My Official Five Generation Birthplace Chart ~ Now With My Biological Father’s Family

Here is my official Five Generation Birthplace Chart that now includes my biological father and his ancestors. My previous post with these and how you can make your own can be found here.

My Official Birthplace Pedigree Chart

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Grieving My Unknown Biological Family Members

Grieving My Unknown Biological Family MembersHere is the first of likely several posts about the loss of my unknown biological family members and the time, experiences, and conversations we could have had… if we had only known of each other in time.

Writing this series of posts seems natural and fitting for me to do, because losing my grandma years ago was what gave birth to my main blog over at The Journey Unexpected.

In the last many years of her life, we would talk on the phone literally for hours at a time and often several times a week. We had grown a relationship where we could both tell each other WHATEVER, bounce it off of the other one, get or give advice, and so much more. I had done some journaling before, but from the time we starting having these conversations I didn’t feel the need to anymore. Once we were done, it felt amazingly cathartic and I was ready to move on and take on the world once more. This was the time period when my grandma truly became like a second mom to me.  ❤

When Grandma passed away, I no longer had this amazing outlet that I grew to love and appreciate SO much! I then started my blog then named “The Journey” and dedicated it to her.

Now that I am dealing with such an array of emotions with discovering new-to-me relatives, learning about those who I will never meet, and now losing someone who I was SO close to meeting (I believe) and for him to suddenly pass away…. This is a topic I need to explore deeply and I now believe that I need to share here.

I have this “thing” where I truly do not want to have an experience (neither in my past nor present) that I don’t have “something” positive come out of it. That is actually a really tall order for so many of my life experiences, but it’s a must!

For about the last fourteen years, I have been determined that when I am going through a storm, I ask God to show me what I am supposed to learn within this storm. For one thing, it gives me something productive or more positive to focus on and honestly keeps me sane. Sometimes I totally believe that the reason why (or what I am supposed to learn) is how to truly help someone else in the future.

Examples are: When Hubby was SO sick in late 2005 and I almost lost him SOOO many times, I learned how it is to have a spouse so sick and preparing for them to pass on (almost daily for awhile) and leave you alone. I was a relatively young mom of a then 17-year-old daughter and 4 1/2-year-old son. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go through to the end of that, but I have learned a small part about how others feel as they are losing their spouse or have lost them.

Losing my mom at such a young age also has in a way bonded me with others who lose their parents. I know how it can feel. I have now lost three parents, my mother-in-love, all of my grandparents, now a brother, and too many more loved ones.  I know loss.

I also know because of this, that nobody can truly “know how YOU feel”. Don’t say that. You might think you know, but you don’t. Everyone and every situation is different. I can only imagine what they are truly going through. Do I understand better than many others? Probably, but I can’t put all who grieve into a tiny little box.

Also when my aunt became a victim of a serial killer and the aftermath of all that, I experienced so many things that others go through way too often. Like I said before, I know that I cannot truly “sum up” what they are feeling, but I most definitely have an idea. I also learned throughout all of these storms and too many more that the best things to “say” at this time are not words at all. It’s being there for them. Let them say what they need to say or just sit together without saying anything. Sometimes that is what is needed most. Being there is the most important “statement”.

I have even looked up online this morning about grieving those you have never met. There really isn’t much out there other than about grieving celebrities. I believe that it’s an important topic, too, because some of them have “helped” us get through some tough times, we can feel like we have gotten to know them, and/or we are inspired by them. But that doesn’t really cover this specific area at all. I know that I am absolutely NOT the only person to have to deal with this type of thing. Hopefully, I can be an encouragement to someone else as I work through this myself. That can be my “why” for this storm. Will I learn even more throughout this? Probably, but for now that is enough.

First off a little background for those of you who don’t know

I knew that my father I was growing up knowing wasn’t my biological father when I accidentally found out when I was 12 years old. I also remembered standing in front of an honestly scary-looking judge when I’m guessing I was about 5 years old and being asked if I wanted Jack to be my father. I couldn’t figure out why I would be asked that until this realization at 12.

I got into a lot of trouble for looking at the back of some pictures in my baby book, seeing I had a different name, and then asking why.  I learned to never bring it up again; it was that severe. I kept trying to figure out more, though, from that point on…. secretly. The day my mom suddenly passed away when I was 19 years old and I was a freshman in college was literally the first time I talked to whom I thought was my biological father. It was actually after she had passed away, but I didn’t know that, yet. I had found him through Naval records and such… using all of the information I gathered throughout the years of my secret “investigation”. I started my active search not long into my freshman year of college. I was several hours from home and could do it without being “caught”.

It turns out that he was just the man whom she married about a month and a few days before my birth. They hadn’t even known each other when I was conceived. He told me this by the third and last time that I ever communicated with him, but I didn’t believe him for many years because I looked a lot like him (and I never have felt that I looked like anyone else before).  I could also already tell that he was really into lying to me.

Fast forward several years and after my grandma confided in another family member that Donald Schroeder was actually not my biological father… I asked my grandma and she gave me more details about the whole situation.

She told me that my biological father was a man whom my mom suddenly ran off with on a motorcycle and they went to (or at least ended up in) Texas. She said that he had red or reddish hair (seemed to likely be of Irish descent), was 6’7″, road a motorcycle, and she believed (actually stated as a fact) that my mom’s then best friend, Sylvia, introduced them. No name or any other descriptions.

I also learned that my abortion was totally considered. Because of my mom’s then emotional instability (very likely from the combination of her then best friend wrecking my mom’s car and then moving my severely injured mom to the driver’s seat so the friend wouldn’t get into trouble… both were nurses, too… so she definitely knew better than to move someone so severely injured… and then the father of her unborn child leaving her several states away from home and wanting her to get an abortion… and the times she was living in… late 1960s and a soon-to-be unwed mother…), my grandma said my abortion was actually the plan but a doctor totally advised against it because of her emotional instability.

