View Full Version : Family Histories

24-06-04, 08:46
-- Going to start this one here, and see if it needs to be moved later, depending --

How important is your family history to you? How far back can you trace your ancestors?

I'm sure culture and upbringing plays a role in how much importance we place on these things, but I am wondering, with such a international community here, what history means to you - personally. I'm also curious how different cultures view family history in terms of helping to form a personal or family identity.

At least in my education, being from the US, diversity was always stressed as important to recognize and appreciate. Once every few years, at least before high school (years 9 to 12), I could expect to have to produce some kind of family tree or report on personal history. As a result, and further personal searches for information because I am a history freak and have fun doing my own digging, I have a pretty good idea where my family came from (and I'm not taking about the type-your-name-in-here websites that offer cheap thrills - "oooooh, I'm related to royalty!"). Accordingly I have gotten independent and multi-source confirmation on relatives back to about 1775 on one side and 1880 on another. Want to know more about Mandylion than you ever will need :-) ;-)

In Japan, I ask my students where their families come from and they might know where a parent was born - if by chance they were born somewhere besides their current place of residence. I haven't spent a lot of time wondering why this is, and I haven't gotten much further that the standard ideas - not wanting to stand out / be different, stressing conformity and group dynamics, not wanting to boast - concepts that writing a report on your family only tend to challenge and/or disturb. Feel free to add your own.

What about for other cultural groups? How about Europe, South America, Africa, etc. Does having more immigrants and a more mobile population make personal history more or less important (roots vs. new start)? Does coming from a old, stable population inspire historical apathy or a glowing pride?

Just bouncing some ideas around...feel free to join in.

24-06-04, 09:50
My ancestors on my father's side actually had written a book on our family history. And the book gets passed to the oldest son which is my uncle to add on it. My father's eldest brother even wrote a poem about our history and hangs it on the wall of his living room. Thank god he has a son. I am not interested in any history and don't count on me to write with a brush... They want me to read that book but I would rather watch "Gilmore Girls."

I don't hate my background (acually I'm thankful for it). I just think watching television or surfing on the internet is more interesting than reading the history of my dad, and uncles, and their relatives... I've known these people for over 31 years and I can guess that thing is boring. If only it was as exciting as "Silence of the Lamb," I would finish it overnight.

Keeping a book of one's family history is definitely NOT a common practise in today's Chinese society. My family do it because some relatives say we had a famous ancestor who I've never heard of ... But I know some villages in Hong Kong do keep the records of every male habitant who bears the same last name of a particular village (e.g. the village of Ho).

They do it because HK is very crowded, and the government often needs to buy land (within top five of the most expensive in the world) for development from these country bunkins. The main purpose of these villages' records is to make sure the proceeds from land sales are ditributed to the real locals (males whose ancestors were also habitants of the same village).

Frank D. White
25-06-04, 03:14
My father & mother kept family histories a big secret and made up many cover stories(lies) to keep the truth from us kids. Now they are both dead and I have many family documents that tell the true story, but I can't figure them all out yet. Strange how shame & embarassment can lead people to hide the truth? It's hard to unravel mysteries when dead people hold the only answers!


:? :okashii: :souka:

25-06-04, 03:28
Mandylion, it's funny you ask about this now. I have just started researching my father's side of the family, and have kind of hit a dead-end. I don't know where to go from here. My great-grandfather left my great-grandmother when my grandfather and his brother were only infants. No one knows where he went or anything much about him. The only one who would know something died a few months ago. I'm stumped.

25-06-04, 23:39
My father's side of the family has been researched and traced back to some time in medieval England (they were landowners). my mother's side is harder because the family came from Alsace.

Remember, when you really really need to know, ask a librarian

26-06-04, 02:31
Well, my mother's side goes back far. They first came to Virginia in 1612, and there's no telling how far before that in England. They've done the research, but I don't have my hands on it. My dad's side is another matter. My paternal grandmother's side is from England, but my paternal grandfather's side is a mixture of Swiss German with Native American thrown in. I just need to find out specifics. Well, as specific as possible.

