Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

How did you or your family ended up in the country you are living now?

How did you or your family ended up in the country you are living now?

Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 09:57 AM
  #101  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,629
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Merino, I saw an incredibly interesting UK-based episode of "Who do you think you are?" that focused on the person's Alsatian heritage. It was fascinating how the records changed as the boundaries shifted between France and Germany. The German recors were more comprehensive.

This old thread was great to read.

My story is fairly typical, dad's family goes was back to pre-Revolution Massachsetts and NH, all English and Scottish for the most part, although I had an Irish great grandmother. They settled in Walpole, NH around 1760 and three family houses are still standing. My great-grandfather settle in Kansas City, MO around 1880.

My mom's side is more interesting, French and Swiss (her mom) and Dutch on her dad's side. Her mom grew up in New Orleans, did not learn much English until 18. Her dad's family was from eastern Tennesse, her father, his brother and sister moved to San Antonio, Texas, around 1910.

I'm the wanderlust in the family having lived in MO, VT, NH, FL, France, Ireland, England and Switzerland.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 02:13 PM
  #102  
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 2,585
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Screaming Eagles !!!!
I live in my country because I was born there
Whathello is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 05:08 PM
  #103  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,476
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We are planning to visit Belarus next year with a cousin to visit the shtetl where our grandmother in common was born.

I have engaged someone in Belarus to unearth whatever he could about my other grandmother but up till now with no result.

If he does not find anything we will first fly into Berlin and then take a train to small town north of Poznan, Poland. When our family lived there it was part of Germany. We have traced our family back to there from circa 1740.

We are seeking someone who speak Polish and English to guide us in that area. If you know of someone please let me know.
IMDonehere is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 06:49 PM
  #104  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 37,423
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My dad's side came to New England in the early 1600's. My moms family was Swedish. Here mom was second generation I believe and he dad was born in Sweden.
crefloors is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 07:22 PM
  #105  
pat
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,506
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My earliest American ancestor was a settler at Jamestown, in 1608. Most of the rest came with Lord Baltimore in 1634, to Maryland as well to do persecuted catholics, who were mainly lawyers to help run Maryland. They were all from England. The first ancestor you have coming to America from a line, is called an anchor ancestor, if you are not familiar with that term.
pat is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 07:40 PM
  #106  
pat
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,506
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh, I forgot to mention I have a 7x g grandmother who was a Piscataway Indian, from Maryland (they were part of the larger Iroquois tribe), so I have a little native american DNA. If your family came as early as mine, chances are good you have a little native american DNA too, whether you know it or not, as there was not enough white women to go around.
pat is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2016, 05:35 AM
  #107  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,613
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My father's family's history here in the US is the easy part of tracking our heritage. Circa 1898, my paternal grandfather and his brothers escaped a miner's life in Wigan, Lancashire, England in exchange for a miner's life in the US. My grandfather told me they were determined to find a place where their children would not automatically "be measured for a pick ax" once they turned 10.

Their instincts were right--not one of their children had to work in a mine here.

This group of guys all married UK women who had recently immigrated to the US, so all branches of my paternal family were pretty darn English. In addition to the Wigan origin, we had folks on that side from Somerset and Devon. All seem to have come from poor but very stable families.

My mother's side of the family had branches here that pre-dated the Revolutionary War.

My mother had one Scotch Irish branch from County Tyrone that settled in a hidey-hole area of the Alleghenies. This group had been in the colonies so long that they went out to meet and greet young George Washington during the French and Indian War, helping him to map all the rivers and creeks in the area. They were rather strange but skilled "mountain men" (carpenters and millwrights) whose descendants STAYED mountain men for longer than was fashionable, that's for sure.

Nevertheless, one of their rough and gruff but reportedly handsome descendants ended up marrying into a highfalutin' pre-revolutionary family--descendants of a bunch of Moravian missionaries. While the mountain men were greeting George in the Allegheny Mountains, the Moravians were busy back East either getting rich building clocks for the rich or "civilizing" the West Indies through their missionary work. This Moravian branch kept GREAT records--I can trace this branch back to 1500 or more.

One of this Moravian branch took it in his head to become a boat builder. And as such, he headed over the Alleghenies to the "Gateway to the West", establishing a boat yard after he made enough money farming. His descendants over time would build everything from flatboats to paddle-boats to barges. Others in the family just segued into careers in finance.

One of the daughters in this branch married one of the very handsome "mountain men". This branch did OK. Not great, but OK.

