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Old 01-21-2021, 06:09 PM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
32,998 posts, read 34,308,050 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by in_newengland View Post
I'm not sure it changed my impression of who I am but it made me much more aware that we are all related somehow, somewhere. I'm not just of English background, but also Scandinavian, French, German, Irish, and more. I just knew the most recent was English and that was all.

It's made me understand my parents and grandparents. No wonder my dad wouldn't allow me to work at a summer job cleaning motel rooms at the beach--my gt grandmother back in England had to work as a house cleaner and they were extremely poor with no hope for betterment. She lived a sad life and died young. My dad made me work for the summer in a factory instead so I would see what it was like for my grandparents and gt grandparents. I feel really sad for the side of my family that came from industrial England.

My American side was full of surprises because I thought we were just poor Vermont farmers but it turns out we were here in the 1600s! I have a ton of Revolutionary War veterans, a few from the French and Indian Wars, including one person who was a somewhat well known "rogue" fighter who even wrote the rules for rangers that are still basically in use today by the US Army.

I descend directly from that man's sister and maybe she has made me feel stronger. It is said that she would brave the freezing cold Vermont winter weather in the middle of the night to go out and help deliver a baby or to care for someone who was ill. She is an inspiration to me, a brave and good woman, by the sounds of it.

With my American side of the family, I feel that no matter where I go in New England, there I am. In other words, no matter where I move to in New England, I'll have an ancestor to research.

This is an interesting question, btw. Looking forward to reading others' stories.
My reaction was similar: I had expected mostly recent English, Scots, and Irish immigrant ancestors with a smattering of German. What I found was all my lines going well to the early colonies and a totally unexpected French Huguenot contingent.
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Old 01-21-2021, 08:30 PM
 
3,958 posts, read 1,819,646 times
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I've been doing this since 2002 and my family is not one bit interested. It hasn't changed my self-perception basically because I learned alot when I was growing up from my grandparents and my parents about family,names and birthplaces and what they did. Found out though that some of the lore wasn't true!
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Old 01-21-2021, 09:04 PM
 
4,722 posts, read 2,451,199 times
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All my life, if people asked my nationality, the answer has been a quick German-Irish. Most of the ideas I had about nationality came from what our mother told us. Well, I traced my father's mother back to British Colonial America and then to England in the 1600s. I'm a Mayflower descendant!



My two "German" grandfathers are not German, but one self-defined Hungarian and the other Austrian. They were the military men in my family and fought for this country in the revolutionary war, the civil war, and the Spanish-American war, before WWI and WWII.


But at least my Irish grandmother was all Irish, practically sprouted from the soil.



So I do think a little differently about myself. I feel more "American" than I did before and fascinated by where I really came from.
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Old 01-21-2021, 11:32 PM
 
Location: The High Desert
10,996 posts, read 6,012,201 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYC refugee View Post
So I do think a little differently about myself. I feel more "American" than I did before and fascinated by where I really came from.
I think that feeling "more American" is something I have also experienced. I started this journey looking for the earliest ancestor to come to America. I never imagined where that would lead or the many different routes and roles these people followed. Feeling "more American" leads to a greater sense of ownership in the good as well as the bad. I found a slave owner when I was busy patting myself on the back that "we didn't own slaves" so that myth melted away. Some were fanatical in their religious dissenter roles. They didn't burn anyone and quickly escaped Massachusetts to Rhode Island and later Connecticut before they could be seriously charged as heretics themselves. Some fought in King Philip's War against the Wampanoags, the Indians who secured the survival of the Pilgrims and my six other Mayflower ancestors. There are heros and scoundrels in the mix but it opens ones' eyes to the family threads that run through the national fabric. That is part of the notion of ownership. It also makes clearer the reasons why our immigrant ancestors shook off their allegiance to their old homelands and that some were brought here against their will.
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Old 01-22-2021, 09:43 AM
 
Location: NJ
16,960 posts, read 25,430,569 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PA2UK View Post
Those are some pretty cool stories, and honestly I think that's way more important than how far back you can trace.

