Friday, May 29, 2015

Site Update

I see it's been almost ten years since I started this blog. My activity here has fluctuated, mostly because of events in life. In 2007 I became a co-parent to a delightful little girl who is now seven years old. I moved from Portland to San Francisco, and I'm now back in Portland.

I've opened accounts with and, more recently, 23andMe and Family Tree DNA. My DNA test results indicate that my genetic ancestry is broadly British Isles and European, with some Scandinavian and a small African component.

On the maternal side, my female line can be traced as far back as a woman named Esther Ruth, who lived around 1600 in England. She seems to have been of Welsh or English ancestry. My mtDNA haplogroup comes back as T2c (and specifically, T2c-T146C! on the latest pass), which is linked to populations in Ireland, Wales, and Sweden. My foremothers in this line - Grace Boynton Leonard, Stella Randal Boynton, Joanna Holmes, Mary Elizabeth Randall, Deborah Hobbs, and beyond - settled in and around the Bay of Fundy area for several generations. Most lived and died on Deer Island, New Brunswick. There is even a Leonardville on Deer Island to this day.

My paternal line is indicated in my Y-DNA by the R haplogroup, and they say my predicted group (R-M269) goes back to populations in Scotland, England, and Europe.

No surprises in any of this, although I'll have to spend some more time learning about DNA and genetics before I can comment intelligently on it.

What's not there: there's no Asian, Native American, or Ashkenazi (European Jewish) ancestry suggested by my DNA. So, family speculation about my maternal grandfather's roots seems to have been unfounded.

Nevertheless, Henry Dietrich Block remains a man of mystery. I can trace his roots only as far back as his parents, and the trail just ends there. I'm even in doubt as to his father's name. All I know for sure is that Henry Block's parents immigrated from Germany.

Henry Block was the father of my mother, Stella, and her brother, Fred, with whom she had a contentious relationship throughout their lives. My mother was married once before she met my father; but her father, Henry, appears also to have had a prior marriage. It looks as if he was married to one Helen Steiner around the time of the Great War: at any rate, his spouse is listed as Helen on his 1918 draft registration card, and her data ties in to a family named Steiner.

I still don't know what became of Helen, but Henry D. Block had a son with her, Henry Block Jr., who was my Mom's half-brother. His picture appears in the family photo album.

In the coming year or two, I hope to have more time to devote to learning about my family of origin. I'd like to make a visit or two to the East Coast to re-connect with relatives; also, I really want to visit Deer Island.
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