Proof that being here longer does NOT make one "more exalted" is another branch of Mom's family. These guys in my mother's family were descended from mercenary Hessions (I'm not saying that's why they were less distinguished!) who were hired by the British to fight here during the Revolutionary War. They seemed to have forgotten about going home after the war, settling in Trenton NJ for a bit before moving into hill country of the then Virginia/Pennsylvania Appalachians. Since the land they chose or was granted was very unsuited to farming--or quite possibly, since they were bad at farming--they eventually ended up in the mines. As my mother puts it, "None of them developed a game plan. They were a pretty uneducated group who seemed determined to stay that way."

Let's put it this way--just the other day I drove three hours to trace one of the patriarchs in the family, and most of the descendants were STILL living in the "holler" where he was born. No, I did not introduce myself. I limited my time to gravestones!

Mom remembers that her mother, who personally had had a very hard life but had been able to educate herself, was frustrated with their general lack of "get-up and go" at family reunions.

I can understand how my grandmother came to that opinion, because most of her other direct ancestors had oodles of drive.

One Scotch Irish branch began its US journey here via lowland Scotland. Clan conflicts and English death squads drove them to Ulster Ireland, and when the political climate there became hostile in the late 1700s, many family members left for Canada and the US. Mom's great-grandfather, making his way from Ireland to Canada, was shipwrecked in Nova Scotia, found some work in Maine to support himself temporarily, worked his way down the US coast to Philadelphia, walked from Philadelphia over the Alleghenies, found a girl whose family had also just arrived from across the pond (actually from his same Irish county, even though he had never met her), labored until he had enough to buy 250 acres, and raised a couple of rather feisty daughters and several sons, all of whom served in the Civil War in some capacity (one was in charge of re-building bridge the Confederates had just blown up).

This Scotch Irish patriarch may only have had a 3rd grade education, if that, but he spent a lot of time on winter nights working with his kids on their studies. His wife, although raised poor and rather uneducated, was literate, and she was said to be fond of music and poetry. They may have been raised in a cabin with a puncheon floor, but these children became lawyers, architects, engineers and pioneers.

I find the most interesting pioneer in this specific family to be the eldest daughter. Known in the area as an excellent shot and strong horsewoman who was capable of terrifying her brothers, she married a quite tall and strong recent Irish immigrant and headed west. They ended up in Kansas by way of Minnesota Territory. We think it's ironic that unknowingly, they probably used the boats built by the Moravian branch of Mom's family for their transportation.

They left Minnesota Territory just in time to beat off locust invasions and suffer drought on their homestead in Kansas.

Still, no matter what hardships, they thrived. Perhaps when your father begins his new life with a shipwreck, you automatically inherit a different attitude towards life's possibilities. Their very bright, very adventurous children went on to explore the West all the way from California up to Washington.

Another branch of my maternal grandmother's family were glass workers from Germany. They and their cousins arrived shortly before and after the Civil War. I am told that even though they had been in this country for decades, they were naturally suspected of "enemy activity" during WWI because they still spoke German. Of course, there was no truth to the nonsense, and thank goodness the US involvement in WWI was short. Since glass making always takes place along rivers, it's logical that their children all eventually became river men of some sort. By WWII, their efforts and skills made sure that coal, steel and munitions that fueled the second war against Germany were moving through the Monongahela to the Ohio to the Mississippi fluidly no matter what the weather. Ironic.

The immigrant tradition continued. My mother's brother married a Turk while he was stationed in Istanbul. Her sister married a man from Nicaragua (thus we got to experience our first Quinceañera).

My husband's family were part Amish, part Slovak (part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when they immigrated) and part Cornish. The Pennsylvania Dutch group came over before the Revolutionary War. The Slovak and Cornish ancestors came between 1875 and 1895 because of mining and mill labor opportunities here. Luckily, the men of these specific Slovak and Cornish groups were skilled laborers, and within one generation, they were able to own houses and land. Within two generations, all their descendants were earning college educations.

I know little about the background of the Slovak branch. I can take a guess as to the town they may have come from, but it's only a guess. The shifting borders of that part of the world plus my unfamiliarity with the Slovak language make researching a bit hard.

The Cornwall anchor ancestor I have been able to trace successfully with a lot of effort, though. Quite simply, the father of this Cornish future immigrant was a drifter who managed to marry a really nice girl from a really solid middle class family in Cornwall. And then he sort of ditched the family, ending up in Bodmin Prison three times for failure to support his family. While his wife was on her deathbed, this character was producing a second family with another woman. His abandoned older son (the Cornwall anchor ancestor) found work where he could, but the future seemed hopeless. He made his way to the US, where he managed to put together a solid, if very hard, life. I'm sure that just having three meals a day was a luxury, given the circumstances of his childhood.

