Where We're From – Ireland

Though it is a relatively minor part of my family tree, this is where my search started. Looking for my maternal grandfather's maternal line in Ireland. I remember his mother, who died when I was in my early teens, and I knew for a long time that that branch was Irish, though I don't recall now how much I knew about where my great-grandmother was born.

When my grandfather died in 1991, I realized he was the last in the direct descent of that line for me, and I had very little contact with the few others that remained in that family line. His uncle George, his mother's younger brother, died shortly after my grandfather, and though his mother's remaining sister, Margie, survived, she was well into her ninties by that point, and remembered very little. Not to mention the fact that I had little contact with her.

However, through papers my grandfather left behind and conversations with family members over the years, I was able to cobble together bits and pieces, and this past year, I have managed to pull together quite a bit more information on one side of her family tree. I still don't have much, but I do have more than I had.

It turns out the Currans (the maternal side) were from Northern Ireland, and as such are what we in the states call Scots Irish. The Park side is still mostly unknown, possibly from Northern Ireland, or maybe from somewhere along the eastern coast, as I have heard places like Derry and Dublin in connection with my great-great grandfather. I keep hoping I will find more, given the luck I finally had with the Currans this past year.

A map of the locations:

View My (Northern) Irish roots in a larger map

1. Belfast, Northern Ireland
According to my records, I believe Robert and Elizabeth married here, and according to the family story, when they decided life in America wasn't working out the way they hoped, this was where they returned.

2. Antrim, Antrim, Northern Ireland
This is where my great-great-great grandparents Thomas Curran and Jennie/Jean Blair married and lived, if the records I have found are accurate. The two had three daughters I am certain of, and possibly as many as five other children, though I have been unable to find a birth certificate for my great-great grandmother as of yet.

And that's all I have at the moment, though I'm hoping to soon find info on the Park side, as I said above.

This side was the brick wall I have been most conscious of since I began my family search, and since finding my great-great-great Curran grandparents, I have also found their father's names. I'm hoping to find even more, but I don't know how much further I'll be able to go back without going there myself.

As always, if any of my family reading this knows more about this branch, particularly if you have any records or documentation, I'd love to get together to exchange info.

Next up: Norway! (should be interesting to see how it stacks up against Denmark… :D)

Where We're From – Wales

My maternal grandmother's parents were both born in Wales before the turn of the century, though they did not meet until they were both on the West coast of Canada. Grandma was even named for her father's home town of Merthyr Tydful. Until recently, I believed that this side of the family had always been in Wales. I've since come to learn that there are rumours of a line that traces back to the Huguenots, but I've no actual proof of that yet.

I'm very fond of this side because I have a fondness for the Celts, though I couldn't tell you if the fondness came from knowing my family were Welsh and Gaelic, or if I'm fond of those branches because they are Celtic. But either way, this is one of my favorite branches of my family tree.

For a small country, Wales has its own divisions, just like any other. In this case, there is Northern Wales, and there is Southern Wales, and the dialects are distinctly different for each. My family keeps part of this tradition alive in the name my mother chose as her "grandmother" name when my niece was born: Nain (pronounced like the number nine). This is the Northern Welsh word for "grandmother." The Southern version is Gu (pronounced Gee). Her own maternal grandmother, whose parents were from Northern Wales, went by the name Nain, and I'm very glad she's keeping that tradition alive.

Most of this information came from family documents, and though I do have a good amount of locations, most center around Nain's side of the family, as I have almost nothing about her husband's family before his birth in Merthyr Tydful. The locations are what I was able to determine to the best of my knowledge, though boundaries and names have changed over time, just like everywhere else. Anyone who thinks they might have more information on this line, I would love to talk to you. I have so many gaps here that it's hard to know where to start looking, especially given the very common names in my family—Daniel, Hannah, Benjamin…and the worst of all, Jones. But the Howells side is only a little better. I keep looking, though. Just in case. At least, until I get rich enough to go to Wales myself to look up the records.

