Your ancestral roots before North America?

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piston
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Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:16 pm

Probably many different ones, I know, but let's limit this genealogical quest to your paternal roots, the source of your surname or a derivation thereof (if you're a male).

Niort, in Poitou, France, is where my paternal ancestor who crossed the Big Pond was born, in 1641. He made the one-way trip at age 25.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niort
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jbuck919
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:52 pm

Brosseau is Languedocian, Goulette (grandmother's name) is Breton, and Yell (great-grandmother's name) is Norman (blue eyes, don't you know). I have no clue about my original paternal immigrant ancestor, but I am certain that there was an Indian one waiting for him when he got off the boat. :)

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piston
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:06 pm

Searching a bit deeper, I just found out that his parents were married (or located?) just west of Niort, in St. Vincent de Maillezais. That place has an interesting history of reclaiming land from marshes, known as the channel of the five monasteries ("cinq abbés") and of the Dutchmen.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

Auntie Lynn
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by Auntie Lynn » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:54 am

Grandpa D was from Lancashire. Walked across the Great Divide. Grabbed off huge, huge chunks of prime farmland in the Palouse. Great Grandpa McK. got run out of County Cavan by the potato famine. Came in at Ellis Island. Smart guy - went to work for President Lincoln as head of the railroads. ALSO went to the Palouse and grabbed off huge, huge chunks of prime farmland and - mirabile dictu - it remains in the family to this day...plus...

John F
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by John F » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:47 am

English. Francis may be derived from français or some such, but that's just a guess with no genealogical basis.
John Francis

piston
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:31 am

English. Francis may be derived from français or some such, but that's just a guess with no genealogical basis.
My spouse shares your last name but she's Wabanaki. At some point, during the eighteenth or early nineteenth century, most of these indigenous people adopted their baptismal name as their surname and, because their genealogical record largely begins with these baptismal records, it is no longer possible to know what her original family name was (a bit like African-American slaves), other than she is of the fisher clan. So, in her case, Francis is derived from François, just like Attean is derived from Etienne, Mitchell from Michel, Sockalexis from Jacques-Alexis, etc.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

John F
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by John F » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:12 am

I believe François and Français may originally have been the same and meant "Frenchman," but I haven't looked into it seriously. Surnames can indicate where a family was originally from, as with Ireland, Scott, and English. But as you say, they can be adopted by others for various reasons; African-American surnames seldom if ever relate to African origins.
John Francis

THEHORN
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by THEHORN » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:24 pm

My family is of Ukrainian and Russian Jewish origin, with possibly some Tatar admixture, since Some of my family,including me, look somewhat asian .
My mother's mother, the only one of my grandparents who lived long enough to for me know, and who died over 40 years ago, was a native of what is now called Chernivtsi in southwestern Ukraine, near the Romanian border .This region is called Bukovina because of the many beech trees there , and has long been inhabited by a mixture of Jews, Russians,Ukarainians and Romanians . She could speak German,Yiddish, Russian and Romanian .

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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by Teresa B » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:17 pm

Well, my actual last name is "Pullara"--Sicilian, can't deny it because my grandparents came from there! Mom's side was named "Crowther" which supposedly is from the British isles, and perhaps derived from musicians (big shock!) who played the Welsh instrument called the "crwth". :)

Teresa
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piston
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:52 pm

and perhaps derived from musicians (big shock!)
And my father did purchase land next to a marsh, did irrigate his land by carving a network of ditches (rigoles, in French) across the wet areas, did bring his heifers to a "commune," an island on the St. Lawrence accessible to anyone who could manage to get their young, immature cows there, and he slowly taught me how to make useless land into fertile land..... Go figure!
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jbuck919
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:40 pm

Teresa B wrote:Well, my actual last name is "Pullara"--Sicilian, can't deny it because my grandparents came from there! Mom's side was named "Crowther" which supposedly is from the British isles, and perhaps derived from musicians (big shock!) who played the Welsh instrument called the "crwth". :)
A perfect match. The Italian supplies all the vowels missing in the Welsh. :)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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piston
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:47 pm

How much newcomers in America retained their identities from elsewhere or just morphed into a vastly different identity remains a lively topic of research among cultural historians. Of course, there's a huge distance between anyone of us and our first ancestors on this continent, often a greater distance than with any cultural/ethnic/racial identities currently adapted/assimilated to the ways of America. Nevertheless, roots beyond this continent are still relevant in numerous ways.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

jbuck919
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:55 pm

piston wrote:How much newcomers in America retained their identities from elsewhere or just morphed into a vastly different identity remains a lively topic of research among cultural historians. Of course, there's a huge distance between anyone of us and our first ancestors on this continent, often a greater distance than with any cultural/ethnic/racial identities currently adapted/assimilated to the ways of America. Nevertheless, roots beyond this continent are still relevant in numerous ways.

