This post is sponsored by Ancestry

When my mother-in-law gifted me with a DNA kit from Ancestry some years ago, I was intrigued but skeptical. My mother-in-law comes from a family that’s very into genealogy and can trace their family tree back to as far as 1690. I was born and raised in Trinidad and the stories of my heritage can be hard to trace past the 1910’s. I barely can find information before my parents’ parents. Literally, my father doesn’t know his maternal grandfather’s name! This happens in so many families around the world. Our family tree has several missing branches. It turns out I’m far from alone in that regard – for many African Americans and in the international diaspora, it can be difficult to trace our roots further back into history and across continents.

Needless to say; I sent in my AncestryDNA kit with questions and a healthy dose of uncertainty. I spit in this tube, and then what? What does it do, where does it go and what will I even learn from any of this?  When I first got my results I was both surprised and confused because it didn’t even mention the Caribbean. But over time, my results have turned out to be pretty amazing. Read on and I’ll explain it all. And at the very end of this post, I’m giving away 10 AncestryDNA kits to those of you who are ready to make discoveries of your own!

As we celebrate Black History Month,let me explain a bit more and go back a bit further. Meet my family!

Most of us live in Trinidad and we are a very tight knit unit. In this photo you’ve got me and my husband, my brother Patrick and his wife Lisa, my brother Dominic and my nieces Dominique and Isabella, my sister Petal, my mom and dad, and my mom’s sisters Aunty Opal and Aunty Gemma. Missing are my newest niece Thalia, and my oldest brother Clint and his family (they live in England).

My immediate family is very tight-knit. My parents eloped and that brought us closer as a unit. We are particularly close to my mom’s side of the family. I’ll admit, I did grow up with a little envy at the kind of sprawling, multi-generational families who had involved grandparents and lots of cousins and family reunions with matching t-shirts. That wasn’t my reality, but we absolutely grew up with a lot of laughter, happiness and love.

My maternal grandparents had both passed by the time I was born. On my dad’s side, I know my paternal grandfather at least knew who I was – he had my name written in a book of his grandchildren’s names and knowing that is reassuring. My paternal grandmother was patient and kind to me whenever we visited and she passed when I was maybe 15 or 16.

In our house in Trinidad, we’ve got a wall of old family photos. Here it is!

This wall features photos of my parents and their parents, and quite a few relatives I had to be told about but never had the privilege to meet. Let me introduce you to them.

Here is my mom, with her parents.

My maternal grandmother and grandfather were Jules and Pearl Graham.

My grandfather chose that name. His birth certificate just says Jule. There is no last name and there is no father listed. He was born in British Guiana. His mother was Mary Robertson. Her mother, Aura Vangronigen, gave the details on the birth certificate and her name is also listed on it. I don’t have a name for my maternal great-grandfather, the trail ends there.

Pearl Graham was born Pearl Kellar. Granny Pearl had six or seven siblings, we know of Elfreda, Elliott, Winnie, Aggie and Iris. I knew Freda, Aggie and Iris of my grandmother’s siblings, but not my grandmother.

Their mother was Amelia Kellar. Their father was William Kellar. I hear he was from Tobago. I have never seen a photo of him. I don’t think my mom remembers meeting her grandfather.

This is my maternal great-grandmother, Amelia Kellar, nee Callender.

Her mother’s name was Miriam Payne. I am told that Miriam Payne, my maternal great-grandmother, was originally from Canada. She married a man who we believe was named David Callender, from Barbados. Miriam and David had 8 children, four boys and four girls. That’s all we know. It fades from there.

Now, on my dad’s side — these are my paternal grandparents pretty much as I remember them.

My father’s parents, Carlito and Camilla Grell. My dad is one of nine kids, five boys and four girls. I don’t think they have family photos of all of them together, not as far as I’ve ever seen.

This was my father’s maternal grandmother. Her name was Matilda Johnson. My father’s maternal grandfather was a man named Squires. My father says that he never met his maternal grandfather but heard he was a tall, handsome tailor.

His grandparents had quite a number of children. Here are some pictures of her and her children – my paternal grandmother is on the top left. They all had their own families, their own kids. My father knows very little about them.

On my paternal grandfather’s side, it is just as fragmented and fascinating.

This is my paternal great-grandmother, my father’s grandmother. Her name was Louise Scholz.

As far as I know, there are no group family photos of my father’s family, or of his father’s. But when I went home for Christmas, my father shared an incredible collection of photos of my grandfather and his siblings. My grandfather was Carlito Grell, son of Louise Scholz and we believe his father’s name was Ellis Grell. My grandfather had several siblings; some chose the last name Scholz, some took the last name Grell. Some left for the United States, some stayed in Trinidad. Here are the photos I recently discovered, via one of my dad’s sisters-in-law. Top left is my paternal great grandmother, and next to her with the saxophone is my paternal grandfather, Carlito. He was in a band!

I had never seen these before my dad shared them with me in December, and I’m still astounded. Who are these people? Where did they move to, what happened to them, who did they choose to become? How many cousins and branches of extended family do I have around the world and in how many places, exactly?

In years past, that would just have remained a mystery. I still have so many missing branches from my family tree. But something remarkable started happening when I sent in my AncestryDNA test. I started hearing from distant relations with provable DNA matches, trying to contact me to answer their own questions and fill in their own gaps from the past. It’s pretty amazing!

