Family Reunions and Shared DNA

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Three summers ago, a first cousin and I decided that a “cousins reunion” was in order. We gather the first full weekend in August in a tiny farm community in Illinois. The visiting gets better every year as we each start looking forward to seeing our extended family. The food is pretty good, too!

Pulled Pork Sandwich
Barbeque Pulled Pork Sandwich

We start with a crockpot full of pulled pork cooked for us by a local meat locker merchant. This year we added a good-size mountain of fried chicken, too. Then everyone brings something to share and even though we have fly-in guests and long distance driving for some, we end up with a nice variety of sides. The local small grocery is a great resource for prepared salads and good vegetables.

This year, the topic of DNA testing came up because one cousin had done two or three different ones and compared the results. It was pretty fascinating to find that we might not be as German as we thought, for one.

Our grandparents had proudly displayed a small plaque that said something about being Pennsylvania Dutch, which as adults we finally understood to be German. Those war years changed a lot of family lore I think.

I left the reunion determined to log in at and order a kit, even though I knew it was pricey. The last time I looked it was $100+ with shipping, etc. But I really really wanted that snapshot of who I am.

As sometimes happens, the Universe was playing along and a friend posted a coupon to the same week that I returned from the reunion. It wasn’t a tough decision at all to click and order.

All the information involved in ordering says that it could take weeks, but I had the kit in hand within a few days. Once I managed to get enough saliva in the bottle and send it back, the results were in my account within a couple of weeks.

I wasn’t surprised by the results since my cousin had shared his, but what did strike me was how I really wasn’t “a little bit of everything” as I thought. It seems that my history is pretty much centered in NW Europe and then NE colonies, US. That was a surprise.


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