Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Tracing My Heritage

At some point when I was a little kid someone told me that I am Irish, English, German and Welsh. The family names that I knew were Donnelly, Jacobs and Jones. Pretty standard names from those regions, so not a lot to go on otherwise. No one in my family was particularly interested in our lineage or family's history, so aside from some stories I've heard here and there I don't really know a lot about where I come from. Back in the day my great uncle traced the Donnelly family line back to its native Ireland, but we aren't exactly a close family so any information he passed along has fallen by the wayside for us black sheep. When we went to Ireland I tried to find a couple of second cousins using LinkedIn and Facebook to no avail. My mom was able to give us some pretty vague information about another family name, but otherwise I considered it a dead end. As far as my dad's side of the family is concerned, as he and I are estranged getting in touch isn't really an option. My sister still speaks with him and is in contact with his brothers and their kids, so she has a better grasp on who is who and where it all comes from. Still not enough to do any deep research but something.

As it turns out my best friend has become very interested in genealogy and has been tracing her family's roots back to Washington and Jefferson. She's applying to become a daughter of the American Revolution. I'm pretty sure that's enough cred right there.

Today I jokingly said that I'd pay her to look into my family's history as my actual family has been no help. I kid you not, within a couple of emails between her, my sister and me, she had traced my dad's side of the family back to one John Williamson, circa 1855. Origin?

In doing a quick search, Clan Williamson either derives from Clan MacKay or Clan Gunn, both from the Northern Highlands. So this explains my fascination with dark & mysterious fictional men of the kilt. This weekend we went to a Scottish Festival and when ordering a Belhaven Scottish Ale, the man next to me asked if I was Scottish I had to sadly reply in the negative. Alas, just a few days later I can say as recently as 1855 my family was in Scotland. Hooray!

For a different branch of my dad's family, she has us going back to England of the 1700s, where one of my male ancestors was a "rate collector" (collector of local property taxes, likely not a very popular man in the village). 

I'm definitely looking forward to hearing more. My sister has signed up for a few services and she's gotten in on the research as well. I have a feeling the next couple of days are going to be incredibly fun. I can't wait to hear what comes next. 

1 comment:

  1. I was always interested in our heritage and asked alot of questions. Unfortunately, noone was able to really give me any good answers. On Grandpa's side I have the names all the way back to your great-great grandparents. if you want them I'll send them to you. It's exciting that you've been able to trace your father's side of the family back so far. Good luck and keep me posted.


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