Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Am I Part of an Ethnic Group?

Growing up in the 1960's I never felt I was part of any ethnic group. I was Roman Catholic, sure, but my parents didn't really stress that we belonged to any group. It wasn't until much later, later even than when I married my 100% Polish hubby and started working on my family history that I realized just how ethnic the family was.

The family joke, especially by my maternal grandfather was that his family was French. More correctly, his grandparents were Alsatian. However, if the family lived any further east than they were, they would have been in the Rhine River, which divides France and Germany in that area. Census records, however, show that the family spoke German. Further research shows that my great-great-grandmother was Prussian. To date, I've not proven this as I've never found the Zabracks or where the Kleesaat/Cleasott-Zabrack marriage took place, or even where their children were born. Most records just show Prussia or Germany. The Kleesaats were from Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and therefore, were German. My maternal grandmother's family were also German. They were Kettlers, Knosts and Meyers and Beckmeyers.

On my dad's side, his Bowmans weren't Bowmans, they were originally Baumanns and hailed from Germany, emigrated to Pennsylvania and settled finally in the Shenandoah valley of Virginia. The Percivals supposedly hail from Somersetshire in England. The Maitlands and Oliphants and Bohannons were Scots. Then there are the Kirtleys, Webbs, and Chinns - English all.

Many years ago, when I interviewed my mother to wrest what she knew of her family from her, she told me her aunt Rose Zimmeth Ochsenfeld taught her to cook German cuisine. I can attest to the fact that my mother NEVER EVER made any German meals that I can remember. She told me when she and dad were first married, he didn't care for German cooking so she didn't make it any more.

I still remember my dad telling me that his grandma Bowman always had sauerkraut going and he hated it.

So thus it was that I grew up not knowing or appreciating any ethnic cooking whatsoever. Mom made pot roast, ham, chicken, chicken and dumplings, meat loaf, etc. Must be why I really enjoy ethnic foods today!

Copyright 2010-2012, ACK for Gene Notes

1 comment:

  1. Going to school at SRB, with all those Polish and Irish kids, I recall feeling kind of left out!