A map of the locations (and do check back at the old maps—I've updated them all to embed them in the entries now):

View Welsh Ancestry Map in a larger map

1. Merthur Tydfil, Southern Wales
This was where Daniel Jones, my maternal great-grandfather, was born, and both of his parents (and most or all of his siblings) died here. The location is far from where is parents were born (they were closer to the west coast of Wales), but I believe his father came here looking for a better place to farm.

2. Towyn, Monmothshire, Northern Wales
This is where my great-great grandfather Gabriel Howells was born. His mother also died here, many years after Gabriel and his family had left Wales for Canada.

3. Penrhiwceiber, Southern Wales
My great grandmother Eliza was born here in 1885, and her family lived here for many years, her father working as a stonemason for the coalmine nearby before he decided that the work was too unhealthy, and the whole family moved to Canada.

4. Castel Bach, Northern Wales
This is where Hywel Gabriel, my great-great grandfather's father died, in 1871.

5. Caio, Southern Wales
This is where Benjamin Jones, Daniel Jones's father, was born in 1865.

6. Newcastle Emlyn, Southern Wales
This is where Hannah Griffiths (later Jones) was born in 1863.

7. Barmouth, Northern Wales
I believe this is where Selina Roberts (later Howells) was born in 1846.

8. Dolgellau, Merioneth, Northern Wales
This is where Hywel Gabriel was born.

9. Hafod Y Meirch, Northern Wales
This is the place where Lewis Edwart, a craftsman who was returning to his home after a job, died.

And that's all I have at the moment. Still one more location than the US map, and I do hope to find more information to expand it as time goes on.

Almost all the information I have came directly from family or photos, but I do hope at some point to get more information on this side, as my information is scant at best. I did have one location I wasn't able to place—Gabriel and Selina's wedding took place somewhere in Northern Wales, but I wasn't able to find the location on the map, so I'll have to keep looking for that one.

As always, if any of my family reading this knows more about this branch, particularly if you have any records or documentation, I'd love to get together to exchange info.

Next up: Ireland! (Will probably be tiny, though, especially compared to these last two)

Where We're From – Denmark

So Denmark is the first country outside the US where I know I have many locations, though Germany did end up being a bit larger than I expected.

I am what I consider one quarter Danish. My paternal grandmother's parents were both Danish immigrants, and though I know now that it's possible that her mother had at least some German blood, and that the Danes mixed constantly with the Swedes and Norwegians, I still see this as one of the purer strains of my family tree (the other being the Welsh branch, which will be next).

The information on this list comes from a number of sources, including a website done by one of my grandmother's cousins who still resides in Denmark, and several bits of information I managed to pull from the Family Search website. However, because of the way I received my information, the city/county/shire/region names are a little muddled, so feel free to point out things that seem obvious, because while I know these things are a bit off, figuring them out got a bit confusing. Anyone with more specific information about locations would be very appreciated.

For those unfamiliar with Danish Geography, my family comes from two major locations in Denmark: Sealand, the island to the east, which is the location of Copenhagen on the eastern coast of the island; and Jutland, which is the peninsula that sticks up from Germany, to the west of Sealand. For those curious, I've marked which area each location is found in. Basically, if it's Sealand, it's my grandmother's maternal line, and if it's Jutland, it's her paternal line. The two lines never crossed until her parents met on the boat coming back from the to visit their families right at the start of World War I.

A map of these locations:

View My Danish Ancestry in a larger map

1. Fredriksberg (Sealand)
Before my great grandmother Oline came to the US, she lived for a time here, in a suburb of Copenhagen, working with families as a cook or seamstress, I believe, and in particular working for the agriculture Minister, who was apparently from her family's area in the center of Sealand.

2. Alsted-Flinterup/Fjenneslev (Sealand)
Oline was born in Fjenneslev on her parents' farm, and both of them died here, buried in the churchyard at Alsted-Flinterup, the neighboring church.

