Onetwigonabigtree's Blog


Episode 2: Getting started . . .
June 10, 2010, 11:52 am
Filed under: Genealogy/Family History

How many of your direct ancestors can you name? Going back how many generations? Do you know where they came from? Who their brothers and sisters were? Are there any family legends that you’ve heard of and are they true? Do you have any famous (or infamous) relatives? Do you really know these things or do you just think you know them, that is to say, can you document them? Did your relatives serve this country, or some other country, during wartime? Does your family have any skeletons in the closet or things not spoken of aloud? Remember, not all of history is good and bright and happy, and the same can be said of your family history, too, but it’s still your history and you should know about it. And to many of the people who read this:  my history is your history, too.

The recent series of programs on NBC called “Who Do You Think You Are” answered some of these questions for celebrities but just about anyone can find out about their family’s history. I did and I’m still learning new things. So let me answer some of these questions as they relate to us.

I can name all parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of mom’s and dad’s, and some of the antecedents of my biological father. That’s right, that’s one of those skeletons we talked about before and will talk about again in future installments. He’s part of my history and I wanted to know about him. Anyway, beyond great-grandparents I have to peek since there gets to be too many to memorize all the names of. But some branches of my tree go back twenty or more generations. That number changes from week to week. My family mostly come from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland originally. After immigrating to North America (both the United States and the British colonies) they settled in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island and then moved west to Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas and Missouri and they moved south to Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Some went to California when the drought was turning the Great Plains into a dust bowl.

Family legends:  that we were related to the Dalton Gang of outlaws (haven’t been able to prove or disprove); that we were kin to Daniel Boone (yep) and Davy Crockett (yep again).

Famous relatives:  Ray Boone, infielder for the Cleveland Indians; actors James Dean, Joan Crawford, Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart and Fay Wray; Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor, wife of president Zachary Taylor; George Ross, signer of the Declaration of Independence; writers Henry David Thoreau, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen, John Milton and Ralph Waldo Emerson; and Minnie Moore.

Infamous relatives:  Frank and Jesse James, nineteenth century outlaws; Clyde and Buck Barrow, twentieth century outlaws; Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Our ancestors have served in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, the Civil War (both sides), World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict and Viet Nam.

Skeletons? Well, one of my ancestors was hanged for the murder of his mother although the evidence is pretty clear that he was innocent.

In coming installments I will give details about some of these things and more. Stay tuned.

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