Oma Sue's Blog
Hi – I’m Sue Reyzlik. I recently realized my life-long dream of building a writing hut in the backyard. The writing hut serves as a creative space and home office for Oma Publishing. This blog will be intermingled with family history, varied experiences and insights on being a Grandma (Oma), creating my special backyard space, as well as, my “retirement” career as a self-publisher of children’s stories. And perhaps a little bit on the 32 years I served as Executive Director for Keep Fremont Beautiful and the wonderful people who are sharing this adventure.
I wrote recently about the results of a DNA test that I took and how surprised I was to learn that I had no - none - native American ancestry. My Dad and his brother Jack had told their kids the same story - our great grandmother on their mother's side was native American. It was a surprise to my brother and my cousin to learn that I was lacking this particular aspect in my DNA pedigree. My brother plans to take a DNA test when he is home in June - just to see if maybe a little bit of native American shows up on his results.
I seriously don't think he is going to find anything. I have been studying the various DNA matches on the ancestry site and nothing is indicating that our great grandmother had descended from anything other than people of European heritage. I'm not going to pretend that I'm not disappointed but I have gotten used to the idea that maybe Great Grandma was a bit of an actor - she played the part.
My Grandmother Lil - the mother of my mother - told me stories of visiting her uncle in Valley. Sometimes, during those visits, she would see an Indian woman coming to town with her husband. My grandma told me that the woman was a bit frightening but her garb was colorful.
My Great Grandmother Jennie - who was supposedly native American - died in 1930. My father was just a toddler and his brother Jack maybe hadn't been born yet or was just a baby - either way, neither of them knew their Grandma Jennie. They believed what they had been told about her heritage.
Jaynee, my cousin, told me that her grandmother - the mother of her mother - had told her stories of the Indian woman who would come into town with her husband, The town was Valley, Nebraska. I thought that was funny that both of our grandmothers on our (completely different) mothers side confirmed the idea that our great grandmother on our father's side was Indian.
So many people believed that our Great Grandma Jennie was native. I continued to examine the DNA matches and family trees of those relations. I reached out to a not so distant cousin who confirmed that he had no native American ancestry in his DNA test results. His Grandma and my Grandma were sisters and also daughters of Great Grandma Jennie - who was not an Indian. No Indian blood for him but he did get a teeny tiny percentage from Africa - cool.
I do know - or at least I think I know this about Great Grandma Jennie's family ancestry. We have a few "Sirs" and a "Lady" or two in our very long ago past - maybe - could be - pretty sure - or maybe not. It appears that my 8 times or maybe it was more than that great grandfather was a Sir Edward or maybe he was a Hugh. There was a Sir Cheney who was a Knight in England back in the 1400's who maybe pretty sure could have been an ancestor... It's all so hard to tell.
As you look back through member family trees and confirm relationships through marriage, birth or death records you start to get a picture of your own family tree. You find out that there were a lot of ancestors who had like 20 kids - that really spreads out the DNA. It's no wonder I ended up having over 600 1st through 8th cousins.
One great great great grandfather was married five times and had children with three of the wives... that was a little confusing. I ended up being related to people of half siblings way down the line.
I didn't realize that my Dad's father had so many brothers. One guy was Phineas Smith. I never heard of a Phineas Smith. But sure enough, while going through boxes of memorabilia this past weekend, I found a guest book for my father's mother's funeral - Grandma Belle. Several of my Dad's uncles had attended her funeral and there was his signature - Phin Smith. All of a sudden Great Uncle Phin was real and all his kids and grandkids and all their little DNA connections were real. Sooooo… again - not an Indian, but this journey around Europe and over the ocean to America has been fascinating. That one Quaker back East, who was lured into his sinful ways by a great great great great something grandmother, with child, and ultimately kicked out of the Quaker colony - way to stand up for your woman! And Great Grandpa Powers here's to you - way to stand with your woman, who either believed she was an Indian princess or just liked to dress up and play the part. Your little trips into the town of Valley were legendary!
One last note: Great Grandpa Powers drove cattle up the Chisholm Trail, so he was a real cowboy. Dad told me he sold his share in a ranch out west for a train car of horses and came back to settle on a farm in Valley. That is when he married Jennie. So an old cowboy married an Indian princess... or at least that is what we were led to believe. As you know, this story has a few holes, but so far, the Grandpa Powers part of being a cowboy still holds true... for now.
The working title for the family ancestry book is "Long Lines of Lunatics and Liars". So much material to work with...