How My DNA Made Me Appreciate What It Means to Be American

by Amanda Limond

I grew up hearing stories or guesses about where my immigrant ancestors came from. But no concrete evidence had been shared with us.

So I was excited to find out my origins when I took an AncestryDNA test*.

I wanted so badly to be connected to the Scottish clans and Czech communities I’d heard I was part of.

Yet as I waited for my test results, somehow I doubted it.

Some Surprises in My DNA

My top three AncestryDNA ethnicity estimates were Great Britain, Europe East, and Scandinavia.

My Midwestern dad had always joked about our Scandinavian roots. And there they were, no joke after all, at 13%.

The author's AncestryDNA Story.

The 14% Europe East was likely from my Czech grandfather, whose parents came to America. He spoke some Czech, but like many immigrants wanting to fit in, his parents insisted he speak mostly English.

But my 9% Europe South was a total surprise. Where did that come from?

It’s a mystery I have yet to solve.

Hello Scottish DNA

My 52% Great Britain ethnicity estimate (which encompasses Scotland) reinforced the deep connection to the Highlands and culture I felt when I traveled to Scotland last winter.

Amanda at the Three Sisters in Scotland.
Amanda at the Three Sisters in Scotland

That feeling of connection to Scotland was stronger than I expected it to be.

Now I know why. It’s in my DNA.

My Missing Family Story 

But my discoveries did not end with my DNA.

My DNA results matched me up with another Ancestry customer who was most likely a distant cousinon my mother’s side.

Amanda’s cousin match on Ancestry.
Amanda’s cousin match on Ancestry

I connected with her through Ancestry, and she shared her family tree with me.

“Instantly” I was able to I was able to expand my tree more than three generations past mine on both sides!

The auhor's family tree.

Not only this, but I was able to look at immigration records – like the passenger list showing my Czech great-grandfather arriving in New York on the ship Westphalia in October 1882.

Passenger list for the SS Westphalia.
Amanda’s ancestor, Josef Hausar, shown on a passenger list for the Westphalia

And I found pictures of my family that I had never seen, but heard about.

Collage of Amanda’s ancestors.
Amanda’s ancestors

My Part in the American Story

My DNA test and family history remind me that we as a nation are connected in many ways, the primary one being that we are almost all immigrants in one way or another.

We all have backgrounds from beautiful histories and bloodlines from around the world that could result in peace and understanding in our everyday lives.

Find the stories in your family with an Ancestry free trial or an AncestryDNA test today.


*Amanda took an AncestryDNA test as part of a multi-media journalism class at San Francisco State University.