Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Reduced to a name and date

It's so weird. I've been going through all the family genealogy, entering the research done by different branches of the family into I'm lucky: different people have done a lot of research already and just by asking the right people, I have huge swaths of our family tree entered...back as far as 11 generations.

As I'm entering them, though, all of these people have been reduced to names. And dates: birth, wedding, death. Perhaps an immigration date of when they arrived in America. That's it. All these people had stories, and it's all gone. All that's left is a few documents, or an entry in a family bible, or some scribbles on a family tree. It's weird to think about. And a little depressing.

So, to add some levity, or at least change the subject a little, here are some interesting facts about my family:

  • I have ancestors who arrived in America as early as 1634 (and perhaps even earlier).
  • There are at least 3 of my direct ancestors who were Revolutionary War Soldiers. Yes, that officially qualifies me to be in the DAR, you know, if I was 102 years old and interested in that.
    • As an unrelated side note, we stopped for lunch on our way to NJ for Passover and happened to run into the attendees of the Connecticut DAR convention. They weren't all 102 years old. Some, I was surprised to note, were approximately my age. Some were 102, though.
  • Another relative was hung during the war for spying for the British. I bet that'll win me some points with my gigantic readership from England. Hee! I'm kidding of course. I don't have a gigantic readership from England.
  • My only even minorly famous relative was the Vice President under Monroe, Daniel D. Tompkins. He looks disturbingly like my brother. Tompkins apparently wasn't the best Vice President ever. In fact, my grandmother has an article about how he was the worst vice president on record. Even the wikipedia article contains the amusing information that he often presided over the Senate drunk. Nice. I'm so proud.
  • Unknown to me, I have a number of ancestors who had the same name as one of my sons. We didn't know it was a family name, but I guess it is.
  • I also have ancestors with some really odd first names, including: Chillingsworth, Obadiah (unfortunately, not Jebediah Obadiah Springfield, although I do like to hope that my ancestor also embiggened those who knew him), Ebenezer, Jemina, and Burr. Oh, and about 67 people named John. What's up with that...couldn't anyone think of a better name than John without going as far as Obadiah?
That's about it. As I said, mostly I just have names and dates.

So what's the word...any famous (or even better, infamous) relatives of yours?

Random unrelated thoughts: My little ones have just made a gigantic pile of blankets, toys, and books. They are calling it a mountain. Damn, they're cute. I should go mountain climbing with them now.


Mary Ellen said...

What a coincidence! I was also thinking of naming my oldest Obadiah! Oh, if only she'd been a boy...

Goddess in Progress said...

I did some research on my family tree years ago, so I already had a lot to put into Geni. Not a lot of fame and fortune, and my oldest ancestor that I could find was born ~1800 in Ireland. Otherwise, a large portion of my family ended up in Iowa because some great-great-great (etc) grandfather was living in Illinois when he got into a fight with his boss on the farm. He hit him on the head with a shovel and, thinking he'd killed the guy, fled to Iowa. As the story goes, the man wasn't actually dead, but the family moved to Iowa, anyways.

Maggie said...

Holy crap - your brother does look a lot like him!! What a legacy :)

I don't have good info on my family (too recently in the US) but Brian does. His great-great grandfather murdered his wife then shot himself in a cemetery. Nice, huh? We have the original newspaper articles about it and they're hilarious - very colorfully written.