Family history research reveals unexpected results - WFLA News Channel 8

Family history research reveals unexpected results

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Rod Carter won National Association of Black Journalists' Salute to Excellence Award 2013 Rod Carter won National Association of Black Journalists' Salute to Excellence Award 2013

Searching for one's family history can be a complicated task, for some even more so than others.

I have the pleasure of knowing a lot of my family history detailed in photos, word of mouth, bible entries. My cousin has compiled a family tree, tracing our roots back to Georgia. But past that the trail gets cold.

I knew my grandmother and great grandmother on my mother's side. And I have portraits of my great-great-grandmother, great-great-great grandmother and her mother, Rachael Fields, born in 1810. She was 112 when she died.

Recently, I took a DNA test on African Ancestry to determine my African roots. Simple 20 swabs on the inside of each cheek helped trace my mother's family line.

The analysis took several weeks. It successfully identified my maternal ancestry with the Masa and Mafa peoples in Cameroon. But I wanted to research deeper. 

Gina Paige, with African Ancestry was my first stop. 

"When you take this test, you think you're gonna get the answer to a question, which you do. But then it opens up a whole plethora of additional questions," Paige said. "Well what is the country like what are the people like? What are the things are similar in my family's traditions that are similar to their traditions."

The Cameroonian connection was surprising since I thought my country of origin may have been Ghana.

"Cameroon is one of the countries we find the most often," Paige said. "And Ghana interestingly enough is where we find the least often... So you're in good company in terms of your Cameroonian results."

The northern part of Cameroon was an important part of the slave trade network, which explains why many people in the U.S. may share that same DNA trait.

And for me and many others with that connection, no matter the country or continent of origin, knowledge is power.

"Knowing where you're from is a critical component to knowing who you are," Paige said.

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