All I can say is that all my great-grandparents were illiterate peasants and laborers, which means presumably that nearly all my ancestors before them were as well. Thanks for getting on the boat, guys, but am I interested in identifying with you? No, rather with identifying with the increasingly endangered American dream.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

piston
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:04 pm

Ahh, no. They have wisdom, these uneducated ancestors, much wisdom. Let them talk, you'll see! They are ready to address any of your issues, I guarantee!
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

piston
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:05 pm

Hell, we've been breaking down something they have been building for eons: family life.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

jbuck919
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:21 pm

piston wrote:Ahh, no. They have wisdom, these uneducated ancestors, much wisdom. Let them talk, you'll see! They are ready to address any of your issues, I guarantee!
I have cousins on both sides who have done considerable genealogical research. My father's maternal grandfather went to jail for bootlegging (my father's mother was forced to sell moonshine out the back door of the house). My mother's paternal grandfather went to jail for manslaughter when his wife died after he pushed her down the stairs. Those are my associations with "uneducated ancestors." I have no use for genealogical sentimentality, did not even like or find anything to admire in my grandfathers, and consider myself lucky in the parents I have, all things considered. Whenever I read a biography (such as the one about Verdi I'm reading now), I skip over the family history before the subject was born.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

piston
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:47 pm

Interesting that your recent ancestral background has led you to view genealogy as "sentimental." I can appreciate that. It was not all pretty, that's for sure. But my memories of my maternal grandfather are all very fond, without a glitch. He was a noble, illiterate man, who had weathered the Great Depression with nothing but courage in the face of adversity. He is my family hero! If only he could still visit me in my dreams....
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

piston
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:52 pm

And, as for objectivity, he is the one who always prefaced his stories by saying: "Me, I don't know, but that's what I've been told."
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

John F
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by John F » Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:30 am

piston wrote:Interesting that your recent ancestral background has led you to view genealogy as "sentimental." I can appreciate that.
I can't. Genealogy is about the history of one's own family, and while it may not be important to know (hereditary diseases and conditions aside), it's as personally relevant as any other kind of history and more so than most.

Knowing that an ancestor on my father's mother's side was John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachussetts Bay Colony, explains why my parents named me John Winthrop Nelson Francis. That's interesting to me if to no one else. It's also kind of cool, given the importance to me of classical music, that the family tree includes Winthrop Sargeant, the longtime classical music critic of the New Yorker. Not boasting, just saying. I know this because it's in a thick book of the Francis family's genealogy that my father passed along to us. (Yes, I'm in it.)

On my father's father's side, James Bicheno Francis immigrated to America from England in 1833, age 18, and rates a Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_B._Francis. No, we didn't write it. :) He was an engineer and invented a turbine that still bears his name and according to Wikipedia, is "the most common water turbine in use today"; you can find Francis turbines not only in Lowell but at Hoover and Grand Coulee Dams. He also had the foresight to build a watergate to protect downtown Lowell from flooding of the Merrimack and Concord Rivers. It was known as "Francis's Folly" until less than two years later when the rivers did flood and the watergate saved the city.

When my family was in England in 1956-7, we went to James B. Francis's birthplace in South Leigh, Oxfordshire. I don't remember whether we actually found the family home, probably not, but Pop did find the entry in the parish church's baptismal registry.

There's another thick book of my mother's family tree that we also have (I'm in that too). No celebrities on that side that I know of, but I haven't looked through it closely yet.

