August 10, 2003
I've had a lot of dogs as pets in my life. Every one of them was a mutt adopted from the pound or from a neighbor whose purebred slut-muffin got nailed by Tramp when no one was watching.
I consider myself to be a mutt. All links to the family tree vanished when the Harlan County Courthouse burned down sometime in the 1920s, so I have nothing but the Family Bible and my 92 year-old grandmother to tell me about my roots.
I know this much. I have Scots-Irish, Dutch, French and skulking Shawnee blood in me, plus who knows what else. I am an amalgam. I am a mutt. My name is SMITH, for crying out loud. That's what makes me such a good American.
I couldn't honestly hypenate myself if I wanted to. I don't have a "motherland" or a "fatherland" to claim. I was born in Kentucky and I'm proud to call myself a genuine Appalatchan hillbilly. But I've lived most of my life in southeast Georgia, and I am equally as proud to call myself a genuine Jawja Cracker.
But I am an American first and foremost.
In Effingham County, all of the Salzburgers can trace their roots right back to the ship that brought them here and landed at Ebenezer in the early 1700s. They are all German Lutherans and many of them have the family Coat of Arms displayed in their houses. I always was fascinated by roots that went that deep. I never knew where I came from.
Hell, if my family had a Coat of Arms, it probably would have a moonshine still, a hound dog and a shotgun on it.
In some ways I regret not having "The Olde Country" to think about, but I really don't believe that I missed a whole lot. If I DID have a homeland to visit, I wouldn't fit in there. I am too American.
I can tell by the color of my eyes that the Scots-Irish blood in me is the strongest, but I have no burning desire to visit Scotland or Ireland. I would rather see the Grand Canyon. My grandmother on my father's side was a Napier, but I have no urge to visit France. I would rather spend a week in Canada.
I suppose that my lack of roots, other than the ones I put in American soil, is why I despise people who hypenate themselves. African-American. Italian-American. Irish-American. Bullshit. Kiss my Cracker ass.
If you feel the need to be a hypenated-American, be here on a visa and take your disloyal ass back to your "home country" when you are finished enjoying the fruits of freedom and prosperity we take for granted here. Show me any place in the world that is better than the USA and maybe I'll listen to your hypenated bullshit. Until then, either drop the hyphen or get the fuck out of here.
Nobody's making you stay.
I like being a mutt. It keeps things simple for me. THIS is my country, and that's all I need to know.
I come from Minnesota. In the northern part of the state there are still a lot of people that are 100% Scandinavian (myself included). Swedes and Norwegians, mostly. They are proud of their heritage, but self-denigrating (Norwegian jokes are especially popular). A lot of the older people have a distinct Scandinavian accent and some of them even speak one of the dialects.
But, if they were to describe themselves as Scandinavian-Americans they would be laughed out of the Lutheran church basement...
It really pisses me off that many (not all) of the "Mexican-Americans" down here in Texas expect everything to be bilingual. What a waste of taxpayer money. My Norwegian ancestors didn't settle in Minnesota and demand that everything be bilingual Norwegian/English. They fucking well learned English and became Americans.
Sure, they still have ethnic traditions, eat lefse and lutefisk (ewww), and maybe pass on a smattering of the old language and legends. They haven't totally lost their heritage. But they are Americans first.
May I carry this a step further and express my disgust at instruction manuals, detergent boxes, help lines, et al, being written in at least one FOREIGN freakin' language? And this is expected? In English: BITE ME!!
Strangely enough, I have a coat of arms on the Ellis side, but not one I know of elsewhere. I'm perhaps more of a mutt than you are: English, Scottish, French, Irish, German, Dutch, Wampanoag... I agree about the hyphenation thing. Ancestry can be fun to know and learn aboutm, but we're Americans and no need to be disgustingly atavistic about our roots.
That said, I actually know my Ellis ancestry back to about 1435, to two generations before the surname was adopted. I know my Irving ancestry back several generations, to when the name was Irvin, not Irving, in the first generation or two to come to Canada. The Howlands we know back to when they arrived in Plymouth at least. The Tranmers we know back to England at some point, when the name was Cranmer and hadn't been accidentally changed at immigration yet. We connect back to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. The Washburns we know fairly far back. The Johnstons we have back to Scotland.
Most of this is my mother's doing. She prefers to admire the ancestors rather than making more of her own life.
