1. When did you first start working on your family history?

My introduction to genealogy happened in 1982 with a family trip to Florida that had a small detour to my paternal great-grandfather’s home town in northwest Georgia.  But I really didn’t get hooked until about 29 years ago when my grandmother presented me with her family mystery… “Who was her mother?”  My great-grandmother died about 6 months after my grandmother’s birth somewhere in Arkansas or Oklahoma.  With no more than my grandmother’s birth certificate, I began my genealogical quest, or obsession!

2. What was your most surprising discovery?

The most surprising genealogical discovery for me is the DNA confirmation that my father’s direct paternal lineage is Cherokee. The family story and local lore did not attribute the Cherokee ancestry to my 4x great-grandfather, but to the 4x great-grandmother. This discovery brought about new research questions for this family.

3. Have you done a DNA test? Were there any surprises about countries of origins?

While I have not completed a DNA test, I manage 17 DNA tests for my father, grandmother, great-aunts, in-laws and cousins. The most surprising DNA admixture results was for my mother-in-law who shows a significant amount of Mediterranean ancestry, yet she has a genealogical tree showing Pennsylvania Dutch (German), Welsh, Scottish and English ancestry which settled in the U.S. in the 18th century.

4. What is the brick wall you would most like to break down in your family history?

My biggest brick wall is the identity of my maternal great-great-grandmother Maria Lesko (my direct mtDNA line) who was born about 1860 near Derenk, Abaúj-Torna megye, Kingdom of Hungary. Her marriage record lists only her father Janos, and to date her birth and death records elude me.

5. What is your favourite part of researching your family history?

The best part of researching my family history is that I can share the rich and vibrant history of our family with my “descendants”, and celebrate my Cherokee, colonial American and recent immigrant families.

Speaker Spotlight: Michelle Tucker Chubenko