Thanks. I'm happy to be able to help the twin adoptee, he was pretty blown away. I told him to order his adoption records from NJ. He hasn't logged back into 23 and me since I told him it was his grandmothers son. He also bought an ancestry test but hasn't done it yet. I guess I traumatized him even though he did DNA to know. He'd been there 3 years with no matches. What's weird is he also matches my mothers fathers line at 23 and me which is why I told him he needed to test at ancestry because I know the history of all of my matches on that line.

My grandfathers colorful brothers were the exciting find. One shot his brothers wife to put her out of her misery due to chronic pain but he blinded her instead. Her hub died a few years later from throat cancer. The brother that shot her ended up in a mental institution died of some sickness fairly young. The 3rd brother killed his adopted daughters husband, supposedly in self defense then at one point turned the gun on himself. I haven't found out why and if it was due to shooting his son in law.

My son has some pretty cool civil war relatives plus one family owned a lot of Monmouth County in NJ. One of them built a lot of the building in one town. His one few times great grandfather was the head grounds keeper at a the Irish Ashford castle and was allowed to be buried there, so that was very cool. His plantings still stand today. Hopefully my son will eventually go there to see it. He's named after him.
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Old 01-23-2021, 02:56 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX via San Antonio, TX
8,490 posts, read 10,562,635 times
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I started my genealogy journey in 2007ish after an undergrad history class project. It basically asked us to find what impact our families had on history. I started with the easy stuff and duh up some English ancestors and connected them to the Revolutionary war and early Colonial history. But, didn’t dig into the newer ancestors.

The world really changed between 2007 and 2012 and I dived back in. I’m a social worker and work with lots of immigrant families and really wanted to try to connect to the more recent immigration history of my family. Outside of the English line, most of my ancestors came to the US between the 1830s and 1880s. Within most lines I’m 4th generation American. My goal now in research is to understand their journey and identify with their hardships.

What hurts my heart, though, is that I live in a heavily Hispanic community that continued to identify with their country of origin, even the same number of generations back. What I’ve noticed is that my European ancestors struggled so hard to identify as American that I’ve lost any semblance of culture associated with my ancestors. My mom says her grandmother only spoke Czech. She doesn’t know any Czech, because they were trying to be American, not Czech-Americans. Same with my other lines, Norwegian, Swedish, German, Russian, etc.

Another thing that sticks with me, again, as a social worker, is a question I was asked in a diversity training, “When did my ancestors become white?” When were they no longer just X-Americans? And how does that change my perception of who I am, what they went through and even what trauma did they pass down genetically that I’m unaware of? Are any of the mental health issues my family has related to the generational trauma passed down?

Anyway, that’s why I do genealogy, to understand my family’s journey and what they’ve been through. My self-perception of being an American mutt has changed a bit because I have this knowledge of their struggles now.
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Old 01-23-2021, 03:53 PM
 
996 posts, read 1,032,496 times
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Probably the biggest difference after digging into my own genealogy is becoming immensely more fascinated and interested in US history. Since then I've become a huge Civil War, American Revolution, and other topics/time period history buff. Previous to genealogy (I started years ago) I didn't have much interest in US history, was more into European history etc (which I still am into of course). Genealogy really connects you personally to history.
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Old 01-30-2021, 10:32 AM
 
3,870 posts, read 5,661,802 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashbeeigh View Post
What hurts my heart, though, is that I live in a heavily Hispanic community that continued to identify with their country of origin, even the same number of generations back. What I’ve noticed is that my European ancestors struggled so hard to identify as American that I’ve lost any semblance of culture associated with my ancestors. My mom says her grandmother only spoke Czech. She doesn’t know any Czech, because they were trying to be American, not Czech-Americans. Same with my other lines, Norwegian, Swedish, German, Russian, etc.
Well there's a difference between people who chose to emigrate to the US from Europe in search of a new life, versus those who were living in Texas already when the US annexed it in 1845 and who didn't pick up stakes to move to this country. They didn't cross the border, the border crossed them. They were here first, so I find it odd to assume that they would embrace the culture of the newcomers, although they disproportionately serve the country in the military.

