Where I Come From

I always set aside Thursday to write up something for this blog, and to go through other people's blog-posts in anticipation of working on my tree each Friday. There's one thing that always upsets me, as I start working through everything. So much of what I find online about Genealogy focuses so heavily on the US ancestors, and stops at those borders, that there seems to be almost nothing for those few of us whose ancestors have not been here long.

Now, I know…this is changing. Slowly and for the better. And that family trees are almost as individual as thumb-prints, unless you're siblings. BUT…it still bugs me. So, in order to get myself past this without ranting, I thought I'd post about where my roots do come from.

Both of my parents were born outside the US. My father on a US Army base in Germany to a US Air Force Lieutenant and her retired Army husband. My mother was born in Canada, the daughter of two first-generation Canadians. She moved to the US with her parents in the sixties when her father went looking to find himself a better job, and my father came back to the states when his parents returned here not too long after his birth.

Both parents did have one other root in the US. My father's mother was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the first-born child of Danish immigrants who met on a boat when her father first came to the US, and her mother was returning from a visit with her family. My mother's paternal grandmother was also born in the US. She and all her siblings were born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before their parents chose to return to Ireland, where they had immigrated from.

So as you can see, my roots just aren't very deep here in the states. Most of my ancestors weren't here before the turn of the century, and I'm fairly sure that none of them were in the Civil War, or any other historic US wars. I know that three of my four grandparents were in the Armed forces in World War II, along with several of their siblings, one of which died on the border between Canada and the US when he was heading out overseas for the very first time. About World War I, I have only one connection, that of the Senft family, who were interred in England for being Prussian nationals. There may be other connections to World War I, I just haven't found them yet. I'd be more surprised if I found none.

So where do I feel I am from? Well, I grew up in Seattle, Washington, and most of my mother's family is still in Canada, centered mostly around Vancouver, BC. So I spent a good deal of time there as a child, visiting family, including all my great-aunts and -uncles, and even my great-grandmothers on that side. I've always felt a bit of Canadian pride because of that fact.

Then there is my Germanic roots. I say Germanic here to account for the fact that most of this part of my ancestry gets a bit murky before World War I. This is a bit further afield for me, as we only ever managed to visit the country once—though I am glad we made it there at all. The reason I list this after my Canadian roots is that that was where my grandfather and father were both born. My father as an American citizen because he was born on a US military base to two American citizens, my grandfather as the son of two German Jews, who managed to get their family away from the madness of Nazi Germany just in time (see above link). There is also a slight connection on my other grandfather's side of the tree, though much farther away and longer ago. Feeling German comes surprisingly easy to me, and most, if they were to look at me, would probably be able to tell that I am of German descent.

After that come my grandmothers' families.

My paternal grandmother's parents were both born in Denmark. He on Jutland, the part of Denmark attached to the continent, she on the main island, some miles west of the Danish capital of Copenhagen. At the moment, this is the side of the family I am having the most luck with. I have a pair of friends in Denmark with whom I speak on a daily basis, and both have been incredible helps in translation and understanding the ins and outs of the country, including the locations both of my great-grandparents were born. With their help, and no small bit of luck, I've managed to extend my family well back into the Middle Ages.

My maternal grandmother's parents both came from Wales. My great-grandmother first with her parents when she was still a girl, and my great-grandfather as a young man with a group of friends. Upon meeting my great-grandmother, he never looked back, and only returned to Wales once to visit his mother before she died. Though I actually only have names and general dates, I do feel somewhat close to this side of the family. I have a fascination with the Celts, which of course includes Wales or as they prefer to be called, Cymru. I suppose to some, my Welsh ancestry is obvious—I look like my mother, who looks like her mother, who looks like her mother…etc. So I know it's there. This is, unfortunately, one of my dead-ends in my family tree. Though we have names back through four (and in a few cases more) generations, I have little to no idea where to start in researching these roots. But I keep trying.

My final roots reach a little further back: my maternal grandfather's mother, as I said, was born in the US, but her parents were Irish immigrants—from Belfast, North Ireland, I believe. I've recently made a bit of headway on this side of the family when I found her parents' death records, which included their parents' names. I still don't have anything beyond that, though, though this is the family that I have had the fascination with the longest.

His father's side were Norwegian, from a long line of fishers, though at some point, they found their roots in Germany in a town called Bardoweick. Until recently, this was my most-researched family line, and one branch, if proven, may go back before William the Conqueror. Between this line, the Germanic roots, and the Danish ancestry, it seems that a little over half of my roots come from this part of Europe, with most of the rest coming from Great Britain, or even just the Celtic nations of Great Britain.

So really…I'm Scandinavian/Germanic/Celtic. I just happened to have been born in America.

And that's who I am and where I come from.

My Lines: Surname Saturday
My Brick Walls


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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.