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Midday Matinee – Immigrants

February 20, 2013

Midday Matinee

Midday Matinee – Immigrants

Organizing for Action recently asked people to write their immigration stories. I’d have to go back several generations to capture the immigrant story that is my roots. (More)

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

I had a good friend who was a Winnebago. She died a few years ago. She used to laugh about sending us all back where we came from. I’d laughingly reply that 40% might be sent to Wales, 40% to Sweden and the 20% was a mixture of God knows what. I’d ask how she thought I should split myself up.

The Welsh part of my family was lucky enough to have some avid genealogists who handed us copies of their work. It seems that back to 1650 in Wales, every generation has at least one or more women named Mary. My great grandfather walked from Ohio to southern Minnesota to teach school. He was a dedicated record keeper and kept track of the miles of yarn that his wife knitted over a lifetime. She was a Mary too but was called Molly. Both of my Welsh grandparents’ families came here in the mid 1700’s.

My Dad’s Mom was an Olson and his father was a Jackson. Both good Swedes who met in Peoria. Their parents were the immigrants. I’ve no idea where in Sweden they came from. I’ve got handwritten Christmas cookie recipes from my grandmother. Fortunately my Swedish relatives abandoned lutefisk before I appeared. It literally means “lye-fish” and is a gelatinous white blob. Suffice it to say that the cookies and Swedish meatballs are enough of a food heritage.

Immigrants blend into the fabric of the country eventually. I am unusual in that I have mainly two countries of “where my people came from.” That’s what you get when your ancestors settle as rural farmers who married neighbors over the generations. And when they move to bigger cities, they find mates from other tribes with which to create their own families.

I believe that if we give the current immigrants enough time, someday their descendants will have a similar response to the question of where they came from. I welcome them.

Current wisdom says that we all came from Africa. I’m tempted to give that as my response from now on – just to put things in a proper historical context and drive the anti-immigrant crowd nuts.

  • NCrissieB

    My immigration story is 5/8ths mess and (probably) 3/8ths myth. The 5/8ths is the mishmash family legend attributes to England, Ireland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. The 3/8ths is the portion that family legend attributes to the Cherokee. I say “family legend” because I haven’t verified any of this through a genealogy search. Like most humans, especially most humans in Europe and the Americas, I’m a mutt whose ancestors left Africa at various times and bred with whomever looked attractive after a few pints of whatever was tasty. πŸ˜‰

    • addisnana

      I’m a mutt whose ancestors left Africa at various times and bred with whomever looked attractive after a few pints of whatever was tasty.

      Too funny. As more of us mingle with more us will will all be all-American mutts. I’ll raise a glass to that!

  • Jim W
    • addisnana

      I think Out Of Africa sounds much more romantic myself. I’m in no position to evaluate the theories scientifically. I also think it works well against racism.

    • NCrissieB

      The genetic evidence for Afrogenesis is overwhelming. The alternative ‘theory’ requires ignoring DNA markers that map the entire history of human migration.

      • One of the new lines of evidence is that along the trip, we picked up a few others. Including the much-maligned Neanderthals. πŸ˜‰

        • addisnana

          But were they cute?

  • winterbanyan

    This was a fun read. I have the family genealogy which has some interestng stories attached. I guess I should write them down someday.

    But one funny remembrance. My mom absolutely believed her Irish ancestry was totally unsullied all the way back to Danny Q. who came by way of the British army during the Revolution. Then my dad discovered a very Cornish ancestor in there. The horror lasted for a few days. πŸ˜‰

    From Africa is where we should all leave it. πŸ™‚

  • Mine is a more-or-less random mix, leading to the joke that the family motto throughout the years has been “Hey, you’re cute!” πŸ˜† Let’s see, on my father’s side, they first hit the shores around 1700 (Welsh).

    On my mother’s side, 1630 (English/Puritans). In between then, random outcrossing. My maternal great-great-grandmother came here from Scotland, and was promptly swept off her feet by a Passamaquoddy man. Their daughter married the “old New England” guy, producing my grandfather. Who decided that the platinum blonde Swedish girl was just for him. My mother used to say she was always told what a “striking couple” her parents made, her father with his jet-black hair and her mother with her platinum blonde. “and then there was mousy brown me.” πŸ˜†

    On my father’s side, my great-grandfather married an English immigrant, and their son decided that the daughter of two Irish immigrants was for him. My father remembers that things were … tense … between the in-laws. πŸ˜† What he also remembers was that if he asked about it, either grandmother would feed him cookies or doughnuts while they tried to explain their side of things. He didn’t really care about the politics, he just knew it was good for cookies and doughnuts. πŸ˜‰

    • addisnana

      I think your father and the cookies and donuts is the best way to approach all this. With the exception of lutefisk and haggis, I appreciate most ethnic foods and the stories they are served with.

      “Hey you’re cute” is a great family motto.

      • My maternal grandmother, god rest her soul, never ever inflicted lutefisk on us. For which I’m sure she has a place in heaven. πŸ˜† (Yes, I’ve had it and haggis)

        When you look at my family’s geneology, as well as what this (and the next) generation has done, it seems to be our operative mode when it comes to marriage. πŸ˜†