As regular readers will know from my previous article, my Ancestry DNA results came back and I was very interested by the results. They were no great surprise (basically I am half German, half Irish/British with some Scandinavian from the Vikings, and some other minor markers) but it was nice to know more or less what I was.
I was born in South Africa to parents of foreign heritage (Irish father, German mother) and most of their relatives remained in Europe when their parents emigrated to Africa. My parents died before I was interested in where I came from, and our family background. So I know nothing of my extended family. My father, for example, did not have a single relative in South Africa apart from his parents. My mother had both her siblings and parents.
I did the DNA test just to see what my heritage was. Mainly because I had no one else to ask. Many people – particularly in the US – use this form of test to research their family tree. I know my family tree is pretty stunted with my branch dying off after I kick the bucket, so researching my family tree has never interested me.
HOWEVER, having said that, I have now been discovered by two 3rd cousins on my mother’s side and one 3rd cousin on my father’s side. When my grandparents left Europe with their immediate family, they left their parents and siblings behind. And the children of those siblings have contacted me. They have done more family research than I have, so I now have access to quite detailed history of my family.
The strangest thing is, my personal details are not on the site (no name, no location, no age). My DNA profile is there though, and it suggests matches to people with similar DNA. The people that found me all have my mother and father’s family names still – Häfele/Haefele and Carr respectively. My grandfather’s one brother settled in Pittsburgh and I have lots of cousins there! All that from a small saliva sample! I am amazed! The internet can be a wonderful thing!
You do have an option when you do the test to not be contactable. But in my case I felt if it helped others do family research, why not. I know what it is like to not know anything about your family and if I can help others not to have to go through that, why not?