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Old 03-11-2021, 06:09 PM
 
1,515 posts, read 519,484 times
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One of my closest friends has really gotten into tracing her ancestry and genealogy. She has sent in DNA to at least two different places, gotten the results which have been pored over. She also takes a fairly intellectual approach reading books on European ancestry in general.

I would like to get into this at least a little, so I can share with her, but frankly, I just don’t see the appeal or and am even a little put off by it.

Here are my objections which may seem silly as I really do not know much about the field/hobby. Maybe someone can set me straight?

1. I don’t think knowing my ancestors is going to tell me any more about myself or really enhance my life. Already I feel kind of different from the relatives I know I have and think a fair portion of them are well ... kinda crazy. Do I want more crazy in my life? Um ... not really?

2. When I was growing up, I saw genealogical accounts of both my mother and father’s side of the family. My father’s side even had a little book made up. I didn’t really think it was that interesting at the time. I mean I know that my mother’s family is basically all German and my father’s family was a mix of English, Irish, Scottish and Swedish. Ok, so? My friend’s response to this is that I don’t really know the truth. I don’t know about the quality of the research that went into those books. But let’s say the genealogical research based on DNA showed that I had some distant relatives in, I don’t know, say ... India. So what? It doesn’t make me a different person ... it doesn’t really even make me part Indian because I didn’t grow up in that culture.

3. Are those companies even totally legit? How do you know the little maps of where your ancestors lived are actually accurate?

4. The maps my friends was so excited about look really vague to me.

5. isn’t this a tad narcissistic?

So, why are you so into this? Can you explain to me what makes this a great hobby?
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Old 03-11-2021, 06:50 PM
 
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Like most hobbies, it's not for everybody, I would think of knitting and crocheting as a boring hobby, but I'm sure some love it!

I started back in October 2018 because I was curious about my ancestors and wanted to build a family tree from scratch.

I think of it as solving a vast multi-layer, multi-dimensional puzzle, while being a detective at the same time. Does it change who I am, not really, does it give me better insight of what my ancestors did and what they had to go through when they were alive, surely.

I also love geography and looking at old maps and new maps and seeing how my ancestors moved from place to place and where they came from.

3/4 of my ancestors came over from Eastern Europe in the early 20th Century and while I know where they were born in the "old country" that's about all I know so far, and one day I would love to visit all of those places and see where they grew up.

The other 1/4 of my ancestors, came over to America in the 1600s and 1700s, I might even be a Mayflower descendant! Right now I've been jumping from branch to branch on this quarter section of my tree.

I'm current working on my 6G-grandfather who lived from 1710-1778, he was murdered by 3 soldiers of the PA Line for refusing to serve them liquor in his tavern, near Seely's Grove, Lower Smithfield Township, Pennsylvania. The three were subsequently executed by hanging the following year.

His great-great-grandfather, my 10G-grandfather came over to America in 1630, ten years after the Mayflower in 1620, and was one of the first settlers in Connecticut. I find it fascinating, but I totally understand your point of view, like I started my post off with, it's not for everybody!

Last edited by cjseliga; 03-11-2021 at 07:02 PM..
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Old 03-11-2021, 07:58 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjseliga View Post
Like most hobbies, it's not for everybody, I would think of knitting and crocheting as a boring hobby, but I'm sure some love it!

I started back in October 2018 because I was curious about my ancestors and wanted to build a family tree from scratch.

I think of it as solving a vast multi-layer, multi-dimensional puzzle, while being a detective at the same time. Does it change who I am, not really, does it give me better insight of what my ancestors did and what they had to go through when they were alive, surely.
Ok, now that sounds interesting.

Quote:
3/4 of my ancestors came over from Eastern Europe in the early 20th Century and while I know where they were born in the "old country" that's about all I know so far, and one day I would love to visit all of those places and see where they grew up.
I don’t know. Personally, I’ve already visited Europe a lot. A lot a lot (like I lived there for a couple of years and did a lot of traveling). Also, what these towns look like now is probably not at all what they were like when your ancestors were living there, so there’s that.

On the other hand, I did feel something of a thrill when I visited Gothenburg, Sweden, because I knew that was where my father’s mother’s family had emigrated from.

