Sometimes, I think that it might be nice to have deep roots in a specific country’s heritage.  An Italian grandfather.  A German grandmother.  Someone who could pass down all of the traditions and treats of their country.  Who could sing you lullabies in a foreign tongue.

I don’t have that though.  The latest my family came into the U.S. was the 1910s.  My maternal grandmother’s parents immigrated from Sweden not long before she was born in Washington state.  She grew up in the Swedish community of Ballard, in Seattle.  She didn’t speak the language though and didn’t pass down many Swedish traditions into our family.  Her parents died long before I was born, so I didn’t have that connection.  The closest connection to the “old country” I would have to say was her older sister Elvy.

But my Swedish heritage is not what I’m talking about today.  Today, I wanted to celebrate the fact that I have such a diverse family to research, especially if I add in my husband’s side – which I am also actively working on.

My children have ancestors that:

  • Immigrated from Sweden to WA in the 1910s
  • Left Norway for Minnesota in the 1880s
  • Served in the Revolutionary War
  • Served on both sides of the Civil War
  • Were slaveowners and others that were abolitionists
  • Left Germany following the Revolution in 1848
  • Immigrated from Ireland in the 1840-50s
  • Were glassblowers, farmers, ministers, railroad workers, day laborers, soldiers, printers, barbers, and more.
  • Settled in Kansas Territory as soon as it opened up
  • Immigrated from England, through Canada.
  • Were Quakers, Irish Catholics, Methodists, French Huguenots, Mormons, Lutherans and more.
  • Earned a purple heart in World War II after being hit by a kamikaze
  • Served in the First Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania
  • Traveled along the Mormon Trail
  • Were illegitimate
  • Traveled West
  • Were Dutch settlers to the New World from probably the late 1600s
  • Immigrated from Spain to Germany in the early 1800s and then on to Iowa in 1850
  • Served in France during WWI
  • were illiterate and others that were well-educated

They say that America is a great melting pot and my family is definitely proof of that – as are most American families.

It just amazes me to look at how many different types of people, from such diverse backgrounds went into “making” a little piece of my children.:)

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Week 46: Assess your volunteer potential. The last two weeks’ challenges focused on volunteerism and local genealogy societies (which are also dependent on volunteers). Take a look at your skill set and determine what types of opportunities best suit you. Do you speak two languages? Maybe you can offer translation services. Do you only have free time after the kids are in bed? Perhaps an indexing project is best for you. Knowing your strengths can help shape your research process. If you take this challenge a step further and actually volunteer, give yourself a pat on the back. Bloggers are encouraged to assess and share their own skill sets, as well as any volunteer experiences they have.

Well, I am definitely still in the “growing my family tree” stage of life.  My kids are young and often underfoot.  I count myself lucky if I get a shower every day.  The majority of my genealogy endeavors are done in the wee hours of the night – in lieu of precious sleep.  I have a tub full of records that I have yet to re-enter into my program.  I have things that aren’t filed and organized.  I never thought of myself as someone who had time to volunteer at this time.

At the Atlanta Family History Expo this past weekend, I got to speaking to one of the representatives from FamilySearch and was made to realize that I could probably volunteer in my own way.  No, I’m not going to be sitting at the front desk of a quiet research library – (can you imagine the ruckus I’d cause with 5 kids?) But I could probably manage to do a batch of indexing here and there as I have time.

I had not realized that when you download a batch of records to index, you have a week to finish it – and it generally is about 30 minutes worth of work.  I could put in a load of laundry and index a record.  Then make some dinner and index a record.  Change a diaper and index a record.  Get the idea?  Even I could do a little something to give back to the genealogy community at large.  Spread out over a week, I could spare a minute here and there – or perhaps sit down all at once one evening when everyone is snoozing.

So, I took the plunge and downloaded the indexing platform.  It was quick and painless!  I then sat and indexed some WWII draft registrations while I was watching “Castle” – my current favorite TV show.:)  It was so easy!  I got 33 “points” – although I’m not quite sure what those are for yet.  It mentioned that these might eventually be used to access certain records.  For now, I guess that it is just a way to keep track of how much work I’ve done.

So, how can you volunteer your time or expertise to the genealogical community?

Join in the conversation.:)

Thanks to Amy Coffin from the WeTree Genealogy Blog for the 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy prompts!

  • Amy Coffin - November 18, 2010 - 12:51 pm

    Thanks for playing along with the 52-week challenge. Glad you found something that works for you. FamilySearch Indexing is perfect for parents at home, because you can do it on your own schedule (which is of course determined by your children’s schedule).ReplyCancel

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This is my husband’s great-grandfather, Clyde Cleveland Davidson as a boy.  I wish I could figure out what sort of pin he is wearing on his lapel and if it had any significance.

Clyde was born on 18 September 1888 in Leavenworth county, Kansas.  He died on 12 February 1971 in Tonganoxie, Leavenworth, Kansas.  I’m guessing that this photo was taken somewhere around 1900.