Like I mentioned, when I did my AncestryDNA test I was initially disappointed. It doesn’t mention Trinidad at all! But now I get it – this is DNA testing. They use autosomal testing technology; advanced DNA science and they predict your genetic ethnicity going back multiple generations. That’s all paired with what has become the world’s largest online family history resource, so you can find all kinds of incredible new connections. So instead of finding out about Trinidad and Guyana, I’m finding out my ethnicity from Benin and Togo and the southeastern Bantu region of Africa, as well as Ireland and Western Europe and Central Asia (total surprise there).

Here’s my AncestryDNA test results, in case you were curious!

Through these DNA results, I’ve learned more about my exact breakdown and that’s interesting and cool. What I didn’t expect is that through sending my saliva in a tube via the mail, I would find out more about my family tree. Through Ancestry, I have been emailed by confirmed DNA contacts on either side of my family! One relative looks to be a cousin on my dad’s side. The other relative has a background from Guyana, so that’s likely from my maternal grandfather. Amazing! This would never have happened otherwise. Seeing their info displayed in the context of a family tree with a DNA match confirming our degree of connectedness is really reassuring, in terms of moving forward to make contact.

I know there are those out there who have their fears and suspicions about DNA testing, but I was assured by the fact that the consumer and ONLY the consumer owns their Ancestry customer data. Submitting the test gives Ancestry a revocable license to test your DNA and that data is used for ethnicity estimates. Click right here to read more about that and all the terms and conditions – it’s always best to be informed so you know what you’re getting into, right?

Ancestry.com corporate genealogist Crista Cowan helped me gain some greater understanding and context of my AncestryDNA results.

“At a high level, Afrobella’s AncestryDNA Story shows she is 52% African, 35% European, and 13% Asian.  With more than 150 possible regions, her results reveal more detailed information including that she is connected to eight of the nine African regions tested for by AncestryDNA.  She also discovers that she is, more recently, connected to the African Caribbean genetic community.  All of this information lines up beautifully with what she knows about her family history,” she explained. So helpful to get some perspective on what it all means.

“Now, she has an opportunity, through Ancestry, to continue to make discoveries about her specific ancestors using the rich information found in millions of user-created family trees, billions of historical records, and by connecting with her DNA Matches,” she added. Thanks to Crista Cowan for the analysis!

Some people do the AncestryDNA test because they want to understand more about their ethnicity. Some people do it because they want to know more about their biological family. There’s AncestryDNA but in addition to that, there are Ancestry’s Family History membership services which unlock access to billions of historical documents, like military registrations, marriage certificates, census lists and helpful information for anyone trying to research more about their own past.  My AncestryDNA gave me some answers about my background, but to really fill out the missing info about all of these relatives of the past who migrated and married and changed names and had kids and got lost in the sands of time, I’ll have to do more research.

If you’re like me and you also have lots of lost branches from your family tree and many questions you’d like to answer, this could be interesting for you as well.

That’s my long, detailed (but hopefully interesting) story.

Enough about me. How about you? For anyone who is interested and ready to learn more about your DNA, I’ve got a special giveaway of 10 AncestryDNA kits!

How do you enter, how do you win?

Tell me just a little about why you’re interested in learning more about your DNA or family history in the comments section. 10 lucky winners will be chosen by February 19, with winners announced on February 23.

Note: Winners must reside in the United States of America and be at least 18 years of age.

Learn more at Ancestry.com, or visit them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

This post is sponsored by Ancestry but these opinions and ALL of this detailed family history is all mine!

** edited 2/20 — WOW. Your comments are so in depth and inspiring and beautiful. This contest is now officially closed but I wanted to thank you ALL for entering! Winners were posted here on

