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Thread summary:

Human Ancestry: America, football, barbecue, immigrants, house.

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Old 10-04-2012, 06:05 PM
 
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I wonder if some of us are defining "ancestry" differently, and therefore some are saying it's useless and some disagree.

When I refer to "ancestry" I mean "my family history, my ancestors, who they were and their stories." So I don't understand when someone says that's "useless." They might not be interested in their family hisoty, but it doesn't mean ancestry is useless.

Some people seem to think that "ancestry" means "national origins." That is really just a tiny part of your ancestry. Way earlier in this thread, we discussed this before. I think people need to stop thinking that "ancestry" merely means "what countries your ancestors came from."

Most of us here in this forum define ancestry more in terms like I noted above: we do lots of research on our genealgy, not just to see what countries people came from (I really care very little about that) but about WHO came before us, and came together to eventually produce us.

If someone (perhaps the OP) defines ancestry as "national origins of your ancestors" then I would agree that for me, it's "useless." But for others it might not be. My family lines have all been here for many generations, the earliest came during the colonial period, and the latest (very few on one branch) coming around 1900. I guess people whose relatives came here in the last generation would place more importance on those national origins, some perhaps too much, preventing them from becoming part of the melting pot. I don't "get" people who had some relative coming over on a boat from Ireland in 1899 wearing Ireland sweatshirts, referring to themselves as Irish, and getting Irish-themed tattoos. To me, that's about as far away from who we are now as cro-magnons. Maybe I'll get a cro-magnon tattoo?
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Shiloh1 View Post
I agree to a point - I did the same thing until I started studying how those ancestors got here - some very very interesting, heart warming, and sometimes tragic stories - great history there. I followed one guy from the border regions of France and Germany up the Rhine River to the Netherlands over to England and then to America. The story itslef could be a great movie.
Oddly, I have a lot of interest in the ancestors who actually were the ones who came over here, and I've found very fascinating stories. But the people before them? Not so much. Hatched from a space-egg.
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by TracySam View Post
Oddly, I have a lot of interest in the ancestors who actually were the ones who came over here, and I've found very fascinating stories. But the people before them? Not so much. Hatched from a space-egg.
This is true although I bet some of their stories would be great even though, depending on how far back you go, you might not be able to find much info unless you travel to that country. I have one guy who came here from Germany in 1865, he had a wanderbuch (travel book for apprentices) which shows his travels in Germany prior to him coming here - his father was a Royal Forester - I would love to know about this guy but too much time and money is needed.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:33 PM
 
Location: Cushing OK
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I found one ancestor's family back to 1400. The lived in a village, ending in 'on the fields'. They appeared to have skills, so they weren't serfs, but they must have roused themselves daily to see the imposing Norman display which would have been built. About 1600, it no longer refers to fields, which means they were enclosed for sheep. That generataion is listed as 'laborors'. The next one are listed in East London and I checked and they hadn't ever actually moved. London grew and absorbed their village. Two generations came as convicts who were sold as they'd turned to the common profession for the east end of thief.

Now when I read about the history, how the wealthy chose sheep over people, and how all that incredable misery that the East End of London represented was lived by direct ancestors, it really means something. It's not abstract history. No, I didn't know them, but the direct 5xgreat grandfather lived past a poor birth, over a year in the pit british prisons were, transportation, eleven years of captivity, and lived to 91 and a strong family. This does mean something, and its about the sort of people you came from. That is clearly reflected in closer ancestors, including one who's farm was burned out in Missouri at the very beginning of the Civil war, but came back and started all over again when it was done. And when puny little problems come along, its most inspiring to think of what others who came before me endured, survivied, and got past.

This is the real meaning of ancestry, not the lists of names and places but the window in your mind these people and places can open up and an appreciation of the grit it took to survive which should still be in us if we need to find it.
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Old 10-04-2012, 09:35 PM
 
Location: Center of the universe
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Originally Posted by branh0913 View Post
As a black American, I think ancestory is useless. I'm not sure why black Americans scramble to identify with Africa. I see Africa, and to be honest I don't particularly care for it. When I hear of ethnic clensing, racism, tribalism, child soldiers, genocide, and clitoral mutilation rituals, I just can' get with that. And no every African is like that, and not every tribe is either. But whether my direct ancestors were of that tribe or not is a guess for me anyway.

After I read about Africa, talked to Africans, and got a view of their mindset, I have come to realize that I simply have less in common with an African than I have with a white American. Let's be honest, white and black people are brothers in the same house. We're the two older brothers, and we fight all the time. But let's be real, we've been in it together the longest, and when push come to shove their is an unspoken and often denied connection between us. We have the same American culture. you talk to anyone from another country about how America does thing, and black and white Americans "get it". I'm a black man, but I just ridiculously American to the core. If anyone ever told me I was going back to Africa, you better believe it will be kicking and screaming. I traced my ancestory, and my family has been in America since the 1740s! I can't deny how freakin American that is. Many black Americans are similar.
While I agree with much of what you say about the connections between white and black Americans, which are cultural and genetic, I do not agree with your aversion to knowing about your African origins. I identify equally as an American, a Latin American, and an African.
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:42 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Originally Posted by Lucario View Post
While I agree with much of what you say about the connections between white and black Americans, which are cultural and genetic, I do not agree with your aversion to knowing about your African origins. I identify equally as an American, a Latin American, and an African.

