Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My All-American Heritage

I have this overwhelming fascination with finding out what my nationality really is (besides American).  There's a part of me that feels like I'm missing out on something. It's the part that surfaces when I go to my friend George Kazas's Greek restaurant The Parthenon, when I watch French Kiss,  and when I listen to the stories that my boyfriend Scott tells about his Polish grandmother making pierogies (which are delicious!).

Back in September, I was reminded of this again when my cousin Amber (1st cousin, 2x removed) contacted me about a school project she was doing.  She needed to write a generation paper to find out where we came from and how we immigrated here. Her aunt Lisa (of custom screen printing and Fleming photo book fame) suggested that she contact me so she could see the family tree.

Oh, if only it were that cut and dried!

I remember doing something similar when I was in school. I asked my Mom and Dad and somehow ended up with the notion that I was German and Czech from Mom's side and Irish and English from Dad's side.

Once I started working on my family tree, things got a bit more complicated.

The KUNZ connection to Germany was almost immediately apparent. My Mom's paternal great grandfather John Michael Kunz emigrated here with his wife Christinea Winegar from Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, in 1857.  Definitely German. Their son Hiram Frederick Kunz married another German gal named Amalia Lee. Which makes my grandfather Earl Daniel Kunz German. 100% German. (as far as I know)

I thought that my HARTSOCK (Hertzog) ancestors were from Czechoslovakia, but now I'm almost positive that isn't true. I don't know where I got that idea, and Mom doesn't remember telling me that.  But I guess that's what happens when you're in grade school.  Limited attention span.  Now what was I saying?  Oh yes.  So far I've traced the Hartsock line back to 1789 Pennsylvania, and that's it. There's more info on the web, but it isn't sourced so I haven't dug too deeply into it yet.  I checked Public Profiler for this one and it says that Strasbourg, Alsace, France has the highest population of people with the surname Hertzog.  France?  Really? Then I checked... yep!  It's just West of the German border. I found anothergenealogy site with a great map of the area, you should check it out!

The FLEMING side is supposed to be from Ireland. It sure sounds Irish! I've only made it as far back as my Dad's 3rd great grandfather who was supposedly born in Massachusetts ca 1790. His wife Matilda is listed on Census forms as coming from either Ireland or Massachusetts or Maryland depending on which one you're looking at.  Upon researching the Fleming name, it's translated from French "le Fleming", or "from Flanders" and the first Flemings were 12th century merchants from Flanders.  Surname origin: Norman.  Okay! There's also an impressive one-name study on the Fleming name and origins at One-Name.org.

That leaves me with WAIT, or in past generations, WAITS. Since the connection to Richard Waite and Sarah Blake has been disproved, the furthest I can follow them back is John Waites who was born about 1730 and married Ann Deloss in Pennsylvania in 1750.  According to the Public Profilerwebsite, the place with the highest concentration of WAITES is in Middlesbrough, North England, United Kingdom, right under Scotland. WAITS comes back with a top city of Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom. That sure makes things interesting!

So where does that leave me?

I would say that I'm a Hybrid of 25% German and 75% American.  My other three lines have been in the U.S. for over 200 years. So long, that every other part of ethnicity seems to have been blended into something else. I have my Mother's brown eyes and my Father's blonde hair. I was raised in a meat-and-potatoes household with the occasional homemade Runza treat. Heck, I didn't even eat at a Mexican restaurant until I was in high school! We always ate around the dinner table and if we actually did go out to eat, it was for pizza or diner food.

Yep.  I'm an all-American girl! Yet I still have hope that I will discover what makes up the other 75% of me. That's the piece that I feel like I'm missing, and probably the reason that I'm so drawn to Genealogy. But I feel confident that through additional research and scientific advancements like DNA Testing, I'll get it all figured out.  Maybe then, I'll feel complete.


  1. [from Facebook]
    Hi Kathy, as I was growing up I remember Mom laughing that Grandpa (John) Hartsock declared his heritage to be 'Scots, Irish, Dutch, Yankee'.

  2. I copied the above post from a comment that my Aunt Carol left on my Facebook page. =) I'd never heard that story! Neat!

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