Where am I from ? What an easy question ! What a hard question ….
If I asked you where you are from, your first instinct would likely be to tell where you grew up, or maybe where you live now, depending on the context of the question. But to a genealogist, even an amateur one like me, that question is loaded. A genealogist hears not only “Where did you grow up?”, we also hear, “Where are your parents and grandparents from? What about THEIR parents and grandparents? Did your family originate in Europe? Asia? Africa? the Mideast? How did they get to America? When did they get to America? Why did they come to America?” (At least, that’s what an American genealogist hears … I have no clue what a European/Asian/African/etc. genealogist hears!)
All my life, I was convinced I had Irish roots. I mean, if you could see me, you’d agree … dark hair, light skin, a smattering of freckles (even at my age), green eyes. SCREAMS Irish, doesn’t it? Plus, once I read “Gone With The Wind,” I was convinced I was Irish. Me and Scarlett (with her Irish father) … soul sisters for sure. At some point, someone (not sure who) mentioned we were Scots-Irish, but at the time I (a) had no idea what that meant, and (b) cared only about the Irish part.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that the dream died. OK, maybe that’s a little dramatic. The point is, as I began to explore my family’s heritage, I discovered that we are very, ummm … white bread. Not a melting pot. No hyphenated heritage. Not a blend of anything, unless you consider a blend of various towns and villages from England to be a blend. Yep, that’s right. I’m as English as they come. Both sides. No forking of that part of my family tree … one straight trunk all the way deep into English soil. Queen Elizabeth likely has more variants in her bloodlines than I do. If Henry Louis Gates, Jr. were to search my tree, he’d fall asleep. (If you have no idea who he is, let me recommend “Finding Your Roots” on PBS – fascinating stuff.)
I was so disappointed.
But then the questions began, and disappointment faded. Why did William Stewardson come here from England in the first place? What about Ralph Shelton? And the more questions I had, the more interested I became. How did the Childress family, the Pettit family, the Elliott family, and the Mills family come into the picture? And how about the Noels? The Parkers? The Drumhellers? WHAAAAAT ?? Drumhellers??!!?? Look! Germans! Oh, for heaven’s sake! How did THEY get in here ??? I was making a point … I was on a roll !!
My point is this … even the most direct line has some surprises. You may know about them, you may not. But every single one of those people had something to do with you drawing breath as you read this. The fun of genealogy is stumbling over those surprises, meeting those people (even if it’s only on paper), and figuring out where they lived, how they lived, and how they fit into your history and the history of their society, wherever it may be.
So one of my goals of this blog is to explore where I come from geographically. Mostly, that answer is Virginia, Virginia, Virginia, England, England, England. And Germany. Maybe Scotland. And (oh please oh please oh please) maybe even Ireland.
Next post … where in Virginia ?