Tag Archives: German

The origins of my grandmother’s paternal line has been lost to later generations — until now.

The German Connection

hay_catechism_book_edit

Using a multidisciplinary approach, including DNA and a family religious artifact, helped me confirm that my grandmother’s paternal line had its origins in Germany.

The artifact is a book, printed in Philadelphia in 1814 with text in German. This alone is significant. The language is not American English. This is German.

When I first saw this, after a copy of it was reproduced in a book on the family history called Michael Hay and His Descendants, I knew that I had to pursue this. I had to unravel this story.

One of the compiler’s of the book, Lucy Bayley, lived in Oregon. And one day years ago my grandmother, her brother Everett, and I made the short road trip to her home. She was welcoming, but when I began asking questions about the family, she was reticent to give much information.

She was publishing a book and did not want to share, as if I was a competitor. It was a strange experience. I certainly had no intentions of publishing a book. But she treated me like a spy. So I was frustrated. Grandma said that I should just let her handle it.

Funnily, when the book was finally released, many in our branch of the family were disappointed. It was a typical genealogical book, with a bunch of names and dates, but little else. And there were some errors. I much prefer a narrative format, rather than the routine one.

This is not to say that the book is without merit. The first few pages are worthwhile and quite informative. These include maps and photographs, of land where our ancestors farmed and the long-neglected cemetery on private land where many were buried, more than a century ago.

Lucy was convinced of a Scottish connection, that the family had been in Scotland, part of the Hay clan apparently, but had then relocated to Germany. She was obsessed with this theory. To this day I have no idea if there is one. But I have seen no evidence of it.

However, the link with Germany is solid. I convinced my great uncle, the same one who made the journey to visit Lucy, to submit his DNA, and the results proved a link to a man named Kettering, who had traced his line back to a particular place in Germany.

So now I am working on a translation of this catechism book. I don’t know if I can do it on my own, using online translators such as Google Translate. But I am gonna try.

ajh

Fasnachts! Kinda like donuts & from Pennsylvania Dutch country!

Hot cooking grease bubbles as fasnachts float to the top of the skillet during “Fasnacht Making Day” in 2006 at the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.courtesy of Denise Bachman of the Observer-Reporter

Another food of choice on Shrove Tuesday are fasnachts, a yeast-raised, fatty doughnut-like treat traditionally eaten in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Fasnachts are made from potato dough and are fried. They became popular in the southeastern part of the state when Pennsylvania Germans started to make them as a convenient and easy way to use up the fat and sugar in their pantries before Lent. Fasnacht is German for ‘fast night.’”

ajh

Fascinating

23andMe
I’ve submitted DNA samples to 23andMe and FamilyTree DNA. The above image shows data from 23andMe, based on a partial testing of my genome.

I already knew that I was of European stock, but it’s nice to see a scientific breakdown. My blood is very German, more than I realized even just a few years ago.

spockeyebrowMy Mom’s paternal side came from there, so that’s not surprising. What is a revelation is that my paternal side has a good amount of German, too. Dad’s mother, maiden name Hay, hails from the German countryside, too. Thankfully Grandma’s older brother submitted some check swabs for analysis.

Previous research led me to believe that the name Hay had probably been a combination of variants, slowly changing over time to be more American, more English: Hoh, Hoeh, and Höh.

This lead me to a close database match and a family tree: a distant cousin with the name Kettering had traced his family back to the Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany.

The name Hay had been adopted sometime probably in the late 18th century or the early 19th, though it was not universally used by family members. Some decided to use Hoeh instead.

The original surname, Höh, with the umlaut, was likely adopted from a place name or names. Near where the Ketterings hailed from are the towns of Höheinöd, Höhfröschen and Höheischweiler. They are clustered in the same vicinity in Südwestpfalz, near the border with France.

ajh

Maria Emilie Auguste Scharnofske

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I’m trying to find someone to translate this from German for me. I will be circulating a request on various forums.

I did a search on Ancestry of my great-great grandmother’s name, Marie Scharnofske, and discovered a marriage record for another woman named Maria Emilie Auguste Scharnofske.

Morgenstern on the map.She was born on 10 November 10th, 1886 and in 1917 married a man named Friedrich Paul Eichelbaum during the fighting of the First World War.

What is of particular interest to me is the repeated mention of Morgenstern and what appears to be the word Bütow. Morgenstern, translated into English as Morning Star, is the name of a small village in Pomerania, in the county of Bütow, where my great grandparents attended church.

Charlottenburg, where they registered the marriage, is, according to Wikipedia, “an affluent locality of Berlin.”

ajh