Ancestry Surprises

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

I recently received the results from my AncestryDNA kit, which I mailed into the company just after Christmas last year. It took quite a bit of time to get those results because of the influx of DNA kits around that time of year; at least, that’s what the email updates which I received in January and February said. Within the results I received, I found several surprises. More on that in a moment.

Lozane and Samuel Lonit Mansfield
Lozane and Lonit Mansfield – my great grandparents.

For as long as I can remember, my father and his siblings and their father claimed Native American heritage. I grew up thinking I was 1/16 Cherokee. My father often referred to his father’s mother as ½ Cherokee; her name was Lozane Ard. She married a man named Samuel Lonit Mansfield, whose father was also Samuel Mansfield and whose mother was Ella Locade Baham. I’ve been able to trace Ella’s (who is mostly known by her middle name, Locade) family several generations back. Dad’s grandmother Lozane had a father name William Pinkney Ard, and her mother’s name was Rachel Williams (we think – William P. Ard had three wives, at different times, thankfully, but still not quite sure which woman was Lozane’s mother at this point). William Ard’s mother was Margaret Ard – his father was possibly William Beavers but that is not a known fact either. It seems Margaret had several children but most records indicate no male (ie, husband) living with her other than her male children. So, there’s a mystery. Many of us wondered if the Native American lineage was brought in at this point, and that seemed to be the accepted fact, and the story passed down through generations, including to me.

Dads GreatGrandparents_Samuel Mansfield and Locad Baham Mansfield
Samuel Mansfield and Ella Locade Baham Mansfield, my great-great grandparents.

Now, for my DNA results. What was not surprising was that I’m 42% western European and 26% Scandinavian. My mother’s parents were German/Swiss on her mother’s side and Danish on her father’s side; in fact, her grandparents were full German and full Swiss on her mother’s side and full Dane on her father’s side. They are easy to figure out. Within the western European is also French, and that for certain is from my father’s side (the Bahams), so that wasn’t much of a surprise. What came next was: 9% Iberian Peninsula, which includes Spain and Portugal, and, an even bigger surprise: 13% African, with highest percentages traced to Nigeria, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast/Ghana. And, the biggest surprise of all: NO Native American, not even less than one percent.

Grandpa John's Mom_Lozane Mansfield
My dad’s Grandma Lozane Ard Mansfield – is she part Native American? Not according to my DNA results.

Interestingly, I used to joke that Dad’s side of the family may have African blood. Dad and all his immediate relatives grew up in Louisiana, and not much was really discussed about ancestors. Just snippets here and there, and of course, the claim of Native American heritage. So, lightheartedly, I’d say, “I wonder if there are skeletons in the family closet, like slaves.” And that may not be far from the truth. I discovered a possible ancestor: a slave a man named Honore Baham. However, the more I dug, the more I found that to be less possible. I did discover that Honore was still a slave when he was 30 years old; he belonged to the Baham family, and he was emancipated in 1820 by Renez Baham, brother to the man who seems to be my 4th great-grandfather: Louis Jeanbon Baham. So, Honore the slave, when he was freed, received the last name of Baham (and he could have been the son Renez and a slave woman – there are indicators to that possibility); therefore some of the mix-up in the family tree.

William Pink Ard
William Pinkey “Pink” Ard, Lozane’s father and my dad’s great grandfather.

Thus far, I’ve traced some of my heritage back to the 1600s, with people coming from France to Canada then to Alabama and on in to Louisiana, via different generations. Another branch came from France directly to Louisiana. There seems to be some mixed blood, likely a French ancestor marrying, or simply living with, a freed black woman. I’m trying to learn more about this branch of the family tree.

I’ve found family crests on some of the sides who hailed from France. I’m also learning more about this part of my heritage.

My neighbor, Marian Kingdon, is assisting me on this ancestral journey. She loves genealogy and has traced her family lineage as well as her husband’s, and she’s excited to help me; and I’m grateful for her help. I’m fascinated about the different findings we’ve discovered. I know there’s more about my family tree that I’ll be learning in the weeks and months to come.

Me with my parents, Earl D. Mansfield and Marcia L. (Christensen) Mansfield

Tomorrow is my 56th birthday; I’m more than half-way through my expected life-span. And I continue learning more about my heritage, surprises and non-surprises alike. I recently bought a DNA kit for my father and sent it off a few weeks ago. I likely won’t know results for several more weeks, but I’m looking forward to putting more pieces of the ancestry puzzle together. I wonder if we’ll find more surprises from Dad’s DNA results… or perhaps by further digging into the names and lives of our ancestors. It’s a fun, exciting, and yes, somewhat surprising journey!

