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Thoughts from the Barnyard: Finding our roots

Going down a rabbit hole by researching our family genealogy and what we discovered.
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Researching your family's history can make for an interesting future story and hobby.

Growing up, I always seemed to have a keen interest in history, including the family stories I used to hear from my parents and grandparents. As I became an adult, I had a pretty good understanding of my dad’s paternal side of the family, the McGonigles. On his maternal side, the Ford family, I knew some but not all.

Now, my mom’s side of the family is much more complicated. My grandfather, Tony Weran, never had an easy life from the stories I have heard. As a young child, he saw his father pass away, followed by his young sister. His mother remarried a man who was quite abusive towards him. Grandpa never knew much about his father’s family and his stepfather treated him more of a hired hand than a child. My grandfather left his home at the age of 14, finding work with a local farmer.

As for my grandma Edna’s family, she was able to stay connected to her siblings over the years. Her mother died when my grandmother was young, leaving her father to raise the children. He was not able to care for the younger children, therefore my grandmother and her sister were sent to live in a convent in Quebec. My grandmother would stay with a family, the Petites, every so often and became very close to them over the years. Her older brothers, Frank, Joe and George, were all working men and spread across the country.

For many years, I thought I knew my family pretty well. That is until this year. My son Jude decided he wanted to participate in the genealogy project through 4-H. I thought this is great, we have some unanswered questions regarding my grandpa Tony’s grandfather, as it states on the family tree that he was adopted. We have no other information about that branch of the family tree. As the project leader, I suggested we try the DNA test that is offered through Ancestry.ca. Jude was all for it, so we ordered the kit, he provided the sample. While we waited for the results to come in, he and I started working on the family tree on the website. What we learned was beyond any of our wildest dreams.

One of Jude’s fifth great-grandfathers, whose name is Franz Deschner, was born in 1776 and died in 1881, which meant he was alive during the American Revolution. Franz was 71 years old at the time of his youngest child’s birth and he outlived three of his children.

What is the most fascinating with all this research is that even with many people who have tried to work on all of our family trees over the years, there are names we have discovered that we have never heard of before.

Now, I know most of you are wondering what the results were with the DNA test. We waited almost six weeks for the results and they were not really what we had expected. We found connections to distant relations that had also done the testing. Jude also learned he has Greek and Baltic DNA markers. He was hoping he would find connections to family members who had similar DNA to the adopted third great-grandfather but we had no connections.

Even though he discovered more by working through the website than the DNA test, it was still something interesting and fun. For anyone who is looking for more insight into their family, it is a rabbit hole worth going down!