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Thread: Genealogy

  1. #1
    <3 gator's Avatar
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    Genealogy

    Have you ever researched your family history, or the history of another family? Did you find anything interesting? How much importance do you attach to family stories and lineage?

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    Yes.

    Or rather, I've listened carefully to stories my parents told me, and stuff my grandmother told me when she was around. There are specific individuals and branches I would like to know more about, but I don't have that information.

    There are a few really interesting stories, but one of them concerns my maternal grandmother appears to have been a bastard (I don't see the point of mincing words about it, it shouldn't have been a source of shame. ) that grew up in an orphanage during the depression. Not something that was ever talked about during her lifetime, according to my mom, but there's no record of a father. Apparently she reconnected with my great-grandmother at some point, which is good, I suppose. I suspect her out-of-wedlock birth had something to do with why my great-grandmother left Ireland. I never knew this woman, and I only know her from one or two photographs. It's curious that one of the few things I know about her is something that would have been a secret during her lifetime.

    The cool thing about genealogy is that it represents points a direct intersection between history and my actual life. It's as though I suddenly realize how I, too, am passing through history. I become cognizant of how there is also much more to history than what we might ever be capable of learning. Countless lives with stories untold.

  3. #3
    When I was young, a friend and I made rubbings of the gravestones near my house and started researching names we found. We ended up in the local library, meeting with a woman who was a genealogist and Primitive Baptist. Totally fascinated for a time.

    I have heard a fair amount of family history from my father's father's mother, who lived in the Dakotas for a long time. She actually wrote a book with recipes for the family. Her son (my grandfather) used to tell ranching stories. "Why, I put him in my saddle bag, and I had no idea he was just knocked out, not dead!" [the "he" of the story being a very odorous skunk]

    On my mom's side, there has been a lot of research. People with too much time on their hands have traced things back to Robert E. Lee, at least. And we have a bunch of journals from the Oregon Trail, in which a great great great aunt of some description was nearly accidentally sold to a Native American tribe for her red hair.

    There's also a bit of history related to the Friends Church, as my family is very intertwined with its religion.

  4. #4
    <3 gator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    The cool thing about genealogy is that it represents points a direct intersection between history and my actual life. It's as though I suddenly realize how I, too, am passing through history. I become cognizant of how there is also much more to history than what we might ever be capable of learning. Countless lives with stories untold.
    This is part of it for me. Sometimes I'm very interested in it because there are some really compelling stories, like how my great grandmother abandoned her children in the wilderness, and I've always found it very interesting to see how major events and broad movements in history intersected with people's lives.

    At the same time, I become disillusioned sometimes with lists of names and begats and the way people make identity claims based on their family tree. Unless your family was notable enough to really be documented if you go more than a couple generations back there isn't much that you can really know about your ancestors, their personalities and what they would have been like. You can pretty much make up anything you want about them to serve whatever purpose you want and sometimes I find the mythologies that people build around their ancestors irritating.

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    Scobblelotcher Sistamatic's Avatar
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    Stiggy and I did 23 and me tests, as did our parents and one of our Aunts, and we did learn some interesting stuff, but when it was all said and done, we were the same people we were before we knew any of the things we learned. Our Aunt is really obsessed with genealogy, and as a result, we know a lot more than most, especially on that side of the family. It makes for interesting small talk.
    As a tool for genealogy research, DNA tests are the most amazingly effective shot in the dark research method I've ever witnessed. They tie you to genetic cousins and allow you to voluntarily contact one another in order to try to find the paper trail. We've been successful in doing so on more than one occasion, but given that 23 and me lists nearly 1000 people that I am a 3rd to 5th cousin with among the others who have done 23 and me, the message it ends up driving home is that these distant genetic ties mean little. You share a surprisingly small amount of direct genetic heritage with anyone who isn't extremely closely related to you. With each additional order of distance between you, the shared heritage is halved. Half with sibling, quarter with nephew, 12.5 with first cousin, 6.25 with second, and so on...and that's on average, which means there are some 4th, and 5th cousins and great great great grandparents without any chromosomal segments in common at all to you...they are no more genetically related to you than a random person. Just because you are descended from someone doesn't mean they were the source of so much as one base pair of your DNA.

