Don’t “Pigeon Hole” Yourself

Pigeon HoleTo “Pigeon Hole”: to assign to a definite place

What do I mean when I say “Don’t Pigeon Hole Yourself”? In this Blog I am referring specifically to our ethnic background. Unless you have taken a DNA test you really do not know your complete ethnic makeup. We can assume what race we are by some obvious factors like color of our skin, texture of our hair or where we were born. We can even say we look the same as our Grandparents so therefore I am ______! However the farther back we go in our Family Tree the greater the possibility that we may discover some surprising revelations.

Growing up I was told I was of Irish and American Indian descent.  To begin my search I only had my parents, all 4 Grandparents and my Maternal Great Grandparents names. When I started researching my Family History I spent a tremendous amount of time looking mostly at Irish Genealogy sites or the Dawes Rolls. I became frustrated when I would spend hours searching and finding nothing of value. Then hours turned into days and I would eventually give up.  Once I started using Family Search and Ancestry.com for my research I was able to find more information on my family. To my surprise I have found no evidence that I am of American Indian blood.  I have also discovered that I am of Irish descent, but I am also Scottish, English, Welsh, German, French, Canadian and Swedish. I am sure that as I continue searching farther back through time I will discover even more diverse ethnic associations.

Lori's Great Grandmother, Grandmother, and her Mother are in this picture.

Lori’s Great- Grandmother, Grandmother, and her Mother are in this photo.

Here is a case in point. My husband’s cousin Lori had always assumed that she was full blooded Hispanic. After I researched herfamily tree I discovered that she was also Irish (1800’s), German (1800’s), Polish (1700’s) and Apache Indian (1900’s). To say that she was surprised is an understatement. To look at her you would never know that she was actually only about one-third Hispanic. She had tried to find her “roots” several years ago with no luck. I found out that she had only searched for her family in Mexico!

This “Pigeon Holing” can also be applied to your religious background. Many religions such as Baptists, Latter Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Assemblies of God, Methodists and the Bahá’í Faith have all been started in the last 400 years. So regardless of which religious group you belong to it is quite possible that the farther back in time you are able to search, you have a greater chance that your Ancestors believed or belonged to a religion much different than what you are today. Do not hesitate to search the church records of different religions; you may be surprised by what you may find.

By branching out from our self imposed “Pigeon Holing” a whole new world of Ancestors may open up for us.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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13 Comments

Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, How-to, Mexican Ancestry

13 responses to “Don’t “Pigeon Hole” Yourself

  1. Mom

    Soooo True! Turns out my staunchly “German Catholics” are partially Austrian/Slovene Catholics with a sprinkling of Slovakian/Hungarian Askenazi Jews! That’s what keeps it fun 🙂

  2. You are so right Val! I was also told there was Native American ancestry in my dad’s mother’s line. After lots of research and a DNA test we found there is none at all! Good post here!

  3. Very good advise today. I found that religion in some of my family lines changed with each generation. I also had my DNA done and the results were like dropping a basket of rubber balls; the results went every where.

  4. Valerie,

    I want to let you know that your wonderful post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/09/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-september_26.html

    Have a great weekend!

  5. Seems like most of us are a lot more than we ever dreamed when we start out doing our trees. I know my mtDNA result definitely brought some surprises!

  6. Pingback: Friday finds week 36 | Norwegian Genealogy and then some

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