My paternal grandfather got me interested in the family history back when I was in High School. One summer visit, he pulled out a family bible from his paternal grandmother’s side of the family. The bible dates back to 1836 and has all of the children’s names & deaths written it. Also, stuck between the pages are locks of hair, a crushed flower, a Klassen’s Wearing Apparel receipt dated Mar 29, 1915 to Miss Nettie Revoir for $1, my great-grandfather’s Modern Woodmen of America official receipt dated Mar 24, 1906 for $3.20, and my personal favorite: my great grandmother’s July 16, 1914 Singer Sewing Machine Company receipt for a whopping $2. I’m not quite sure why the bible was the location of the receipts but I do remember my grandfather talking about them though he wasn’t sure why they were kept in there either.
My journey back through time this weekend was kicked off on Friday night when the dear hubby and I were winding down for the night. We happened to be flipping through TV channels when we stopped to watch the celebrity show of “Who do you think you are”. I guess each episode is meant to take a celebrity back through their historical roots to find something interesting that someone they are related to has done in the past. The show is sponsored by Ancestry.com and it got me back fired up again. For many years, that site just didn’t have enough critical mass to get anything really researched. So, I log back in for the first time since 2003 and pay up to get started again. Wow, was I surprised at the many changes in the site, but more important the amount of records that have finally been digitized. All of the Census records have been put online. I remember when my mom and I would go to the public library and go through Microfiche to do our research. We’d spend hours & hours and not get very far. Well, I stayed up past 1am on Friday and spent my entire Saturday afternoon and evening again to 1am updating the family trees.
I started to get so excited when I found that my wonderful Norwegian ancestors kept great records. I began tweeting every time I get another one hundred years into the past. The downside to the editorial process in Ancestry.com is that family records without digital or physical proof, is just really interesting but you can’t bet the house and the kids on it. Fortunately, the Norwegian data was backed up by quite a few good sources. You can tell when information is crap when dates don’t match – like a mother having a birth date that is newer than the child record. When I came across these incorrect records, I didn’t attach them to my tree and ended the search for that line. I was pretty pumped to have a claim that I was really a descended Viking since that was awesome & cool on it’s own. But then our family history took a turn to Sweden. There I found one MacDaddy line that was unbroken and with clean dates all the way back to Sweden’s Royal Eriksson’s Dynasty to Sverker I in 1104. It was nice when you hit royal lineage because everyone is married to another royal family and the dates are accurate. We’ve got the King’s of Russia, Poland & Denmark in the family pile too. Oh, and we have a saint too. Saint Birgitta of Sweden. She is somewhat credited for creating the rosary prayers of Our Father’s & Hail Mary’s.
Now, my husband made the observation as many of you might, that if we go far enough back (as in my case almost 1000 years), we all are related to royalty. So, I set out to prove that theory out on his side of the family tree. It turns out that his side isn’t doing to shabby themselves. William Matlack (1650) was the first settler up the Delaware River into New Jersey and came across on the first ships to America from Nottinghamshire England. He was a land baron and quite a wealthy man. Sadly, like the royal lineage, the money and titles were lost over time.
Now, it’s Sunday morning. Not only have I missed my long run, I’ve blown off church as well to keep going on my grandfather’s mom’s side of the family. It goes to Switzerland in a generation, so I’m looking forward to seeing how far back I can go on the Swiss side.
So much for cleaning and prepping for our Super Bowl party. I have some more skeletons to dig up.
“All that I come from and I that I live for and all that I’m going to be, my precious family is more than an heirloom to me” – Amy Grant Heirloom