Ivan the Terrible… my father??

My husband and I are really into genealogy. We have spent hours and hours researching our family histories. When it came time to research my dad’s ancestry, I hit a roadblock. I couldn’t find any records past my great, great grandfather in Quebec, so I got my dad a DNA test. The results came back with J2 being the haplo group, and fortunately he had some 67 marker and even 111 marker matches. The J2 haplo group was a pretty surprising result. This haplo group originates in the Middle East. J2 is found more widely in northern middle east. Were my ancestors Jewish? Were they Arabs? I became obsessed with the idea of who my many great grandfathers were and where they came from.

The highest concentration of the J2 haplo group is in the Ingush and Chechen people. I pictured my dad over there in Armenia or Russia wearing a turban. It tripped me out.

My dad’s name is Ivan. Now that’s a strange one for a guy born in Quebec to French/Scottish and English/Irish parents. His brother’s names are Bill, Ron, Roger and Ash. Why did my grandparents name my dad Ivan? Chances are they didn’t know why themselves.

Dad used to quote the old song “Ivan Skavinsky Skavar”.  This song was written in 1877 by Percy French, an Irishman. It’s about a Russian and an Arab having a duel, depicting, they say, the Russo-Turkish war of the time. Sometimes I look for little coincidences that are related to my story, such as, Percy being my grandfather’s name and that both these Percys  were Irish. Here’s a short animated video clip from 1941 enacting the poem:

Ivan Skavinsky and Abdul

Then there’s the bizarre story about Lawrence of Arabia doing his crazy stuff during the first world war.  My dad’s middle name is Lawrence. I thought there’s another connection to the middle east.

Ivan the Terrible was Prince of Moscow from 1533-1547. He was Czar of Russia from 1547 until his death. He reportedly had a very bad temper even killing his firstborn son, his heir. Terrible was a good adjective for him. Well my dad also had a bad temper, and we often laughed about and referred to him as Ivan the Terrible. One time my dad got really angry with me and he chased me until I ran into my bedroom and locked the door. Next thing I know the Incredible Hulk, Ivan the terrible, eyes bulging and blood-shot, face purple, is breaking my door down. Then for some strange reason he decided to go get a stick to hit me with. That was my out, I jumped up and found an escape route! I ran like the wind to the barn and hid until he calmed down. We can laugh about it now. But ya I can relate to my dad possibly being of the same DNA as Ivan the Terrible. Don’t get me wrong. I love my dad and we actually had a very close relationship, but he just had that crazy explosive anger problem. And I was a lippy teen. The combination was a little scary.

But the craziest part of the story is that in 2008 we returned to Canada after living in Korea for 7 years. I needed to go home. I was burnt out with teaching and living in a foreign country. Amazingly enough, a job came available at my former workplace, so the pieces seemed to fall into place. My husband and I moved home and that spring was my dad’s birthday and we paid for him to get the DNA done as a gift. I don’t know if he thought that was too exciting, but it was for me. I’ve been on a mission to track down my ancestors ever since. Little did I know how significant it was that I get that test done. Dad and mom were on their way down to Yuma, Arizona. Their first night was to be spent in Lincoln City, Oregon. My dad had been driving 11 hours. He was dog tired. They had to cross the street from their motel to get something to eat. I guess my mom was ahead of my dad. My dad didn’t hear too well and she yelled for him not to follow her right then. He couldn’t hear anything apparently because a car was headed straight for him. He was hit and instantly killed.

Getting that DNA test done felt like it was God giving me that one last piece of my dad before he left this earth.


11 thoughts on “Ivan the Terrible… my father??

  1. Homestead Ramblings

    Learning about our history is really fun. My daughter has an interest in that and has unearthed the most interesting bits of information. I know my one set of grandparents came over on the boat from Sicily and my great grandparents did so from Poland. That kind of took the guesswork out of it for me. But she also discovered my maternal grandfather had lineage that came over on the second ship from England to the colonies in the 1600’s. That may explain why I cry every time I hear the national anthem, :).

    I’m glad that the Lord gave you an opportunity to have had a bit of time with your Dad before he died.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I find genealogy fascinating. We have had so much fun finding stories and relatives. My husband found a whole village in northern Sweden he was related to. We visited there in 2006. Wow, the second ship to the colonies. That’s amazing. I love the history of New England. Actually, my dad’s ancestry goes into Vermont and beyond that we are still working on. We know they came from England and how they got there from somewhere in the middle east I would be very interested to know. God is so good. I love living out His story. He has great plans for us all!

    1. Yes, indeed it was a shocker alright. It was a tragic loss. Sue, I want to thank you for your encouraging words and comments. Thank you for following my blog and I so enjoy your blog with all of the beautiful photography. I shared your recent post on my Facebook page and got some comments about Cinq Terre. My brother lives in Switzerland and has visited that spot. My cousin also commented that he thought it was a magical place. He will be visiting again this summer. I’m happy to know you and experience your travels through your photos!

      1. Rosh you have been so generous in passing on my posts to others. Thank you for your kind words and generous heart. I am delighted that others enjoyed it too. When I began blogging last summer ( I backloaded some travel journals of trips past) I had no idea the wonderful people such as yourself that I would meet.
        One question…do you have two separate blogs?

      2. Yes, I have two blogs. I started one and then felt I needed to have another more personal one. I’m still working on where I want to go with my blogs. One is Rose of Sharon and the other is Coming out of Hiding. The blogosphere is an amazing place. I enjoy being a part of it.You’ve done a great job of presenting your travel journals. I think it’s wonderful that people can share their journeys like this. I had no idea it could be so much fun!

      3. Thanks for the explanation Rosh. I still feel like I am finding my way a bit in the blogging world so I appreciate your explanation. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  2. Lois Austin

    I enjoyed reading this history of Ivan’s family background. And laughed about the story of your dad breaking down the door to get after you….I had forgotten about that. Good thing he mellowed his temper as the years went by.
    Haven’t read your blogs before but will do so now, as I find them really interesting….hope you keep up with your wonderful hobby of genealogy.

    1. The DNA haplogroup J2 really got me thinking. It blew me away to think how far back it went. It’s fun to hypothesize about it anyway. Thanks for reading Pierre:-)

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