Genealogy… No Final Resting Place

I’ve had more than one “cousin” grow tired of genealogy. We met through the Internet and exchanged months of information back and forth, sometimes going late into the night. After a while, they were done with it. Either they didn’t like what they found or grew tired of never finding it. I certainly can’t blame them. It’s time consuming and often unfruitful.

If we’re looking for an identity, believe it or not, dead ancestors can help us understand who we are and from whence we came. But if we’re looking for a final determination, we’ll be disappointed. What the DNA testing companies are telling us is where our ancestors were, based on large populations of others who were there too. Genealogy is not simple. If we’re putting labels on our ancestors, better to make them temporary. It’s not about where they’re from, it’s where they’ve been. We pay good money to have our DNA tested, hoping to find answers. Instead, we find a plethora of ethnicities to sort through. Our “ancestry” is more like a modern-day vacation itinerary than a final label.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors, Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians, Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees, Secret Genealogy V– Black, White and Hamite; Ancestors of Color in Our Family Trees and Secret Genealogy VI – Freemasons, Jewish Conquistadors and the Holy Family, Secret Genealogy VII – DNA, Jumping Into the Gene Pool. A High Tech Gathering of the Tribes, Available here:

Secret Genealogy:

Secret Genealogy II:

Secret Genealogy III:

Secret Genealogy IV:

Secret Genealogy V:

Secret Genealogy VI:

Secret Genealogy VII:

Genealogy… The Conflicting History of Iberian Ancestry

Believe me, I get it. People come in all shapes and sizes. Americans are tall and thin and short and stout. Africans are the same. Ditto for other countries. However, there was a time in history when physical attributes of ethnic groups were more consistent. People who descend from ancestors who have lived in the same geographical region for millennium, bear characteristics that have evolved over time in order to survive. Whether it be the food we eat, the freezing cold, high altitudes, sea level, hot sun, you name it, our bodies adapt to our environment in order to survive.

With the advent of trains, autos and air flight, humans can and do live most anywhere. We still have ethnic groups but within the groups we have a wide diversity of physical appearances. As genealogists seeking answers to our origins, we look to ourselves for the answers. Our hair, eye and skin color. Our body type. Even the way we write longhand might reveal clues to the people who came before us.

Our world today is sensitive to stereotyping and racism, we may feel uncomfortable exploring. I called a DNA testing company and spoke with someone. He made clear his belief that there are no races, just the human race. I understand this but it doesn’t stop us from reading old encyclopedias, old dictionaries and old history books for clues. It was in an old dictionary that I was doing research when I stumbled upon two contradicting descriptions of the physical anatomy of Iberians.

Iberia is the ancient name of the Spanish peninsula. 23andMe tells us that Iberia means Spain/Portugal. My old dictionary has Iberia as a, “Short, dark, dolichocephalic race, probably the neolithic inhabitants of western Europe.” And “One of an ancient people of the Caucasus…”

Before you picture your Iberian ancestors as short and dark with dolichocephalic (long) heads, remember this. Hamites are ancient members of the Caucasus.  They made their way into Iberia. They’re dark too but they’re tall and have oval faces.

Short? Tall? Long? Oval? The attribute that these two “races” have in common is that they’re both “dark.” Makes one wonder how in the world did Caucasian become the term for white?

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy V – Black, White and Hamite; Ancestors of Color in Our Family TreesAvailable here:

Rh Negative Blood Type… People Want Answers

I have Rh Negative blood type. It’s always fascinated me. I’m not alone. There are many people looking for answers, of which there are few. Yes, the science has progressed for pregnant women and the dangers to their newborns are closely monitored. What no one seems to answer though is who, what and why is this blood so different? If you’ve looked into it, you know that Bedouin Berbers and Basque populations have a high degree of Rh Negative blood type.

