Friday, May 23, 2008

Family Crests

There's a castle Falkenstein, and my Falkenstein ancestors came over around 1860 or so. I figure they were probably not the proprietors of the Falkenstein lands, merely serfs or something. Why else move to America? Further, my name represents merely the patrilineal ancestry, on branch in a big bush of genetic contributors, which, though all from the Germanic/Swiss areas of Europe, this implies that the 'Falkenstein' branch gets too much credit or blame for my genetic inheritance, as there were Bucholzs, Horstmanns, Boughs, Bylers and lots of other names that are just as much of me genetically. Perhaps, if I'm just trying to feel good about my ancestry, I should pick the most successful branch and emphasize that (eg, my mother's father's mother).

Indeed, the Castle Falkenstein was built around 1280. Assume that the most awesome, smart, sexy, Falkenstein from that period was my direct ancestor. That's about 30 generations ago. 2^30 is the number of parents of my parents etc. at that point, about 536 million people (obviously, this implies lots of incestuous repeats). Even if my father's father's father was The super cool Falkenstein, it's pretty immaterial in my genetic makeup. I'm sure they were lots of losers without castles in that list of 536 million. Thus, in the big scheme of things, I should be concerned about the those 536 million ancestor's allele frequencies which would be less a function of surname, than the geography of my ancestors, which is approximated I suppose my the surname of the, say, 16 great-great-grandparents I know.

So, a surname is probably not nearly as important, genetically, as we presume. But, just for fun, I looked online at my family crest. Interestingly, it seems every family crest website has a different Falkenstein crest. One site lists the German and Jewish version of the Falkenstein crest, the difference being merely the colors. I bet both the Jewish and German side feels the other stole their crest [I'm not Jewish]. I have a suspicion these family crest websites are just making this stuff up.

See different crests here, here, and here.


Anonymous said...

One of the good things about posting anonymously is that, if you are incorrect about something, your ignorance is anonymous.

While I've never known a Jew who talked about having a family crest, I googled it. There are Jewish cemeteries in Europe where the gravestones have family crests on them. They seem to have been wealthy assimilated families.

None of them had food as part of the crest.

Anonymous said...

It's weird, I'm like 1/64 Polish at most but my name ends in "ski", so people insist I'm Polish no matter what I tell them. I guess my Y chromosome is Polish, at least.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm Jewish, and my last name is Falkenstein. Though I don't know anything about any family crests, I know my father was from Slovakia (Don't know too much about the family history though, as most of my father's family were wiped out during the holocaust when he was still a young child).
As for European Jews having family crests, I happen to know for a fact that some do. For example The Rothschild family. Who not only are Jewish, but ennobled by the Austrian and British governments.
I know this because the Baron Edmond Rothschild helped found the town where I grew up in Israel in the last 19th century (which was when it was founded, not when I grew up there, obviously... hehe).
Anyways... just FYI.
Found this blog after I googled "falkenstein name origin".