Monday, May 10, 2010

Family Project

My mom's side of the family has always been interested in our family history. The story goes that my great-great grandfather was actually the grandson of Sitting Bull. When his mother, Snow-on-Me, died, his father gave him up to a neighbor, whose name we carried on. Now, whether this is true or not, I don't know. But it's an interesting story.

After writing the post The Most Perfect Wedding Presents, I took Mrs. Mordacai's advice and checked out It is brilliant. I'm SO glad she told me. I found more ancestors on the side that actually followed their history, and it led me to question my father's side of the family.

Things I've Learned:
-My grandmother's family all came from the same place I live (within 10-20 miles), back to the early 1700s. Maybe this is why I feel so connected there.
-I'm definitely German six ways from Sunday.
-My father's side of the family has interesting crossovers, feuds, and scandals.
  • A woman on my grandfather's side married a man, and when he died two years later, married his older brother
  • My great-grandfather's second wife destroyed or sold all of my great-grandmother's possessions when my great-grandfather died so that my grandfather and his siblings couldn't get them
  • My great-great-grandfather was having an affair downstairs with his soon-to-be second wife while his first wife was upstairs dying of the flu a few days after giving birth
-Many German records were burned in the mid 19th century.
-The German cemetery in which my great-great-grandfather is buried changed its name in WWII to avoid attacks.
-There is a picture of a 19th century Chinese man in the photo section of the family bible (which I didn't know existed at all) with no name - am I related to him??
-I lived down the street from the cemetery in which my family members are buried all my life and didn't know it.

Every day I find more ancestors, dates, and places. I've actually become a wee bit obsessed. I stayed up until midnight last trying desperately to find out about my great-great grandfather (the closest relation for whom I have no information). I have a phobia of cemeteries, so my mom agreed to go into the cemetery in which he is supposedly buried to try to find him. I don't really feel I can rest until I know something about him.

How important is family history to you? Who is your family historian?


  1. That's so interesting; I love learning stories about my ancestors. Scandals are the best! We have a few in our family that are pretty messed up too. Funny how it's amusing a hundred years later but it was probably heartbreaking at the time to those involved.

    I've just gotten involved in family history in the past year. My mom assigned me a line (so she and my sisters and I don't all do duplicate work) and that really helped me focus. I'm working on my French ancestors since I took French in high school and college (luckily I can read it, but I still can't speak it to save my life!).

  2. That'a really good idea your mom had. Unfortunately for me, my mom's mom and I are the only ones to care enough to keep record, and she can't do much research anymore. So it's just little old me :o)

    When I was working on *B*'s family tree, the french came back to me to some extent. I can think how the words sound, but I can't get my mouth to form them. My french teacher was from Canada (a nun) and she was explaining that we have methods of moving our mouths that they don't and vice versa. It takes a while to force your mouth to move that way.