I think issues of ethnic identity and "self-perception" continue to fuel interest in genealogy in the US, where there is no real unifying national culture (other than maybe football, McDonald's, and Walmart). I think a lot of Americans disappointed with this generic culture may turn to genealogy in hopes of discovering something "more interesting" about their family background from which to draw some kind of cultural identity. But very often I think they discover there's no going back, the culture that was lost isn't what it used to be.
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Old 01-30-2021, 12:41 PM
 
Location: The High Desert
10,996 posts, read 6,012,201 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashbeeigh View Post
Another thing that sticks with me, again, as a social worker, is a question I was asked in a diversity training, “When did my ancestors become white?” When were they no longer just X-Americans? And how does that change my perception of who I am, what they went through and even what trauma did they pass down genetically that I’m unaware of? Are any of the mental health issues my family has related to the generational trauma passed down?
Not trying to be controversial -- but that is an interesting question to ask and it goes to the heart of diversity and our multi-national ancestry. Conformity and assimilation has, for many generations, been driven by an expectation that newcomers would embrace a common vision of "whiteness" (if that offends, substitute "vanilla"). That expectation includes language, English concepts of law and duty, a work ethic, and a belief system that includes family and religious values in an acceptable way. That was an easy transformation for many of our ancestors but for some it was not so easy. Some groups of newcomers, while not exactly resisting assimilation, find it harder. It is a moving target and there is no finish line to cross and no certificate of assimilation. Meanwhile, people are doing what people do, raising families and getting on with life. The notion of conformity to the old expectation is changing and that has been the source of turmoil and friction in society. My Irish ancestors were confined to an Irish ghetto and probably fared worse than if they had stayed in Ireland. Some of my German ancestors moved, en masse, with their old villagers and simply reestablished their old world community in America and lived like good Germans until WWI changed everything. Those two groups cast aside their old existence and lost sight of their roots and can't really claim any real details of heritage to speak of. Is that American whiteness (or vanilla)?

I now live in an area with a plurality of Hispanic families. Generally, many speak Spanish at home and most are bi-lingual to some degree. They have strong family values and are socially conservative and quite religious. They are hard workers and care about their community. Many of these families first came here in the early 1600s, before the Pilgrims landed. Most consider themselves to be of Spanish ancestry, not Mexican as so many Americans assume, and their roots go back to well before the Americanization of the region. They have created a culture that suits them and it sufficiently meshes with the American culture. Assimilation takes on a different sort of meaning and they have not lost sight of their roots and I think that is somewhat beneficial. Many of us on this forum are working hard to reclaim some understanding of our background.

Heritage Soil

Horticulturists speak of heritage soil.
Some plants lose their way over time.
Their seeds won’t stay true.
Native Pueblo chile peppers, for example;
the cultivar weakens to something else.
Heritage soil is what keeps them true.

Like plants, we thrive in our heritage soil.
That’s why it is so hard to leave it behind.
We take it with us — you know —
when we move from place to place.
We keep traditions and beliefs and values.
Sometimes language or even clothes.

Sometimes we leave it all behind.
Sometimes we find a new heritage soil.
Sometimes we have to.
It’s hard – it takes time to put down roots.
Fragments and relics soften the way.
Shallow roots grow deeper with time.

People are more adaptable than plants
but we still hold fast to familiar things.
Comfort foods like mom made.
Special days or stories help us remember.
That’s the fate of humankind over eons,
repeated time and again, as we journeyed
out of Africa.
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Old 01-30-2021, 02:31 PM
 
Location: Colorado
2,959 posts, read 1,781,522 times
Reputation: 5671
In all honesty, no. I find it interesting, but finding out that I'm descended from, for example, Rollo, the Viking who became the first Duke of Normandy doesn't really make a change to my life one way or the other.

I do find some of the finds funny--on my mom's (predominantly English) side, I have an ancestor with the surname Holmes. On my dad's (predominantly Irish) side, I have an ancestor with the surname Moriarty. They lived about the same time frame, so I giggled a bit at the thought of "Wonder if they were real-life rivals and that's where Conan Doyle got his inspiration?" (I don't really think so, but it'd still be funny.) No Watsons have turned up, however.
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