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August 17, 2005

If I had a boat
Posted by Teresa at 02:33 PM * 183 comments

Recently, when my mother was going through some of my grandmother’s genealogical research papers (a large and ongoing task), she found a list Granny had compiled in the event that any of us conceived a desire to join one of the organizations of Mayflower descendants. As far as I know, none of us ever have—nor the Daughters of the American Revolution, nor the Colonial Dames, nor any of the other ancestor-worshipping cults—but Granny was a great one for anticipating possible need.

Mind, this is just the Allen side of the family, which lays claim to William Brewster, Stephen Hopkins, and Samuel Fuller. The Phelps/Bingham side is descended from Miles Standish and Priscilla Mullen. Patrick’s people came over on the Ark and the Dove, the papists.

Behold, the sacred ancestral tubers:
William Brewster Patience Brewster
Hannah Prence
Samuel Mayo
Hannah Mayo
Silvanus Hopkins
Elijah Hopkins
Deborah Hopkins
Clarinda Knapp
Charles Hopkins Allen
John Seymour Allen
Barbara Allen
Barbara Crandall
Barbara Nielsen
Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Stephen Hopkins
Giles Hopkins
Stephen Hopkins
Judah Hopkins
Silvanus Hopkins
(etc.)

Samuel Fuller
John Fuller
Joseph Fuller
Mindwell Fuller
Joanna Parish
Deborah Hopkins
(etc.)
We’ve also got a bunch that came over on the Speedwell, plus any quantity of other boats; which to my mind mostly demonstrates that the ones who tried to swim didn’t live to be recorded.
Comments on If I had a boat:
#1 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 03:40 PM:

A few years ago while visiting Plimouth Plantation I was amused to be talking to "Edward Winslow." One of his descendents is Edward W. Bryant, jr., aka Ed Bryant.

#2 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 03:56 PM:

We're related, Teresa!

Stephen Hopkins is a relative on my mother's side. I've been similarly disinclined to get involved in ancestral worship, but it's fun to bring up when people are being snooty.

Are you familiar with the YA novel (vaguely recollected from my youth) about his daughter, Patience Hopkins?

#3 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 03:58 PM:

Well, you've deserved to be judged by your own accomplishments rather than by your pedigree...but it's always good to have a backup!

My own ancestors all came over much more recently. I don't think I'm more than 4th generation in any direction; after the civil war, but before WWI...I think. This didn't keep a kid in my High School from trying to blame me (I looked much more German then) for the Holocaust, though.

#4 ::: Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 04:20 PM:

First generation on my mother's side. Dad's ancestors came over on the Spittoon, in about 1840 or so.

#5 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 04:33 PM:

Some of my ancestors came over on the land bridge from Eurasia, circa 40,000 BCE. Others are more recent immigrants, including a Prussian Doctor who fought in the Revolutionary War (for the British). Two sides of my family fought each other durring the Civil War, the Comers and the Barnes.

My mother tells an excellent tale about two Polish brothers named Shamankewitz who stowed away on a boat, jumped ship in New York harbor and separated on shore, one going to Baltimore, the other to Chicago to start new families. My mother, descendant form the brother from Baltimore, went to college at the University of Maryland, and was surprised to find out that her roommate's name was Shamankawitz.

#6 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 04:38 PM:

Oh, right, the Mayflower.

A bunch of Jesus freaks from north Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, the 17th Century equivalent of a ship-load of telephone sanitisers.

It's a good thing that not all your ancestors were on that ship.

#7 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 04:40 PM:

Yeah, well, um... my ancestors were kings in Ireland...

(I forget if it was Denis Leary or PJ O'Rourke who had the bit about how everyone was apparently a king in Ireland. "I'm the king from this rock down to the creek, and you're the king from the creek to that rock over there...")

On my father's side, my grandfather was born very shortly after his parents arrived in the US after leaving Poland to avoid being drafted into the Russian army (a good decision in 1914). My mother's family is Irish and German, though I've never traced them farther back than the Bronx.

(Well, that's not entirely true-- my great-grandmother once mentioned that as a little girl she spent some time living in a small Upstate town that turns out to be the next town over from where my parents settled after they got married. That was sometime around 1900.)

#8 ::: veejane ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 04:47 PM:

...oh. Not THAT Samuel Fuller, the glorious pulp-movie director.

I recently had in my hands a self-published (and sent to members of the generation above mine) genealogy of the Spurr family, late of Nova Scotia. They were originally some other last name I am forgetting, and were originally obstreperous Jesus freaks of ye olde Mass Bay Colony.

At familial orders, I donated this extremely obscure, 3-volume book to the Massachusetts Historical and Genealogical Society. They took it gladly and told me, "We already have one copy as reference, so this can be the circulating copy!"

Are the Spurr family, late of Nova Scotia, really that interesting, that people curl up with them at home??

#9 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 04:48 PM:

One of my dad's cousins told us we were eligible for DAR if we wanted to join. But I think it was on the "Pennsylvania Dutch" side of the family, so they'd have come over a few decades later than your Mayflower folks.

Being "descended from Miles Standish and Priscilla Mullen" is cool though! Almost everyone knows that story, even if Longfellow isn't taught in American Lit. classes as much as he he used to be.

For awhile we had a lead from a great-uncle that we might have had some Native American ancestry, but my sister (who's the official keeper of the family genealogy) says that didn't pan out.

Almost everyone else came over in the 1800s. One of my great-great-great-uncles -- I think that's the right number of greats -- died in the Civil War. (Union side.)

#10 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 04:49 PM:

My idea of a really weird patch of genealogy is when Bill Shunn and I compared notes and discovered that we aren't related. Surprised us both.

#11 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 04:49 PM:

Oops! "he he" -- would you believe I saw that just after I hit "post"?

#12 ::: Melanie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 04:52 PM:

Not surprising that some of you are related. A mathemetician found that if you assume completely random mating (which isn't as wrong as you'd assume, it turns out, given the number of high-class by-blows and younger sons/daughters), every person in modern Europe would have all of the same ancestors around 1400. (About 75% of people alive in 1400 would be an ancestor of everybody in Europe & colonies today, and the other 25% would have no descendants.) That number's pushed back, maybe as far as the worst-case-scenario of around 1050, when you allow for subgroups within the population, but the effect is not likely to be that large.

It's still interesting to see it in practice, though, since not many people know their ancestors back far enough to be able to trace the connections that must be there.

#13 ::: Garrett Fitzgerald ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 04:56 PM:

I have an irresistable urge to quote 1776. :-)

"Dear sir, you are without any doubt a rogue, a rascal, a villain, a thief, a scoundrel, and a mean, dirty, stinking, sniveling, sneaking, pimping, pocket picking, Christable no-good son of a bitch -- and you sign your name."

"I'll take a dozen."

#14 ::: Jasper Janssen ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 04:56 PM:

Out of curiosity, how many Americans cannot, with enough genealogy, trace at least one ancestral line back to an early boat? I am apparently a descendant on my mother's side of Michiel De Ruyter (Our most famous admiral ever, from the late 17th century), and most people I know who go in for genealogy can trace a direct line to Charlemagne (once you're into any nobility, that's trivial). I suppose the main thing is that your family has to have been important enough during all that time to show up in genealogical records.

#15 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 05:01 PM:

Me me me! I can't!

#16 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 05:04 PM:

I'm surprised (though I shouldn't be) at just how short a list it is of the generations from the Mayflower to Making Light.

I could go on for ages about my immigrant predecessors. They were quite an interesting bunch in their ways. For now I'll suffice it to say that I'm a third-generation descendant on all sides of Eastern and Southern European immigrants, and my generation is the first since that immigration to marry people who didn't live in the same city (Worcester, MA).

#17 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 05:05 PM:

Well, as I said, I can't. And you'll find a lot of people on the East Coast who can easily trace their ancestry back to their first family members to come to America: their parents.

Also, do slave ships count as "early boats"?

#18 ::: veejane ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 05:12 PM:

Out of curiosity, how many Americans cannot, with enough genealogy, trace at least one ancestral line back to an early boat?

Quite a few, probably, at least till recently. If your kin always married within ethnic group, and your particular ethnic group didn't really begin to arrive till 1900, you come up bupkis on the Distinguished Puritan Ancestors scale.

Those who do have ancestors who go back any distance into the early 1800s can probably do the tracing, because early records are pretty good in New England -- births and marriages in church records, contracts, and probates. (I don't know as much about Virginia records.)

#19 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 05:30 PM:

How about Swedes, imported by New Netherlands, there to greet William Penn when he got off the boat? (Pennsylvania has good records, too.)

I have Rogue Island, er, Rhode Island radical Baptists on my tree, as well as at least one person who apparently was kicked out of Ulster for being unruly. As far as emigration - from about 1630 to about 1850, give or take five years.

#20 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 05:30 PM:

For my money they should, Xopher--and if my Confederate ancestors spin in their graves, so be it. In fact, spinning should probably be encouraged, because it loosens and aerates the soil, which is good for the earthworms.

My favorite family ancestor story is the one about my mother's great-grandfather, who left the Lower Rhineland in about 1850 (then part of Bavaria--awkward if you were Protestant) and ended up, after trying Cincinnati, farm life in Wisconsin (with topsoil 40 feet deep) in the norther Missouri Ozarks, because he was really homesick for hilly country. He managed to get arrested in a draft riot (so-called) in Tuscumbia, Missouri during the Civil War--one of his reasons for leaving Bavaria (besides the hot and cold running Jesuits they had about then) was dislike of compulsory military service.

#21 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 05:52 PM:

I believe that there were roughly 1,000,000 Jews in the world in 1600 A.D.; so that, if you can trace your ancestry to one of them, the odds are good that you can tap into rabbinical records.

I tell my son that he's a direct descendant from Aaron, brother of Moses, son of Jethro, having found that 1600 link.

Ship? Who neds a ship? See, there was this Red Sea, and...

#22 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 06:18 PM:

http://www.lrbcg.com/jtcullen/SethPics.htm

Luckily, someone else has done a lot of the work for me. Seth Cullen is my great great grandfather and WH is my great grandfather.

regina

#23 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 06:32 PM:

Can I chime in with an LDS question - it's my semi-uninformed understanding that Mormons focus on ancestry to posthumously convert their forebears. Is this really the case? Somehow, I can't shake the image of deceased Norse warriors carousing in Valhalla being whisked off to someone else's paradise, only to discover that they can't even get a cup of coffee, let alone mead by the flagon...

#24 ::: Caryn ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 06:35 PM:

What a great Gran. Unlike mine, who when asked for such info said that those groups were horrible and then died without ever passing along the geneology. All I have is rumor that both General Hallecks (the Civil War one nearly lost it for the North) were relatives, somehow. So the DAR qualification info is gone.

It's not that I wanted to join, but being DAR eligible while living in Canada (home of the traitorous Laura Secord) amuses me.

#25 ::: Janet Miles ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 06:37 PM:

Jasper Janssen wrote, "Out of curiosity, how many Americans cannot, with enough genealogy, trace at least one ancestral line back to an early boat?"

I don't think I can. I'm pretty sure that the first of my relatives to come to the USA arrived in the very late 1800s or very early 1900s.

#26 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 06:43 PM:

The problem with family history stories is that I heard them from my mother, whose grasp on reality was never much past tenuous and oft enough vanished entirely, even then; it's all gone, now. (I have an aunt who has done some serious genealogy lately, but all I know from that is the story of accosting the bishop.)

In any case, her people are Frosts; on the maternal side, well. The story is that the start of one branch of that side was an infantry officer, caught his heel, and fell flat on his face squarely in front of the reviewing stand upon which was seated Queen Victoria.

Having had his name changed to Tripp by sentence of court martial, he fled to the colonies.

#27 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 06:43 PM:

Jasper asks:

Out of curiosity, how many Americans cannot, with enough genealogy, trace at least one ancestral line back to an early boat?

I'm pretty sure doing that for my family would be a horrendous task. My ancestors on both sides had an apparent predilection for marrying scandalously for the ethnic mores of the day.

Nothing else can explain the presence of, on my mother's New Orleans side, the intermarriage of Irish, Creole French, and German (horror!), and on my father's New England/Mississippi side, the mingling of Portuguese, Scottish, English, and (we believe) Iroquois (blasphemy!).

What that means in genetic terms is not only ending up with a veritable schmorgasbord of ethnic backgrounds, but also with a bunch of older generations never again speaking to younger generations and, therefore, a lot of loss of family history. Which is why I suspect I only know the broad strokes and none of the details.

#28 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 06:53 PM:

Well, whatever boat my european ancestors came over on (the Osage were already here waiting for them), they surely rode closer to the bilges than the quarterdeck. We've never been the sort to travel first class.

While we probably do not have common ancestors, Teresa, I would not be surprised if a couple of mine had been hung by a couple of yours.

#29 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 06:56 PM:

Out of curiosity, how many Americans cannot, with enough genealogy, trace at least one ancestral line back to an early boat?

My husband, for one. We have his lines traced back to the Quakers of Bucks Co., Pa, to planters in Virginia, and to the wagon maker John Jared. We believe another of his lines will lead to the Germanna colony.

