Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Heritage


My husband's family, on his mother's side, is English and came to America on the Mayflower. His mother's sister, Dorothy (Aunt Skip to us) recently completed many years of research and writing to record their fascinating history in her book "From the Mayflower to Greenbush."

Because I was so impressed with the identity of some of his distant relatives I thought I'd share the fact that Will and his family are related to John Alden and Priscilla Mullins and that he is a fourteenth cousin to Abraham Lincoln.

I am all the more impressed because my family tree is an enigma, our ancestors were never discussed or named as I was growing up. There were allusions to land barons on my grandfather's side of the family, who lost everything during the great depression and I met, a few times, my Great Aunt Mable, an extraordinary artist who, at a time when women artists were rarely recognized, had her work hung in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

I don't think it's imperative that we know who all our relatives are, but the gene pool runs deep and it would be interesting to know who's in our own personal soup. And there is the fact of history, the inescapable trail of events peopled by those who came before us.

16 Comments:

Anonymous caroline said...

Hi Pam,
This is a question I've thought about a lot. My ancesters were remarkable in that they survived such hardship. I feel connected to them an I call on them often in times of distress.

But I would never want to be reduced to being a product of them. It irritates me when groups like the Sons or Daughters of the American Revolution claim special status. In the end, we are all just blobs of gene matter trying to figure out what the devil we are supposed to be doing. Am I right?

9:50 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Pam - I find it fascinating that your Aunt Mabel was a gifted artist. You obviously were blessed with the same genes.

I so agree with Caroline - what a great comment, BUT - I can't help but be really impressed by your husband's connection to Lincoln :0)

I've learned that some ancestors are perhaps best left resting undisturbed in the closet:0D

12:07 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

That is a very cool lineage! Too many unknowns on both sides of my families. Some dark secret mystery that I will never know about keeps getting passed with no one alive to reveal it :(

You got that art gene! XXOO

12:37 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Caroline - I don't want that, either, but our blobs are connected to their blobs and in the end it's history. They don't define us but are a part of us.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Cathy - Some of Will's ancestors are quite colorful!

Robin - Thanks! Woo hoo Auntie!

1:03 PM  
Blogger KGMom said...

Our personal soup?!?--what a great phrase. Re. what Caroline observed--since none of us can control who our ancestors are, we shouldn't take credit for them being our ancestors. But, learning about them is great fun.
I suppose we can be chastened by the fact that there are also horse thieves and other rogues in many families too!

2:24 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Donna - Oh yeah, there was some thievery in Will's family, too. I don't think it's about credit so much as it is the interest in a history that is connected to you.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Mama P said...

I was going to make a very dark joke that the only thing that relates my husband to Lincoln is that sometimes I want to kill him.

Pam, can I just say that your life is so fascinating? I just love reading your stuff.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Mama P - I can relate to the joke...probably he can, too!

6:14 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Cuppa's paternal line has been researched back to about th 1200s in Yorkshire. They were also early immigrants to the USA but came to Canada in the revolution (I think). From my name only, I also seem to have old roots to Yorkshire at that time and from another line also have ancestors who came from the USA to Canada at the same time. I find it very interesting and wouldn't mind researching it more some day. If I ever get around to it.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

AC - Me too, I'd like to know more about my heritage and one of these days may get around to it.

9:53 AM  
Blogger thailandchani said...

My mother did some of that. Since my father was adopted, we really don't know too much about his heritage but my mother's has been easier to trace. Basically British working class people, nothing particularly noteworthy, but the question of genetic memory is always an interesting one. :)


Peace,

~Chani

10:50 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Chani-Agreed, everything we are, genetically speaking, is made up of what came before. And we leave our imprint on what comes after.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Having a sense of one's ancestors and what came before is fascinating ... and important too in giving us a feeling of place. As we age, these questions seem to be of interest ... my elderly parents have become interested in geneology and spend a lot of time researching on both sides of our family. All sorts of cool things have been found ... I am glad that they are doing this.

And definitely Pam, please use my Lewisia ... it is such a pretty plant. I love the flowers. And as the rain continues to pour, my basement gets wet but at least I'm on top of it today.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Kate - Thanks, I will see what happens when you mix Lewisias with imagination.

It's interesting, what you find when you go back through your ancestry, Aunt Skip's book was a facinating tale and my husband learned a lot of new things about his family. Some cool, some shocking!

Good luck with your basement and hope for a sunny day.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with caroline that she would never want to be reduced to being a product of her ancesters. I was amused at her summary of what we all are but I prefer to say that basically we are all the children of God. However her statement is not off the mark so I guess I can answer a qualified yes to her question. : )
Actually I wanted to share this, which I believe came from The Old Farmer's Alamanac years ago:
"You should never be too impressed with your ancestry or you may end up like the potato, all the good is under the ground".

12:04 PM  

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