My Ancestry Travel Goals

A few years ago I got to dip my feet into Lake Thun in Thun, Switzerland, on which my great, great grandfather was a ferry boat operator. I’ve slowly dabbled in learning more about my ancestry and recently got my DNA test back. The results? Some of it was expected, but some of it was a huge surprise. All of it sparked my wanderlust and I now have several new destinations on my list.

Lake Thun, Switzerland
Lake Thun, Switzerland

I’d always been told that I was German on my dad’s side and English on my mom’s. Though this isn’t completely incorrect, my highest proportions were actually 28% Irish, Scottish, or Welsh and 26% Scandinavian. I shouldn’t be too surprised about the first part since my sister has red hair and freckles. However, on my entire family tree, I had only found one person from Ireland, one person from Scotland, and no one from Wales or any Scandinavian countries. With both sides of my family having been in the U.S. for about 10 generations, its nearly impossible to trace it further back.

Though I was unable to trace my mom’s side back to Ireland, my great grandmother’s side of the family, the Ghans, were believed to be from there. I wish I knew more, especially because I adventured through Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Belfast last summer. This, combined with the fact that my husband is at least half Irish and had family in Galway, makes me want to travel back and check out the west coast. This would also give me the chance to see the Ring of Kerry!

George Ghan and Margaret Allen Ghan
George Ghan and Margaret Allen Ghan
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland

George Daniel Ghan was my 4th great grandfather, who lived in Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky and Appalachian Mountains. He married a woman who was full Cherokee, Margaret Allen, during the Trail of Tears. Though I’m proud to have Cherokee ancestry in my family, I have a feeling that she probably married a white man to escape violence. I was hoping that I might have up to 2% Native American DNA, but this didn’t come up in my results. Regardless, I’d still be fascinated to learn more about the Trail of Tears and explore the portion that was in Tennessee, such as Port Royal State Park (which the Cherokee fled through during the forced relocation), Red Clay State Park (where a village replica can be viewed), and a number of museums.

More predictably, my DNA results showed that I’m 18% Western European (most likely Swiss and German from what I gather) and 11% British. I had already found that my 10th great grandmother, Constance Hopkins, was a passenger on the Mayflower. The beaver hat she wore at the time is actually on display in the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Of course, I feel like I should see this, along with Plymouth Rock, at some point in my life.

I also found that I had a number of relatives from Cornwall. This had never been a location I’d thought of traveling to, but after learning about my ancestry and a little time on Pinterest, I’m sold. Do I start with the Lost Gardens or Tintagel Castle?

The remainder was a complete surprise. Here’s how it broke down:

14% Europe South (Italy, Greece)

0-4% Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal)

0-3% Middle Eastern (Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Lebanon)

0-1% Senegal, Gambia

Where else does this leave me wanting to explore? Though I have little to no clues about where in these countries I may have roots, it doesn’t take much to inspire me to travel somewhere. Here are a few other places on my list, tangentially from my DNA:

A cruise through the fjords

Dubai (Wild Wadi waterpark looks particularly incredible)

Wine tasting in Sicily

Wandering Lisbon

Where does your ancestry have you wanting to travel? Post in the comments below 💙🌎💚

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