Me, I'm adopted. I don't get to have ancestors.

#30 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 07:00 PM:

Out of curiosity, how many Americans cannot, with enough genealogy, trace at least one ancestral line back to an early boat?

I'd imagine quite a few. Refugees and immigrants weren't exactly scarce in the 20th century.

For instance, not all of my grandparents were born here. None of my great-grandparents were. I grew up in a neighborhood just chock full of recent Polish immigrants, too.

#31 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 07:02 PM:

Keith: "Others are more recent immigrants, including a Prussian Doctor who fought in the Revolutionary War (for the British). Two sides of my family fought each other during the Civil War, the Comers and the Barnes."

Me too! Okay, my Prussian ancestor was a soldier, and both sides of the Civil War had Laymans, but close!

On the maternal side, I'm third generation American.

#32 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 07:18 PM:

Four of my five grandparents were post-1900 imports, from Wales and northern Italy.

My grandmother's parents were probably post-Civil War immigrants from . . . Wales? Ireland? She lied a lot, even before she got soft in the head, so we're not sure.

The family across the street from where I grew up were Winslows and claimed that their ancestors came over on the Mayflower. Obnoxious anti-semitic working-class parents, rotten bully kids. But, gosh, they were *more American* than the city people who crashed their neighborhood.

#33 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 07:33 PM:

Hunh. I'm related to Teresa. Go figure.

Via Brewster. I don't have the full history in front of me, but I'm certain that there's a line of descent from William Brewster (for whom there's a town on Cape Cod named).

#34 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 07:37 PM:

Stefan Jones: But, gosh, they were *more American* than the city people who crashed their neighborhood.

To be honest, sometimes I struggle with the flip-side of this. I recall reviewing a resume for an entry-level IT job that listed DAR membership with fairly high prominence. This made it very hard for me to take the candidate seriously so I asked someone else to review her resume. Ultimately, we wound up not interviewing her, but I wanted to be doubly certain that the decision was based on objective criteria and not on my hackles having been raised by such prominent class-signalling.

That said, I'm sure that some of her ancestors hanged some of mine.

Oh, and the earliest arrival on these shores of my known ancestors was 1887, late arrivals from England. The rest came over later - some were even illegals from Ireland.

#35 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 07:49 PM:

I don't think I have any DARs in my family, but I could be wrong. The single possibility is from my maternal grandfather--half Scottish on his maternal side, but his paternal line has some possibilities. Everybody else came out much much much later than the first boats. (Unless they came out, went back, and then came out again. THAT'S always a possibility.)

You don't have to go back far to hit the European side of my ancestry--it seems many of them were Mormons who joined up and got kicked out of the family, so they decided to make good with the Saints in America.

#36 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 07:50 PM:

I have another kind of American ancestry question. It seems to me that when I hear white Americans claiming some small amount of American Indian ancestry, more often than not it's Cherokee. Why the Cherokee? Were they more prone to outmarriage than other tribes, or something?

#37 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 08:15 PM:

in my family the anecdotal-&-possibly-mythical native blood is blackfeet. but i know nothing about the blackfeet, even whereabouts they lived.

on my father's side i'm third-generation polish jewish, on my mother's side it's all mixed up. on my maternal grandma's side we go back before the civil war, but not to revolutionary times i don't think (except for those alleged blackfeet, of course).

#38 ::: Painini ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 08:24 PM:

it's my semi-uninformed understanding that Mormons focus on ancestry to posthumously convert their forebears. Is this really the case? Somehow, I can't shake the image of deceased Norse warriors carousing in Valhalla being whisked off to someone else's paradise, only to discover that they can't even get a cup of coffee, let alone mead by the flagon...

I'm relatively (heh) sure that's the drive behind it. Incidentally, if you go to the LDS family history site, you can find lines that claim heritage back to the mythical Norse (anyone whose family runs back to the Saxon kings in England, for example).

(You can also see a few records dubiously marked "living" - I seem to recall a woman's record which denoted her marriage in the fifth century. As she's remarkably still alive, they didn't list this especially hardy woman's name, so I couldn't do a google search to see what she's up to.)

#39 ::: Karon Flage ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 08:38 PM:

Another distant relative crawling out of the woodwork here. I'm from the Fuller side. My favorite name in the group is Experience Fuller. Can you imagine the playground taunts that would cause today?

#40 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 08:50 PM:

it's my semi-uninformed understanding that Mormons focus on ancestry to posthumously convert their forebears. Is this really the case? Somehow, I can't shake the image of deceased Norse warriors carousing in Valhalla being whisked off to someone else's paradise, only to discover that they can't even get a cup of coffee, let alone mead by the flagon...

That's a great image. I just want to paint that.

#41 ::: RiceVermicelli ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 08:51 PM:

My grandparents have done a great deal of genealogical research, and the most fascinating part of it for me is the increasing respectability attributed to my ancestors as time goes by.

I was told when I was very young that my first ancestor on my father's side on this side of the pond was a man who was the adopted heir of some sort of minor nobility in Britain somewhere circa 1720. The minor nobility sent him to university in Glasgow or some such, where he got drunk one night and woke up in the British Navy. Subsequently, my ancestor jumped ship in Braintree, married the girl who hid him in her father's barn, and lived a quiet life in Massachusetts, having loads of kids, being somewhat broke (there are records of his debts), and never making any attempt to contact his family or lay hands on his hypothetical fortune.

When I was in my teens, it was explained to me that he never went back to Britain because he had come, through his experience with impressment, to see the Empire as an oppressive and tyrannical state and he preferred the freedom of the New World.

Last year, I was told that he jumped ship along side an ancestor of either Rutherford Hayes or Millard Fillmore (I confess that it didn't occur to me to pay much attention to which).

Coincidentally, I am descended on my mother's side from a man who deserted the Confederate army sometime before Gettysburg, and married the girl who hid him in her father's barn. It was explained to me that he deserted because of his highly developed moral sense, and his awareness that the cause for which he fought was unjust.

If I ever have daughters, I am not building a barn.

#42 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 08:53 PM:

Another whose ancestors have all been here a hundred and seventy years or less.

But I've recently figured out that I am four ways not a Pole, and I keep talking about it lately because it's so cool to be almost Polish but not quite, so many times. -- this is not a remark about Polishness: I;d feel the same way if it were any other nationality which I had so many near-misses on.

(Jewish ancestors from Wilnow -- then Polish, now Vilnius in Lithuania: my name is Sorbian, which is a people sometimes dominated by Poles and sometimes dominated by Germans: other German ancestors from Gdansk when it was Danzig: other ancestors from the Amber Coast, from a town which was occasionally in Poland)

My favorite immigration story used to be my grandmother, who came from a large family, the boys of which stayed back to be revolutionaries and the girls of which came to the US to be professionals (turns out this isn't quite what happened, but --). Then my father found out that his grandmother had been a Hurdy-Gurdy girl who ran off with a ship's carpenter on her way to the California goldfields and now that's my favorite.

#43 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 09:09 PM:

I've never paid much attention to my family history, but I know that in a direct line through the male side of my father's family, the first of my ancestors to come to this country bearing my last name was an Irish cobbler, who came in 1845. His father was a protestant and his mother was a catholic, which explains a lot, believe me.

#44 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 09:30 PM:

According to family lore, my family came over from Russia in 1905 after participating in the 1905 Revolution. After that failed, it was time to leave.

#45 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 09:36 PM:

I don't suppose any of the threadly descendants of North America's pioneering settlers would be interested in the remarkable curative properties of Dr. Mike's Neuro-Galvanic Elixir, or has a horse you need stolen?

#46 ::: Cassie Krahe ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 09:38 PM:

I really like hearing about things like this. Any large family gathering includes stories and trying to nail down where people came from. I find it interesting that while I can't say that I'm American or Canadian, my cousins can be Puerto Rican without anyone blinking an eye. My ancestors were Holy Roman, I think. How long did that empire last?
Of course, the extra-Irish name of my great-grandmother and the boat named after an ancestor are the best parts of the discussions.

#47 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 10:14 PM:

the LDS people and genealogy: it is part of their religion, and some of them actually like it enough to get serious about it. As far as proxy baptisms, etc, I've been told by good Mormons that it's up to the person being baptized (or whatever) to acccept it and become a member. Since no one seems to reply to this sort of thing, it's kind of a non-issue for most of the rest of us.

The Mormons have a ncie website (FamilySearch) and you can find a lot also on Rootsweb, which has contributed databases. Some of them are even fairly reliable. The best part, for me, is finding out the strange places ancestors came from. Liek the Delaware Valley Swedes that I didn't know about until a few years ago. Noble/royal ancestry, wile interesting, is more a a pain, because you end up with so much information.

I've now read firsthand accounts of a trip from New York City to Monterey via Cape Horn in 1846-47, the Civil War from Shiloh to Goldsboro, via Vicksburg and Atlanta, and an interview by John D Shane from the late 1840s, in the Draper collection, that had me seeing a guy with a corncob pipe, wearing overalls and sitting in a rocker on a porch. History live!

#48 ::: sGreer ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 10:18 PM:

Ehh, the Mayflower. I never gave it much thought until I moved to New England, where some stuffy twit informed me at a work luncheon -- for reasons I can't quite recall now -- that her family came over on the 3rd or 4th Mayflower (or its sister-ship, whatever) in 16-something. Being utterly stumped as to why I should give a damn, I said the first thing that popped into my head: "Oh? My family came over thirty years before that, with Oglethorpe." Long pause, and then I got the obligatory complimentary response.

Like I said, twit. Oglethorpe brought over all the prostitutes, beggars, evicted families, landless men, single mothers, you name it. The Great Experiment to raise silkworms on Georgia mulberry trees, and prove even the dregs of society could be contributing citizens if given three acres and a chance!

Yep, that's the first branch of my family into the colonies -- a slew o' good for nothings -- but durnitall, I still got here before you!

*headdesk*

#49 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 10:56 PM:

Jasper Janssen: Out of curiosity, how many Americans cannot, with enough genealogy, trace at least one ancestral line back to an early boat?

I can't, at least on the north end of the hemisphere. I can infer a high probability of African and Native South American ancestry via Puerto Rico and Venezuela, but beyond that I don't know. One great-grandfather came originally from Sardinia, and that's the only European descent I can reliably claim.

#50 ::: Sarah M ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 12:13 AM:

I'm fifth generation on one side, third on the other (grand parents and great grandparents). Apparently when my great-great-grandparents were coming over from Poland, they got the money for their tickets by essentially selling my great-grandmother to rich but childless relatives they had in London.

She then, family legend has it, threw such a fit that said childless relatives shipped her off to New York, where my family's been ever since.

My grandmother on the other side (who immigrated from Lithuania after WWII) went back recently to try looking up our family's history. There weren't any Jewish community records left, so she looked in official Lithanian records (which apparently were pretty accessible if you know Lithaunia) and managed to trace it back only to the 1700s, when some carpenter ancestor got a small contract to fix a hole in someone's roof.

Quasi-immoral great-grandparents, a pushy great-grandmother, and an 18th century contractor. Not exactly DAR material there, but I rather like it.

#51 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 01:16 AM:

Though I was unable to find data about the ships during the period of fascination with family history some decades back, I do enjoy being able to mention that I have at least four ancestors who would have -- conditions being right -- qualified for indefinite imprisonment & torture at Guantanimo. They just picked up their muskets and went out in their farm clothes to fight the foreign Army that was occupying what they had decided was _their_ country, and the Continental Congress didn't manage to scrape up uniforms for them for a year or more (if at all). Beyond that, about all I know is that they were from Vermont & Upper New York State and had an unfortunate propensity for living in towns that had the local Records burned during the French & Indian Wars.

Some of the little bits of information can lead to interesting speculation, however -- Great-great grandmother Permelia (Pulver) Fitch (who seems to have moved from Vermont to the Northwest Territory with her family at the same time as James Fitch) had brothers named David, Hugh, and Owen, so I can feel comfortable wearing a leek on St.David's day.

That's all on the paternal side -- my mother's parents were born in Switzerland & across the Rhine, and being the last of that branch I haven't tried to trace it farther back.

#52 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 01:19 AM:

Yep, that's the first branch of my family into the colonies -- a slew o' good for nothings -- but durnitall, I still got here before you!

Was your grandma a whore, was your grandpa a thief
Were they forgers and grafters who fell to their grief
If you're born of Australia, I know who ya be
You're the son of a son of a scoundrel like me

--Shel Silverstein

#53 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 01:37 AM:

Lucy Kemnitzer, Sarah M, and now me: that's three of us here with roots in Lithuania.

(I find that eyebrow-raisingly improbable.)

My own contribution to this remarkably American story we're telling here:

My Lithuanian grandfather had served his mandatory tour in the Czar's army, and was long demobilized and home again when the Russo-Japanese war broke out.

Knowing that he'd be called up again momentarily (and further knowing that the Russian army preferred to use its 'captive-nation' units as cannon fodder...), he left.
(And hello, Alex Cohen: 1905 was a good year for leaving Russia....)