My grandma then told me I should be thankful for her instability. I know Grandma meant well, but just think about how that would make you feel hearing that. I wasn’t supposed to “happen”. Neither of my parents wanted me. And being from a family whom I have always known that abortions were totally out of the question… makes you wonder why if they believe that (which I do, too) then why did they even seriously consider it with me? Was I THAT big of a problem?

If it hadn’t been for this one doctor out of SO many they could have gone to… I wouldn’t even be here. I am thankful for this unknown man, for sure. It just really does a number on an already low self-esteem. Thankfully, my self-esteem has improved greatly, but it’s still a hurt.

Looking back on things, I think this may have been some of why my grandpa had SUCH a love for me. I think I may have even been favored by him a bit much (but no, I wouldn’t trade it for anything), because he was also in somewhat of a pickle growing up (whether in reality or his perception).

His mom passed away when he was tiny and then his only full-sister passed very young. He was then raised as the only step-child of my great-grandma whom had SO many children with their shared father. Whether or not if there was any real distinction, he apparently felt “different”.

He knew I did, too, and wanted to be the one who showed me totally unconditional love. Do I have him up on a pedestal? Probably, because I think of him as perfection here on earth, but I won’t take him down from there, either.  ❤  Yes, I know he wasn’t perfect, but he was totally as close as you can get in my eyes. He honestly was my most stable and consistent person in my young life. He was also the main positive male figure in my upbringing… no question! That is totally why I also named my son who goes by “Buddy” on here after one of his given names (not saying which name, though…lol).

Anyway, when my biological father heard that my mom was pregnant, he left her in a motel in Texas and that was it. She had to get her own way home. I now totally believe that he told her to get an abortion and figured it happened. I have now learned of his major habit of reading birth, death, etc announcements all the time…. and of his time of reconciling and making things right his last year of life. If he had any doubt that I had not been aborted, I am sure that he would have at least told someone at that time. That was the way he was operating that last year while dying of stomach cancer. Also, by the time of my birth (in the same area he was in and they were both from) my mom had just previously gotten married and her name was changed. My birth announcement had a totally different surname now.

I finally found Sylvia a few years ago through Facebook and called her. She denied ever introducing my mom to anyone at all and even acted like they were never really close, but I totally know better.

I also learned this last month that a close friend of my mom’s when I was growing up heard basically the same brief facts and encouraged my mom to at least write down the details for me for when I grew up, because I was going to want to know. My mom said that she did, but she didn’t.

Between the last time I saw my continually (from that point on) hidden baby book during Christmas vacation 1986 (that I found SO often throughout the years to explore more) and when my mom passed away in March 1987, she had put back most of the ripped photo from the time I asked her and then put my baby book in a spot extremely easy to find. Because of this and SO many other reasons, I totally believe that she knew she was going to pass away very soon.

I’m sure she never imagined anything like DNA tests to find biological family members back in the late 1980s, so she likely thought that I would be satisfied believing that Donald was my biological father. She also never imagined (apparently) that he would so quickly deny even knowing her in time to make that even possible if I did find him.

My step turned adopted dad, Jack, was also told the same few facts as my grandma told me and her friend learned a couple of years before he passed away.

What I Have Recently Learned About My Biological Father and His Family

I won’t go into too great of detail here of things like who they are and such, but basically I know who he was and a little more about their trip to Texas. If you want to know the surnames from this side, you can now see them on my page ” Our Surnames“.

We are still waiting on one of my half-brothers to take a DNA test, but with all of the details, the fact that I look like people (one person and I look scary similar, especially when we were younger), the fact that an aunt remembers meeting my mom before their trip to Texas, the timing of my conception and the extremely short time he had a motorcycle, and the DNA results with another extremely close relation led me here. By the way, I have three half-brothers and a half-sister (in addition to the half-sister I grew up with). I only have contact so far with my older half-brother who is from a different mother than the other three who are younger than me.

I have talked quite extensively in our short time of knowing about each other with my older half-brother and his wife. We do have several things in common and I feel like we have known each other for at least a decade. I have also talked to one of my aunts a few times on the phone. We laugh alike. ❤  It’s so funny to find things out like this. We also have led very similar lives and find it really easy to talk with each other.

I have also now discovered where I get several physical issues (illnesses, stomach/digestion issues, etc), my dyslexia, my height, small eyes, smile, my look in general, and more from. I have discovered that I also look A LOT like some double (about) fourth cousins on my father’s father side and have been told that I look a lot like my father’s mother. I cannot wait to see pictures that show our resemblance. She is also one that I have already started admiring for her strength in hard times and all. I would have loved to have gotten to meet her, too. I don’t really look like my father (at least in any pictures I have seen of him, which all include facial hair), but my hair was pretty much exactly the same reddish-color as his in my senior picture and ones of him in the 1980s.

Before I got any confirmation about what I discovered “working my DNA matches” and doing the genealogy for those connections that led me down to my closest matches (since they didn’t know how we could be related)… believe me A LOT of work… but it was totally worth it! …. anyway, before that confirmation I had already discovered that whom I believed was my biological father had already passed away.

I somewhat expected that could be the case since he would likely be in at least his 70s today and in a weird way seemed ok with that possibility since it would probably “make it easier”. What if he didn’t want to know me? What if he wasn’t a good guy? All of those questions were now not even an issue. BUT, once I started to get to know about him and especially his last year here on earth… I got deeply saddened by never getting the opportunity to let him know I survived, learning about his and my mom’s time together, or (most importantly) getting to know him.

My biological father passed away on August 7, 2003, and my step/adopted father passed away on October 16, 2003. I reflect on that and sometimes think that it was probably a good thing that I didn’t know that at the time, but that quickly gets over-ridden with the fact that it would have been SO worth it to have known him even if it would have been doubly painful at the time.

Why Is This Such an Important Topic Today?

Last night I found out that my youngest half-brother is suddenly passing away. He is being kept going until they are ready for all the organ donations to happen. He likely has passed by now. I’m honestly afraid to look. I want to get this post finished before I lose it again.

