This is a weblog about genealogy in and about the State of Ohio. It will feature news and views (mostly mine) about developments of interest to genealogists doing research in Ohio, no matter where they reside.--Wally Huskonen

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Time magazine: Can DNA Reveal Your Roots?

An article in the July 11, 2005, issue says yes, at least to some degree.

Among others, the article reports on the case of Brent Kennedy and his mysterious family origins. Although he inherited his father’s light blue eyes, he had his mother’s black hair. And he had heard a story about how his great-grandfather was barred from voting because his skin was too dark. Recently, he had his DNA tested by DNAPrint Genomics of Sarasota, FL. The report came back that his ancestry was 45% Northern and Western European, 25% Middle Eastern, 25% Turkish-Greek and 5% South Asian, which confirmed that his ancestry was Melungeon, a mixed-race group called Melungeons who lived in the Appalachians.

The article reports that “genetic testing has a special attraction for African Americans because most have no other way to trace their lineage; the slave trade did a thorough job of severing their African roots. Washington-based African Ancestry aims to re-establish these links by telling its customers whether their DNA matches that of any of hundreds of ethnic groups in Africa, from the Hausa in northern Nigeria to the Ashantis in Ghana.”

On a more conventional level, there is the case of Charles Kerchner of Emmaus, PA, who has invested in having himself and others tested to confirm what their research had shown: they were distant cousins. Kerchner reportedly has said “he will not rest until he finds a German ancestral village where he can sit down someday and have a beer--hopefully with a local member of his clan. Having exhausted the paper trail, he says, ‘my only hope left is DNA testing.’”