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COMMENTS

Purple says:
February 16, 2018, 12:27 pm
This is very fascinating. Your family is so interesting and diverse. I've always wanted to do an ancestry test since I saw people taking them on YouTube. Too bad I'm in Kenya so can't enter the giveaway. Then again the results might be pretty boring, like 100% something ?
Purple says:
February 16, 2018, 12:29 pm
That was supposed to be a smiley face, not a question mark :-)
Calondra says:
February 16, 2018, 12:33 pm
Great read! As a African-American, I don’t know where I’m from past Georgia & Alabama. It would be great to get more insight into my & my family’s background & discover a new long lost culture!
Lesa F says:
February 16, 2018, 1:35 pm
I have had a lot of health issues, many which are genetic. Unfortunately, my family is fractured and no one in our family has any information. For example, my maternal grandmother changed her name, so the name we know her as isn’t correct. I know that Ancestry can’t reveal health related data, but it would be nice to know where my family originates.
Lawanda Stevenson says:
February 16, 2018, 1:44 pm
So many of my family members have past away without sharing their stories. I want to be able to share as much of mine as I can with my children and help them see where they are going by knowing where they came from. Plus I just feel I have to be from Ghana ?
Toya says:
February 16, 2018, 1:56 pm
I loved reading about your family and its history. Like you said, I think many of us have missing branches in our tree and I am certainly one of them. I've been interested in learning more about my family tree for a while. I've done some minor investigation on my own but have never done a DNA testing of this kind and I think it would be a huge start for me. My grandmother never met her father. All she know is that he is from the West Indies and his name, last name being Hernandez. Other than that she knows nothing. I've always been asked all my life what nationality I am because although I'm Black, I don't have the "traditional" black hair as most Black people Many say, oh you're Puerto Rican and I'm like, no I'm Black. LOL I can only think that it's because of my grandmothers father. We all look black but she is definitely half black and half something else. What a cool thing you're doing! I can't wait to read more about your family.
Bridget says:
February 16, 2018, 2:12 pm
I loved this. ?? I personally have been doing my family trees for about 30 years. However, my task is much more difficult. I'm tracing 2 trees: my adoptive family and biological. The latter is harder because I know very little although I did finally meet my biological mother, her sister, my sister and her children. Due to circumstances, there's no info on the man who makes up my other 23 chromosomes, but I'm ok with that. I did learn the names of her parents and siblings, but nothing else and she's since passed. My adoptive family tree I've gotten as far as my mother's grandparents and my father's parents and siblings. I know Ancestry DNA can only benefit me for the biological tree to give me complete closure in simply knowing what else makes up this 3b/3c/4a that sits upon my head giving me the fabulous fro I have.
Niki Bridges says:
February 16, 2018, 2:13 pm
Very cool! I have always been interested in doing this, but I guess I just needed a push. I have a pretty complicated family history: my biological mom died when I was 4 and I didn't meet my biological father until about 9 years ago. I was lovingly raised by family though (my great-uncle and his wife) and have close relationships with many of my cousins, but my family tree spreads out pretty far. I recently found out I was related to the singer Mavis Staples! I can usually figure out if I'm related to people because we look so much alike. I want to find out who the "OGs" were that made us look so distinctive on my mother's branch of the family and find out more about my father's side.
Hazel Brown says:
February 16, 2018, 2:19 pm
Your heritage is very fascinating! Thank you for sharing :-) I would like to learn more about my family history because my dad who was 28 years older than my mom, died when I was 10. My mom remarried and we lost contact with my dad's side of the family. I have searched for Brown's online and in the area he was raised but because it is such a common name its hard to narrow down who I am related to. I have been able to find one cousin but beyond that I really do not know alot about my fathers side of the family. He was sick most of the 10 years that I knew him, in and out of hospital. I do believe he intended for me to get to know his side of the family but there just never seemed to be enough time. I remember him fondly and through stories my mom tells me but it would be so nice to gain more knowledge about my heritage and possibly connect with my dad's side of the family. Again thank you so much for sharing your story and experience with Ancestry.com :-)
Victoria says:
February 16, 2018, 2:43 pm
I'm Trinidadian as well for my mother's side and my father is from Haiti. Knowing that your parents come from the Caribbean it's really difficult to determine where your roots stem from, and I've always been curious to find out who I am and where my background originates from. I think it's so interesting to know who you really are and what your history is my mother has a slight idea but my father is very secretive and doesn't really keep in contact much with his family so it's very difficult for me to really know my background coming from his side. I think taking this ancestry would be a revelation in my life because I've always wanted to know who I am where I come from what other relatives I have out there that I may not have known about. Your story is very inspiring and I would love the opportunity to experience the same as well.
Nicole says:
February 16, 2018, 2:44 pm
Like you, my roots are in Trinidad. I'm surprised that you were surprised about the Asian lineage, as I've always felt you and your brother looked Asian ?. My history stops at my grand parents. On my dad's side, I never met my grandfather and my grandmother died when I was young. On my mother's side, my grandmother died on my 5th birthday and my grandfather moved to Grenada and had a whole other family! I know we will all be linked back to Africa, but I would be more interested to find out if we are linked to indigenous Carib and Arawak people's. Learning to our lineage is important as it formalizes our place in the world. It would be fun to find out! Thanks for the opportunity!!
Kelly says:
February 16, 2018, 3:10 pm
This is super fascinating! I always enjoy reading your posts and this one did not disappoint. I’m interested in learning about my family history because I know nothing about my biological father’s side. He was never in my life. On my mom’s side, i know my great grandmother emigrated from The Strait of Gibraltar. Beyond that I don’t know much. Would love to be able to put more pieces together.
Courtney says:
February 16, 2018, 3:18 pm
