“A Dinna Ken”

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 16: DNA

PROMPT: DNA. It’s amazing how three letters could so completely change the field of genealogy. What’s a discovery you’ve made with DNA? What about a brick wall that DNA might help break down? 
DNA Mutation Concept

My father and I have each done DNA testing. I have to be honest, though, I have not actually made many discoveries utilizing these findings, although I do not doubt the authenticity of connections found in this way. Ask me about my DNA and I’m likely to say, “A dinna ken” which translates to “I don’t know” in the Scots language.

Some of the connections suggested to me by Ancestry have been living relatives to whom I had previously determined I was related. Other distant living cousins have reached out to me because of our matches, but very often, I already had them my tree! They could often supply information I did not already have about their descendants, but all in all, most of my research has been through records and others’ trees.

DNA? “A dinna ken.”

Something interesting happened today, though, in writing this post: I did not realize that DNA results–at least those done by Ancestry.com–are periodically updated. I’m not sure if more sophisticated testing becomes available periodically or if, as more test results become available, the additional data provides for more conclusive information, or if none of the above if true. For whatever reason, when I visited my “DNA Story” today, I encountered new information.

Previous ethnicity estimates provided to me based upon my DNA showed a predominance of ancestors from Ireland. But now, I see that my ethnicity estimate for Scotland is far higher than before and that England and Northwestern Europe now collectively comprise/ less than 20% of my ethnicity by this updated estimate.

In thinking about this slight alteration, I have the following thoughts:

  • Now more than ever before, I REALLY want to return to Scotland and the U.K. to walk in the paths of my ancestors.
  • I have a lot more work to do with the records available to me and with DNA in order to be able to have real success on this trip.
  • Most of my ancestors emigrated directly from Scotland, Ireland, or England. I already knew that, of those emigrating from Ireland, some of those ancestors were Scots-Irish. But how many of the predecessors of those ancestors emigrating from Ireland were from Ireland originally and how many had fled Scotland for Ireland? And, of those who fled Scotland, when did they do so?

It would appear, from the “tweaking” of my ethnicity estimate, that a clear majority of those emigrating from Ireland had Scottish roots.

I now have a solid reason to delve deeper into my DNA.

Aye, I have so much yet to discover, but as a well-known Scottish author and poet once said:

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.

—Robert Louis Stevenson

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