Wednesday, 6 October 2010


May I share with you a small fraction of my 70-year-long hunt for my roots and take you back some 4,500 years? Genealogy is a time-consuming, frustrating, full-of-blind-alleys, expensive hobby, but it has great rewards. Knowing very little when I started I now have 45 different surnames in 14 villages in 5 counties in England back to 1515 for Joan and 35 different surnames in Ireland, New France, France, and Germany for myself. Many fascinating stories have been uncovered but, for now, I will just relate how I found the Hatti and their influence especially on Germany:

In 1876, George, a great uncle, anglicized his Chouinard name to Sweanor on getting patents for his fog horn and farm implements inventions in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and my grandfather also changed to Sweanor and moved to Ontario, but this is a recent find. Earlier I had stumbled across the Chouinard connection and was, over the years, able to trace it back, without a break, to 1650 in New France, and to 1570 in the Tours area of France. There I discovered the Chouinard name originated with a family of Schweinhardts who had fled Lutheran persecution in Hesse, originally called Hatti. Searching for the Hatti took me to Anatolia (Turkey) some 4,500 years ago. My ancestral certainty ends in 1570. The rest is the highest probability I can deduce at the moment.

We Hatti (Hessians), or Chatti, had female gods and spoke a local language unrelated to others. We were a peaceful agricultural society living on a dry plateau surrounded by mountains. We had no alphabet of our own but used the Sumerian cuneiform for trade. About 4,300 years ago, groups of Aryan Indo-European stock started to arrive, then Semites. Initially we helped them but they grew in numbers becoming Assyrians, Hittites, Mitanni and Hebrews. In turn they absorbed us, stole our name and our cities, especially Hattusa which became one of their major cities They fought among themselves and with Egyptians. Hittite kings lived and perished by the sword, usually wielded by their own sons impatient for power. They left many cities burning ruins. The Hittites and Assyrians built great empires and we contributed towards the success of such places as Ashur, Nineveh, Babylon, Memphis, Jerusalem, Damascus, and Tyre. Somehow we retained our identity but to others were often indistinguishable from particularly the Hittites and Assyrians. Yes, our King Sargon II (722-705 BC) did uproot our former rulers, the tribes of Israel, resettling them on our outskirts. But, like the Hebrews and so many others, Assyrians have roots to Abraham through Keturah, one of his wives. Our troubles never ended. As the Assyrian empire waned, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (605-562 BC) exacted heavy tribute from us.

As peaceful agriculturalists we had suffered persecution which hardened us into warriors, resulting in the Hebrews calling us Chatti (Men of War) while the Romans knew us a Kermans (also Men of War). We then called ourselves “The Master Race”, had kings known as Kaisers, and invented the double-eagle symbol. We supported the Trojans in their wars with Greece. After 323 BC, when the heirs of Alexander the Great fought among themselves, we Hatti thought it time to leave. We were still Hatti but our genes were now all mixed up with those of all our occupiers. Migrating westward we settled in Silesia (eastern Germany) then a large group of us went further west to found the city of Trier in Pfalz and to settle throughout Pfalz and Hesse which we originally named Hatti. Peace eluded us. The Gauls opposed us, but in 83 AD we joined them to defeat Emperor Domitian’s 9th Legion that had been recalled from Britain in a vain attempt to pacify us. Successful pacifiers were St. Boniface and his Irish monks who started in 755 to convert us to Christianity. Objecting to losing our female gods, Boniface was murdered, in Fulda, Hesse, but his stubborn monks carried on. The Hebrews had forced Yaweh on us and the Hittites and Assyrians their male gods, but loyalty to our female gods lingered until the Irish completed our conversion. In the 1100s surnames were introduced and my family was assigned the name Schweinhardt. In 1526 Philip, Count of Hesse, adopted Lutheranism, so we fled to Feilbingert, Pfalz, but in 1563 Frederick III embraced Calvanism, so we fled again, this time to Catholic Tours where we took the French name Chouinard.

As for the fellow Hatti or Hessians we had left behind: In the 1600s and 1700s Trier was burned a dozen times by the French and Prussians, while Karl Marx was born there in 1818. Their troubles were far from over. Many in Hesse became farmers and craftsmen but were conscripted by their magistrates to serve as mercenaries. The British hired a lot of them but their pay was funnelled through their magistrates who kept most of it. Of the so-called Hessians in the American Revolution and the defence of Canada only 12,992 were Hessian while 17,000 were Russian. Of the Hessians 2,400 remained in Canada and 2,500 in the US. Of the 7,500 killed, 6,354 were from disease. Also, through long years of religious wars, many Hessians were persecuted by Lutherans and Calvinists. From Bismark to Hitler, Germany assumed our Master Race concept, our double eagle, our Kaiser terminology, and our warlike stance. During WWII our cities of Mainz, Koblenz, Worms, Kassel, and Frankfurt all suffered enormous damage.

