Using Ancestry DNA to Discover Family History

My DNA Story - Ancestry DNA results

I have always been the one in my family interested in documenting our family tree and figuring out from where we originated. As I dig deeper and deeper into my genealogy, I am continually amazed at what I can find with doing a little research. With my dad and grandparents not alive, it is challenging to figure out where I came from without getting more help from science. I have been fortunate to learn more than I ever thought I would by using Ancestry DNA to discover my family history.

What is DNA testing?

A genealogical DNA test is a DNA-based test that looks at specific locations of a person’s genome to find or verify past genealogical relationships or to estimate the ethnic mixture of an individual. Testing companies use different groups for their ethnic reference groups so that results can vary between companies. If you are going to test your DNA, the most dominant genes are from a male on your father’s side, either a brother, father or son.

DNA Results

To learn more about my dad and his portion of my family roots, I decided to put my family tree on Ancestry.com and sign up to get my DNA tested a few years ago. Here is what I found out… 

Ancestry for Heather Raulerson

I was so excited to get this ethnicity estimate because it told me many things. First, as my mom got her results back, she was 99% Eastern European, so I knew that would be high in mine. 50% of your DNA is related to your mom and 50% to your dad. Seeing my results gave me a clear direction on what portion directly related to my dad. I knew from research that I had already done on my tree that part of my Grandfather’s family could be traced back to Suffolk, England. The 31% Scandinavia was a huge surprise. I always had an inkling that “Raulerson” meant son of Rauler, which is a form of surname the Vikings used. It is nice to know my gut instinct was on point. I hail from Vikings!

Now two years later, I have had many family members and extended family submit their DNA. And my results have changed. Or should I say that they are more defined. And I am excited to see where this round of results takes me. Here is the latest…Ethnicity Estimate Ancestry DNA results

Family Tree

Over the years, I have put together an impressive collection of some of the branches of my family tree on Ancestry.com. One particular branch on my dad’s side, Swayze surname, is from my Great-Grandmother. I was able to trace her line back to see where the family split apart during the Revolutionary war. Half of the family who remained faithful to the crown moved to Canada, and the rest, who were loyal to the States, stayed in America. And yes, if you haven’t figured it out, I am related to the Swayze’s, including Patrick and John Cameron. I was able to confirm what my dad had always told us and that they were sixth cousins. You never know what you will find out when you spend some time developing your family tree.Additional Communities DNA results

Family History

Knowing that my grandparents were Polish and German, the results were not surprising. When tracing their lines, I knew that from immigration records that they came from Prussia. With my new DNA results, I have a better handle on which countries from Prussia my relatives could have immigrated from. With my past trips to the Czech Republic and Lativa, I am now experiencing cultures that could be directly connected to my past. Now loaded with these results, I have more insight on which direction to look next.Baltic States DNA results

How to get your DNA tested

You can get your DNA tested through Ancestry or 23 and me. Both are comparable with the price; the difference is what you want to get out of the results. When you order your kit, most likely, it will come with a tube that you will have to spit in and fill halfway. Then you send it back and wait for the results.

Summary

I am excited that I still can say that I’m a Viking Princess, even at only 2%. It still counts! I’m sure as more family gets tested, the results will change even more. I look forward to them as it helps me decide where to plan my next travel adventure. Digging into my family history is something that I am passionate about. And I enjoy visiting and immersing myself in new cultures that might be the ones that influenced my relatives in the past.

Have any of you dug into tracing back your family tree to see where your family originated?

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Further Reading

If you are interested in reading more about my nomad travels, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:

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