My mother and father were from 'opposite sides of the tracks'...

Lina Inverse
26-06-04, 16:27
Paternally, my ancestors came from Great Britain. Sometime after WWI, my greatgrandfather married a cancan-dancer from the Moulin Rouge in Paris. They lived in Paris for some time and then moved over to Germany.
Maternally, my ancestors come from Italy. They moved to Germany when a great plague had broken out in their hometown. They had been very wealthy there, but had to leave behind most of it when they fled the plague.
That's pretty much all I can offer... :relief:

27-06-04, 01:01
My blood is 1/4 French, 1/4 Spanish, and 1/2 Italian.
My father made a lot of researches about both sides of my family in France and Italy. I don't know a lot about my spanish origins, I only know that my grandmother's mother came from southern Spain to Algeria (while Algeria was French).
On my mother's side, my grand mother is from algeria (spanish mother), and my grand father is from South West of France (Perigord). As far as my father could get informations, my grand father's side always lived in France (but I don't know before 1600 or 1700 I think, because texts were written in Latin).
On my father's side (Italian side), one side is from Sicilia (I heard something that my family where noble in Sicilia), and the other side is from Verone, the city where are Romeo and Juliette's castles.

27-06-04, 03:11
My family tree on my mother's side has been painstakingly researched by my mother, who just loved researching it. My mother's family is Austro-Czech, and was part of the Aristocracy of the Habsburg empire. My mother can trace every individual in the family back to the 15th Century from both sides of her grandparents. The pure austrian side were for the most part were doctors, physicians, generals. My great great great Grandfather was the Surgeon General of the Kaiser's army, and before that another one was a dubious field marshal, often reffered to as the Butcher of Turin for how he supressed an uprising.

My other side of the my mother's family were Czech noblemen, which decended from the Rosemberg family. Probably one of their most dubious disctions from one of my mother's stories is that one of them participated in throwing religious zealot Jan Huss out of a window of a tower (who was saved by a pile of dung). This prompted the start of the Thirty Years War early 17th Century.

My father's side is a bit more clouded because my father never spoke about it. It was only when I went back to Japan two summers ago that I learned a bit of their history. I don't want to talk about it because Im not at all certain of what they actually did so I might be telling a fib if I did.

29-06-04, 04:44
My great-grandfather left my great-grandmother when my grandfather and his brother were only infants. No one knows where he went or anything much about him. The only one who would know something died a few months ago. I'm stumped.

Yeah, it can get tricky if no one is around to ask or if something has never been put down on paper. That is kind of why I am doing this - if someone a few generations on wants this info it will be there (even if the people in between didn't care - plus I just really like history and knowing some personal details makes it seem more immediate. Plus all the research skills you have to use keeps the ol' brain sharp.

KNM - you might try throwing some names in www.familysearch.org or running through some of the stuff on www.rootsweb.com Both are legit opperations with good links. But beware of anyone who tried to sell you something. Check the source - if it offersa quick link to fame, suspect it. Always try and verify the information you get with another source. There are a lot of Johns, Janes, Nancys, Williams, out there...

Buddha Smoker
29-06-04, 08:25
On my mother's side...I gave up because I think no one in the whole family cared. But, on my father's side (it also helped that certain members of that side kept a very detailed history and passed it on), I've traced mine back to England ( I have copies of my family seal, crest, some pretty cool videos dealing with it, etc..).... and I can say this (also, my favorite part) which makes for good talk at parties sometimes.

My ancestors are "Royal Losers". :D

29-06-04, 08:47
Do share Buddha Smoker! :-)

Though I might be able to one-up you (unikely though ;-)). You might have royal losers in your family but some of mine waged a long, bloody, 4 year war against Northern Aggression. They lost too by the way, but took some Yankees with 'em for good measure.

