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Roots And Shoots

October 6, 2022

I have been researching genealogy for myself and others for over 25 years. The question I am most asked is, “Who am I really?”

In simple terms it’s easy to say who you are in the sense of ethnicity and culture. A simple formula will tell you by examining the backgrounds of your eight great-grandparents. In my case, I am 3/8 Tirolean, 1/8 German, 1/8 Irish, 1/4 Scottish and 1/8 Swedish. But such a simple formula doesn’t really answer the question as to who we are. It’s not so much about roots as it is about shoots.

When I say shoots, I mean what became of our ancestors to make us the people we are today. Did we inherit anything in the way of eye color, temperament or health predispositions? There’s a wealth of information in studying our shoots.

In my own case, my research has yielded some interesting things. In my family, going back to 1100, here’s some of what I’ve found:

On my father’s side – Genetics here in the Val di Non were constrained for millennia and so many traits are concentrated, both for the good and bad. The predominate eye color is solidly green. There is a huge incidence of twins in this family along with most in the Val di Non, Italy. There is a very large incidence of heart disease involving mal-formed aortic heart valves accompanied by vascular disease in general. People on this side of my tree were generally sturdy mountain people who tended to be miners. My father’s direct ancestors were from a class of municipal and church leaders in Austria. Many were highly schooled for the times but all were farmers. My father’s ancestors tended to be soft spoken but direct and testone (hard headed).  Average life expectancy varied of course but seemed to follow a pattern of living long, followed by living a short time and returning this pattern over subsequent generations.

On my mother’s side – Things are different on this side. There is more genetic blending between Scots, Irish, and Swedes. Brown is the dominant eye color, followed by blue. There are very few twins. There is very moderate heart disease but a large incidence of both bone and lung cancer. Ancestors on this side were adventurers who lived near farmlands and often moved to new locations to find a better life. My mother’s direct ancestors were among the first to settle Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. All were highly intelligent but often not formally schooled. These ancestors tended to be plain spoken, direct and even super stubborn. Life expectancy tends to be long with many New World ancestors living into their nineties and beyond.

Of course, these are also generalizations to a large extent but they provide a bit of a guide to explain what to expect of one’s self.

So take a look at your roots by all means but don’t forget the shoots! You can reach me here for an exploration of your own genealogy:

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P.S. – Seriously folks, how about reading one of my books this week?

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at


  1. You’ve sure done a fine job of research, Allen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I quit trying to trace my roots. Suffice to say there is an awful lot of Eastern Europe and a smattering of something gypsy. I envy anyone who can go back to medieval times or further. Great stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

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