Thursday, March 28, 2013

Everyone Comes from an Old Family

My last post, Memories of Arcadia, told a bit about my adventures in family tree research. In its original form, the post was much longer as I mused on tangents related to genealogy. Those tangents need saying, sayeth me.

Like this post title says, everyone comes from an “old family.” I get a big kick out of TV shows or movies where some duke or duchess, in referring to another member of the aristocracy, notes something along the lines of “She comes from a very old family in Devon.”

As if all the families in Devon are not old. This is silly. We all come from scallywags, princes, and paupers. Thieves, chiefs, stable hands, empresses. Priests, healers, zealots, idiots, ne’er do wells, geniuses, farmers, city dwellers, conquerors, conquered, enslaved, free people.

Most of all, we come from survivors.

My search through some of the branches of my father’s family went easily, thanks to distant cousins who had already done much of the work back to about 1640 and posted it online. Another break in my favor was the county in Virginia where these ancestors lived for so many years has existing, continuous court records. Just to have court records is unusual with the perils of fire, floods, or other disasters.

Then too, this part of the family didn’t move West, but remained “sticks” in the Virginia “mud” to this day. Finding the genealogical information owes little to my research skills and more to luck. Other branches of the family are proving much more difficult or impossible to trace.

As I pointed out in “Memories of Arcadia,” my forefather Richard came to this country under a cloud, and quite possibly was an indentured servant. My foremother Dorothy certainly was indentured, since Richard had to purchase her freedom. Richard did amass some property by the sweat of his labors, but he was no aristocrat. He was a farmer, just like some of your ancestors undoubtedly were, whether in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, South America or all of the above. Just because I have an inkling of part of my bloodline in no way means my family is older or better than anyone else’s.

Looking at how our family tree is connected to so many other family trees was a little dizzying. Finally I realized something you probably already knew (hey, I’m not as brainy as I appear)—we don’t have to search back many generations to see that we are all related.

Yep, all of us.

So love us, like us, hate us, or don’t give a hoot—we are all connected. We’re all in this together. 

Pablo Casals, the famous cellist, said "We ought to think that we are one of the leaves of a tree, and the tree is all humanity. We cannot live without the others, without the tree."

I think grandfather Richard and grandmother Dorothy would agree.


  1. I absolutely love Pablo's thinking: "We cannot live without the others, without the tree." I would also chime in that "no one gets out alive..." I really enjoy your delving into your family's history, and the fact that you share it...

  2. Mark, you are so kind to read my scribbles and comment. I also was thinking about that "no one gets out alive" maxim. The great leveler. :-)Hope you are having a good day in the California hills!

  3. We come from survivors.


    Just last night I finished reading "Triumph" - the 2nd book about the FLDS by Caroyn Jessop. There were many parts of both "Escape" and "Triumph" that embarrassed and/or mortified me when I applied some of her words to what I know of my paternal Mormon ancestry. But now, after reading your post, I understand that the people from whom I came are not shameful. They were human. They were survivors. They, in some way, connect me - through blood - to you! And that is fabulous :).

    1. So sweet of you-- I will gladly take you as a relation as well as a friend. We all have people in our trees that we are less than proud of. But Ms. Jane is a woman I will gladly call my friend any day!

  4. "We ought to think that we are one of the leaves of a tree, and the tree is all humanity." Gee, if we could all adapt to this kind-of thinking, well, we just might be able to somehow get along. :)

    I have always wondered who the people from my past were; I wish I could take the time to investigate. But I am not sure I would get very far. My family has not sat in one place long enough to set roots. Sigh!

    OH, and by the way, I, too, think that your grandfather Richard and your grandmother Dorothy would agree. :) ~Mucho love and BIG hugs!

  5. Thank you so much, my friend. Since we all come from the same place, so to speak, you can borrow my ancestors. Have you ever seen old photos for sale in antique stores? Once I saw a sign on a display of them that called them "instant ancestors." Love that idea, and we really are more closely related than not! Love and hugs to you, Miss Virginia!

  6. Amen. I have been startled and delighted by the variety of last names/lines I've found in my family tree and branches I had no idea of. As for all of us being related...I recently discovered that my brother and his wife are first cousins 41 times removed--at least according to the semi-reliable information on ;)