Who do you think you are?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 24, 2009 7:33 AM GMT
    Inspired by the BBC TV series of the same name, my sister and I have been researching our family history.

    We've been able to go back two generations, and have found some interesting and sad facts about our family. We are from a humble working class background, my great grandfather made weights for scales and my mother's grandparents were farm labourers.

    There are also sad sides to the stories - poverty being the main theme. My great grandfather, for example, fell in to the Manchester Ship canal and drowned. He was a gambler - did he kill himself because he was unable to pay his debts?

    The photographs of my relatives show people who took great care in their appearance but were obviously poor (and skinny).

    So, I was wondering, has anyone else explored their family tree? What stories does it tell? How far can you go back? Have you uncovered any interesting facts?
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    Feb 24, 2009 10:46 AM GMT
    Well, I guess I have a interesting story about my great grandparents...

    My great grandmother was born in Switzerland and came to the US as a baby with her family. My great grandfather was born on the opposite side of the earth in the Phillipines and they ended up meeting in California (of course icon_lol.gif.) He worked on her family's farm and eventually they fell in love. Interracial marriages were still illegal in that state, so they drove two states up to Washington (where it was legal); they got married, went back to California and opened up their own barber shop.

    This is pretty brief since I don't know a lot of the details. My great grandfather passed away when I was still a toddler, but my great grandmother passed away just a few years ago. She was buried next to her husband in the very town they spent most of their lives. There were quite a few generations of people who all knew my great grandparents. I heard stories about how even in her old age, she'd still plant flowers along the cliffside next to the church. She was pretty mobile up until about a year or two before she passed. I remember when i was about 13, she went on a crazy ride at Knott's berry farm that spun sideways and upside down; people in line where pointing at her saying "look at that old lady" and she would look around and ask who they were talking about. I kind of wish i knew more about my great grandfather, though. Probably the only thing filipino in me is my love for food icon_razz.gif
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    Feb 24, 2009 12:30 PM GMT

    Both families from Dad and Mom's side are colonists to Mindanao (southernmost island group of the Philippines), so never really knew any of my great-grandparents. Though I do know several grandaunts and granduncles.

    Here's some interesting stuff though. I heard this from my Dad. My Grandfather on my Dad's side (he died before I was born) was with the Fil-Am forces in WW2, he originally came from mestizo bloodlines in the Negros Island (i.e. he had heavy Spanish blood in him). He was courting my Grandmother who was the daughter of a wealthy Indian businessman in Laguna. Shortly after the war, my Grandfather (who was quite the intellectual) got a teaching post to what would be the future leading university of Agriculture and Biology in Mindanao. It was still being built back then. So he convinced my Grandmother to elope with him.

    So they did. icon_razz.gif It took a while before my great-grandfather forgave her I think, and she never really got much on the will when her parents died. She gave up a lot to settle in what was still jungles back then. That's kinda romantic when you think of it. icon_wink.gif My grandfather is also one of the founding families of the town we're living in now.

    On my Mom's side. I never knew my grandmother there. We have a single picture of her though (she looks like Agot Isidro, a filipina actress). She was a mestiza, half-Spanish, and also came to Mindanao with my grandfather on my mom's side, other than that don't know much. My grandfather from my mom's side, on the other hand, is a mystery to his children LOL. He has blue eyes - something almost unheard of in filipinos. I've never noticed it when he was still alive, since his eyes had turned a milky grey in old age, but one of my uncles does have gray eyes. On his funeral (which was only roughly a year ago), I learned that his friends, neighbors, and my uncles and aunts have been suspecting that he was a bastard child of an American soldier or something. But he never talked about his past at all with his eight children. So that secret's buried with him. icon_confused.gif It may have resurfaced in the fact that my only nephew has light brown hair even though my brother-in-law is something like a fifth generation chinese-filipino.
  • zakariahzol

    Posts: 2241

    Feb 24, 2009 2:42 PM GMT
    Malaysian Malay do not have family name, so that explain how difficult to trace my root. But from bit and pieces, I can safely said I am probably a product of three nation Malaysia, Indonesia and India. On the graveyard in my village we can trace some of my earlier ancestor back to 1925. Eventhough there nothing in written , my father side of the family probably an earlier immigrant from Java Island Indonesia that settle in south Malaysia and opening up a rice field. He married a Malay/India girl and settle with her in the rice farm . The Indian blood of my grandmother explain why I have Indianized look with high nose, higher cheek bone, thick black hair and a slightly darker skin than average Malaysian. In my trip to India , I was mistaken as Indian, in Australia as Mexican and other non oriental races. Not much is known about my mother side , except for some story that her family could be from a Bugis people (where the English word Boogie Man come from) of Sulawesi(Indonesia) . Her father is a devoted religion men in his 60's who married a 14 years girl upon returning from tha Holy Land..

