Family History #1: Finding the Stories

Welcome To My Oklahoma Family

I was looking for something fun to blog about in 2019 and I thought getting into my family’s history might be interesting. I’ve always been interested in the stories that make up our family, and I am particularly interested in the real lives of the folks without a strong an obvious record. I want to know the things I can never know. What sorts of things did my 4th great grandma think about? Was my 6th great uncle happy? What were the sounds and smells of the house of the young families? It’s unfortunate that legal documents form the understanding of the vast majority of our families. I long for journals or diaries, and maybe more of those will be discovered. Until then, I have only the facts and I will try to present as much as I can to try and help understand the various branches of my family.

I’ve been careful to avoid the words ancestry and genealogy until now, but after this explanation, I will use them. I consider myself a family historian and not a genealogist. I find DNA an interesting part of studying one’s own story, but it isn’t the complete story. Who I share genetics with in a lot of cases have less to do with who I am and who my family has been than close friends and communities, or even pets. There are more ways of facing what a family is than simply tracing one’s ancestry. And I’m also not saying that isn’t valid. If you are only interested in that, go for it. Do your thing. I am not trying to prove a pedigree or show how I am related to anyone in particular, so I’m going to look at the whole. I will definitely look at ancestry and trace my family lines, but I just won’t stop there or be defined by what that is.

DNA

I recently got a DNA test from Ancestry.com The broad results are fairly expected. For those who don’t know, DNA tests do not show where someone comes from, but where people with similar DNA can be found today. It might sound like a minor distinction, but it can help understand why results don’t seem 100% what you might expect.

As you can see from my results, I am 69% “England, Wales & Northwestern Europe”, 28% “Ireland & Scotland”, and 3% “Sweden.” The latter two are clear, but “England, Wales & Northwestern Europe” is a large area and does not show distinctions between Germany, Denmark, England, or France. It’s a large area with a lot of countries. I do know generally speaking that my family came to the United States from Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, and England. I am the cliché American profile.

When you look at the migrations map, you will see that there too I am incredibly broadly American, having family that settled everywhere from Pennsylvania to Texas, from Wisconsin to Georgia. I’ve got family who followed Brigham Young to what would become Utah, and family that took up arms on both sides of the Civil War. There are farmers and ministers, grocers and teachers, housewives and merchants. It would be easy to look at my family and find nothing much worth mentioning, but it’s actually the fact that there aren’t a whole lot of notable figures that interests me even more. Who were these everyday folks?

I hope you’ll stick with me. Leave me comments, and if I am talking about a relative we share in common, please add your own stories and photos.

 

One thought on “Family History #1: Finding the Stories”

  1. How interesting. I will look forward to following your blog.

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