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Don Anderson

TEDCRED 50+

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Have you dug into your Ancestry or DNA-ancestry? If yes: has the journey changed you?

I started digging almost a year ago, and wow what a journey.
A year ago I considered myself a typical American European mutt, not knowing or thinking about it.
Researching part-time I now know I come from a long line (5-9 generation) of good Americans, ranging from a great-great grandfather who immigrated as a farmer/peasant in 1846 from Prussia to my 9th great grandfather that was born in 1620 England and died in 1656 Maryland, US.
And although it is really cool knowing that and that in the 120+ pedigree ancestors their where no slave owners, those who fight for the union army and some in the US revolutionary war, those facts did not change me. But instead I learn that you don’t have to be a great leader and that being part of great historical events is magnificent. Or I could say being good is better than being great, that is to say it better to be a peasant that is part of a tyrant’s downfall, then a great general serving a tyrant.

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    Feb 21 2013: From what I've researched, I found out that my grandfather came from one of the ten lost tribes of Israel.I am a Muslim.It doesn't matter because we are all humans.I am still who I am and that doesn't change a thing about me. ;)
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    Feb 19 2013: My genealogical research has helped me understand why I am me.
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    Feb 26 2013: Just to be clear, when I say “change you” I’m not talking about quitting your job, moving back to the old country and learning your 14th great grandparent’s profession.
    For me I have found a productive mental exercise, I have researched history much more than I ever had, I tried to live a honorable life, but now do to my journey I learn of the nine noble virtues and it helped me defined myself and it has been a boost to myself image. So I’m still the same person, but I have been enhanced.

    A year ago before I started this journey I had no idea what is was getting myself into, only did it because of one of those celebrity ancestry shows, as always I needed a good gift idea for my parents, and because I don’t know how much more time I have to get family history from them.

    As more and more documents get scanned and transcribed, and DNA improves, I’m sure researching will get easier and more reviling. So I will not say rush out and start, but instead go ahead record the stories from your family you can, because you never know when those who know them will be gone.
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    Feb 21 2013: I have not personally researched ancestry or DNA, but a couple members of our family are very much into the exploration. I LOVE reading what they have discovered, and am not motivated or interested enough to do it on my own. I find the information fascinating, and it does not change me, who and what I am, or how I live the life adventure. The only surprising thing, is that we always thought we were totally of Irish decent (based on the little information we had), and we discovered that way back when, a French/German contributed to our DNA...it's all good:>)
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      Feb 21 2013: LOL, you sound like a member of my family in that they want to read about the discoveries but not join the journey. My family some facts wrong also, the Traill branch I posted about before and that was (Viking>French>Scottish>early American) was thought to have been originally O’Trail from Ireland.

      Hopefully you’re not like my sister, who doubts I could have really found out what I have. To think of it the last time I talk to her about our ancestry I was only 5 generations back, and now that I have branches going back 14 generations I don’t foresee her believing what I have found.
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        Feb 24 2013: LOL! Yes....that's it Don....I want to enjoy the fruits of someone elses labor:>)
        We, who do not laboriously research the information, can still appreciate the journey.

        Some of my grandparents originally had "O" before the name too, and somewhere along the way the "O" got dropped. Ireland is a pretty small country....ya never know....we COULD be related. Anyway, if we want to take it WAY back....we're all related:>)
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          Feb 26 2013: Colleen Steen,
          My known Irish ancestry has surnames Hart, Maher, and Martin from Kilkenny, Ireland; with a Thomas J Hart coming to America in 1815 at the age of 17, possible to work on the Erie Canal. (A large number of Catholics were unemployed in Ireland at the time and American contractors often placed advertisements for workers in Ireland at the same time)
          Considering the Irish hate for the British at the time it is interesting that 1829 he married Elizabeth Layton, who was a 3rd generation American from England.

          Also interesting is that my mother has a 3% uncertain DNA result, making me wonder if my ancestry includes a clan that died off in Ireland during the potato famine.
          I figure that or it’s Neanderthal DNA. ;)
  • Feb 20 2013: My upbringing has helped me understand why I am me.

    I used to ask my parents who I was. What nationality, where did they come from,
    the origin of our last name. I did this for years.
    They would never tell me. So I finally stopped asking.
    Now I don't want to know.
    It became more important to me in how I am in this world, not who or what I come from.

    I had already been raised as a Catholic, with a black mark on my soul, burdened with Original Sin, and no way
    that either of those could ever be erased, so as far as that story goes, I would be going to Hell for
    all eternity, no matter what good I would or might do in this life. That was a given as far as the Catholic teachings
    I was subject to.

    I have spent the last 30 years in the body of a leaf, blown, drifted and carried by forces much more powerful than I and forces that don't pretend to love and cherish me, but treat me like any other leaf.

    According to a little bit of research I did before letting it all go, I supposedly have my ancestor ensconced at the top of the Cheops Pyramid.
    None of it means anything or changes anything, or me for that matter.
    I still am who I am in this world and life, not where I may or may not come from.

    I suppose I come from a tree.
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      Feb 20 2013: Hmm?
      Interesting, we have some similarities and yet totally different views of them.

      I to was raised Catholic, but in my teens turned away from the church. Mainly because I did not buy that life was just a pass/fail test. And for the past 30 years I have been on my own spiritual journey to find the real meaning of life. I view the much more powerful forces/experiences as lessons that have lead me to my spiritual growth.

      Aslo;

      My ancestors include a Henry Schaffer born in 1814 in Hannover, Germany and Bernard Hillen born in 1818 in Ochtrup, Germany formally Prussia. Not far from your Hamburg, Germany and likely have the same Scandinavian/Germanic DNA ancestry. And what I have learned from my Viking ancestry was that they were great craftsmen and lived by the nine noble virtues. I love crafting and without knowing them I have been living by the nine noble virtues, and now impress them as a way of life.

      P.S. I think you will find the results interesting if you do a web search for “chance surname”.
      Also I have to say that I did not find my ancestry telling until I went back past 4 generations.
      • Feb 22 2013: Hi Don.
        I suppose I left something out, as I ran out of characters.
        Well, I don't know for sure if I ran out of characters,but I usually do as my fingers scramble over the keyboard.
        The reason knowing my ancestry means nothing to me, nor would it change anything about me, or change anything in my life, is that all I am, is who I am, when and where I am, with anyone in this life.

        The reason for that is because I never had "me" to begin with, thus I never had me during my lifetime. Whoever I was, was destroyed by the time I was 3 years of age and I knew without a doubt by the time I was 5 years of age, that I was a completely f_ _ _ ed up person.

        Unraveling that only showed me the answer. The why. I never had me, still don't and will not.
        I do not know who I am. All I know is that all I am, is who I am, when and where I am, with anyone in this life.

        And the truth of that is, it isn't me.
  • Feb 19 2013: People tell us interesting stories. Maybe there is more to your history than you believe,and I am sure it is more than you believe.
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      Feb 19 2013: I know there is a lot more to my ancestry to still discover and a lot that I did not post, including my DNA results. My point is that I learn (Using “Diffusion of Innovations” terminology) to be happy being an early adopters, that you don’t need to be an innovator to make a difference. For example my pilgrim ancestors did not have to be Mayflower pilgrims to make a difference. Yes George Washington was great, but without those early adopters that followed him. He would have failed.

      So although I will strive to be an innovator, I will be happy with my life if I’m just an early adopter.