Friday, October 16, 2015

Morris Keller's DNA Results

Morris Keller Jr.
Vacherie, La. circa 1995
Original held by Julia Dumas

Why DNA?

Genealogy is detective work. Most of it is theories and stories confirmed through documentation. As the paper trail dwindles, so do the leads. So, I wanted (no, I needed) to use DNA to fill in the blanks. It has verified my work, so that I don't look like a crazy lady who makes up stories about dead people.

About DNA:

First, know there are three types of DNA: autosomal, mitochondrial and paternal Y-DNA. Each reveals something different regarding one's ancestry. The autosomal DNA can reveal mixtures between people from different continents based on genetic mutations. This is how DNA companies estimate an ethnic breakdown. The mitochondrial DNA is passed down from mother to child and changes very slowly, so scientists can go pretty far back in human history showing where the mother's mother's mother's (etc.) line originated thousands of years ago. The same concept is the same for all men, who carry Y-DNA, but it reveals the history of the direct paternal line.

So, without further ado, here are the DNA result for Morris Keller Jr.

Autosomal DNA

Paternal Y-DNA 

By far the biggest surprise regarding Morris' DNA results was his European paternal haplogroup.

Paw Paw's paternal line is of European origin (specifically from Basque Country along the French/Spanish border). Before my research, I never knew of any European ancestry on the Keller line. However, there has been a claim of Native American ancestry through Pop Jules Keller, who was said to have worn a long braid and Native American attire. I also know that he had blue eyes, which is an interesting mixture of features for an American Indian.

Through my research, I learned that the Keller line does have European ancestry through Pop Jules' grandfather Michel Keller, who was the son of German immigrant Nicolas Keller and his wife Agnes Schexnayder, who was of German and Belgian descent. Michel had a sexual relationship with Celeste, an enslaved black woman who gave birth to a son, Noel Keller, Pop Jules' father.

Perhaps there is Native American ancestry along Pop Jules' mother's line. I know that the tribes of southern Louisiana were matrilineal, so in their tradition the child was always of the mother's nation. At least this is my theory regarding my blue eyed, hair-braided, bead-wearing Indian ancestor we call Pop Jules.

Mitochondrial DNA:
Paw Paw's maternal DNA confirmed African ancestry from the Yoruba and Fulbe (aka Fula/Fulani) peoples from the Sahel region. The Fulani people were nomadic herders who originated in Eastern Africa. They were traditionally Muslim. The Yoruba people lived in city-states in what is presently Nigeria. Yoruba culture has remained in the Carribean and southern Louisiana through Masquerade dancing, which we have incorporated in our Carnival festivities. 

On the Keller line, I have confirmed our family's link to both groups of people. At least two of our enslaved ancestors were of both of these nations. Pierre, a Yoruba man, was the husband of Charlotte, a Fulani woman. From their union they had at least three daughters, one of which was named Celeste, who was the grandmother of Pop Jules Keller.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Jessie Mae's Breast Cancer Survival Story

I've decided to get back into the writing spirit. 
As many of you know it is October—Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

So, and write about my beloved grandmother, Jessie Mae Boudoin Keller She is a 46 year breast cancer SURVIVOR!  

Four years ago, Maw Maw's survival story was published in the family church newsletter published by Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Vacherie, Louisiana. 

Contact me if you would like a digital copy.  Here is an expert:  

In 1962, not long after the birth of her tenth child, Mrs. Jessie discovered a bean-sized lump in her left breast, as she and her husband, Morris, dressed for a dinner party on a summer Saturday evening. "That was the longest weekend ever," Jessie said.  

"I prayed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Please let me live to raise my children. I knew my mom couldn't raise ten children. There was never any doubt in my mind. I knew the Sacred Heart would help me. There has never been anything I have asked of the Sacred Heart that has gone without answer. My prayer may not have been answered like I wanted, but it was answered."  

"At that time," Mrs. Jessie says, "cancer surgery was not like it is today. I had to stay in the hospital for a good many days and I don't think that breast reconstruction was even an option. It was hard to be away from my children that long."  

"But the old ladies in the neighborhood were good. My family was a good support. My twin sister, Marg, took Noreen who was just a baby, my sister and nieces took groceries to my family, and one sister came and sat with me in the hospital. But then I told her she had to go home to her own family."  

Less than five years later during a routine visit to her doctor and follow-up testing, a lump was discovered in her right breast, resulting in another radical mastectomy.  

Mrs. Jessie is proud to say that she raised all of her children in the church.  
"When my kids were punished, I would put them on their knees and they had to say the Rosary loud enough so I could hear. That way they couldn’t fall asleep," she said with a chuckle.  

"Now my family is my pride and joy."  

Originally published in Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church Newsletter, October 16, 2011.