|Jewish Quarter, Girona, Spain|
DNA - it can give you a jolt. I think I've discovered our Grandmother Mary Raney's ethnic origins - a couple of bloodlines, anyway. And may I say that her ancestors were living cultured lives while our grandfather's British ancestors were leading a rather barbaric existence.
|Jewish Quarter, Ribadavia, Spain|
If you are Jack Raney's siblings, your descent is 50% Great Britain; 35% Scandinavian (specifically Eastern Norway); 3% Western Europe; 2% Finland/Northwest Russia; 2% European Jewish; 1% Ireland, Scotland, Wales (Early Celtic); 4% Europe South; 2% Caucasus, less than 1% Iberian Peninsula. Dennis's wife Junice Moe was of Norwegian/Finnish-Russian and British descent.
A couple of years ago I took the National Geographic DNA test, which is more general and, because I'm female, gave only my maternal results - for Geneva Raney, sister of Paul and Dennis. It indicated 69% Great Britain and Ireland, 20% southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy, or Greece), 5% Scandinavia, and 4% Asia Minor (modern Turkey, Israel, etc).
I've read that ethnic strains of DNA can be different in siblings, stronger in one, weaker in the other. No doubt it's even more evident in cousins trying to parse out the ethnicity of their ancestors.
It's difficult to isolate 25% of DNA origin in Pat and Jack for our grandmother, Mary Raney. We know her parents were descended from farmers in the Franche Comté. Here is my speculation:
Someone in Mary Raney's ancestry was a Spanish converso - a Jew who was forcibly converted to Catholicsm, perhaps in the late 14th century (or voluntarily converted for the convenience of not being expelled from Spain in 1492). Recall that our grandmother had black hair, as did her daughter Mary Agnes, and her mother Louisa had flashing black eyes (as my mother recalled). That wasn't from French blood - that was from Spanish blood. I base this conjecture on Pat Raney's 3% Iberian, 2% European Jewish, 1% southern Europe; less than 1% Middle East. That equals less than 7%. Where is Mary Raney's other 17%? Probably some of the 45% western Europe belongs to Mary. When I first saw Pat's DNA I emailed him and suggested the Jewish blood came from his mother's side. I changed my mind when I saw Jack's DNA.
Jack Raney's DNA for Mary is less than 1% Iberian Peninsula, 2% European Jewish, 4% southern Europe, 3% western Europe. That is less than 10%. Where is Mary's other 15%? Recall that I wrote that even brothers will show different percentages of ethnic strains in their DNA, so I think we're seeing this in the cousins' DNA.
My DNA, ascending through Dennis and Paul's sister Geneva Raney, for Mary is 20% southern Europe and 4% Asia Minor. That's 24%, but because it's Mary's daughter Geneva, who inherited half of her mother's DNA - where's the rest of Mary's DNA - 26%? It's rather confusing.
Our grandmother's Jewish ancestors left Israel during the Diaspora. Divided into two groups, the Ashkenazi entered northern and eastern Europe and the Sephardic emigrated into the Middle East, north Africa and up into Iberia. I believe her ancestors entered southern Spain and may have already been there when the Moors conquered Spain in the 8th century. A wave of Muslim fanaticism in the 11th century pushed most of the Jews up into northern Spain. Forced conversions of Jews to Catholicism began in 1391 with mob violence. We don't know when our grandmother's ancestors converted to Catholicism, but most likely it was between 1391 and 1492, when Jews were forced either to convert, leave Spain, or be executed. A history of the Jews in Spain is HERE - it's long, so skim until something catches your attention.
I am inclined to think that Grandma's ancestors did not leave Spain in 1492, but remained as conversos, intermarrying with the Spanish. So how did their descendants come into the Franche Comté of eastern France? Here is my theory. The Franche Comté was ruled by Spain as part of the Holy Roman Empire until shortly after the devastating Thirty Years War (1618-1648). France took advantage of Spain's weakness and conquered the Franche Comté during the Franco-Spanish War in 1674 HERE. It was ceded to France in the Treaty of Nejmegen in 1678.
|Holy Roman Empire in 1600. Note eastern France|
A short history of the Franche Comté is HERE. I believe a group of Spanish soldiers, and perhaps their families, settled there. Why go all the way back to Spain, which was not in good economic shape. If they remained in the army, they might be sent to the New World's Spanish colonies. Better to settle down and become farmers. The Thirty Years War had killed off so many through famine and strife - an estimated 8,000,000 across Europe - it's possible farmland was readily available.
I also think Eugene (Schmitt) Smith's forebears on his mother's side (Meuniers and the Voisenets) all born in the Franche Comté, and the Petitjeans were related. Although Jean Baptiste Petitjean was born in Disertine and married Justine Piquet, who was born in Dijon, they moved to the Franche Comté. I think Jean Baptiste was actually returning to where his people had come from. The Schmitts left for America in 1830, the Petitjeans in 1853, joining the Schmitts in Shelby County, Ohio. On Ancestry.com a family descended from the Smiths, but not from the Petitjeans has that trace of Spanish and Jewish DNA, as does a family descended from the Petitjeans, but not from the Smiths. If you aren't following my logic, it doesn't matter. We're still the sum of our DNA parts.
I hope you'll find as haunting as I did this Sephardic Spanish lullaby from the Middle Ages. HERE