    But it is still fun. And that's because of the historical perspective it provides.

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    Senior Member skip's Avatar
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    My dad's side of the family is kind of famous so there's a book about us. Someone updated it about 20 years ago so I'm in the most recent version. It only goes back to the 16th century, I think. I have a copy around here somewhere. It's not really that interesting. Lots of medical/legal professionals, some Revolutionary/Civil War people and the first woman sheriff in Montana or somewhere. I found out while reading it that I share an ancestor with one of my first voice teachers, which is pretty random.

    My mom's side is mostly just handed-down information from England and Ireland. Lots and lots of horse people including racing families, brokers, veterinarians, and more notoriously a horse thief who hit his head on a tree branch while making off with someone's horse, and died. I think that story is mostly told to teach little kids that there's a price to pay when you do bad stuff, though.

    I think the kind of genealogy stuff where you voluntarily turn over your DNA is very disturbing. No way would I do that.
    Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that a problem.

  7. #7
    Sky Anvil Vison's Avatar
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    I didn't grow up around my extended family and of the vast majority that I've met I have heavily disliked. Whenever I ended up at a reunion as a kid/teenager I often found them to be extremely trying. The number of cousins who have propositioned me starting a really young age is disturbing and I bloodied the nose of one them when he tried to carry me off when I was about nine. The white trash runs deep on both sides.

    There are a couple exceptions like my paternal grandmother who I found fascinating and one of my maternal aunts who is actually a pretty inspiring woman. There is at least one member on each side of my family that has gotten really heavy into genealogy and I have a continued desire to contact them for the information but I don't like either of those peoples and past attempts at contact were very... trying.

    I do know some little tidbits that get passed around enough to have heard them from my parents or to have been able to follow some leads. On one side I am apparently a long way descended from the Romanov's and the other side very likely has a heavy Sami component. That is a very weird feeling and I havent decided how I feel about it yet.

    Oh, and I have one cousin who claims we are descended from Hitler but he is.... troubled and his sources are basically non-existent.

    I am more interested in the genetic components. Like why do various people from my mothers side of the family regrow adult teeth when they have them knocked out? Ect.

  8. #8
    sorta interesting cause I have famous people in my family line. ty cobb. but nobody is going to reference me in some 6d transdimensional forum in 4534 so I'm workin it for all that's worth. sup ladies.

  9. #9
    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    i don't get why i'm supposed to care about my ancestors. they're the reason i have my life, but they're not in my life. if they were famous for doing something exceptional i'd probably know about them without having to research.

    both sides of grandparents have pretty interesting stories of fleeing mainland china around the time of the cultural revolution, from what i've been told, but i wouldn't expect that to be all that atypical. there's one colorful story about a personal connection to Mao Zedong (not family) that i find really bizarre and somewhat uncomfortable for some reason so i tend to not talk about that around non-chinese people. the same grandparent also used to have these horrible stories about surviving japanese invasion/occupation & i remember my dad telling me this shit when i was really young as a fucked up bedtime story.

    i met one of my great grandmothers in the chinese countryside when i was like 6 or 7 & i think on that trip i also visited my ancestors' graves (i just remember a lot of firecrackers). everybody before my grandparents is super dead now.

    i tend to find other people's family/immigration histories much more interesting than mine. a lot of the stories have been and will be lost due to communication barriers which is a shame.
    Last edited by jigglypuff; 05-24-2014 at 08:21 AM.

  10. #10
    Aporia Dysphoria Dirac's Avatar
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    I can trace my ancestry back to James I (of UK). I can do it two ways though... Maybe that explains my wonky teeth.

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