Why Search Your Ancestors - History of Ethnic Origins




Why Search Your Ancestor's
      In 1790, when Edmund Burke wrote "Reflections on the Revolution in France," he included this thought - "People will not look forward to prosperity who never look backward to their ancestors."
      It certainly is an interesting thought and even though many of us never said it quite so well, the same ides has been responsible for putting a great many people of an exciting trail of ancestorial discovery.
      With all the interest in the subject, genealogy is changing its complexion.  How often have you thought of the person who spent his or her time digging into old records as just "a bit unusual"?  Those dusty tombs, everyone imagined were strictly the province of scolars and retired folks - people who were either paid to look into the past or people who didn't have anything better to do.
      But more and more people are beginning to realize that family heritage is for everyone and there really is a great deal more to the subjecy than blowing dust off old records or squating in a grave yard trying to read inscriptions on 200 year old headstones.
      Inentity - That's what you'll have when you've completed your family heritage research.  It wouldn't be fair to say you have no identity now, but unless you've alraedy done considerable genealogical digging, it's fairly safe to assume you have no real explanation for your identity - and that's a shame.  You really don't know how much excitement you're missing.
      Genealogical research may not bring you to the edge of your chair at first because in this endeavor knowledge comes in bits and pieces and needs to be put together like a jigsaw puzzle.  But when the social religious, political and economic aspects of your ancestor's lives begin to fall inro place, like many who have thrilled to their own discoveries before you, you'll wonder that so much could have really happened in your family.
      But identity isn't the only benefit to be derived from your efforts.  If you ask the right questions, you'll also begin to expand your knowledge of a great many historical events.  You just cannot trace your heritage without becoming very curious about the places and events that shaped their lives.
      America has always been a melting pot of races and religions.  So it doesn't really matter if you're red, white, yellow or black, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Morman, Quaker, etc. - your family heritage begins with you.



Unless your heritage is American Indian,
your ancestors came to American shores
from someplace else in the world.
Most new arrivals flocked to areas already settled
by fellow countrymen who had immigrated earlier.


History Of Ethnic Origins
      Would you be adventurous enough to explore a new land - a land
where no one else had gone before ?
      Would you be willing to gather up your family after hearing about
a new area, all possessions you could carry and move to a place
you know nothing about ?
      Think about it for a moment.  Would a draught, a flood, a plague
of locusts, an earthquake, a volcanic eruption, religious persecution,
overpopulation, the lure of gold and untold riches, hate or lack of
freedom ?  You'll have to admit whatever spurred you to make a drastic
move would have to hold out the promise of a substational reward.
      Yet, millions of people did just that - came by the hundreds, by the
thousands to the shores of America looking for a chance to improve
 their lot in this new, growing country.  Some of them came willingly,
some against their will, some were destined for greatness, others
barely escaped the poverty, depression and tyranny they left behind.
      On 28 Oct 1886, President Grover Cleveland accepted a gift from
France saying, "We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home."
      The 152 foot high statue was placed on a 150 foot pedestial.  Ever
since 1886, the simple words on the base of the statue have been
tempting and beckoning people to our shores.


" Give me your tired, your poor,"  Emma Lazarus wrote.
" Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.
The wrethed refuse of your tearning shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

      Unless your heritage is American Indian, your ancestors came to
American shores from someplace else in the world.  At some point
during your family heritage research, that information might be an
important clue to when your family became "American."


      William Penn, the aristocratic son of an english Admiral had
 his own problems when be became a Quaker - he was thrown
out of school and sentenced to jail.  Undaunted, he continued
converting people to this new religion and when his father died,
Penn took the money owed him by the Crown in the form of a
 land grant in America.
      Penn and his colonists arrived in 1682 and immediately negotiated with
the Indians to purchase land.  The Quakers were pacifists and believed in true democracy.  They would not take arms against the Indians nor was anyone
of a different faith denied access to their settlement.  In just 2 short years, the
capital of Penn's Province, Philadelphia, had over 2,500 residents.  7,000
people had made their home in PENNSYLVANIA.


      The Scotch - Irish were among frequent arrivals in
the colonies. Between 1720 and 1775, over a quarter
million Scotchmen ( who had been sent to Ulster in
Northern Ireland by James I, to keep the Irish under
control ) settled in places like the Shenadoah Valley
of Virginia, the Pledmont county of North Carolina
and all along the Eastern seaboard.  By the time the
colonists declared their independence from England,
one out of ten American settlers were Scotch - Irish.
These hearty people helped their new homeland in
another way - when they found all the good land along the coast was
already taken, these Scotch - Irish became the corps of pioneers who
took wagon trains West to settle America's heartland.
      Each Ethnic group had to gain acceptance in their adopted country;
each had to undergo changes in their lifestyle and adjustments to their
culture in order to take places in established comminities and each of
these groups has made a contribution to the foundation of America.
This country was built by people who had the courage to leave the
familiar and endure the hardships of the unfamiliar.  That kind of
proud heritage is a very special commodity - DON'T let it get away.

Appendix  of  Ancestorial  Discovery


      Years ago, it was a rare family
indeed that didn't have strong ties
to a church.  Of course the first
place to try, is the local church
your ancestors may have attended.
      Making your first genealogical
trip to a cemetery will be interesting -
provided you can find the cemetery,
no kidding.  Several hundred years
ago, it wasn't unusual for people to
be buried on their own property or
in small private cemeteries and
sometimes these burial locations
have been incorporated into other cemeteries, or sometimes are still
private plots, but so grown over with weeds and tall trees that finding
them is extremely difficult.
      It may seem strange to suggest that you could enjoy people who
probably died many, many years ago, once you get truly "caught up"
in the spirit of the times in which your ancestors lived, you'll find
yourself getting to "know" and "understand" them quite well.  In fact,
it's safe to say you'll share their ups and downs, their sorrows, their
periods of prosperity and their moments of depression.
      And as these personality traits work their way out of people's
memories and long forgotten letters or documents, many of your
ancestors will really "come to life" before your eyes.  You'll realize all
this is happening when you begin to talk about your ancestors as
though they were alive and living just down the street.



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