Sunday, 22 October 2017

Ashkenazi Jews and Western African

This topic comes up because of a DNA test I took and noted that I have around .5-percent of Ashkenazi Jewish DNA show up, and .7-percent from western Africa.  From the family?  Well....this takes a while to figure out.

What I can say is that from my Grandfather's mother....she comes from a family that immigrated into the US around 1730 from central Germany....arriving into Philly and staying for a couple of years in the Maryland area before branching out.

So they were Germans?  Well....no.  You see this side of the family started out in Haute-Saone, France.  It's down in the southern tract of France....fairly near the Alps....in a fairly rural area.  Somewhere in the 1650 to 1700 era....they left this region and moved into the Pfalz area of Germany (again, a rural area).  This likely (not a guaranteed thing) came because of the Thirty Years War (1619 to 1650), and the decimation to farms throughout Germany because of the war and the plague.

Prior to the 1619 era?  The Jewish thing comes into play because of the Roman Empire and the introduction of Jewish traders into France and Germany in this period.

My guess is that some member of this family while in the Pfalz period of 1700 to 1730 era....ended up meeting some Jewish gal and she came with the 'clan' into the new world.

One of the curious episodes that come up because of the Roman introduction of the Jewish traders....is the era around 1096 in the Pfalz region when Crusader-mobs went out on large massacre expeditions and killed off a large segment of population of Ashkenazi Jews.  The three chief cities in the region where it was largely noted were Mainz, Speyer, and Worms.  In the case of Speyer, the Catholic Bishop put up a protective circle around the community and saved a fair number.  But its safe to say a large portion of the Jews were wiped out.

At various stages around the late 1700s, it was strongly emphasized to the Ashkenazi Jews in central Europe....that they needed to change their names, and 'blend-in'.  So families changed their names.

If you look at roughly the nine-million Jews in Europe in the 1930s.....almost six million of them were Ashkenazi Jews.

As for the western Africa DNA?  There's a mystery gal married in the 1830-era with just the name of Rebecca, born in 1814, and from Georgia.  Little else is ever mentioned of her....except the husband and her chose one of the most remote locations of Tennessee to settle into.  My humble guess is that she was 50-percent or 25-percent from a slave-situation in Georgia.  The western Africa thing?  From Senegal to Nigeria.

One can only take a guess...somewhere in the 1700s era....this Senegal-gal came into Georgia and ended up with a child from the situation with a white guy.

As for the story of Rebecca being part Cherokee?  It's been told for almost two-hundred years, and it's a false story but fairly believable. 

So you gaze over this .5-percent and .6-percent....just wondering.  There is more to this whole story but there is way to really figure out the rest of this.

I should note from this DNA test this one other odd feature....2.8-percent Nordic.  This angle?  I'm guessing why the bulk of the family sat on the Norman beaches of France about a thousand years ago....Nordic Vikings/raiders came through and pillaged the land, and some of these Norman women ended up with Norman-Viking kids nine months later.

Then you come to this one last aspect out of this DNA business.....Neanderthal DNA.  Yes, I have some....but it's not as much as most folks.  So somewhere about 20,000 years ago....Yarg met up with some Betty or Veronica gal....and had relations with her.  This could explain my appreciation to steak and bacon today, and why I don't get that excited over chaos much.  I guess Yarg would be proud of the far distance that the family has come and the accomplishments of most of the 'family'.

Fiction and History

In my senior year of high school....the history teacher required us to purchase (cheaply, I must admit) a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin and read it as a class history project.

I read the book in approximately two weeks.  It's around 400 pages long, and a fictionalized piece on the period before the Civil War, and intended to be some explanation to the necessity of the Civil War. 

As I wrapped up the book on a Sunday evening....I sat there quietly and contemplated...it was a decent book but it is entirely fiction.  For a literature or English class, it would have been appropriate.  For a history class?  No.....it wasn't fitting because of the fictional nature. 

The book was designed by Ms. Stowe to be some emotional piece.....bringing you to the cause of opposing the south and slavery.  Even by age 17, I'd read well over a thousand pages of history material and non-fiction analysis of the period prior to 1865.  I'll admit that UTC's slant on things is probably 95-percent correct, but there is little to cover the economics of America from the early 1600s to 1865, and how you got to this particular situation in life.

In simple terms, it's a lousy book on history but a decent book for getting your emotions to oppose southern values of that era. 

The instructor?  My general belief from a decade after this mandatory reading was that students were supposed to get a negative view of the south, and understand the pro-Union position.  Slanted?  Well.....yes.

The same behavior occurring today?  My guess is that it's a common theme and repeats itself often. 

The sad thing is that we actually had a test (maybe ten questions) which came at the end of the reading assignment, and you actually had to remember around six to eight major characters.  I made up some cheat sheet, with three lines to each character and I had around four people who copied to sheet.....who obviously didn't read the book and needed background material to the test.  The sad thing to this is that you are basically memorizing fictional names and events....for a history exam.