Now more than a half-century old, and on the cusp of 60 years of age, I’m learning about my heritage … and I’m thankful I can do so, surprises and all.


17 thoughts on “Ancestry Surprises

  1. Investigating your lineage can lead to the need to dig deeper and deeper as mysteries unfold I think, and can lead to courthouses, graveyards and libraries. I’ve got boxes and boxes of stuff my sister collected. She found some families who put out there own newsletters (our relatives) and subscribed. We ended up at two Disney reunions due to her research, and I have a 3 inch hardcover book of ancestors from one side dating back to 1623. My sister took paper and charcoal/pencil and made etchings of gravestones too. You have an exciting journey ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I imagine you have many interesting ancestors, Neva. I’m glad your sister took an interest in your family heritage. Not many in my family have, but for my aunt who provided some old photos, as I put into the post, I’m glad she had those. I plan to continue the journey and I’m looking forward to more discoveries! Thanks for reading and commenting.


  2. Good for you and bless your neighbor. This journey does have many twists and turns. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us. It will be interesting to see what the paternal side of your family continues to reveal. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Doris, I’m looking forward to seeing what Dad’s DNA turns out like, One of my cousins has contacted me to inquire if we’ve learned anything yet. I’ve stirred some additional curiosity on that side of the family! LOL Thanks for reading the post and commenting!


  3. Fascinating, but I did read your posts on FB, so I knew a bit about the DNA results. I’ve a cousin on my mother’s side who is a genealogist. When my mom was dying back in 2003, cousin John traced her dad’s lineage back to brothers who came to Philadelphia in the late 1740s from Palatine. Their last name? Franks. My direct descendant fought as a 3-month Pa. militiaman in the Revolutionary War. My mom’s mother had the last name Kurtz; Kurtz ancestors were Mennonite and came from Switzerland. On my dad’s side, a cousin and her mother researched the maternal side; my cousin’s grandma and my grandma were twins. They’re descended from one of the ‘Craig’ brothers who were itinerant Baptist preachers in Fredericksburg, Va. In the late 18th Century, the brothers led some parishioners on a Daniel Bone-style journey from Virginia to Kentucky where many settled in Carroll County. My Grandma Nan’s grandmother was a Craig with the first name Sarah. Cousin Candy and her mom actually traveled to Carrollton back about 1980 and did on-site research at the courthouse, etc. A Craig and his partner actually founded Carollton. Indeed, you’re right… this is fun stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So great that your family members have found so many great stories and history! I’ve found a few stories that I’ll post either on FB or in an upcoming blog. The slavery issue in the south is heartbreaking and intriguing at the same time. I’m grateful to be learning so much about the history of the times and the lineage I have. Thanks for taking time to read and comment, Mike, and for sharing your family heritage as well.


    1. I thought I had more Irish than the DNA showed, as that was another story told by my father and his family, that dad’s mother was part Irish — turned out to be less than 1 percent. That was another surprise. Thanks for taking time to read and comment, Cher’ley.


      1. I knew I had to Scottish, Indian, Viking and English, but I didn’t know to what extent I had of each one. I knew it had a lot of English, but turned out that I have 49% Irish.


  4. Happy birthday, Gayle! How fascinating and I bet your were surprised about the zero Native American part. You’re lucky you have a neighbor who is just as interested and can help you. I think that’s why I haven’t dug deep into mine. My dad’s side of the family are all very tight-lipped and don’t speak to each other, let alone to me. My mom’s side would be more than willing to talk so I’d love to pick their brains one day (as well as hers which I intend to turn into a book). Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing, Sarah, how little you need to get started. My father’s side were pretty tight-lipped, too, but I had a few names so I just started there. If you know your grandparents’ names and maybe great-grandparents, you can get started. Ancestry does all the work for you. Family Search is another good site. I’d encourage you to sign up for the trial (FREE) and just see what you might find. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You have found out a lot, Gayle, that seems to match up but it’s maybe the surprises that make the most initial impact. It’ll be interesting to see what is revealed through your Dad’s DNA.


  6. Thanks for sharing this. I find it fascinating. I keep toying with the idea of having a DNA test done. There are bits and pieces I know about family. But I suspect there is more I haven’t been told. Certain affiliations were considered unacceptable by my mothers generations and there for dis guarded as untrue. Keep us posted.


  7. Interesting. I’ve been thinking about having my DNA analyzed but haven’t gotten around to it (of course). I know I have Scottish, Irish, and English, and since one ancestor, we’re told, sailed over with William the Conquerer, I assume I’m part Scandinavian, too. A friend learned that she’s part Neanderthal. I’d never thought about going back that far until she told me about her results.


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