Well, so I am only related to 4 of them, they didn't do it alone (that would have been something!), they were only privates, but around some parts of the family those days are still known as "the Second War of Independence." :-)

Buddha Smoker
29-06-04, 09:23
I'm kind of going off memory on part of this because it is easily looked up on the internet for specifics, etc. I have alot in some books but that means doing some digging and it could take a couple days.

My family was the losing part of the "War of the Roses". They were nobility and all that jazz but they got beat, so I'm sure you can fill in some of the blanks from there.

Here is some quick reference that I looked up real quick that I had to see what the "War of the Roses" was all about:




I guess that I could make it fun and whoever PMs me with the correct guess of my family name gets some Reputation points. Let me think of some hints and I'll put it up. :wave:

29-06-04, 13:13
Mandylion, thank you for the links. I have been using ancestry.com and paying 29.95/month, but it's getting me nowhere. I think I'm wasting my money there.

Yesterday, I even put in a snail mail letter to someone I don't even know, trying to get information. A guy that my dad met who supposedly knew a lot of stuff about that side of the family. I looked up his name, found one in the approximate vicinity, and mailed him a letter. I hope it's the right person, or else I'm going to look really silly! :p

Buddha Smoker
29-06-04, 15:38
I hate to say it but I'm glad for the update on that site. I thought about it in the future but I think I won't now. I have my father's side but not my mothers.

29-06-04, 15:52
My cousin did alot about my family on my fathers side a few years back. I'll have to nick it off her some time :D

29-06-04, 16:08
I see www.rootsweb.com is supported by www.ancestry.com, but I've found it has a nifty little feature that I don't believe Ancestry has. If you put in your surname, it will show the migration of people with that same name. It will have the places listed like VA>GA>AL or something like that. Neat!

29-06-04, 17:08
The good part is that it's only getting easier with computers and internet. It seems that everything gets recorded and backed up somewhere these days.

I can just imagine my great-grandkids finding some archive of my personal web site from like 1998 and having a good laugh at it!

30-06-04, 01:01
Mandylion, thank you for the links. I have been using ancestry.com and paying 29.95/month, but it's getting me nowhere. I think I'm wasting my money there.

I have found that if you look hard enough, you can find almost anything online for free.
www.usgenweb.org is an amazing site that has collected quite a bit of information in text format from places all over the US. They have a world-oriented project to, but since my family has been in the US so long, it is hard to get information overseas for that far back. It is quite amazing how far you can get with census records, even if all your family members don't care / are no longer of this world. Not a lot of detail in census records, but since they are put online at the local level, you can often find marriage reports, land transactions, military service records and a lot more (except in Oklahoma - boy, do they keep thier census records close to the chest...)

Also, while you need to do a lot of checking to support information you find through www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/ on soldiers of the civil war, it is a great resource.

Buddha Smoker
30-06-04, 01:39
The good part is that it's only getting easier with computers and internet. It seems that everything gets recorded and backed up somewhere these days.

I can just imagine my great-grandkids finding some archive of my personal web site from like 1998 and having a good laugh at it!

I find it funny you said that. I wasn't talking with my wife the other about the safe thing. :D

30-06-04, 01:57
Mandylion, again, thank you so much. Both of those links are fantastic! :thankyou:

08-07-04, 17:21
Mandylion, just wanted to tell you that thanks to your links, I found lots of valuable information which aided in leading me to my great-grandfather. From your USGenWeb link, I found lots of crucial info and email addresses of people who would know more. I was finally able to put the pieces together and find cousins, who are only a 45 minute drive from where I live, who knew all the information we needed to know! :thankyou:

09-07-04, 02:12
Great KNM, glad things are working out for you. It can be a lot of work, but if this thing is really your bag, the payoff can be very nice indeed. Congrats!

10-07-04, 22:44
I know as far as my grandparents, thats it.

Both my grandparents were evacuated at an early age (WW2) and never knew their parents.