Fruit of The DNA Tree
Curiosity has led me down some strange paths. This one had a few dollar signs posted, but I hardly hesitated.
This laboratory would actually take a sample of my DNA and tell me the tribal ethnicity of my some of my forebears. So I swabbed the inside of my mouth on a couple of special cotton sticks they gave me and awaited what was to be startling results.
To give you a little glimpse of what I thought it would be: I knew that some of my family were McLain’s and MacBrides, Scotsmen all. The Reids were Irish immigrants. The Witts were Germans. My brothers and I are fair skinned redheads. It’s a pretty pasty looking bunch on the other branches too, with the exception of my Mormon great-grandmother and her shocking union with a Shoshone Indian. Or so I thought. Surprise! That DNA report widened my perspective, opened my eyes to see others in a different light, brought me much joy as I often consider the brotherhood/sisterhood of man.
About 60 years ago I read an article in Farmer’s Almanac (wish I still had it) about humankind’s family tree and inter-relatedness. It impressed me that we are not “directly descended” from just the person whose name we bear. By simple mathematics we can create our own scenario of ancestors. Go seven generations back and you’d have 256 grandparents, probably wouldn’t fit in your living room. Go back five more generations and they wouldn’t fit in the local high school gym.
If all the persons alive today were to calculate the number of grandparents back to the Middle Ages, it would be over a billion ancestors. Whats’ wrong with this picture?
There were not a billion people on earth in the Middle Ages. So what’s the answer?
I found a clue when I studied a report that I got from LDS archives in Salt Lake City. This a great treasure house of geneology, kept by faithful Mormons as part of their rituals of faith. Part of my family is still part of the group. I, being a descendant of the Indian liaison, parted company in that generation. My paternal grandmother’s tree went back to the 1600’s, my grandfather’s to 560 A.D. It was tremendously interesting to me. At the time I read it I still had posession of a great memory. In these hundreds of names, the memory mechanism gave a little chime on a couple of names. It was true…back five or six generations, sometimes farther, both husband and wife had the same grandparents. It was most unlikely they would know it, I’m guessing here, but they were in actuality 5th, 6th, or umpteenth cousins!
If we could go back, you or me, a thousand years how much of that would we find? Again the mathematical answer (I was glad to see Wikipedia gives the same formula): we are no less than 50th cousins, all of us. Everybody on this planet. Hi, Cousin.
Back to that DNA report:
A little aside here: Some time back I tore a photo from a National Geographic Magazine because it was so appealing to me. Could it have been a genetic hankering?
Then dollops of Iraqi,
After studying the DNA report I determined that a good share of my ancestors must have been traveling salesmen (and women who mated with those travelers) on the famous Silk Road, or were part of societies overrun by the Vikings.