So, I now have a new hobby: genealogy. It’s kind of the best/worst thing for someone like me – research intensive, no need to actually WRITE results of the research, and (sometimes) heavy on instant gratification. It’s also riddled with intense wishful thinking and enough group thought that weeding through legends and hopes and outright misinformation to find facts is practically a full-time job in itself.
But the research + possibility of instant gratification is mighty appealing to a procrastinating humanities PhD, and so here I am, researching my family.
Among my discoveries so far are these:
- We have one (paternal) branch that’s the kind you sweep under the rug and never talk about. Among their more dubious achievements are death by getting drunk, falling over a stone fence, and breaking one’s neck, and marrying and having children with one’s uncle. Ew.
- There are a lot of slaveholders among my ancestors. A lot.
- My family’s roots go WAY THE FUCK BACK in North America. Like, pretty much everyone was on the continent by the mid-1700s, and a bunch of them were here in the 1600s. Including one possible Mayflower ancestor (I actually wrote to the Mayflower Genealogy Researchers something or other asking how plausible it seems to them – still waiting, but for my money it seems pretty plausible given the evidence). I was just really surprised by how colonial my family’s origins are in the US.
- It’s possible we have a WHOLE SLEW of Scandinavians on my maternal side, which would explain my mom’s DNA results on the test I got her for Christmas one year. But not mine; I think I take after my dad more than my mom, genetically – his family seems to be wholly British Isles, with a bit of German mixed in.
- There seem to be a bunch of Quakers, from England by way of Armagh County near Belfast.
- There’s also several other kinds of English religious separatists. My people seem not to like being told what to do.
- THE CANADIANS. We seem to have a WHOLE BUNCH of Quebecois ancestors, including two filles du roi (King’s Daughters) who were sent by King Louis XIV as, basically, mail-order brides to Canada. That was also a surprise.
So, it’s fun, even if the most interesting people always have just enough doubt to make hard and fast connections nearly impossible.