorious family line goes back 2.4 billion of your earth years, and everyone of my 6 trillion strong family knows every detail of it.

Judi's avatar

I think I want to do that DNA test. :-) what’s it called?
@ragingloli, I wish you would have brought your advanced DNA technology with you when you came so you could help us decipher our own meager histories. :-(

Sunny2's avatar

@ragingloli Do you have any of the early hieroglyphic history? It’s probably worth something now. Even if it only says something like “arriving day after tomorrow.”

Linda_Owl's avatar

My Grand Mother’s family came from England & her family included the Blackstones (early Judges & Attorneys in England), they settled in Georgia. My Grand Father’s family came from France & Scotland, they settled in North Carolina.

SavoirFaire's avatar

My grandmother traced our history back to the tenth century. I digitized her research, and now we have a database that anyone in the family can add to.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I am Irish, English and German. Funny thing is all three lines claim to go back to the Norsemen, but we haven’t verified it yet.

YARNLADY's avatar

Only in a very general sense, as discovered by doing research on I have very little personal information about my ancestors before the ones I actually met.

dxs's avatar

I only know up to my great-grandparents. I wish I knew more. I’ll have to ask.

Blondesjon's avatar

I was adopted as an infant. I have no clue who my parents are let alone my certainly suds soaked lineage.

1TubeGuru's avatar

I had three pairs of Great Grand parents who came from Germany and one pair from France, my last name refers to the town of Waldeck in Hessen Germany.

OneBadApple's avatar

A hundred years ago, my maternal grandfather, a tough-as-nails Sicilian immigrant, was a lightweight prizefighter who, it was told to me, never lost. “Jimmy Wild”, they called him.

As a boy, this made me very proud, but in later years I learned that he regularly used his punching prowess on my grandmother and all of their children, especially my mother.

So, thank you for being so nice to me, Jimmy. I love you and miss you.


Seek's avatar

@Blondesjon – do you ever get a little freaked out wondering what landmines are hiding in your DNA? It wigs me out, man.

OneBadApple's avatar

I kind of know him. He’ll be fine….

Blondesjon's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr . . . It used to. Luckily I am a paragon of healthy living.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m Ashkenazi Jewish on both sides all the way back as far as you can go as far as I know. My Maternal side is mostly Russian, a little Latvian, and a little bit either Austrian or Swiss, we are not clear on the last part. My paternal side is from Latvia and I recently found out that possibly before Latvia my great grandfather was in Hungry.

Judi's avatar

@JLeslie, does your family know the lineage all the way to Abraham?

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi I smiled because my grandfather’s name is Abraham. To answer your question, no, not even close. I wish I knew beyond my great grandparents, but I don’t. My assumption is my family were all Jews, because I know that back to my great grandparents they were all Jewish. I think intermarriage would be even less likely in Russia or Latvia since there was so much antisemitism there for so long. Jews were very clannish if you go back far enough; like many groups and religions. Marrying outside of the faith would usually mean you would be shunned. But, you never know. There could have been a child out of wedlock or a forbidden marriage if we go back a few hundred years. I really don’t know.

Haleth's avatar

My paternal granddad has traced it back to the 1600s on his side of the family, and back to about the 1800s on my mother’s side. My last name is really unusual, and I’ve never met anyone outside my immediate family who had it. He has tracked ancestors to tiny, individual villages.

As far as my ancestry, if they came through Ellis Island in droves, I’m probably related to them. My ancestors are Italian, Turkish, Greek, Albanian, Russian, and Polish. A lot of them were peasants and farmers in Europe, and factory workers once they came here.

My grandmother keeps telling me she’s related to Anistasia, but that it’s a secret. I’m like, no, granny, we’re descended from dirt farmers. She also thinks half the men in the old folks home are in love with her, and that the women are jealous because she’s stealing their boyfriends. She goes to the salon there almost every week to get her hair changed to a different color and all her favorite clothes and makeup are bright pink. It’s kind of silly, but fuck it, she’s eighty, and she’s always been like that. As long as it makes her happy, I guess.

filmfann's avatar

Genealogy is a favorite hobby of mine. I am Bohemian, Scottish, Irish, Scottish, and German.
Most of my ancestors were here before the revolution. The Bohemians came here in 1860, and were the last of my family to arrive.