Quote:
The other 1/4 of my ancestors, came over to America in the 1600s and 1700s, I might even be a Mayflower descendant! Right now I've been jumping from branch to branch on this quarter section of my tree.
But what if you find out if your family did come over on the Mayflower? My husband’s father’s ancestors came over on the ship right after the Mayflower and what can I say? Their family is a snooze-fest (but at least they aren’t crazy like mine). Having such a long ascendancy in this country does NOT make them magically interesting or anything.

Quote:
I'm current working on my 6G-grandfather who lived from 1710-1778, he was murdered by 3 soldiers of the PA Line for refusing to serve them liquor in his tavern, near Seely's Grove, Lower Smithfield Township, Pennsylvania. The three were subsequently executed by hanging the following year.

His great-great-grandfather, my 10G-grandfather came over to America in 1630, ten years after the Mayflower in 1620, and was one of the first settlers in Connecticut. I find it fascinating, but I totally understand your point of view, like I started my post off with, it's not for everybody!
Maybe some good angle for a historical novel?
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Old 03-11-2021, 08:01 PM
 
Location: The High Desert
10,632 posts, read 5,732,434 times
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OP may have heard more than she cares to hear if both parental sides have researched the family history and one has a published genealogy. There might not be a whole lot to research within reach. There is a judgmental thread in her post. She has “crazy” relatives but not interested in why. It all seems narcissistic. Are the DNA companies even legitimate?

One thing a DNA test will do is throw a wrench into the past research. History is complicated and if one has no curiosity about the historical context of their ancestors’ lives, it all will be quite boring. But, those German ancestors might not actually be German by DNA but culturally. The tug of war between the Irish, English, and Scots goes back centuries and her ancestors likely had a role in it that might be interesting. She might discover a stronger sense of ownership in the US if her ancestors were here long enough to participate in the events of American history. How did they get here and why?

There probably will be some surprises and confusion. There might be a story behind her relatives and the craziness. There might be heartbreaking or horrific stories too painful to explore. Just set a goal like trying to identify the first person in each line to come to America. That’s what my goal was: find the earliest arrival. It turns out he was here in 1608 on an exploratory voyage and went back home — but he told his kids about the New World and they came over and stayed a couple decades later and produced thousands of descendants including a couple Presidents and a couple First Ladies. For me, that first goal turned into a second and third. Others might not care enough to pursue one goal.
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Old 03-11-2021, 08:18 PM
 
Location: In the Pearl of the Purchase, Ky
8,871 posts, read 14,307,555 times
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I've posted about this before, but my wife has been working on her family tree for over 40 years. Her grandmother gave her all the material she had and my wife went from there. But that, of course was BC(Before Computers). She couldn't get online to check on ancestry or any other genealogical website. Any information she found, she had to hunt for. Went through all kinds of birth and death certificates, census records, marriage licenses from way back. That included writing people asking for information and then being referred to somebody else who "might" have what she was looking for. When you go to the web sites today, you can get, in about 5 minutes, information that it took no telling how many people many many years to collect. I've helped her, hunting for old cemeteries and getting pictures of tombstones for somebody we don't even know, for their geneology.
I joke with her that the only reason she married me was to have two more families to trace. She traced my dad's family to the Lord Mayor of London in the 1400s. Found out Myles Standish is in my mother's lineage.
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Old 03-11-2021, 08:30 PM
 
1,515 posts, read 519,484 times
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Thanks for the responses. I just remembered another reason why I don’t do genealogy. My husband’s ex-wife was extremely into genealogy, and he hates everything that reminds him of her.

The one thing that I do find interesting is looking at old cemeteries (don’t matter if my relatives were buried there or not), but that is something he will refuse to do because she used to do the cemetery thing. I guess I don’t care enough to press the point.

Maybe I’ll just lurk here and read the stories of everyone’s ancestors. I’m sure there are a lot of good ones.
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Old 03-12-2021, 05:30 AM
 
7,537 posts, read 4,692,518 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jill_Schramm View Post
Ok, now that sounds interesting.

I don’t know. Personally, I’ve already visited Europe a lot. A lot a lot (like I lived there for a couple of years and did a lot of traveling). Also, what these towns look like now is probably not at all what they were like when your ancestors were living there, so there’s that.

