Amateur genealogists, beware. Researching your ancestry doesn´t always turn up heroes and royalty. It may turn up a felon, a bigamist or another unsavory character. New York filmmaker Heather Quinlan found more than a few skeletons when digging into her ancestors´ closet. Among them: Thomas Fagan, her grandmother´s great-grandfather, who had killed a man during a drunken bar fight in 1868 (reportedly hitting him over the head with a chair in self-defense).
I´ve been doing genealogy research for twenty years and the stories I´ve turned up have included some juicy ones. That´s part of the fun, of course. And, yes, like the woman in this story, I´ve debunked some of my family legends. That´s almost always a disappointment.
Greetings fellow genealogists! I have been at it for nearly 40 years and I love doing it. With the advent of the web it has made the search so much easier. I can say without reservation that genealogists are the most generous and patient people you´ll meet.
I have been astonished at what I have found...and the thread is never ending. The people in my line range from Calvin Coolidge´s butcher, Alexander Graham Bell´s house keeper, a revolutionary war hero, native Americans, shepards and blacksmiths, a minister introduced to his congregation by Cotton Mather, to a bowman for Henry VIII, the exchequer of London, Eleanor of Aquitane, Charlegmane and on and on. Some were wonderous and some were rouges. Most of them lived ordinary lives such as my own but I feel I have a close up view of the history of the world once I find their names, dates & locations...
In my family we love and honor them all and can´t wait to meet them one fine day!
I´ve been fortunate in that much of my genealogy was handed to me in books done by other family members. The challenge has been verifying it as true. My mother´s family is fairly boring...germans who came settled in SE Ohio in the 1830´s. My great-grandmother got pregnant by someone in the Swedish royal family and was sent to the US. The baby was adopted by a canadian couple. My Dad´s family came over with the Puritans and I have 3 Rev. War vetrans. Through him I am descended from Magna Carta signers, minor and som major royalty and lots of Puritans. It´ a neat way to learn history.
Last post on this subject, although I could discuss it all day.
When you´ve got Texas roots, as half my lines do, there will be renegades. My g-g-g-grandfather, a drunkard and neer-do-well, invaded a central Texas small-town church service (with his gang) to shoot an enemy who was in attendance. The group fired sixteen shots and didn´t hit anyone in the building. The townspeople were so outraged, they lynched them anyway.
gartenfrau perhaps our ancestors knew each other during the war!
BTW I forgot to mention that I also found a slave in my lineage - Anna Christian - half native american and half african. I am also decended from Magna Charta signers...I have had a pro look at the work/lineage and it was given the nod of confirmation.
Blessedly I am also related to Dick Chenney! Can you imagine my pride?! Our common ancestor is the minister who was introduced to his flock by Cotton Mather in Massachusetts. The Rev. came from Aberdeen Scotland in the 1600´s.
Looking through my past I do wonder about genetic memory - have any of my fellow genealogists on this site heard of this?
A few years before my aunt (Mom´s sister) passed away, she told me that one of her daughters paid a genealogist to research the family tree but the information is all wrong. Somewhere along the way the spelling of their last name was altered so the genealogist researched the wrong family.
My aunt said she didn´t have the heart to tell her daughter that she wasted her money and since it wasn´t my secret to tell, I´ve never told my cousins. Which means they´ve passed a stranger´s family tree on to their children and grandchildren.
I have been doing my family´s geneology for 20 years now and it´s always fascinating. One ancestor was the biggest slaveholder in Georgia before ´The War´. Not something to brag about but no guilt either since I wasn´t around then.
When you order a DNA test they also warn you about negative discoveries. There is something known as a ´non-parental event´.
That´s when your family has alway been Smiths and the DNA turns up that you are actually a Jones. Meaning somewhere back in your line there was either an adoption or an extramarital affair. Dig around far enough and you will always find surprises.
I can´t imagine what I would consider an "unwanted secret." Everything is just so fascinating to learn about.
I´ve been researching since about 1990, having picked up from my mother´s prior 20 years of research. "We" settled in the U.S. between 1852 (earliest) and 1892 (last).
I have an ancestor who fought in the American Revolution ... as a Hessian. He returned to Germany after the war and died in 1802.
Two collateral ancestors were executed in the 17th century Germany - accused of being witches.
The Germans kept fabulous records (both secular and church records).