JLeslie's avatar

@Haleth Have you tried to look them up on the Ellis Island website? The record search is very good. You can see the ship they came over on, who else was on the ship, and more.

OneBadApple's avatar

Just before he died, I visited my father-in-law in a nursing home. The customary row of elderlies in wheelchairs were lined-up along the entrance wall. As I walked by, a lady reached out and patted me on the ass.

That wasn’t your Grandma, was it @Haleth ??

28lorelei's avatar

My mother’s family history can be tracked to around 1100, thanks to the Finnish Lutheran Church’s records. My dad’s family history is much muddier… beyond my great-grandparents, we know very little, if anything at all.

MadMadMax's avatar

Ancestry Composition tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 22 populations worldwide. The analysis includes DNA you received from all of your ancestors, on both sides of your family. The results reflect where your ancestors lived 500 years ago, before ocean-crossing ships and airplanes came on the scene.

100% European

Northern European

19.3% French & German Connected to the British Isles, Scandinavia, southern Europe and eastern Europe, France and Germany have seen myriad peoples come and go over the last ten thousand years.

10.7% British & Irish When people first arrived in the regions now known as Great Britain and Ireland tens of thousands of years ago, these two regions were physically joined to one another. Today the people of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland descend from Celtic, Saxon, and Viking ancestors.

1.7% Scandinavian
0.4% Finnish
29.0% Nonspecific Northern European
13.7% Eastern European

13% Ashkenazi DNA shows clearly the connections among those who consider themselves to be Ashkenazi Jewish: two Ashkenazi Jewish people are very likely to be “genetic cousins”, sharing long stretches of identical DNA. This sharing reflects the close knit nature of this population.

Southern European

1.0% Italian

3.7% Nonspecific Southern European

7.9% Nonspecific European

Both men and women receive information about their mother’s and father’s ancestry from the 22 other pairs of chromosomes. Your health reports, DNA Relatives matches, and Ancestry Composition, for example, come from both sides of your ancestry – half maternal and half paternal. The analysis performed on the DNA is the same for both men and women.

dxs's avatar

@MadMadMax How can I get this analysis? I’m interested in my roots.

MadMadMax's avatar

How can I get this analysis? I’m interested in my roots?

My son and his wife had it done by 23andme. Then he wanted to know which parent he inherited what from so he bought us each a test kit. It’s been amazingly informative plus gives you inherited traits and diseases that are passed by DNA. Now my big problem is that my father is no longer alive so I can’t do a split Ancestry chart. However I know my father’s mother was Jewish so there’s the 13% Ashkenazi in me.

If your parents are alive and willing to be tested, and you and a husband/so are tested and your kids are tested, you have a great ancestral map.

JLeslie's avatar

@MadMadMax I thought everyone traces back to Africa, so I wonder how exactly that works? I understand the 23 pairs, and genes in general, so I don’t mean that. But, it seems like everyone should have some African I would think?

MadMadMax's avatar

It gives you your ancestry back 500 years plus they specifically search for Neanderthal genes.

My husband is almost 100% Ashkenazie but does not have Middle Eastern DNA. It was explained to us that Europe was settled by Jews fleeing around the time of the Roman Empire – there were multiple Diasporas and many married local European women and then became very insular, so that was thousands of years ago not only 500.

We all apparently started in Africa. It would take a more comprehensive DNA study to break down our ancestry further.

There are others like but I don’t know if they provide the medical info, inherited traits, etc. They can be highly informative.

JLeslie's avatar

@MadMadMax The Jews are such a small group. A woman I know who works in the sciences said a colleague of hers was studying the Jews because of the small numbers and the idea the group is closely related to each other, and diseases and other genetic things have a higher rate of showing themselves. I don’t know the conclusions to the work he was doing. Of course it is common knowledge Tay Sachs is a concern, but he was looking at much more than that, My husband’s paternal side is Sephardic, more technically middle eastern, the sephardim basically put the middle east Jews under their wing, and his family has a genetic disease of the region, both Jews and nonjews get it.