Thank you for sharing this! I'd love to learn more about my family's history, as both my parents passed away by the time I was 25. I would be thrilled to share and discover my family tree with my daughter, cause I feel like I'm left with more questions than answers.
Lisa M Burkey-Jeeves Roti says:
February 16, 2018, 3:35 pm
I was adopted at six weeks old. I am looking for my Birth Father. It was thought my Birth Father was my Birth Mother's husband. He took the DNA test through ancestry and we didn't match. I found the paternal line and cousins still no close matches yet on the paternal line. I have matches that are close on the maternal side. On the paternal side there were adoptions by other family members this confuses things.So I have cousins that appear further apart but the centimorgans bring us closer. I am learning more and more about my family. The history is really fascinating. My Native American roots are hidden in the Celtic histories of the South. My roots are all over the world. I have hit some challenging dead ends but I love the Ancestry community everyone is so helpful. I have found cousins around the world from all different ethnicities. It is fun being a history detective!
Anita says:
February 16, 2018, 3:37 pm
I’d love to be able to afford a test for my grandparents. I’m lucky enough to still have them in my lives but little is known about their families/history before them (especially my grandfather). To be able to share this with them would not only be a bonding experience for me but help them reveal more about their identity for them.
Karen says:
February 16, 2018, 3:48 pm
The details you got are so thorough and really defining. Eventually I'd love to do a DNA as there are many mysteries to my childhood and answers that won't be shared. Knowing the truth may be hard at first but will undoubtedly explain so much.
Jay Gaines says:
February 16, 2018, 3:54 pm
I love that everyone is discovering their ancestry. I've been curious my whole life. Im a black girl with freckles and sandy brown hair. From my mom? nope, Dad? nope. So I'm curious to see where my heritage will trace back to. Im glad you found your extended family! I'm hoping that can happen for me too!
Tamaika Wells-Cole says:
February 16, 2018, 4:07 pm
I have always been curious about my genealogy. I am a bit of a mutt, and have tried to personally trace my roots without much success. As you know, our records weren't kept diligently. As the mom of 4 black boys, I'd love to be able to pass along a sense of genetic rooting so they would never feel the need to be defined or boxed in by others.
Kamielle says:
February 16, 2018, 4:23 pm
Loved Loved Loved your family history story. I am interested in finding more about my family history and genealogy because I lost my maternal grandmother a week two weeks ago. I had put off for a few months sitting down with her to go over our family tree and to much regret I never got the chance. She was the last elder on my mom’s side and practically the glue of our family (much drama, hurt, etc) I know that my grandmother and my grandparents are from Shreveport Louisiana and that’s it. It would mean the world to me to connect with extended family members and figure out where my lineage traces back to beyond here in the US.
Adrienne says:
February 16, 2018, 4:47 pm
Loved reading about your ancestry so many of us share the same struggles seeking our identity. My family is from the Caribbean on both sides of my line. I too started out with little facts. My mother told me she only knew her grandparent’s by names of endearment. Ultimately I don’t know how my ancestor’s came to the Caribbean although I’ve been told one of my great grandmother’s was a Caribe Indian. One of my great grandfather’s was whaler so the story goes. I never wanted to pass a cousin in the street and not know they were my family. DNA could make a difference and open up doors to information I don’t already know.
Mallerie Hendrix says:
February 16, 2018, 4:51 pm
My daddy passed before I could get more history about my family from him and my mother's parents passed when she was young, her mother's side of the family refusing to take her and her sister in. I'm not on speaking terms with her and don't really know anyone on my daddy's side. I would really love to know who I am. My daddy once said black, white, native American and Mexican lol. I would just really love to know. I have been told I could pass for Columbian. :(
Michele Pineda says:
February 16, 2018, 4:57 pm
Really enjoyed reading about your results, my neighbor recently did this and was surprised by her results and it really made me interested to find out about my heritage. I know that my dad was from Canada, and there is also some Micmac Indian in the family on my mom's side, and of course some European heritage as well but it would be really neat to see what my breakdown and get a good idea of my ethnic heritage. I take after my dad in the light skin, blonde hair and blue eyes but mom and her side of the family are darker skinned, black hair, dark brown eyes so I'm really wondering what my results would be!
Keelar says:
February 16, 2018, 5:10 pm
I’ve always wondered what part of Africa my ancestors come from, but I’m also interested in other possible roots. I went back to my maiden name after my divorce and someone at work commented on my name being French. There is also someone else at work with similar last name.( It’s only missing the final e ) that I noticed on a group email a while back. Of course I reached out to find out where they were from thinking they might be kin. I found out that they were white and from Kentucky. I’m from the south and my dad’s side traces back to Louisiana. Finally my maternal great grandmother was Native American and married a white man. I have such a variety of heritages in my family. I think it will be interesting to explore these lineages and discover my true history
MARTHA ROUSSE says:
February 16, 2018, 5:31 pm
I am from Alaska I was born in Alaska in 1954 my mother is Eskimo athapascan indian and European she has Irish my father is Irish English French German he was from Swampers,Louisiana so I may be Creole I am not sure I wanted to do a DNA too but have not I may be black like I said because back in the day the people in my family may have had slaves but I am not sure
Kim Hood Blount says:
February 16, 2018, 6:29 pm
Wow very interesting. I have gone back and forth about testing. I thought I knew much about both sides of my family. However I found out that on my moms side, she is actually 100% Native American instead of Puerto Rican as I was raised to believe for over 30 years. Many in the family have rushed to accept this but I want to be sure. I don't know how 3 generations kept this such a secret and Id like to confirm and possibly get to know as many of my family as possible as well as the customs and traditions of the tribe we are said to be descendants of.
Susan Christy says:
February 16, 2018, 7:47 pm
I'm the only redhead with freckles in my family and I'd like to find out how where those traits came from.
Kimberly Harrison says:
