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Monday, March 22, 2010

Who Do You Think YOU Are?

For decades, I thought I was Swedish and German. Never mind that my maternal grandfather was somehow English. I'm not sure how we overlooked that bit of information, but I continued to believe I was 50% one ethnicity and 50% another long after I should have known better.

I started my genealogical exploration with the Swedes. It was my Swedish great-grand uncle's safe deposit box that gave me the push into a "hobby" that has taken over my life. The Swedes are a fascinating group and I attribute many of my personality quirks to them. In terms of record keeping, you can't ask for a better ancestor than a Swede. Every move is dutifully recorded in the church books and one can follow a family back more generations than there are Andersons in the phone book.

At some point, I realized my gene pool had more swimmers than just Swedes. My dad is Swedish too, and we all correctly believed, German. But that oh-so German-sounding surname actually belonged to a Swiss ancestor. Hmm. A little reframing of the picture, but we're all okay with our "new" heritage. We started reading books on the history of Switzerland and dreaming of a vacation to the Alps. Before I finished winding my Swiss watch however, I learned my direct-line ancestor from Switzerland married a woman who immigrated to the United States from France. A French woman, mind you. From France.

Okay. So I'm not just Swedish and German. I'm Swedish and German and Swiss and French. This seemed a bit much for me to digest at one time. So I returned to the comfort and safety of the Swedish church books. And I researched one line after another, making the connections between Sweden and America. Until I learned one of my direct-line Swedish ancestors married a man from Norway. A Norwegian man, mind you. From Norway.

This is okay. I understand and accept I am no longer just Swedish and German. I'm Swedish and German and Swiss and French and Norwegian. Oh my. Maybe this isn't okay. After all, I'm so enamored with Sweden that I have celebrated St Lucia Day for, oh dear, could it be 20 years now? Will I ever love a Swiss holiday the same way? Can I embrace my French-ness as enthusiastically? And Norwegian ~ didn't Sweden once rule that country?

Oh, but I mustn't forget Grandpa who is somehow English. Is it even possible to add another country to the display on flag day? Some of my grandfather's personality traits, in particular his dry sense of humor, were always attributed to his English ancestry. So it was rather interesting when I learned my grandfather isn't English. His father immigrated from the Isle of Man. Which means....

I'm Swedish and German and Swiss and French and Norwegian and Manx. And finally, after getting to know the ancestors that contributed their DNA to my gene pool, I'm okay with that.

But there's more! Another surprise may be lurking on the horizon. I traced one of my direct lines to 18th century Maryland. For all we know, he may have crossed the ocean from England or Ireland or Scotland...

I’d better start shopping for another flag pole.

1 comment:

Diana Ritchie said...

Great post - so funny and so true! I've discovered so many seems like all EXCEPT the supposed Welsh ancestry on my maternal grandfathers side! Maybe that will turn out to be somewhat like the "Indian princess" so many people claim :-)

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