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From the President
Ancestors & DNA
By Tony Taylor
I, like many other Druids, have an interest in genealogy. Where do I come from; what were my people like, what were their experiences? I have always felt a kinship with the Celts, but looking at my skin tone, all I knew for certain was that I appear to be of Northern European ancestry. Certainly, it was facinating to learn that my great-great-grandfather fought for the South in the civil war; while his father fought for the North. My ancestors were from Kentucky in those days and actually lived in a house divided against itself. I found that my great-great-great-grandmother was Cherokee and that my European ancestors were in America in the 1600s. I still haven’t figured out if they fought in the Revolution, but some of them were here long before we became a country. A bit of French, a bit of English, Maybe some Scottish and Welsh, but they were all on my mother’s side; my father’s side was always a blank. I never had a name – nothing – until now.
Paternal DNA testing is a fascinating new technology. It analyzes the “y” chromosome that men inherit from their fathers, who inherited it from their fathers, and so on. As time passes, a genetic drift occurs. From that drift, two individuals can determine if they have a common ancestor within an estimated number of generations. Usually children have the same last name as their father, so it becomes easy to follow the genealogy. Having a big blank on my father’s side, I thought paternal DNA testing could provide new information on my parentage. Well it did.
I am in haplogroup R1b, which Ancestry-dot-Com calls the “Artisans.” They settled into what are now knon to us as France, Spain, the UK, and Ireland. That was cool to learn, but what was more amazing was that they provided my closest genetic match. This gentleman and I share have 40 of 43 markers and have a common ancestor approximately fourteen generations ago, which is 350 years. He lives in Colorado and also studies genealogy. He shared his family tree with me and has his paternal side documented back eleven generations, to 1660 in England.
Many months later, it happened. Someone else posted his results and he and I share a common ancestor approximately three generations ago. We match 30 of 30 markers. No doubt about it now. This man has the same last name as my contact in Colorado. His family tree goes back seven generations on his paternal side, back to 1765 in Virginia. The results provide more questions than answers, but the possibilities could be life-changing. I probably know the surname of my father, I just don’t know which of several possible candidates he is.
We decided to see what my wife’s (Wren’s) side would reveal. Her father always said they were Welsh, but her uncle disagreed. He preferred to be mysterious and not say what he believed was the family origin. Both men are long gone so we asked her brother to provide a DNA sample, which he did. When the results came back, she was surprised. He was Haplogroup I1, which Ancestry- dot-Com calls the “Stonemasons.” Today’s geography calls this area as Scandinavia. Interesting…. There was probably a Viking involved a thousand years ago. We also discovered there is someone with whom he shares 34 of 34 markers currently living in England. It is a fifty-percent likelihood that they share a common ancestor in just two generations. He has a different last name than Wren’s brother, but maybe he is like me in that I don’t share a last name with my genetic father.
Armchair genealogists have so many new resources available, such as better databases to search and better communication venues for people interested in the same family line. [Keltria no longer has an email list for genealogy.] DNA testing can provide completely new areas of investigation. All can be used to better understand, and honor our ancestors. We maybe able to learn about the paths our ancestors created in their lives and we can decide if we will follow that path or strike out on another. This could afford the individual a choice as to whether the path of bloodline ancestors continues or if we should strike out on another path.
Walk with wisdom,
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