On February 27th I sent in my mom’s DNA. The allotted time given for processing was six to eight weeks but some received their results as early as two weeks. This DNA testing was so important to me. The last time anybody had gotten this far in my family was my Uncle John. The story is he traced us to Haiti and we were direct descendants of Alexander Dumas. He found all of this out before DNA testing even began. DNA testing began in 1985; he died in 1961. That is 24 years earlier! Can you imagine the time that he had to spend on his research? Being a Black American during the 1940s and into the 50s while trying to conduct an in-depth research of his family the restrictions he probably came across were phenomenal. Given the time period the information was definitely not as available to him as it was and is to me.
There were so many different stories; we were descendants of the Huguenots (http://www.huguenot.netnation.com/general/huguenot.htm); we were slaves of the Yeldell farm in SC (hence the name); my 2x great-grandmother Martha although owned by the Brooks family was born a Yeldell. All of these stories needed some type of answer and I just knew these results would help in some kind of way. So to say that I was waiting impatiently was not even a partial description of how anxious I was. The wait was as long as the wait for my son Marcus to make his debut into the world and Marcus had started my labor pains in February but was not born until May (but that is another story). I had great support from my fellow genealogist telling me things like “stop watching the pot boil.” Although that was great advice I never stopped watching the pot and finally it boiled. I am going to do the breakdown of the findings. Now for family members who might be reading this it is a huge step in learning who we are and where we come from. Here are the results:
“The Ancestry Composition tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 22 populations worldwide. The analysis includes DNA you received from all of your ancestors, on both sides of your family. The results reflect where your ancestors lived 500 years ago, before ocean-crossing ships and airplanes came on the scene.” (direct quote from 23 and me website)
My mom is 87.3% sub-Saharan, 11.2% European, .4% East Asian & Native American and 1.2% unassigned. When I originally and as I alluded to early on in this post I had hopes of finding out more about my 2x great-grandmother Martha Brooks. I thought that I would finally prove one of my Uncle’s theories that we were from Haiti. I figured that since the type of test that had been conducted on my mom’s saliva would be testing her DNA from all of her grandparents I would be able to get my answer. Well I wasn’t wrong but I wasn’t right either. Yes some of my mom’s DNA came from Martha but it would be by luck if it was from the strain that connected us to that island. Also since the main test that gave where all the mother’s were from could only be tested from my mom’s maternal side this would exclude Martha altogether since Martha was the paternal grandmother. So I learned pretty quickly that the mystery of Martha’s origin would not be discovered; at least not in this go around. I also realized that Mama Lula was still not finish with what she wanted me to discover. So, the information I did learn came from the mother’s of the Senior, Peterson, Williams women and beyond.
My mother’s Haplogroup is L3e1a2 this basically means the L3e1 branch of L3e likely traces to present-day Mozambique. We come from Bantu-speaking people from Central to South Africa. When I looked up images of the Bantu tribes I came across one article that states calling these people Bantu is consider a racist comment. Why because
“the term “Bantu people” is used to describe the roughly 60 million Africans who speak languages in the Bantu language family. Given that there are approximately 400 of these closely related languages, it should come as no surprise that these people are incredibly diverse, and that societies and governments among Bantus can be radically different. Some people feel that the term may not be entirely appropriate, since it encompasses such a huge group of Africans; these individuals may prefer to identify individual communities instead. (found at http://www.wisegeek.org/who-are-the-bantu-people.htm)
I also found that Shaka Zulu the illegitimate son of a minor chieftain who sparked a revolution that changed the course of southern Africa’s history, and one of my mother’s favorite person’s in history, was also apart of this group of Africans. The most important thing that I found was how the women had a striking resemblance to my great-grandmother Mama Lula.
In the picture to the left Mama Lula is holding a pipe. My mom and her siblings spoke about her and the pipe. In the image on the right these women as well smoked a pipe. Could this be where this came from for her? Did her mother Ann smoke a pipe as well? Although the pipe was the first thing I noticed I also saw the bone structure of the women and my great grandmother. She favored these women. I strongly encourage you the reader to do more research on the Bantu name.
Another group I was interested in was .4% of East Asian & Native American. As Blacks or African-American we all say or hear how somewhere down the line there is Indian in our family. If you listen to Professor Henry Louis Gates he states “that 99.9% of African-Americans have 0% Native American in them. He also states that out of all the African-Americans he has had DNA tested .01% had any trace of Native American in their genetic makeup and that Native Americans would not mix with African-American.” well in my family’s case, although it doesn’t seem to be as much as I thought it would be, we are that .1% that do have it. The ancestry composition breaks the .4% down even further by saying that .3% is of East Asian descent while the Native American is .1%. Now you are asking, “Why do you think it should have been more?” Well because my mother’s maternal grandfather, according to her and others, was full-blooded Cherokee. Johnie Senior a.k.a. Papa Johnie had beautiful long hair that he always kept braided. Given the fact that half of my mom’s DNA came from her mother and half came from her dad I really thought this percentage would be a lot higher. Now this is not to say that it won’t be higher in the next person that I test. I just have to make sure the next person must be from the Senior side. Let’s move on to the next area of the 23andme site.
This section of the 23 and me site is the best part. Why? Well here is where your DNA is entered into the database of hundreds of thousands of people to see if you are related via DNA. I got my full results about two days ago and because of this feature I now have over 370 new cousins that I am trying to meet and talk with. These cousins range from 1st cousins to distant cousin, but all relatives nonetheless. When talking with some genealogist they say they don’t reach out to the distant cousins because of the long shot. But if I want to find out more about my family especially the family that started this journey (the Yeldell’s) I don’t think I have a choice. Out of all of those 370+ people there were only three Yeldell’s and I already knew two of them.
The DNA testing did not answer the questions I originally had instead it let me know that it needed more information. I am not discouraged nor am I upset at what I have found so far. I mean to know that my people come from the same group of people as the Great Shaka Zulu is amazing! And I was able to find one additional Yeldell. My job now is to get others to get tested. I know that I have to grab as many elders as I can. Pay for their kits if need be and get them sent in. I am also asking for those who think we are related to get tested. This is the only way that we will have some inkling of knowing if we are related.
Until Next time…