I was wondering the other day if color blindness is seen a lot among Ashkenazi Jews? My dad is color blind, and I know a couple Jewish Jellies here are.

OneBadApple's avatar

100 years from now, my great-great-great-grandchildren will find me on and likely say, “You know…my great-great-great-grandfather…..wasn’t that f**kin’ great….”

dxs's avatar

But he sure as hell had a good lurve score!

OneBadApple's avatar

Sweet Jesus, I hope they at least consider that….

Judi's avatar

Apparently my daughter has been going nutty on She traced my fathers side back to coming over with the Puritans.
She never really knew her father so she has been having fun tracing her ancestry there as well.
I often daydream about how my ancestors would feel about myself and my children now. Would they be proud? Disappointed?
Then I wonder how many people I will have spawned in 200 years. I already have 8 grandchildren. How many grandchildren will each of them have? It kind of blows my mind.

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi Wow, coming over with the Puritans. That’s so awesome.

Judi's avatar

I guess I could be a Daughter of the American Revolution.

JLeslie's avatar

A few of my friends in MI are DAR’s. The first time I heard that was in college when I moved there.

Seek's avatar

I have a younger brother who blows his student loan money on stupid things. I just sent him the 23 and Me link. Hopefully next time he feels like blowing $100, he’ll do it.

That way we can find out just how full of crap my dad was when he said he was born in Ireland. ^_^

Watch it come back we’re all Norwegian or something, and my whole life is a lie!

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi I hadn’t seen that, but what hit me most was the quote in the middle puttng Jews lowest on the totem pole. (Is that expression not PC anymore? As a side not rom what I understand it is innaccurate, and that being low on the totem pole is actually the better position.)

I always tell Jewish people who aren’t religious, or who are intermarried and don’t plan on raising their children with religion, they might as well let their kids know that a lot of people will see them as Jewish no matter what.

I have a copy of the letter my great uncle wrote to his sister (my grandma) when he was stationed in Europe during WWII and he refers to Germans and Jews as different races. It’s so odd to me to think of Jewish people as a race. But, maybe this genetic testing is saying there is a Jewish race?

Judi's avatar

Isn’t the Jewish Race Hebrew ancestry?

Judi's avatar

@JLeslie , were you referring to the quote in the middle from 1916? I think the author was pointing out our history of error.

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi I guess it is a matter of how people define race. My husband and I are both white, but his ancestry is from the meditteranean region. Middle Eastern Jewish, Spanish and French. His paternal grandparents are 100% Middle Eastern Jews as far as we know. Are they the same as Ashkenazi Jews? They have different genetic diseases. Coloring is different. Come from different regions of the world in the last several hundred years.

Yes, I realize the quote was showing our error, but I had never even heard of Jews being addedd into that sort of thought process. I’ve heard of it with black people, Asians, Polynesian, I just found it interesting. I’m not upset about it.

gailcalled's avatar

As the oldest living cousin on both sides of my family, I have fallen into the role of historian. Luckily, both of my grandfathers wrote long and detailed autobiographies that gave me enough information to plumb the genealogical sites.

Since I knew who, when and where, I found wonderful things, including a history (with original document and photos) of the schtetl where my paternal grandfather, the inestimable Benjamin Finkel the first, grew up.

Sadly, the Jews in the schtetl were massacred by Lithuanian collaborators in 1941, but that did trigger huge amounts of research and documentation.

I was then able to pump my cousins for their memories and photos.

Here’s Ben’s home until he immigrated in 1880. His grandfather was an architect and built the house. His father turned it into a guest house and brewery. I paid someone to translate the Lithuanian signage. it appears that the sign on the right is an ad for a Finkel woman who is a dentist.

And here is the gravestone of a Finkel buried in 1804 in the cemetery in Serey, Lithuania.

I also discovered a branch of one of Ben’s sisters’ family due to a fluther question. An unknown first-cousin, once removed, tracked me down when Google kicked up my name in relation to Finkel Umbrella Frame Company and opened up a whole new world. She introduced us to Bertha Finkel, one of Ben’s sisters. That’s a very young Ben, next to her.