    As most Malaysian back then all of the men of my ancestor are great seafear , roaming the sea as fishermen and trader. One of them are said to be a leader of pirate , robbing European ship and other merchant while hiding their loot in some island (yes , those kids story stuff). They are also great farmer planting rice and fruit . I am proud to said that a pieces of the land opening up by my grandfather belong to me and unless I dont have a kid of my own , I will past it on to my most deserving and responsible nephew/niece upon my death. The land grant show the date of 1932 but my family probably I live there more that 100 years.
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Feb 24, 2009 3:50 PM GMT
    Some branches are easy to follow.

    The McKinleys (yes, the president) aren't too hard. The Thatchers are the same. The Chenaults (Yep, as in General).

    The Brewers (Patrilinial name) are almost impossible because my great great grandfather came alone on a boat from England at 12.

    And then there's the other half of my Mother's father's line (the matrilinial side) which... vanishes. There's no records at all, because they're more Scottish immigrants and several undocumented Native Americans.

    My family tree runs the gamut from abject poverty to the wealthy and powerful of history (General Chenault, President McKinley, President Adams, etc.)
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 24, 2009 5:01 PM GMT

    I never were curious about my family history ... I don't feel it's related to me ..

  • imperator

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    Feb 24, 2009 5:22 PM GMT
    My mom really got into genealogy several years ago and the farthest back she got in my ancestry was a king in Finland in ~600 AD. Descendants of his over the centuries migrated to Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, France, to England, then New England, then eastern Canada as loyalists when 'the colonies' rebelled. One of my ancestors was executed as a witch in New York. I think another was held prisoner in the tower of London, but I'm not sure about that. I seem to recall of lot of fleeing persocution, though icon_confused.gif And apparently our family is like 250th in line for the British throne, so I could be a king if I just eradicate 250 or so entire bloodlines from the face of the Earth... which... y'know, I'm down with, if it means I could try on Liz's furs. Anyway, when my mom told me all this stuff it *really* made me want to tour Europe someday, to try and re-trace some of those generational footsteps, see if anything triggers some familiarity/genetic memory/whatever. icon_smile.gif

    Then there was the day that mom decided to mess with me and tried to convince me she had "finished" the family tree. I looked at it and at the very farthest-back point was "Adam & Eve." icon_rolleyes.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 24, 2009 5:55 PM GMT
    My uncle did some exhaustive research after he retired. One of the more interesting tidbits he pulled was on my fathers side a young buck in the War of 1812 (a forefather) wound up marrying the slightly older daughter of his commander in his regiment. Not only that but he married "up" pretty significantly which was clearly out of the norm in those days! He must have been quite a handsome lad indeed..
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 24, 2009 5:56 PM GMT
    No matter what you think about Mormons, one thing they do REALLY well is family history. And they're not hesitant to share all their resources with the world. You can do a lot of your own research on their site:

  • Rookz

    Posts: 947

    Feb 24, 2009 6:24 PM GMT
    My cousins and I unfortunately found out our family history from my father, who’s the eldest of 9 children.

    In certain region (I don't recall which one) of the Philippines, we're a Pilipino mafia.

    His grandfather, our great grandfather amassed a fortune and had a child with his mistress; that child being our grandfather.

    Keeping up? My Dad -> Grandfather (mistress' child) -> Great Grandfather.

    That great grandfather was a bastard and refused to give his mistress child, our grandfather again, not one cent... er... peso! It wasn't until my great grandfather kicked the bucket that my grandfather received that fortune. My grandfather used the money for influence and of course, control. Our family name was known throughout (and feared) 'thanks' to my grandfather.

    My cousins we're all excited about the story and most wanted to go back to the Philippines to check out our history (and reap all the family name benefits). As 'head cousin' (a title I don't want but was given to me as family dictates), I just told them no for most of them are American born and aren't conditioned to the tropical environment as I was; they're spoiled brats.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 24, 2009 7:20 PM GMT
    These are fascinating stories.

    Then there was the day that mom decided to mess with me and tried to convince me she had "finished" the family tree. I looked at it and at the very farthest-back point was "Adam & Eve."