First off, let me say that I am SO proud of him, his wife, and their children for blessing several people with these amazing gifts of precious organs.

Second, why am I such a mess? I haven’t even met this man. Some of you may be thinking, “What does his death really have to do with you anyway?” Actually, it has many things to do with me. Those who have not gone through this may feel dismayed, disbelief, or discouragement about my feelings. But, that’s what they are: my feelings. They are valid and true. I have learned that over the years trying to survive, recover, and thrive regardless of my earlier years.

This is the brother whom some have figured out would probably be the most open of the three remaining siblings to learning about me and potentially getting to know me. Now he is gone. That’s obviously a big part of it. The grieving of what could have been and maybe not a possibility now.

It’s also about such a young man (I believe right around 37) who has suddenly lost his life and leaves a wife and two children; one of which is a young tween girl. I understand too well what it is like to lose a parent at such a young age. She is even younger than I was, so I know her’s is even worse than mine.

I also have seen pictures (about a week ago on Facebook) of him. We look a like (although nowhere near the resemblance of our mutual sister and me) and he seems to have been a wonderful person. I truly wanted to get to know him! I can’t now.

The way I understand it. He was told probably about a week ago that I exist. I don’t know what exactly he was even told nor what his response was. Did he want to get to know me or at least learn about me? Would we have come together as quickly as I have with my older half-brother and his lovely wife? Would I also get along famously with his wife and children? Who knows!

Another biggie for me is that I SO much want to be there for them as they are grieving. That is a genuine piece of me. I thrive on being there, helping, and encouraging others throughout their storms. I can’t do this though, because they don’t even know that I exist.

The way I see it right now is that I am now going to have to be patient once again for time to pass and to let grieving happen. It’s SO hard!

None of us are getting any younger and as we just saw… we have no guarantees of tomorrow. I truly do not want another family member to pass before we can at least know of each other and hopefully get to know each other at least a little bit. The ideal would honestly be to travel to meet them all… really soon.

I have actually looked into it today to see what it would take. I could easily fly from Reno to the Fort Worth airport. Get a rental car and drive to Amarillo. Hopefully, some new-to-me fourth cousins (double) could drive up and meet me on my path. Also would be awesome if my Uncle and Aunt (from my mom’s side) could travel a bit from their home also in Texas to at least have lunch or something. My older brother (actually 2 years and 2 days older than me) and his family live in Amarillo. I could then take a logical, but very beneficial path from there to Carthage, Missouri (where at least one of my new aunts lives)… passing by Claremore, Oklahoma (an important place in my mom’s mom’s line) as well as passing through the town where my biological father’s remains are at his mom’s burial site. I could then travel on up to the Kansas City, Missouri, area where most of my mom’s side still lives and where my remaining new-to-me half-siblings live (as well as my youngest brother’s remaining family). After numerous days of visiting, I could then fly out of Kansas City and home to Reno.

Can I do this? Not at this time.  😦  First of all: finances. Second: who would take care of our dog all that time when Hubby is out of town working (sometimes a couple of days at a time). Third: it would be best if we can see first if my other half-siblings would want to meet me as well. Fourth: Hubby’s work “schedule” would not work very easily for him to come, too, since he works for the railroad and if you know anything about that lifestyle… it makes it really hard. Basically he is on-call 24/7. Even vacations don’t happen exactly when you are expecting. They can be off by one or two days… easily.

My son has already stressed that he would HAVE to go with me and I agree. He is so sensitive and emotional like me, plus he’s very social as well as protective. It would be amazing if someone somewhere just had free airline tickets earned just sitting there waiting for a trip… lol… but no, that is not likely to happen. I don’t know anyone like that. This is my dream trip, though.

So what exactly am I grieving at this time (pertaining to only my half-brother who we have lost…. I’m additionally grieving other people and issues that I will write about in another post)? I am seriously grieving the loss of him as a young person… WAY too young to be gone, husband to his wife, father to his children, brother to at least four people, nephew to my new-to-me aunts and uncle, son to his grieving mother, and friend to evidently SO many!

I’m also grieving the loss of at least 35+ years of not knowing him and neither of us knowing about the other one’s existence. What memories could we have made? What sibling secrets could we have had? Would we have gotten along famously? Or would we have been better off living far apart? We will never know.

I’m grieving additionally for the other “what if’s” and questions. One of the biggest ones being: Did he want to know me or about me?

My Suggestions For You All

1. If you are a parent (or other significant person in someone’s life) who doesn’t know who their biological parent(s) is/are, write it all down. If you cannot give it to them at this time for whatever reason (age, current relationships, whatever), at least leave it in a will or something significant. Hopefully you can give them this gift earlier. They will most likely want to know sometime. For me there has been a hole for over 50 years. It’s now starting to fill up.

2. If you don’t know your biological family and want to, do it fast!

When you find your biological family, don’t overwhelm them, though. Remember: you have known that they or at least one individual exists for a while, they may not have a clue that you exist. You want to find that happy medium of being patient (or at least appearing to be outwardly… inside you will likely be a mess like me), but you don’t want to wait TOO long, either.

Do I wish I would have done this much sooner and/or been a bit more active in letting new family members know about me? Yes totally! But I also don’t want to come off as pushy or insensitive.

It’s really difficult to know what exactly is the “right” pace or next actions. For example: Part of me (the anxious part of me…. the part that doesn’t want to miss out on knowing anyone else) wants to wait a couple of weeks at most and then tell my other half-brother and my half-sister and honestly a while later even tell my late half-brother’s wife. She could talk about him endlessly to me… long after others have stopped truly listening. What I mean by this is that point when others are ready to “move on” and are not as interested in hearing about the raw feelings anymore and all the same stories. It happens. The closest ones are still there actively grieving, but others have moved on. I would love to be there for her! But is all of this reasonable with their current grieving? No! I don’t want to wait too long again, but I also want to be respectful.

