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Increasingly I'm interested in trying one of those ancestral DNA test things...Deep ancestry interests me, as does genealogy to a dilettante extent. My scampish retired detective uncle is trying to do some factual research on our history - no mean task with the plethora of counts, wars, tin mines, lost fortunes, brick factories, women with hatchets sticking out of their foreheads and other strange tales that pass for background in our family. His idea was to present each of his 4 siblings with a family tree; he'd best get a move on as his elder brother is dead, his eldest sister is aged, and his eldest niece is impatient.

So far as I understand it, he seems to think we could be descended from Sephardic Jews who fled the edicts of Queen Isabella the Catholic after her conquest of Andalusia, and found their way from Granada to the Alpujarras. But this is at odds with the whole legend of our ancestor the knight who fought in the crusades, or indeed the family's background in Jaen. The Spanish habit of double naming can be at once useful and confusing. There are two oddities in the hyphenated and ever-lengthening family name: One is Olascoagga, and one is Italaiturre. The first I can find easily enough because it is Basque, the second makes no sense. Ostensibly it could mean the Tower of the Italians, but I can find no such surname anywhere, nor is 'Italai,' a word outside of Lithuania to describe Italians. When I asked what led my mother and aunt to consider these names connected to us, they looked blankly at me; apparently Gran told them or something... I suspect misspelling, mishearing or misunderstanding. Anyway, it's my uncle's riddle to sort!

Dad was studying genealogy too, though I think his was more about finding relatives, the aspect that interests me least. His widow was going to send me the material, but never did. Maybe I should ask her, but it's been a couple of years - she's probably thrown it out. And we never exactly got on.

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