After knocking around generally westward (known stops in Hamburg and Glasgow), he wound up in the steel mills of Pittsburgh; and then finally the carpet mills in (of all places) upstate NY.

And the familial break with the Old World is close to total. I've just told most of what I know about my Lithuanian roots.

#54 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:20 AM:

Bob: but it wasn't Lithuania when my grandmother left it, it was I think Russia, though the family insisted it was really Poland. Funny how a town can be an immigrant too.

Actually, that was the most recent insight. Even before my ancestors came here, they were immigrants in Europe. Recently, wherever they were, not back in Caesar's time or earlier. Just a long line of newbies.

Alex: 1905 was the impetus here, too. There are family stories about Cossacks and revolutionary literature.

And there are guesses about 1848 on my father's German side (the immigrating Kemnitzer did end up a captain in a colored regiment in the Civil War).

#55 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:31 AM:

The DAR's nothing to long for. It's pretty embarrassing, all around.

My grandmother withrdrew her membership from the DAR when they banned Marian Anderson from performing at Constitution Hall because she was black.

My great-grandmother left the DAR when they denounced Earth Day as a Communist plot.

I'm descended from lots of New Englanders with odd given names like Philander, Breedlove, and Consider. Also, if the family records are to be believed, some privateers, William the Conqueror's tax law expert, and Pope Landus. (The preceding sentence was a lot more entertaining before I added the serial comma.) I'd be prouder of the abolitionist ancestors if they hadn't paid their way out of serving in the Civil War once they'd fomented it.

Up the other line, it's mostly lumberjacks and Hessian deserters. The saner side of the family didn't preserve much more than a few phrases of German.

#56 ::: Jedi Squire ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:54 AM:


> Me, I'm adopted. I don't get to have
> ancestors.


That is one of the bleakest, most poignant sentences I have ever read.

#57 ::: Lois Aleta Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:57 AM:

Lucy says:

but it wasn't Lithuania when my grandmother left it, it was I think Russia, though the family insisted it was really Poland. Funny how a town can be an immigrant too.

The borders of "Poland" have changed quite a bit over the centuries, especially in the last century after each of the World Wars. A lot of what's now Poland used to be Germany and a lot of the now-independent former Communist countries of Eastern Europe used to be at least partially considered Poland.

For awhile (I believe after Napoleon and until after World War I) there was no official "Poland." It was just a memory of a country that had been divvied up among neighboring countries. My sister's mother-in-law's Polish grandparents technically came to America from "Austria-Hungary" (as did my stepgrandfather's Slovenian family).

And there are guesses about 1848 on my father's German side

Mine too. That was about the time when the Fundises came over. My dad and I were speculating on it once, whether that had to do with them migrating, but we've never been sure. The only politics we know for certain of that side of the family in that era was the one -- I think an uncle of my dad's father's father -- who died in the Civil War.

#58 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 04:50 AM:

Lois: Historical borders in Eastern Europe can get pretty weird to someone raised on modern maps. I still haven't quite got over "wait, Lithuania had a Black Sea coastline?"

And, yeah, Poland shifts around a lot. In 1945, a lot of countries in the East shifted quite far politically to the left; Poland was unusual in that it shifted quite far, geographically, to the left as well...

#59 ::: Cassie Krahe ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:05 AM:

That's what throws me about saying where my family came from. I don't want to talk about the current nationality of the last place they were in Europe. I want to know where they're from.
Pennsylvania, mostly.

#60 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:07 AM:

Sarah: Cool, we're related through the Hopkinses. I didn't know about the novel. I should check that out. Definitely agree that the best use of the ancestry is to roll it out when people get snooty.

I appear to be descended from all manner early New Englanders -- the aforementioned Plymouth Colony stalwarts, one or more Salem witches, some Rhode Island dissenters (John Crandall of Westerly, and I strongly suspect we're related to Prudence Crandall), the original owner of one of the houses at Mystic Seaport (but danged if I can remember which one), one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (and again I can't remember which one), Capt. John Parker of the Lexington Militia, Ethan Allen, and everything in between. If I'm not mistaken, the Knapp line is descended from a Hessian mercenary who deserted and never went home. (Mom? Help me with this.)

There's an easy explanation for it. I'm descended from a batch of early Mormon pioneers. The first converts were mostly New Englanders, or the children and grandchildren of same. I'm not sure I have any ancestors who lived south of the Chesapeake. Almost none of them were Irish, either. The Mormons were forced out of Nauvoo and started moving west in the same year the Potato Famine started, and Irish immigrants weren't attracted by the prospect of slogging across most of a continent in order to practice backbreaking dryland agriculture in an unfriendly theocracy.

Dave Bell:

Oh, right, the Mayflower. A bunch of Jesus freaks from north Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, the 17th Century equivalent of a ship-load of telephone sanitisers.

It's a good thing that not all your ancestors were on that ship.

Look up the death rates for the first few years of that colony. I'm descended from the ones who survived long enough to breed up surviving children.

Veejane, family lineages and histories are a staple of legitimate self-publishing. I doubt anyone curls up with a volume of them. They mostly exist for people who are trying to sort out their own descent. The histories can sometimes be interesting.

Jasper: You're descended from the Admiral De Ruyter who burnt the Thames shipping and shelled London? Cool!

"Out of curiosity, how many Americans cannot, with enough genealogy, trace at least one ancestral line back to an early boat? ... most people I know who go in for genealogy can trace a direct line to Charlemagne (once you're into any nobility, that's trivial). I suppose the main thing is that your family has to have been important enough during all that time to show up in genealogical records."
Everybody has ancestors. The real division is between those whose ancestry got recorded, and those whose didn't. Irish peasants (especially Western Ireland), Eastern European Jews, Amerind native tribes, Middle Passage blacks -- the odds of being able to trace any lineage any distance just aren't that good.

The entire western world is descended from Charlemagne. If your family has documented ancestry going back far enough to latch onto some branch of the nobility, it's just a matter of tracing and transcribing back up the line until the records peter out around the end of the Fifth Century. (My favorite ancestors: according to the records, I'm descended from one saint (Olaf) and one seamonster (that Merovingian thing).)

Plenty of Americans who aren't of recent immigrant stock can't trace their ancestry to an early boat. Again, it's a matter of documentation.

Thus the snobbery of organizations reserved for people who can demonstrate descent from Mayflower passengers, or from people who fought in the Revolutionary War. The rule excludes recent immigrants, but it also excludes people whose forebears didn't or couldn't keep track, which takes out most blacks and poor whites. It also excludes people whose ethnic groups have been here for a long time, but haven't been exogamous enough to connect with the boat-qualified population -- which, at the time those organizations were founded, would have taken out most Jews.

This is why I think it's funny that their artfully exclusionist qualifications for membership happen to include thousands and thousands of Intermountain West religious fanatics who by accident of history are descended from the nativist-preferred New England stock, and by accident of theology are all into genealogy.

#61 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:09 AM:

OG -- Napoleon, when asked about his forebears, said "I am an ancestor."

#62 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:18 AM:

OG: Me, I'm adopted. I don't get to have ancestors.

Jedi Squire: That is one of the bleakest, most poignant sentences I have ever read.

While I don't know how OG meant it, I was gearing up to say something like that flippantly. My lack of traceable biological ancestors bothers me not in the least.

#63 ::: RP ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:23 AM:

I'm another (half-)Lithuanian here, brought out of lurkery by this discussion. My paternal grandfather came over around 1900, my paternal grandmother around 1920. My grandmother's father was in the Russo-Japanese war and got gassed.

On my mom's side, there's some nineteenth-century Dutch immigration but all the rest has turned out to be English immigration in the 1600s (no boat names that I remember - have to bug my mom about that). I was sort of surprised about how much immigration took place very early on, since I had never thought any of that was relevant to my ancestry.

We made a family pilgrimage to Lithuania back in '02. It was interesting to see just how different we look from ethnic Lithuanians. Obviously there wasn't much mixing going on, and emigration and the Nazis eliminated all the folks there who look like us.

#64 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:28 AM:

Lucy Kemnitzer wrote:

I've recently figured out that I am four ways not a Pole, and I keep talking about it lately because it's so cool to be almost Polish but not quite, so many times.

My father had a Polish father and Lithuanian mother, and my mother had an Italian father and Polish mother. So I like to say that I'm half-Polish the hard way.

Bob Oldendorf wrote:

Lucy Kemnitzer, Sarah M, and now me: that's three of us here with roots in Lithuania.

Plus me. Lithuania has quite a large diaspora, but it was never very well publicized (except perhaps by Upton Sinclair in The Jungle).

My Lithuanian great-grandfather fled the Russian Empire for much the same reasons as Bob's grandfather. Given that he was born in 1894, and informally discharged himself from the Czar's army when he was 18, he narrowly escaped being cannon fodder in the First World War.

#65 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:46 AM:

Bob Oldendorf:
Lucy Kemnitzer, Sarah M, and now me: that's three of us here with roots in Lithuania.

Four.

My paternal great-grandparents came here from Lithuania (one from Poland) in the late 1800s to escape the Russians. (So I've been told.)

My grandmother's father, who was 18 when he arrived, took to America with a passion; he learned English, became a successful businessman, became one of the pillars of the Lithuanian community in Baltimore--helping found a savings and loan so Lithuanian immigrants could buy homes--and then lost nearly everything in the Great Depression.

By all accounts, my great-grandfather was an amazing man.

#66 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:55 AM:

Jimcat Kasprzak:
Lithuania has quite a large diaspora, but it was never very well publicized

My cousin found a bit in the Baltimore 200th Anniversary book, on the Lithuanians on Baltimore.

Not necessarily well published, but interesting.

#67 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 10:23 AM:

Joining the list of people with ancestors from Lithuania and "the place that is Poland or Germany depending on where the lines get drawn."

But I don't know any dates or cool anecdotes, except that some of them came from Czestochowa (of Black Madonna fame.)

#68 ::: veejane ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 10:42 AM:

Historical borders in Eastern Europe can get pretty weird to someone raised on modern maps. I still haven't quite got over "wait, Lithuania had a Black Sea coastline?"

My ignorant Merrykin self did not think serously about this issue until last Christmas's rerun of The Sound of Music. I was suddenly like, Waitaminnit, Captain von Trapp is a Navy man? What does he do, canoe down the rivers of land-locked Austria??

There was recourse to historical atlases before anyone remembered the Austro-Hungarian empire, which did, indeed, have enough coastline to warrant a Navy.

The trouble with having all the DAR-type reseach done (by a great-grandfather) for my family is that it brings to light all of the unpleasant stories as well as the funny ones. One branch of the family lived in Maryland for a long, long time, before decamping suddenly to Brazil in the 1860s, and then returned to Maryland in the early 1890s. Officially? Missionaries. Unofficially, in some really obvious ways? Couldn't bear the idea of Maryland being a free state, and moved to the last country in the New World to outlaw slavery (which Brazil did in 1888).

History can be a real charmer, sometimes.

#69 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 10:52 AM:

Standard English/Irish/German/French ancestry on both sides (nothing fancy, as indicated by my Miller heritage), but at least my grandmother was born into a family of hotel-keepers in Port Wine CA, a gold-mining community that's now a ghost town in the non-supernatural sense. (*Her* dad was a Farren, hence my first name.)

My husband's last name is Hanscom, which family tradition translates as "witches' hollow" in Welsh. Anyone here know if that's accurate? Regardless, it's a cool name.

#70 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 10:58 AM:

P.S. The most exotic-sounding name in my own family is French-Canadian: Caya (grandma's mom). Her second husband's name, La Liberte, doesn't really count here since I'm from the Farren line.

#71 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 11:11 AM:

Sean McMullen, GOH Jane Yolen, and her guitar-god son Adam Stemple were the non-no-shows at the Worldcon panel: "The Family Business: So Maybe it's In the Genes?"

"Why do some familes produce more than one writer? What's it like? Can you share worlds?"

Briefly onstage, I mentioned some of the 9 professional writers in my family, but need not provide detail here. But it would be cool if Jane, Adam, or Sean could write up their observations!

Geneology meets Bibliography.

#72 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 11:15 AM:

Until a couple of years ago, my wife thought that her family name - Krinard - was sort-of French, from the Alsace-Lorraine, where the border between France and Prussia 'fluctuated' quite a bit. It turns out that the family's original name was Kreinert and got changed when her ancestor landed in America in the middle of the 19th century. The name-change may have to do with grandpapa having crossed the Atlantic in a small boat with a bunch of other men who just didn't want to join the Kaiser's military.

(Speaking of France/Prussia's wandering border... Remember that scene in Casablanca where the bad guys are singing rather raucously until everybody else buries them with La Marseillaise? I asked one of German-speaking co-workers if he knew what the lyrics meant. There is a line that says to the Rhine that its banks will never be French.)

#73 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 11:23 AM:

Some of my ancestors were peasants in southern Italy around 1400, of which one daughter was made pregnant by a German knight passing by. Or so it was rumoured; the guy actually felt sorry for the poor lass and blessed her following marriage (to one generous Peppino who was so kind to "save her honour" or something like that) with some minor title. No lands, eh, but some money saved from taxes.