As far as the DNA testing for those looking for their biological family: The best case scenario is to do both the Ancestry DNA test and the 23andMe DNA test if you don’t know who your family is. This isn’t just my recommendation. MANY in the know recommend exactly this… that’s where I initially got it and I totally agree.

Some families tend to use one company more and some the other. There is no way to tell before you test. For example: My WILLIAMS side (for my maternal grandpa’s line) is represented quite heavily on 23andMe as well as the CULLENDER and FANCHER DNA relatives of mine from my biological father’s side including who turned out to be my niece (daughter of one of my half-brothers). Ancestry has much more of my PORTER side (for my maternal grandma’s line) as well as the TANNER and McBRIDE families who are related doubly to me on my biological father’s side. Both companies have deals from time to time (especially around family-related holidays)… especially Ancestry.

  • Please note that the links to Ancestry and 23andMe on this post are referral links. They do not cost you anymore money to follow, but I get a reward for referring people. Actually, at the time of this posting, the link for 23andMe gives you a 10% off  deal for using it! This in no way has changed my honest opinions of these companies. I recommend them from my true testimony of how they worked for me.

Anyway… If you can only do one right now, do the Ancestry one. It’s much easier to find information like family trees on there.

My wish for you all who are looking for your biological family is to find them quickly, relatively easily, and then for many happy reunions.

For those of you who are grieving, I totally sympathize with you. Although I don’t know exactly how you feel, I can imagine and I know that you are truly hurting. Don’t let anyone belittle your feelings. They are yours and true. Prayers and virtual hugs to you all!

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Wegene DNA Composition Chart

It was suggested last night on a Facebook group I am in (that is amazing with figuring out DNA stuff and finding bio parents) that I upload my raw DNA to Wegene. It’s free, by the way.

I’m not totally sure what it is I am supposed to do with it now, though.  LOL

I have to say that the results they got from doing my comparison floored me. I actually looked at it and then tried to figure out why I was seeing someone else’s results. It was THAT off from the others.

It shows some crazy stuff that honestly doesn’t even have anything (that I know of) to do with what I know and/or am learning about my ancestry. Someone on that Facebook group said that they are actually quite similar if I ignore the ones under 5% and add the others all up together… then they match. It feels like, “if you squint hard enough and turn your head to the side….”   😉  But hey! I got some Ashkenazi in there with this one!  😉

Check this out and then compare it to the others below (that I got elsewhere). By the way, these results came from the raw DNA from my Ancestry test.

Part of the “other” that isn’t in the European part includes 0.01% Chinese, but it was so small that it didn’t show what branch/group (or whatever) it’s called within the Chinese people.

Wegene composition chart

Wegene Results

23andMe 2nd version 7 30 2018

23andMe

AncestryDNAChart

Ancestry Results

My Heritage Breakdown List

My Heritage results

 

The Wegene results also came with these two sections (I can’t figure out how they could know my paternal haplogroup. I thought that was the one on that extra chromosome or something.):

Maternal HaplogroupPaternal Haplogroup

I will post more later about my searching for my unknown biological father. Long story short… I think I am getting close, but could really use some confirmation that I am on the correct path from a close match. If I am correct, I think I know who my biological grandparents were and likely who my biological father was (this man passed away in the early 2000’s,)

I’m still digging!

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New DNA Ethnic Breakdown from My Heritage

Well OK then! Here is what My Heritage estimates as my ethnic breakdown. I can see the top one (but 23andMe showed that I was more English than Irish etc on theirs).

And what in the world??? 1.1% Middle Eastern? Oh my… I vote for Israel, Egypt, or Cypress… but neither of my tests showed any Jewish.

All of the companies have their own samples and breakdowns. It’s all probably somewhere in the middle of all of them.

By the way, I found out just the other day that My Heritage will let you upload your DNA data for free. No need for another test.

I just got my results about ten minutes ago. Besides getting this perplexing little chart and map… they are also giving me five potential first cousins (but it shows they can also be anywhere from first to second or fourth….that’s a big range). At least one is definitely on my mom’s side. Three don’t have ANY tree or surnames, so that makes it hard. I just sent a message to the one with a few names; none of the ones showing in his tree are even a bit familiar. I’m hoping he gets back to me soon and has some details.

My Heritage Breakdown List

My Heritage Breakdown

Europe 98.9%

North and West Europe 98.9%
Irish, Scottish, and Welsh 48.4%
North and West European 28.3%
English 21.4%
Scandinavian  0.8%

Middle Eastern  1.1%

Check out my other DNA test results at the links below:

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Update on 23andMe Changes My DNA Composition

23andMe just had an update the other day. They added some new populations and apparently made a few other changes as well. This changed my estimations quite a bit.

I’m no longer 100% European! Proud of that! I wanted more variety like I always believed I was… I’m now 99.9% LOL… Oh well, I’ll take it!

My British & Irish went up about 2%, French/German went down just a bit, Scandinavian went down over 3% (which can’t be true…Ancestry shows 9% plus 3% Finland plus there definitely is supposed to be some on my mom’s side. It looks like they put the extra in one of the broad categories for some reason), my Iberian tripled (still not a whole bunch, though…lol), there’s a new category of Broadly European with 0.1%, new category “unassigned” at 0.1%, and YAY! a new category for me….East Asian & Native American!!!! only at 0.1% though, at least so far…..lol Problem is, I could always have some East Asian on my bio father’s side, but I doubt it. I don’t think any of my matches have any and like I said before…. I’m supposed to have Native American!   😉

By the way, I have found out one of my so-many great-grandparents. Not exactly sure  how many generations back… and which of his about a dozen children is my direct line….. but their names were Hugh Lafayette McBride, Sr and Susannah Patterson. “Buddy” is with me. We love his name. Buddy is now planning to add a character to his video game he is creating by the name of Sir Lafayette McBride. I love it!

Here is the new updated version (on the top) with the original version from 23andMe on the bottom. To see my results from Ancestry, go here.

23andMe 2nd version 7 30 2018My Compositon of Ethnic Groups

 

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Do I Look Like Your Family?

