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Magen David

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.

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Revolution!

My Great-Great Grandfather on my Mother’s side was named after one of ancient history’s wealthiest men, but Solomon Soper left a humble legacy:  $50.00 to each of his four minor heirs.  Actually that may have been a substantial inheritance back in 1843 when Mr. Soper died—but obviously not a fortune.

I have difficulty reading the photocopy of Solomon’s personal goods listed in his will which I received from the Illinois Regional Archives Depository in Springfield, Illinois.  Here are the items I can read:  1 two-horse wagon, 1 chopping ax, 1 iron wedge (or widge), 1 pot, 1 tea kettle, 1 pan, 1 pail, 1 pitcher, 1 plate, 2 mugs, 1 saddle/’bridle/reins, 1 tin box, 1 bed and bedding, 1 bag, 1 smoothing iron, 37 bushels corn, 1 curry comb—and that is all I can decipher.

The ancestor splurge has been triggered because I’m in the process of joining the Daughters of the American Revolution.  I’ve been asked why in the world would I want to do that—and the question has been posed with an underlying inference that maybe I’m some kind of a snob.  Well, my Revolutionary ancestor was a Private in the Continental Army, so I’m not exactly descended from General George Washington.

Since my Mother and Maternal Grandmother were members of the D.A.R., joining that organization has often come to mind.  So when our Granddaughter, Nancy in L. A., decided to join, both her Mom (our Daughter, Laura in Washington State) and I agreed it would be fun.

Along with the family connection the D.A.R. has appealed to me for it’s traditional stand on patriotism and the importance of our U. S. Constitution—both of which have been egregiously undermined by President Obama and his minions.  Rather than grousing while watching the news (or maybe along with grousing!) I want to be involved in some tangible activity that reflects my values.  Currently the D.A.R. sponsors projects and fund raisers to benefit our veterans—and that suits me just fine.

You may be wondering why, with a Mom and Grandma who were D.A.R. members (and I have the provenance of their membership cards) wouldn’t that suffice to let Nancy, Laura, and me into the group?  Well apparently there is a current rash of applicants due to the ease of online ancestry searches—and some of the claims are invalid.  Our Registrars–West Coast and Wisconsin—are leaving no stone unturned in order to connect the dots in our lineage.  (Please forgive those two clichés.  Yikes!)

So I have journeyed back four generations to get Solomon Soper’s will.  Solomon married Phoebe Wood—the granddaughter of Private Ebenezer Wood.  Solomon and Phoebe’s daughter, Electa Lusetta Soper, married Reverend Daniel Alexander Campbell—a Scottish descendent Yankee who pastored the First Congregational Church (really the first!) at Pine River, Wisconsin.  These were the parents of my Grandma Kate—a woman whom I’ll always revere for her Scottish backbone, and especially for her love for the Lord.

Meanwhile, I’m touched by the list of Solomon’s goods—truly a litany of basic things. I have far more than 1 plate, 2 mugs, etc.  But I have no reason whatsoever to be a snob!  Solomon’s will reminds me of that!

Margaret L. Been, April 2015

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