It is not lightly that I approach this, especially given that many here associate my groundhog crest with me, but recently my brother came up with the crest below for himself. As some will remember from various conversations on this forum, my one and only regret with my arms is that they are self-centered and not family-centered. Having assumed them on my 40th birthday, I hadn’t really considered that I might one day want them to be a conduit from my family history to my then-non existent sons (oh, by the way, there is a second on the way).
My shield is all about me in very subtle ways that may or may not even be known to my descendents. My crest, though, really is all about me (for those who don’t know or don’t remember I was born on Groundhog Day in North Carolina, thus the groundhog holding a sprig of the state tree).
This potential new crest, though, is more about family history. The Scottish clan with which my family most closely relates is MacRae, whose crest is a hand holding a sword. This is not a sword, but a Confederate D-guard bowie knife. I had 8 direct ancestors (one from every branch of my family tree) in the Confederate Army. I suppose it might not be as meaningful for my sons and their children given that my wife has two Yanks in her family, but she also has two Johnny Rebs to cancel them out.
Why not combine the two - have the groundhog holding the knife. It’s considerably more distinctive.
Fom my Scottish perspective hands/arms of various lengths holding bladed weapons of one sort of another are so common as crests as to provoke tedium. Animals holding weapons are also fairly common, but they’re usually lions or some other more traditional beast, so a groundhog would work well enough without it being too much of a cliche.
I do like that conceptually and have considered it. I was afraid that the knife would not be as distinguishable as a D-guard Bowie knife, but honestly had not drawn it.
I like this compromise. Can your brothers live with the groundhog? If not, you may find yourself reliving the issue over and over again.
Perhaps a gray squirrel (NC state mammal—have our legislators nothing better to do?) holding the knife could serve as a crest for the family in general and you could keep the groundhog for yourself and your descendants, if there’s resistance to general adoption of your birthday as the core symbolic event of the family’s history.
Although why your relatives should be any more bothered by sharing your groundhog identity than the drummer identity symbolized by your shield is puzzling. Personally, speaking as a former trumpeter/bugler, I’d be much rather be taken for a groundhog than for a drummer.
I’d love to see a nod to J.B. Mansfield in the crest. Can you incorporate an arm holding a banner? Maybe a red banner with a white star to reference the NC secession flag (not representative of the 26th’s colors, but perhaps a better choice…)
Perhaps instead a redesign of the shield, but keep the crest distinct to the individual?
If your brother and kids are happy with your shield, whether or not they get or care about your intended symbolism, then don’t change it (if it ain’t broke…). It’s nice, clean, certainly distinctive and you’re unlikely to do better. (As to Joe’s preference for the sounding brass, I suspect that your CSA ancestors all had drummers as well as buglars in their respective regiments
As for the crest, the critter (your groundhog or the NC grey squirrel, whatever floats the familial boat) holding the D-guard Bowie knife is a nice compromise which should serve one of the goals of heraldry i.e. promoting family identity and pride.
Alternatively, since the crest is generally considered as secondary to the shield and sometimes variable for cadency or other reasons, you and your brother - and other relatives if they wish - are free to use different crests. (Wouldn’t be my choice FWIW but then it isn’t my family so my vote doesn’t count!)
FWIW the arm holding a sword is the crest of (inter many alia) Harford County MD, where one of my maternal lines once lived - and as Alex notes, likely of many other families/entities. That doesn’t mean you or your sibling can’t use it, only that it will not be distinctive of your family, at least standing alone.
Well, since my only sibling (not counting steps and halves) is my twin brother, he ought not have issue with the groundhog. I’ll discuss it with him.