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Hello everyone! I decided to add this slideshow of pictures of me throughout the years so that my cousin matches can see what I look like in case I resemble a certain branch of theirs or something. I hate pictures being taken of me, but this is important. I thought that they could see these on Ancestry, but since I am living, I don’t think they can access it. So here it goes!

 

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My Ancestry DNA Results Are In

AncestryDNAChart

I actually received my Ancestry.com results a couple of days ago, but I have been so busy with life in general as well as making new discoveries of new cousins. I may even be close to breaking down a wall in my mom’s maternal great-grandma’s branch! It’s exciting to say the least! There is a cousin who is certain that we meet up there through her 90 year old father with a surname I have never heard of in our history. She is supposed to be getting me some information soon.

I have to say, I am already starting to meet some amazing people from both sides of my family tree through Ancestry and 23andMe. Many of my cousins on there are very similar to the ones I have grown up knowing: super caring and seem to be really fun to know!

It’s honestly a bit easier to find out your joint family history and also about these individuals as a whole through Ancestry. I did, however, already meet a handful of great individuals through 23andMe. I am totally pleased with my decision to do both tests.

Which Test Do I Recommend

If you are looking to do your own DNA testing and don’t know which to do, here are my basic recommendations:

If you know both sides of your family and you are more interested in genealogy, then go with the one at Ancestry.

If you know both sides of your family and are more interested in the health, the more science-y side of it, your haplogroup(s), and actually seeing in cool graphics where your identical DNA strands match with other people, then definitely go with the 23andMe.  By the way, my maternal haplogroup is V7. It showed me that Benjamin Franklin is also part of the V group and therefore somehow related through our female ancestors. In my experience so far, connections on 23andMe are less likely to respond (or respond knowing much about their extended family history) than those on Ancestry. This is likely because many do the 23andMe for the health results and the big events they do in some cities trying to get a lot more people tested. They did this awhile back in the Reno area and it was HUGE! Many who I personally know that did it then actually have no interest in genealogy. Some of the connections I have found through 23andMe have been really helpful, though! You can check out my post about my 23andMe DNA results here.

If you don’t know one or both of your sides and can afford it (I bought both of mine during amazing sales, which they often have around big family-related holidays, especially)… then I recommend both. A big reason for this is because you will have a much larger pool of connections since most people only do one or the other. I wouldn’t have found a potential first cousin if I hadn’t done the 23andMe. I also wouldn’t have found the amazing (likely about 3rd or 4th) cousins that I have found and who are trying to help me crack the code if I hadn’t done Ancestry.

One of my super helpful new-found cousins also told me about GedMatch where you can connect with people who have only done one of the three main DNA tests. There is also one called something like Family Finder.

GedMatch takes raw data from each of these and blends them together. You have to submit one, but it’s relatively easy to do. They recommend if you have done more that one test to choose the test to upload raw data from in this order (you only upload one no matter what… also remember to NOT unzip the file before uploading. I did that incorrectly the first time I tried): The older 23andMe test (I believe they said by or before 2014 testing), then Ancestry, then the newer 23andMe, and finally the Family Finder one. This is mostly due to something the test companies do or don’t do that can cap off the information available even in the raw form. I uploaded from my Ancestry test.

Gedmatch is also great, because at least one of the tests I did caps it off at a certain amount of connections it will show you. What if one that they don’t share is actually important to your search? Well, if he or she also did GedMatch, you can now find out about them! Too cool!

My raw data is still being crunched on GedMatch, but I am looking forward to checking out all that they have to offer, too. Apparently they have some cool tools that the other two don’t. Yes, I have now been researching that, too.  You know me.  😉

How Do My 23andMe and Ancestry DNA Results Differ

This chart from Ancestry.com differs a bit from my DNA test from 23andMe, but that is because they sampled and grouped their findings differently.

Here is a side-to-side comparison:

 

The Ancestry one lumps more into the Great Britain category than 23’s British and Irish. The Scandinavian on Ancestry is more defined than 23’s Broadly Northwestern Europe (which would include that and more).

They both show 100% European, so yes… I’m still disappointed. LOL Believing all my life of a generous amount of Native American blood and loving that part of my history… I was truly hoping that 23andMe somehow doesn’t have it all defined or something…. I know, wishful thinking.  BUT, I just discovered something the other day on there. You can change the “confidence level” from 50% to 90% which is much more conservative and not as speculative.

When I do that, my European goes down to 98.8%. Interesting….

  • British and Irish from 60.6% to 13.7%… huge difference. So they are assuming quite a lot when they are guesstimating that it’s all from Britain and Ireland in the usual confidence level they use. It does by the way (in the regular confidence view) show both of these nationalities, but British is about twice as much as the Irish in their estimation on there.
  • Scandinavian from 4.4% to 0.6% (but we are quite sure of this being in our family on my mom’s side).
  • French and German from 20.8% to 0.3%.
  • Broadly Northwestern European from 13.9% to 70.6%. I have to say, if I had seen this percentage meaning that they pretty much don’t know what I am… I would have been even more disappointed. This is likely what ate up my Iberian, too.
  • Broadly European 13.7% – new category for me. This is basically even more “who knows what you are”. This is probably where much of my Scandinavian and French/German went.
  • Unassigned 1.2% – new category for me. Hmm… I wonder what this could be.

As far as the Iberian on 23 (which I have definitely determined to be on my bio father’s side due to about one third of my connections over there having at least a trace)… the Europe West category on Ancestry includes the far eastern part of Spain with it.

I was actually REALLY getting into maybe being a bit Portuguese, especially when I started checking out recipes for my new-found nationality “group”. A lot of their recipes are very similar to how I love to cook, so I thought I was onto something. I might still be, but it’s muddied up a bit now. Either way, I am going to be trying some new recipes soon!

My Desire to be Part Basque

BUT… I’m thinking that this area that Ancestry shows might be where the Basque people are from. I already absolutely LOVE Basque culture, food, etc.