Other ones were jews of French origins living in Rome, who had to "italianise" their names under fascism, and unfortunately many records were "lost" in the operation. "Deho'" still doesn't sound Italian to me, but someone looked the other way...

This mixes nicely with my grandmother's line, quiet people from the "low lands" near the Po River who weren't really leftists until Mussolini sent my grand-grandfather to join the doomed "follow the Fuhrer" adventure in Soviet Russia; he, differently from 90% of those poor souls who died in winter from horrific conditions, came back alive. Then they became kind of communists. I wonder why, really.

And then there's one line from Romagna. You know, that eastern part of northern italy, including Ravenna, who was once the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, and then fell to the arabs. Some still call that area a Turkey province. Disgraceful people, I tell you: they even tried to pass their "piadina", a vulgar pita/kebab derivative, as an Italian delicacy.

#74 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 11:28 AM:

A friend of mine, her father traced the family back to a village in France. Which they left for England in 1066. Eventually ending up in the most western county of Ireland: Boston.

Turns out on her mother's side you'll find J. Sheridan Le Fanu and Philip Sheridan.

All of this reminds me of a skiffy story... fellow hires a time traveller (?) to trace his family tree, fguring there must be some important people there... nope, none. Just common average folks. & no, I don't recall the story, the author.. other than I must have read it in the late 60s.

#75 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 11:57 AM:

Jasper Janssen: Out of curiosity, how many Americans cannot, with enough genealogy, trace at least one ancestral line back to an early boat?

Uh, I moved here. I can trace my ancestry back to an Airbus 320 from Toronto.

My parents moved to Canada from India as part of the big wave of non-European immigration in the late sixties.

My father's family was on the wrong (for their religion, that is) side of where the India-Pakistan border was established in 1947, so they had to migrate to a different part of the soon-to-be-disbanded Indian Empire. That's about as far as I can go with my ancestry.

I know that over half of Torontonians were not born in Canada (and that doesn't include people like me, who's a child of immigrants); I suspect that in some of the larger US cities, the situation is getting to be similar.

#76 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 12:03 PM:

Hi, cousin!

Another Alden-Mullen-Standish descendent here. Delia Sherman and I figured out we're related through Roger Sherman, one of the signers of the Declaration. All that's on my mother's side, where the geneology is all anecdotal, AFAIK.

On my father's side, the geneology is pretty well documented by my great-grandfather (the one who wrote the book on heraldry that's still in print and one of the major texts, and led the fight to keep the Old State House in Boston -- you can see pictures of him there, in the Whitmore Room).

#77 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 12:04 PM:

I feel impressively unethnic reading this. I had a great-grandfather from Hemel Hempstead, I think.

veejane: It could be weirder. The other half, Hungary, still had no coastline. It kept the navy (there was a large lake and some rivers), but then confused everyone by being a landlocked country ruled by an Admiral. More weirdly, Bolivia still maintains a navy despite not having had a coastline since 1884, when Chile won it off them. It seems that keeping it around is as much a political statement as anything else.

#78 ::: Carrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 12:13 PM:

I'm vaguely jealous of these extensive, detailed family histories that go back four hundred years--for the stories, not for the status.

My own is scattered at best, and fairly textbook lower-class American. My mother's side has those Irish peasant refugees of the potato famine, Pennsylvanian Germans who decamped to Colorado, Dutch, more Germans, and my great-grandfather who came from Sweden on the Lusitania.

The history of my father's side comes to a screeching halt at about 1850 with a couple of extra-marital offspring who no one wanted to claim. I suspect colonial roots on that side--but they'll turn out to be the convicts, indentured servants, etc.

No DAR credentials, but my paternal grandfather was a member of the Sons of the Confederacy. He had his certificate hanging on the wall next to his picture of Bill Clinton.

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 12:16 PM:

My American ancestry starts in January 1989 with my California-born wife Sue and me driving a small (way too small) van with our stuff from Canada's East. Rather uneventful. Most vivid memories? Somewhere along I-80, seeing a sign that pointed toward some place called the Deeth-Starr Valley - I kid you not. Further along, seeing billboards praising the town of Winnemucca hundred of miles before we got there. And seeing bald eagles.

#80 ::: flick ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 12:27 PM:

Is your Crandall related to Thankfull Crandall (born about 1799, in Rhode Island)?

She married my 1st cousing 8 times removed, Thomas Curtiss. LOL!

Since I started working on my family tree years ago, it's been pretty interesting. Ran into 4th cousins and such, that I didn't know about.

#81 ::: Genevieve ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 01:42 PM:

I've worked for the DAR for the past four years, albeit not in a membership/geneology position. It's an interesting organization, with some very nice ladies who do good things, and some ladies who back you up against a wall while reciting their genealogical histories, like you're going to be tested on it later. In the past some years, they've been making efforts to let people know that their admission standards are a little looser than general perception has it, and they've been publically trying to make amends for the Marian Anderson incident (to the point where the official release of her stamp was held here). About a year and a half back, I got to participate in a fabulous exhibit on African American and American Indian soldiers in the Rev. War, which pulled together some very cool research. Although I in theory could trace my ancestry back, and I would be interested to hear some of the stories of people in my family, I don't have the huge amounts of patience it takes to sort through courthouse records or census data.

#82 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 01:54 PM:

Going back to Larry Brennan's question:

Can I chime in with an LDS question - it's my semi-uninformed understanding that Mormons focus on ancestry to posthumously convert their forebears. Is this really the case? Somehow, I can't shake the image of deceased Norse warriors carousing in Valhalla being whisked off to someone else's paradise, only to discover that they can't even get a cup of coffee, let alone mead by the flagon...
As others here have also explained, the posthumously baptized soul is being given the opportunity to convert, not forcibly converted. IMO, what you should be visualizing is a couple of nice wet-behind-the-ears Mormon boys in their missionary outfits, knocking on the front door of Valhalla, with their scriptures in hand.

Caryn: Laura Secord was a traitor? I thought she just made candy.

Leigh Butler:

My ancestors on both sides had an apparent predilection for marrying scandalously for the ethnic mores of the day.

Nothing else can explain the presence of, on my mother's New Orleans side, the intermarriage of Irish, Creole French, and German (horror!), and on my father's New England/Mississippi side, the mingling of Portuguese, Scottish, English, and (we believe) Iroquois (blasphemy!).

What that means in genetic terms is not only ending up with a veritable schmorgasbord of ethnic backgrounds, but also with a bunch of older generations never again speaking to younger generations and, therefore, a lot of loss of family history. Which is why I suspect I only know the broad strokes and none of the details.

Leigh, from your description -- Creoles, Portuguese, said-to-be-Iroquois, New Orleans, more than a whiff of scandal, palpable gaps in the narrative, bitter quarrels between generations, and conflicts that just go on and on for no apparent reason -- I'd say there's a good chance that your people were marrying on both sides of the color line, and that passing was an issue.

Claude:

We've never been the sort to travel first class.

While we probably do not have common ancestors, Teresa, I would not be surprised if a couple of mine had been hung by a couple of yours.

We undoubtedly have common ancestors, but I expect you're right about the hanging business. On the other hand, I'm equally sure that some of yours have hung some of mine. One of the lessons of genealogy is that if you push it back far enough, you find you have ancestors on both sides of most fights.

Stefan Jones:

Four of my five grandparents ...
And how exactly did you manage that?
The family across the street from where I grew up were Winslows and claimed that their ancestors came over on the Mayflower. Obnoxious anti-semitic working-class parents, rotten bully kids. But, gosh, they were *more American* than the city people who crashed their neighborhood.
There now. That's exactly what I mean by occasions when it's useful to be able to roll out the ancestry. I'd like to think that in some equivalent situation, an unjustly oppressed kid who's read my post will have the motherwit to blandly buff his nails and say "Yeah, us too. We're related to the Hopkinses (Fullers Allertons Billingtons Tilleys Eatons Brewsters Carvers Mores etc. etc. etc.) on my mother's mother's side." It'd be even better if the kid were (say) Chinese.

It won't cure these idiots of racism, but it'll get them to stop flashing the Mayflower card.

Alice Keezer: "Hunh. I'm related to Teresa. Go figure." Early New England, sort of hard to avoid.

Larry Brennan again:

I recall reviewing a resume for an entry-level IT job that listed DAR membership with fairly high prominence. This made it very hard for me to take the candidate seriously so I asked someone else to review her resume. Ultimately, we wound up not interviewing her, but I wanted to be doubly certain that the decision was based on objective criteria and not on my hackles having been raised by such prominent class-signalling.
What raises my hackles is the possibility that there might be companies where that info is a plus. On the other hand, you did say entry-level. Youngsters can be clueless about what they put on their resumes.

Eric Sadoyama:

I have another kind of American ancestry question. It seems to me that when I hear white Americans claiming some small amount of American Indian ancestry, more often than not it's Cherokee. Why the Cherokee? Were they more prone to outmarriage than other tribes, or something?
Okay, Eric, you get the trophy for biggest can of worms. I'll have to think about that one. In the meantime, you might try reading The red and the black and its message thread. It's only twenty-seven messages: early days for Making Light.

#83 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 01:57 PM:

fidelio - My great-grandfather moved from Hannover to the Haw Creek township area of central Missouri (somewhere between Stover and Cole Camp, for anyone with a very detailed Missouri map) shortly before the Civil War. That makes them almost neighbors, doesn't it?

Almost all of my great grandparents moved from northern parts of what is now Germany to the US between 1850 and 1880.

#84 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:12 PM:

T: I presume that all these illustrious ancestors were all duly retrospecively baptized in order to gain them access to the planet Kolob?

#85 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:12 PM:

Eric Sadoyama:

I have another kind of American ancestry question. It seems to me that when I hear white Americans claiming some small amount of American Indian ancestry, more often than not it's Cherokee. Why the Cherokee? Were they more prone to outmarriage than other tribes, or something?

Okay, Eric, you get the trophy for biggest can of worms.

I think it's (a) there were more of them; (b) they did mix more in white society (such as it may have been), and (c) they got a written language fairly early, on their own, so there's paperwork of a sort from both sides of the ethnic divide - see, for example, the various tribal rolls).

FWIW - I don't seem to have any non-European Americans on my tree. Some of my cousins, OTOH, have married Asian-ancestry Americans, and my sister-in-law has someone from what's now Belarus on her tree (given name Moses: the ethnicity is left as an exercise).

#86 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:13 PM:

T: I presume that all these illustrious ancestors were all duly retrospecively baptized in order to gain them access to the planet Kolob?

(I gpt this error message the first time I tried to post:
An error occurred:

Rebuild failed: Renaming tempfile '/home/pnh/public_html/makinglight/archives/006642.html.new' failed: Renaming '/home/pnh/public_html/makinglight/archives/006642.html.new' to '/home/pnh/public_html/makinglight/archives/006642.html' failed: No such file or directory)

#87 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:21 PM:

I'm one more Lithuanian, by way of my great-grandmother. It's a wonderful thing about America that my son is a quarter Welsh, a quarter Italian, and a half mix of Lithuanian, Russian, and Polish.

Lucy said: Alex: 1905 was the impetus here, too. There are family stories about Cossacks and revolutionary literature.

Yes, precisely. The story I've been told is that a Cossack officer was rousing up the locals to go on a pogrom against the Jews, so one of my g-grandfather's family shot him, figuring the crime would become part of the revolution. Not so much.

On the flexibility of Eastern European borders: when my g-grandfather was still alive, I asked him (because I had heard conflicting stories) whether they had been Polish or Russian.

"Vell," he said. "One week ze Russsian soldiers would be zere; zen we would be Russian. Ze next week it would be Polish soldiers; zen we would be Polish." I'm not sure who these Polish soldiers were supposed to be, as this was late 1800s/early 1900s, but I guess I got the point.

A tangent, maybe more related to Story for Beginners. I always read Steve Brust's Vlad Taltos books as somewhat a metaphor for the wonder of a poor Eastern European immigrant who makes it to the rich nations of England/France/Germany. Especially since Fenarr is so much Hungary anyway.

#88 ::: Jackmormon ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:22 PM:

I have just *got* to be related to Teresa in some way--did any of your relatives marry into the Hyrum Smith-Joseph S. Smith line?

Since so much of my ancestry is already collected somewhere, by someone, I haven't paid much attention to the specifics, unfortunately. Anecdotes, though: we all like those.

My very Mormon mother, who loved reading the Norse eddas, was fond of telling a story about a Norseman who was told by a Christian missionary that he could convert or go to hell. The Norseman asked the missionary whether his unbaptized ancestors were all damned, to which the missionary replied yes. So, according to me mum, the Norseman declared: "Better to burn in hell with my ancestors than to go to heaven alone."

This anecdote ring a bell with any of you learned readers?

#89 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:39 PM:

No blue blood flowing through my veins! (but then again, no slaveowners, so that's cool...)

My maternal (mother's mother) great-grandparents came here on a boat - which disgorged them at Ellis Island - from what is now the Czech Republic. Earlier ancestors in those lines were from my favorite defunct country, Bohemia.

