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Thread: Family Lore

  1. #1
    tableau vivant MoneyJungle's Avatar
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    Family Lore

    I had lunch with my parents and my aunt and uncle today. The topic of relatives who hadn't spoken for decades came up. My great-grandfather was living out in West Sacramento during WW1. He had a Polish last name, Olinsky, and was getting accused of being a German sympathizer because people back then were just as idiotic as we are today. It got so bad for business that he changed his name to Fisher. One son spelled it "Fisher" and the other spelled it "Ficsher." The two sons didn't speak for the rest of their lives, ostensibly because of this spelling difference. Of course it makes more sense to spell it without a "csh" if you're trying to Anglicize your last name, and I'm firmly in the sh camp, but I think everyone who cares is dead.

    Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?

  2. #2
    Pan_Sonic_000
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    My aunt killed herself in the 1980's. It's suspected my uncle knew she'd taken a shitload of pills, but left her on the sofa to die because he wanted out of the marriage. THe weird thing is that for years before that, whenever we'd go to visit, I liked to lay on the same sofa and pantomime like I was dying and/or dead; exaggeratedly sticking my tongue out and clutching my throat, gagging. In retrospect, it must have been extremely uncomfortable to have a child start arbitrarily doing that during the middle of your family visit / dinner.

    But I did it every time we visited, for years. Finally my mom sat me down one day and told me I had to stop doing that and it made her very uncomfortable. So I never did it again.

    What else? My grandmother was a czech stowaway when she was two years old or something; that's how she got to America. And her family, when giving their name to the immigration office, shortened it a lot. Originally, it was Kuzoulouski or some shit. But anyone with my current last name is 100% sure related to me within a few degrees of separation. That's kinda cool.

    My other grandmother escaped from an abusive, back-woods marriage back in the 1930's and raised four kids by herself while working as a clerk at Montgomery Ward. When she was alive, she used to talk about how there really was a 'caste system' in America at that time. It sounded brutal; being a poor, unmarried woman with 4 kids and no real skills or education.

  3. #3
    malarkey oxyjen's Avatar
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    My family haven't ever talked to me about my family history. When I asked my parents they don't seem to know much either. I know either my great-grandfather or great-great grandfather married the same woman three times, which was uber-scandalous back in the day.

  4. #4
    Tawaci ki a Gnaska ki Osito Polar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oxyjen View Post
    My family haven't ever talked to me about my family history. When I asked my parents they don't seem to know much either.
    You're a clone, the product of some bizarre government experiment. The parents are doubtlessly actors who weren't prepared with an adequate enough backstory to include a detailed family history.

    In my family, there was a lot of lore. On my mother's side of the family, relatives had inhabited the family farm for hundreds of years. So, a lot of the lore was seeing their old stuff, disused older buildings on the property, checking out their diaries and journals, things like that. A bunch of my cousins had fought in the Civil War and had lots of trinkets left over from that. There were also fortified sections of the building where people had allegedly defended it from rampaging Indians. Odd that one, because later on members of (presumably) the same group married into the family.

    On my father's side, the lore's a little more interesting but the people involved didn't write about their lives as habitually as on my mother's side. Well, a few of them.
    "I don't have psychological problems." --Madrigal

    "When you write about shooting Polemarch in the head, that's more like a first-person view, like you're there looking down the sight of the gun." --Utisz

    David Wong, regarding Chicago
    Six centuries ago, the pre-Colombian natives who settled here named this region with a word which in their language means "the Mouth of Shadow". Later, the Iroquois who showed up and inexplicably slaughtered every man, woman and child renamed it "Seriously, Fuck that Place". When French explorer Jacques Marquette passed through the area he marked his map with a drawing of a brownish blob emerging from between the Devil's buttocks.

  5. #5
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    One of my grandmothers married a Shoshone. She got pregnant, and he kicked her to the curb. She hitchhiked back home, and met my Grandfather, who married her. Somewhere in there was a divorce and a failed annulment. She was Catholic and the Catholic church just shrugged and said inter-racial marriages don't count. Congratulations on finding a white man. Shame he's a Protestant, but at least he's going to legitimize your son, and allow your kids to be raised Catholic.

    My great-grandfather apparently started a school district with my great-grandma who I'm told was one of the first certificated teachers. They both traveled west on what I'm told was the last sanctioned wagon train to take the Oregon trail. They lost three farms along the way, and stopped for a couple years when my grandpa was born, but eventually made it to Oregon.

    My other grandma's history is a bit more tragic. Her younger sister was asked out by a black boy and said sister had reciprocal interest. The parents of both families had a discussion about it, and decided it would just drive them to be together if they forbade it, so they decided to allow them to date and get it out of their system, but with chaperones. The selected chaperones were my grandma, and the older brother of the aforementioned black boy.

    I should probably mention this was a small town in Oregon. I think it makes it even more amazing that nobody died.

    Well, the sister and black boy hit it off. Meanwhile, the chaperones fended off boredom by talking to each other, and it turned out, they liked each other too. Chaperoning quietly segued into double dating. But that's not the sort of secret that keeps.

    It really doesn't keep when the younger couple, rather than "getting it out of their system", start making wedding plans. And when it became apparent that my Grandma's liking for the older brother was about as keen, shit hit the fan. The younger couple were permitted to marry, but my Grandmother and her boyfriend were ripped apart, rather than allow both daughters to be lost to darkness.

