Thursday, September 11, 2008

We Are Fam-i-ly...

This past Tuesday was my grandmother's 90th birthday. After dinner Tuesday night, I called her and the kids and I sang happy birthday to her, which made her smile. You can always tell when someone's smiling when they're speaking, even if you can't see them. If you listen carefully, you can hear a smile in someone's voice even if you can't see their face.

I haven't seen my gma since July of 2001 when we took our 3 week road trip out west with six kids packed into a minivan. My youngest Ruth, who is named after my gma's mother, wasn't even born yet and has never met her great gma. Hearing her voice this week made me homesick all over again.

While in #pros that night, I mentioned a little of this to my fellow channel rats, and the discussion turned to ancestors and genealogy. I know if I had the time and the tools, I'd be a genealogy nut, because I love this kind of research. While I do not have the time or the tools, someone in channel did (Jen, you're a genius!) and she offered to help me fill out a family tree that I'd started some time ago, online. I gave her access to my account and within a couple of hours she traced & added over 100 people into my family history, that I'd never even heard of before. I was stunned, surprised, and hooked. I stayed up way past my bedtime to dig around and read a little bit about who these people were, and where I came from.

I was able to go back 315 years that night, based on what Jen uncovered. Since then, adding missing pieces of the puzzle I've been able to go back over 922 years (Orme de Davenport, b. 1086) with certain lines on my gma's side. I can't seem to pull myself away from this!

I've learned that I am related to all kinds of interesting people from barons to lords, knights and sirs. I've learned that the further back I go, the more common it is to see cousins (with the same last name) marrying cousins, and often naming their sons with the same name as the father - which makes it a little tricky to keep all those silly folks straight. The accuracy rate (the further back you go) is also a little shaky, so you have to be even more careful not to just add a name because it looks right. I've uncovered a few pictures on my gpa's side that I somehow recall seeing once, a very long time ago, but I'm not sure when or where. I can see the pronounced cleft in my own daughter's chin, in the face of a man who lived a very long time ago. It's such a blast to do this kind of research, and I've only really been digging on my gma's line, I haven't really done much of anything with my gpa, or my dad's line.

With the birth locations of each generation I can follow my family back across the old wild west, into the colonial period of early America and then across the pond to England, Germany and France. All mixed in together are noble bloodlines and regular Joe's and Josephines. Right now all I really have are names and dates, but once I get this filled out a little more I want to go back and see what I can learn about the actual lives of these folks. There are some sketchy details about some of them (such as the knights and lords and those high-falutin' ancestors), some I know were miners, farmers or pastors, but I want to know more. I'm just fascinated with these people and look forward to putting together a much more detailed family tree.

It might take me 400 years to get this done, but at least I've got a good start.

By the way, it might seem all whoop-de-doo that I have knights and barons and sirs in my line (we probably all do), but for all the social standing and privelege and big ole fancy estates they had, at the end of the day they were just regular folks too that put on their armor one plate at a time like the rest of us. I'm really curious to find out what, if any, Christian heritage is in my line as well. The kids are just as fascinated with this as I am, and have high hopes that since we've already gone back nearly 1,000 years, we can go all the way back to Adam and Eve! I assured them that is almost quite certainly, impossible. Although, I have no idea how far we really can go back, and that's an exiting adventure all it's own.

One very trivial thing I thoroughly enjoyed so far, was learning that my gma (Zora) had a great, great gma named Electa. Now if that's not seriously cool, I don't know what is. Had I known that, I might have named one of my girls that! :-)

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