Friday, April 9, 2010

Ancestor-Approved Award

Wow, I found this in my comments section the other day and I was so grateful. My blog is still fairly new, less than a year old, and I couldn't believe that someone thought of it for this award. Thanks very much to A Rootdigger!
So now I'm supposed to list 10 things I have learned about my ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened me and then pass the award along to 10 other blogs. Since I waited to post this until after my research trip run-down was finished pretty much all of the blogs that I follow have already received the award, and some have received it from several different people, but I'll try my best with the 10-things list.
*One of my own surprises was finding family ties to the Witch House in Salem, MA; my Ward family used to live there and they were the ones who eventually sold it to a local pharmacist which I found to be kindof funny. They sold it to a regular every day kind of guy probably thinking that it was just like every other house, and now it's one of the major tourist attractions there.
*I'm humbled by how difficult it has been to try to proof English origins for the man who is thought to be our Stevens' family emigrant. He is supposed to have come over from Bristol, England (whether he lived there or just boarded there, or maybe neither of these, who knows!) in the 1770s and anyone who knows anything about passenger lists knows that the lists for British emigrants during this time are few and far between. Needless to say, he's not listed.
*I'm humbled by how difficult it has been trying to find some sort of connection between the same Stevens ancestor and his alledged involvement in either the Revolutionary War and/or the War of 1812 (in both instances as a sailor). Preliminary research has told me that this is difficult primarily because of the lack of an actual, official "Navy" at this time. Things like Seamen's Protection Certificates need to be searched for sure but who knows when I'll be able to have access to those.
*I was surprised to find a great scandal in the family when I found out why my Great Grandfather was born in Canada...His mother's sister was married to a con-man who swindled some MA people out of several thousands of dollars in the 1880s. They fled to Canada with my Great Great Grandmother and other family members as well, and there was our connection to Canada at the time of my Great Grandfather's birth.
*Following the Bromagem line has "enlightened" me in the sense that it has forced me to learn a lot more about what was happening in the U.S. during the 18th century, both pre and post Revolution. Who knew that part of Pennsylvania used to be in Virginia! Maybe if I had been from one of those counties I would have known but coming from IL, I had no idea!
*I've recently been humbled by the generations of hard working, yet non-land-owning farmers I have on my Dad's side of the family. This is a new line and I'm noticing nothing in the "Real Estate" lines on the census sheets; they weren't working their own land and had very little to call their own and yet they had a slew of children. Extremely large families, staying close together, and working hard from the time they were teenagers. It's hard to imagine but they were like this for several generations. It's really something that makes me reassess modern living.
*Like others who have been looking through their ancestors, I'm humbled by the courage of those who left their homes to come to the U.S.. The Siegmunds, the Boldas, the Dellibacs, and the Kleinerts are the more recent immigrants; those who arrived between the 1880s and the early 1900s. These are the Ellis Island immigrants that everyone tends to think of when they think of their immigrant ancestors. But going beyond that, we have the Mayflower lines who came to a very, very new country to "officially" escape religious persecution and found themselves face to face with a sparce and entirely new environment requiring that they swiftly adapt.
*I've really been surprised by the number of seaman ancestors on my Mother's side of the family. It seems like nearly every branch has a sea-faring male in its progeny. Who knew! Again, we're now Midwestern folks surrounded by corn fields and silos and to find so many ancestors who spent their entire lives on the Atlantic ocean is pretty overwhelming.
*I was surprised to find that the Ward branch of the family has roots in the early years of San Francisco. I knew that we did not have family who settled West, we just don't seem to have been the homesteading, pioneering type of stock. But the Wards did go and try to make some money and be involved in the establishment of the new city. For some, the stay was only temporary, for others it was more lasting but they did succeed in making their mark; James C. Ward drew one of the earliest panoramic sketches of San Francisco which appeared in Bayard Taylor's "Eldorado: Adventures in the Path of Empire"-an account of San Francisco and the 49ers which appeared in the 1850s. As a child, San Francisco was always my favorite city in California. I really felt at home there and it was a great surprise to find out that my Grandfathers felt the same way about it.
*When my Mom and I first started working on our family history, years and years ago, I remember being surprised at how every so often, someone just grabs your attention and won't let go. It's like their name is calling out for you to find their story and you can't stop until you've found it. It's weird really, but that feeling still happens. You never know why you're particularly drawn to that person, or to that particular family, but it just happens and you have to get to the bottom of it. I was surprised to find that back then, but I'm still surprised when it happens to me now.

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