Swan Knight

Who shall stop a swan in its flight, or life in its flow?

Latest stories



This is Justin Swanström’s genealogy website. I have a lifelong interest in the ways stories shape and re-shape the identities of people and groups. The stories we tell about our ancestors, and our own reactions to those stories, are one of the ways we define our place in the world. Our ancestors also told stories about their place in the world. Through modern research, we now know that...

Sons of Day

Brünnhilde greets the day by Arthur Rackham (1911)

The only surviving prayer to the Norse gods appears in the Sigrdrífumál. Hail, day!Hail, sons of day!And night and her daughter now!Look on us herewith loving eyes,That waiting we victory win. Hail to the gods!Ye goddesses, hail,And all the generous earth!Give to us wisdomand goodly speech,And healing hands, life-long. This is Henry Bellows’ 1936 translation. There is some dispute about the...

Grandma’s Ethnicity

Grandmas Ethnicity

When I was in, oh say 3rd grade we were supposed to go home and ask our parents where our families came from. That was probably the first time in my life I ever heard about this ethnicity thing I’m always writing about. It might also be the first time I had any sense of genealogy. I don’t actually remember what my mother told me or what I told the teacher the next day. I’d bet...

Luce Brands

Cattle branding

My great grandfather Wilford Luce was a rancher near Big Piney, Wyoming. I came across this little clipping I pulled from the local paper back in the days when brands were recorded at the county level and published periodically as an aid to identification and protection. Wilford Luce Brands Grandpa Luce worked for A. W. Smith on the Mule Shoe Ranch he “had a rope and a good horse.” He...

Changing Ethnicity

DNA Story

Both 23andme and Ancestry have recently made adjustments to their ethnicity calculations. Before I go on I have to say it makes me nuts to have everyone babbling about “ethnicity” when they really mean “ancestry.” I’m an ethnic American. More specifically an ethnic Mormon. I can be chill about it as long as I get a chance once in a while to be pedantic...

Story of Haplogroup G2a

Haplogroup G2a-L497

We’re constantly writing and rewriting the human DNA story. I’m a member of yDNA Haplogroup G2a-L497. When I first started my yDNA journey in 2000, the testing companies were still using STRs only. When they started using SNPs, it wasn’t clear whether I would end up in haplogroup G or haplogroup I. Frankly, I was hoping for I because it was “Scandinavian”. In the...

Ethnic Mormons


I tell people I’m an “ethnic Mormon”. The label confuses almost everyone, and that’s why I do it. It gives me a chance to explain. My experience is that when you’re a Mormon you’re a Mormon whether you believe or not, and whether you belong to the Church or not. I was excited to see Masaman’s newest YouTube video. I enjoy almost everything he does...

Hyndla, Patron of Genealogists


I think the Norse giant Hyndla (“She-Dog”) must surely be the Patron of Genealogists. In Hyndluljód (Lay of Hyndla), the hero Óttarr has recklessly bet his entire inheritance that his ancestry is more illustrious than Angantyr’s. Now he needs to prove his ancestry so he can claim his inheritance. He’s been a devoted worshiper of the goddess Freyja so she takes up...

Haplogroup Nations


My old haplogroup posts are so out of date I ought to hunt them down and delete them. I don’t do it because I (still) like the idea of coming across them them now and then and being reminded what the world was like. This map is not the most rigorous replacement I could find for those old posts, but it shows something much more interesting than mere detail. It shows the approximate...

Good-bye, Mormons

Mission to Maine

When my Mormon ancestors joined the church and moved west their neighbors weren’t sorry to see them go. It was even worth a poem to celebrate them leaving. good bye to Mr. Hale, Good by to Mr. Ball,good bye to Mr. Woodruff, the greatest one of all.good bye to all the Deacons good bye to all their Churchthey Can not get their money, they’ve left them in the lurchgood bye their Book of...

Cutter Races

Cutter Races

Cutter Races, Jackson Hole, Wyoming When I was a kid we used to go to the cutter races in Tremonton, Utah. Like chariot races but with sleds on snow. It’s a Wyoming and Utah thing. After we moved away they’ve been a fond memory, something from my childhood most of the people I know have never heard of, much less watched. Apparently, they’ve been waning in popularity. (So they...

Swan Knight Who shall stop a swan in its flight, or life in its flow?





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