A Bedouin is a desert dweller. A nomadic Arab of the Arabian, Syrian or North African deserts. A Berber is a Hamite of Northern Africa, west of Tripoli. Hamites are members of the chief native race of North Africa. They’re black or dark-skinned, tall, wavy hair and oval face but are Caucasian. People of this genetic makeup, made their way into Spain and Portugal. Now, we’ve got DNA tests telling us that we have Iberian ancestry. (Make it easy on yourself and think Spain/Portugal when you see Iberia.)

I hope you have a visual mind because I’ve concluded that’s what it takes. If you need help, stare at a world globe or world map. Trying to decipher your origins based on a rare blood type is confusing when it’s put into words. Nonetheless, we can be grateful that we have such puzzling biology. Perhaps someday, it will be explained, in words, precisely where the Rh negative originated, as well as how and why.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy V – Black, White and Hamite; Ancestors of Color in Our Family TreesAvailable here:

Genealogy… How to Tell if You Descend from Gypsies

I’ve lured you in. Clever me. Like the Gypsies of olde who stole children or resorted to cannibalism. That was a common belief but today, we know better and the legend of Gypsies never ceases to fascinate. I always thought that it was a self-appointed life style. Even a fashion. But history takes a serious look at Gypsies and not always in a favorable light.

Today, it would be silly to say, “This is what a Gypsy looks like,” because nowadays we know better. We’ve seen Native American tribes with blonds and know that to be a Viking didn’t require one to have blue eyes. Nonetheless, just for fun, here’s a 1940s physical description of a Gypsy.

Olive skin

Large dark eyes

Hair so dark it’s almost blue-black

Very white teeth

Small feet

Slight build


Wow, we could only be so lucky to carry those genes. We can get serious and study the origins of Gypsies, it doesn’t have to be complex. But today, I wanted to have a little fun with it. All joking aside, there isn’t one attribute on that list of physical attributes that I’d be unhappy with. In a future blog, we’ll discuss the Gypsies further. They have homelands and theories about their origins have been recorded.  Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:


Native American Genealogy… The Confusing Five Tribes

In the late 1800s when the US government was granting land allotments to the “Indians,” those who qualified to receive land belonged to one of the five approved tribes. Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could easily discern, to which tribe our ancestors belonged? Truth be told there were hundreds of tribes. That all these Native people wound up as only five tribes, bears witness to the genocide perpetrated upon them. That said, genealogists trying to find their ancestors would consider it a great accomplishment to find a connection to one of these tribes. After making a connection to one of the five, we can research further, in the hope of finding even one clue that suggests the location of their original homeland.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. Available here:

Genealogy… The Importance of Allotments When We Search for Native American Ancestors

In 1893 a commission was created for the purpose of accepting applications from American Indians who belonged to any one of the Five Civilized Tribes who resided in the Indian Territory. The deal was, if the Indians abolished their tribal governments and accepted federal laws, they would receive a land allotment. The idea was to facilitate the assimilation of Natives into white culture and create the Cherokee nation that is now in Oklahoma.

An allotment was the interfacing of Native people with the new America. It’s where they (like it or not) were forced to assimilate. By this time, the Native people were defeated. No doubt many families knew that there was a worse fate, so they cut trees and built homes. Began carving a life for themselves. They dropped names like Hawk and Little Feather and called themselves Roy and Elizabeth. It’s here, where on documents, we no longer recognize their Indianness. If there’s oral history that tells of a Native ancestor, we can look for Roy and Elizabeth who show up as land owners during the granting of allotments. Because of their distrust of the government, many Natives did not come forward and apply. Because land was being allocated for Indians, and people can be greedy and deceptive, non-Indians filled out applications too. Of course, the list only includes those who chose to apply and were “approved” as belonging to one of these tribes: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. Available here:

Will Following the Trails of Captured Indian Chiefs Lend Clues to Our Native Ancestry?

Legendary Native American Chief Geronimo was from the Southwest but he spent prison time in Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma. I know it’s an odd question but did the army allow him to see women? He was captive for years, it’s reasonable to ask.

