My Geographical Ancestry
A Christmas or two ago, while I was living in Virginia, I gifted myself the AncestryDNA kit. I sent it back out the day it arrived, spit bubbles and all, and patiently awaited my email telling me the secrets of my geographical ancestry, and–even more interesting to me–the geographical regions from which my ancestors hailed.
Sure, I knew most of my life exactly what my ancestry is, having a strong heritage from Scotland on my mother’s side with equally strong German ties from my father, but I knew there had to be more and I was excited to seek it out. Here are the regions of highest confidence, to which I’ll give a little background before I focus on the more modern detail of traveling to these regions. I guess you could call this my ancestral travel bucket list of sorts, so let’s dive in at my strongest blood tie!
During the 17th and 18th centuries, there was much religious and political unrest in what we know as Great Britain, and many left England and emigrated to America seeking religious freedom. These migrations created a primarily English-derived culture, and after my ancestors settled in the Northeastern part of the United States, this is where we stayed, all the way up to me. My Scottish ancestry also imparts my hereditary physical traits, the primary ones being red hair, pale complexion, and green eyes.
So, of course, I would want to travel to Scotland to actually be in the region of my ancestry! Seeing medieval castles and ancient Viking settlements inspire many to go, but I would want to take in the landscapes and lush greenery–especially the waterfalls of the cliffs into the sea below. It may rain most of the time and have an average temperature of about 65 degrees, but to me that sounds just about perfect!
Land, economic opportunity, and once more, religious freedom is why most German immigrants traveled to the U.S. As they were excellent farmers, many settled in the Midwestern region of the country which has the highest proportion of German ancestry to this day. This Western European culture could also explain a bit as to why those living in the Midwest tend to speak with an accent heavily laden with German, Finnish, or Swedish influence. My last name speaks for my German ancestry.
As a huge fan of architecture, traveling to Germany would be a delight! There are plenty of castles to see in Germany as well as Scotland, but each style of architecture tells a different story. One thing that I would want to cross of my bucket list if visiting is to try the food. German food is one of my favorite types of cuisine, and although many do not care for the heavy use of vinegar-based meals and super-sweet desserts, I can’t get enough!
There were several waves of emigration of the Irish to America, mostly individuals or families seeking a new life abroad. There are so many across the nation who can claim Irish heritage because of migration history dating back centuries.
Traveling to Ireland is similar to traveling to a different time, a much older time, or so I’ve heard it described. The Irish culture holds fast it’s roots to the Celtic culture, and this unique character has been maintained up to the present. Some small communities still speak the ancient Celtic language that was once spoken throughout the region. At this point, I think the universe is telling me that I need to go see a castle, as Ireland is also chalk full of them, and however many shades of green adorn the stunning landscapes of Ireland, I’d like to witness them all.
Many different groups have moved through and influenced the region of Eastern Europe over time, with invasions and occupations leaving their mark and causing the people of the region to begin a new life in the U.S. I understand that my Eastern European ancestry hails from Austria.
Austria, a beautiful place rich with culture and history, offers a landscape of beautiful forests to snow-capped mountains. Sure, any fan of The Sound of Music is always excited for a photo-op on the top of the famous hill, but this German-speaking country can offer so much more! My first stop would be the hiking trails in Vienna, gaining the best views of the city from above.
Have you done a DNA kit? If so, were your results surprising? Did it add more regions to your travel bucket list or have you already been to the countries where you have ancestral heritage? Let us know!