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Thread: How Far Back Does Ancestry Matter?

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    Senior Member Adalheid's Avatar
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    How Far Back Does Ancestry Matter?

    I enjoy researching genealogy very much...I have completed a family tree on both my family and my husbands going back many generations. I was wondering how far back one should go before deciding to stop? I have gone pretty far though, but at what point are we all sharing common ancestors...the furthest back I go on on my paternal branch is between 25-31 generations...I regrettably do not understand a lot of history from 1200's-1600's Germany/Europe...just like to have a discussion on how far back some of you go...and how far back matters...

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    What do you mean by "does it matter?" That seems like a subjective value to me.

    Go back as far as you can, but once you reach the 16th century things can get a little sketchy, unless of course you find you are related to a noble or royal house, in which case there are plenty of records you can trace all the way back to the early Middle Ages. And even then, generally when things become unreliable is prior to the 11th century, the era of Charlemagne and so on.

    I would only decide to stop when you feel you don't wish to go on or when your interest wanes. For me, it all matters, but to you that may be different.

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    Senior Member Adalheid's Avatar
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    I suppose that was an oddly worded question...

    I guess what I was trying to say, does it matter who your 31st great grandfather was? I mean, at what point does it matter, because I have a lot of nobility in my ancestry dating 1600's and back...for example:

    The English Crawthorne family dating back to 1200's in Yorkshire England

    Multiple ties to Ladgraf family dating before 1550

    17th great grandfather - Frederick IV of Meissen and Elector of Saxony

    13th great grandfather - Philipp I Von Hessen, Deggendorf, Bayern, Germany

    13th great grandfther - Count Bernhard Von Lippe DeLippe 1527, in Detmold, Lippe, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

    Just a small section of some of the connections I have discovered.

    Earliest being Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Germany, 1194 - 22nd great grandfather....whom many, many, many people are likely related to..

    Do these people matter, in one's ancestry, or do the more recent generations matter, moreso?

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    A family member did some research and actually was able to go all the way back to 1389 using the family name. My grandfather gave me the written history of his family years ago going back to the sixteenth century. The same goes for the family on my mother's side. My husband's family tree goes back around the fifteenth century. My blood line is German, his blood line was English, Scottish, Irish and Norwegian. And it does matter...
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    All families are old. Some families just keep better records than others.
    Most people, if they aren't adopted and look hard enough can find nobility or royalty in their ancestry.
    Both my father's and my mother's lines are armigerous. (Had coats of arms)
    Both lines fought in the crusades.
    Mom's coat of arms is not that old. The one from which her's derives was only granted by Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary, Henry VIII's oldest daughter).
    Betty Windsor is a distant relative, and we know how, which is a pity because her side of the family mixed.

    And I live in a trailer in the rural south. My how the mighty have fallen.

    By the way, if you can trace yourself back to Charlemagne, you can supposedly trace your family back to Adam and Eve since Chuck the Butcher was supposedly descended from King David and David's line is written in the Bible. That would mean, of course, that you were part, (gasp) hebrew (shudder) and a blood relative of Jesus.
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    Senior Member feisty goddess's Avatar
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    As far as racial purity goes, I'd say about 10-20 generations depending on where the individual family hails from. If there were very few foreigners or the country was virtually ethnically pure at the time, then getting back to that time period and seeing that they appeared ethnically pure is sufficient. The problem with finding for example, that a German ancestor was supposedly 50% French is, without documentation they could have been a gypsy for all you know (and they could still be with so). It depends on the history of the country, family legends etc.; just use your best judgement. As far as hobby goes, just whenever you lose interest or it gets too difficult or you don't have the resources.

    Mine is not even remotely sufficient since I'm American very far back, and I doubt that there is any reliable resource, even for a professional genealogist, but I plan to consult one someday when I have money to burn, and work out all the dead ends. The problem is, with many more recent immigrant ancestors, there is no information on their family back in Europe or anything because they just came over on a boat by themselves with nothing and sometimes they invented fake names or changed their names because of discrimination. I traced mine as far as it could go on as many sides as possible (I got back as far as 12 generations I think on one side) but lack the resources to research all sides of the family and go further. In the meantime I've relied on genetic testing, which is a pretty good indicator if you don't know past 10 or so generations. If you were going to utilize genetic testing to check for purity, 23 and me would not be sufficient, you would have to enter your genotypes into the Dodecad tool. Genetic testing shouldn't really be a replacement for ancestral lineage to check for purity, but it's definitely better than nothing if it's impossible to track your whole lineage.