My maternal grandfather also came on a boat - from Samoa - around the 30's, I believe. His father came to Samoa on a boat (he was a Marine) originally from the New England area. Much of that g-grandfather's documentation is in French, so I'm assuming that line goes back to some French peasantry. Grandpa's mother's line had always been in Samoa.

My dad's side of the family I know a little less about, owing in part to a legnthy estrangement with his father. I believe either his father or grandfather came here on a boat from Poland, landing first in Pennsylvania and eventually settling in Chicago. His mother's side of the family - my g-g grandparents - were among the first mormon settlers, although I believe they may have originally hailed from Wales, landing first on US shores around the early 19th century.

I would like to know more about my genealogy because I'm interested in the story it tells - but I am hesitant to bring it up with my parents, as I fear they'll start sending me BoM's and missionaries and stuff when really, I'd just like a few good ideas for a book.

#90 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:41 PM:

Last month, Alex Beam of the Boston Globe (I'd give the link but you'd have to pay them for the full article) wrote:

"I've never been very interested in genealogy. It seems like a flimsy pastime for people who would like to fancy themselves better than they are, e.g.: "OK, I'm a street sweeper, but my great-great-great-great-grandmother was Mary Chilton of the Mayflower." Doubtless we have many such street sweepers here in Boston."

And why do I remember this? Because this undersigned descendant of Mary Chilton was looking through the Globe job ads that day ... street sweeper openings, eh?

Oh, and I suspect I am a ninth cousin or so of our hostess. And she and I, like everyone with 18th century New England descent, are cousins of Dubya. That's tens of millions of people. Can we disown him?

#91 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:52 PM:

Alex, my paternal grandfather insisted strongly his family was Polish, not Russian, not not not Russian, Polish, dammit. For similar reasons, one presumes, and similar time period. But what genealogy I could track suggests the family is from up near the Belarus border, which means it's probably a little of both anyhow.

My ancestry is so mixed it probably is immaterial; I identify as American rather than any given ethnicity. But it's still kinda funny. Much like my other grandfather making sure I knew roughly half his ancestors came from Croatia, not this Yugoslavia thing.

(The rest of my ancestry includes German, Irish and possibly some other mixed British Isles (a matter of hot debate right now in that part of the family), Austrian, Hungarian, and Swedish. I wouldn't even know where to start identifying even if my family hadn't assimilated completely into American culture by the time I was born.)

#92 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:54 PM:

Teresa wrote: Caryn: Laura Secord was a traitor? I thought she just made candy.

(jumping in for Caryn, and freely adapting from the entry on Laura Secord in Wikipedia)

Laura Secord was from a Loyalist family that had moved from Massachusetts to Upper Canada about fifteen years before the War of 1812. In 1813, her household was forced to billet invading American soldiers. She overheard them discussing plans for a surprise attack on a British (Canadian) camp, and so she left the house and walked the twenty or so miles there to warn the British soldiers (legend is that she took a cow along as cover). Prepared for the attack, the Brits won the battle and took most of the American soldiers prisoner. So she's kind of like a Canuck Paul Revere.

From the Laura Secord Chocolates website: [In 1913, the founder] chose the name Laura Secord out of a desire to identify his products with the [sic] wholesomeness, purity, and domesticity.

Laura Secord mint chocolate bars are well worth trying if you find yourself on the Canadian side of the border, by the way.

#93 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 02:58 PM:

It's amazing isn't it, how all us Americans seemed to be compelled to talk about our ancestry?

Most of the genealogical work in my family has been done on my father's side. His family name is unusual and we knew when the family came to the US from Germany -- early 20th century. We still have relatives living in Germany as well as a good number in the US. His mother's name was Stewart. So that side of the family has Scottish and English connections including, allegedly Sir Francis Drake. My mother's family is a different kettle of fish. Her maiden name is Casey and about all they know is is one of the Cork Casey families -- no damn fun at all to try and trace. Her mother's maiden name was London which isn't much help either. She does know that one of her great grandmothers was half Cherokee. Yep, there's the Cherokee again. We're from Oklahoma; we're required by law to have Cherokee ancestry. Despite what some people have said about my pasty white complection. (Hey, I take after the Stewarts -- except no red hair dammit.)

Jordin's family knows when the ancestral Kare emigrated from Russia to Canada, but it's from a small town in western Russia. WW2 rolled back and forth over it several times and there are no records left. The always assumed Kare was a shortening for Karasomethingorother but it turns out Kare is not uncommon in Finland. Which isn't far from that small western Russian town. His mother's name is Abramson and they're Philadelphia but I have no idea of anything further in their history. Oh, and they're all Jewish.

MKK

#94 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 03:06 PM:

Teresa says:
I'd say there's a good chance that your people were marrying on both sides of the color line, and that passing was an issue.

Heh. Les gens de couleur libres, mulattoes, octoroons - all staples of New Orleans cultural history, true.

I imagine it's a definite possibility. However, no one on my mother's side of the family has ever breathed a word of it to me, if so.

Oooh. This has potential. I am now TOTALLY ready for this year's family Christmas party.

#95 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 03:35 PM:

One of my grandmothers has a maiden name that either derives from "relative of the king" or "relative of the wainwright."

It says something about the politics of my family members, I think, that all the aunties desperately want it to be the wainwright.

#96 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 04:06 PM:

Laina, not only is Stover and Cole Camp just bit over from Miller County (where my Bavarian--from Rhodt-unter-Rietburg, a town with but one industry, involving grapes--ended up), my cousin's husband has a farm at Cole Camp where they weekend, and grow hardwood timber--he considers the timber his children's retirement fund. When I was in Missouri back this spring with my mother, we stopped in Versailles [long A, pronounce the LLs as in English] to order some replacement tombstones.
It's amazing how many Germans decided America was a promising place to be, as the Kingdom of Prussia extended its grasp across the German states. I can't imagine why anyone would find the Prussians objectionable. /snark

With regard to those who are contemplating that they might be distantly related to someone, whether Teresa or GWB or someone else, please let me introduce you to a custom of the Southern US, land of complex genealogies: My aunt was talking to the doctor she worked with for many years about some people they knew in the area. He admitted that his family was somehow related to these people "but I couldn't tell you exactly how; after what Old Man X did, we stopped calling kin with them." Once the relationship is distant enough that you're down to calculating third cousins twice removed and so on, admitting to the relationship is optional, and may be taken as a sign of esteem, or lack of it, for those involved.
Therefore: if I could call kin with GWB, I wouldn't. In fact, I don't even want to know if I can.

#97 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 04:15 PM:

On the Cherokee question:

My father's side of the family boasts a Native American ancestor. I once asked my aunt which tribe, and she answered, "Cherokee, for all I know."

I later asked my grandmother, who specified that the tribe was St. Francis - not Cherokee, or even related. My aunt either had never been told or didn't remember, but it's interesting that "Cherokee" seems to be a default value. Perhaps the Cherokee survived longer and in greater numbers than other tribes.

And isn't there a song? "Cherokee people, Cherokee tribe"

#98 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 04:21 PM:

Incidentally, the connections that enable one to join things like the DAR are often less exalted, and more entertaining, than you might think. My sister, in her researches, uncovered my mother's Revolutionary War ancestor and found a copy of his veteran's pension hearing, which took place in southern Illinois and reads, according to my sister, as if he had been well-lubricated by his sons beforehand, in case of stage fright. He was a member of the North Carolina militia, and served his three months around the time of the Battle of Camden, of which he was a petrified participant; his principal recollection of that inglorious action was of hiding in a ditch afterwards, and watching General Horatio Gates, as he galloped hell-bent for leather off to Charlotte as fast as he could go to escape Cornwallis. This is probably a lot more typical than many of the more pious members of that organization would like us to believe. When I think of his account I feel a lot of sympathy for him; probably more than I could manage for one closer to the standard definition of illustrious.

This is probably the best reason to study genealogy, so that we can realize just how completely human those who came before us were, and to give flesh to the bones of the history we're taught. The great-grandmother whose reaction to the sandy barrens of Choctaw County Mississippi was to refuse to leave the wagon for a week is a more interesting person than any manufactured Scarlet O'Hara clone.

#99 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 04:23 PM:

Tina wrote:

...my paternal grandfather insisted strongly his family was Polish, not Russian, not not not Russian, Polish, dammit. For similar reasons, one presumes, and similar time period.

From the musical Chess:

Right now we're Italian, we used to be German, the borders keep shifting around.

My Polish and Lithuanian relatives always regarded themselves as ethnically Polish or Lithuanian. The nationality was just a matter of paperwork. The marriage certificate for one set of my great-grandparents (issued in 1908) lists their birthplaces as "Russia Poland" (sic). On the other hand, my Lithuanian great-grandfather, who applied for Social Security in 1936, listed his birthplace as "Lithuania" -- which was actually an independent nation when he filled out the application, but wasn't when he was born there.

The Poles got short shrift under the Russian Empire, just as did the Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Georgians, and many other ethnic groups under the Czars and later the Soviets. Very few of them felt any patriotic connections to Mother Russia.

When certain militant African-Americans try to label me as a "white oppressor", I point out that my ancestors were oppressed as badly, and for as long, by the Russians and Germans as theirs were by the Americans. At which point the conversation is usually declared over.

#100 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 04:26 PM:

Well, add another Lithuanian, here. Well, mostly. My mother's family were all Lithuanians, going back several generations. My father's side was a bit more mixed -- for values of mixed that include a fair number of sub-species of Polish. (Polish, Russian-Polish, and Galician).

No family members in the US before the turn of the last century, either.

#101 ::: Chuck Divine ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 04:27 PM:

A while back I looked at a few of those genealogy web sites. My interest was effectively killed when I couldn't find my grandfather Charles Divine. Yes, we share a first and last name.

What surprises me about this is that his history is reasonably well known and more prominent than the average citizen. He was born in 1870. He graduated from Rutgers College in 1890. At Rutgers he was captain of the very first Rutgers lacrosse team. While he was no Ford or Rockefeller by any stretch, records on him should be easy to find. But these websites didn't list him -- even if I tried varying the dates by +- 5 years.

I'm not all that interested in genealogy, though. At most it might help me understand some of the influences that have shaped my life.

#102 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 05:04 PM:

Chuck, what's on genealogy websites is there because the people who put it up were either 1) putting up their own family genealogy or 2) putting up information they had which was of interest to others, such as cemetery records, even if those involved weren't their own ancestors.

Even when the research has been done, it may not have migrated to the internet; my sister has done a fairly detailed family genealogy (for people who were never Great Figures of History), but very little of her work has made in onto the internet, as she hsan't bothered to set up a website for it. As she has shared data with other researchers, some may have made it out there, but only if other people put it there. Even if the research has been done, don't count on it making it to the internet unless someone who cares puts it there.

For someone like your grandfather, information might be found on him at places like a listing of Rutgers' alumni--this sort of thing is the raw material of genealogy researchers, and not the finished product. Internet genealogy, even the LDS-based stuff, is like all other genealogy: mostly result of individual effort by people with a personal interest in the topic. You can hire people to do it for you, but mostly it's done because the people doing it want to know themselves.

#103 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 05:48 PM:

fidelio: I'd have expected he'd have at least turned up in the online version of the 1880 census, though, unless Weird Stuff intervened. (A quick poke found ten or so plausibles, but I obviously can't tell if any of them are the chap.) Not, of course, that this would say much about the man himself...

#104 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 06:09 PM:

First generation American, here: my father came over with his family after WWII--on a US troop ship. My grandfather, although a German citizen, had served as a US Army chaplain during the last year of the war, and was chosen to give the memorial service when Roosevelt died. He was born in was is now again Poland but was at the time eastern Germany; his parents had settled there on confiscated Polish noblemen's lands. They were from Pomerania originally. (My grandfather was a Pomeranian! [g])

My mother's family has been here considerably longer. Her mother's ancestors may have come over on an early boat; we don't know and no one has cared to try and find out. Her father's family is from Scotland via Canada--one of my ancestors apparently fought with the British army at Waterloo.

--Mary Aileen

#105 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 07:25 PM:

We're related too.

My grandmother traced us back to Reverend Brewster on the Mayflower. Not so far back is Isembard Brunel, who built the first transatlantic steamship.

#106 ::: Jenn R ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 07:52 PM:

Teresa: Everybody has ancestors. The real division is between those whose ancestry got recorded, and those whose didn't.

Heh. Been there. I once had a genealogist friend tell me that "of course there's records of that", even though the town doesn't exist anymore. And it's questionable whether there were any records in the first place.

My father's dad deserted from the Russian Army in 1915 or so. His unit had been ordered to retreat from some battle on the Eastern Front of WWI, and he just kept going east, picking up a girl in Siberia (her family had been relocated there from Ukraine by the Czar), and landing in Vancouver via China. That's what we know. The town that Nana was originally from isn't anymore.

On the other side, while one branch came over in 1630 (darned if I can remember which boat), at least one branch started with a Royal Navy Seaman who jumped overboard in Boston Harbor and skittered down to Brockton, then was involved in the Concord/Lexington skirmish. Of course, he changed his name. Another branch is Irish immigrants in the 1840s, both Protestant and Catholic.