Living for the last 21 years in northern Nevada has taught me all about the Basque. Hubby, “Buddy”, and I LOVE going out to a couple of Basque restaurants (when we can afford it….lol). It’s SO worth the money when you go to the right ones.

Our favorites are The Star in Elko, Nevada (a few hours away) and then J.T. Basque in Minden, Nevada (a little over an hour away). There is also a fave of ours that is a bit closer and in Carson City. Villa Basque Cafe is only open for breakfast and lunch, so they don’t do the whole family dining experience. They do have some amazing Basque breakfast dishes, though. So amazing that I have yet to try any of their lunches. You can also buy Basque chorizo, tamales, Portuguese Olive Oils, deli meats and cheeses, dry cod (never tried), a variety of pepper jellies, a whole slew of goodies imported from Spain, and some of their homemade sauces to take home. We do this often and Hubby even gets orders from a couple of people to pick some up for them when he goes. There is nothing like handmade Basque chorizo! The best in my opinion. Carson City is about an hour away from us, but we do go there quite often.

Does the Reno area have any good Basque?  (We live in a valley outside of Reno.) Depends on who you ask and (as far as I can tell) how familiar they are with REAL Basque dining.  😉  The ones who have experienced places like The Star and JT’s are definitely not so impressed with the Reno area’s offerings. We totally did not like the most popular one in Reno. It wasn’t that good for any type of cuisine (not just comparing to Basque) and the service was horrible. Condescending and minimal to say the least. Trust me! It’s worth the drive to JT’s.  😉

Anyway…..lol  Suffice it to say that I would LOVE to find out that I have Basque ancestry!

The Breakdown of Categories on Ancestry DNA

Great Britain 80% – Includes England, Scotland, and Wales.

Scandinavia 9% – Includes Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (Finland is elsewhere; see below).

Europe West 6% – Includes Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein.

Finland/Northwest Russia 3% – Includes Finland and Russia (northwest).

Europe East 1% – Includes Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Russia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, Croatia.

Ireland/Scotland/Wales <1% – Just includes Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. These nationalities are partly included in Great Britain above.

What’s Next

So, what’s next for me?

I’m waiting to see what I can discover on GedMatch when my results are all analyzed etc.  By the way, GedMatch is totally free, but they also take donations because it is totally volunteer. It’s not as flashy as the other two when they give you the results and matches and all, but they have SO much that they do differently. They totally add to the experience by connecting all of the testing sites’ results together. Pretty cool what they are doing!

I am totally looking forward to getting to know my new-found cousins! One even mentioned an upcoming reunion. I know that I cannot afford to attend it, but would love to in the future sometime. One said that we have the same cheeks and smile, but I haven’t seen a picture of her, yet. It’s great to imagine looking like someone else (in addition to my children).  My grandma always told me that I looked JUST like her grandma. Problem is… the only picture she had was with her face looking down since she was blind. I do, however, think that I somewhat have my grandma’s smile. It mostly looks like hers during her teen years. Regardless, I honestly do love my smile. Some have told me that it’s too big…Not!   😉  But, I especially love it because both of my children also share it!   ❤

After discovering that I am somehow related to a family line with a particular surname, I saw a picture of who is likely some degree of great-uncle (very slight chance direct line, but probably not). He appears to also have my cheekbones and nose.

My nose is a bit on the small side… My sister used to tell me things like God forgot to give me a nose when he was handing them out and asked how I breath through it…. honestly, not too well….lol Besides being smaller, it’s been broken…   😉   But this guy (at least from the front) appears to have a small nose, too.

I’m truly hoping to get more information about my potential first cousin. I now believe that I am the bio daughter of her father’s brother. I came to this conclusion partially since her maiden name is the same as a whole lot of my connections.

The search continues…

Posted in Biological Father and Family, DNA Ancestry | Tagged , | 5 Comments

My 23 and Me DNA Results Are In

I got my results from my 23 and Me DNA test and I am actually a bit shocked. I had a heads-up because my daughter had her DNA tested previously and hers didn’t show something I was definitely expecting. My Ancestry DNA test says that it will be about 2-4 more weeks until I get the results. I sent them both on the same day.

My Compositon of Ethnic Groups

What About Our Native American Ancestors?

Although, I knew that many people discover that they don’t actually have Native American DNA, I was sure that we would have some. I was always told that we had two full-blooded great-great-grandmas who were full-blooded Native American (one Cherokee and one Choctaw) and then someone else more distantly related (Shoshone). With what we know about my great-great-grandma on my grandma’s maternal side, she definitely appears to be Cherokee (considering the stories, the fact that she lived on the reservation for at least two time periods, and had her daughter… and maybe more children on the reservation at Claremore, Oklahoma). She left the reservation when she was 16 (after her father died) and went to a school for the blind in St. Louis, Missouri.

So, either the 100% was a few generations further back (and only this one grandma) or we have been told incorrect stories. It can be like the game of telephone. A bit gets skewed more and more as the generations go. I honestly believe that we do have Native American and that our 100% ancestor is a bit further back. Our stories and the other details on paper would seem to back this up. How do I explain the darker skin tone of some of our family (my mom included)if we are not Native American after all? I’m not sure. I would absolutely LOVE if more of our family would take the tests, so we can get a more complete picture of our heritage since we all receive a random sampling of our parents’ DNA.

What Surprised Me the Most?

I was also surprised by the fact that I have some Iberian DNA. Not sure where that comes in. Right now, I am guessing from my bio father’s side. I knew about the Scandinavian and the rest. I really would like to know more about what the “Broadly Northwestern Europe” includes for my family.

As you can see above, I am 100% European. I was always told that we are most definitely “Heinz 57″… a little bit of everything.  I was told as a child/teen/etc that I was Native American, English, German, Welch, Dutch, Swedish, and lots more. Lately, I have found some things that make it look like some of our family lived in France for at least awhile, but is that where they were from? I don’t know. They later moved for religious freedom, so did they go to France for religious freedom originally? Who knows. I don’t know any of France’s history regarding this, at least yet.

