So technically, only my great grandmother was a legal citizen. Her mother and brother's didn't apply for citizenship, because based on her father's claim, they claimed they were already United States citizens through her father, but they weren't. A path to citizenship back then certainly seems easier than now, but was it?
Congress enacted a bill that required immigrants pass a literacy test in 1917, and in 1924 enacted further quotas on country of origin. Did you know that? It's one of the tragedies of World War 2. Immigrants, many Jewish, were unable to immigrate because of these laws. Sadly, many of them died because of it.
Nearly a 130 years after my great grandmother was born in 1889, it doesn't seem all that important that her family came here illegally. And why should it? She married a man whose paternal ancestor's had been in the country 1-10 years after the Mayflower arrived in Plymouth. His maternal ancestors were immigrants, but when they immigrated in 1840, you didn't need to apply for citizenship.
Her brother and sons served in World Wars I and II. Some of her grandchildren served lifetime careers in the Navy. And no one ever wondered if any of them were illegal. I doubt, because they were English, that they even cared that they were immigrants.
My maternal grandfather's families all resided in the Unites States long before the American Revolution, from German and British immigrants to native Choctaws. My father's family likewise has been in the United States since the 17th century. So when I look at my family history, it is for the most part, uniquely American, except for that one little branch.
Immigration has been a big topic now a days. Lots of opinions are expressed both in favor and against immigrants, legal and illegal. Yet, the truth is, for most of us, our families were all immigrants at some point. Now, yes, my grandfather's Choctaw ancestors are considered native, but the rest, they weren't always here, they came here to a country for economical, political or religious reasons.
It is the hallmark of what I believe our country stands for. Years ago, when I had my website, the home page had the following words. I wish more of us realized who we have been, and base who we are on that.
America ... land of the free, home of the brave.
Genealogy has taught me more about the truth in those words
than any history class I ever attended. While to the novice
genealogist, or the casual browser these pages may seem
mostly lists of names, to the experienced and avid genealogist
they tell stories of how our country developed and was made
into the land we know today.
The lives of these individuals are the basis for the foundation of
our country, the dangerous and wild paths they emigrated
along stretched this country from sea to shining sea. Each
generation has it's own story to tell ...
From the first colonists who came over two hundred and fifty years ago to a strange land looking for religious freedom,
To the Scot Irish immigrants who blazed the trails of the
wilderness looking for land they could own that was cheap or
To the Native Americans who struggled to maintain their land
and their culture amist the white intruders,
And to the European immigrants of the latter 19th and early
20th century who were seeking out a better opportunity, we
learn not only their names and their families, but can trace the
growth of our nation.
Each has faced their sorrows and their triumphs, laughter and
tears, and with courage and determination shaped for
themselves, their families and their descendants a land we can
call home. As you browse through these pages, some stories
are told, others remain hidden to be found and treasured. Amid
these pages you will find murderers and statesmen, preachers
and outlaws, mothers and warriors. Looking back allows us to
see that while we view our own lives as ordinary, time and
history can give it a different perspective. So journey along
with me through these pioneers of our past, their lives are
what made this country the land of the free and the home ofthe brave.