    The good thing about genetic testing is, it's easy to check for something specific, such as if you're worried about having a jew in the woodpile. 23 and me has a whole tool that searches for jewish ancestry matches throughout your genome, with the only problem being that its debatable whether it is able to pick up all the chromosomes your ancestors had. If you are young, like a teen or in your 20s, the results are prob optimal though because I imagine there is still a lot of information encoded onto fresh genes. The sooner you do a genetic test the better.
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    The tracking of the own family tree is something very interesting and important, but it becomes just incredible to imagine after 7 or 8 generations with so many ramifications and countless of great-great-great-great-great-grandfathers.

    Well, we have an almost complete ancestry tree back to the late middle ages due to the place bound nature of most parts of our family and due to the family register (marriage, deaths, births) of the Church, but some white spots are still there.

    The biggest "anomaly" in my ancestry tree is that I have a Swedish male great-great....-grandfather back in the times of the Thirty Years War which lasted from 1618 until 1648. That´s interesting in many ways because it must have been a Swedish soldier who went to Bavaria at that time, everything else would lack on a logical explanation. How that worked out with the different confessions and during wartime remains a complete mystery. Other parts of my family were country gentry or landowners, that´s not exactly resolved. Anyway, the last few generations of my family were rural farmers and workers so if parts of my early family had some money and status, they all wasted it! Clumsyness runs strong in my bloodline...

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    Quote Originally Posted by feisty goddess View Post
    Genetic testing shouldn't really be a replacement for ancestral lineage to check for purity, but it's definitely better than nothing if it's impossible to track your whole lineage.
    Well, why shouldn't it? Race is in the genes, after all. I think genetic testing is far more reliable than genealogical research for checking your racial elements. Genealogical research is no doubt a very interesting activity (I'd like to do more of it, but it obviously requires some real work to reach beyond the 1800's on all lines), but I can't see how genetic testing should be insufficient to check your racial background. It can actually be much more precise, since it has the advantage of showing very old genetic influences that could be almost impossible to document through genealogical research...
    "Man evolved in cooperating groups united by common cultural and genetic ties, and it is only in such a setting that the individual can feel truly free, and truly protected. Men cannot live happily alone and without values or any sense of identity…" - Alain de Benoist
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    Senior Member feisty goddess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olavssønn View Post
    Well, why shouldn't it? Race is in the genes, after all. I think genetic testing is far more reliable than genealogical research for checking your racial elements. Genealogical research is no doubt a very interesting activity (I'd like to do more of it, but it obviously requires some real work to reach beyond the 1800's on all lines), but I can't see how genetic testing should be insufficient to check your racial background. It can actually be much more precise, since it has the advantage of showing very old genetic influences that could be almost impossible to document through genealogical research...
    Well, I'm not really sure how precise it is in terms of checking what you get from EVERY ancestor. I've read papers that say it only tells you about the genes of 10% of your ancestors. I'm not sure if I'm just misunderstanding, but I don't think it tells you the ancestral information for every side of your family. If the latter is true, genealogical research is more thorough, but in terms of what the average person is able to do, I'm sure genetic testing is more precise. The OP asks, "how far back does ancestry matter," and it certainly matters farther back and on more sides than we can be sure genetic testing probably examines. Let's say someone who suspects they have a g-grandfather x8 who was a crypto jew because of a last name gets no results that should suggest that is true. This is because it is on a certain side of the family that it is not able to detect very far back, I don't remember exactly what it is though but there are some things they can't test.
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    Quote Originally Posted by feisty goddess View Post
    Well, I'm not really sure how precise it is in terms of checking what you get from EVERY ancestor. I've read papers that say it only tells you about the genes of 10% of your ancestors. I'm not sure if I'm just misunderstanding, but I don't think it tells you the ancestral information for every side of your family. If the latter is true, genealogical research is more thorough, but in terms of what the average person is able to do, I'm sure genetic testing is more precise. The OP asks, "how far back does ancestry matter," and it certainly matters farther back and on more sides than we can be sure genetic testing probably examines.
    I guess someone can be 100% European (for example) genetically speaking, and still have some distant non-European ancestor(s). But would that really matter, if the influence have been bred out, so to speak?

    Remember that you do not necessarily have important genetic influence from every ancestor that you are able to trace by genealogical research. Some elements will sooner or later be bred out and disappear from the genome, due to new genetic input...
    "Man evolved in cooperating groups united by common cultural and genetic ties, and it is only in such a setting that the individual can feel truly free, and truly protected. Men cannot live happily alone and without values or any sense of identity…" - Alain de Benoist
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