I’ve always been interested in where I “came from” since I was very young. My parents always told me that as far as they knew, we were mostly German and since I was a young kid, I was interested in German culture and language. In middle and high school, I took German language classes and when I was 17 went on a 10 day trip to Germany, Austria and Switzerland as part of my class. That was my very first time being out of the country and I remember how exciting it was to see parts of the world that my ancestors grew up in! I remember the Alps, the black forest, cuckoo clocks like my grandfather had in his old farm house, cathedrals, palaces, and castles like Neuschwanstein!
It was almost as if I knew I was “home” when I was walking through the streets of Munich and Vienna.
I also remembered being enthralled with my Uncle and Aunt that lived in Germany for most of my life growing up. They would bring us special candy and chocolate that we couldn’t get in the states and I looked forward to them visiting us every year.
So, for Christmas this year I ignored every item that my husband said he wanted for Christmas and instead got us 23 and me kits! I was really hoping he’d be excited to get one because we’ve been talking about it here and there for several years now. When he opened it, he was a little skeptical about sending in his DNA and having his information “out there” but I convinced him to send it in because I was dying to get a better look at my ancestry and health reports. He eventually came around 😎
As you may have read from my previous blog posts, I have several health concerns that I consistently deal with and what a better way to give myself even more anxiety than to find out if I’ll die sooner than I thought. LOL. All kidding aside, I was quite curious about what we’d find.
After about a week or two of excessively refreshing my 23 and me app, my results were finally posted. Good thing it was on a Saturday because I wouldn’t have been able to focus at work.
My ancestry results were mostly what I had been expecting. All my life I’ve been told that we were from a long line of German ancestors. I probably even have some French and Swiss mixed in. What was surprising though was that I also have some Italian background. To me, knowing for sure what my background is kind of allows me to get to know myself even better. I am so interested to know what my ancestor’s lives were like, where they lived, what kind of jobs they had, etc. The cool thing about the 23 and me program is that anyone who shares DNA with you also comes up and you are able to connect with them. I found that I share DNA with a lot of people that have already used the program and was able to connect with some long lost cousins of mine.
However, I was still curious about my other relatives, the ones that lived in Europe and immigrated here to the USA. So with this new information, I became even more attracted to the idea of finding my ancestors. I ended up contacting another cousin of mine who found some of my family listed in a book that was published. I followed some rabbit holes and ended up on ancestry.com and was able to (over several days) trace back 5-6th great grandparents that originally lived in Germany! I found that many of relatives served in most of our history’s wars (revolutionary, civil, WWI, WWII) and I even found out where their grave sites are located (not far from where I actually grew up). Many of my ancestors were carpenters, masons, and farmers.
The very coolest thing about what I discovered though was that my family name comes from an actual town in Germany near Nuremberg (which is exactly what came up from our DNA test). I was freaking out when I discovered this. It was interesting to see how my last name had changed through the years due to misspellings on various documents.
It turns out my husband’s family is also mostly European with ancestors from Germany, France, Britain, Poland, Greece and Spain. Since he’s never been to Europe I think it’s time we planned another trip in the next few years to go visit our homelands and to experience our ancestry together.
Have any of you had similar experiences with using the 23 and me and ancestry programs? I would love to hear some of your stories.