    Awww, bless. Dear Mum!
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    Feb 24, 2009 7:33 PM GMT
    I know my family history well on my father's side thanks to my dear Uncle Bill. We come from the little village of St. Foy in Normandy, France and were (hay) farmers. Both of my maternal great grandparents (on my fathers side) were from Ipswich and Cambridgeshire, England and taught English in Dieppe. Maybe that's why I'm such an Anglophile.
    My great great uncle left for South Africa and married a black woman contributing to the Coloureds of SA. My grandparents emigrated to Montreal soon after the war but couldn't stand the climate and then moved to Nevada--where I was born.
    So I guess that makes me a French-Canadian-American.
    My mother's family is a Great Plains family that I cannot trace well due to the fact that her mother was adopted--all I know is that they come from Wyoming and that I have a grandfather still alive up there who is from South Dakota--and who I look a lot like, or so my grandmother told me before she died.
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    Feb 24, 2009 7:56 PM GMT
    My last name is of Dutch origins, but I know I also have German, Swiss, and English in my history.

    One set of great great grandparents are from the Kingdoms of Wurttemburg and Baden in Germany. They came over shortly after the US Civil War. They had a daughter in 1869, who, as an old lady, attended my mother's wedding. I got their places of origination off the 1870 US census. Unfortunately, I need the know the cities where they originated from to do further research in Germany.

    One branch of the family came from Switzerland and settled in Lancaster Pennsylvania. In 1790, one of the decendents married. But by 1800, they were up in Ontario Canada, near Niagra Falls. Around 1790, the US was just starting a new gov't under the present constitution and there were a number of tax revolts going on. So I am just surmising that they decided this country wasnt going to work out and headed for the closest part of the British Empire they could get to. That branch of the family stayed in Canada until the late 19th/early 20th century. Then my great grandfather crossed back over the border to start a freight hauling business in the american city of Niagra Falls.

    One grandmother had an English last name but I know nothing of her side beyond her father.

    A couple of my gread uncles were bootleggers during Prohibition and made enough money to build fine houses side by side. ... icon_lol.gif

    I had a gay great uncle who died in the March of Bataan.

    There is a great group ...of apparently ladies who love to research genealogies for people....called Genealogy Addicts Anonymous‏. They specialize in Canada, UK, US, Australia....and probably on to other british empire countries that have computerized records. They are a great help. Just send them your genealogy question with the amount of information you already have and away they go....and they are free. I used them to research my family in Canada. And now I know all about who they were and where they lived in towns and counties that dont even exist anymore....the towns and counties have been gobbled up by the expansion of the canadian Niagra Falls metropolitan area.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 24, 2009 7:56 PM GMT
    On my mothers side we can go back clear to the 1300's in the Austrian Empire. Direct decendants to the royal famliy. My Grand parents on this side moved here after WWI and the fall of the Empire. I guess they had to save thier necks..so to speak. No I'm no Prince. I would be a viscount.

    My fathers side all cherokee indian, ecept one odd ball irish/scottsman.

    Amazing how my mother and father found each other. Considering my Mother's side fo the family, Thier wealth and Privledge.

    but all that money and titles area thing of the past. All it is now is dinning room conversation
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 24, 2009 8:32 PM GMT
    I'm a total mutt. My earliest traceable ancestors in America were Dutch in the 1650s, before the English seized New Amsterdam and renamed it New York City. The home of one great, great, great, etc, grandfather from the 1600s is now preserved as a museum in nearby New Jersey. He was a founder of the present city of Montclair, NJ.

    Other ancestors founded an adjacent community, and the town hall was once my great-great grandfather's livery stable. And as a boy I remember many of the buildings still standing there had been built by his father & him.

    In the 1850s some poor Irish potato famine refugees joined the family here, and in 1900 my father's parents arrived from a part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire (what is now the Czech Republic) with their youngest child, my aunt. My father came along 11 years later.

    I'm Dutch, Irish, Czech, Scot, French, German and who knows what else. I've never taken the attitude that my ancestors define who I am, like some people do. Others will claim some distinction for themselves because their ancestors were special, but not me.

    I take the opposite view. I know exactly what I am, based on the person I am today, not on who my great-great-great was. And I like this person I am. Not the best guy, but not the worst, either.

