Thursday, March 12, 2009

Heart of the Matter: Family Heritage

When I think about family heritage I know that I am very blessed to have great-grandparents (mostly deceased) that all came to America in their lifetimes. The traditions have not faded from my family yet. I was raised with a very rich knowledge of where I came from and am able to tell my children the first and second hand accounts of where our traditions came from. I am a third generation American and being raised in Texas there aren’t many people I know that can say this. My husband, in fact, can trace his family almost all the way back to the beginning of this country, while I know where to find the Ellis Island records for mine. What is your heritage? Where did your family begin? Did they spread like the wind or stay fairly close to one another? Do you have unique traditions that each generation has upheld? What is the legacy you leave to future generations?

When I saw this meme, I knew that I had to jump right in on it! Forgive me, I know it said a "video meme", but trust me, you guys don't want to see me at 11 at night with a sleeping 2 yr old on my lap. I'll type instead :)

I love genealogy. If I had more hours in the day (and less children), then I would probably be doing it constantly. Maybe even professionally.

I love finding out where my ancestors came from. What kinds of trials they went through. What their lives were like.

I don't have any living grandparents left. I wish that they were still here to tell family stories. To share their grandmothers' recipes or a special family tradition. To make more memories together. I miss them all.

My family tree is fairly large. I have worked on it for about 9 years and I have close to 11,000 people in my database so far! (including my husband's family).

Census image - I've read through TONS of these.

It is also pretty diverse.

One set of great-grandparents emigrated from Sweden in the 1910's.
Another great-grandmother of mine emigrated from Norway in the 1880's.
So, there is some Viking blood running through my veins. :)

Lars and Eugenia Bergman and Family. (Swedish)

I also have a great-great-great grandfather who emigrated from Spain to Germany (maybe because of the Napoleonic Wars - that's my best guess), married and had children there, and then moved with his grown children to Iowa in the 1850's.

A lot of my family settled in Iowa for some reason. That's why my husband keeps being subjected to "vacations" to various cemeteries, courthouses, and libraries throughout that state. He's such a good sport.

I also have ancestors from Ireland and France, and many who were in the U.S. a couple hundred years ago. The researching gets harder the further back you go.

My family research has worked its way into our school lessons on occasion too.

When we were studying the Civil War, I was able to pull out several military pension packets on our ancestors, detailing their service, their wounds, and often the hard times they had fallen upon in the aftermath of the war.

Genealogy brings history alive. It makes it more personal. More real.

Our ancestors lived through wars, immigration, and hard times, but happy times too. It amazes me how much life as they knew it has changed in the past couple hundred years. But how much has stayed the same also.

Someday, I hope to have my family history put together in a book of sorts to pass on to future generations. That will take time though. Much more time than I have at the moment. For now, I'm content working on it when I have the chance and spending time making memories and starting traditions with my own kids. :)


SmallWorld at Home said...

Love it! I love family histories!

Catherine said...

What a great post. I love reading about other families' genealogies, etc. Thanks.

Mrs. Edwards said...

I wrote a family history book for my side and another for my husband's side of the family several years ago, when my oldest were still preschoolers. It was a lot of fun chasing down those threads and connecting the "begats" with American history events. Although the info is sketchy, my family history reflects the movement west and the immigration of various religious groups. I had a lot of fun seeing major waves of immigration woven into my own family history.

As you say, something to do when they're older!