Sunday, February 18, 2018

This Is My Story

I guess it's only normal that I should be curious. After all, family relationships have always been important to me. And, I was a history major at William Jewell, so going back in time, getting a look at my roots has always held some fascination for me. For the Hills, Jim and I have become the family historians for our generation with Jim doing most of the work and housing most of the boxes. I have all of the old family slides, about forty carousels filled with bad photography and good memories.

So, with all this talk about DNA and learning about your story, I had to get me a kit and send in my spit, which should be the new jingle for ancestory.com. I got my results and here's my mix:

34% - Ireland, Scotland, and Wales
27% - Europe West
22% - Great Britain
12% - Scandinavia
5% - Other Regions

Showing up in Virginia in the 1600's, my DNA migrated on to Kentucky in the 1700's, before arriving in Illinois and Missouri in the 1800's. This all fits nicely with what our own investigations have shown us.

Twelve generations before our time, James Hill, (wouldn't you know it) migrated from Yorkshire, England to newly settled colonial America. He brought along his son, Samuel. (Are you kidding me?) It looks like most of our family came from Wales, some from the Netherlands, with a few Scots, Brits, and Vikings thrown in just to season the pot.

A few years ago, I found a family cemetery in St. Clair County, Illinois, taking us back to our great grandfather's great grandfather, four greats to us, Peter Melvin Hill. I couldn't help but wonder if someday my own grave might be visited by my descendants, six generations removed. It's a long shot, I know, but I kind of hope so.

Why do I feel compelled to share all of this with you? Because this is who I am, my life, just a page or two in a much larger story. How we got here is an important piece of information, our identity, the origin of our lives. What remains is an even bigger question. What will we do with this life we've inherited? What will our contribution be? What have we done that is worth remembering?

So I reflect as I imagine my Celtic, Dutch, and English ancestors. Corned beef, good cigars, and bread pudding. Celtic music, Dutch frugality, English manners. Lots for me to ponder, just sifting through my DNA.

The ancestory people also tell me that I have nearly 800 new relatives, most of them 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cousins, that share my DNA following other branches of the same family tree generations back. A few have already emailed me. How cool. Everybody's family. Not a bad thought for us, whatever our DNA.

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