Friday, September 12, 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?

I am a complete sucker for the TV show Who Do You Think You Are, in which pulls out all the genealogical stops to find something interesting in the ancestry of some celeb.

I mean, who doesn’t want to learn that Valerie Bertinelli is descended from British royalty? That Sarah Jessica Parker stems from a Salem witch? And that some celeb I’ve never heard of had a philandering murderer for his great-great-grandfather?

When it comes to my ancestry, I suspect that even wouldn’t find anything very interesting in the archives: farmer, farmer, peasant farmer…

Supposedly, my great-grandfather, Matthew Trainor, was a hedge-row teacher in County Louth, in Ireland, before he hopped on the boat for Amerikay.

Other than that, it’s pretty much farmer, farmer, peasant farmer…

But you never know what you might find when you start looking under the ancestry.rug.

So a few weeks ago, I spit in the cup and sent my DNA packing off to for DNA analysis.

As I am about as white-bread as you can get – half German, half-Irish, fair skin, blue eyes, light brown hair that started out blond – I wasn’t expecting anything very exotic. Still, I always wondered just whether my father – with his jet black hair, olive skin, and fabulous ability to tan-don’t-burn – had a wee drop of color in there somewhere. So I was kind of hoping to find out that I have some African ancestry.

But, no.

What I did find was that I’m 99% European stock, 1% Asian. And not just any old Asian: Mongol horde, all those “stan” country Asian. (Would I top Valerie Bertinelli if I found that my 20 times great grandfather was Genghis Khan?)

Where’s the rest of me from?


If you can’t quite read this screen shot, I’m 42% Western European, 38% Irish, 12% British, 4% Italian-Greek, 1% Iberian, 1% Scandinavian, and less than 1% Finnish/Russian.

The easiest way to interpret this is that my Irish father is responsible for the 38% Irish and 12% British, and my German mother the Western Europe, Asian, and mutt-mix.

With the last name of Rogers, I have always wondered whether one of Cromwell’s soldiers met a nice Irish girl in County Roscommon and decided that settling down with a colleen was a better idea than rampaging through the countryside killing Catholics. On the other hand, family lore has it that Rogers was an Anglicized version of McCrory/McGrory/McSomething.

At some point, I’ll have to hit the wayback machine and figure this one out.

And speaking of out, a probability range is attached to each ethnic bite, and the one attached to my being 12% Great Britain is 0 –33%.

So, with apologies to the wonderful folks from England, I’m going to cry Brits out, and get rid of that British heritage until I get proof positive that I actually am a proper Englishwoman. To the hounds! (I can just hear Nanny, my Irish grandmother, if someone suggested that her family was part-British. She would completely have fobbed it off on the Rogers, not the Trainors. And while the name Rogers, with its whiff of Brit, might suggest that she’d be right, her family was from the East Coast of Ireland, just across the pond from Great Britain. What’s to say that some English lad, out for a sail, didn’t run into a storm and get washed up on the shore near Dundalk…)

Anyway, the British blood doesn’t explain my father’s man-tan. That has to come from the 4% Italian-Greek connection, or the 1% Iberian peninsula route.

Of course, those numbers also have the same probability of zero at the lower end of the range. The only ethnic groups that I have a non-zero probability of being part of are Western Europe (which includes my ancestral home turf of Germany), where the probability range is 16 – 66%, and Ireland, where it’s 22-55%.

Thus, I can say with pretty much 100% confidence that I am Irish and Western European.

Which is not exactly the shock of the century.

Still, I was hoping for something a bit less Aryan Nation. That African I thought might show up. Some Polynesian. A bit of  European Jewish. American Indian. (Well, since I’m from relatively recent immigrant stock, having some native American blood would really have surprised me.)

Anyway, I’m hoping that in a few years, all this ethnic estimation is more refined, and can ferret even more info out.

Meine mutter, the German, had reddish-brown hair, green eyes, and exceedingly pale frecklish skin. Somewhere along the line, she’d heard that the neck of the woods where her ancestors hailed from (near Stuttgart) was populated by Celts.

Who knows?

Meanwhile, I will have to start brushing up on my Italian and my Greek.

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