We´ve done DNA testing for ancient ancestry and my female line goes back to the Iberian caves during the last Ice Age - 13,000 years ago. When we got our results (2005), I told my mother that it explains why we all liked scribbling with crayons on the wallpaper when we were children!
Reply 18 - Posted by:
O.S. Banker, 1/17/2013 10:53:14 AM (No. 9121996)
I have worked extensively on my paternal side of the family. Our surname is from southern Scotland, the Borders commonly known as the Debateable Land. Claimed by both England and Scotland, taxed by both England and Scotland but protected by neither. I was effectively a DMZ so consequently alliances and loyalties extended no further than family and neighbors. We had our own cavalry capable of mounting 3,000 men in the saddle. We raided the English as necessary to survive. One time that the loyalty was extended to the King of Scotland, James V. When he ascended the English throne as James I, he repaid my ancestors by sending a letter of safe conduct inviting them to a hunt. Upon arrival at the Manor, they were siezed and subsequently hung. All 30 of them. At Carlenrig in July of 1530.
For some reason, there is not a whole lot of trust in my family for centralized authority. Hmm?
Cousin Clinger #17...Who knows? My Irish great grandfather was born May 4, 1844 in Rathgormack County Waterford... reperations? Bah!
I count my blessings and thank God each and every day that in all the thousands of years and generations they were smart enough to get their fannies over here by golly!
I spoke to a licenced genealogist that told me she knows people who have traced....right back to Adam! Now that is commitment. Yes, we all go back to Adam & Eve but these folks track the names & tribes - ya gotta love it!
I love this thread..fascinating to hear your stories.a cousin has done extensive research ,published a big leather bound book for all of us..he traced that part of the family back to the 11th century..I find that mind boggling.Ancestral village is over 700 years old.
#4 We are also related. Charlemagne is my g(x37)grandfather. My g-grandparents in England were drunks so my grandfather came to the USA in 1896. He worked in a woolen mill. The fed gov´t sued the woolen mill and the mill closed. The woolen mill buildings are now part of Mystic Seaport Museum.
Greetings Cousin RealRep #22 have you met our cousin Clinger #17?
What a delight and to think after centuries, thousands of miles, war, famine & disease our family has come together again on the best website in the most delightful salon hosted by the incomparable Miss Lucianne Goldberg!
So this means that we have ancestors in common who were Knights Templar (some buried in Jerusalem) picts and Vikings!
Say, I am in MA just so ya know. Good to know all of us on this thread are keeping the stories & legends of our people alive and well for the next generation to learn from.
A cousin discovered our Great Grandfather was a Catholic Priest when he fathered our paternal grandfather. As was common in the day, our grandfather carried the mother´s name. So our family name is bogus... Oh, well.
I´ve been researching as a hobby for many years. Recently found my 5th great aunt was Mary Surratt who was found guilty and hung by the Federal Government for conspiracy and assistance to those that killed President Lincoln. If my grandfather knew this information, he would be humiliated. To me, this information is just history.
My grandmother was a Reading from New Jersey, descended from the Ryersons of New Amsterdam, and a Mayflower descendant. She took great pride in her family background, sometimes to the point of snobbishness.
Anyway, she was especially proud to be a descendant of Mayflower passenger Edward Doty.
My mother´s family wasn´t as prestigious so she tended to lord it over them a little. So, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that my mother is a descendant of Stephen Hopkins. Hopkins is an interesting character, who is said to have been Shakespeare´s inspiration for the character of Stefano in "The Tempest." He was shipwrecked in Bermuda, then managed to get to Jamestown, returned to England, and then sailed with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower.
The kicker is that Edward Doty was Stephen Hopkins´ servant.
My grandmother passed away years ago but I would have given anything to see her reaction to that bit of news!
I tried to research, but I was a babe in the woods. My daughter did as much as she had the interest in doing. My family has been in America for a long time, going back to Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. I have no idea of the original countries. My husbands family is newer to the U.S. and came from Ireland and Spain. What my daughter found was boring and nothing like the stories my grandma passed down. Like, my great grandfather was the inspiration of the book ´Trail of the Lonesome Pine´. My mother said grandma was more interested in telling us what we wanted to hear. It´s easy to get off on the wrong branch of a family, so it´s hard to know if any of the genealogy is true.
Thanks to an article posted here recently, I found a copy of a letter between George Washington and a family member relating to a land purchase. Before that, in the 1600´s let´s just say we were in shipping.
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