Caroline Golembefski Lanz

A long line of firsts

Happy 2019! This year I resolve to blog more frequently! To that end, I’m joining the #52Ancestors challenge. Let’s get real, though. I feel absolutely confident that I will NOT manage to keep up with 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. However, I do look forward to drawing on the prompts for inspiration as often as possible.

Caroline Golembefski Lanz

Caroline “Carrie” Golembefski Lanz

This week’s prompt, “first,” is beautifully vague. All day I’ve pondered which ancestor should come first. I decided to go back to the beginning … of my blog. If you’re just tuning in—or you need a refresher—here’s my first post. In it, I mentioned my name almost was Carrie, which would have been a nod to my maternal great-great-grandmother, Caroline Laura Golembefski Lanz Walker, aka “Grandma Carrie.”

Over the past few years, I have learned so much about her and her family and yet I know I’ve barely scratched the surface. If you’re looking for details, you’ll have to wait as I have plans to write more about her later. For today, what matters is she was the first-born daughter of her parents and their only child not born in America.

And I am her first daughter’s first daughter’s first daughter’s first daughter.

#52Ancestors #genealogy


Testing, testing. 1, 2, 3 … 4!


I haven’t even started writing about my DNA addiction.  It began about four and a half years ago after my last living grandparent passed away. I realized if I wanted to understand the DNA craze, preserve this important family record, and use genetics to enhance my genealogy research, I shouldn’t waste any more time. I bought my mom a kit for Mother’s Day in 2014 and it snowballed from there!

I started with AncestryDNA, an autosomal DNA test—not that I quite understood what that meant at the time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female. This type of test analyzes all of your chromosome pairs for your ethnic admixture and cousin matching. I very quickly found myself spending more money than I should buying DNA kits for other people! This has been so incredibly interesting and is a gift that keeps on giving!

Second, I took a mitochondrial (mtDNA) test at FamilyTreeDNA. I wanted to see how the results differed from the autosomal test and learn about my direct maternal haplogroup. I’m still waiting for a match that’s even remotely close!

Third, I took advantage of an Amazon Prime Day special to order the health+ancestry test offered by 23andMe. I’d been wanting to check out the health reports, but couldn’t justify the expense until they offered a 50 percent discount. Score!

I haven’t taken the other popular autosomal tests (FamilyTreeDNA’s Family Finder and MyHeritage) mainly because I had to rein in my DNA spending. Fortunately for those of us who love to explore our matches, both of those companies allow you to transfer in your raw DNA results from Ancestry or 23andMe.

With that, I thought my personal DNA test-taking days had come to an end.

Here are the contents of my Living DNA kit.

I’m hoping this Living DNA test will help me find cousins across the pond!

Then genealogists started talking and writing about Living DNA. At first I didn’t think it had much to offer me. It sounded exciting that it could pinpoint your British origins, but the British origins I assume I have predate the American Revolution. There’s no recent English ancestry on any of my lines. Then I heard Living DNA is working on a Germany project. Hmm. My German peeps are a little more recent. But I still didn’t bite. Then during a recent appearance at the Houston Genealogical Forum’s Fall Seminar, DNA guru Blaine Bettinger told the audience Living DNA will soon launch cousin matching. Count me in! Could I find a Sansbury cousin across the pond? Some distant relatives to meet during some future trip to Europe? A match who’ll help me break through a brick wall?

I bought my kit during a post-Thanksgiving sale and it arrived a few days ago. This blog entry has been written during the 60-minute period I had to wait after eating and drinking so I could swab my cheek. Even though this is my fourth DNA test, I’ll ship this one off tomorrow with just as much excitement as the first!


The journey begins

I’m Jen and I’m a Generation Xer. (Not so much the hipster kind as the nerdy kind.) I’m a recovering journalist and now I apply my investigative skills to digging into family history. I love GENealogy and am trying to understand how to use GENetics to strengthen my research and solve family mysteries. Hence the moniker “JenGenX.”

I’ve been a diehard dabbler for many years. For much of that time, I didn’t advertise my interest much outside of my family. I felt self-conscious because of the perception that genealogy is not a cool hobby for the young.

Now that I’m in my mid-40s, I’m realizing how quickly time passes. Memories fade. Relatives pass on. Opportunities disappear before I recognize them for what they are. I can’t wait until my hair turns completely grey to embrace my interest in genealogy, so there’s no time like the present! (OK, let’s be real: I inherited an early grey gene. But I’m not embracing that!) 

I’m starting this blog because I have stories to tell and lessons to share as I try to tell them. But I also know that in this universe I am still a “baby genealogist,” so I still have a lot to learn. Don’t be afraid to weigh in — maybe we can help each other along the way.

Sansbury Lane

Jen Sansbury selfie at Sansbury Lane in Ozark, Alabama.