As a POW, I was interrogated in Oberursel, Hesse., in 1943. Had I come home? Hesse and Pfalz are now part of a peaceful and prosperous Germany. May it remain that way. Like us, the Assyrians, with large infusions of Hatti genes, have a world-wide diaspora which today numbers 3,447,000 in 14 countries including 70,000 in Germany, 400,000 in the USA, and 23,000 in Canada.


It is election time again in the USA, but, then, when is it not? They tell us that is the price of democracy. China, with as much internal dissent, is leaping ahead, but they suffer an authoritarian regime. Europe is ahead in many respects, but they are a bunch of socialists. The UK is improving economically by biting the bullet as it did in WWII, Malaya, and the Falklands, but they thrive on adversity. Canada is doing well but it does not rate mention, good or bad, as it never does anything exciting. Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, and North Korea are all more interesting. Chile is doing amazingly well, but it had a horrendous earthquake that united it, whereas Katrina was used to sew conflict.

Sanctioned by voters to go to Washington, are hundreds of talented people, full of vim and vigour, to create the paradise the electorate knows it deserves. These dedicated politicians soon discover that survival demands little governing but much fund raising, making them beholden to those with the heavy purses. It remains, then, a democracy of the rich and powerful but, please, do not call it a dictatorship. We can still complain openly and, after all, there are mid-term elections that can toss out the poor performers if you can tell who is and who is not amid all that hate literature. In fact, since 1934, 127 House and 99 Senate seats have changed occupants mid term, providing even more obstacles to long-term good governance.

Both parties send me numerous request for funds. Having endured their wasteful spending on attacking each other with accusations of doubtful validity in endless TV sound bites that, this time, will cost $3.7 billion, I consider it much better to contribute to 35 organizations like Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, International Red Cross, World Environmental and Wildlife groups, PBS, and so on. This spreads my donation funds rather thinly but they are selected from among the hundreds who seek my money, but even they annoy me wasting money by sending requests for more money after I have just donated.

Are 50 states too many to govern? Larger Canada can find enough problems with 12 divisions. But then the tiny UK has 101 counties. Smaller Switzerland has 26 cantons and 4 languages.

Daily, my computer screen is polluted with vicious attacks on Muslims and Obama. Mostly, they are lies or warped half truths, proving the senders are bereft of any sound solutions to world problems. Recently a dedicated, talented, and hard-working individual was elected president to change things. Then a divided nation erected obstacle after obstacle, attempting to bring him down. It is amazing he has accomplished as much as he has. Politicians are rewarded with high salaries and enormous perks the rest of us can only dream of, yet their main reason for going to Washington, job satisfaction, is denied them. But, Obama is not alone. Angela Merkel who also has done much to improve her country is slipping in the polls. Human gratitude leaves much to be desired. Bring civility to our democracy or authoritarian regimes will swamp us.

Besides Obama-bashing there is Muslim-bashing. Deluded senders provide me with scores of accounts of Muslim atrocities. Yes, they should be exposed and condemned but I look in vain for balance. I see no praise for the Muslim General Congress urging the Canadian government to ban the burka and niqab, nor do I get continued condemnations of US Christian terrorists like the Oklahoma City bombing, the Arizona “Sons of the Gestapo” derailing trains, 230 killed by a bomb on TWA flight 800 in 1996, using Blacks and Guatemalans for medical experiments, Pastor John Hagee promoting “Christians United for Israel” and urging military strikes on Iran? Then we have the IRA murdering people in Ulster, London, and Manchester. There are all those terrorist activities in former Soviet Republics, Darfur, Sri Lanka, Philippines, occupied Palestine, Colombia, Kurdistan, Somalia, Tibet, and, if I may add, sexual misconduct due to the celibacy forced on priests. As for Muslim-bashing this scribe is suspicious of all organized religions. For at least 10,000 years basic beliefs have been corralled by self-promoting groups we can generically call priests who inject dogmas, rituals, and fees to cement their dominance and control. They do provide some good services and promote peaceful co-existence but are too often corrupted by extremists. This universe and life are so complex that great minds, at least from the Ionian Greeks to the present day, remain far from understanding. Agnostics argue, that in our ignorance, the only sensible approach is to maintain an open mind with tolerance to all beliefs that refrain from hostility to others, and with a thirst to join those who are making progress in ferreting out answers to How, When, and, above all, WHY.