Of course different people have different attitudes toward their family's history. I've been indifferent to mine for most of my life and only got interested at about the time I joined the Medicare set. :)
John Francis

piston
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:44 am

Impressive, John F.! I also have the big family tree book on my father's side but its many lineages feature few notables other than clergymen and nuns. Nevertheless, a comprehensive genealogical work such as this, with its countless places of birth and marriage, can also be used to discover a family's whole diaspora, over a period of some twelve generations in my case. Early pioneers in rural Saskatchewan, textile mill workers in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, mine workers in northern Ontario, and so forth. It was also interesting to find, in my own lineage, how reproduction from one generation to the next could be tenuous, with only one male survivor in one of its links.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

Teresa B
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by Teresa B » Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:29 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Teresa B wrote:Well, my actual last name is "Pullara"--Sicilian, can't deny it because my grandparents came from there! Mom's side was named "Crowther" which supposedly is from the British isles, and perhaps derived from musicians (big shock!) who played the Welsh instrument called the "crwth". :)
A perfect match. The Italian supplies all the vowels missing in the Welsh. :)
:lol: :lol: :lol:
Teresa
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IcedNote
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by IcedNote » Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:07 pm

My dad is a mutt of mostly German origins. My uncle actually has a family tree that goes back to the Civil War or something, but I haven't looked at it much.

My mom is full-blooded Italian (born in the US, though), and her family comes from Naples.

My brother and I have always identified more with our Italian side, probably because it's so strong on that side of the family. My dad didn't identify with anything growing up.

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

sans maitre
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by sans maitre » Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:25 pm

my fathers side are old WASPs going back to William Brewster, the leader of the Plymouth colony. At one time they were a prominent family in Maine with a large canning operation, a governor and donated land for the largest state park, but proved the "three generations from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves" adage

my moms side are german and norwegian immigrants from the midwest

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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:45 pm

sans maitre wrote:my fathers side are old WASPs going back to William Brewster, the leader of the Plymouth colony. At one time they were a prominent family in Maine with a large canning operation, a governor and donated land for the largest state park, but proved the "three generations from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves" adage

my moms side are german and norwegian immigrants from the midwest
I have a friend who is a retired Episcopal priest. He is a direct descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. You would think his late wife could not beat that, but she was a direct descendent of John Rolfe and Pocahontas (incredibly, there are tens of thousands of these).

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

sans maitre
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by sans maitre » Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:57 pm

yes, there were about 30,000 people in New England in 1650, roughly 12 generations ago

at three kids per generation, any one of those puritans could have half a million descendants running around today

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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:25 pm

sans maitre wrote:yes, there were about 30,000 people in New England in 1650, roughly 12 generations ago

at three kids per generation, any one of those puritans could have half a million descendants running around today
Well yes, but if you consider any group, many lines die out or fail to approximate a geometric expansion. Just look at the paltry results we got on the thread about descendents of composers. The fact that descendents of the three famous figures we have mentioned between us flourish is coincidental.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

piston
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:26 pm

The Brewster pedigree is a tad problematic around here:
Ralph Owen Brewster (February 22, 1888 – December 25, 1961) was an American politician from Maine. Brewster, a Republican, was solidly conservative. Brewster was a close confidant of Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin and an antagonist of Howard Hughes.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

piston
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:27 pm

I can safely assert that most Mainers are more comfortable with the Margaret Chase-Smith pedigree....
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

sans maitre
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by sans maitre » Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:49 pm

My Maine pedigree is Baxter, not Brewster. The Brewster connection is my grandfather who married into the Baxter family

piston
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:54 pm

I don't know what to say. Really! You are, sir, of a most noble cause:
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piston
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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by piston » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:19 pm

And i guess that conflict, I mean really big conflict, is part and parcel of your genealogy:
Baxter was also a fierce opponent of the Ku Klux Klan of Maine, which supported the career of his political nemesis and successor Owen Brewster.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Your ancestral roots before North America?

Post by Ricordanza » Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:02 pm

jbuck919 wrote:I have a friend who is a retired Episcopal priest. He is a direct descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. You would think his late wife could not beat that, but she was a direct descendent of John Rolfe and Pocahontas (incredibly, there are tens of thousands of these).
Reminds me of one of my law professors, who told us students that his wife was both a Wharton and a Lippincott. I should add that this was in Philadelphia--a place where those have instant name recognition. A few years after that, I met a lawyer in New Jersey named Leland Stanford. Yes, he told me, he's related to that fellow, but somehow the money missed his side of the family, so he had to work for a living.

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