Every six months, we celebrate a child’s birthday in my house and today, my oldest, my baby girl, the first person to call me Mommie, turns three.
I’m not crying, it’s just the pine-y scent of our fresh Christmas tree. No, really, I’m fine.
And while I would like to spend this entire post bragging on her and talking about how amazingly wonderful she is (because she IS), that’s not the direction of this article.
On January 29, 1664, my paternal grandfather’s ancestors arrived in New Amsterdam, NY; that’s a mere 44 years after the pilgrims landed in Plymouth. Through the years, they made their way down through New York, New Jersey, and into good ole Pennsylvania where they owned 100 acres in Amity Township, Berks County according to the 1734 census, a list that also included Mordecai Lincoln, great-grandfather of Abe Lincoln. In 1719 and 1744 they signed petitions to make Amity separate from Philadelphia and my family has continuously occupied Berks County ever since.
My paternal grandmother’s grandparents were from a town near Krakow, Poland and sailed to Ellis Island where they were logged as Russian although they were Polish. They also made their way to Reading in Berks County, where they and their ancestors have stayed.
Jumping over to my mom’s side, my maternal great-grandfather was raised in an orphanage in County Limerick, Ireland before immigrating to the United States where he lived just outside Philadelphia, and raised a family including my granddad who was born in 1907. My granddad eventually moved to and owned a farm in Montgomery County, where he married my Gran and raised seven children, including my mom.
I could go on and on, but my point is that I have a long, rich family history that I’m excited to share with my daughter and son as they get older. I have relatives who have been here longer than we’ve been the United States, ancestors who fought in the American Revolution, and ancestors who made their way to America not so many generations ago. It’s so interesting to know where you are from and the family lineage that leads down to you and your children.
While I personally haven’t used Ancestry.com or other genealogy sites because my parents are their own family historians, I think it is a great idea to do so. Even if your past is murky, and I assure you, my family’s history isn’t always a shining example of a nuclear family, embrace it and acknowledge its quirks. Knowing your own history is important; it helps connect us to something bigger, share a bit of ourselves, and learn not only our own history, but the history of the world through people who shaped it but might otherwise be unacknowledged.
My kids can be proud to know where their German, Polish, Irish, Dutch, Lithuanian, and other heritage comes from. And if they ever have to create a family tree for school, they’ll be able to provide a whole forest.
Do you know your family history? How far back can you trace?
And a very VERY happy 3rd birthday to my Sweet Peach!!