Perhaps the only thing more confusing than the holes in my family tree are the DNA results meant to fill them.
At least for me, since I’m not what you’d call a DNA expert. Luckily I’m working with one to interpret the results shared with me today by Family Tree DNA President Bennett Greenspan.
In the quest to determine whether I’m at all Irish or Native American, Greenspan broke down for me the preliminary results of the DNA swabs my brother and I did two weeks ago.
So about that Irish guy, McDonald? Pressed for time and overwhelmed by the number of guys named William McDonald in Ireland in the mid-19th century, the genealogical researchers weren’t able trace the McDonald name past Philadelphia. But my brother’s DNA test confirms what we expected — the roots of our father’s father’s father, and so on, can be traced back to England, Ireland and Scotland.
The maternal line results, which came from my DNA test, prove I am “100 percent western European,” as Greenspan explained. Traces of my maternal DNA date all the way back to the last ice age in Spain and other nearby countries.
What comes next will be more conclusive. The Family Finder test will better determine my lineage by telling me what percent of what ethnicities I am. And it could very well answer whether my maternal grandfather, Carl “Bama” Warwick, was Native American.
I’ll be on Voices in the Family live at noon Monday on WHYY-FM to talk about the unusual experince of researching my own family and reporting on it. Host Dr. Dan Gottlieb will also talk with geneticist Bryan Sykes, author of DNA USA: A Genetic Biography of America.
Later next week, we’ll share the full DNA results on NewsWorks Tonight.