Believing that it's good to know something about where you came from and the forces helped shape you, I dabble a bit in genealogy. Here are just a few of the interesting ancestors I've found.
- Great-great grandfather Simeon Williams was a soldier and engineer in the Civil War
- Great-great-great grandfather Andrew Melville was murdered (mugged for his paycheck) while working on Erie Canal
- Great-4 grandfather Sylvanus Travis fought in Revolutionary War, probably in battles near New York City
- Great-5 grandfather Eli Holcomb fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill during the Revolutionary War
- Great-5 grandmother Hannah Crowfoot was a Delaware and Pequot-Mohican Indian
- Great-8 grandmother Mary Land Barnes was hanged for witchcraft in Connecticut in 1663
- Great-8 grandparents Thomas & Elizabeth Holcomb came from England to Connecticut in 1630, Nathaniel Bliss to Massachusetts in 1635, Thomas Bailey to Connecticut in 1637
- Great-9 grandfather Jean Guenon, a French Huguenot, and his wife Margreta Sneden of The Netherlands immigrated in 1657
- Great-9 grandfather Patrick MacPhearson, a Scottish prisoner of war, in 1651 was sent from an English prison camp to Massachusetts as a "convict servant"
- Great-12 grandmother Margrietje Meyerinck was born in a Dutch settlement in Recife, Brazil, married four times, and emigrated to the New Netherland colony (now New York)
- Great-12 grandfather Wyandanch was chief sachem of the Pequot Indians as the Dutch began settling in what is now Connecticut in the 16th century
I come from a multinational and multicultural family of immigrants who came to this land for a better life. My maternal lineage is French Canadian (tracing from both northern and southwestern France) and German (from southwestern Germany). The French arrived in Quebec in the 1660s and migrated to Pennsylvania around 1860. The Germans came to Pennsylvania in the 1850s.
My paternal lineage is a real hodge-podge, with roots in [alphabetically] Armenia, Bulgaria, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, and The Netherlands. My English, French, and Dutch immigrant ancestors began arriving in America in the 1630s — to eventually meet some of my non-immigrant ancestors (i.e. American Indians) of the Lenape/Delaware, Mohican, and Pequot peoples.
My ancestors were among the first settlers in Quebec and Montreal, Long Island and New York City, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Northern Pennsylvania. Most came willingly, except for the Scottish prisoner of war sold into temporary slavery in Boston.
Some of my ancestors were soldiers. They fought in the battles with the American Indians -- King Philip's War (settlers versus Indians; settlers won), the Pequot war (same players; same result); wars against the French (Queen Anne's War, French & Indian War); many battles of the Revolutionary War (fighting on the side of the colonists at Bunker Hill, Saratoga, Bennington, Long Island, White Plains, Stoney Point, and Trenton); several battles of the Civil War (fighting for the North at Antietem, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Richmond, Appomattox, and Gettysburg), [sat out the First World War], and Second World War building bridges on the European Front. So my service in the Vietman War and my son Aaron's current Army service in the Middle East and Asia fit the family pattern.
The family tree is studded with royalty, including several kings of Armenia and Finland; some khans of Bulgaria; counts of Savoy, Flanders, and Barcelona; a couple kings of England, including Alfred the Great and William the Conqueror; Kings Robert I and II of France, Berenger I and II of Italy, and Henry I of Germany; Viking dukes including Robert the Devil, Richard the Good, and Eystein Glumra the Noisy [what a great name!]; some kings of Castile and Leon, including Sancho the Desirable, Ferdinand the Great, and Alfonso the Slobberer [another winning nickname]; and — oh, yeah — two emperors, Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire, and Isaac I Comnenus of the Byzantine Empire. Royal matriarchs include Eleanor of Aquitaine, the richest and most powerful woman in Europe at the time, as well as queens and princesses of just about every country in Europe.
Also counted among my ancestors are several saints, including Saint Isaac the Great, the patriarch of Armenia, and his father Saint Narses Pahlav; Saint Matilda, queen of Germany; Saint Clotilda of France; Saint Margaret, queen of Scotland; and Saint Arnulf, bishop of Metz, and his daughter-in-law Saint Begga. Saint Marguerite d'Youville of Montreal is kin on the maternal side of the family.
My ancestors included people who practiced many different religions, including Anglican/Episcopalian, Armenian Orthodox Catholic, Greek Orthodox Catholic, Lutheran, Quakers, Puritan-Separatist (later Congregationalist or Presbyterian), and Roman Catholic.
And every family tree needs a few dysfunctional ancestors who make genealogy fun. In my family, these included some in political marriages:
- Judith, the 13-year-old wife of a 50-year-old widower who later married her stepson before running off, escaping from her father's prison, and eloping with her true love.
- Robert, a 16-year-old boy married to a 43-year-old woman.
- Edward, who was raised by his aunts and grandparents after his teenage mother abandoned him when he was less than a year old.
- Eleanor, who married, may have had an affair with her uncle, divorced, married a second time to a man after perhaps having an affair with his father, then went to battle against two of her sons; her husband had an affair with their son's fiancee, and the son had an affair with his fiancee's brother).