February 16, 2018, 8:00 pm
I've always wanted to know further of my family history. Both past and present family reunions my family has talked about wanting to dive deeper into our family tree. This would be a great way to start, thanks for the chance to win!
Reesa says:
February 16, 2018, 8:26 pm
Your family history is so exciting to read about! I have been so hesitant but yet intrigued about DNA testing. I have heard lots of stories about my mother's side but I would still like to know more. Like where did we originate from? What exact part of Africa? Additionally I have no info about my father's family. I met my father as an adult and not much info was shared before he passed away. I would love to know more and possibly connect to some of my relatives. This is so exciting!! ?
Ashley says:
February 16, 2018, 8:31 pm
I'm interested to win because, honestly, I don't have much family nor do I know much about my family. I would love to know more about what kind of DNA I come from and those that share DNA with me! It would mean a lot!
KV says:
February 16, 2018, 8:42 pm
I'd like to learn more about my family history & DNA.
ashanique anderson says:
February 16, 2018, 8:53 pm
this is such a touching story! i am actually interested in finding my families ancestry because my great grandmother (who is alive and well) was adopted by her aunt and uncle. prior to being adopted; her parents both died in a car accident in the early thirties. she doesn't remember much about them. she was moved to chicago away from her family on both sides. Shes always been intrigued about her roots and i shared that same curiosity and were never in the place financially to do it. i think this would be the perfect oppurtunity for my great grandmother to learn about herself and our history as a family.
SSum says:
February 16, 2018, 9:45 pm
I think this is just beautiful! There is something so empowering about knowing. When I stand in front of my mirror noting the texture of my hair, the undertones of my skin, and the shape of my eyes, it often leads me to wonder who the people are that contributed pieces to my unique puzzle. Knowing who I am will empower me to give my children the gift of more insight as to who they are also. I hope you are able to learn so much more on your journey!
Ann Reaux says:
February 16, 2018, 9:46 pm
I’m very interested in looking into my DNA because we have a rich creole heritage here in Louisiana and especially on my father’s side. My last name it said that it is Spanish but there are others who say it is French. I want to really find out what we are. My mother’s family are said to have strong Native American backgrounds but it is hard to track it because our genealogy records in Louisiana places people’s race as either colored or white. So I’m so ready to know my DNA.
Matt Wells says:
February 16, 2018, 9:47 pm
When my grandparents divorced, my grandfather simply disappeared from family lore, and nothing of my father's genealogy came down to us. My mom's Boston Irish family took the line, 'What do you want to know about that for?' The genealogy services information is so full of errors and wishful thinking, the truth is often lost. The body's truth would be a breath of fresh air . . .
Margaret Horn says:
February 16, 2018, 10:11 pm
When I submitted my DNA to ancestry.com I was looking to find my great grandfather on my father's side because the family story was he married my great grandmother had four children and disappeared. She married again and changeD the childrens last name to the new husbands name. After receiving my DNA results the majority of my matches were on my mother's side. So my brother and sister also had their DNA tested . Instead of them matching me as a full sibling they both were half siblings. We have the same mother but different fathers. We convinced an aunt to be tested and my sister is the only one that matched her meaning the dad we grew up with was only her dad. So my brother and I are in search of our fathers. I found a close match but the family is not interested in being tested. So I'm kind of at a dead end.
Katerina says:
February 16, 2018, 10:24 pm
Beautiful! I would like to find out more about where I come from and hopefully find some relatives that I never met and I don't know their whereabouts(siblings and uncles). The whole DNA thing is very interesting!
Kathy Reppin says:
February 16, 2018, 10:33 pm
Hi. I would love to be able to take a DNA test unfortunately I can't afford it. The reason that I want to take a test is because some of my family history is confusing to me. I found out that my great grandma and grandpa divorced. I was really pretty surprised considering the year that this happened. I guess I never considered people divorcing in that time. I also learned that my grandma and a couple of her brothers were adopted by another family at that time. My great grandpa at census time, following their divorce ,reported my great grandma as passed away. In the census where my great-grandma lived she was included as being alive. It seems a lot happened in my family in the 1800s. I'm curious about where we're from and who else I'm related to. I've had trouble finding the remainder of my family and would really like to know my heritage according to a DNA finding.
Crystal Stewart says:
February 16, 2018, 11:21 pm
Hello, I loved your story with everything you’ve included (details, pictures, ect.)! I found my passion for history, genalogy, family history back in 2010 on a trip to Alabama to visit my dad. I’ve lived in Central Florida my entire life in the same house my parents had both my older brother and I. I never really gave too much thought to my lineage until I created a Facebook account and realized I had an entire family whom I’ve never really known. I remember that trip to Alabama back in 2010. My dad never really talked about family or his dad who had died of cancer when he was just 17. He never went into stories or details, just lived with his own recollections leaving the stories up to my aunts and uncles to tell; so on that visit I figured it was now or never and I asked him what he knew. His words to me were clear, he said “Crystal, our family is like Heinz’s 57 sauce.. we’re all mixed up. You may not like what you see when you get the information you’re looking for.” This not only confused me, it infuriated me so much so, that when I got home from Alabama, I started my own search. I got on forums, queries, groups for Alabama of the areas I was looking for and realized real fast.. I had no clue what I was doing! I knew then that if I wanted to do this research I needed to do it right, so I quit researching family names and started researching college names. I couldn’t find any colleges which offered a degree online (I had 3 kids then, all under the age of 5) so I opted for a bachelors degree in History from an accredited school so that by the time I was done I would know what to do with the information I had learned. I did more research on my family and learned so much through the past 8 years! I however have yet to find out anything about my great great grandfather. He was listed on a census back in the 1800’s with a different family who all had a different last name. We were confused.. was he adopted? Who knows? My aunt contacted me one day and told me she paid for one of those DNA ancestry kits (i was jealous) and learned she was mostly from Irish decent. She too had been interested in our Stewart lineage and started her own search, I just remember the results she posted of her DNA test were so cool and wanted so badly to do that for myself to be able to share that information with my kids. I still have yet to buy one being that I’m the type of mother who’d rather spend any extra money on my kids. I figure that I may get one for my birthday in March but still holding out on that one. :) We’ll see though! Best of Luck to All Searching, Crystal