When I was young and foolish, I wanted to join the DAR during the Cold War with a second generation Russian surname. Then I went off to college, and had no time for such foolishness

#107 ::: Jasper Janssen ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 08:39 PM:

Jasper: You're descended from the Admiral De Ruyter who burnt the Thames shipping and shelled London? Cool!

Against his better judgement, by the way. The plan was conceived by the politicians, and had some serious military problems. He still did it, and successfully, though.

But yes, apparently related to him, although this is more of a factoid than actual knowledge for me. I think there was something with the aunt of my maternal grandmother -- maybe she was the one who did the research. I even seem to remember that it was a direct male line until at least the 19th century.

He's a pretty interesting character, really, at least if all of the following is actually true and not just legends grown around the man. Son of a beer porter, employed as a boy in a rope-manufacturing thingy, dismissed from there and school for misbehaving, went to sea at age 11 as bosun's boy (if I translate that correctly), allegedly got captured by the Spanish at age 15, then escaped and came back to the Netherlands.

More realistically, perhaps, between him taking ship at age 11 and him taking command of a Corporate-owned warship at age 30 against the Dunkirk Pirates. From age 37 he owned his own trading ship and made multiple extremely profitable journeys to "the West" (ie, the Americas), earning enough to retire 5 years later.

Only then did his naval career start -- starting with a stint as second in command under Witte de With, and only senior witness to the death of Maarten Tromp (two of the other three well-known admirals we had in those days), and as commander in chief of the Dutch Navy (when the Dutch Navy actually meant something) against the British and the French for over 20 years.

The mid-19th-century children's folk song about him that starts 'in a blue checked overall, he spun the giant wheel, all day,', which refers to his job at the rope manufactury (and which is probably not even apocryphal), still gets sung on occasion.

It's interesting to see y'all's answers to my question -- clearly the US has both more migration than I thought and apparently also less mixing between social groups.

#108 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 08:52 PM:

All this just reminded me that one of my mother's cousins put together a family tree for that side of the family a while back, and emailed me a PDF copy. From which I learned that my great-grandmother's maiden name was apparently "Neumann," which is odd, because when I used to send her thank-you notes for Christmas presents, I remember addressing the cards to "Ethel Murphy," and her husband's last name was "Wedel." There's probably a story behind that-- I'll have to ask my mother.

It only goes one generation back from there, to her husband's father, born in 1859. There's no biographical information, though my mom's cousin probably knows something about him.

Also, the women on that side of the family all live forever-- three of the five daughters of my great-grandmother's generation lived past ninety, and a fourth made it to 81. One of them will probably make it to 100 next year, and she still lives on her own. My great-grandmother lived to 91, and my 92-year-old great-aunt had open heart surgery a little over a month ago, and is home by herself doing just fine.

I'm apparently descended from Heinlein characters...

#109 ::: Jasper Janssen ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 08:53 PM:

Not so far back is Isembard Brunel, who built the first transatlantic steamship.

So are you descended from another child of Marc Isambard Brunel, a sibling of Isambard Kingdom Brunel? Google won't cough up if Marc Isambard had any other children besides Isambard Kingdom. Either way, very cool ancestry.

#110 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:08 PM:

About the Cherokee ancestry thing, when I was doing my MA at York I knew an American student who said she was Black Cherokee. Then there was another American who was tall, blonde and one-eighth Osage.

#111 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:12 PM:

This sort of arrival-sequence worship is not unique to the boat-WASPs -- there are parts of my family that would have looked down their noses at all the Litvaks posting above. Even the Moscowitzes were here early for Moscowitzes, and though my Mother's side didn't arrive until I Love Lucy was already on the air, they were still bitter about being kicked out of Buda after the reconquest and having to start all over again afterward.

All this means absolutely nothing to me except that I'm quite proud of my namesake (on one side), and am owed some rather nice real estate by the Hungarian government (on the other).

#112 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:31 PM:

IKB had two sisters, and two sons (one named Isambard) and a daughter of his own.

It's surprising how many books on Victorian engineering, particularly railways, one can accumulate.

I have occasionally thought about a steampunkety yarn involving an American half-brother of IKB's, born during his father's time in New York (or, more likely, a person claiming to be such). But it would almost certainly have to be a novel (or novels, in the way of such things) and it's a long way down the queue.

#113 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:33 PM:

And then there are brick walls. The family of an acquaintance goes back to a town in east Texas, where a man showed up and said that his name was Jones and he was from the East. I believe they gave up on finding any more on that line.

#114 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:42 PM:

Jasper Yup. I found that out on our trip to England (while we were stationed in Germany). We saw the statue of him, and a bridge he built in London. Too bad the boat was cut up and sold for scrap.

I'm not sure which child we came from, but my grandmother's maiden name was Brunel. I should ask next time I see her.

#115 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:46 PM:

The town my mother was born in was (in order): Austria-Hungarian, Hungarian, Czech (when my mother was born), Hungarian again when most of Czechoslovakia was handed over to the Germans, part of the Soviet Union, and is now in the Ukraine. She and her family spoke Hungarian, but she insists that she's Czech -- I'm not quite sure why. I've told her that most Americans probably don't know the difference and couldn't find either country on the map, but there seems to be some distinction there that only an Eastern European would understand.

#116 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 09:57 PM:

there seems to be some distinction there that only an Eastern European would understand.

I used to know a genetics postdoc whose Czech Jewish mother was adamant that Czechoslovakia was not eastern, but central, Europe. That may be the distinction in play here.

#117 ::: Jackmormon ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 10:17 PM:

Oh, and here I thought meself illustrious for my nineteenth religious ancestors. On the atheistical side of the bed, I've got a gen-ew-ine passenger aboard the 1630 Mary and John. That always was the la-di-dah branch of the family; my sometime miner, sometime longshoreman, eventual engineer grandfather had to wait through a three-year engagement finally to elope with my grandmother. The price of silver was high that winter: he was optimistic, and she was determined. It turned out well, although they nearly died during the -50F. hike to their honeymoon cabin.

(It makes me very happy that by the nineteenth-century, a descendent of this illustriously well-timed migrant thought it was a good idea to name his son "Philander Phelps.")

#118 ::: pookel ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 11:05 PM:

Another Lithuanian connection here. My paternal grandfather's parents met in the Red Army during the Russian revolution of 1917 (they were both medics), then left Russia after he was born. He grew up in Memel, Lithuania, which is now known as Klaipeda. They lived there until the schools kicked all the Jews out, then moved to Latvia for a year, then fled Europe in December 1939 ahead of Hitler.

My great-grandparents, when they were trying to leave, had a chance to buy plane tickets to Sweden, but they didn't have their travel papers in order. My grandfather, then 17, convinced them to buy the tickets anyway and sort the paperwork out later. They did, the paperwork went through, and that's why that branch of the family made it out alive. Most of his cousins, aunts, uncles, etc., weren't so lucky. Years later, after they were all settled in America and living comfortably, my great-grandparents gave my grandfather $10,000 to thank him for saving all their lives.

In other branches of the family, I have an 18th-century immigrant, five Civil War soldiers, some slaveholders, a Presbyterian minister who adopted all the unwanted babies that got dumped on his doorstep, both white and black, and another Presbyterian minister who was such an abusive tyrant that all his kids became atheists, but unfortunately I don't know a lot of details about those.

#119 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 11:44 PM:

I always like a genealogy post cause it gives me a chance to show everyone my forebears -- Here they are and not a blueblood in the lot. The picture is taken in Indiana a hundred years ago give or take. If memory serves: the kid in the front left, holding his hat, is my great grandfather George Osner who would go on to homestead briefly in North Dakota and then move to California to work as an entomologist in Delano.

#120 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 12:37 AM:

"then there are the brick walls" -- I can't go back more than a generation or two before immigration anywhere except part of my father's mother's mother, which goes back to some bastard rampaging over some island somewhere a long time ago. (more imigrants)

#121 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 12:56 AM:

I get a vague impression that (1) historically, some subset of the Cherokee really were unusually assimilationist and prone to outmarriage, and (2) partly because of this, they got a "good Indian" reputation that became convenient for amateur genealogists as a default label for "non-white, misc."; occasionally it actually meant "black".

I say this as yet another white American with supposed Cherokee ancestry. My grandfather probably was a considerable fraction Native American and came out of Oklahoma, so it's at least plausible, though far from certain.

#122 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 01:12 AM:

...Recently I found out a lot about my maternal grandfather's boyhood: he was a child of Norwegian immigrants in South Dakota whose parents were respectively killed and debilitated by some wave of the flu pandemic in 1921. His several brothers and sisters were all adopted by different families in the town (which was essentially all Scandinavian immigrants); he was adopted by the local Baptist preacher and his wife, who were themselves Danish immigrants.

My grandfather's original last name was Jensen, and the people who adopted him had also been named Jensen before they changed it to Fredmund for reasons that remain unclear to me. I'd heard originally that the preacher was made to change it at Ellis Island because there were too many Jensens, but that's not true; he changed it in Denmark before he immigrated.

#123 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 01:39 AM:

Eric wrote: "It seems to me that when I hear white Americans claiming some small amount of American Indian ancestry, more often than not it's Cherokee. Why the Cherokee? Were they more prone to outmarriage than other tribes, or something?"

There are probably multiple reasons. The Cherokee were numerous over a large area that had a source population for much of the later migration, and don't seem to have been especially ethnocentric, so there wasn't much objection to outmarriage from their end. They were considered, by many Whites, to be _respectable_ people. Or at least comparatively respectable, for Indians. They tended to adopt White Civilization, becoming literate, hard-working (& generally prosperous) farmers & businesspeople. There's considerable sympathy for their unfair & illegal treatment and for their sufferings along the Trail of Tears when they were forced to Oklahoma. If White families had to admit to, or wanted to boast of, an Indian ancestor, Cherokee seems to have been the way to go. (Some modern Indians have taken to using the phrase "genuine Cherokee Princess(TM)" in this context, knowing that the Five Civilized Tribes, like practically all other North American ones, really didn't have an established Hereditary Royalty system -- though Chiefs were usually selected from a few prominent families.) They also kept & managed to retain more & better written records than most Indian tribes, and modern genealogy depends heavily on such formal documentation. I suspect that Will Rogers had more than a little to do with it, too -- he was extremely popular and well-liked as a humorist and commentator on the American condition ("We have the best Congress that money can buy"), and proud of his Cherokee heritage. Well, not really _proud_ (in an obnoxious sense) which hit a responsive chord in many self-made middle-class Americans -- I think his speech to a DAR National Convention began with something like "My ancestors didn't come over on the Mayflower, they were here to meet it" and included "I don't consider myself a 'Descendant', but more like an 'Ancestor'".

#124 ::: Greg Horn ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 01:44 AM:

If family tales are to believed, Charlemange would be related to the Cherokees through the DAR.

Here is one clue as to the oft cited Cherokee connection in family histories - in order to properly account for Cherokees in dealings with the US government, many, many censuses were taken, such as the Dawes Roll (early 20th century) and the Baker Roll (1924). If it is well documented, it can be traced genealogically.

My family has been wise enough to save old love letters sent to and from prisons a few generations back. It's hard to beat Prohibition and the Great Depression for good stories.

#125 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 02:42 AM:

On my father's side we can go back to the mid-18th century in Albemarle County in Virginia (and it pains me to admit that we might actually be somehow related to that little twerp who used to sing with N'Sync and now dates Cameron Diaz), but my mother's mother's family name was Johnson. How on earth would you go about tracking down Johnsons or Smiths?

#126 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 04:15 AM:

Matt and Don, thanks. The documentation angle makes a lot of sense, now that I think about genealogy in general. And weren't the Cherokee the ones who developed their own writing system as well?

#127 ::: bad Jim ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 04:50 AM:

My father's mother pursued her quest for a revolutionary ancestor, employing the Mormons' resources, and (I believe) got her DAR membership, though I'm certain that she, like any other liberal, reviled the organization (Marian Anderson and all that).

At any rate, the martial ancestor she found was German, from the Palatinate of the Rhine, name of Wiederstein, which was eventually worn down to Witherstine. Almost everyone else in that branch of the family came from Ireland after the famine; my father's baby book enumerates most of the great-grandmothers by county of origin, no two alike.

My mother's side is strictly Swedish. Her father came over as a teenager (and all his life called me Yimmy) and her mother was born here, but just barely.

I don't mind not having puritans in my lineage.

#128 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 05:19 AM:

I'm pure Welsh, if that's not a contradiction in terms. According to my great-great aunt Margaret Hall, we are descended from the monks of Margam Abbey, which, from what I understand of that great religious house, is about par for the course.

Unless you believe village gossip, that is.

My paternal grandfather was illegitimate. Not a great handicap in Wales, it would appear, not even then.

(Welsh joke: "I hear Blodwen's getting married, then." "Is she, now? And when is she expecting?" "She's not expecting, look you." "Getting married and not expecting? (pause) Now, there's posh for you!")

