On an average day in Baldwin you will find many residents will say they come from Dutch descent. Windmill Park proudly showcases the towering windmill and many residents around town sport miniature versions in their yards. Even with strong Dutch roots, it is not uncommon to hear a Norwegian joke and you never have to look too far to find a decent Swedish meatball, but March 17 is the one-day a year when suddenly everybody is Irish.
A new trend can actually determine how legitimate it is for those who are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day to be drinking green beer. Companies such as AncestryDNA, 23andMe and MyHeritage can shed some light on whether your ancestors were more likely to be seen at a Cinco de Mayo party or a Syttende Mai celebration, and you may be surprised by your results.
Although Northwest Wisconsin has a dense Scandinavian population, when it comes to the state’s population as a whole, residents with German heritage take the number one spot, followed by Polish, Irish and then Norwegian.
According to statistical data, Baldwin is ranked number 16 in the state for cities with the highest percentage of Dutch. Woodville is ranked number 46. The top five in Wisconsin are: Oostburg, Friesland, Cedar Grove, Randolph and Little Chute.
Germans sit at the top of St. Croix County’s heritage demographics.
If solely Irish were allowed to partake in St. Patty’s festivities this week, then approximately only 8.2 percent of St. Croix County’s population would have been allowed to chant, “Erin go Braugh.” There were two major streams of Irish immigration into Wisconsin through the southwest and through Milwaukee. The majority settled in rural areas in the south.
According to ZipAtlas, whose list divulged the top 700 communities with the highest Irish populations in the state of Wisconsin; Union Center, Wisconsin, has one of the highest Irish populations in the state and ranks number 312 nationally for ZIP codes with the highest Irish population. New Richmond cracked the top 100 towns on the list, coming in at number 83. Baldwin made the top 500, ranking number 494 on the tabulation. Of course through the years it has become quite common for someone to hail from heritage of many descents, which makes such data harder and harder to record.
Popular ancestry testing kits have enable consumers who send in saliva samples to use DNA to tell people what continents their ancestors are from and to locate family members, including distant cousins.
Last year the top selling of the handful offering the service was AncestryDNA. The company calls itself, “The leader in family history and consumer genomics, harnessing the information found in family trees, historical records, and DNA to help people gain a new level of understanding about their lives.” Ancestry has more than 3 million paying subscribers across its core Ancestry websites with an extensive collection of over 10 billion digitized historical records and has sold over 14 million AncestryDNA kits to date.
When it comes down to it, the celebrations, culture and folklore of any of our neighbor’s ancestry groups does not belong solely to the descendants of that group, but also to all people who can appreciate and learn from the interesting and diverse cultures of the area. So there is no need to feel guilty if you do not have Irish blood in your veins, yet this week splurge on corned beef and cabbage and wear a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” tee shirt.