Monday, March 14, 2011

Where Do You Come From

One day last week my mom's cousin found me on facebook wanting to know if I was the Katie related to my mom.  To turn a long story short, she's been working on the family's genealogy and had some questions for my mom about a few things.  Well, this peaked my curiosity and I had to know what she'd found already.  So I signed up for ancestry's free two week membership (which I have to cancel in the next 7 days or I get charged a boatload of money) and started looking around.

It was actually really easy- you start a family tree by entering what you know and then they send you hints about who might be related to the people you entered.  I already had a fair amount of information due to a family tree I'd done in the 4th grade and for most my of family I knew all of the Greats and some of the Great-Greats. The cousin who contacted my mom is from my Mema's side of the family and she had traced things back to the early 1800's.  I thought that was pretty impressive. But as it would turn out, many people had already done the entire genealogy of my name sake Great-Grandmother- Katie, which was my Papa's mother. The majority of the family on his could be traced back to the 1700's, but the line through Katie's family was a completely different story- it goes back to the 1200's in England!

And it's not just any old line- it's a fairly aristocratic one.  Katie's 5th great-grandfather was also Martha Washington's father.  Her 6th Great-Grandmother was the daughter of Virginia's Governor Spotswood. They were all important members of the Williamsburg elite back in the Revolutionary and Pre-Revolutionary days.  Before those days, her family in England were all lords and ladies.  So, how then did my Great-Grandmother Katie end up a poor farmer's wife in the mountains of Southwest Virginia with 11 kids?

I have all these names and no stories and I want to know how it all happened.  Her family from 100 years before were all educated, landed, upper class members of society with money.  What transpired in those later years that altered everything?  I'm glad that everything worked the way it did, or else I wouldn't be here, but it still makes me sad for the original Katie.  She had a hard life- giving birth to my Papa at the age of 42, the baby of her 11 children, in a one bedroom house. 

It's weird to see this extremely long line of people that are the reason I am who I am and know nothing about them.  I need more details, more stories, more information, more everything.  It's not enough for me to know where I come from- I also need to know the why.

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3 comments:

kbreints said...

Don't you absolutely eat this stuff up?? I do! I LOVE family history... thus the blog I started with my great grandmothers slides from the 1950's.

Hayley said...

That is pretty cool.

My grandma has done my mom's side of the fam, back to the 1700s. All I know is, I have an ancestor named Jerusha. Oh, the suffering.

Shoshanah said...

I think family history is such an interesting thing! I know my grandmother (maternal) has traced a lot of both her side and my grandfathers, and my dad has compiled quite of bit of his too. But I have to agree, yes knowing the names is great, but the stories behind it all are a lot more fun

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