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.
Tracking down your genetic lineage can be a difficult process. For years people had to rely on tracking down documents to trace back where their ancestors came from.
But today that process is made easier through DNA tests offered by several different companies.
Before I took my test, I began the journey into who I am by at looking at two sides of my family. Using FindAGrave.com as a resource, I started with my maternal and paternal grandmothers to trace my roots by locating the final resting places of my ancestors.
It didn't take long to discover the grave of my great-great grandfather, a Civil War veteran from North Georgia named John K. Bozeman.
Records show he was captured at the Siege of Vicksburg. But perhaps my most famous relative was his nephew, a distant cousin of mine also named John Bozeman.
A well-known pioneer, he helped to pave the famous Bozeman Trail. The city of Bozeman, Montana was named in his honor. Legend has it his life came to an end in 1867 when he was killed by a band of Blackfeet Indians.
Because of his fame, there are many records on the Bozeman family dating back to the 1600s. But there was no definitive answer as to which country they came from.
Old records from North Carolina, show the last name Bozeman spelled like Bosman. Which is of Dutch origin.
On my maternal grandmother's side, I tracked down another famous relative. My fifth great grandfather Chief Richard Fox Taylor was a Cherokee delegate to Washington D.C. prior to the Trail of Tears.
But my trail eventually ended with no records indicating where my ancestors immigrated from. Finding those answers simply relying on surnames proved difficult.
"Surnames are tricky because there is no standardized spelling and that's pretty much for everyone I've encountered here," said Laura Elliot with the Dougherty County Library.
She assists people in their genealogy search with records going back hundreds of years. It can sometimes be frustrating due to surnames being changed or misspelled.
"It depends on the record keeper at the time and their version of spelling at the time and if they're coming to the country the first time. They may not know how to spell," said Elliot.
So I, along with Karla and Chris, did my DNA test through Ancestry.com. I sent off a sample of saliva to their lab in Utah where teams work to break down your DNA and match them to those of natives from all over the world. A few weeks later, the results were in.
It showed I was 30% Great Britain, 30% Scandinavian, 20% Irish, and 7% Iberian Peninsula.
I also had traces of ancestors from the Caucuses region, Southern Africa, and 5% Europe West which includes The Netherlands - showing that Dutch connection.
But what about the Native American connection through the grandfather chief? My results show I'm less than 1% Native American.
Elliot says it's not uncommon for people who believe they have Native American ancestry to learn there is little to no DNA proof.
"You have paper proof that your descendant from a Native American, but you also have other proof you come from other areas. So that could be that your ancestors DNA is more prevalent than the Native American," said Elliot.
What's most telling is I'm descended from 17 different regions on 4 different Continents.
It's a genetic lineage going back thousands of years making me the person I am today.
If you are interested in learning about your genetic makeup, there are several websites in which you can order test kits including Ancestry.com, 23andme, and MyHeritageDNA.
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