Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lessons from genealogy

I started on this journey because of something that didn't make sense in a family book on my grandfather's family. My grandfather in truth was who made me interested in our family history, although I didn't start researching until he had passed away. I really don't know what I thought about my family tree before I started, and I am not sure what I expected to find, but I have to say, that there has been many surprises.

I think one of the most shocking things, was to find out that with the exception of the Paxton and Timmins family, the Hardy family we have been stuck on, and the arrival of John Sunday in the United States before 1808, the rest of my family tree all has roots in the United States prior to the American Revolution. Thus my research has taught me a lot about the history of the United States.

One of the things that always interests me is the connection to different religions, and what it meant at the time. The Brownsons (Brunson) family came to the United States from England, and were members of a religious group that became the Puritans. The Trahern's were Quakers and then early Methodist Episcopalians. In South Carolina the Brunson family belonged to a church that was made up of a large portion of Huguenot immigrants to South Carolina. The Hinds, Bent, Henry and Corliss family were among the earliest settlers in Worcester county, Massachusetts, but though I know about their Church, I have not figured out it's ties. My English family were non conformists in England, and then Episcopalians ironically in the States. My child of a Baptist father and a Methodist mother became a minister of the Assembly of God Church. The religions of our ancestors is often a large part of their tale.

Another thing I learned was that only 1/3 of the colonists actually supported the American Revolution. So even though I descend from American Revolutionary soldiers such as Jesse Baker, Ripley Copeland, David Bent (father and son), and Isaac Brunson, I also descend from likely Tories or Loyalists, William Riddle and Jacob Pyburn, men who went to the Spanish Territory during or at the close of the American Revolution.

Migratory patterns are another fascinating aspect of genealogy. How, when and why people moved where they did. When Nehemiah Trahern went to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, he followed the path of many families associated with my research, the Pyburns, Brashears, and Walkers all came from Virginia to Lunenburg/Pittsylvania area in the mid 18th century. Dauswell Rogers was also in this area though he was born in Virginia. The Lincoln county, North Carolina German immigrants share surnames identical to those in Pennsylvania, which makes me wonder if they didn't come to North Carolina after arriving in Pennsylvania. Almost all my families originate in Virgina, North Carolina or South Carolina with the exception of my maternal grandmother's families. Many of my families were among the earliest settlers in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

This is why genealogy isn't just a list of names. It is literally the tale of how our country developed. These individuals are the people that made up our country. When you research your family tree, you end up learning a lot of history. Years ago I wrote this for my home page on my website. I think it tells the truth.

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 in the 1600 and 1700's 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 of
the brave. 

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