TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — George, Ginny And Me

Perhaps inspired by that clever television commercial in which a guy trades his  lederhosen for a kilt after learning he’s not really German as he was led to believe all his life but rather Irish, the other day Ginny signed us up to take one of those Ancestry.com DNA tests.

For about $90, Ancestry.com will send you a DNA test kit. You get to spit into a little plastic bottle, mail it into the company and then in four to six weeks, you get an AncestryDNA Ethnicity report explaining where you came from (not to be confused with the birds and the bees thing).

It doesn’t work for everybody. Ginny had to resubmit her sample and the husband of a friend of mine submitted two samples before having his money refunded. His wife told me she just assumes she is married to an alien, and not the illegal Donald Trump kind, either.

Not that I understand it, but between the DNA testing and the online geneology research that’s conducted, we are told we can learn a great deal about our ancestral background.

At our house, Ginny has taken on the role of researcher. All I really had to do was spit.

Ginny has spent a couple of hours almost every day for several weeks “tracing our roots.”  I have to admit, it has turned up some interesting stuff.

In her case,  it confirmed what we already knew, that Ginny (whose family name is Eastman) is related to perhaps the most famous Eastman of them all.

George Eastman founded the Eastman-Kodak Company, which popularized roll film and brought photography to the mainstream masses beginning in the late 1800’s. Unfortunately, her relationship is not close enough for us to have inherited any of that Kodak camera money. He was her 10th cousin, four times removed.

I always assumed that my ancestors made it onto the boat out of Norway just steps ahead of the law. That, too, was confirmed by the test, although not necessary the outlaw part. My spit, I mean my DNA, shows my ancestors came overwhelmingly from Scandinavia, but also from Great Britain, western Europe, Ireland, Italy and Greece. Throw some European Jews and northwest Russians into the mix along with others from the Iberian Peninsula, and you have a slightly “clearer” picture of who I am, should you care.

Already, Ginny has been able to trace our ancestors further back than I ever thought possible. In her case, to 1499 and to 1590 in mine. Crazy.

As interesting as it all is, I don’t think either one of our stories is going to be nearly as compelling as Alex Haley’s research into his family history several decades ago.

Even without DNA testing, Mr. Haley was able to trace his family lineage back to Africa and slavery. The result, of course, was the hugely popular book and television series.

A new version of his “Roots” story is about to air on HISTORY beginning on Memorial Day. I’ll be watching.

Leave a Reply