Those of us who trace Native American ancestry, are left wondering where our Native ancestors came from. They may be listed on a Bureau of Indian Affairs Oklahoma census but it’s doubtful that was their homeland. Geronimo died in Oklahoma but that’s after his days of freedom when he was across the border in Mexico and of course his Apache homeland in Arizona and New Mexico. And he traveled with a Wild West Show. Did he have a lover? Lovers? Did he have children?

Let’s look at Fort Sills, Oklahoma where Geronimo died. They named the county Comanche. That’s interesting. The fort was built during the Indian Wars in 1869 when white settlers were moving into Texas and Kansas and the Natives tried to fight it. I guess they needed the fort to incarcerate all the Natives they displaced. Years after the fort was built, 341 Apaches were taken prisoner along with Geronimo. Who were they? Were our ancestors among them? How can we know? These Natives later wound up back in New Mexico or on allotments in Oklahoma.

Apache, Comanche, Indian Wars… pretty hard to research ancestors who were rounded up with captives from various locations. We might assume that the 341 Apaches were from the Southwest but we’ll probably never know for sure. If you’re this far in your genealogy search, you’re doing great. Genealogy is difficult, Native American genealogy even more so. It would be interesting to know if someone’s family history tells of being related to Geronimo. If they could prove it’s true, others might better pinpoint their own Native ancestry.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. Available here:

Geronimo Isn’t Just a Legend, He’s Someone’s Great-Great-Grandpa

Even though Americans were fascinated with the legend of Geronimo, his rise to fame is a sad story. That he was part of Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade makes no difference. He was still a prisoner and died four years later, never having gained his freedom or the right to return home, which for the Apaches in the 1800s, was the Southwest, especially Arizona and New Mexico. (Originally  the Apaches were from Western Canada. Using “originally” lightly.)

While he was in his fifties, Geronimo was hearty, fearless and still escaping from the army. Escaping at least three times. After the last time he was captured (he never gained his freedom), while still in captivity, he appeared in a Wild West show. Doesn’t that sound degrading?

The Apaches made a name for themselves among the white settlers, savages. Some of us have that savage blood running through our veins and we would love to uncover its origins.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. Available here:

History… Ancient Egyptians… Not So Different Than Today’s City Dweller

Five-thousand-four-hundred years ago, Egyptians were decorating their homes, putting colorful throw pillows on wooden chairs, filling wooden chests with their belongings, playing games on top of tables and painting their furniture bright colors. They even used gesso (thin layer of plaster mixed with glue) to prime the furniture before painting. Sometimes, they got fancy and inlaid bone, ebony and ivory.

How many times have you sat down on a piece of furniture and noticed the legs have a carving of a lion’s paw? Or the shape of the leg is that of a lion’s? We take these things for granted but this practice dates back five-thousand-four-hundred years ago. In many ways, the lives of the ancient Egyptians were very much like ours.

Suellen Ocean is the author of The Steinberg Conspiracy Series. Available here:

Book One, Chimney Fire:

Book Two, Hot Snow:

Book Three, Herr Boy:

Breaking… The New Testament Deceived Us. There is No Hell…

If you’re using the Bible to guide your life, there’s something you should know. The “hell” referred to in the New Testament is a location west of Jerusalem. Boy did the translators screw that one up. And all this time, I thought it was as depicted in the artist rendition, Dante’s Inferno. You know, fire and brimstone. The place bad people go when they die. The place we’re reminded of so that we’ll be good.

Turns out, the original hell derives from Gehenna. Or Ge-Hinnom, referring to the Valley of Hinnom. Like Armageddon (Har Megiddo) Hinnom is a location on earth where you can bend down and touch the soil. Who knew?

The Valley of Hinnom is the equivalent of an old-fashioned dump, located west of Jerusalem, where the ancient city dumped their garbage, dead animals and criminals and then burnt them.

For those who worry about “going to hell,” you might alleviate your fears by visiting the notorious valley. The good news is that now you can freely tell others that they can, “Go to hell.”

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry. Available here