His mother would never say who his father was. She had another son in similar slightly regrettable circumstances two years later, still working as a maid at Margam Hall, the local great house. But the villagers, counting backwards, were well aware that (a) both boys were born nine months after the visits of the then Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) to the house, (b) both boys bore an uncanny resemblance to that Royal personage and (c) the lady and her irregular offspring were clearly in receipt of an invisible income that put them out of the reach of want.

I never knew my paternal grandfather - my father was his last offspring, late in life. His extra-marital birth is certain - his birth certificate just shows "father unknown", and that's the end of knowledge, so far as my direct male line is concerned. I wonder how many other people reach a dead-end like that?

#129 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 07:31 AM:

Linkmeister: we might actually be somehow related to that little twerp who used to sing with N'Sync and now dates Cameron Diaz

That's my wife's last name, too, and she gets that question constantly. Her father brought the name over from Wales (via Yorkshire), though, so any connection must be pretty distant. It's a pretty common name in Maine and North Carolina as well as Virginia.

Speaking of, does everyone know about the name distribution site? Watch the Nielsen exodus over time, for example.

#130 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 07:55 AM:

Andrew--the census thing is odd, but it could be that in the 1880 census, his name, as a minor child, wasn't specified--the enumerator would list the adults in the home, and just note "female, 14 years old child of John Smith (the head of household already listed), male 9 years old, son of ditto," and so on. I've encountered that a few times, and it's highly annoying when you're looking for a name you can hook up with.

#131 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 09:09 AM:

fidelio: or the traditional "you've called me Archibald all my life, I hate Archibald!", then move out and start using John, the slightly more normal-sounding middle name, and Never Telling People what the A. stands for.

#132 ::: T Chem ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 11:49 AM:

Jeremy--that picture is fantastic. Here's mine, though not nearly as thorough. (my grampa is on the left--I thought my sisters took after my stepmother before I saw this picture. Spitting image doesn't do justice.)

The man in the tie, my great-grandfather, came from Sicily, and was, depending on the story, an orphan that couldn't remember his parents, the son of a maid that was ravished by the local gentry, or spent some time on the street because his mother shot his father for cheating (and came back to town to the cheers of other wronged wives). Another one of those dead-ends. None of my other ancestors were in the US more than two generations before that, according to the census. All Irish and Italian, and after 1900, once they'd arrived in the States, all living in the same one-hour radius my family still lives in.

#133 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 12:41 PM:

My grandparents were all born in Europe, as was my mother, though I'm a native New Yorker. Anyone know the odds that a random bunch of Ashkenazi Jews are connected to Charlemagne and that ilk? Or, conversely, Ghenghis Khan, who apparently is a direct male-line ancestor of some ridiculously large percentage of the population of Mongolia? (Technically, what they found is that something like 1 in 6 living men in Mongolia can be traced to the same person in the male line, based on Y chromosomes, and it seems most likely that that person is Ghenghis Khan, given his prominence and number of wives and children.)

#134 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 02:49 PM:

I've had a discussion or two on why Americans always ask "Where are you from?" [where the answer is presumably 'not America'.] My current theory is that unlike England ["This pub has been in the family since William the Conqueror"] nearly every American is from somewhere else, or their family is, and so it's a basic small talk conversation.

In my case- 1/4 Swiss, 1/4 Georgia "scots-irish"( ie prisoner) and 1/2 general pre-1800 WASP. There's a little chunk of worthless land in upstate New York where the deeds go back to Cornelius Wyncoop, 17th/18th century sometime.

Or as they said in Stripes, "Our ancestors were thrown out of every decent country on Earth!"

#135 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 03:56 PM:

Anyone know the odds that a random bunch of Ashkenazi Jews are connected to Charlemagne and that ilk? Or, conversely, Ghenghis Khan, who apparently is a direct male-line ancestor of some ridiculously large percentage of the population of Mongolia? (Technically, what they found is that something like 1 in 6 living men in Mongolia can be traced to the same person in the male line, based on Y chromosomes, and it seems most likely that that person is Ghenghis Khan, given his prominence and number of wives and children.)

If you go back enough generations, you find that the number of your potential ancestors is greater than the number of people in that part of the world -- or for that matter, of the world as a whole -- at that time. Which means a lot of (distant, usually) cousins getting together, and not always within the bonds of Holy Matrimony either.

If you have a lot of lusty descendants of a Big Name Person -- Charlemagne or Genghis Khan or so on -- not all of whom were limited to having children by just their (one) wife, you have a lot of people being related, and that number increases as you go on for 800 or 1200 years, although of course the degree of relatedness diminishes somewhat.

Not all of the lusty descendants would have recognized religious barriers either, especially for "on the wrong side of the blanket" pairings, so at least some Ashkenazi Jews might be among Charlemagne's descendants. Or Genghis Khan's. Or both.

Let's see. Assume for genealogical purposes a generation is about thirty years. Charlemagne lived 1250 years ago, so that's about 42 generations. 2 to the 42nd power is over 4 trillion (4,398,046,511,104) if I did the calculation right. There just weren't that many people in those days! So some our great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents are overlapping somewhere!

I read a few years ago, in a book called The Mountain of Names (quoting a genealogist for the LDS Church) that everyone of English ancestry is very probably descended from King Edward III. And he only lived 650 years ago, a mere 21 generations by the above calculation. (One of his employees was Geoffrey Chaucer.) By extension that would include descent from all kinds of famous people.

I think, based on similar logic, one could make the case that anyone of English or Scots ancestry (including Edward III and thus all his descendants) is probably related from Malcolm Canmore and St. Margaret. So there! My great-great-great-umpteen-times-great-grandma is a saint! :-p (And my great-great-great-great-umpteen-times-great-grandpa may or may not have been killed by Macbeth.)

This page has info on descendants of royalty for anyone who wants to try to fit in

#136 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 03:58 PM:

Oops again! I left out a link.
This is the site for royal genealogy lovers. Sorry.

#137 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 04:29 PM:

mmm family history mmm

My mother's side is all Canadian...my Grandmother's father came from Belgium(sp)who married a Quebec woman so he could write letters in french to his mother. My grandfather was the son of Ukraine immigrants. On my father's side I'm a Norton (we're everywhere, we grow like weeds, every once in awhile we marry a Stone just for fun) and an Armstrong. With one dutch great grandmother.

Yes we were and are thieves and hooligans. Even if we did qualify to join any of those organizations I think they'd throw us out.

As for the LDS question: My father, upon learning of after-death conversion marched up to my mormon aunt and told her if she even dared after he died, he'd come back to haunt her and all of her decendants.

#138 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 04:47 PM:

Alex: "That's my wife's last name, too, and she gets that question constantly."

Ah yes. For a while there every slumber party for 10- or 11-year-olds in town seemed to have a requirement that all the people in the phone book (only four here in Hawai'i) be called to ask if Justin was home. The first 10 were funny, but when it got beyond that, and after 9:00pm to boot...

#139 ::: Sylvia Sotomayor ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 06:06 PM:

Sandy says:
I've had a discussion or two on why Americans always ask "Where are you from?"

That's a question I find fascinating, being an Air Force brat who was born off base in France to a not yet fully naturalized American immigrant from Nicaragua and his German wife. My Dad tells me he had to make the round at the various embassies several times before Germany agreed to give me papers. If I'd been born male, he says, France would have claimed me instead.

Generally when people ask me where I'm from, I say "California".

-Sylvia (delurking)

#140 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 06:58 PM:

Have any of y'all watched "History Detectives" on PBS? They do ancester worship^^^^^^^discovery pretty frequently.

#141 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2005, 02:54 AM:

Eric Sadoyama wrote: "[...] And weren't the Cherokee the ones who developed their own writing system as well?"

Sequoyah (who was, I think, only half-Cherokee, but was raised traditionally and never learned to speak, read, or write English) invented a syllabic writing-system (with a strange mixture of (83?) Latin & original characters), introduced it in 1812 and within a few years, over a considerable area, a larger percentage of Cherokee were literate in their native language than Whites in the area were in English. (I understand that birth announcements & obituaries in Cherokee-language newspapers (1827 on) are reasonably-acceptable as Documentation by genealogists, and in that era usually included the names of many other family members, often including a few notable ancestors.)

#142 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2005, 12:38 PM:

It's uncertain who Sequoyah's father was; he may have been white or he may have been half blood himself. At any rate, no he wasn't a full blood. He didn't speak English in his early life, but given his prominence after inventing the writing system, I'd be really surprised if he didn't learn a little.

MKK--grew up near Sequoyah County, OK

#143 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2005, 01:20 PM:

Full blood, half blood, quarter blood, eighth blood is a pernicious concept promulgated (not invented) by the BIA in order to disenfranchise as many Native Americans as posible. ALong with the whole "tribal rolls" crap and the list of "recognized" tribes.

The idea of quantifying ethnic identity is just vicious in every way. And one of the most vicious things is it creeps into the language and thinking of all of us, no matter how much better we know.

#144 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2005, 01:49 PM:

"Full blood, half blood, quarter blood, eighth blood is a pernicious concept..."

Ain't that the truth. Google "Akaka bill" to see the effect it's having in Hawai'i.

#145 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2005, 01:49 PM:

I don't think it was "invented" by BIA, Lucy. It's a natural extension of mulatto, quadroon, octaroon, and the like, which is a natural extension of kinship and lineage diagrams which have been used to determine who the Real Heir to the Throne is for a long time -- since before North America was invaded by the Europeans.

#146 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2005, 04:31 PM:

Tom, I said "promulgated(not invented)" -- so we're in agreement.

#147 ::: Bernita ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2005, 04:39 PM:

I'm another relative, if they ever sort out the White-Fuller thing. Peregrine White, born as the ship dropped anchor in that lonely bay. Named Peregrine because he was a "stranger in a strange land". I feel the same, often.
And there was Mary Dyer who was hanged on Boston Common in 1660 because of her religious beliefs.

#148 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2005, 05:06 PM:

race: my usual response is "pure human - I think", mostly because race seems to be based on appearance only. (How about a blond race, or a red-headed race?)

My mother's comment on genealogy is that "it keeps us off the streets and out of trouble". And it makes a really good permanent research project.
(I'm planning to leave it to my nephew.)

#149 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2005, 05:48 PM:

Teresa, I have to run this by Danny, but it's distinctly possible that you and he are some sort of cousins...

#150 ::: Terry.karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2005, 01:35 AM:

I ran the name site, and it was interesting, because the greatest present density for my last name is in New Mexico (where it is slightly greater than 1 in 10,000). The greatest density, historically is in California, in the 1880s, at 1 in 1,000).

If I switch to either of the other spellings, it moves up to high density, all across the map.

TK

#151 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2005, 10:52 AM:

(apologies for the misread, Lucy -- you're right, we do agree)

#152 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2005, 11:10 AM:

I am not unaware of the points Lucy makes however I no of no other way to describe certain types of parentage other than round about cicumlocutions. Tribal identities ARE important to human beings. Perhaps they shouldn't be, but they are.

MKK

#153 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2005, 11:33 AM:

Oh, Mary Kay, there is a decent way to talk about the thing I think you want to talk about: "He's Cherokee and he has a couple of white (or European or ANglo or German-American, whatever term you like)grandparents." Or; "Cherokee, German-American (or whatever), and African-American."

Just leave off the proportions, and list the elements. Because the elements are matters of identity, which is a (what's the word for not neutral but encompassing all the possibilities?): it's the quanitification that's pernicious.

#154 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2005, 12:14 PM:

This thread got me interested enough to look a little further into my husband's Hanscom roots, and I found lots of cool stuff online. Thomas, the first of his line to reach America went from England to Salem, Mass. on the Talbot in June of 1629, aged 20. Though he disappeared from the records a year later, his son apparently came with him and shows up as the first of umpteen Hanscoms in Kittery, Maine in records from 1649 on -- as debtor, adulterer (with a notorious local woman who played around a lot), and eventually a landowner.

His kids seem to have been a wild bunch. Son Job was fined "for being Drunk & Fighting & for Prophane Swareing." Daughter Alice had several illegitimate children, one by a black slave who was later freed (slaves in Maine??), and another by a married man whose wife was so enraged she came to the Hanscom house, pushed the door in, and they had a knockdown fight involving a brickbat. Alice also told a friend that a fortune teller had predicted some years before that she would be "so wicked that she should deal almost in witchcraft & that she should mix seed with another nation." Compared to his siblings, brother John's teaming up with some other young men who came "in Indian Habbits" and fired a gun to frighten a local family out of their house seems almost tame.

Things calmed down a few generations on, when one branch of the family migrated from Kittery to the Bay Area, where Meldon Isaiah Hanscom ran a little paper in West Oakland and went on to become city auditor of Berkeley in 1909. (Gee, I met my now-husband Kerry Hanscom in Berkley 20-plus years ago, but neither of us had any idea he'd had family connections there!)

#155 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2005, 01:17 PM:

Faren:
Slavery did exist in New England, but it wasn't usual (they tended to die early). More usually, there were "indentured servants" (slightly better off, as they had a term of service and could, if they were lucky, buy their way out early).