One great resource was the various census information just before the turn of the twentieth century and for forty years after. Since I knew the address and the names of my grandparents and their kids, I was able to get the facsimiles of the original census pages, including the fact that my grandfather’s original language had been written as Russian and then crossed out and changed to Polish. It was, in fact, Lithuanian.

Judi's avatar

That’s awesome @gailcalled

Judi's avatar

@JLeslie , what’s MI?

gailcalled's avatar

Erratum; This is how history is rewritten. The young woman with my grandfather Benjamin Finkel is not Bertha but Clara. He had several sisters and step-sisters.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Judi I’m guessing it stands for Michigan.

Judi's avatar

@SavoirFaire , in that context? I was thinking it was another group like Daughters of the American Revolution.

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi Michigan

@gailcalled That’s wonderful you have those photos and some information. I live the fluther happenstance. I found cousins on Facebook I didn’t know I had. One of the good things about having a rare surname, and several rare one throughtout the family. I really want to find a group of cousins on my father’s side, but his aunt married a Miller, and there are so many Millers. We haven’t been able to find them.

MadMadMax's avatar

@JLeslie MOST of the settlers who came over on the Mayflower were not Puritans – they were planning to sail south to established colonies in New Amsterdam and Massachusetts I believe but established history has lead us to focus on the small group of Puritans onboard who were relocating again from Holland which they found to be too liberal.

Historians think that leaders in New Amsterdam actually were adverse to the Puritans settling there and paid the captain of the Mayflower et al to land at Plymouth Rock instead. They were socially problematic

MadMadMax's avatar

Sephardic Jews trace their lineages to Spain and Portugal – they escaped the Spanish Inquisition and left to settle in places like South America and even South Africa. Some came back up from South America and settled in New Amsterdam – they were initially blocked by Gov. Stuyvesant but his tactics were stopped by the Dutch who demanded he welcome them.

So the earliest Jewish settlement in NYC was Sephardic Jew. Most have both Sephardic and Ashkenazi ancestry. They left the middle east during the Diasporas, the same as the Ashkenazi but simply settled in a different part of Europe.

My husband’s father is Sephardi which showed up on The Gnome Project years ago. That was not addressed by 23andme since Sephardi all tend to have Ashkenazi connections but I would have like to have seen it addressed.

ibstubro's avatar

I ran into this just before I saw your question.

I’m a mutt. Scottish, English, French. The major Caucasian food groups. :)

JLeslie's avatar

@MadMadMax Yes, I know many of the first Jews that settled here were Sephardic. I was just reading up on the synogogue in Savannah, the third congregation in America, and it was started by mostly Sephardic Jews who had left the Iberian peninsula for England, and then came to America having felt still religiously oppressed in England. My husband’s family are “Mizrahi” Jews. As far as I know they did not come from the Iberian Peninsual before the Middle East and northeast Africa. They just always were in the Middle East I think. The family spoke Arabic and Hebrew not Ladino. But, correct me if I am wrong about the middle east Jews. History is my worst subject.

Thanks for the clarification about the Puritans.

Strauss's avatar

Wow! I can’t believe I haven’t seen this thread before!

My family name is a loose transliteration of what we thought was a Slovene name. However, I found a settlement in Croatia that has exactly the same spelling as the original spelling. My paternal grandmother came over as a child in 1888. My grandfather immigrated as a young man in the mid-1890’s. They married in 1896.

My maternal grandparents came over separately from Ireland, met and wed her in the US. My mother’s father’s father (my GGF) made several trips back and forth, and eventually the whole family came over. My Grandmother’s father was in Ireland, had several of his children move across the pond, and he finally made the trip over to visit his children. While he was over her, the great influenza pandemic of 1918–1920 took his life as well as that of his daughter, my grandmother.

Seek's avatar


My brother’s 23andme test came back a couple of months ago.

Our haplotypes show origins in the British Isles, with a touch of Scandinavian. The specific haplotype for my father’s side is attributed to relatives of the Ui Neill family. So, Irish, with a bit of Viking blood. Which makes sense, when you take the history of Ireland into account.

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