Deidre Powell says:
February 16, 2018, 11:58 pm
Thank you for sharing your journey of discovering your family’s roots. I have been researching my family for over 25 years. I was fortunate enough to have interviewed my grandmothers before they both passed away. I took the test a few years ago. I was thrilled to see my specific African countries & regions. My results did not match the oral history of Irish and Native American Ancestry; however, it did bring a cousin who was a friend from high school and another through my son’s travel basketball team. I really need to get a kit to test my mom. A lot of people try to connect with us; her results might help me sort them out.
Ellen Lopes says:
February 17, 2018, 12:08 am
I would love to win a kit because I wany to give it to my son. I had my DNA done thru Ancestry and it was a wonderful experience I am still delving into. I have found hundreds of cousins, and a lot of family history. A lot of surprises, too. My son now is really wanting yhe same experience. Especially his African heritage thru his father.
Stacey says:
February 17, 2018, 4:53 am
I always wanted to test my DNA to see how many different places my family is from. My mom has been researching he family and there are too many inconsistencies with her reserch. Mainly because so many people have the same name. I wonder if it will show native American dna. I always heard there was some in our family but I have no idea where they come in.
Kai Briggs says:
February 17, 2018, 5:07 am
I would like to learn a lot more about my family history because there are many mysteries that lie in our ancestry. The biggest one is who my great grandfather is! Nobody knows who he is but there have been many rumours throughout the years: Could he be a French Canadian lumberjack? Or a local Scot to the family? They are just two of the many theories our family have had! I would be so interested into pursuing this further and other mysteries along with it!
Shelley says:
February 17, 2018, 5:26 am
My father passed away on Boxing Day last year and as we were writing his eulogy we realized we didn't know his father's name. Heck we weren't even sure if they shared the same last name! That's when it dawned on us how little we knew about my father's family. Also, because both sides of my family are from extremely modest means, we have very little photographic evidence of family members before the 1960s. And due to migration and casual record keeping we don't have much in the way of birth and death records. The DNA kit would be a start in deepening our knowledge of our family.
Ashley S says:
February 17, 2018, 8:43 am
My father was adopted and I have been interested in learning more about what ethnic backgrounds we are made up of. Since he was adopted, we do not know. Taking an ancestry DNA test could possibly put the missing pieces of the puzzle together and maybe link us to his family and tell me what I do not know when it comes to what DNA I'm made up of!
Barbara Allen says:
February 17, 2018, 10:30 am
So happy you found family. After both my parents died I felt that was the end of my family history. As the youngest child of older parents, it was hard to get info, as many of my first cousins were no longer living and the younger ones did not know, so I gave up. But once I became a Grandmother it suddenly became very important to learn our family history and pass it down so my grandson would know who he was and who came before him. The Egyptian had a saying "To speak the name of the dead is to make them live again." I hope he will speak the name of his ancestors and we will live forever through him and those to come.
Danielle Trieskey says:
February 17, 2018, 10:44 am
Thank you for sharing your story! I've always been greatly interested in genealogy and have been on Ancestry since 2016. I've been working on my tree and my husband's. And noticed some big differences. As a black woman married to a white man, it's hard to ignore how harder it's been to trace my roots. My husband has over 4,500 people in his tree. I have about 1,200. I would love to be able to more clearly distinguish my maternal and paternal lines. My dad is deceased, his family fragmented, so I have limited information about that line. I would also love to be test my 97 year old great grandmother. Her biological father was white but it was a mystery on who exactly his family is. Thank you for offering this!
Dennis Richmond, Jr. says:
February 17, 2018, 11:43 am
Congratulations on your findings! I’m sure that you’ll find out a whole lot more! Family history is so important! My name is Dennis Richmond, Jr. and I’m a 23-year-old grad student in New York. As a young black man in New York, racial profiling, preconceived notions, and prejudice is the norm in a lot of neighborhoods and with a lot of people. Not all, but enough for it to be noticeable. My father, a New Yorker, has family from the tri-state area who were never enslaved. Professor Patricia H. Koger would call them, “quasi-free blacks”. My mother, a South Carolinian, has family that hails from South Carolina. I know for a fact that my family did not start with slavery. I know for a fact that my families story began on the amazing continent of Africa! To know where exactly, would be interesting. I would love to talk to my family about this genealogical endeavor. I know about so many of my ancestors and I know that my family hails largely from Cameroon. I am not sure where I pick up all this Cameroonian DNA though. My ancestors worked extremely hard as laborers, painters, house keepers, nurses, real estate agents, brick layers, farmers, and deacons, business owners, and maids. I know that before North America though, they were kings and queens. Royalty. Black Royalty. An Ancestry DNA test will help me understand where certain DNA comes from. My ancestor John Sherman Merritt (1889-1921) worked himself to death to provide for his family. He died at age 31 from exhaustion. My ancestor Thomas Sinclair Watkins worked as a clothing presser during the mid-1900s. My ancestor Margaret “Peg” was a slave in Connecticut who received her freedom in April of 1800. I know that I come from greatness. An Ancestry DNA test would be confirmation.
Jaclyn R says:
February 17, 2018, 12:06 pm