My thoughts exactly...we probably were "relocated" by the British, by way of the prison ships on my granma's side at least, cause her family came from Savannah. And on my grandaddy's side, well, we were also probably run out of Germany (all these on my dad's side). On my mother's side, I know that her parents were chased out of Central America by the gov't that came into power...didn't like no Spanish people living in high cotton down there.
So like you, I love being a mutt.
a-MEN from yet another Heinz 57.
For me genealogy is more about family history than collecting names. Since all of my ancestors were in America as colonist, itís fascinating to be able to have an actual name, know where they lived and what was going on in the history of our country during their lifetime. You canít really understand the struggle they overcame unless you integrate it into history, and from that comes my pride in being American. I have one ancestor who was Ďsentenced to transportationí by King George II after being convicted as a horse thief and sent to the Charleston Colony at the age of 18 in 1728. Imagine what that must have been like.. all alone in a strange land, the clothes on his back.. no money.. surrounded by Indians. His grand children bore the names of George Washington, Francis Marion, Andrew Jackson.. that tells me he wasnít too fond of the British! Itís through family history that the building of this country comes to life for me, makes me proud to be an American.. MUTT and ALL!
Let me share this poem:
THE CENSUS TAKER
It was the first day of census, and all through the land;
The pollster was ready ... a black book in hand.
He mounted his horse for a long dusty ride;
His book and some quills were tucked close by his side.
A long winding ride down a road barely there;
Toward the smell of fresh bread wafting, up through the air.
The woman was tired, with lines on her face;
And wisps of brown hair she tucked back into place.
She gave him some water ... as they sat at the table;
And she answered his questions ... the best she was able.
He asked of her children... Yes, she had quite a few;
The oldest was twenty, the youngest not two.
She held up a toddler with cheeks round and red;
His sister, she whispered, was napping in bed.
She noted each person who lived there with pride;
And she felt the faint stirrings of the wee one inside.
He noted the sex, the color, the age...
The marks from the quill soon filled up the page.
At the number of children, she nodded her head;
And saw her lips quiver for the three that were dead.
The places of birth she "never forgot";
Was it Kansas? or Utah? or Oregon ... or not?
They came from Scotland, of that she was clear;
But she wasn't quite sure just how long they'd been here.
They spoke of employment, of schooling and such;
They could read some, and write some .. though really not much.
When the questions were answered, his job there was done;
So he mounted his horse and he rode toward the sun.
We can almost imagine his voice loud and clear;
"May God bless you all for another ten years."
Now picture a time warp ... its' now you and me;
As we search for the people on our family tree.
We squint at the census and scroll down so slow;
As we search for that entry from long, long ago.
Could they only imagine on that long ago day;
That the entries they made would effect us this way?
If they knew, would they wonder at the yearning we feel;
And the searching that makes them so increasingly real.
We can hear if we listen, the words they impart;
Through their blood in our veins and their voice in our heart.
When I come acoss people like that I always say, Im Heinz 57- American.
ok, that was across LOL, have anothe r GT Jennifer!
I agree 100% with you Rob. Here's a quote from one of our greatest presidents:
"In this country we have no place for hyphenated Americans. There is no place for the hyphen in our citizenship... We are a nation, not a hodge-podge of foreign nationalities. We are a people, and not a polyglot boarding house."
Many of Teddy's quotes need to be read by todays American "citizens". It is amazing to me how relevant they are to America's situation in the world today.
"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready."
"Speak softly, but carry a big stick."
"Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft!"
"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. "
"A just war is in the long run far better for a nation's soul than the most prosperous peace obtained by acquiescence in wrong or injustice."
"The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life."
"We believe in all our hearts in democracy; in the capacity of the people to govern themselves; and we are bound to succeed, for our success means not only our own triumph, but the triumph of the cause of the rights of the people throughout the world, and the uplifting of the banner of hope for all the nations of mankind."
"If I must choose between righteousness and peace, I choose righteousness."
Welp, I won't mention being a descendant of the Elder Brewster of Mayflower fame, nor of WT Sherman being an umpty ump great uncle, nope, won't mention em. But ya know, with them two on the ole family shrubbery and 75 cents I can get a refill coffee at the local Circle K (7-11 clone). It'd only cost 75 cents without em, either.
Oh yeah, toss in Kit Carson, too, and that coffee's still 75 cents...go figger