DNA week on TIG: Karla Heath-Sands traces her African roots - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

DNA week on TIG: Karla Heath-Sands traces her African roots

This week, Karla Heath-Sands, Cade Fowler and Chris Zelman are all learning the results of their genetic makeup on Today in Georgia. This is Karla's journey. (Source: Karla Heath-Sands) This week, Karla Heath-Sands, Cade Fowler and Chris Zelman are all learning the results of their genetic makeup on Today in Georgia. This is Karla's journey. (Source: Karla Heath-Sands)
We decided to submit our DNA to Ancestry to get an answer to the question "Who Am I?" (Source: WALB) We decided to submit our DNA to Ancestry to get an answer to the question "Who Am I?" (Source: WALB)
It was easy – we had to just spit and mail!  My results came back on Friday, May 26!! (Source: Ancestry.com) It was easy – we had to just spit and mail!  My results came back on Friday, May 26!! (Source: Ancestry.com)
While I waited for my DNA results from Ancestry, I enlisted the help of Dougherty County Library's genealogist, Laura Elliott, to help me put the pieces of the puzzle together. (Source: WALB) While I waited for my DNA results from Ancestry, I enlisted the help of Dougherty County Library's genealogist, Laura Elliott, to help me put the pieces of the puzzle together. (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

This week, Karla Heath-Sands, Cade Fowler and Chris Zelman are all learning the results of their genetic makeup on Today in Georgia.

Karla's Journey

Even with Alex Haley's "Roots" success and the success of more current genealogy programs, I had not seriously thought about searching for my own, at least not until recently!    

The popularity of DNA testing ads and stories prompted a conversation between Cade, Chris and myself. 

We decided to submit our DNA to Ancestry to get an answer to the question "Who Am I?" 

Cade, Chris, and I took our tests and submitted them on March 21!

It was easy – we had to just spit and mail! My results came back on Friday, May 26!! 

While I waited for my DNA results from Ancestry, I enlisted the help of Dougherty County Library's genealogist, Laura Elliott, to help me put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Who am I and where did my family begin their journey? What information did Laura have available?
   
"We have a good collection just on the South East region. North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, some Tennessee, some Kentucky, some Alabama, some Florida that people can just come in and look at," said Elliot. "A lot of it's what I said to you about the county records, they are organized by county. About different histories, different obituaries. Different items that people can use to research. "

Emanuel County and Swainsboro, Georgia was where my mother, her brother, and my grandparents were from. 

I had also heard of a South Carolina connection, but nothing specific!

One of the other little tidbits that I had heard throughout the years? There was some Native American – somewhere! 

Laura's research was surprising! She confirmed some of what I already knew but I found information that I didn't know.

Laura also discussed the importance of records found in a book that many have in our homes.

Karla: What about family Bibles?  Are they important? 
Elliot: Family bibles are very important. If you have one, please write that information down on a sheet of paper to verify.   
Karla: Because you at least know that that information should be correct spelling and all. 

Fast forward, my Ancestry DNA results came in on Friday, May 26 and here's what they said: 

  • Africa - 86% 
    • Nigeria - 33% 
    • Senegal - 16% 
    • Ivory Coast/Ghana - 12% 
    • Cameroon/Congo - 9% 
    • Benin/Togo - 6% 
  • Europe - 14% 
    • Great Britain - 5% 
    • Iberian Peninsula - 5% 
    • Scandinavia - 1% 
    • Italy/Greece - < 1% 
    • Europe West - < 1% 
    • Europe East - < 1% 

The surprise? There is NO Native American! Also, the Ancestry DNA showed that my ancestors were brought to South Carolina. And, one very interesting outcome.

Ancestry noted that there were two people who were DNA matches and were 1st and 2nd cousins.

I didn't even know that my 1st cousin had taken the test, and there she was!  The other person, I haven't been able to find out who he or she is yet.  

If you've been wanting to take a DNA test, I say DO IT!  This experience has even inspired my mother to take her own DNA test

Results for Martha Heath Johnson:

  • Regions: 
    • Nigeria
    • Cameroon/Congo
    • Ivory Coast/Ghana
    • Senegal
  • Trace Regions:
    • Great Britain
    • Mali
    • Benin/Togo
    • Ireland
    • Italy/Greece
    • Africa North
    • Finland/Northwest Russia
    • Middle East
    • Scandinavia
    • Iberian Peninsula
    • Africa Southeastern Bantu
    • Native American

So what's next for my search? I now want to find out more about the African tribes from which my ancestors originated.

The next genealogy class will be held in September at the Dougherty County Library.

Patrons can pick up a schedule at the end of August or call 229.420.3244 for more details.

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