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Blog Share Post

Below is the anonymous post I was sent to post for the February 2009 edition of Blog Share. Please enjoy and leave comments! We'll be back to our un-regular blog programming on Thursday:

You know those people who have their family trees traced back to the 200s and can tell you who they're related to on their father's side 12 generations back?

I'm jealous of them.

I have no idea where I came from. No one has been able to trace my family back to a foreign country at all. It's like we sprung from the earth in New York 400 years ago. When people ask me what nationality I am, I say "American". That's all I know. Sure, I've been told stories that maybe we're related to Napoleon on one side, and that the other side is Irish instead of Scottish. But I have no proof. I took an Asian-Americans class in college and we had to share a story about one of our immigrant relatives. I made mine up.

And I feel like I'm to blame. My mom died while I was in my teens, and I was never interested in genealogy, so I didn't take the time to ask my grandparents about their families. Three out of four of them died while I was in college – by the time I had an interest in where I came from, I had no one to ask. My remaining family members know little to nothing because both of my grandfathers had step-parents and no one really knows who their real mothers were.

I hold on tight to what I know – my grandfather had a social security number that indicates he was a railroad worker, most of the surnames in the family are English in origin, little things like that.

I'm fascinated by others' stories because of this – amazing stories of survival, dreams of a better life, reunions between siblings who were separated during war.

My husband is a third-generation American whose family came from Wales in the early 1900s. His grandmother was the first American-born child. They were coal miners who came over temporarily to make some money and always planned on going back, but never did.

My best friend is a Polish immigrant who came to the U.S. when he was 10. He still speaks the language, and remembers the first time he saw an electric door and sliced bread in the supermarket.

I know more about other people's family history than I do my own. I can tell you where any number of friends and family came from, what they did in their homelands, why they came the U.S. in the first place.

I want their stories because I have none of my own.

***

Want more Blog Share? Check out the other websites!

And You Know What Else
Andrea Unplugged
Blue Soup
Bright Yellow World
Bwildered
Caity of the Keps
Catheroominations
Citystreams
Daily Tannenbaum
Did I Say That Outloud?
Dispatches From The Failed Mommy Club
Face Down
For The Long Run
Full Of Snark
Heidikins
In Java, Literally
Just Below 63
LizLand
Malfeasance
A New Duck
NonSoccer Mom
The North Is My Snowcone
Not The Daddy
Operation Pink Herring
Pants, Pants, Pants
Red Red Whine
Sassy Buster
Sauntering Soul
Shushing Action
Snarke
Snow-Covered Hills
Swimming With Sharks
Thinking Some More
Trueish Story
Way Way Up
Whiskey Marie

Comments

Heather said…
There are HEAPS of classes on how to trace your family. I think you should research one, they may have ideas on how you can find out info than you had considered!
Allie said…
Don't the Mormons keep records of everyone's family history? Even if you aren't a Mormon, they may have records on file.
Tess said…
Whoa, is that Mormon thing true? That is WILD! I had no IDEA!
cadiz12 said…
they definitely keep track. my boyfriend's mom transcribes some of their written documents in exchange for access to research her own family. and the bf and his fam went to germany a few years ago to meet up with some long-lost relatives--his parents have remained close and are going back again this year.
Pamela said…
I can relate to the no family history thing. I was adopted when I was three months old, and thank you, State of New York!, the records are sealed and too bad for me. My adopted mother's family has a little history, and my father's family is such a drunken disaster that nobody bothered.

I'm a little jealous, too.
Courtney said…
Yes, definitely check out the Mormon records!
abbersnail said…
The Mormon record thing just rocked my brain! Wow!
Sra said…
I think your longing is very touching. It speaks of everyone's desire to connect with others. You wish to connect with your ancestry. But because you can't, you are connecting with the stories of other people's families, and I think that is valuable too.
newduck said…
The crazy thing is that genetic testing can now give you a completely accurate idea of your heritage, with just one blood test. I've heard the fee isn't too hefty, but I don't remember what it is. The New York Times ran an article on it about a year ago it you're willing to brave their ridiculously ineffective search engine.
Christine said…
I have no idea how you can go about tracing your family, but for what it's worth, I don't think I've met someone whose family goes back that far in the US, so in your own way it's your own unique thing.

But I understand your desire to understand more and so I wish you luck in your searches!
The Author said…
Julia - just a belated thanks for hosting my post!

Also: I grew up in Portland. Yes, the WNY one. Small world!

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