I opened the envelope from the DNA testing company while standing outside at the mailbox. It read: 88% caucasian, 10% Sub-Saharan African, 8% Native American.
It took a few seconds to register. Sub-Saharan African. 10%. I'm black! My first thought was, "Maybe I'm related to Dr. King."
I knew Cherokee often intermarried with African slaves, men and women who had either escaped or bought their freedom. But 10% was a lot, more than I possibly anticipated. Back in 2005, I would have never believed I would be able to solve that mystery and many more, but that's why I'm writing now.
I was truly Native American. The info from my mother about my father was valid, at least in part. I was discovering who I was, who I am. Who my people were. Who my people are.
One afternoon, I was staying late at school, working on the computer in my classroom for an online CLAD class. The maintenance guy came in to fix the overhead LCD projector. We were in the first year of a brand new high school, and this was one of the glitches. We got to chatting. He told me he had gone online and found that one of his ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. He found it on Ancestry.com.
I recalled my grandmother had said Grandfather Link's people went way back, to the Mayflower. How many families say that, huh? But my curiosity was peeked. I knew his full name: Haviland John Link. I was close to Grandma, heard all the family stories.
So into Ancestry.com went Haviland John Link. Et voila, a distant cousin had researched the Links back to 1740 when Jacob Link came over from Germany to Pennsylvania. His son fought in the Revolutionary War, then they went through the Cumberland Gap to Kentucky. Another generation packed up granny, et al, in a Conestoga wagon, and settled in St. Louis, Missouri, to farm, around the time Lewis and Clark left for the Pacific. They stayed until their side lost the Civil War, then the Links built the railroad to the last stop in Como, Colorado, around 10,000 ft. up in the Rockies. That's where Grandfather Link was born and raised. His mother, I remembered, had the last name Sweet. There she was on the computer screen: Alice Eliza Sweet. Haviland met Grandma in Denver. They moved to Oakland, Cal. My mother was born, then me. I found the Links.