Saturday, December 8, 2018

Seeds and Soil

A few years ago I wrote about my DNA test. I took the basic DNA test, so it didn’t drill down to towns and villages or trace my lineage back to Adam. But it did destroy the story my family had always told that we had Indian blood. That my paternal great-grandfather was ½ Cherokee.
As it turns out, the test showed that I have no Native American DNA. I suppose if I took out a loan and purchased the comprehensive, down to the gnat’s ass DNA test, I might end up with the Elizabeth Warren (aka Pocahontas) version of Indian ancestry. (No thank you).

My actual DNA profile was about ½ of what I expected. I knew there would be plenty of English, Irish and Scottish ancestry. And it is there for sure. Over half of me from those groups. But then there was this big chunk of Scandinavian. Didn’t see that one coming until I realized just how prolific the Vikings had been in the British Isles, Scotland in particular. The other surprise came when it said that 15% of my DNA could be traced back to people from the Iberian peninsula . And I had just a bit of “Western European”. Also a surprise, since the Clicks came to America from Germany. I always figured that I had a lot of German ancestry. Turns out not so much.

Frankly I was baffled by the large Iberian print on my DNA and the lack of Germanic ancestry. I guess it wasn’t that difficult to imagine that somewhere along the way one of my ancestors had been Spanish. There was a good deal of interaction between Spain and Great Britain on the other side of the Atlantic. Some of my family was early into Texas, so maybe one of them married into the Spanish bloodline. Or maybe a Spanish pirate had just jumped on board somewhere along the way.

The lack of Germanic ancestry was curious. I finally concluded that neither my full blooded German ancestor who came to America nor any of his descendants ever married anyone from Germany or anyplace that would qualify as Western European. The boundaries and lines there were constantly moving, In fact, I had read on one ancestry posting that the Clicks had originated from the Alsace region of France which regularly passed back and forth between France and Germany (or The German Confederation or Prussia or whatever name it might have had at any given time.). Regardless, my DNA barely registered any connection to Western Europe.

The Click who came to America was from the village of Dannstadt, Rhineland which is in Southwestern Germany. His name was actually Ludwig Heinrich Gluck. And he arrived in Philadelphia just before the American Revolution. His parents were also from Dannstadt as were his grandparents. But I decided to dig further and finally found evidence that the first Gluck who moved to Dannstadt actually came from a region in far Southwestern France known as Aquitaine. The original inhabitants were tribal people who became known as Aquitani and whose descendents are now the French Basque. The region is bounded on the south by the Pyrenees Mountains and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. It is generally considered to be part of the Iberian Penisula. Bartholomaeus Gluck, Sr was born there in 1617 and died in Dannstadt in 1674. His son Bartholomaeus Gluck, Jr was also born in Aquitaine in 1649. So sometime between 1649 and 1674 the family moved to Dannstadt.

My next question is why did they leave Aquitaine and move to Dannstadt? Best guess is that they were Protestants, French Huguenots most likely. Their persecution by the Catholic church in France began in the late 1500’s. Many fled to Germany and other more Protestant tolerant countries. Those in places like the Aquitaine region stayed longer. But, I suppose the Glucks could see the writing on the wall and ultimately decided to get out and make a better life somewhere else. Most likely others had moved to the Rhineland. And their letters back home persuaded old Bartholomaeus to pack up and join them.

That drive for a better life must have passed through to his great grandson, Ludwig Heinrich Gluck (Lewis Henry Click). He sailed off to America, landed in Philadelphia and became one of the early settlers in Tennessee, stopping in Virginia long enough to start a family that included Malachi who’s son Samuel eventually made it to Texas and is buried in Collin County in what is now some very expensive real estate (McKinney, Frisco, …). Samuel would be my great grandfather’s grandfather.

We Americans are mostly a nation of mutts, mixed breeds. The best and the worst of many. That we fight and fuss with each other is natural. We want more. We expect more. And we are more alike than we are different. I truly believe that. I am more like an African-American, or Latino-American or Asian-American or Muslim-American or Jewish-American; than I am a Scotsman, or an Irishman, or a Scandinavian or a German or an Iberian. Being an American is special. Being a Texan and an American just means that God smiled on me twice.

It’s nice to know where you come from. But, it’s better to be thankful for where you ended up.

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