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Americans are obsessed with their genealogy! I attribute it to our lack of a collective heritage. My German friends and my Dutch friend have all remarked how much Americans loving researching and talking about their ancestry. I definitely fall into that stereotype!!!
Last summer, my Dad asked me if I would start researching our family history. I jokingly told my Mom, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we were related to someone in the American Revolutionary War?” Well, after researching non-stop for weeks (it becomes addictive), I found out that my 8th great-grandfather fought in the American Revolutionary War (I guess I should leave out the part where he deserted his militia???). I also found out my Grandma’s father was Slovakian, not Czech (read more here). I was able to trace the boat my Dad’s ancestors took from Bremen, Germany to Ellis Island and I even managed to trace part of my Dad’s family back to the 1400’s in southern Germany/Switzerland. So yes, I definitely have an obsession with researching my genealogy.
It reached an all-time high when my parents decided to get their DNA tested (no joke). The testing can’t pinpoint exact countries but instead pinpoints regions of the world (which probably makes more sense due to changing borders, migration, etc.). The results above are of the averages of my parents. I didn’t add this on the map but I’m also 1% Middle Eastern and 1% Asia South (India area) It is really interesting to see how much (or how little) I have in me of some regions. For instance, I always assumed I had more Great Britain in me but never would have guessed I had Scandinavian in me. Obviously, these tests aren’t perfect and I could have more or less of each region in me (there is a whole standard deviation and range that they use). Furthermore, DNA evolves over time and some prominent traits remain while others don’t pass along. It is actually quite fascinating to read about the entire process!
I thought this post was particularly relevant and interesting because no one can ever figure out my nationality in Germany! Since living here, people have assumed I’m Italian, Spanish, and Turkish to name a few. I tend to have darker features which I attribute to my Grandma and her Croatian/Slovakian ancestry. I mean, I don’t speak Italian yet the Italian worker at our student cafeteria is convinced I’m Italian. At the Christmas market last year, a German just randomly started speaking Spanish to me (Hola?). And a few years ago, someone hurled a bunch of Turkish insults are me. Hellllo, yell at me because I’m American!
Anyways, I hope you find this as fascinating as I do! I’d love to know…what’s your family ancestry? Have you ever been mistaken for another nationality?
***UPDATE*** A bunch of people have asked how I do my ancestry research. I absolutely love Ancestry.com. Not only do they have a great website, but lots of useful tools. I do all my initial research on Ancestry.com and build my family tree through the website. Also, they will connect you with other members with the same people on their tree in hopes of you gaining more information. You can also get DNA kits through them for $99. You results are then put under your account and they connect you with other people on the website that have similar DNA as you (for instance, they have connected me to 3rd and 4th cousins). If I want more information on a person/place/event, I turn to my good friend Google :) Hope this helps!