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Old 02-20-2013, 03:42 PM
 
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As a therapist, I would sometimes do a genogram (simple family tree focused on clinical issues) with clients, and we would identify repetitive themes that would come up in one generation after another.

Examples might be identifying all the relatives/ancestors who were alcoholics, or people who committed or were victims of sexual abuse.

In looking at my own family history research, I noticed some themes that seems to be repeated over the span of several hundred years. These are not necessaily clinical problems like I'd work on with clients, but interesting themes nevertheless.

One big theme that comes up, over and over in my family tree is "forbidden marriages." I have examples going back to the 1700s of people who were disowned from their family for marrying the "wrong" man or woman. Even if not totally disowned, there are multiple records and stories of families expressing opposition to a marriage (like parents conspicuously not being present at the wedding or mentioning the disapproved-of marriage in a will.) Several examples of these "forbidden marriages" involved Protestants marrying Catholics, with much protest and consternation from both sides.

Another repeated theme I see is many examples of fathers abandoning a family. I guess I had the idea that this was a more recent societal issue, "deadbeat dads" and all. But I've also found examples of this going back at least 200 years in multiple branches of my family. Records of wives having to obtain a legal divorce judgment on the grounds of abandonment.

I know one woman who has a family theme of "dead babies" going back over 100 years. There is a long family tradition of remembering, talking about, and praying for, babies that died many, many years ago. The babies who only lived a few weeks or months seem to be just as important in this woman's family tree and family lore as any people who lived long lives. They routinely speak of "Little Uncle Joseph" or "Little Aunt Jenny" who might have died in infancy in the early 20th century.

What about your tree? What types of events, positive or negative, seem to pop up over and over, with a frequency greater than you'd expect on average? Maybe there were repeated accidental deaths? Maybe multiple examples of mothers dying young or in childbirth? Maybe repeated instances of elopement?

Do you think that these themes/ repeated events have had any effect on you or your parents? Have you repeated any of these patterns? Learned lessons from them? Like if several ancestors were killed by trains in the 1800s and early 1900s, are there still family warnings about the dangers of trains?

I haven't witnessed any "forbidden marriages" in my family in my lifetime, but I still see a lot of division between the Protestant and Catholic branches of my family, and hear very anti-Catholic opinions from some and anti-Protestant opinions from others. My Dad became completely non-religious, and my Mom is best described as an ardent and very vocal ex-Catholic.

On the positive side, since both of my parents were directly affected by disappearing or absentee fathers, and indirectly affected by a 200-year family history of repeated paternal abandonment, I see a huge value in my family placed on Dads, and being a good Dad. My Dad has been a wonderful father, I think going above and beyond what the average Dad does.

The lady I know with the "dead babies" theme does see a lot of anxiety in her current relatives around pregnancy and birth, with several female relatives being unable to conceive (possibly caused or made worse by this high anxiety) and a lot of excessive fear during pregnancy and after a baby is born in the ones who do have babies. They also have a lot of superstition centered around babies that seems odd in this day and age.
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:50 PM
 
Location: too far from the sea
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I don't have much except on my Dad's side, they are all named James going back to 1773 so far in that one line. There may have been other brothers but it was always the one named James who lived and had children. My Dad was a James too but luckily two of his brothers lived and only one died.

The only other thing was that back in England, my gt grandfather was run over by a tram while walking on the tracks at night. In the US a gt grandfather was killed by a train while walking on the tracks at night. An American side aunt always got out of the car and WALKED across the rr tracks (but she was a little bit weird.)
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:54 PM
 
Location: Little Rock AR USA
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An interesting post. Thanks. Here's my contribution for-what-it's worth; My Dad left Mother and me when I was 3-4 years old and we didn't reconnect until I was in my 40s. (I should add that he left for good reason that I understand) I learned he was an adventurer and free spirit and I am too, but a big difference is that my family means everything to me and I'll leave them when I'm taken out feet first. Dad and his three brothers were alcoholics and my step Dad was a weekend drunk. I avoid booze at all costs but my Son became a beeraholic but stopped when he had kids and now will not touch the stuff.
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:21 PM
 
Location: A little corner of paradise
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The things I've noticed have to do with going against the grain. My family first arrived at Jamestown in the 1600's. They were then among early settlers moving west. In the 1600's we had indentured servant marrying "master's" daughter. We then had members serving as Native American liaison during major fighting. Brothers in Missouri fighting both sides of the Civil War. Women going to school and owning businesses. Interesting things that, to me, seemed unusual for the times.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:20 PM
Status: "happy again, no longer catless! t...." (set 4 days ago)
 
Location: Cushing OK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by in_newengland View Post
I don't have much except on my Dad's side, they are all named James going back to 1773 so far in that one line. There may have been other brothers but it was always the one named James who lived and had children. My Dad was a James too but luckily two of his brothers lived and only one died.

