Tuesday, November 21, 2006

finding roots

I know, pretty much for a fact, that I am one half Scandinavian. My grandpa on my mom's side was Norwegian, although I don't know exactly when his parents or grandparents immigrated, and my grandma is definitely Swedish, born of an immigrant mother and first generation American Swedish father. She still speaks Swedish occasionally, and when I expressed an interest in Swedish music recently she bought me a book of Swedish folk songs, which I hopefully will see on Thanksgiving.

But on my dad's side, things are not as clear, ethnically speaking. His mother, my grandma, was adopted, and there is no knowledge of her birth parents. A genealogical blind alley. All I have is a few pictures and what I remember she looked like. She died when I was eight years old. However, there is enough information on the Internet that I was able to look up today what her maiden name was. I found it easily, as well as her birthdate: November 17th, 1912.

Why have I been thinking of her the last few days? Sometimes I don't think there are any coincidences.

My grandfather's lineage, on the other hand, has been traced back to a Dutch settler in New York in the late 1600's. That's not counting the womenfolk, of course. But as far as I can tell, the heritage has been mainly along the Dutch line, with a little British Isles and maybe German thrown in. Oh well, after five or so generations, does it really matter? We're American mix.

I was fascinated though, seeing the names and wondering what my great great grandparents were like, in Clinton County Iowa (my great great grandfather was named William Clinton C... no kidding!) (and, I can't help but think: Iowa, Iowa..winter spring summer and fall, come see, come dance with me, to the beautiful Iowa Waltz--Greg Brown, folks!) and Montgomery County New York. I really have few roots here in Minnesota; who does, except for the Ojibwe and the Lakota. The rest of us are all recent arrivals in the last 150 years.


gtr said...

I agree! Geneology is fascinating. And how bizarre to come across your own long-ago relative's info on the Internet: but I've had it happen, too.

I've worked some "cultural interpretation" work where I knew all about a random family's life and history and told stories to tourists about them. I realized then that my OWN family had such stories, and I'd do well to learn and tell those, too. Working on that. Good luck with your quest!

Floridacracker said...

"American mix"
I like that.
On the many official forms that request my ethnicity/nationality, I always fill in "American" in the "other" blank.