I’ve inherited the family bible from my mother’s side of the family. In it are listed all the births, deaths and marriages going back to 1834 – 6 generations down to me – which is kind of neat. The guy that started it, my Great Great Grandfather, died in 1925 at the age of 91. It blows my mind to think of all the changes he saw in his lifetime. Recently one of my cousins engaged a professional genealogist who expanded the family tree 23 more generations back to England in 1196. Now that is super neat!
At the base of the tree was a knight, obviously descended from one of the Norman Conquerors of 1066, since the surname was French, preceded by “de”. The family remained in the same town, near London, for 10 more generations. That town, which still exists, is named the same as the family name but without the “de”. So, I surmise that they were “big shots” in that time.
My first ancestor in America arrived in Connecticut sometime in the early 1600’s. It is very likely that some of my ancestors fought in the American Revolution. There were males living at the time who were of the appropriate age. If so, I certainly hope they were on the “good guys” side! Over the years there have been many surname changes through marriages of daughters. It appears that wanderlust was a common trait because there were frequent relocations – the family moving about through Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. Who knows – maybe they just didn’t pay their rent!
It is comforting to me to at least know something of my roots.
So, what am I? Half Russian Jew, a bit French, lots of English and a significant part German (from my maternal Grandfather whose original surname was German plus a German name popped up in one generation in the 1800s). In short that makes me a rather typical American – a mongrel.
I say typical because that’s what most Americans are – mongrels. There has been so much intermarriage between nationalities and races that it is almost impossible to know what a person’s background is on the basis of surname or appearance. You may see a person who looks the ideal stereotyped German – and discover his name is Carlos Gonzalez, or another who looks like a Sicilian and discover his name is Reginald Hamilton. A foreigner going anyplace in the U.S. where large numbers of people congregate, such as a sporting event or shopping center, will notice people of every imaginable racial and national origin. An American will just see Americans. For the third time in this post I say that that is kinda neat!