Thursday, November 22, 2007

Genealogically speaking

Today I am thankful for many things. I will highlight one area of family that has meant a lot to me; I've not included much of it in this blog, but it is a passion. It is something I am good at and gives me enormous pride to do well.

I began doing genealogy when J turned one, because I wanted him to be included in an upcoming family book that was scheduled to be published. (It has yet to be published nine years later.) I caught the bug and began going to major research institutions. I could look at primary sources, the real thing, and not depend on the junk on the Internet, although I'll admit to having some of that, too.

I am thankful for having the opportunity to do this research and for having well over 550 grandparents documented for J and almost 250 of their surnames to research. My satisfaction is not because of the well known people I have eventually uncovered, but it comes in honoring and remembering the mill workers and farmers who built this country and deserve to live through the ages. I want their stories straight and preserved. The famous people part is gravy.

For example, I descend from two women who were almost killed by Indians. One was pregnant and scalped; I descend from that daughter she was carrying and I think the blood thickening properties of pregnancy are probably why I am here. The other was on a wagon train going west when the entire party was wiped out, save she and her brother, who were later found and sent back east. Only 13 when she married, her husband looks exactly like Matthew Broder.ick.

Further, J descends from at least 22 Revolutionary War patriots. We are the bread and butter our country was built on, from the Huguenots in 1699 to the Germans in the mid 1700s to the Scots any ol' time.

To begin with the well known, it is thought that ex and I are both related to George Washington, me through the Balls, George's mother's family, and ex through his own surname which is in George's family.

Through his mother, ex is a cousin of Thomas Jefferson, springing from a different branch of Jefferson's grandfather.

Through his mother again, ex is a distant cousin of Jimmy Carter as well.

I descend from a man on the first ship of Africans who came to Jamestown from Angola in 1617. J just studied them in school last week. They are considered to have saved the settlement.

Moving on to the present, I have a distant cousin who is a respected, well known NASCAR driver.

I have a second cousin who played in two World's Series and won one. He even earned a great stat distinction.

I have another second cousin who writes/produces for TV and film with projects you definitely know. He names characters after family members.

(Less illustriously, I descend from an eldest son who married his aunt, his father's youngest sister. Many family trees are wreaths and I have plenty of examples!)

About eight years ago, I had my mitochondrial DNA study done. I wasn't from one of the Seven Daughters of Eve. My daughter must have been hiding out in the corner; it is a smaller clan - perhaps infertility made the clan smaller? I do have my mother's mother's mother's (etc) line traced to Jane, born 1820s Scotland. I have many other lines traced earlier (to include the 12th century Scottish knights through which ex and I are ninth cousins), but Jane is my heart. If I had had a daughter, she would have been Jane for the Janes in ex's and my families. (Or give me an Emeline or a Margaret for other grandmothers.)

I recently had J's yDNA study done and am hashing out the results. Part of that hashing is some incorrect family history that has ex's father's father's father (etc) Henry born 1820s SC attached to the wrong family. Bully for me that the yDNA seems to prove my point, as they are too many markers off to be that closely related. I would have loved a son named Henry or another named Fletcher, after another grandmother.

Gosh I get off on this stuff! I am so thankful for these people persevering through some tough times.

Genealogy is entertaining, but I despise the dismissiveness when someone says, "If you go back far enough, we're all related." My standard response then is, "Prove it."

Well, I have.

PS - I realize that genealogy is sort of an anathema to the infertility world. I ask you to respect that, although I was not able to create my own family the way I wanted, I have been able to find plenty of other family and honoring them has warmed my existence. I learned that family is much greater than the idiots who happen to live at the same time as me.


Well-heeled mom said...

This is fascinating!

Anonymous said...

That is so cool! You're so lucky you have records you can go back to. I love going to Cyndi's List but am quickly overwhelmed with the amount of information. Do you have any hints or tips about how to proceed when you have 0 relatives to count on?

And Happy Thanksgiving!!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What a lot you've discovered!

I wanted to stop by tonight and say 'thanks' for your writing. this is another example. It's been great to have met you this year. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

DD said...

My sister has been tracking all of the family tree, however it looks as if we have been poor farmers since the time man walked upright.

Mr. DD on the other hand does not like to be be reminded about his cousin, who died in a plane crash on the east coast with his wife and SIL some years ago. And that line of genes goes back to godknowswhen and then some.