THE FERRYMAN’S DAUGHTER, PART 1: THE INSISTENT CALL OF MY MITOCHONDRIAL DNA While DNA science challenges such Mormon beliefs as Israelite ancestry for Native Americans, it promises fresh pursuits for genealogists. Particularly suggestive is our ability, publicized by Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes’s Seven Daughters of Eve, to track mitochondrial DNA mutations to European “clan mothers”, and beyond them to African ancestresses. Traditionally overshadowed by male surname-conferring bloodlines, our matrilineal pedigree remains a vital influence on identity. This essay, an introduction to a work of creative nonfiction, examines how my own engagement with five hundred years and twelve generations of Germanic foremothers connects me to my genetic past, and to twelve long-lived North Friesian women, in ways likely to elude a genealogist focused on baptizing deceased relations. “Matrilineal genealogy” pays tribute to the women, named at the bottom of our pedigree charts, who publish their history in our genes.
KAREN MARGUERITE MOLONEY, DEBI SHERIDAN