Growing up, I always imagined my ancestors in shiny medieval armor, living in cinematic-like glory as they entered the New World with perfect posture on horseback.
As a boy, I was always told I’m a descendant of the Spanish Conquistadors and thanks to dramatic exaggerations and illustrations in my sixth grade social studies book, I had this portrayal solidified in my consciousness.
I knew I was some form of Hispanic, but that definition was confusing to me and nobody seemed to give me a clear definition of what that meant.
Perhaps American society’s tendency to compartmentalize race and heritage like a TV dinner tray has an influence on my yearning to know more.
During my early adulthood, I consumed LOADS of history books about the Spanish settlement of New Mexico in a quest to find out more about myself.
Of course what was omitted in elementary and high school came to light, raising many personal questions about by heritage.
Add in my father’s lineage and his unknown father, and that has compelled me to get a better picture of who I am and who my grandfather is/was.
Taking the DNA test and the results
Two months ago I sent a vial of my saliva to Ancestry after spending about $100 on a DNA heritage test kit.
I’ve been hoping the results will help connect me to my unknown grandfather and help me have a tangible, visual connection to my somewhat confusing background.
As I opened up my results, I admit I was a bit nervous because the test has been known to fracture old family stories and long-held personal beliefs of heritage.
Results finally popped open in my email this past week and I was somewhat surprised, and honestly relieved because mostly what I have been told has been true.
In summary, the results say the bulk of my lineage is 73% European and traces back to Spain, Scandinavia and the Germany region. Results also say I’m 17% Native American.
The results also place me in a specific genetic community that is tied to the early settlers of New Mexico, which wasn’t surprising.
Here’s are my results showing percentages and two maps from Ancestry.
In Ancestry, I can see other family members have done some genealogy work, connecting my tree to the first Spanish settlers who came into New Mexico back in 1598.
In the DNA results section, Ancestry placed thousands of people who are considered my “4th cousins or closer” in a list that tops with people who are closer to my branch.
From what I can see, the test is quite accurate because it has connected me to known cousins who took the DNA test. The top cousin on my list is a known first cousin to my mother.
But then there are many other cousins who I’m dying to know more about. I can say this test has raised even more questions now about my lineage.
What’s happening now
Since I’ve opened up the results, I’ve been emailing my Ancestry.com cousins in an effort to find my father’s biological family tree.
I’ve been getting a few interesting responses that have raised some hope I may be on the right road in tracking down my grandfather.
As I search for his family tree, let’s just say at this moment I strongly believe, based on a few responses I’m in the right forest.
I hope, once my father takes his DNA test, I’ll be able to whittle down with precision his relatives by comparing his DNA cousins with mine and perhaps, I’ll find the right branch.
The test does reveal an American story that isn’t all unique, however, it is unique on a micro-scale. I am a blend of native peoples and other immigrants from other parts of the world who came to this land for something better.
I find a connection to this country even more, because while my heritage is different from a southerner or someone from the northeast, all of us here in the U.S. share this land.
We are all in the same orchard of many different trees.