3. Give, Vejle (Jutland)
My great-great grandmother Else died here in the mid-thirties, long after her son Holger came here to the US, but even before her death, much of her family had roots in this area.

Her father was born in Brienhoed here, and both of his parents were born in the area also, as were his mother's parents and her paternal grandfather, who died there as well. So the family had at least four generations in that location.

4. Thyregod, Vejle (Jutland)
My great-grandfather Holger's family has a lot of history in this part of the country. He and his father even helped to build the Thyregod train station, and it was the money from that job that allowed Holger to come to the US.

Many generations of his family were born and died here—seven, if I'm counting correctly. I won't go into too much detail here, but I will put all the separate locations on the map to show the variations.

5. Ringive (Jutland)
This is where Holger's mother was born.

6. Slots-Bjergby, Soro (Sealand)
This is where Oline's mother's mother was born, though I am uncertain how long she lived there. I believe she spent a good part of her early life working on other people's farms, though I'm not certain where, or how many she worked on before meeting her husband and settling down.

7. Knudstrup (Sealand)
This is where Oline's father, Rasmus Hansen, was born, not too far from where he later owned his farm.

8. Selde, Viborg (Jutland)
Five generations of my grandfather's family were born in this location, starting with his great-great grandfather Peder Christiansen and working back from him. Peder was born there, and his parents were both born and died there, as did many of their ancestors going back another three generations on Peder's father's side.

This marks the northernmost part of Holger's family line as I have it recorded at this time.

9. Omvra Molle, Sonder Omme, Ribe(Jutland)
Birthplace of Catrine Pedersdatter, Peder Christansen's wife, and also where her mother died.

10. Sonder Omme(Jutland)
Where Catrine's father, Peder Terkelsen, was born, and where he and his parents died.

11. Givskov, Give(Jutland)
Frantz and Maren, parents of Mathias Frandsen, my great-grandfather's great-great grandfather, died here in the mid-1700s.

12. Hoven (Jutland)
Where Mette Christensdatter, one of my great-grandfather's ancestors, died.

13. Orbaek, Rinkobing (Jutland)
Where Anne Andersdatter, Mette's daughter, was born.

14. Oster Nykirke (Jutland)
Where Maren Mathiasdatter's parents, Maren and Mathias both died, and where her mother was born.

15. Adum (Jutland)
Five different generations of Holger's paternal line was born or died here.

This location also marks the westernmost point my great-grandfather's family lived in Denmark that I have recorded.

16. Assing (Jutland)
Where Margrete Petersdatter, one of Holger's paternal ancestors, was born.

17. Vester Sejrup (Jutland)
Where Frantz Jacobsen was born, another of Holger's paternal ancestors.

18. Lintrup (Jutland)
Where Terkel Knudsen Dovr was born.

19. Bindesboll, Adum (Jutland)
Where Las Nielsen died in 1625, the oldest person to be marked on this map.

20. Grindsteddal, Grindsted (Jutland)
Where Karen Christensdatter Dahl was born in 1600.

And that's all I have. And more than double the amount of locations I have for the US, despite having more recent information, and more complete information there. This map does not include any marriage locations, though most of them were probably married in the towns either where they were born or where they died, or very nearby.

Most of the records I have are for Holger's father's mother's line, as the others all peter out by 1750 or even 1800, but her family goes back well into the Medieval ages. I was shocked when I started to tackle this last week and realized just what a task I had ahead of me, so I never finished it in time to post last Friday. Hopefully I'll manage to get the Welsh map up faster, though I know I've got several locations on that one, as well. And the Norwegian one should be pretty interesting, too.

As always, if any of my family reading this knows more, I'd love to hear it.

Next up: Wales! (I'll try to have that one up in a more timely fashion)

Womens History Month -- Week 5

March 27 — Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?

I know most of the immigration stories from each of my lines, and I've found one record at Ellis Island.

