Connecting Past and Present

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"Connecting past and present" by Linda Kracht (CatholicMom.com)

Heirloom sampler. Photo copyright 2018 Linda Kracht. All rights reserved.

Have you ever wondered about buying an ancestry kit? Though it may be more interesting than reading family trees with names and dates that don’t mean much or looking at old pictures, just how different is it? To me, raw genealogical data reads like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea — boring, time-consuming and without real purpose!

My husband would probably disagree with the disparaging remark about the book and the data. My mindset made it easy for me to avoid entertaining any thoughts of ordering such kits or looking through old family trees or old ancient photos we had recently inherited. Both projects would get my hands way too dirty due to ages-old accumulation of dust, dirt and other grime! The material wasn’t stored very well; the photos weren’t labeled. I resented the fact that we were stuck with storing or deliberating about several very large boxes of who knows who and what! What to do with them? Throw them out? Frame a few images even if we didn’t who they were? Store them in our garage to gather more dust? Get better storage?

What’s worse than storing things you don’t need? Storing things you don’t even know what they are! So why do we keep things like this? It’s because of the what ifs: What if that picture is one of great-great-grandfather, even though he doesn’t look very happy? Actually, few of the old folks look happy! Perhaps smiles were taboo back then; maybe some believed that the camera would suck their soul out if they smiled too widely or too openly! Wikipedia claims that’s the case for some cultures. The Amish still believe that photographs “in which they can be recognized violate the biblical commandment: ‘Thou shalt not make unto thyself a graven image.’”

Think about how useful that belief actually is! These people don’t have to waste time figuring out what to do with old photos! Neither will their great great great grandsons wonder if they should throw the boxes out! Imagine the time, energy, and space they save. 

Yet most of us remain curious about our historical roots though we prefer details over mere names, birth dates and death anniversaries! I blame my lack of interest on my crazy [in a fun way]Aunt Alice. After all, she stirred up my imagination with tales about owning land in England, complete with a castle and a wicked Queen who usurped our ancestors’ land-holding rights centuries ago. When her search ended without actual proofs, my hopes and dreams of being a princess were crushed.

We also seriously doubted the veracity of Aunt Alice’s claims that she was a direct descendant of a Mayflower pilgrim through her father’s side. The claim was partially related to  a family heirloom sampler that was passed from generation to generation. The beauty is now mine. It was stitched by a young girl named Elizabeth Chadseys when she was just eight years old, dated Augus (sic) 8th, 1816,  Liverpool!

"Connecting past and present" by Linda Kracht (CatholicMom.com)

Heirloom sampler. Photo copyright 2018 Linda Kracht. All rights reserved.

We wondered how she could she be a direct descendant of a Mayflower traveler while living in England in 1816 — a full two hundred years after the Mayflower landed in America. We heard other stories about Loyalists/Tory ancestors who fled to Nova Scotia during the Revolutionary War because the patriots hated them. And then we heard about patriot ancestors who knew Paul Revere! But where was the proof?

And then along came a genealogist from the Boston area who was interested in helping us figure out our family tree. When he was finished the project, he wrote: “Your ancestry is very interesting. In fact; the results are like winning the lottery — an ancestry lottery! You guys hit the jackpot.” Sorry Aunt Alice — we should have believed you! Want to know the results? Well, ok — if you insist.

The following evidence was found. Elizabeth Chadseys’ 5th Great Grandfather was Stephen Hopkins, one of the original Mayflower passengers who arrived at Plymouth Rock on 9 November 1620, after a 66-day voyage! There is quite a lot of information about him in history books and for different reasons … I kid you not! Miss Elizabeth Chadseys from Liverpool was my mother’s father’s (Etherington) 5th Great Grandmother. She lived in Liverpool, Nova Scotia — not England!

Data on this Elizabeth Chadseys perfectly matches the sampler information. That means Mr. Hopkins is my 10th great-grandfather — if we counted the generations the right way. Perhaps the stories about Tory sympathies were true… And on top of that, my mother’s mother’s side (Hickle) of the family tree sported a grandfather (great, great, great …) named Colonel A. Lamb  who actually did ride with Paul Revere!

After receiving that genealogy report, it seemed like it would be worthwhile to order the saliva kit from ancestry.com. I did and the good news just kept on coming! It confirmed that I am largely British (my mother’s ancestry); and German-Russian (my father’s ancestry is also interesting but that’s a story is for another day). My heritage also includes a significant (over 5%) ancestry that has roots in Uzbekistan, Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal)! Is that why I love everything Italian? Does it help explain my temperament? 

I love knowing my ancestral roots; I also love telling others about them. Suddenly, old pictures and family trees seemed way more interesting to me. And to think that a long Protestant tree eventually merged with an equally long Catholic line producing myself and my children is mind-boggling!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55: 8-9) 

Yes, order the saliva kit. Talk to your relatives about what they know before the information and facts are chalked up to folklore. Believe the stories that your old relatives repeat! After all, word of mouth is how most history got passed down millennia ago! Cherish old photos! Frame them. Store them carefully. Wonder about them. Pray for them. Get in touch with me if you are a long lost relative. And most of all, delight in the Lord knowing that He knows you. He has a plan and that plan is you! And Me! Just the way we are. God loves you! God Bless.


Copyright 2018 Linda Kracht

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About Author

Linda Kracht is wife to David, mother to seven very special children and grandmother to 17 little ones [presently]. Linda enjoys speaking and writing and has developed field guides for families in English and Spanish about parenting, marriage, faith, morals, and family life. Kracht founded Fortifying Families of Faith [2008] to help parents honor their role as primary teacher of their children in matters that matter.

1 Comment

  1. Thank You for a great post. My sisters and I are genealogy buffs. We have not taken the saliva test yet. We do know we are direct descendents to John Alden of the Mayflower pilgrims through his son David. We have a fifth great grandfather Ebenezer Winship who was at Bunker Hill and his twelve year old son was the drummer boy. You have a fascinating ancestry. Thank You for sharing your finds. God Bless.
    Marilyn

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