Actually knowing why I feel the way I do about Africa is knowing me as a person. I have a VERY curious mind. I see things and I want to know about them. This is especially true when I see other cultures. I've pretty much studied many of the major cultures in the world (except East Asian). I really do like learning about other cultures. As a result of learning about other cultures, I've come to find admire some more than others. For example, I find European history just far more fascinating than African history. Not to say I hate Africa, but I just prefer certain cultures over the others. When I take pride in my culture, I noticed in most cases I'm not taking pride in being a black man, but taking pride in being an American. For example when I hear a song about patriotism it just warms my heart, or when I hear a pro American speech I just feel so proud. But when I hear about being black, and African roots, I just don't feel the same connection.

When I deal I think of Africa I really just think of it as another culture that I have no personal connection with. The same way I can read about Asia and really feel no personal connection to it. I will even say, based on what I hear about Africa and Asia, I honestly have found myself not really caring for either culture. Maybe Japan to a degree, but I'm not all that impressed by ancient Japan or Ancient China, in the same vein I'm not all that intrigued when I hear about ancient Africa.

I just distinctly see myself as a dark skinned American. I think America is the greatest country in the world honestly. That's just me, and just because my ancestors from literally hundreds and hundreds of years ago may have been from Africa, I just don't feel connected to that place at all. I take more pride in my midwestern roots, my KC roots. I'm more proud to be from the great state of Missouri, and feel so proud when I hear about the history of my birth city and state. But when I hear about Africa, I just am not feeling it.

That's why I say ancestory is pointless and pretty useless. It doesn't enhance me as a person to know anything about Africa. And there is little to no data on my American ancestors beyond a few names. So, eh, it's whatever
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by branh0913 View Post
That's why I say ancestory is pointless and pretty useless. It doesn't enhance me as a person to know anything about Africa. And there is little to no data on my American ancestors beyond a few names. So, eh, it's whatever
I get what you are sying and it is the same for most white Americans - they don't feel more connected to Europe. But as one poster said ancestry is not just about finding out where you came from - it is about your ancestors no matter where they came from and everyone has them - and great stories that to go with them. Most Americans are interested in their roots right here in America not just their European or African origins.

If you had more data on your ancestors here would you be more interested? Most African Americans can find their roots back to mid 19th century or a little earlier - I am sure there are great people and stories to discover. And that is a good size family tree that says alot about who you are even if it does not go back any farther
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Old 10-06-2012, 02:58 AM
 
Location: North Carolina
10,214 posts, read 17,869,223 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by branh0913 View Post
As a black American, I think ancestory is useless. I'm not sure why black Americans scramble to identify with Africa. I see Africa, and to be honest I don't particularly care for it. When I hear of ethnic clensing, racism, tribalism, child soldiers, genocide, and clitoral mutilation rituals, I just can' get with that. And no every African is like that, and not every tribe is either. But whether my direct ancestors were of that tribe or not is a guess for me anyway.

After I read about Africa, talked to Africans, and got a view of their mindset, I have come to realize that I simply have less in common with an African than I have with a white American. Let's be honest, white and black people are brothers in the same house. We're the two older brothers, and we fight all the time. But let's be real, we've been in it together the longest, and when push come to shove their is an unspoken and often denied connection between us. We have the same American culture. you talk to anyone from another country about how America does thing, and black and white Americans "get it". I'm a black man, but I just ridiculously American to the core. If anyone ever told me I was going back to Africa, you better believe it will be kicking and screaming. I traced my ancestory, and my family has been in America since the 1740s! I can't deny how freakin American that is. Many black Americans are similar.
I can understand not being able to identify with Africa but if you've traced your ancestry back to colonial America, that doesn't sound useless to me. Surely, it's just your African heritage you find useless, not ancestry as a whole? As you yourself point out, your ancestry has been American for a very long time, you can still explore it without even involving Africa if you don't want to.

Also, in some branch somewhere, you probably have white ancestry. It's unlikely your family have been in America for that long without some mixture along the way somewhere. The vast majority of black Americans have some white ancestry anyway.
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Old 10-14-2012, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
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As I brought up in another thread, the immigration to the US in my family is much more recent than most other people's.

To that end, we still have certain traditions. But that's because my 3 of my grandparents are still alive, and my grandparents - all 4 - were raised by immigrants. I doubt my generation of the family will keep any of them.

I don't like to think of it as meaningless, I'm proud of the history my family has. But no, it's not that significant to most people's everyday lives.
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Old 10-15-2012, 12:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by bjh View Post
I found the same thing about Tennessee, where I feel very at home. After moving up in 2008 I discovered some of my ancestors lived in Memphis as early as the 1870s before moving to DFW in the early 1900s where I grew up. Weird, but in a good way.
I grew up in California, but always felt a longing for the east. For some reason, Virginia always appealed to me. In studying my ancestery, I discovered that the original Americans in my line settled in North Carolina and frequently travelled across the state line to Virginia. I feel very at home in this region and will settle there permanently when I get out of the Army.
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