I moved across country for a college teaching job last September, and my mother came to visit for the first time last week. We had a fantastic genealogical adventure tracing the family roots of her father's grandfather, who moved away from this state sometime between 1887 and 1891.
We drove a few hours to their county armed with some names and cemeteries, and wondered if we could locate anyone. It turned out there is an awesome local history room in the public library, with a very skilled librarian library, and with her map and a pile of copied records we struck gold! We found, cleared, deciphered and took pictures of old weathered stones marking members of several family branches in four tiny country cemeteries--the one above is my fourth great grandma. Of particular RevGal interest, we spoke with a friendly and helpful pastor at the United Methodist Church (window above) on the site of the Presybterian church my fifth great-grandpa helped found in 1814!
1. Do you have any interest in geneaology?
In a roundabout way. My parents and one of my older sisters have done the research and spadework to find the clues to our families of origin. They have spent years doing this labor of love! My parents have published several books based on their research. It's amazing what we have learned by their efforts!
2. Which countries did your ancestors come from?
Primarily the Palatinate (Germany and depending on the borders at the time, France/Belgium). Also a lot from Ireland and Great Britain.
3. Who is the farthest back ancestor whose name you know?
Thanks to the research of my family, I can name relations on both sides of my family!
My dad's side emigrated from the Palatinate in 1740. Simon Hirsch was 18 years old. The family legend is that they left their home at night and escaped down the Rhine River, went by ship to Rotterdam, and then on to America. There was intense persecution by the Catholics at the time, and the legend has it that they left a candle burning in the window and escaped death or coerced conversion from Lutheranism.
On my mom's side, we know that the immigrant couple, William and Hannah Morrow, came from Calarney in Donegal County in 1787. At that time they had only a 2 year old son. They were also Protestants, and it is likely they responded to the pressures of the time (Parliament refusing Ireland's bid for sovereignty, spats within the Anglican and Catholic churches, poor harvests) and moved to America.
4. Any favorite saints or sinners in the group?
written about her before, but my thrice-great grandmother, Ellen Brown Hickox Stewart, was an evangelist in the mid 19th century. It's still my dream to write a book about her extraordinary faith and ordinary life. Her book is part of my personal collection.
The Life of Mrs. Ellen Stewart: Together with biographical sketches of other individuals : also a discussion with two clergymen, and arguments in favor of ... together with letters on different subjects, (yes - that is the title!)
What was most amazing about her was her resilience and faith as an abolitionist and suffragette long before either cause was popular. Then add to that her calling as a preacher and evangelist... and wow. My own faith seems very small!
(This photo is one from my family's archives. It was taken in Shawnee, Kansas in the late 1800s. Notice her bright blue eyes, starched collar and the bonnet!)
I guess Ellen would fall into the "saint" category, though I am sure if you shake our family tree long enough, the nuts will fall down in greater numbers.
5. What would you want your descendants to remember about you?
Hmmmm.... My sense of humor and perseverance. That I loved my family and friends and that I LOVED life! And maybe, just maybe, I'll get that great American novel written about Ellen...
Bonus: a song, prayer, or poem that speaks of family--blood or chosen--to you.
A famous relative (distant) is Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women and many other books. Attributed to her is this poem:
'He prayeth best who loveth best
All things, both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all'