On the other hand, I did feel something of a thrill when I visited Gothenburg, Sweden, because I knew that was where my father’s mother’s family had emigrated from.

But what if you find out if your family did come over on the Mayflower? My husband’s father’s ancestors came over on the ship right after the Mayflower and what can I say? Their family is a snooze-fest (but at least they aren’t crazy like mine). Having such a long ascendancy in this country does NOT make them magically interesting or anything.

Maybe some good angle for a historical novel?
Of course the towns are not going to look the same, I have also been to Europe a few times, but not to where my ancestors are from. Luckily many of the churches where my great-grandparents were baptized are still around and were not destroyed during WWII.

If I am able to get a positive Mayflower connection, I would probably just add it to my tree and I might bring it up to my family and friends, but that's about it.

I also have multiple ancestors that fought in the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and the Civil War and having been to many of those battle sites, I find it quite interesting.

Like I mentioned, in my first post, genealogy is NOT for everyone, like they say, "to each their own", I realize you're trying to understand the fascination with genealogy and why your friend is so into it, but I would never "put down" or make fun of someone who has different tastes and hobbies than mine! If you feel you have a "boring" family tree and could care less about genealogy, that is fine, we are all different.
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Old 03-12-2021, 05:47 AM
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
41,611 posts, read 51,500,992 times
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I am lucky that my ancestors were solid, hardworking, healthy individuals. It comforts me to know that this is the kind of stock I come from. In times of stress, I can get strength from knowing that I have the stuff to soldier through. This is what knowing my ancestry has given me.

If I had a different kind of family, I would feel differently about knowing my ancestry. If I had lots of divorces, criminals or a lot of mental illness, I think it would drag me down, so I would not want to know it.

To me, it’s really fun to be able to google earth the exact address in England where my great grandparents lived in the 1800s.
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Old 03-12-2021, 06:51 AM
 
Location: SW Florida
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I agree with Jill. I find genealogy quite boring although I have a cousin who is very into it. It doesn't change my life one bit even after I found out the man I thought was my father for 64 years wasn't. My mother, shortly before she died admitted what I had suspected for years. Still didn't change my life much as both fathers are already dead. It just gave me a new respect for the father that raised me as he always treated me like his own flesh and blood.
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Old 03-12-2021, 06:59 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
56,712 posts, read 45,003,633 times
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What I found out when I did a DNA test:

1) Most of it lined up exactly with my known family history (my dad was into genealogy).
2) I am the whitest person I have ever known. So much for the "Indian princess" myth. Same with Jewish ancestry - not a whit of it showed up.
3) I found out that many of my northern European ancestors were apparently Vikings and that I have Scandinavian ancestry, which is cool.
4) My hunch was correct when it comes to mental health - it IS largely genetic. My mother and my brother were/are mentally ill, seriously so. My mother's family is rife with it. I am 59 years old with no mental health issues, so I feel safe. However, my mental health "risk" genetically is 11 percent, while the average is 2 percent.
5) No other physical DNA risks showed up, thank goodness.
6) I have a lot less German DNA than I thought, and that's mixed with French (I did know that). But I showed up as nearly 90 percent British Isles. I have a German maiden name! But apparently these German dudes just kept marrying women of British ancestry. Oh well. Yay, I guess. Who knew?
7) It makes me wonder about my brother, who looks a lot more "Germanic" than me, and is also really into German history (I've always been an unabashed Anglophile). I wonder if he got more DNA from that branch of the family - is that how it works?
8) I am a Neanderthal. LOL

I think it's interesting for me personally, in part because I am so into history in general and this sort of fleshes things out for me. For instance, my grandmother was of Scottish ancestry, but her people had moved to and lived in what is now the US since the early 1700s so of course she considered herself to be American, period. But a few years ago, I FINALLY made the trip to northern England, where much of my family is from (my grandmother's family was from all over Scotland and the border region of northern England - Northumberland and Yorkshire), and I was immediately struck by, of all things, the cooking. Much of it, my grandmother had been cooking, as she'd learned from her mother, and her grandmother, and great grandmother, down the line. Also, I recognized many of the mannerisms of the people. I kept thinking "Grandmother would love it here."
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