Elizabeth Park (nee Curran) was my first female ancestor in the US, and came over from Ireland with her new husband in the late 1800s. They settled in Philadelphia and had nine children here before things got too difficult and she and her husband decided to move the family back to Ireland, where the children finished their childhood, and ended up eventually moving to Canada, where my great-grandmother Mary Park met her husband.

Oline Hansen is the ancestor for whom I have an Ellis Island record, though it wasn't for her original immigration to America, but a trip she made coming back from visiting her family. She came here in the early 1900s from Denmark, though I'm not sure precisely when, but she returned to visit her family about the same time WWI started in Europe. Because of that, she was stuck in Denmark for a time, and another Dane who had been traveling home to visit his family decided to court her while they were there. The two were married about a year later.

The third major immigration story that comes to mind is that of my great-grandma Dora. My grandfather's family came here to the US in the mid-thirties because of the Nazi rise to power. The family was Jewish, and his father's businesses had failed do to their programs. When they arrived in Ellis Island, the uncle that was supposed to meet them (I'm not clear if this was her relation or her husband's, or one of their sisters' husbands) never showed, so they ended up getting help from a former neighbor from Frankfurt. After they caught up with the errant uncle, the family settled in Memphis (a location which leads me to believe it was her husband's sister's husband), where her husband suffered a stroke. Dora did all the work after that while her children finished their schooling, working as a cook in hospitals and other institutions.

I'm sure there are other immigration stories, but those are the ones that immediately stand out to me. Most of the rest moved to Canada.

March 28 — Do you remember your mother’s best friend? Your grandmother’s? How and where did they meet? How long were they friends? What activities did they share?

A number of answers came to me on this one, but none really seemed to fit the bill until I remembered Nana's friend Teeny. She and her husband were very long-time friends of my grandparents, and I remember thinking of her very much like an extra grandmother because we saw her so often throughout my childhood. I'm not entirely sure where they met, though my guess is that Teeny was at one point helping with the R Shoppe ladies, though I could be wrong. (I have a feeling my father will let me know if he does)

March 29 — Create a free Footnote Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. Some of you may have created your own card back in September 2009 following Sheri Fenley’s post over at The Educated Genealogist. This time, the card is for your female ancestor. Tell us about who you've selected and why and then post a link to what you've created.

I've been focusing so much on Dad's family, that I wanted to make sure more of the women in mom's family got in here, so I decided to do her earliest female Canadian Ancestor, Selina Howells, my great-great grandmother.

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

I think the one thing I really got from both sides of the family, male and female, but most especially from Nana and my mom, was that learning was important. It's something I've carried close to my heart all my life, and been a guiding principle for me. If I could wrangle it, I would love being a "professional student," but it's not something that tends to make a lot of money… ;)

March 31 — Pick one female ancestor and write a mini-profile (500 words or less).

Had to think about this one and go back through all the previous posts before I could decide, but I think for this one, I'm going to go with Leonharde Bordewick, my grandfather's grandmother.

Leonharde Bordewich was born in Nordland in 1861. She was the second child of her father, Johan Petter Bordewich's second marriage. She grew up in the small town of Lyngvaer in the Lofoten Islands, where her father ran a small business. In 1887, she married a cousin, Henrick Bergthon Bordewick, and the two had three sons together: Bjarne, Harald, and Hans Henrik.

When fishing grew scarce in Norway during the late 1800s, her husband and his brother decided to try to set up a trading venture between Antwerp and the Lofoten Islands. Henrick and Leonharde moved their family from Lofoten to Antwerp to set up one end of the business. Unfortunately, their family name sounded too English to the Belgians, who had supported the Dutch in the Boer war, and the family was shunned. So they moved again, this time to Grimsby in England, where their sons finished their schooling. Before any of the boys could move on to university, though, the family moved again, this time to Vancouver, B.C, Canada, where Leonharde's younger brother was living and working at the time.

The couple settled there and lived there quite happily until their deaths; his in 1930, and hers in 1944. Leonharde lived long enough to see her grandson married, and a few years later, in 1942, met that grandson's eldest child.

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.