Friday, September 25, 2015

Gee, Tell Me Something I Didn’t Know…

First, I wanted to let everyone know that I wrote an article about Feedly over at the A to Z Challenge blog that posted today.

Recently cut the price of its DNA testing by $20, so Mary and I decided to splurge and have ours done. If you’ve seen the commercials, you hear the stories of people who did it and learned all kinds of weird and wonderful things about themselves, such as the guy who thought he was German but discovered the majority of his DNA showed his ancestors came from Ireland, so he traded in his lederhosen for a kilt.

I’ve been curious about what my DNA would show, because although I’ve heard all my life that I’m Irish, the name Holton is Welsh, and I’ve run into other Holtons that have traced the family’s history to England. For example, Fred Holton, the elderly gentlemen who drove us and a bunch of other tourists up and down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh many years ago, told me he had traced us to Hertfordshire, but was only able to go back 900 years (!), so who knows what might have transpired before then. I’ve also wondered whether I might have some Viking ancestors, because you see the name spelled slightly differently (Halton in Scandinavia, Houlton in France, Holten in Germany, etc.) all over Europe, and the Vikings did a rather thorough job of raping, pillaging, and plundering all over Europe. Plus, my Holton relatives are almost all redheads (Mom insisted that I should have been a ginger, too), as were most of the Vikings, or so I’ve been told.

So, we got our kits a few weeks ago, spit into the little containers they sent, sealed them up, and mailed them off. The other day, I got an email: my results were in. I immediately went to the site and signed in. Here’s what I saw:


Yep! Irish as Paddy’s pig!


Now, I don’t know where that 1% Polynesian comes from, although I thought it might have something to do with “Holton” meaning “man of the forest,” which is also the meaning of the word “orangutan.”

Orangutan 2
A distant relative?

However, orangutans are from Indonesia, not Polynesia.

Mary, whose grandparents were all born in Lithuania, was also curious to see her ethnicity, because her maiden name is Polish, not Lithuanian. Her results were similar: it told her she was 95% Eastern European, 5% Finnish or northwestern Russian. Her results were no more specific than that. Now, that might be a result of the ever-changing borders in the area: parts of Germany, Poland, and Lithuania were at one time Prussia, and the border between Poland and Lithuania moved back and forth a lot. Still, she learned that the Finnish and Lithuanian languages have some things in common, and all of those countries (Finland, Russia, Poland, and Lithuania) have the Baltic Sea in common, so it all figures out.

Having seen these results have made us even more curious about our roots, and we decided to have our DNA tested further using the service That was the service used by the PBS program Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, and it seemed to provide a slightly more complete analysis.

Ancestry did try to match my DNA with other members of their site, and was quite accurate on one score: it matched me with my Aunt Alice, who has been doing a fantastic job of building the family tree. I was informed that she was likely a first cousin. Close enough for DNA, I guess.

How about you? Have you had your DNA analyzed? Any surprises?

from The Sound of One Hand Typing


  1. No I haven't had my DNA analyzed. My dad's hobby in retirement is genealogy. It is his goal to trace the family back at least 6 generations from my sister and I on all sides (I believe all of my great-grandparents were born in Canada or the US). So far his search shows (and let's assume the people in the true really are the mothers and fathers) we are mix of British/Scottish/Irish with a dash of Dutch, French and Native American. Our as my dad calls it a true Canadian:) Your results are interesting.

    1. I've been leaving a lot of the genealogy up to my Aunt Alice, who has spent the better part of her retirement filling it out, even on the Holton side. All of Mary's grandparents were born in Lithuania, and all the records were destroyed by the Soviets, along with the churches, so she really has no idea about any of them. The closest thing we've found was her grandfather's entry papers into the US (he came in through Detroit), but they don't say much else.