Matriarchal Lines in Genalogy

Ever since I began working on my family tree, I have a fascination with my matriarchal lines. By that, I don’t just mean my mother’s side of my family tree, though those are included. I mean any female lines of either side of my tree, whether that be my grandmothers, great-grandmothers, or generations even further back in my ancestral line.

Most trees are usually traced back through the husbands’ lines, only going as far back as the wives’ parents in most cases, if that. So in most cases, what you end up with for an ancestral tree is one that looks less like a y or v shape, and more like a diagonal line with a few nicks in it pointing the other direction. Part of this arises from the fact that people are more interested in tracing back their own surname, but part of it comes from the fact that in many cases, it can be quite difficult to find even the surnames of the wives involved in the family line.

Often this is because their names are misspelled, or have changed over the years they were alive for various reasons, or because the family name is different depending on who writes it down—I have one ancestor I always assumed had the last name of Bordewick or Bordewich, but recently I found her sister with the last name Johannesdatter—which is correct for the time and for their parentage, so I know it’s the right person…it just gets very frustrating when you add in the Scandinavian tendency towards patrilinial surnames…

Once I started working on my family tree, I found that, like most family trees, the majority of my family lines were more researched on the male lines over the female ones. The Hansen and Bordewick sides in particular. Either I had very little information more than a few generations back, or I had mostly or all patrilinic bloodlines traced, and little else.

When I began to look into genealogy online, at first I found very little to add to my tree, but now that more is available for search, I’ve had a bit more luck—almost all arising from looking into those mostly-ignored female lines of my family tree. I think that tends to be because of the tendency for women to marry and move away with their husbands, especially in the old days. So they fell out of touch with their side of the family, and hence only their birth date is shown on that side of the family tree for her family, or in some cases, a husband’s name and little else.

Because of this, I’ve discovered that the maternal lines turn out to be the easiest to look into. Especially when the names are slightly unusual. My best find on my tree came through a matrilineal link that, if I can confirm it, traces all the way back to the 10th century. It’s that kind of find that makes me even more inclined to continue looking into my matrilineal ancestors, and not just because I’m so fascinated by these lines.

I can’t wait to see what I find next.


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About this blog

This blog is maintained by two sisters who have had a life long interest in geneology.
Mika writes here mostly about our family (Hansen, Hillinger, Bordewick, Park, etc), and her search for more information.
Shannon mostly uses this space as a place to make the many stories written about and by her husband's family (Holly, Walker, Walpole, etc) available to the rest of the family, present and future.

Our blog is named Oh Spusch! mostly because Shannon is bad at naming things. The first post I put up includes a story about the time Walker's great grandfather took his whole family out to see a play and the littlest kept saying "Oh! Spusch!" No one ever figured out what she meant by that.