I spit into a small tube as per the directions and mailed it off in the enclosed box to an address in Ireland. Not long after, I received notification by email that the tube had been received, was being processed, and I would soon find out about my ancestral roots up to a thousand years ago.
The results were surprising in that such a large percentage showed ancestry from Great Britain and such a small proportion linked me to Germany: 67% Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and 14% Ireland (Ireland, Wales, and Scotland) for a total of 81%. Those percentages would be primarily from the Legge/Collings, Greenfield/Racher, and Beatty/North branches of the family.
Legge or Legg/Collings or Collins – Ancestors of my Grandpa Herman Collins
There has been a fair amount of research done through Ancestry on the Legge—sometimes spelled Legg—side of the family. My great-grandmother, Matilda Legge, was the eldest daughter of Moses Legge and Mary Ann Croft—both originally from England. I hope to expand on the information that I put in my first book about my great-grandmother’s family.
My grandfather’s surname was not originally Collins as we believed and as I noted in my first book. My great-great-grandfather’s last name was Collings. My sister and I located one of my mother’s cousins from Ontario, and he sent me a copy of Henry Collings’ obituary (1812 or 1813-January 23, 1894). Henry was born in England and came to Lanark County, Canada, at the age of six with his parents. (Lanark County is southwest of Ottawa.)
My great-great-grandmother was Catherine Brooks, born in Lanark County on August 3, 1824. Henry and Catherine were married January 28, 1845, and moved to Barrie and Collingwood and then to Lot 27, Concession 2, Arran Township. She died August 18, 1901. Henry and Catherine are buried in the cemetery in Tara, Ontario.
The eldest of their ten children was Edward, my great-grandfather, whom I suspect was the person who dropped the g in Collings so that the surname became Collins. So, I’m not as Irish as I thought I was, but certainly more British than I had predicted.
Greenfield/Racher – Ancestors of my Grandma Eva Racher/Rachar Collins
Most of my grandma's side of the family—the Greenfield/Racher branches—were British as well. Unfortunately, I haven’t obtained much information on the Greenfield side, but I’ll work on that branch at some point. My great-grandmother Ida Greenfield Racher/Rachar was the daughter of George Greenfield and Martha Parsons Greenfield. Both surnames Greenfield and Parsons reflect British ancestry.
Now that I have the family history information from the Racher side of the family, my plan is to further develop that family tree in my records. The information in my first book is limited because I didn’t know that the Racher/Rachar name had been changed by Nightingale Racher (born July 1, 1739, in Buckland, Hertfordshire, England; died March 25, 1803, in Cambridgeshire, England). His father’s first name was also Nightingale, but the last name was Redshaw. Further back, the name is recorded as Reshere. Even further back, the name is again recorded as Redshaw, so the surname Redshere may have been an incorrect spelling in the records. Whatever the exact surname and spelling, there is no doubt that the Racher/Rachar family has British roots.
Family history research would be so much easier if only ancestors—or the people recording their names—hadn’t changed the surnames and the spellings!
Beatty/North – Ancestors of my Granny Beula North Lohr
My granny’s ancestors—the Beatty and North branches of the family—are from Great Britain as well. My great-grandmother, Gertrude Beatty North, was a daughter of William Charles Beatty and Sarah Isabelle McCreight. The Beatty family was Scots-Irish, originally from Donegal County, Republic of Ireland. Ancestors of Sarah McCreight, my great-great-grandmother, have been traced to Glasglow, Scotland, and County Atrium, Northern Ireland.
There was a lot of movement between areas centuries ago—for example, John North was born about 1624 in England and went to Ireland in 1649. His grandson, Caleb North, is my direct ancestor, and Caleb sailed from Cork, Ireland, to Philadelphia in July 1729. He bought 69 acres of land in Gilberts Manor, Pennsylvania, in 1734. (William Penn had claimed land for himself in Pennsylvania which was later sold in auctions—part of that was Gilberts Manor.)
My Beatty and North ancestors were very early arrivals to the Northeastern United States. The spit test shows a significant number of my ancestors in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan from 1700-1800. Family history records concur with the results of the spit test.
Then, in the 1800s, their progress west is noted to South Dakota, California, and, in the case of my great-grandparents (John and Gertrude North) in 1903 to what would become Alberta, Canada. That information corresponds with the oral and written histories that have been passed down on my granny’s side of the family.
Hein/Lohr – Ancestors of my Grandpa Lester Lohr
My grandfather’s ancestors—the Hein and, particularly, the Lohr sides—were also early immigrants into the United States. They too liked to roam and moved repeatedly, mainly seeking better opportunities and land. The Paul Hein and Mary Dankoff Hein family emigrated from Lorraine—then a part of Prussia and now a province in France—in 1862. The records suggest they immediately struck out for, first, Wisconsin, and then made a permanent move to Alton, Iowa.
The Lohr side of the family arrived in the United States even earlier; in fact, so early that no one that I know of has been able to identify their exact arrival date and point. Seven or eight generations back from me, we think that Valentine Lohr came to Pennsylvania from Germany in the early to mid-1700s.
We do know that my great-great-great grandparents, Solomon and Mary Lohr, lived in Centre County, Pennsylvania. Based on my recent research at the historical building in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania—the seat of Centre County—they were on the tax assessment records in 1827 and 1828. We’re still working on that branch to try to find out where Solomon Lohr—probably accompanied by his brother or cousin named William Lohr—came from when they moved to Centre County. Some family research suggests they lived in South Carolina.
The Remaining 19% -- Some Ideas
If my ancestry is 81% from Great Britain, then what were the results for the remaining 19%?
The 8% Europe West (Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland etc.) identified by the spit test would be the Hein/Lohr ancestors I assume. I expected this percentage to be much higher given the fact that my paternal grandfather was German/Prussian. Here’s an interesting oral family story that may explain why the percentage is not higher.
My great-grandmother, Kathryn Hein Lohr, maintained she was descended from Prussian Royalty, probably illegitimately if the research is correct. She stated that Frederick William III (1770-1840) of Prussia was her great-grandfather and that Prince Albert (1809-1872) was her grandfather on the Hein side.
So, if my great-grandmother was correct, there may have been some blending of European royalty in her father’s background given that royalty in different European countries tended to intermarry. That may account for the percentages being somewhat different than expected. When I find time, I’ll investigate this possible link more.
My spit test also showed 6% Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, and Denmark). Now I know why a woman in Denmark insisted that I looked like a Dane and kept telling me that I should understand the Danish language. I don’t have any answers or theories on this percentage except to say that perhaps marauding Vikings were responsible?
The remaining percentages from my spit test included 2% European Jewish (perhaps on the Hein side?), 1% Italy/Greece (perhaps Romans who migrated north?), and 1% Europe East (Poland, Russia etc.). The final 1% was classified as perhaps West Asia.
So, is Ancestry’s DNA spit test accurate? Based on the family history that others have done and that I’ve tried to add to, I’d say a resounding “Yes!” Of the 313 fourth cousins and closer of mine that also had the spit test done through Ancestry, I know about ten of them. Those ten are close relatives—second, third, and fourth cousins mostly—since I don’t have any first cousins. (My parents were only children.) Almost daily, more cousins are identified on the Ancestry Site as additional people take the spit test. Now, my project—probably lifelong—is contacting those 313 cousins to try to figure out our relationships!
I know there is more detail in this Musing than most people want to read, but if I can get the facts out there for other family research fanatics to locate, then my chances of gaining information about my ancestors increase.
If anyone reading this is interested in finding out about their ancestors, the DNA test through Ancestry is efficient and probably reflects the largest data base available. You too can meet hundreds of your cousins online.