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Emma Weeks was born on 15 April 1871 in Vinland, Douglas, Kansas.  She died on 8 December 1898 and was buried in the Vinland cemetery.  She was married to Franklin White.

  • Nick Woods - November 16, 2010 - 10:50 am

    Jen, the family tragedy:
    Emma did marry Franklin White.
    She was found dead at the bottom of a water well at the young couple’s home.
    Franklin said, “Emma was depressed and threw herself down the well.”
    Peter & Julia said,”Emma was not depressed. She would not kill herself. Franklin murdered her.”
    What a mystery! Could we find old records of the inquest?
    Elizabeth (Weeks) WoodsReplyCancel

  • Jen - November 16, 2010 - 10:59 am

    I remembered that there was something “fishy” about her death, but wow! You’re right – there might be some sort of court records that we could find. That would be interesting to read!ReplyCancel

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There’s One in Every Family!  A family legend that is.

Usually, it has something to do with being  related to a famous person.  A president.  A General.  Royalty.  Maybe an actor.

My family is no different than any other – and actually I think that we share one of the most common family legends in the country.

Ours is that we are “somehow related to Robert E. Lee”.

I recall my grandmother telling me this when I was a child.  I didn’t pay much attention.  At the time, I honestly didn’t really know who he was. I wish that I would have listened a bit more – and maybe have gleaned some clues as to what that connection may have been (if she even knew – which I doubt).

Interestingly enough, the legend was also passed to some of the long-lost cousins I have found since starting my family history quest.

One of the pictures they gave me also mentioned the connection:

I’m sure that all Lee families who spawned from Virginia try to claim some shared ancestry with the General – and his famous family.

I am taking it with a grain of salt.  Not saying that I wouldn’t be doing cartwheels if I could find some connection!  Of course I would.

It’s just that it’s so darn easy for one of those “rumors” to start.  All that has to happen is some child overhearing Grandma wondering if they were related and 50 years down the road it’s remembered as there being a definite connection.  It’s like the game of telephone, spread out through the generations.

The truth is, I have no hard data to either prove or disprove the legend.  I’m not going to be upset if we aren’t even remotely related.  I will just be happy to have the speculating over with.  I would love to one day get past this brick wall.

Here is the information on my Virginia Lee family.  Maybe someone out in cyberspace is a Lee family guru and has some information that can help me!:)

The furthest Lee ancestor that I actually have any information on is Francis L. Lee.  Another researcher gave me his name as Francis Ludwell Lee and I believe it was mentioned as that in a sketch in a county history.  I haven’t seen his middle name listed as Ludwell on any documents.  Francis was born abt. 1778 in Virginia.  I have found him in the 1810-1860 census in Bedford, Montgomery, and Roanoke counties (which all border each other – apparently he moved around a lot).  I have found him listed in a deed and as a surety for a marriage in the same area.  He married Sally Moorman, daughter of Charles Clark Moorman and Nancy Hancock, on 28 Sep 1804 in Bedford county, VA.  The same sketch I mentioned above listed his father as a Richard Lee of Kentucky.  Kind of vague, especially in this area.

I have information on their children, one of which (Samuel Edward Lee) was my direct line.  I don’t have much more than that though.  I don’t have exact birth or death dates for him.  I don’t know where he lived before 1810.  I don’t know who his parents were.  And I’ve been stuck at this brick wall for a number of years now.

So, for now at least, the legend still lives…

Written for the 100th Carnival of Genealogy with the theme of “There’s One in Every Family” hosted by Creative Gene.

  • Greta Koehl - November 15, 2010 - 9:21 pm

    Well, I don’t know whether or not you are related to General Lee, but I do believe you are related to me, albeit distantly. I have a Moorman ancestor somewhere back there, and I’m pretty sure that it’s the same set because of the name Clark, a related family. And I believe that Samuel Clemens also had a connection to these Moormans. Vickie Everhart at BeNotForgot is connected to those Clarks, so we can all call one another “cousin”!ReplyCancel

    • Jen - November 15, 2010 - 11:04 pm

      Yes, that’s the right Moorman family! Samuel Clemens was related through my Charles Clark Moorman’s sister Rachel. (if I remember right). It’s nice to find another cousin. :)ReplyCancel

  • Susan - November 19, 2010 - 1:39 pm

    Keep at it, Jen. My husband’s family had the same story (his middle name is Lee). I was skeptical but eventually (20 years later) discovered they were right, though it is the most remote of connections. Now I just have to find out how I’m related to Wade Hampton!ReplyCancel

  • J.M. - December 6, 2010 - 2:25 pm

    There are plenty of family legends in every family and I think trying to prove or disprove them is part of the fun of genealogy. Great post!ReplyCancel

  • HW - November 10, 2011 - 10:00 am

    Jen, there is a connection to Gen. R. E. Lee. Try the “Arkansas Family Historian” PDF, from page 30, which is put out by the Arkansas Genealogical Society. http://www.agsgenealogy.orgReplyCancel

    • Jen - November 11, 2011 - 10:03 am

      Which edition??ReplyCancel

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