I was also told that I most definitely did NOT have ANY Irish in me. The way my mom was SO extremely adamant about this (and the fact that I could easily pass as at least a bit Irish, especially when I was younger) hinted to the fact that my mom very likely at least thought that my bio father was Irish. When she did it this way, she was hiding a huge lie. She only did it a few times, but it was a telltale sign with her. I much later discovered that she described my bio father to others as looking Irish.

Timeline

What About My Biological Father

So what have I discovered about my biological father and his family so far (in this last 24 hours)? I apparently have several second and third cousins on 23andme and one first cousin (and many more distant cousins). So far I have had communication with two of them: a third cousin and just a bit ago the first cousin. I don’t know how much the first cousin knows, but we should share a set of grandparents (the parents of my bio father). The third cousin has been able to already narrow it down to our common ancestor being my likely 3rd great-grandmother with the surname of Fancher. He can see this since he knows how some of our mutual DNA matches are also related to him. Pretty clever! He is planning to send me more information soon. I cannot wait.

I will keep you all posted as I discover more about my ancestors!

Update: Check out my DNA Results for Ancestry here!

 

Posted in Biological Father and Family, DNA Ancestry | Tagged | 2 Comments

Preparing for My Ancestry DNA Test

I am getting ready for my Ancestry DNA test by learning more and preparing a few helps I have found while researching this.

I highly recommend that you watch this video by Crista Cowen called “The Search for Biological Family“. It is FULL of really useful information.

For example: I really appreciate how she instructs us to connect our DNA test to a family tree and specifically the “right” family tree. I have my adopted family (even a lot of the family of my first “legal” father… as well as an extensive amount of my daughter’s biological father’s family) on my family tree. On my “official” tree, I was very clear about marking my other two fathers in ways to accurately reflect reality. They are technically not my direct line.

She also goes into why it’s really important to have your test linked to a tree (even if it is just you and your two unknown parents) and how to do that properly. The biggy here is that if you don’t have it actually attached it will show that you don’t have a family tree and many will just skip your possible match up…. at least until they are desperate.

I have re-created a couple of her forms to share with you, too.

The first one is my re-creation of her Common Ancestors chart. I looked online but couldn’t find the one by her, so here is my version. I also added a short blurb about how/why to use it. This can be useful in genealogy even without doing your DNA, but it can really help you narrow it down and focus when exploring your DNA matches.

Common Ancestors Chart

I have also re-created a PDF version of a basic Surname List Chart like Crista Cowen talks about in her video. I didn’t extend it out all the way to include ALL of the surnames. I stopped at 46 surnames due to coming to the end of a page and assuming you don’t know all the rest of the 64 to 2048+ surnames in your direct line (up to your 9th great-grandparents).

Here is a Surname List Chart as a Google Docs Spreadsheet. You can download and edit it for yourself (including adding lines for more surnames). I changed the format of the form so you don’t have to keep reminding others (or even yourself) that it is cumulative.

You add the unique surnames that show up in each generation of your family tree in the proper column and then continue that surname through all of the generations from then on. To easily enter the surname multiple times to include in each generation after it appears, I just copied (ctrl C) and then tabbed over one and pasted (ctrl V)… and continued all the way through to the 8th generation.

Here is a current copy of my Surname List Chart. Remember that I don’t have over half of my direct line since I don’t even know my biological father’s name.

If you haven’t already read it, you can also check out the Beginning of My Ancestry DNA Journey.

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Beginning My Ancestry DNA Journey

Beginning My Ancestry DNA JourneyI am finally beginning my ancestry DNA journey. I have wanted to do it for many years!

Besides the fact that I love learning more about my family history and finding out where and who I come from… I know extremely little about my biological father. I don’t even know his name.

What I Know About My Biological Father

Basically all that I know (or at least believe to be the truth) is that he was supposed to have had red hair and “looked” Irish. He was supposed to be about 6″7″ (which explains my height, at least before I shrank…lol) and he rode a motorcycle at least at the time of my conception.

They ran off from the Kansas City, Missouri area to Texas a little after my mom had gone through most of her recovery from a severe car accident that she was in. This trip to Texas would have been some time in the Spring or early Summer of 1967. (I was told that I was about a month early and was only 4 lbs 11 oz, so it seems correct.) I was born in early February of 1968.

They rode on a motorcycle. My mom seemed to have a real fascination with men with motorcycles. I remember noticing this when I was a teenager and didn’t understand that until 2000’s-2010’s when I learned about him and her riding on a motorcycle.  She never acted on it, but she seemed like a school girl around a few individuals and they both were really into their motorcycles. It was the only thing they had in common.

Anyway, when my mom discovered that she was pregnant with me and told him, he left her alone there in Texas. He didn’t even take her back to her home state.

I predict that he likely is a lot Irish or at least looks like it. His brief description, plus the fact that my mom was SO adament that even though she always said that I was “Heinz 57” (a major mix of ethnicities)…. that I definitely had absolutely NO Irish in me.

I discovered over the years that when she was SO adament like that, she was actually covering up a big lie she didn’t want discovered. Plus, I looked (especially as a young child) very Irish and as far as I know, there is no Irish from my maternal side.

My mom NEVER told me any of this. I accidentally discovered that my adoptive father wasn’t my biological father when I was 12 years old. I do, however, remember standing in front of a judge during my adoption proceedings (probably when I was about 5 years old). I got into some major trouble for discovering it, so I didn’t ask any questions. I had seen who I then thought was my biological father (Donald Irvin Schroeder). I remembered that and some other information about his family. One of the pictures that she ripped into pieces when I asked her who this man holding me was, was secretly put back into my baby book a few years later and before her death (which I believe she knew was coming). It hadn’t been there when I left for college a few months before. A big chunk was still missing, but the rest had been taped back together. She thought that she had my baby book well hidden, but I found it many times throughout the years to look at it, discover, and take notes for later.

