Heritage: more important than DNA

There is a lot of interest in heritage especially with DNA testing but also the recognition that DNA does not equal heritage; witness the issues surrounding claims to be Native American. My children could make this claim as their Great Grandma was 1/4 Iroquois but THAT is not heritage and the family choose to ignore that part of her background so we won’t go there as I respect heritage.

I’m pretty aware of my heritage and as it happens my DNA matches what I know of my ancestral tree with more surprises in the tree than the DNA!

My DNA shows me to be largely (80%) UK with 20% German. What I know of my family tree:

Mom was half Cornish and half “German” the quotes are because her mother’s parents were Pennsylvania Dutch (Great Grandpa) and “German” (Great Grandma) who always said the family was either German or Danish depending on where the boundary was that week. On her birth, their home was actually just inside Denmark but the border moved shortly after her birth and she remembers it moving a couple of times before the family fled the unrest in the area ending up in Pennsylvania.

Daddy is more complicated. His mother was Scottish of the Wallace clan. As a lover of books, it tickled my Father that his mother was related to General Lew Wallace author of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. His father is where the complicated comes in as his Great, Great (can’t recall exactly how many “Greats”) Grandfather was not a Young (my maiden name) but actually a Jung who immigrated to Scotland from Germany and was ‘absorbed’ into the Young clan. The discovery of the Jung connection is very recent. The German here is minor with mostly Scotts as Jung married into the clan and all marriages after that point where Scotts.

I recognize and celebrate my Scottish heritage; I had a Wallace plaid skirt, sang Scottish songs and learned to do a decent bit of dancing. But the part of my heritage that was most prevalent in my upbringing was Cornish. This is in large part because of the connection to my Godmother whose son sponsored my Mom’s Dad to come from Cornwall as a young man.

I heard stories of Cornwall and pasties (that’s a long “a” folks) were made and enjoyed frequently. Grandpa lived with us for sometime not long before his death and it delighted him when Mom and I would make them. Pasties are pie crust with meat, potatoes, carrots and rutabaga. I sing songs my Godmother taught me and have played at playing a lap harp. I never really learned to do much more than pick out simple tunes but I loved it! 

As a kid my mom braided my hair frequently. As I write this it seems odd that I do not have any pictures of some of the elaborate designs she did. As I think though I realize my hair was so silky that braids did not hold for long! I still love to braid my hair and I wore a tiny braid with embroidery floss in the low hairline of my long hair for many years before it was popular to do so.

Today pasties (remember it is a long “a”) are still made, I still do braids although not especially fancy as most designs are hard to do on yourself, I still sing songs of both Cornwall and Scotland. I have not figured out what do to with the fabric from my husband’s Lamont plaid kilt. That is not part of my heritage but is part of my children’s and I hope one day to find a way to honor it.

Author: bdeshaw

Mom, Grandma, Puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence

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