Thursday, November 20, 2014


Living abroad means getting the "where are you from?" question quite often. Sometimes they know without asking. They hear our hard R's and loud laughs and say, hey! You're Americans! But what does it really mean to be an American? I think much can be learned from a person based on where they're from and their family backgrounds. These sorts of things have always intrigued me, so a couple of months ago I started working on learning about my family genealogy.

I did this pretty easily with a subscription to It started slowly, just by putting in my Grandparents names and birth dates. The site automatically pulls up census records and marriage and death certificates, so you can piece people together fairly easily. I tried to verify the names and relationships with my Grandparents, just to make sure I was heading in the right direction.

So I've been working on this for over 2 months now, and I have to say, it's so fun. I have learned so much about my relatives, their homes, their family relations, their occupations. It's incredible! I've also come across some pretty great photos of my family members.

That stud is my 3rd Great Grandfather on my Mom's side, Arthur Webster Paxton born in 1820. His goatee alone is worth the mention.

I discovered that I've had ancestors in Pennsylvania since immigrating over from Germany in the early 1700's. That's pretty cool to me because I love my home state so much, and I guess they did too.  My 6th Great Grandfather was a Captain in the Revolutionary War. I've discovered ancestors that fought for both the Confederacy and the Union. Ancestors who owned slaves in Virginia, and ancestors who fought to free them further north. 

Just this week I've traced back far enough to ancestors who arrived in Plymouth Mass from England as early at 1634. When I told Kevin about this he responded with, "wow, you are super American." But I said, "No, I'm just super white." My DNA results (which you get through the site after signing up) told me I am 100% European. I was kind of annoyed with that. How boring! I was hoping for a little flavour in there somewhere. 

But everyone everywhere has an interesting story to tell. You just have to know where to look. Some of my aforementioned family members who settled in Plymouth opened what I can only assume to be one of the very first taverns ever in America. It was called Coles Inn, and James Cole (my 11th great grandfather) was recorded to have had his liquor license taken away quite a few times due to rowdiness, selling liquor on Sundays, selling liquor to Native Americans, and the like. 

But one of the funniest things I've come across was a mention of his son, Hugh Cole, being fined for 20 shillings when he & his future wife were found guilty of "keeping company each with other in an undecent manner, at an unreasonable time and place, before marriage." What life must've been like in the 1600's, right?

My last story is this; Edward Bosworth (my 12th great grandfather) was born in England 1586. He along with his family boarded the Elizabeth V Dorcas to sail to Massachusetts in 1634. During the journey Edward got sick and he died on the ship as it was sailing into Boston Harbor. It has been recorded that in his final moments he asked other passengers to take him up to the deck so he could "view the promised land." He then passed away and his body was taken to shore and buried in Boston.

I'm so glad I found all this out right before Thanksgiving. It somehow makes the story of the Pilgrims and ships and disease all those years ago more real. And no matter if your family members sailed on the Mayflower or you're first generation American, people had to make sacrifices to get us to where we are today. And that's definitely worth remembering this holiday. 

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving

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