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A few months ago, my wife Isaura and I decided to
go through with having our DNA tested. It’s not like we didn’t have a pretty
good idea what the results would be. After all, she was born on the island of
San Miguel in the Azores, Portugal. As for me, the names in my background were
all very British sounding.
Several years ago, our oldest daughter, Laura,
signed up with Ancestry.com to begin researching our family’s heritage. We knew
very little about the Roots family, primarily because we couldn’t get past my
Grandfather. Little was known of him since he had left my dad and grandmother
when my dad was only five. He was never heard from again within our family.
Back in the ‘90’s I eventually traced several documents to him through the
Internet. I found a copy of his draft card dated 1917, stating he was married
and living in Houston, Texas. Since he was born in 1883, he would have been 34
years old, therefore, too old for military service. Another document was when
he signed up for Social Security in 1935. And the final document I discovered
was his death certificate dated 1964. Other than that, we knew nothing about
the Roots family.
My mother did not have any family information,
nor had she ever heard anything from my Grandmother Roots about the Roots
My wife was born Isaura Maria Rodrigues Matos
Cabral. Since her family was from an island in the Atlantic nine hundred miles
from the Iberian Peninsula, we assumed her DNA test would have her at 80% or
higher full-blown Portuguese (The Iberian Peninsula consists of Spain,
Portugal, Gibraltar and Andorra).
So, just what is DNA? I wasn’t real sure, so I
began to check into it. First off, DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid. “It is a molecule that carries the genetic
instructions used in the growth, development, functioning and reproduction of
all known living organisms.” In a word, it is the hereditary material found
in all humans.
Roots in Ripon - Author Chuck Roots
There are quite a few organizations that are
doing DNA testing for a nominal fee these days. We decided to go with
Ancestry.com. I ordered the packets for my wife and me over the Internet. In
about ten days they arrived. The instructions were simple enough. Spit into a
special tube until it reached a certain level (maybe a half ounce), then screw
a specially provided top onto the tube. In this top was a chemical solution
which would, under the pressure of closing the tube, break open and mix with
the spittle. This would preserve the spit for a specified time. A number was
assigned to each tube. Other than that, our names were not included. The
numbers would be married up again after the testing was completed and mailed
back to us.
About four weeks later the results came in. We
went to the Ancestry web site and had a full display of our test results.
Like I said earlier, I was pretty sure the Roots
clan was English with a bit of Scottish mixed in. Beyond that, it was anyone’s
I must tell you that the results were spot on!
From my DNA they pegged me as 49% Great Britain, 24% Ireland/Scotland/Wales,
13% Scandinavian, 5% Europe West, 5% Iberian Peninsula, and 4% Europe South.
The part that intrigued me the most in all of
this was how they tracked the migration of others who shared my DNA across the
USA. They have my family arriving from Europe landing in Virginia and
eventually moving across Tennessee and further south, finally settling in
Texas. And sure enough! My father was born in Marshall, Texas in 1909. My
mother (née Lake) was born in Lone Oak, Texas in 1915. From separate
research, we discovered one of the Roots clan had a farm in central Virginia
back in the late 1600s up through the early 1800s.
This has fit in with
all the research Laura and I have done on the Roots family going back to 1693
in America. Prior to that it was England. There’s still much to learn.
As for Isaura, that’s
another story! As it turns out, she is 42% Iberian Peninsula, 26%
Greek/Italian, 13% Europe West, 9% Great Britain, 5% North African (Egypt), 1%
Europe East, 1% Scandinavian, 1% Ireland,less than1%
Jewish/European, less than 1% West African/Benin/Togo.
In all, it was a
fascinating discovery and will be something our grandchildren and their
offspring can enjoy for years to come.
The kicker in all of
this came from my granddaughter, Alyssa, who turns ten this week. When she
heard us talking about the DNA results some weeks ago, she said, “But
Granddaddy, it doesn’t say anything about you being born in Milford,