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Old 01-19-2021, 10:31 PM
 
Location: The High Desert
10,987 posts, read 6,003,934 times
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I have been on the ancestor paper chase since the 1990s and then online a few years later. I volunteered in my state's Archive for several years and was amazed at the records that were sitting there about my family and my wife's family. I took a DNA test a few years later and then couple more. We cannot trace every possible family line so we are constrained to follow the low hanging fruit on our tree. Most of our ancestors were not documented in ways that we can trace.

So what was the result of all of that research? Was my self-perception influenced by any of that? A bit...but not profoundly. I seem to be following patterns.

- Religion played a bigger role than expected and we seem to be religious dissenters and contrarians, though not to be confused with free-thinkers. They separated from one body only to join a dissenting church body. That contrary-ness in regard to organized religion seems comfortable to me.

- In recent generations we have not been a "military family" as in making that a career choice. We had war service going back to the 1600s but not career service beyond that. I have followed that pattern as has everyone in my generation of cousins.

- Most of my ancestors were farmers but never owned their own land until they came to America. They always worked on manor/estate lands or else rented land from the local lord. Owning land or landed property was important once they had a chance to do it in the US. I feel the same way and have seldom been a renter. I'm not a farmer, though.

- As far as I can tell, going back many generations, there has never been a divorce. One family was dysfunctional and periodically estranged but had ten kids. I find it hard to believe that these relationships were always solid and devoted but they stuck it out. My own situation was the same.

- Not counting immigrants, many ancestral generations had a "black sheep" struck out on their own and left the parental family "clan" behind. That pattern goes back at least to about about 1760. My grandfather was one and a couple cousins have followed that pattern. I left my hometown but settled within a few hours away and stayed connected.

There were a few other hints of different threads or directions. A couple great-uncles were gangsters. There was a lot of perseverance and persistence during difficult times. I have not had to face things like high infant mortality or an entire family stricken by TB or invading armies and rebellions.
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Old 01-20-2021, 06:07 AM
 
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My self-perception didn't change but it was interesting to learn about various ancestors that I am related to.
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Old 01-20-2021, 06:47 AM
 
Location: Cumberland
5,742 posts, read 9,167,111 times
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I never realized how many of my ancestral aunts, uncles, and cousins moved away each generation. Family stories are mostly about the people who stuck around, but really my area was "seed stock" for the western migration and my family was a part of it, just not my direct line.
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Old 01-20-2021, 10:43 AM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
9,708 posts, read 15,394,916 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SunGrins View Post
- In recent generations we have not been a "military family" as in making that a career choice. We had war service going back to the 1600s but not career service beyond that. I have followed that pattern as has everyone in my generation of cousins.
We've never been a military family either - I have some Revolutionary War ancestors, and one who was in the War of 1812. But no military involvement from then to WWII when my grandfathers both served but only really out of duty. It's interesting because my uncle asked me about military ancestors and I told him this, he was really upset that no ancestors fought in a war or served for over 100 years. I mean, he was really upset and disappointed in our ancestors. Yet it's not like HE ever served. He said if he was younger, he'd sign up right now. Um, okay, but you didn't sign up when you were younger, so why be so disappointed in our ancestors for not doing it? I think he was more disappointed in himself and it was easier to blame his ancestors. It just shows how there really are patterns throughout family history. We don't have a big military family history, and my uncle is just a part of that without even realizing it until now.

But I struggled to understand why it mattered to him - we have several Revolutionary War ancestors, surely that's something to be proud of? So what if it happened much longer ago? What does it matter how long ago it was? Well, there's very little I understand about my uncle, lol.

On the other hand, I have examples of people breaking patterns. I've talked before about how my grandfather wasn't the biological son of his father, the man he was named after. He never knew this, I discovered it after his death. Certainly, his bio father was never a part of his life, and the man he thought was his father abandoned him as a child (possibly, he knew the kids weren't his). So my grandfather was raised by a single mother on a waitresses income, who honestly came from a pretty dysfunctional family too. He did have a step-father at some point when she remarried, but apparently he was abusive. So my grandfather, determined to rise above his circumstances, became an engineer, a loyal husband, devoted father, and never raised his voice or hand in anger.

I don't know how much learning about my family history has changed my self perception, but the results of my family history have, even if only indirectly, shaped who I am, by shaping the people in my life who have influenced me.
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Old 01-20-2021, 04:23 PM
 
Location: DMV Area/NYC/Honolulu
22,755 posts, read 10,843,975 times
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I think it's kind of hard for your self perception to not change a little bit. At least in my case. I always try to envision what my ancestors went through. I get a sense of pride based on some of their accomplishments. If one came from a family of crime and despair, I could see one (not universally true) not thinking that they would/could be any different, especially if it was a generational thing. I say that the latter wouldn't apply to me, but really I don't know.
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Old 01-21-2021, 03:49 AM
 
Location: NJ
16,935 posts, read 25,415,268 times
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I wish I could trace my family like you guys and gals can.

One thing I did manage to find out was that there were many babies born that were adopted out, all on my grandmothers (mothers side) line, including my mother adopting out my brother. One of my grandmothers sisters son's had a possible GF that adopted her twins out, they were born in 65 like me. I know it was her son because the one twin I met on 23 and me didn't share the same maternal haplogroup as me. I wonder if the son even knew about the babies. On another sisters line I believe there were 3 or 4 kids that were adopted out, so far I have not found one on another sisters line, yet... I personally could never give away my flesh and blood.

The biggest shock was finding out my grandfather (mother again) was the baby of 12 kids and that almost all of his brothers came to the US and were some colorful people.

No military people in my side yet, though my father did defect during an uprising in Hungary.
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Old 01-21-2021, 12:44 PM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
9,708 posts, read 15,394,916 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roselvr View Post
I wish I could trace my family like you guys and gals can.

One thing I did manage to find out was that there were many babies born that were adopted out, all on my grandmothers (mothers side) line, including my mother adopting out my brother. One of my grandmothers sisters son's had a possible GF that adopted her twins out, they were born in 65 like me. I know it was her son because the one twin I met on 23 and me didn't share the same maternal haplogroup as me. I wonder if the son even knew about the babies. On another sisters line I believe there were 3 or 4 kids that were adopted out, so far I have not found one on another sisters line, yet... I personally could never give away my flesh and blood.

The biggest shock was finding out my grandfather (mother again) was the baby of 12 kids and that almost all of his brothers came to the US and were some colorful people.

No military people in my side yet, though my father did defect during an uprising in Hungary.
Those are some pretty cool stories, and honestly I think that's way more important than how far back you can trace.
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Old 01-21-2021, 02:25 PM
 
Location: USA
2,644 posts, read 1,078,355 times
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I'm more interested in my husband's family. Tracing back through his family and seeing the weirdness there has made my family look more normal. I just smile inwardly when they talk about strange families.
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Old 01-21-2021, 05:30 PM
 
Location: near bears but at least no snakes
23,621 posts, read 22,926,616 times
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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.
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Old 01-21-2021, 05:43 PM
 
Location: in my mind
5,076 posts, read 7,447,539 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SunGrins View Post
- As far as I can tell, going back many generations, there has never been a divorce. One family was dysfunctional and periodically estranged but had ten kids. I find it hard to believe that these relationships were always solid and devoted but they stuck it out. My own situation was the same.
This made me think of an article I have bookmarked:

Quote:
"We were trying to answer the basic question: Why does divorce run in families?" said the study's first author, Jessica Salvatore, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences at VCU. "Across a series of designs using Swedish national registry data, we found consistent evidence that genetic factors primarily explained the intergenerational transmission of divorce."
more here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...1004151226.htm
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