The only other thing was that back in England, my gt grandfather was run over by a tram while walking on the tracks at night. In the US a gt grandfather was killed by a train while walking on the tracks at night. An American side aunt always got out of the car and WALKED across the rr tracks (but she was a little bit weird.)
One family branch, I found back to 1400. The father was named John, and his father was a John. Each generation there is ONE surviving John. One there are three boys named John, two who died young. Interestingly, this extended past their being shipped in the colonies. Every generation in the most immediate branches always has a John. My g grandfather x 5 was a James and had an twin named William. He also had twin boys named James and William AND his brother did as well. There are James and Williams a plenty too.

Today naming a child after a dead one is kind of ghoulish, and not so likely, but back then the reality was a high rate of infant and child mortality, and if it was important to preserve the family name you did the best you could.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:39 PM
Status: "happy again, no longer catless! t...." (set 4 days ago)
 
Location: Cushing OK
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One theme I see repeated generation after generation is moving on, and not settling for things. One part of the family remained in one place for at least three hundred years ( probably much longer but past 1400 I can't find any references ) and then ended up with the village becoming East London, turning to theft and being shipped in as a convicts sold to a tabacco planter. Some 12 years later both married and moved on to Kentucky our of Maryland. Since then it has been a migration and starting over. My gggrandfather lived in the first county in Missouri to be depopulated by special order as the civil war began, and they returned from Indiana afterwards to start over in a different county which had been burned out. My dad's family moves from place to place, a mix of immigrants from Scotland or Ireland, frequently refereed to as scots irish regardless of origion, and the descendents of earlier scots irish. My dad continued the tradition by joining the navy and not going back, though most of his family still live in the same county.

The other tradition seems to be strong females. My ggrandmothers were all very strong and determined sorts, two of whom ended up raising the last child, daughters, alone. Both my grandmothers were their daughters. They did not let the predominantly male society or being left without support stop them from raising fine strong women. They did not take guff from anyone either.

When I decided it was time to move on, I really connected with both of these. I'd lived in California all my life. As had Mom and my Grandfather. But I didn't want to be there so I pulled up stakes, moved away from family and could *feel* the power of making your own decision and not being afraid fo taking a chance. Maybe because there wasn't a return ticket for them I have never figured there is for me either, even thought today many assume.

I am proud of my ancestors, and their strength to take life in their own hands and take a chance on the unknown, and it is the BEST legacy I can pass onto my son.

We won't talk about the family temper or stubbornness. But he and I got that too.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:56 PM
 
Location: Jacurutu
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I thought of "Lieutenant Dan" of Forest Gump with this topic, and thought there would be more military-related stories...
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:16 AM
 
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Originally Posted by IBMMuseum View Post
I thought of "Lieutenant Dan" of Forest Gump with this topic, and thought there would be more military-related stories...
I was hoping for that too! I'm very pro-military, and I've been so disappointed to find hardly any "fighting men" in my tree.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:41 AM
 
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For me it's a history of short courtships followed by an elopement or hastily arranged quickie church wedding. That's followed by years of angry bitter marriages. Saw it in my grandparents, parents and myself. Going to make sure that I sit my kids down when they hit their early 20's and tell them to take things slow when they start dating and looking for a marriage partner. Would hate for them to be the fourth or fifth generation of our family that enters into a crappy marriage.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:43 PM
 
Location: Deep in the heart of Texas
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For me on both sides (maternal and paternal) the father was absent. The women were strong and raised their children alone. My mother and grandmother were both raised by their grandmothers. A history of men abusing their wives is also prevalent. Both my mother and grandmother were sexually abused as children. Fortunately for me, I was raised by two very strong women: my grandmother and mother. I am who I am, though, because of my grandmother. I am very glad I did not add to our history. I married a fine man who is loving and respectful; treats me like a princess. We've been married now for 25 years! (We married when I was 17 and he was 20). I finally broke the chain!!! Hopefully my daughter will continue on the legacy of a good marriage and good parenting

ETA: Most of the women in my family are divorced, including my 83 year old granma!

Last edited by CTR36; 02-22-2013 at 12:44 PM.. Reason: adding more
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