One of the reasons I got into family history research as a teen was the sheer excitement of it. I’ve always enjoyed a challenge, and I love to learn new things. So why not learn new things about me and my family? Over the years I’ve learned about many interesting things. Here are five that stand out with me.
- Irish Pirates — I’m descended from a famous pirate clan in Ireland. One of the castles under their control is now a hotel. It nearly tops of my list of places to go in my genealogy research. Something about walking the actual halls of my ancestors delights me to no end.
- Puritan Ministers — I’m not a religious person. So it amused me to discover that I’m a direct descendant of a Puritan minister who came from England to Connecticut in the 1600s. Can’t help but wonder what he’d think of my (and my family’s) lives now.
- Founding Families — That Puritan minister joins several other branches of my family tree (mostly from England) who were founding families here in the United States. We were town founders for small New England towns and some of the earliest settlers in two major cities.
- New Nationalities — Before conducting genealogy research (and even the first decade of my digging), I thought of myself as German and Irish. Little did I know that I had a strong English line as well as French and Dutch lines. What’s interesting is that my mom’s mom always told her there was a French line in her side of the family. As it turns out there was not. But there was a French line in my mother’s father’s side of the family.
- Rewritten Histories — I’m originally from Brooklyn in New York City. My grandfather came to NY after WWII. And earlier generations seemed to be fairly recent immigrants as well. So I’d always thought of my family as recent transplants to NY. As it turns out, I was wrong. I discovered that branches of my family were actually some of the earliest settlers of New York, back when it was still called New Amsterdam. This would be the Dutch line I discovered in the last few months.
Not all discoveries you’ll find in your family history are going to be earth-shattering. But they may help you understand your family a bit better. Or they may just be interesting stories to share around the dinner table at your next get-together. What’s the most interesting story you’ve discovered in your genealogy research?
* Image credit: Ballynahinch Castle in Ireland, by Sebastian Schulz, via Flickr