And people then weren't noticebly more law-abiding than now. I have some counterfeiters on my tree. They can't have been very good, as they were caught and fined (in place of jail time). The question we had on learning this was, did they use counterfeit money to pay the fine? (and also, given the really poor quality of the paper money they were counterfeiting, what did they do that tipped off the authorities?) One of them later became a judge!

#156 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2005, 11:13 PM:

Sense of taint was different.

I was doing research for a paper in college and found a fellow named Terence something, in Mass.

He, and his wife, were fined five schillings for having a child five months after the wedding.

He was later fined for "playing rude games" with some other men in the woods (the guess is drinking, since homsexuality was a hanging offense, as was bestiality. The animals would have their throats slit, and then the person would be hanged, it happened at least once in Mass.), and lastly he was fined for, "masturbating against the side of the church on Sunday."

He was later named town constable.

TK

#157 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2005, 02:06 PM:

Today's New York Times has an article on American Indians that seems very relevant. And from where I'm sitting in Honolulu, if you globally replaced "American Indian" with "native Hawaiian" throughout the article, it would still be almost dead on target.

#158 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2005, 06:37 PM:

I find all this history of who came over when to be quite fascinating -- personally, all I know of my ancestry is that both of my parents' families are from North Carolina as far back as I know. Though I do know that my mother's mother's family is the Scarboroughs, who presumably are originally from England. Apparently the North Carolinian Scarborough family reunions used to come with the standard speech from the family historian, who each year would announce another few generations previous. Apparently we're descended from, er, Irish royalty somewhere along the line.

One branch of my wife's family has the interesting dead-end that there are records all the way back to when the name-carrying ancestor got off the boat in New England. There are, however, no records of him having previously gotten on the boat, nor of where he came from before that.

#159 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2005, 06:46 PM:

Lois: One of my great-great-great-uncles -- I think that's the right number of greats -- died in the Civil War. (Union side.)

Youngling. One of my \great/-uncles died in the Civil War. (Grandfather was 2nd-youngest of 11, born in 1856; he and father both took a long time to get married.)

I expect I'm related to Teresa \somehow/; IIRC my line goes back to ~1640 in Massachusetts, although most lived in Connecticut. But the book of genealogy is on the other coast, along with the family-name (Hitchcock) chairs. Being related to TNH would be a lot more fun than being related to the St. Johns who ran Choate (an unpleasant surprise when I was in high school).

#160 ::: Fledgist ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2005, 07:34 PM:

Tom Whitmore wrote: "I don't think it was "invented" by BIA, Lucy. It's a natural extension of mulatto, quadroon, octaroon, and the like, which is a natural extension of kinship and lineage diagrams which have been used to determine who the Real Heir to the Throne is for a long time -- since before North America was invaded by the Europeans."

What's interesting is that the classification of racial mixture for blacks and Native Americans is inverted. But for the same reason -- to exclude as many as possible from full rights. In the case of Native Americans, it was to decrease the number who could claim treaty rights, in the case of African-Americans to decrease the number who could make legitimate claims to whiteness and thus to full citizenship. So there developed 'racial' definitions that diminished 'Indianness' while increasing blackness. Thus someone like Walter White (with only five black ancestors out of 32) was black, while someone who had a Cherokee grandfather, but whose other grandparents were not Cherokee, was not 'Indian'.

#161 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 03:21 AM:

Eric: "...from where I'm sitting in Honolulu, if you globally replaced "American Indian" with "native Hawaiian" throughout the article, it would still be almost dead on target."

I realize I don't get out much, but I live in Honolulu too, and I haven't seen a whole lot of "wannabe" kanaka maoli. Am I just missing it?

(Thanks for the pointer to that article, btw; I'd missed it.)

#162 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 05:24 AM:

Lisa Goldstein, that must be transcarpathian Ukraine. Funny history (not necessarily funny ha ha of course), even for that part of the world. I'm told that after the war, Stalin wanted a direct border between the USSR and as many of the satellites as possible (as proved useful in '56 and '68), so that bit of land was assigned to the Soviet Union to provide access to Hungary. I've approached it from both sides, but never actually been all the way there.

#163 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 02:16 PM:

Linkmeister: well, that's why I said almost. But still, if you trawl around on the web you can run into all sorts of New Age-y phony Hawaiian spiritual stuff. It's not the same as falsely claiming heritage, but it's related. I got the article link from Ian Lind's blog, which I recommend.

#164 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 04:20 PM:

One branch of my wife's family has the interesting dead-end that there are records all the way back to when the name-carrying ancestor got off the boat in New England. There are, however, no records of him having previously gotten on the boat, nor of where he came from before that.

That is REALLY cool. It's a story just waiting to be written.

#165 ::: elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 06:29 AM:

I though geneology was uninteresting, until we really delved into it. My family was pretty surprised to find that my mother's ancestors originated from a Polish town not more than 50 miles from where my father's ancestors came from, a couple hundred years back. They came to this continent by very different paths, with very different names. Somehow, my parents landed in California, where they now have two mostly Polish daughters - one with an Irish last name, and one with an Italian one... I'm sure our descendants will have fun tracing back that lineage, eventually.

#166 ::: Jane ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 10:47 PM:

Howdy, cousin!

John Alden & Priscilla Mullins
Ruth Alden
Hannah Bass
Hannah Adams
Ruth Owen
Moses Tyler
Hannah Tyler
Horace Brewster
David Truman Brewster
Fred Keeler Brewster
John LaGrange Brewster
Jane Brewster Waks

(Despite family legend, my research shows we are related to Nathaniel Brewster of Long Island, not William of Plimoth.)

#167 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2005, 03:52 PM:

I used to know a genetics postdoc whose Czech Jewish mother was adamant that Czechoslovakia was not eastern, but central, Europe.
The same insistence is made concerning Hungary. Hmm.

Trying to claim some drawers, I just found a drawer full of OLD photographs (the one I just pulled out is marked "Vilna, 1888"). Really neat.

#168 ::: janet ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2005, 05:37 PM:

Belatedly....

Teresa, funny that you mention the Billingtons. Not all that many people boast about being descended from them -- unless, like me, they enjoy telling people they were descended from the first man hanged for murder in North America. (Hanging people wasn't a native practice.) Mentioning that's another way to get people to stop flashing the Mayflower card.

On the other side of my family, one of my grandmother's cousins (Mo Weinshank) who was killed in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. My mother says he was just a loser who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I think he was a hit man -- Jewish gangsters who worked for Italian Families often were.

I believe in celebrating my criminal ancestry.

#169 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2005, 08:36 PM:

I used to know a genetics postdoc whose Czech Jewish mother was adamant that Czechoslovakia was not eastern, but central, Europe.

Vienna is actually further east than Prague. I don't think that Czechoslovakia (as it then was) was thought of as being in eastern Europe until the Cold War, when it got lumped in with all the other Soviet satellites. Before then, it was seen as part of Mitteleuropa along with Austria and Hungary.

#170 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2005, 08:12 AM:

I find this amusing because I deadline on one side. You see, one of dad's ancestors was a military figure in Finland (and a member of royalty? things blur at this distance) who got tired of fighting the Russians (who the Finns used to beat the tar out of) and deserted to America, changing his name in the process. Dad told me with soem amusement how he was taken aside after his 16th birthday and, because he was now a man, told the real name--which he promptly forgot.

I bring this up in front of my wife's family, who are all berserk over geneology, when I want to stop the conversation cold...

#171 ::: Karen ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2005, 03:12 PM:

I am also a decendent of the Hopkin's following the same male line. Who comes alter Sylvanus on your side? Thanks!!

#172 ::: jamie ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 01:38 AM:

Priscilla Mullins married John Alden NOT Myles Standish.

I guess you guys hated history class. I loved it and I thought everyones grandparents came over to escape the ever threatening Russians at about the turn of the century (as did my fathers family). Then I found out that one of my grandparents (mothers side) was directly descended from John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. What a shock. I was related to two of those people that I read about in American History class.
I went to England in the 1990's and found they don't teach about the Pilgrims in their schools. They give it brief mention "then a bunch of traitors ran off to this wretched unihabitable country that eventually became the U.S."

#173 ::: Aliza ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 12:15 AM:

I found this fascinating thread because I was searching for the lyrics to _Son of a Scoundrel_ (quoted way up above), but I've got a question and a comment:

What year was it that the DAR started accepting non-white members? Was it the same time that they started accepting descendants of non-white Rev. war participants?

I once knew a very very pale-skinned, blonde, blue-eyed woman, who was descended from, and shared a surname with, a famous Revolutionary War poet. Phyllis Wheatley. Yup, the famed African-American poet, brought over as a slave from Africa at 7 or 8.

- Aliza (2nd-generation descendant of Eastern European Jewish immigrants to the US from Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania (2x, same town), before and after WWI. One branch has been traced back to the 1750s, but the records of Eastern European Jews are notoriously hard to find...)

#174 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 12:35 AM:

Alisa, we're both kinda late to the dance, but the whole thing was amusing.

I'm an adopted daughter who loves my adoptive parents very much. I know nothing about my own heritage (and don't care much except I'd like to know the health stuff), but I have learned much, between my Aunt Ginnie's genealogy search stuff and helping mom by going through papers before dad passed in 2000.

On my mother's side, as far as I can tell, they were all Cherokee who were passin' (you would not get a single one to admit their Native American heritage if you asked them to their face...but they all look like the photos of the old chiefs and people).

On my father's side, part of it gets traced back to the revolutionary war. On anther part of it, Great Grandpa Johnnie (there is a photo somewhere of him holding my baby girl self) who joined the German Merchant Marine at the turn of the century to avoid the Prussian draft, jumped ship in New York and got his arse as far away as he could from anyone who might give a damn. Which turned out to be Afton, Oklahoma, which had a German community. My dad's mother has a Hispanic maiden name.

The curious thing about me going to Ireland last year is that I found myself among people who looked like me, which my family does not. It was actually kind of cool.

#175 ::: Barbara ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2010, 01:01 PM:

I think it is a good idea to join a couple of hereditary societies,whether you are an active member or not, so that your lineage is documented somewhere for future generations of your deacendants and it may help otheres who are researching the same lines.

#176 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2010, 02:26 PM:

I just found my copy of my great-grandfather William Henry Whitmore's little collection of Whitmore Tracts (Boston, 1875); researching online, I find a Lot of people offering OCR'd or photocopied copies, but none of them mention whether what they've copied is one of the 25 copies (out of a total edition of 42!) with two extra tracts (one mentioned in the foreword and one merely appended at the end with a note there). Another example of the difficulties being created by these new entrepreneurs.

At least his 1866 heraldry book has been reprinted recently enough that few are trying to reproduce that.

#177 ::: Thena sees a possible spam probe ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 07:30 AM:

@177 here, and also O/T 56 (same time, same text)

#178 ::: Jamie ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 02:31 PM:

I'm just related to the first people with the last name Pulver to come to America and have a private cemetery along with having a road named after them in New York as well as swaring alliance to the crown to stay a year in England and then set sail to America as well as being related to Eveline Mary Fitzgerald

#179 ::: Tom Whitmore suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 03:33 PM:

If you're real, Jamie, stick around a bit and comment elsewhere. Otherwise, surprisingly relevant spam -- are they getting better?

#180 ::: Mary Aileen politely disagrees ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 03:40 PM:

Jamie sounds real to me. If I'm right, do stick around, Jamie. We get a lot of spam here, so we're a bit sensitive.

#181 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 04:16 PM:

I figured it was probably real, or I'd have reported it.

#182 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 04:44 PM:

Thanks to the spam, I've been reading this old thread again, and (thanks to my brother-in-law) know more about my ancestry now than I did when the thread was young. One of the interesting things is that an old family legend turns out to be correct; my ancestor William Keepers got off the ship the Constant Friendship in (umm, I've forgotten the year; the 1670s or 80s) but nobody knows where he boarded it in the first place. That the family had managed to pass down the name of the ship for 300 years is pretty incredible, though the name Constant Friendship is a memorable one. Turns out one of his descendants fought during the entire Revolutionary War (not just the usual militia term(s), including ever single major battle in New Jersey and New York. Not that I'm planning on applying for DAR status, but it's still pretty cool. He must have either really hated farming or really been an ardent Revolutionary.

My dad's side of the family hits a dead end sooner; we can trace them back to a village near Pilsen in the early 1800s, but the village and its records ceased to exist sometime around WWI.

#183 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 09:18 AM:

Cal @182, actually, it wasn't a Keepers that fought the whole revolutionary war (he signed up just after Lexington and Concord, and was at Yorktown); it was a Kimball; a maternal line of our ancestry that married into the Keepers. Still an ancestor, just not one related to the one that arrived on the Constant Friendship in about 1683. Kimball fought in every major New Jersey and New York battle, including the crossing of the Delaware, and was at Valley Forge. He also was involved in the systematic slaughter of Indians that got Washington the name "Burner of Towns"; by our modern lights he almost certainly committed war crimes.... <wry>

Our Civil War veteran ancestor, on the other hand, was in the reserves, never saw combat, and was invalided out for dysentery.

Cassy

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