Thank you for the chance! Would love this for my husband, would love to learn more about his fathers side of the family. I did the kit months ago and had great results and connected with a cousin.
Brookelyn Booher says:
February 17, 2018, 1:19 pm
When I first saw this post I didn't know what I was going to be reading but after it just proved what I already know. I need to even more than before learn about my family history. For the past 3 years I have been wanting to know so much about my family but everything being so limited as my family ties are cut off. My mom cut off all ties with her side of the family which leaves limited information from my maternal side. I know that my maternal three times great grandfather was an Irish stowaway and my maternal grandfather passed down German descent. My father's side is completely unknown. My father was adopted when he was little with no information on the family he came from. He was adopted into an Irish family but doesn't have any desire to find his real parents. For so long people have made jokes about my eyes being squinty and looking 'Asian.' I took this very offensively at the start (who wouldn't?) but overtime I learned that hey maybe this is something genetic. On my mother's side no one has squinty or smaller shaped eyes so I know this is definitely something from my father's side of the family. I've tried to find any family history but I have found nothing but only know of what I've been told. This DNA test would help wonders with starting my search by helping me understand my ethnicity and where my family has originated from. My dream is to continue my family tree and find out all of my family history to share with my future children so they are aware of their cultures and their history.
Leese says:
February 17, 2018, 1:42 pm
Reading about your family made me feel all warm and happy. I’ve been wanting to do a test for the longest. My family tree is barely past my mother’s maternal grandparents. She never met her mother, so she knows nothing about that side. Honestly, I feel lost out here with no “real” ties to any family. Anyways thanks for sharing your story.
Melody says:
February 17, 2018, 2:39 pm
I’ve been interested in learning about my family’s history since the first time I watched Roots at age 12. I was fascinated by how Mr. Haley was able to trace his roots back to Africa. Since then I’ve wanted to do the same thing myself. I began my search but was not able to get past my father’s grandmother.
Karen says:
February 17, 2018, 4:14 pm
Your family history is a truly fascinating read. I’m so glad you were able to find so much! Half of my family looks very much like yours, but we are from South Carolina. A few of us have done trees to confirm American Indian and French heritage but have hit walls sooner with the African American side. We should all have access to this empowering info.
Marco says:
February 17, 2018, 4:35 pm
How awesome for you to have been able to trace back so much of your ancestry and relatives! I had an interesting upbringing where I always thought I knew who my dad was, as I had grown up with him until I was 13 years old. Then one day he left with no explanation to never come back. Through the years I wondered about his whereabouts and my extended family through him. Soon after I turned 31 my mom passed. The day after her funeral I found out that the man whom I knew as my dad wasn't my dad after all. It has been a long road finding out that side of my family and making sense of it all. Well, turns out that my mom never knew her dad and no one ever told her who he was. The people who knew this information are now all gone. I hope that having this testing done will help me fill all these gaps. Thank you
Marco A. Garcia says:
February 17, 2018, 4:35 pm
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Jen says:
February 17, 2018, 5:04 pm
Beautiful story, thanks for sharing. I’m dying to know my Ancestry. I litterly know nothing. I’m a first generation mixed girl. My mom was white and dad African American from the south. My mom died (an only child) in 97 at the young age of 48. A year later my grand mother (her mom) died of cancer. I never met my mother’s father. She did not know him. I heard her say one time growing up that he was Native American. My older sister told my after my grandmother’s passing that my grandma told her she was raped when my mom was conceived. I also found out the lady that I thought was my great grand mother wasn’t. My sister also informed me that was my step-great grandma and my real great grandma died giving birth to my grandma’s sister when she was 7. My grandma’s family was racist and did not acknowledge my mother or my siblings and I after she married my black dad. As I became older and became more interested in my family history and ancestry. On my mother’s I don’t know anything beyond my grandma’s parent’s name’s. I always wonder about my mother’s dad and his ethnicity, because my grandma had natural blonde hair and my mother’s was black. My dad is living and I’m not very close to him, but talk to him. I was able to trace my paternal side from him and asked him would he take a DNA test and he declined. His mentality is very old-fashioned. He can’t tell me much about his mom, other than she was part Indian, but if you look at her she looks part Asian. When I started digging years ago he told me to call my great-aunt and ask her info and she couldn’t remember much she was in her 80’s. I’m one of the people that get asked my race/ethnicity before I’m asked my name. I would like to know my Ancestry to, one be enlighten and 2, to have a piece of mind. I’ve become so tired of answering the “what are you” question and I tell people to guess. The sad thing is that people guess everything, but white or black. It often makes me question my own identity. I’m American. I live in America and even though I have no accent and a very American name... I’m constantly asked “ what country are u from? “ I have kids of my own now and would like to be able to give them more information then what my parents having gifted me with. It sucks to not know much about one’s own family tree.
Tonya Whitehorn says:
February 17, 2018, 5:34 pm
What an interesting and familiar reading. So many people of African decent share similar stories. We can only go back so far before secrets and slavery rob us knowing the past. I would like to know my DNA breakdown to maybe unveil just a few of those secrets.
Sissy says:
February 17, 2018, 7:05 pm
My child was given a dna test as a present. We now have more questions instead of answers. It told us she is 20 and 30 of various cultures and not what we expected at all. We now think that my mom had a different father and so did her own father. I need.to take this test to get some answers since my mom passed and family is spead out by states and countis like panama.
Kim Henrichs says:
February 17, 2018, 10:33 pm
I have a lot of questions on my dad's side back into Germany. I would love to know more about that side of my family!
Tiffany Rodriguez says:
February 17, 2018, 11:46 pm
