Reasoning with Madness
"This is a barbaric yawp, and it will be sounded over the roofs of the world."
Yesterday I finalized a bit of research I've been doing as a hobby over the past few years starting with a trial membership to ancestry.com. I completed my family's lineage history and filled out some final details on my family tree. I've been curious to my genealogy for most of my life and only yesterday have I finally nailed down what I think is the most accurate assessment of who my sisters and I are and where we came from.
I have stuck to studying only our direct lineage (parents to grandparents to g-grandparents, etc, not cousins and aunts etc)...and I'm almost 100% sure of this final breakdown now. This is not to say new information won't change this, but given the information I've collected from lineage and name records and histories, the National Archives, New York passengers registries from Ellis Island and my original ancestry.com study, I've finally determined my bloodline by nationality, completely.
My father's side was easy. His grandparents trace straight to boats at Ellis Island in the late 1880s from Sweden and Italy, making him half Swedish and Italian and me and my sisters a quarter of each of those. The Swedish side has a deep recorded history starting in Gothenburg and goes back centuries, with many Navy men, businessmen and Karls (not even kidding) and I've heard a handful of stories of their struggles and successes as 1st generation immigrants. The Italian side is a bit of a mystery as my great grandfather was an orphan (but an Italian soldier, based on pictures I've seen) and I've not dug too deep on my great grandmother's side, although I know she's also from Italy. I know much of their American history as first generation immigrants, thanks to my grandma who told me all of the stories growing up on the massive farm in Jamestown, NY, with the 9 children...once, I even got a tour when I was younger and my grandma came with my family on a road trip to upstate NY and she showed us where everything was. It was a remarkable trip that I will always remember.
The real mystery has always been Mom's side. With rumors of having Cherokee blood in me and my sisters' veins, I really want to find out if that was true. Alas, I found zero evidence of native lineage. Not directly anyway. This is not to say it's not there, but based on the records I've actually found and studying last name origins and history, there is just no evidence of native American blood in our lineage. So unless there's some actual data that would suggest anything different, what I've concluded is it just isn't there. I have no information to support the rumors.
That being said, this is the most accurate study and breakdown of my national origin that anyone in my family has ever done. And while Mom's side was the hardest, it was also very fascinating with so much to explore and traces back through the history of America to the founders...all the way back on Grandma's side to the 1600s with Dutch settlers from Netherlands and the English arrival to the shores of what would eventually become America shortly after the Mayflower arrived. My grandfather, also mostly English, actually has his roots in Ireland.
I traced one family line - the VanPelts -all the way back to New Netherlands in 1668 (what is now New York) The Dutch landed there first, from what I understand, and the English took it from them later naming it New York, after the Duke of York.
As I studied the great-great grandparent bracket (if you will), there were 8 total families, from three countries with 6 of the 8 from England, the other 2 families coming from Ireland and Netherlands. And most surprising, my mother's maiden name, Larisey, actually stems from Irish immigrants. I am part Irish...which no one in my family knew about. (Interestingly enough one of my sister's names is Irish, and I graduated from Sheldon high school, home of the Fighting Irish...go figure!)
While I never knew about the Irish history on my mom's side, it makes sense. Thanks to the vast majority of British heritage on mom's side, the Irish was bred out as much as the Dutch was, to the point where it barely registered in the percentages in my own breakdown. I have much to comment on this fact as well as others, but it might dip into the political realm of our history, and I'd rather not have that argument here.
There is so much more to research and study on this front, but ultimately, this has become a pretty exciting hobby/past time of mine. I plan to continue my research and with every door I open, there's more to explore. And I'd love to go back to each of the countries of my lineage and see them all first hand. And hopefully this inspires you to look into your own family history. You never know what you'll find. I have been completely blown away at what I learned myself. Questions answered and gained, rumors dismissed and gems found along the way.
Ultimately, what I'm reminded of is that we are indeed a nation of immigrants. The vast majority of us come from somewhere else. Unless you are of significant native blood, you come from immigrants. Never forget that.
Before I close, now that I've talked it up...here's the breakdown of my family heritage. I am:
37.5% English, 25% Swedish, 25% Italian, 6.25% Irish, 6.25% Dutch
Who Am I?
I am Ahab.