Gerald Smith, Special to the Press & Sun-Bulletin Published 8:00 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020
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It is always interesting to see the Christmas gifts that family members give each other.
Of course, as a dad, I have had my share of socks, ties and other well-trodden gifts from my children and my wife. The adage that as I have gotten older, it is harder to find an appropriate gift. After all, how many ties do I need now that I am mainly retired (but not totally).
This past Christmas, my wife found a new gift for me — perhaps, in some ways, it is an old gift.
I received a certificate that she drew that I would be getting an Ancestry DNA kit in a short time. Both of us have discussed this over the years. I have assisted users of our Local History & Genealogy Center who have pursued their genealogy by completing a DNA analysis.
There are many companies that now offer this possibility. It has become a popular analysis that can offer many pieces of information about our past — everything from what part of the world our ancestors originated, to possible medical issues of which we should be aware.
With a promoted discount in price pushed by Ancestry, I received my kit just after New Year’s Day. The box sat on my desk as real life took a higher spot in my priorities.
However, in a moment alone in my home office, I opened the box to see what needed to be done. The process is rather simple, and a container and prepaid return box is included.
Since this product is part of Ancestry, rather than getting a private report just sent to me, the actual report will be posted to Ancestry as the report will perform two things. It will provide a breakdown of the various localities that were once home to my ancestors from my father’s and my mother’s sides.
This may sound simple, but actually is not.
Like many others in our community, I have researched my own genealogy. I know that my father’s Smith side is of Irish ancestry, and his mother, a Robinson, has English ancestry. On my mother’s side, her Webb ancestry is a combination of English and Welch, and her mother’s Pierce ancestry is English.
While that all sounds simple, the reality is that the further back you go, the likelihood of single ancestry becomes nearly impossible. With each generation, you gather more ancestors. You have four grandparents, and eight great-grandparents, with 16 great-great grandparents. It continues to grow with each generation. I am aware that one line, the Oviatts, came to the country from Somerset County in England in 1639.
However, the line of the family goes back to France when the family was called D’Oviatt, and back as far as the year 1100, the family would be found in what is now Spain and went by the name Avaydos. Therefore, the report from Ancestry should show some of this development as well. It will be interesting to see what other parts of the world this humble author has descended.
The other part of the aspect of the report is the posting of names of relations whose DNA are already a part of the Ancestry database of millions of participants.
You would think that after decades of research, I would know the names of aunts, uncles and cousins. Yet, just a few weeks ago, I found a third cousin once removed that I know from a totally different connection.
I am aware that there are lines of ancestors that I have not researched totally. Some of their children may show up on the report. In addition, there are the family stories of lost children, illegitimate births and scandals that have been whispered that seem to occur in every family. I am aware of some of these, but there may be many more that have happened through the centuries.
Whatever the results, I will know in a few weeks once the testing will have completed.
One thing that I am fairly sure of — that I am human and not some alien from a far-away planet. I have that in common with billions of others, and when the report is complete, I will tell you all about it.
Gerald Smith is the former Broome County historian. Email him at email@example.com
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