Missouri Man Discovers Interesting Twist in Family Tree
By: Holly Brantley
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. - Do you know who's blood runs through your veins?
To truly discover your roots, you may need to look below the surface. That's what a Poplar Bluff man did, and uncovered surprises of his own lineage.
He did it through DNA testing. Marion West is a cattle rancher. Vy Higginsen is an entertainer from Harlem. Marion is white. Vy, is African American.
Together, they make up a modern day American family.
"My father always said we came from royalty," said West. "Of course that was just word of mouth."
It's one of many stories that led West to trace his family tree. It's a colorful history West documented proudly. It holds hundreds of stories about the lives of West and his ancestors he's happy to share.
Through tests submitted to an online data base, West learned he and Higginsen's uncle shared a common ancestor. So, that means this Missouri cowboy and a singer from Harlem share the same blood.
You might say West never met a stranger. So, naturally he gave his newfound relative a call and invited her to Missouri.
"I said, ‘Hey kid, are you my cousin?,'" West recalls. "I said come down here. You're part of my blood. And, as soon as I saw her I knew she was part of my blood."
Along with her family, Higginsen made the trip to Poplar Bluff in January. It was her first time in the Heartland. She was greeted by the whole West crew.
"She loved it once she got down here to see how pretty it was," said West.
So far, West's made three trips to New York as they get to know each other. Marion suspects their connection dates back to a time when the West family brought workers back from Africa.
Marion couldn't be happier with this newfound family connection because he feels, we are all the same. It's something he says he's learned through years of traveling and life as a Missouri cattle farmer.
"I've butchered a lot of cattle, all different kinds. When you cut the hides off, underneath, they're all the same," said West.