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Searching for the past

About two years ago, I submitted a DNA sample for genealogic analysis. The results came back as I expected, over 80% Southern Italian, 4% Greek, and the rest from other parts of the region. I did not know their sampling only went back to the 1600s.

Recently, I started doing genealogical research and assembling my family tree. I subscribed to a site that uses data from the Church of Latter-Day Saints, the largest and best repository of worldwide genealogy and records.

I submitted the DNA analysis from the other company to their site. Their genealogy sampling goes back 10,000 years, so the percentages were different.

The results:

  • Greek/Southern Italian- 77.6%
  • Sardinian- 10.1%
  • North African- 6.7%
  • Mideast- 4.8%
  • Nigerian- 0.8%

The surprise was having more Greek DNA than Southern Italian. But going back 10,000 years makes sense, as Sicily was part of the Greek Empire. 

The rest was not. Historically, the Mediterranean region was an area of trade, conquering, and repopulation. The Phoenicians- Modern-day Lebanon and parts of Israel and Syria- conducted trade with and populated Sicily. 

North African areas did the same as the Phoenicians or conquered parts of the island. Egypt was the highest percentage, though it was less than 1%. 

Nigeria was the surprise. Who knows, I may be related to one of those billionaire Nigerian royals who keep sending me emails to help them move their money. I could email them back, “Hello, brother.”

Through record searches, I found my maternal grandfather had a brother we did not know existed. My paternal grandfather was denied citizenship in 1925 by the Labor Department* for “ignorance, refusing to learn,” whatever that meant. I find new information or records about my parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins every day. I found the names of my paternal great-grandparents, along with great aunts, uncles, and third, fourth, and fifth cousins.

The records available are sometimes overwhelming- draft notices, ship manifests, passport applications, news stories, yearbook pictures, wedding announcements, etc. The written government records are occasionally hard to read, as they were handwritten using fountain pens. This explains why many names, including the maternal side of my family, were misspelled.

I limit the research time because it is too easy to go down an hours-long rabbit hole searching records, census data, news items, and even yearbooks. The research gets addictive.

I discovered some minor discrepancies from what I was told about my family. My family tree is expanding. I lost contact with most of my cousins, but their information is out there. 

If you have the time and the money- the genealogy sites charge subscription fees- you should search your past. If you submit DNA, make sure the companies go back thousands of years for more accuracy. 

We concentrate too much on the real, perceived, or false sins of history in this era of victimhood and grievance. You should research your own. You learn where your people came from, where they settled, who they were, and who you are.

*The Department of Labor handled immigration and naturalization until the founding of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1933.

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