Family Stories

What Surprises Will You Find In Your DNA?


Ritchey and I have been on many genealogy adventures throughout the years – going from the lovely state of Virginia where most of my ancestors began their journey in the colony during the 1600’s, to Rushville, Illinois, the little town in Schuyler County that Ritchey’s McKee and Ritchey relatives helped settle.  To Solon, Iowa, for research on his Hertz and Leuenberger families, and on to Nebraska where the Ritchey’s and Jewell’s finally settled.  There is Kansas City, Missouri, where Ritchey’s grandparents met – Esther Myra Hertz, the young girl from Solon who went to the big city and met James Jolly – married him and had a child with him, and when he left was devastated.  What happened to James?  Did he die and no one knew about his wife and little boy?  There is the concentration of both my mother and father’s families in Washington County, Kentucky.  And our determination to visit each county in Kentucky and take at least a few gravestone photos, to have a representation of each county in the blog – along with vital statistics records from each county.

But I think our biggest adventure has just begun.  I have always pushed the idea of DNA testing out of my mind, not sure what it would bring, but after watching several of the Finding Your Roots episodes on KET I thought perhaps this might be interesting.  However, I told Ritchey if I did it, he had to, too!  So we waited until Ancestry had a sale – $79 instead of $99 – and sent for our kits.  Mine is still processing, but he received his results this week.  I was overwhelmed.  I cried.  Ritchey was dumbfounded.


There are two parts to the DNA test results.  The first is the Ethnicity Estimate, which is divided into 6 regions – Africa, America, Asia, Europe, Pacific Islander and West Asia, which are then divided into sub-groups.  98% of Ritchey’s DNA’s ethnicity is in Europe – with 1% from Asia and 1% from West Asia.

The 1% from Asia is divided into Asia South and Asia Central, with less than 1% each.  Asia South is India and Asia Central is Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

West Asia is the Middle East – Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran.

His European region is divided into Great Britain (those Jolly, McKee, Ritchey, Jewell and Ward families) at 55%; Europe West (those German and Swiss ancestors – Hertz, Leuenberger, Jungbluth, Klein, Streich and Probst) at 27%; Scandinavia (Norway and Sweden – this was the mystery branch of the family – Ritchey has no known ancestors of this area – but a wonderful new adventure to start on – what wonderful things will we find?) and at 13%!  The Iberian Peninsula of Spain and Portugal was 2% of his ancestry and Finland and Northwest Russia was the final 1%.  What an exciting jumble of DNA!  The regions that were not represented by Ritchey’s DNA were Africa, America (American Indian) and Pacific Islander.

The other part of the DNA results are matches with other people on Ancestry that have taken the test.  The first three listed were third cousin relationships with a 98% confidence that the relationship is correct.  The first one we checked had Jolly’s in their family tree – can it be we have finally found the mysterious James Jolly?  Only time will tell.  Ritchey sent an email, but we have heard nothing at this time.  The second we found out was someone we had been in touch with years ago, but had lost email information.  He had written to Ritchey’s father, Rex, when he was trying to research the family.  It is nice to have that connection again!  The third person does not have a family tree on ancestry, but Ritchey sent a message.  We are waiting with bated breath!

The next group are 4th-6th cousins at 96% certainty.  There are 50 matches on a page and 293 pages!  Of course, not all are such a high percentage, but still this will be an ongoing pursuit!  What information will we find?

4 replies »

  1. I am so glad to see that you both got your Family Finder DNA done. I have found s many new cousins and confirmed the surnames and family of ancestors that I was said to be descended from but had no documentation for. This is a wonderful way to confirm relationships and discover new ones Also MtDNA for your maternal ancestry and YDNA for a males paternal ancestry is fascinating. It gives you the journey from Africa to where your ancestors were just before coming to North America. Good Luck.

  2. I took this DNA test last January and have had some wonderful matches. More than anything else, it validated some areas of my tree I had been working on. Most of my matches came early. Now I get some matches of people who don’t have a tree–so I usually move them to the end of the list. There are some hints I would love to see, but they are locked up. Mine is locked, but I invite people to join it when I hear from them. My frustration is that while I have contacted people with the locked trees who have hints I would love to see–I have yet to hear from them.

  3. I have used Ancestry DNA, but may I suggest that ya’ll also look into the other sites, especially i like you can search your DNA relatives list by location as well as name. my tree at ancesty isn’t locked, i love to share especially with genetic DNA cousins. I would love to find more matches from Marion Co, and that area of KY. I descend from the Abell, Spalding, Mattingley, Bowman and Riney lines to name a few…


    PS. also suggest that no matter what DNA site you test at (although i think the money spent has been worth it at all sites) you should go look into (it’s a free site) where you can upload your DNA records to central location and use it as another tool to find matches.

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