Family trees can be a fascinating thing, when you really stop to climb them. Being a bit too ADHD to spend the requisite hours on computer, I have generally allowed others to do the researching. I’ve heard a slight flurry of interest due to the Royal Wedding — perhaps from people who wondered if they have a vague or distant connection to the crown.
Thus, the subject comes to the forefront.
I know that I do not have the slightest connection, but based on research done by others (we all stand on the shoulders of giants), I have discovered a few things about what I thought versus what really happened in my lineage.
1. The previously presumed Pennsylvania Dutch people were really Pennsylvania Swedish. The two settlements were very close geographically. Memories were faulty. Perhaps they settled close due to a closeness of speech which made the languages mutually, in some cases, understandable.
2. A good many of the presumed Welsh people were really French, who emigrated to Wales about thirty years before coming here. Religious reasons? A lot of Huguenots sought refuge in Protestant countries, running from the state religion. Unfortunately, genealogy doesn’t usually tell you why someone moved.
3. I couldn’t find the Indian ancestors by normal means. You have to rely on what your grandparents told you because the record keeping was sparse, in part deliberately. They are more reliably found by tribal records and cemetery searching, not courthouse digging.
4. I would hypothesize that the above may also be true, if you are searching for Gypsy or Basque ancestors, as well as certain other ethnicities. Certain ethnic groups have had to keep a low profile, in order to survive. Whatever your grandparents told you is probably the most reliable start you will get.
All of this sort of began, for me, with a desire to find out whether Felix Davis, a Santa Fe trapper and trader who married an ancestor of my wife’s in Santa Fe in the 1840′s, might be related to me. No answer to that has yet emerged, and it seems unlikely, but we found some other interesting forebears and actually met some paternal grandmother connected relatives, in the process of searching.
I do think it’s fascinating, and the more you dig into it, the more fascinating it can become. It is, as someone mentioned, a lot like detective work. I think it’s also fascinating because, like me, many people in my generation or later — even one or two earlier — are made of at least four nationality backgrounds and separated by some distance from whatever European or Asian country they may have come from.
I also find it interesting because, brought up as we are in the United States values system, it shouldn’t, and ultimately doesn’t, really matter if you have that royal connection. Reviewing the Constitution with my social studies class, I was reminded that within the first several articles, one finds statements that explicitly forbid the establishment of any type of royalty or nobility. Sensible, in light of the caste system that the thirteen Colonies were breaking away from.
So the Prince married his Princess, and for a couple of days, there was a flurry of sensation that included, among other things, some of the folks I know deciding to root around in their ancestry trunk. I’ve just been happy that, so far, I haven’t found any horse thieves, and located a couple of genuine patriots, ranging from the fellow who fought in the Revolution, all the way up to my dad and two uncles who did their duty in WWII and Korea. Come to think of it, I guess that’s why I tucked away all my Army stuff for my own grandson, someday.