When I was a freshman in college, I found Donald Schroeder through the military and talked to him two or three times on the phone. The first time was actually on THE day my mom suddenly passed away, March 20, 1987. It was about noon to 1pm on that day. She had already passed, but I didn’t find out until just after 4pm.  This was mostly because I was trying to process that first call and hadn’t returned to my dorm room. I had a message to call home when I arrived at band practice at 4:10.  You can read more about that day on this blog post.

I found out during the 2000’s to 2010’s that she had told a close friend of hers as well as my adopted father. They both told me the little bit I knew after I heard through the grapevine that my grandma told someone close to me that Donald wasn’t my biological father after all and some other things. When I talked to my grandma about it, she told me most of this and that an ex-friend of my mom’s (the one who caused the car accident and then switched places with my mom, so it would look like she was driving….) had introduced them.

I later found and contacted Sylvia with a combination of help from my grandma and Facebook, of all things….lol She denied remembering ANYTHING about him or even introducing them. I honestly don’t believe her, even though I didn’t let on that I knew anything about what she had done to my mom. She just sounded like she was lying and I know she had a major history of lying, so there you go. I do think that she knows. He may even be related to her.

I have somewhat recently received a picture of my mom and another man (who doesn’t fit the description one bit) who evidently traveled together. They are pictured beside a welcome to a state sign and holding hands. I really wonder who he was. It’s possible that he could be the one, but he wasn’t much taller than my mom and appeared to not look a bit Irish, so who knows. I’m not totally ruling this out, even though he definitely doesn’t look like he would ride a motorcycle. Besides, they weren’t dressed in something I would wear on a motorcycle.

Fast Forward to a Few Years Ago

Well, let’s fast forward. I had purchased a DNA test one of the many times they were on sale.

After I received it in the mail, I got really nervous about the possibility of learning who my biological father is. What if it goes bad? My mom’s “track record” for picking her significant others didn’t give me much hope that he would be a good guy. I don’t blame my mom at all for her choices, because I honestly feel like she did the best she could with what she had. I do, however, feel that she should have given me some major answers… even if it had to wait until after her death for me to find out. I would have understood this reasoning. Going to the grave as evidently the ONLY person who knows is quite harsh. I think that she likely felt she was not only protecting herself (by not admitting it), but possibly protecting me since she didn’t really understand the way I was and am thinking about the “not knowing”. She likely felt if I don’t know… it can’t hurt me. She always reminded us that if we didn’t have something good to say that we shouldn’t say nothing at all.

Even though I showed respect for my step-turned-adopted father and surely would have to my “legal father” (the man on my original birth certificate who married my mom a month and 2 days before my birth) if he would have given me the time of day (Donald Schroeder)… they both had some serious issues.

Plus, my biological father evidently left my mom alone and a few states away from home when she told him that she was pregnant with me. I therefore do not have a lot of confidence that actually meeting him would be a positive experience. I believe that I would much rather learn about him from a distance (on paper, internet, etc). Yes, people can change and if he is still alive, he would probably be in his 70’s. He MAY want to know about me now. Probably not, though, since I totally believe that it would have been really easy for him to find my maternal grandparents for many years, if he had just tried.

Why Do I Want to Find Out

So given all that… Why would I want to learn who he is?

There are a few reasons:

  1. It is a horrible, open-hole feeling not even knowing who your biological parent is!
  2. For a genealogy enthusiast, it’s even worse, I believe, to not know a whole half of your personal history. I don’t know where over half of my ancestors came from and I have a whole half of my family tree totally blank!
  3. I honestly believe that I very likely have several other half sisters out there somewhere. Maybe brothers, too. I believe that he could have easily left several others in the same condition and have been told throughout the last three decades that I look, act, and sound JUST LIKE a handful of other ladies close to my age in a few different states. My guess is that I will find several half siblings and hopefully at least one knows something. I would also love to have more siblings, because I love family! I would want to get to know them.
  4. With my chronic illnesses, some of which are thought to be genetic, it would be nice to be able to learn about my family’s health histories. Here again, I can only fill out half of those forms. It makes me feel incomplete.

So where am I now?

I finally found my DNA test (I purchased earlier) last week when working on converting our extra room into my home office. This morning I have been watching a show called “Long Lost Family”. I know… fitting, right? So, I got my kit ready and then watched a video on YouTube about how to do the test. I was nervous, because so much could be riding on this. After watching the video, I started to open my kit and discovered that the blue liquid was not longer a liquid. I called Ancestry and asked them about it and was informed that it is indeed too old and that they will send me a replacement one in the mail. It will be about five to ten business days. I will then do it ASAP and return it. I am definitely ready now; although, I am still really nervous. I am now 50 years old and it’s definitely time to know.

What Do I Expect to Discover Regarding My Nationalities?

Honestly, I think that knowing my luck and the fact that I am SOOO much lighter than my mom and some other family members, that I likely didn’t get much of her Native American DNA. Even though there is supposed to be much less of things like Swedish, Dutch, and Welch in me, I will likely have more of a percentage of those DNA bits from her than the Native American, since I feel I look more like those nationalities. That is really a disappointing possibility for me, but one that I know could turn out real given the science behind getting DNA from your parents.

If that happens, I will want more of my family members to take the test. Especially my mom’s biological brother and youngest biological sister. They both seem like they could have much more Native American DNA than me (as well as my mom’s oldest sister who is really light like me).

If you happen to know ANYTHING about my biological father, please contact me. I’m actually assuming that maybe someone (likely a cousin of my mom) knows more, but doesn’t realize that I do not know and would really like to. If that is the case, please let me know. Feel free to ask other family members or longtime friends for me as well. I really appreciate any information that I can gather.

Have you done the DNA testing? If so, what did you discover? Tell me about it in the comments below.

 

 

Posted in DNA Ancestry, PORTER ~ BOWLES ~ MEREDITH ~ SMITH, WILLIAMS ~ FRARY ~ WURTZ | Tagged , | 1 Comment