Given our family history, I find it to be wonderful that my children are dating either first-generation or brand spanking new Americans, both of whom are working hard to make the most of the opportunities they have found here.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2016, 05:46 AM
  #108  
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 163
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Reading the responses to this thread made me realize how evil the Brits and Soviets were.
KodakMoment is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2016, 10:21 AM
  #109  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,109
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My story is pretty boring compared to most of the others on this thread.

My mother's family came over on the Mayflower, although one of them married a native American from the area. They still live in this area a few miles from Plymouth. In fact one of my cousins still lives on the farm which our ancestor was granted. He lives in the farmhouse where five generations lived.

My father's maternal family was among those who came shortly after the Mayflower. One ancestor on that side was a sibling of one of my mother's ancestors. My siblings and I and one of my cousins still live on the family farm. My sister lives in the farmhouse where my grandmother grew up. (It was built in 1900 after a fire destroyed the original one.)

Dad's paternal line didn't arrive until 1687. They lived in various parts of eastern Massachusetts. That line has been traced back to England where according to some sources they settled after coming over with William the Conqueror so those ancestors would have been Vikings according to the derivation of our name.

If you are wondering about my screen name with such an English background, the explanation is that I am (was) a redhead with lots of freckles and many people have assumed that I was Irish. Probably Viking heritage and some Scottish which got into the mix before they came to New England. Of course a lot of those Scottish ancestors probably mixed with the Vikings who raided and then settled in Scotland,
irishface is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2016, 12:01 PM
  #110  
pat
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,506
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Irishface, You have the red haired gene! That is the first info that came up on my granddaughter`s DNA. She sure looks Irish, but DNA wise, she is actually more Italian.
pat is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2016, 12:52 PM
  #111  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,629
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
irishface,

I think being a direct descendent of someone on the Mayflower is very interesting.

Almost 400 years later, is there an estimate of how many decendents there are?
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2016, 12:53 PM
  #112  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,629
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
descendANTS! Brain cramp.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2016, 06:56 PM
  #113  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 5,126
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Amazing stories, AlessandraZoe!
Saraho is online now  
Old Jul 24th, 2016, 10:30 PM
  #114  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,125
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My Father's parents arrived in Minnesota from Sweden and my Mother's parents arrived in Minnesota from Norway and all settled in an area on Lake Superior. My Mom's family is part of a family who named the town they settled in as they named it after the Norwegian town they came from. Many took the same name as their last names, some spelling it slightly differently, but all related. My parents met in high school as the kids from my Mom's small hometown were bused in to the slightly larger town where my Dad grew up for high school. I grew up in my Dad's hometown on Lake Superior and my Dad's family were bldg. contractors and my Mom's family (including many uncles and other relatives) were commercial fishermen. I now live in Southern CA but look forward to our many trips back to MN every year. In fact we head back at the end of the week. Can't wait as we will see lots of friends and family.
Cali is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2016, 04:56 AM
  #115  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 26,116
Received 4 Likes on 4 Posts
You guys do have to remember that in Victorian times there was a strong trade in "discovering our roots" amongst the middle classes. Especially important when falsly linking back to great writers and groups like the Fathers of our country. Then of course around 12% of us are not the children of our fathers ;-)
bilboburgler is online now  
Old Jul 25th, 2016, 07:39 AM
  #116  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,629
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Cali,

I LOVE your home state. I spent many wonderful summers at a girls' camp near Bemidji, often taking canoe trips out of Ely.

My parents would some years pick me up after camp and we'd head over to Duluth then into the UP of Michigan for a family vacation.

Hope to take my husband up there next summer.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2016, 10:36 AM
  #117  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 87
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
How did I end up in Lisboa? You will have to wait for the book (or the movie)
luz_de_lisboa is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2016, 11:34 AM
  #118  
pat
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,506
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The Mayflower Society says there are about 35 million Mayflower descendants. Wow! Since only 102 came and half of those died, this is pretty amazing!
pat is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2016, 11:46 AM
  #119  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 5,509
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Cathinjoetown… one of my friends is a Mayflower descendant and I recently read that her ancestors are responsible for over 13 million people -

My husband's paternal family arrived in 1638. In 1900 a family member compiled a genealogy that's over 2 inches thick. (I have a copy.) Can't imagine how many volumes it would take now.
Gwendolynn is online now  
Old Jul 25th, 2016, 11:49 AM
  #120  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 5,509
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
pat…interesting. I also read that my friends ancestors were the most prolific. I must say they were! (If the number I read was correct.)
Gwendolynn is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -