I was checking my phone for a photo for the blog and I came across this one. Yes Hawklad has been playing Pokémon Go again. Either that or my last selfie was a bit of a shocker.

I am listening to a cheery Pearl Jam cd and thinking about family history. For a lesson today he is trying to list some of his family tree. It’s easy with my partner as we can go back at least 300 years. Lots of documented history. Long line of Quaker and Liberal Political tradition. An MP. With mine it’s more patchy. Yes we can go back to someone born in 1805 but there are lots of blanks. Someone who refereed a big national football semifinal. Someone who walked on the Jarrow Poverty March. A female relative who went to be an exotic dancer in London at the turn of the last century. Someone who was gassed in World War One and survived. An uncle of mine who was a pilot during the Korean War. My Dad who fell in love with Iceland while serving during World War Two. But that’s about it. So many gaps.

So as Hawklad thinks about being partly English, Welsh, Scottish and German (maybe even more diverse), I have a new project. Time to try and fill in some of these family gaps. I owe that to my son.

It’s so important that we keep our own history alive because it forms a narrative to how we are.

68 thoughts on “Family History

  1. My aunt has followed our family history back on my mom’s side – we share the same heritage. English, Welsh and German. My aunt on my dad’s side used to tell me, “We’re like A-1 steak sauce. We have a little bit of everything in us.”

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  2. Hey, it’s amazing you can even go back that far! I only have some sketchy background of my mother’s great…great-great? Hmmm. Maybe great-great-grandparents. They came from Germany in the early 1900s and were confined to a camp in Wisconsin during WWI because they were German. I do hope you’re able to uncover more. I know Blondie’s intrigued by where we come from, since Bo’s got family in Poland, England, and Australia somewhere…

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      1. Yup, one step at a time is all we can and should do. There are just too many other factors that can trip us up, you know? Take it slow, do our best. Watch the leaves change, and enjoy a bit of warm cider when possible xxxxxx

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  3. I have the family tree on my mother’s side, but not on my dad’s. I think someone in the family did one, but I don’t know who it was. I do know that on my dad’s side, George Stephenson, the purported inventor of the steam engine is somewhere back in our line. I say purported because I read that he took someone else’s design and improved on it, so I don’t know how much was his design and how much the other fellow’s. My uncle used to have a letter from a cousin of George Stephenson. The name George has been passed down in the family though as far as I know, there are no Georges currently. I guess it’s not a modern enough name. Also someone in my mother’s family (maybe my great-great grandmother) lived almost next door to Charles Dickens though she didn’t actually know him.

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  4. I did that for years. My mothers mom’s side I can trace here in America since at least 1772… 300 years before me… possibly if we can prove the birth certificate … daughter of the American revolution – but whatever – just a thing/title… I did not expect to find massive things with this one

    My mothers father I can trace back in Ireland to the 1600’s … they were all super young having kids at like 15… the name traces back to royalty lol – so they tell me – whatever

    Then on my dads side… omg huge cover ups… lots of drama…

    One side from Ireland – they have a huge last name too… huge presence … I can only trace them to the 1800’s, they are.

    And then my dad’s mother – my grandmother is 100% Lithuanian 🤨 I can trace when they got here – and I know where they are from … they are from Kaunas Lithuania … it is extremely hard to get any family info from Lithuania 🤨 … Irish are very easy!!!

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      1. I guess? I don’t know too much about them. And Lithuania is really strict with their ancestry records. So that’s a little annoying…

        The history of Lithuania is pretty amazing!! They came over at turn of century 1901… they used their Lithuanian name until maybe 1914 or so…

        But then I don’t know if was the census taker taking liberty because couldn’t understand their accent or broken English? Or if they did it? But suddenly they changed the last name (not legally like supposed to today) they lived in an area that was ALL Irish and ALL Italian – it was easier to fit in as Irish and they knew a lot of Irish … so the name became Irish…

        I knew they were Lithuanian and it was odd they had Irish last name?? Did not make any sense … until I found them in census dating from 1910 and back to 1901! Now I know their Lithuanian name… the family still goes by the Irish version.

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      2. I really don’t know too much about Lithuanians ? Other than my own grandmother and great grandmother … my great grandmother could walk in the forest and know what every single mushroom was … she absolutely knew the earth… but I don’t really know much about them… the rest of my family is Irish… so I grew up Irish – and I look mostly Irish. You can look at me and instantly know I am Irish without even knowing my name!

        I think I have a few Lithuanian traits? I dunno though ?

        And I don’t know what they are like – I don’t meet any Lithuanians and if I met them here – they are probably Americanized already. Like my people.

        I wish I knew them more though ✌️

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      3. Well that yes.. totally… but also, I do have Lithuanian blood and know nothing about them or their lives so is just a little weird.

        I know so much about Irish, but very little about Lithuanian

        My life growing up was sooooooo Irish – even here in America- that Irish flag 🇮🇪 was around me right next to my American 🇺🇸 flag, ya know?

        My grandmother would always kinda slip in and say to me… don’t forget – you are Lithuanian too lol

        Ok well show me that!!! That wasn’t prevalent in my life at all… there was no Lithuanian 🇱🇹 flag around me or anything – they were way more reserved and quiet – kept to themselves – very very quiet about everything. Mysterious?

        The Irish were not like that lol – so my Irish drowned out my Lithuanian cause there was soooo much Irish … and even with the ancestry stuff Lithuania way more strict and quiet

        I’m just curious about them. Probably where my quietness comes from lol ✌️

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  5. My sister is Mormon, and had to trace our family tree back as far as possible. No one of importance in our family, but my father’s maternal branch goes back to a sailor on the ship of Samuel Champlain, the French explorer who founded Port Acadia in Florida, Saint John, NB and Québec City in what is now the province of Québec. Two surnames are of note on this branch: one is Canada, taken from the native word for the village, or the land, and the other Desmarais, which literally translates in English to from the marshes–, a throwback to early humans who lived in the coastal wetlands of Gaul.
    Somewhat coincidentally, my mother’s maiden name is Kaidannek, which translates from Ukrainian to English? something like footsoldiers, or peasants, making me the furthest thing possible from any upper classes anywhere.
    One last note, I am distantly related to Louis Riel, the Métis leader of two rebellions against the Canadian government, so I come by my rebellious nature honestly.

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  6. I envy people who can trace their lineage. Beyond my grand parents, it’s all a blank. Being a Smith doesn’t help! Good exercise for Hawklad. Is he interested? My uncle was in Iceland in WW2, not sure when.

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  7. This is so interesting. My niece asked me to send her information so she could do a family tree. I was about to write a post on it. LOL At any rate, I am running up against similar things on my Dad’s side (are women better at keeping track of family history?). Mine is confounded by the fact that there is an indigenous element and of course, native peoples did not keep written records so….yeah, lots of gaps. I think family history is important, if for no other reason than to record medical histories. Wishing you the best of luck!

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      1. Unfortunately back in those days people were treated very harshly and it became imperative to keep any connections to indigenous pasts secret, which is another big piece of the picture. So, culture and language was often
        lost.

        I am so glad you are doing this for your son.

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  8. I agree, Gary. It feels important to me too, to know where we come from. We hold the summary of our past inside and not only our personal past but all the traditions and virtues (and dogmas) from our ancestors are with us in one or the other way. What we are today is the perfection of the progress of our family’s history.

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  9. My mom knows so much of my family history going back centuries. But she and I are no longer talking to each other so that’s lost to me. As are the tapes that my Turkish grandad recorded telling his family stories. My brother has those and we’re no longer speaking either.
    My husband on the other hand researched his mom’s side years ago. They were Protestants who converted to Catholicism and ran the same family pub since the 1700s until his uncles died a few years ago. A lot of history there. I remember we went looking at ruins of Great Houses and in old graveyards. And visits to the Church of Ireland archives to look at records in his ancestors handwriting. So much fun.
    Maybe I’ll try to trace my own family history on my own. Easier than trying to talk to my mom and brother!

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