I was born and raised in New Orleans. I know a little about my family history. As part of an honors history course in college, I had to research my family tree. For example, I know that Joseph Sheppard came to New Orleans in the 1800's and worked as a sugar boiler. The location of the sugar plant eventually became the site of Tulane Stadium where the Sugar Bowl college football game was originally played. Though Sheppard is an English name, Joseph emigrated to New Orleans from Northern Ireland. As my grandmother's maiden name was McGittigan, I suspected that I should be pinched on St. Patrick's Day. On my mother's side, with last names like Broussard and Boudreaux, it was no stretch of the imagination that I would be of French descent.
I recently had my DNA tested. I took advantage of a GroupOn offer. I got a kit, swabbed my cheek, and sent it to the ConnectMyDNA lab where my sample was analyzed. The results are not intended to represent my family history. Instead the results show where it is likely that I may have ancestors because my DNA has characteristics similar to people who live there now. Here is what I got.
I have likely heritage from France. Makes sense. I have likely heritage from Morocco. Really? On a recent visit to New Orleans, my wife, Sheryl, and I took a carriage ride through the French Quarter. This scenic ride includes the consumption of alcohol. In addition, our driver/tour guide told us about the Barbary pirates, privateers who operated from Africa (including Morocco?) and their role in helping General Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans against the British in 1815. So perhaps I should not have been so shocked to see that I have Moroccan genes? I guess I'm just a pirate at heart — well part pirate.
Ancestry is alive in the lab.