    My grandmother was then given a job as a maid for a man in town, who was from a family that used to have more money, but was still well enough off to afford to hire her on as a maid. One day, he came home drunk, and raped her.

    The next day, he came by my great-grandma's house while grandma was still reeling from the trauma, and by way of apology, insisted on "doing the right thing" and courting. He began with a brand new set of dishes.

    I'm told my Grandma was pressured into accepting, though she reputedly insisted she "wasn't even sure she wanted the damn dishes".

    Sometime later, they married.



    Longer ago, my relatives profited from prosecuting a bunch of people as witches.


    My Grandpa (the one not known to me to be a rapist) and his brother were supposed to finish a military service contract when Pearl Harbor was bombed. They ended up fighting in the Aleutians for the duration. Fun fact: the Japanese tried to use tanks, there, and apparently my Grandpa took advantage of the foolishness.

    My Grandpa got a Purple Heart, which he despised. He referred to them as "medals for failing to keep your head down". I don't know what his injury was, but it was clearly one he facepalmed over for the rest of his life. His brother presumably also got a Purple Heart, but I know how that happened. He lost a foot to the Japanese in the Aleutians.
    I'm suspicious of people who say they'll die for a flag but won't wear a mask for their neighbor.

  6. #6
    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    I've had a copy of a genealogy/family history for my father's side of the family (or, rather, my paternal grandfather's side of the family) since I was in high school, but always wanted to know more about my mother's side. People are oddly tight-lipped and/or ignorant about such things in my family sometimes.

    Well, last summer while I was staying with my parents, my aunt and uncle came to visit so they could sort through the last of the things my grandmother left when she died a few years back--turns out she'd had a similar genealogy document (for her husband, my grandfather's family) for some time.

    Some interesting stuff in there. Turns out I'm descended from Frisian (Dutch) Mennonites who fled to Schleswig (currently in Germany) to escape some kind of persecution during the 30 Years' War. That possibly confirms something I dug up online years ago showing that the earliest recorded use of my mother's surname was in the nearby region of Westphalia at around the same time. (It's a variant of Albrecht, one of the most common names throughout Germany, but this specific version can apparently be traced there.) The Frisian migrant thing would be new information, though--I'd just inferred that I possibly had ancient Saxon roots, but maybe not.

    The generation that emigrated to the US apparently did so to escape some of the shit I read about in my college history classes--the 1848 rebellions and the ensuing war in which the Prussians took Schleswig from Denmark.

    I guess my grandfather's brother was also something of a notable badass who had an interesting career in the air force. He flew transport gliders during the invasion of Europe in World War II, then later flew pickup runs for returning Gemini astronauts. Eventually he ended up in charge of a base that handled a lot of the offsite support work for the Apollo missions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

  7. #7
    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    Being the worthless residue cousins, by way of my Great Great Grandfather, to a renowned Tobacco and Energy magnate has some rewards.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=JXd...page&q&f=false

    Part III The Dukes.

    I have kin that fought with Charles I & kin that fought with Cromwell.
    Among many other historical points in Anglo-American History.
    Creativity is the residue of time wasted. ~ Albert Einstein

  8. #8
    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    Damn it!

    Sucked into looking over that old book again.
    Here is some interesting lore:

    Spoiler: These are the Digs of Sir Richard Duke MP in Otterton Parish Devon





    Spoiler: And here is some of His rental Property in Devon


    Sir Walter Raleigh was born here, and later when he got all rich & famous, he bought said estate. In a letter to Duke saying, in so many words, having spent a fondly remembered youth at same he wanted to buy the place.

    So I don't think it too much of a stretch to imagine that Duke's name was probably dropped at some point while SWR & the Queen were pitching woo.
    Creativity is the residue of time wasted. ~ Albert Einstein

  9. #9
    <3 gator's Avatar
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    Lots of things that don't add up when you really start to look at them.

    My great-grandmother arrived in Canada with a 'sister' who was probably actually a daughter by another man. Later on that 'sister' ended up with custody of a baby that probably wasn't hers, because she was only 11 years older than him. He was institutionalized for being retarded and people didn't talk much about him. My grandma and great-aunt later lived in residence and did their nursing practicums at that institution, and didn't really piece the story together until he died.

    A distant cousin stole a horse and ran away from the farm in North Dakota. From then on he was completely written out of the family history and no one talked about him. But if you look at land title records from around that time, within 10 years after that happened, he and his brother had neighbouring pieces of land registered to them in Alberta, even though according to the story he rode off and was never heard from ever again.

    The Welsh side of my family apparently lived in a house that was originally owned by Sir Francis Drake. It was so close to the ocean that the cellar would flood and fill with salmon, or so they say.

  10. #10
    malarkey oxyjen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Mexico View Post
    I've had a copy of a genealogy/family history for my father's side of the family (or, rather, my paternal grandfather's side of the family) since I was in high school, but always wanted to know more about my mother's side. People are oddly tight-lipped and/or ignorant about such things in my family sometimes.


    Some interesting stuff in there. Turns out I'm descended from Frisian (Dutch) Mennonites who fled to Schleswig (currently in Germany) to escape some kind of persecution during the 30 Years' War.
    Both my maternal and paternal side can be traced back to Friesland, and are oddly tight-lipped about things. And they settled down in Minnesota, right? Jesus, we're probably third cousins or something.

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