You know you are maturing when people start saying, “You have sure seen a lot of changes in your lifetime!” I’ve not experienced as much change as my Dad did; he lived from 1896 to 1998, and throughout his lifetime he maintained a fervent interest in new inventions and rapidly expanding technology. He would have LOVED this current cyber-age—especially the phone/cameras as photography was one of his many passions.
Of all the changes I can recall, perhaps the one I find most astounding is the research and discoveries wrapped up in three letters: DNA. What follows in this entry may be so boring to so many readers, that I seriously doubt it will get many “hits”. Nonetheless, since it is of interest to me, I will continue:
I grew up in a genealogy-conscious family.* My Mom and my maternal Grandma Kate did extensive research on their Scottish Covenant heritage. They were descended from Campbells of Argyll and Luckeys from the Scottish Borders—sent by the English Crown to colonize Northern Ireland and make it Protestant. Those Scots-Irish came to the new world in the late 1600s.
My paternal grandfather’s ancestors came from Switzerland in the early 1700s, and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in that German speaking community known as “Pennsylvania Dutch”. My paternal grandmother Rose’s people escaped religious discrimination in Alsace-Lorraine, and migrated to Michigan in the mid 1800s.
So I grew up with basically 4-5 nationalities to claim pertaining to the surnames we have on record: Scottish Celts, probably some real Celtic Irish, German Swiss, and ancestors from Alsace-Lorraine—-with a combination of German and French given the surnames we have on record.
Then there was an undocumented report—that we also had a Jewish heritage, via my Grandma Rose. Over the years I have cherished this “rumor”, as the Jewish people and (since 1948) the Israeli nation are among my greatest loves.
Even though Joe records our TV news broadcasts each day so that we don’t have to sit through commercials, I couldn’t miss the Ancestry.com ads that raced through our fast-forwarding act. I ultimately succumbed, ordered the “spit tube”, and mailed a token of my origins to Utah.** The results nearly blew me away, and have given me a new and refreshing outlook on who I am!
Some insight into the mystery: Every person’s DNA is unique, and no other human on earth will have the same EXCEPT in the case of identical twins. If two people are hatched out of the same egg, then as I understand it their DNA will match. (Proof of how a Master Designer fashioned each egg to be special!)
There are subtle differences between DNA and genealogy. Genealogy tells us where our people came from. DNA tells us what is in each person, regardless of what they may or may not know about their ancestors’ countries of origin.
(Please, if you are a scientist reading this blog, set me—along with other readers—straight if I am incorrect! My majors were English literature and the French language. Period.)
Back to my spit test. The results amazed me on several points. The expected Scottish Celt simply is not present. In its place is 13% Viking!*** Now we all know that the Vikings invaded Scotland during the 8th and 9th centuries. But it wasn’t all rape and pillage. Some of those feisty blondes and redheads stayed in Scotland to do a number on my Argyll Campbells. My Mom and Grandma Kate may have had lots of Scottish Celt DNA. I have none.
But I have a very good percentage of Irish Celt: nearly 1/4th of my total DNA. So the Protestant Northern Scots-Irish paired up with Green Irish either over there or in America. Having read volumes of documentary on the beleaguered history of the Green Irish, I am delighted to stand with them—albeit as a fundamentalist/Evangelical Protestant.
There is a small amount of English in my DNA as well; I had thought there might be more, due to the plethora of English names which married into the Campbells and Luckeys. One never knows!
In the DNA report, my paternal German Swiss, German, and French are lumped into one category: Western European. In my case this comprises a whopping 39%. That was predictable.
Now the surprises, the unknowns that have proved my $99.00 Spit Kit investment really exciting and worthwhile: 13% Greek or Italian (where in the world did THAT come from—I LOVE it!) and (are you ready for this, dear reader?) 1% European Jewish.****
How encouraging! That 1% is not a huge number, but to me it is significant. The way I understand DNA, even with a small percentage of Jewish I could have had a Jewish great-grandmother, and my father may have had a large amount of Jewish DNA.
Where in the world is this going? Right back to the photo at the top of the page. I ordered my Magen David treasure via AMAZON PRIME, before I realized I could actually claim this heritage. I love God’s chosen people, the Jews. That’s reason enough to joyfully display the Blue and White on our garage entrance—along with our Stars and Stripes! And now I have that 1% provenance of shared kinship!
My Superman Joe mounted the Magen David for me, on Resurrection Day weekend!
Margaret L. Been — April, 2017
*Interest in genealogy is a big Wisconsin thing. We natives tend to say, “I’m Irish” or “I’m Whatever”—as if we had just landed on American soil, specifically on our beloved Wisconsin turf.
**A note on the spit test. If you are inclined to pursue this adventure, remember not to eat, drink, chew, or inhale anything for at least an hour before spitting into the tube. I didn’t read my directions carefully, and did the test along with my ubiquitous cup of strong coffee which polluted the sample. (It might have tested out 100% caffeine.) Anyway, Ancestry.com kindly sent me a new tube, free of additional charge.
***In our household, that percentage of Viking is a bit of a hoot. My husband is extremely (and rightfully!) proud of his Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish roots. The fact that I share these roots is an eye-roller!
****European Jewish, otherwise known as The Ashkenazim, refers to Jewish people dispersed from their homeland in the Middle East and scattered over Europe during centuries of persecution.