I’m More British Than German

I’ve pretty much completed an extensive geneology of my fathers (Holoch) side of the family and Mother’s (East) side of the family. My Father was from Stuttgart and Mother from Torquay by way of London.

In the late 80’s I lived in London SW10 (very quiet and very posh!) for almost 5 months, took trains out to Devon and Cornwall, worked in SOHO, walked through Green and Hyde Park and just felt so at home, it was downright spooky – but in a wonderful way.

That’s not to say I didn’t also feel something from my ghostly ancestors when I visited Stuttgart, Pfullingen and the Schwartzwald. I also felt something when visiting Zurich and Zug, Switzerland which was close to where my Grandma Widmann was from.

Ancestry keeps updating my ethnicity and has it at 70% British. I think I actually have more German family members in Ancestry so its the DNA connection that has the numbers skewed British.

A very interesting thing is how I have equal British and German relatives who immigrated to the US before the American Revolution, and many were in Pennsylvania. I grew up in NJ and went to college in PA, and all of this ties together and makes sense.

When I had that Victorian Ice Train dream two weekends ago, I have to say, it has had a profound affect on me. A few years back I read about The Transit of Venus, which happened in the mid 1700’s a big par was at The Greenwich Observatory. Between that and all science and inventions that happened in the 1700’s and 1800’s, one thing I think is super cool is how on one hand the Victorian Age seems provincial, but when you dig deeper, they were crazy for futuristic things. I used to think this was just (as my British uncle used to say) “Oldie Worldy”, but how that is almost a facade on how progressive and futuristic they were.

I love these little “puzzles” and contradictions in life. Peeling back the layers of an onion leads to new discovery.

2 Comments on “I’m More British Than German

  1. It’s funny, but my experience is exactly like yours. 23andMe puts my ancestry at 76% Anglo-Irish, 15% Swiss. I didn’t know about the Swiss part until I mentioned it to Mom, and she seemed to know all about it and had traced the family line back on that side to around 1500. But when I go back to England or Scotland or Ireland, I always feel extremely at home. Ironically, maybe even more than here. And when I visited County Cork, I loved it a lot and later found out that’s where my family is from. The effect is so pronounced, I have sometimes wondered whether an association with particular climate and landforms can actually be imprinted on our DNA. I don’t know.

    It’s also interesting to me how little fragments of cultural memory can be preserved long past all context being forgotten. My grandmother on Mom’s side always used to sing these little fragments of doggerel that I didn’t recognize until I heard them being spoken in England and realized they were fragments of old English nursery rhymes.


    • Just found this in the spam bucket -sorry for the delay. When I started doing geneology a fellow at the Family History Center at the LDS Church in Oakland told me “make sure you follow your mothers lineage”. I had been much more interested in the German Holoch name. Turns out – the much more interesting part of the family is my Mothers British side – and very surprisingly, German grandmothers side. In fact, the Holoch lineage is very boring in comparison.

      I think since you and I also grew up near Appalachia, the green rolling hills, with some farms, rain and even the music (folk / bluegrass having a very string gaelic and British Isles influence) surely has something to do with feeling such an affinity. I’m guessing that if I grew up in the rockies of Colorado I might have more of an affinity for the German and Swiss Alps. But my love is more of rolling hills and foothills leading to the mountains.


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