“Closing my eyes to connect to my roots. I sense the wisdom of my ancestors and my grandmother smiles.” ―The Gossamer Path
“Understanding your heritage, your roots, and your ancestry is an important part of carving out your future.”
A few years ago, my spouse and I had our DNA tested simply out of curiosity. For the most part, there were no surprises. He came through with a majority of Irish, Great Britain, and German DNA with a bit of French thrown in. There was a 1% Polynesian that left us scratching our heads!
My DNA indicated German, Great Britain, and a pinch of Irish, again no surprise, except, for a 2% Caucasus! What? The Caucasus? To my knowledge. I had no ancestors from anywhere near that region. As the science of genealogy using DNA continues to evolve, we set those small anomalies on the shelf.
A Possible Answer?
However, in researching a branch of my maternal grandmother’s mother’s line, The Hoags, I found myself in the 1500s in Strasbourg, France. In the early 1800s, Stephen Hoag, born just after the American Revolution, married Mary Mosher. The Mosher name was the one that took me back to the Strasbourg connection. The trail appears to have gone cold at that point, except…
What’s In A Name?
The name Mosher has an interesting etymology or history.
It has French roots as well as British, but another etymology goes into the Iberian Peninsula – to the Sephardic Jews.
The inserts provide much thought for speculation.
I have no Southern European ancestry in my DNA, so a French connection is unlikely.
However, if the Moshers of Strasbourg were a part of the Sephardic community in Iberia, as indicated in the insert, that might be a possible explanation for my mysterious 2% DNA from the northern Middle East.
You see, during the 6th century BC, the Kingdom of Judah was overthrown and its population dispersed throughout the Babylonian Empire.
These tribes further migrated during the middle ages. According to Jewish historians, much of the Sephardic settlement in Iberia was the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
Prior to the Spanish Inquisition, these Jewish citizens flourished. However, with the Spanish Inquisition, the Jewish Community came under persecution alongside others.
The timeline for the Moshers, or rather Mosier (Hebrew version of their name), to have left Iberia and migrated to Strasbourg, aligns with history.
When this family’s religious affiliation changed is also a point of speculation. If this family line were indeed a part of the diaspora, they would have lived among Catholics and Muslims in Iberia. At what point did they become protestant? Before or after their migration to Strasbourg? Was it simply a matter of survival or a genuine conversion? Perhaps one led to the other.
History does indicate that this family line:
- left Iberia to go to a primarily protestant region of France, although there was a large Jewish community in Strasbourg.
- Several hundred years later when tensions between the Catholics and Protestants in Strasbourg rose, they migrated to England.
- When the same conflict arose in England, they moved to the New World.
Behind it all seems to be a quest for what most want: Freedom. Freedom to raise a family in peace, to worship according to one’s conscience, and pursue a gainful livelihood. It is good to know that some things remain constant.