I have been researching my family trees for a couple of years. I have been wanting to do the ancestry DNA testing for myself, my daughter, and my grandfather. I'm particularly interested in my grandfather's side of the family. We have hit many roadblocks when trying to research his grandmother. His grandfather purchased his grandmother and married her the same day. We have the documents to prove it. We just aren't sure if her name is correct on the documents. We would love to find relatives related to his grandmother. My daughter also loves geneology and would like to find out more about her native American roots. I have many holes in my family trees and would love to fill them in
Annjanette Halton says:
February 18, 2018, 11:55 am
It’s awesome you were able to find out so much about your family history from your family and then use Ancestry DNA to find out even more. This is what I would like to do. My mom passed down family history, but there are yet missing pieces of my history that I want to know more about, and there’s a lot of my dad’s history I do not know. I never met my paternal grandparents because they were deceased before I was born. I would love to learn more about my history!
Peg Horn says:
February 18, 2018, 4:31 pm
Old newspapers are very helpful. I found out a lot in the old newspapers. Marriages , divorces , and deaths too. The site is very good. You can narrow your search by state , dates and newspapers. You type in the word or words you are looking for and a whole bunch of matches come up. It can be a little time consuming because example my family name is Small so every "small" word showed up like small dog, small house etc. but you can see at a glance that it isn't what you are looking for.
Angela Seaton says:
February 18, 2018, 5:10 pm
I've always wanted to know more about my ancestry. My family doesn't have stories or photos to hand down to future generations. I went to see Black Panther over the weekend and the beauty and majesty shown in the movie; I'm so proud yet sad because I don't know exactly where I fit in the African diaspora. My soul needs to know. I really hope that I'm one of the 10 winners.
Melissa says:
February 18, 2018, 11:24 pm
I'm very interested in learning about my family history!! I am from Cuba, so I know some of my family comes from Spain on my mom's side. The thing is, nobody really remembers the origins of my dad's side, so I would be really intrigued to find out!! It would be incredible if his family originated from the original Natives on the island.
CJ Williams says:
February 18, 2018, 11:35 pm
I have always wanted to learn about the history of my family, I have so many aunts, uncles and cousins and we do not know that much about my paternal grandma's family just some stories and I have never heard anything about my paternal grandfathers family! My maternal grandma is from the south and her father was not really involved in her life he contacted her right before he died and we meet his imediate family. But my grandma has last name that is not very common and when I meet or see someone with that last name I always wonder if I am related to them! I just think that it is so fastening to no about the history of your family and the journey they went through to get you where you are today. I really do not want to waste the life that they fought for us to have! I also want to know that different countries where ever they may be that my DNA makes up! My aunt did a ancestry tree a couple years ago that was very interesting, but it only went so far and I believe that your DNA gives you a much better picture of the people that came before you! I really hope I get to win a kit and find out what makes up me!
Nichole F. says:
February 19, 2018, 2:07 pm
I was raised in a single parent household & didn't meet my father until I was about 6 or 7. The very first time I saw my father was in a Polaroid in a photo album at a doctor's office the day the court ordered DNA results came back that he was in fact my father. In spite of that test, he still wasn't convinced that he was my dad. I was never accepted by that side of the family for this reason. In my 30's we had another blood test (this time he selected the clinic) and it confirmed once again that he was my dad. He apologized for all of those lost years & we started trying to have a relationship. And then he died. He was my last connection to that family...the family whose last name I carry. But I know very little about them. I've always felt like half of me was missing & winning this would help me learn things about myself & help me begin the journey to finding out how I got here and who was here before me.
CJ Williams says:
February 19, 2018, 2:42 pm
So sorry for your loss. I really wish you good luck and hope that you are a winner, so you can learn more about the other side of your self.
Meghan Malicoat says:
February 19, 2018, 6:03 pm
I have no idea of my family's back ground or origins and I think it would be really cool to have that information.
SanTara says:
February 20, 2018, 10:57 am
I’ve been tracing my families genealogy for years. I’ve gone back as far as the early 1800s on my maternal side. I’m stumped on my paternal side because my Father’s father is Caribbean born but his death certificate says differently. I’ve learned that his age was altered as well. His name is undoubtedly English. I’ve been considering a trip to Ellis Island because I found a ship log on Ancestry that really piqued my interest. I too have been skeptical about the DNA option but I think it may be how I’m able to find more about my Caribbean heritage.
Melissa R Moreno says:
February 20, 2018, 11:04 am
I am so in love with family DNA and my family tree, and have learned so much from my onw DNA test last year. I found my biological father after searching for over 40 years with very little information, and now know where all of my ancestors are from. It feels amazing!! Now I would love to know more about my two youngs sons, ages 8 and 12. Their father is not in the picture anymore therefore I know nothing about their true nationality, nor their DNA make-up. I've also learned so much about my own DNA, including medical history which I don't have for them. As a single mom I am unable to afford these tests for my children. If I could, I would certainly do it and do recommend it to everyone I speak to!
Danielle says:
February 20, 2018, 12:26 pm
You know so much about your family -- and it's all so fascinating. I've long been tempted to do one of these testing kits but just haven't gotten around to it yet. I'm adopted and know nothing about my biological heritage so it would be so cool to get a breakdown by percentage telling me "what I am."
latanya says:
February 21, 2018, 11:29 am
There was a time in school when I had to do a family tree. My mom and dad weren't together. I lived with my mom, but she did not have much to tell me as far as my grandfathers on either side nor any of my dad's family history. Sadly, I did not want to be embarassed, so I made up the majority of my family tree. It would be great to know more about my family not only for me, but for my children as well.