    And if I'm OK, then whatever ancestry I happen to have is OK, too. If they were European nobility, fine. If they were scoundrels and horse thieves, fine, too. I start with the premise that I'm happy with who I am, and whatever and whoever made me are pretty good in my book, as well. icon_biggrin.gif
  • zakariahzol

    Posts: 2241

    Feb 24, 2009 9:05 PM GMT
    Cowboy and Red Vespa,

    I agree. Who ever in my bloodline dont really matter. All is past history and nothing to be brag about. What matter is what ahead of us and our own achievement during our short time on this earth. I mean, what a big deal to have a king or millionaire as your great great grandfather if you yourself is just a unsuccesful poor fellow living in proverty now. But out of curiosity its intersting to know , where we actually come from .
  • captproton

    Posts: 316

    Feb 24, 2009 9:12 PM GMT
    My great uncle did a lot of research about 20 years ago and discovered we are descended from Scottish highwaymen and thieves. Things got so bad with the local constabulary, they ditched Scotland for the New World, and changed the family name along the way.
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    Feb 24, 2009 9:25 PM GMT
    captproton saidMy great uncle did a lot of research about 20 years ago and discovered we are descended from Scottish highwaymen and thieves. Things got so bad with the local constabulary, they ditched Scotland for the New World, and changed the family name along the way.

    A man after my own heart! LOL!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 24, 2009 9:39 PM GMT
    I am the direct descendant of apes -- a quantum leap in the evolutionary process, I know. But you should see how I eat...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 24, 2009 9:53 PM GMT
    zakariahzol saidBut out of curiosity its intersting to know , where we actually come from .

    I agree. And when I used to see the buildings my great-greats had built, and knew all the significant things they had done, saw their portraits hung in museums, I guess I felt some pride, and was glad to know my history.

    But I hope I was proud for THEM, and didn't think their accomplishments made ME a great or important person by reflection. Judge me for myself, for what I've done myself, not for some remote ancestor I never knew. I suppose I haven't done as well as many of them, but maybe not been a total failure, either.

    At the same time, I thank my family for having given me some very tangible advantages, that not everyone of my generation may have enjoyed. And as I've written here before, every accomplishment I've had I credit to my family, because of their support, their selfless love when they knew I was gay, and, quite bluntly, the genetics they passed on to me.

    I am their son, and I honor and love them beyond words. And when the OP asks "Who do you think you are?" I would answer: I am the proudest son of my parents, whose memory I cherish, whose gifts to me are past measure.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 24, 2009 10:03 PM GMT
    Well my father was/is doing our family tree and he was able to go back 800 years on my mom's side and 1000 years on his side. From it all I get that I have more America Indian and European in me than anything else.
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    Feb 25, 2009 1:23 AM GMT
    Edwards (welsh), Ives (Norman later Cornish), Wells (Scottish), Bartlett (English). I also have German.

    My mom's brother has traced the Ives back to the tourist town of St. Ives. One of my relatives on my maternal grandfather's side of the family, was Burr Ives a "saddleback doctor" between Muddy York (toronto) and Kingston, Ontario in the early 1800s. He left Watertown NY during the revolutionary war.

    My father's family (Edwards) were fishermen for generations based in Lowestoft England. They emigrated to Canada in 1912. My great-grandfather was a Lietenant in the army in 1916. He and another man were rowing a sea mine out into Lake Ontario as part of the Dominion Day celebrations (July 1st, now called Canada Day). The mine went off and my great-grandfather Edwards was blown up. He was 52 I think. I still have the newspaper clipping of his death.

    My Great Aunt Lena Bartlett married an Army Chaplain who was sent over to Japan in the early 20s to establish the YMCA. They spent much of the 1920s and 1930s in Japan. After WWII he became part of the Canadian contingent to the UN, and was the Canadian ambassador or attache in China before the Communists took over in 1949. They were both fluent in Mandarin and Japanese.

    My Dad's mother, a Wells, had an aunt who lived with them when she was growing up in New Brunswick. She did not find out until later that her "aunt" was actually her sister. Her mother had given birth outside of wedlock. How times have changed.
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    Feb 25, 2009 7:02 AM GMT
    bits and pieces of my family history (on one side of the family) have been traced back quite far.

    once of Scottish royalty, we had a lord and lady in the family.
    one of the richest families in Scotland at the time.. (now we have to pay to take tours of the former family mansion)... and somewhere along the lines, merged with the Morgan family, as in, J.P. Morgan - likely in some of that good ol' elite inbreeding they did (do) so much of.

    however, the family patriarch died, and the stepmother, sent all the children to the US and Canada, said she would send money, and then... cut them off. hence, why i have NO money in the family today... what a bitch!

    in Ireland, one of our ancestors was the "last executioner" as he was called.... there was actually a movie made about him recently. he also was one of the hangmen at the Nuremberg trials, hanging the Nazis, lol. so... i guess it wasnt all bad.

    and in the US, one of the distant relatives was a hit man, and a member of a famous criminal gang, i forget the name of it now... and if memory serves, he was also affiliated with Capone. lol. and i have seen his photo online in an archive of a state penitentiary's photos of executed criminals... he was hung. how ironic.

    so basically... crazy, elite, brutal, thugs...