Friday, February 17, 2012

Family History Friday: My First Fun Discoveries, Part 1

Today's Family History Friday is probably more of a second part to last week's post...basically just a general rundown of all the awesome things I discovered just in the first five or so handwritten pages of my grandfather's memoir.

When I was younger I remember being told that I was Swedish, but the only person in my family who seemed to have a Swedish last name was my Great-Great Aunt Mae...and that last name was of course her husband's last name, and he wasn't a blood relative. My father was always kind of vague about where our Swedish ancestry came from, so to be honest there was a time when I thought maybe we simply weren't Swedish at all. I mean...my obvious German ancestry (my mother's maiden name was extremely German) could just as well account for the fact that I'm tall and athletic and blonde ;)

Swedish? German? Swedish AND German? You decide.
 (I'm kidding, really. Promise.)

So I was in fact a bit surprised to start typing Grampy's memoirs and immediately come across the information that his grandparents on the maternal side - my Great-Great Grandparents - were in fact both Swedish! Very, very Swedish in fact, but I'll get into that at a later time ;)

Another thing that my grandfather mentioned was that on his father's side of the family he was descended from someone who came over to the States on the Mayflower. You know, the one with the pilgrims and Plymouth Rock and all that. Unfortunately the paperwork - which my grandfather actually saw - has long since been lost.

But it was that tidbit that sent me to ancestry.com. Thankfully I received a free six month membership with some software (their Family Tree Maker software), and I started plugging away...and quickly became obsessed. I'm still searching for that lost connection, though, and hopefully I'll be able to get past the point at which I'm stuck and figure out the facts.

That said, the family tale that has lived on after the loss of the paperwork is that we were related to someone on the Mayflower who was a sort of "thief" or "pirate". Honestly my family can sometimes not be, well, the sharpest knives in the drawer, so a bit more digging told me that most likely they should have been describing our Mayflower ancestor as a sort of sellsword or mercenary.

Which can only mean one person: Myles Standish.

source

Of course, this information could be hearsay. It could be downright incorrect. So that's my mission at the mo' - to find out which pilgrim we were related to. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I'm a bit stuck at the moment. I've hit a roadblock, if you will. It involves people on ancestry.com who taint actual information with entries that are either due to (1) silly mistakes because they're not paying attention or (2) willful ignorance of dates that don't match up because they want to claim ancestry that isn't really theirs.
I gotta say, though: Myles Standish was really badass so I'm pretty much hoping it was him. ;)
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