Thursday, November 9, 2017

Tracing Your Roots by LeAnne Bristow

Thanks to a vast array of genealogy websites, tracing your family's heritage is easier than ever. For a nominal fee, you can even submit a vial of saliva and find out much more about your family than just where they came from. But why is it so popular now? I think many people are searching for something and I'm not just talking about where their ancestors may have come from. Is it because people are looking for a place to belong? Looking for an identity? Are we needing to fill a void in our life by finding things in common with others? Or are they just really curious about things?

For me, my search begin to either prove (or disprove) an outrageous story that one of my aunts told me about. Wait. No. Back up. It really started when my fourth grade teacher assigned a project. We were to interview family members about our ancestors and then research information about that country. I interviewed my maternal grandfather. He loved to tell stories about his father traveling from Alabama to Texas in a covered wagon, so I knew he would be the one to talk to. During our interview, he said his grandmother talked about coming to America on a ship from Holland. Holland. I was excited. My ancestry was Dutch. For the next ten years, I told everyone I was Dutch. My favorite flower became the tulip. I had pictures of windmills all over my room.






I even got my mother's family involved in searching for information about our Dutch roots. One of my aunts went thorough some boxes of things in the attic searching for pictures and swore she found a letter proving that one of our ancestors was actually part of the royal family. According to her story, the daughter of the king chose love over title and forfeited her birthright when she married a commoner. These two young lovers made their way to the American colonies to begin a new life. Ahhh...young love. Is it any wonder I became a romance writer???



When the internet made searching for our ancestors much easier to do, I began my research in earnest. I was dying to find out about this young couple. But it wasn't true. Not one bit of it could be proven. My great-great grandmother DID come on a ship from Holland. But she boarded the ship in Ireland. The ship docked for a short time in the Netherlands before heading to America. She met and married another Irish immigrant. So surprise surprise, my heritage was not Dutch, but Irish. And although my ancestors may not have chosen love over money and titles, I'd still like to imagine that their story was epic. I'm still trying to find out why they left Ireland and what brought them from Ohio where they were married to Texas.

What about you? Are your love stories inspired by stories in your family? Tell me about them!!!


16 comments:

  1. Just this year I decided to test my ancestry. If they are telling the truth, nothing either of my parents insisted was their family history is true. I find it sad and perplexing.

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    1. I started to blog about all the crazy things I've discovered since doing my DNA. I've uncovered family skeletons, found long lost cousins and discovered that my father's family does not, as rumored, have Native American ancestry. But those are stories for another time!

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  2. No epic romances that I've heard in my family. Some story about a horse theif escaping from Alabama to Texas, but that may have been a joke. A relative has traced my mother's family back to Benjamin Franklin's brother, which I found exciting.

    I haven't done the DNA tests. My daughter did her dog, who was claimed to be St. Benard/Great Dane. Since she looks more like a husky/shepherd we have our doubts.

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    1. DNA tests for dogs? Seriously? I had no idea! I have done my DNA through 2 different companies and am always amazed at what I discover. Genealogy research can suck you in. I spend hours doing it!

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  3. For some reason I've never desired to do the DNA testing...partly because I'm not sure I'd believe what they told me. :-) My grandmother was from a fairly wealthy family and married my grandfather who was not wealthy. We were always known as the poor relations.

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    1. Ah...so your family does have a great love story! I've found my DNA to be very enlightening and it's helped me with my research because it helps me know where to look. :)

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  4. A great story LeAnne, especially the part about thinking you had Dutch heritage when it was Irish! Hundreds of Irish emigrated during the Irish Potato Famine in the mid 1800s, so maybe that’s why your ancestors left. Interesting how the family stories alter as they get passed down, isn’t it? I did some family ancestry research online, but could, only go back so far. And I think there was a remote connection to wealth at one time, way back! Or so I was told!! But it’s fun to find these things out, isn’t it?

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    1. When I did my DNA I thought it would solve some mysteries and it has actually opened up some. I've found out about secret affairs, secret babies and other things I had no idea about. It's a case of careful what you wish for, lol!

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  5. I did the DNA testing long before the commercials were so popular. There was nothing surprising in the information. I was a little disappointed.

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  6. I love the story. I haven't done it yet, but think I will eventually. I almost hope that, like Shirley, I end up being disappointed--I don't need any more drama! :-)

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  7. I did one DNA test, which laid to rest a family claim to Native American blood, as yours did, LeAnne. Turns out the largest percentage I have is —who knew?—Scandinavian. Never heard that before so I’m not sure. A lot of Irish, English and some Scottish match the family names better. The research is fun to do.

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  8. Recently had my DNA tested, too, LeAnne. No secret babies or siblings to repor :) But I do belong to the Society of Mayflower Descendants. Among other Pilgrims, I'm related to John Alden and Pricilla Mullins, who married and had 10 children. John was retained by Miles Standish (the Captain of the ship) to act as his agent in his honorable pursuit of Pricilla, one of the very few eligible women at Plymouth. As the story goes, when John appeared at the Mullins house and stated Miles' intention, Pricilla took a shine to him and told John to speak for himself, not Miles. He did, and they eventually married. I always thought that was a romantic love story <3

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  9. Oh, for a little scandal to spice up my heritage, but the best I can do is confess that my Swedish mother married my Norwegian father, which my parents laughed about. I always thought it was sort of romantic that shortly after arriving from Norway, my grandmother and her sister married two brothers from a town in Norway not far from their home place. They all made a new life together. I have to admit being fascinated by the DNA testing, not so much for myself as for my kids, who have more of a mix of genes. But the, maybe I'd be surprised myself. Thanks LeAnne.

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    1. I've got two sisters who married two brothers in my ancestry as well!

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  10. I'd love to take a DNA test and see what's in my gene pool. :) I love old family stories. I tend to find out that the romance wasn't quite so epic as I'd hoped, though. My grandfather married my grandmother because she was one of the only single Mennonite women in the area, for example. I write romance to make the stories better. ;)

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