Happy Independence Day

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Over the past year, I have learned about so many of my ancestors who lived here in the United States before what is now celebrated as Independence day. I can only imagine how elated many of them were when news finally spread to them that the Declaration of Independence had been adopted and that the land where they dwelled was now declared a new nation. This day brought them a new kind of hope and it changed their lives forever! I know that for most of us we just think of this day as a day for fireworks and grilling; but we should never forget that this date was the official beginning of our great nation. This nation was built by imperfect people, but they had great passion, perseverance, bravery and dedication to a cause that ultimately would change the world.

The Little Duke

One of the books we read for school this year is The Little Duke by Charlotte Mary Yonge. It is a great story and very well written. It has some dated language and some of the names are hard to pronounce, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. There were definitely things I had to stop and clarify, but I think this is a benefit. It allows for better comprehension and it makes the story more relatable if they truly understand what is going on and can put themselves in the story. If the records are accurate this is their 34th great-grandfather, so it makes it even more special to learn about someone in our own family.

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This true story is about Richard the Fearless, the Little Duke, who became the Duke as a child. The description of the back cover of the book says,

Richard the Fearless, the great grandfather of William the Conqueror, became Duke of Normandy at just 8 years old, after the assassination of his father. The Little Duke tells the heroic tales of his trials at home in Normandy and at the court in France where he was a prisoner.

My children would beg me to read more, but as we got close to the end they begged me not to finish just yet. They were sad to be done with the story.  This historical novel makes history come alive for children. They get the opportunity to “get to know” a figure from the past. They get the chance to see that kings and dukes were once little children too. One of my favorite parts of the book, was when they found a chest that contained Richard’s father’s  (William Longsword) “treasure”. The priest explained to Richard and the men why the contents of the chest were his father’s greatest treasure. It is a beautiful story, and it shows why Richard would become the kind of man that he was.

We truly loved this book and I’m looking forward to reading it again someday with my little boy.

History’s Mysteries

I never knew my grandfathers. I was born after both had passed away. My father’s father died when he was just a young boy. That entire side of the family lived states away from us so I never really knew them or much about them.

One of the things that I’ve learned from Ancestry.com is that my father’s father had been married several times before he married my grandmother. There is even some evidence that he may have had other children. The more searching I do, the more mysteries I seem to find. The worst part of all is that all the people who might have had answers are gone.

I thoroughly enjoy researching my family’s history. I just wish they’re weren’t so many unanswered questions about the man my dad so lovingly called Pop.

Ancestry DNA

Two years ago for Father’s Day we got my dad the Ancestry DNA kit. It was what he wanted and specifically asked us to get him. Now, we all assumed that it would come back telling us that he was 90% German. What we knew from his family was that his father’s parents had come from Germany before they’d had children. We knew very little about his mother’s side and because her maiden name was German sounding we thought that she was also German.

After a few weeks, he got the results and they were a complete surprise.

That man is BRITISH. He has a little Western European in him, but way less than we thought. Once we got started on the website we were able to start making a family tree. It even links you up to cousins that match up with your DNA. It’s been a fun project..

I got my own kit and was shocked that I am 20% Irish. I didn’t know I was Irish at all. Now, both of my parents, in-laws, husband and lots of friends have done it too. It really is fun. The anticipation of waiting was even kind of fun. If you choose, it can be a lot of work too.

So after many hours of work I found out things I never would have dreamed. One thing that completely shocked me was that most of my family on both sides have been here for a long time. Many of my relatives were part of the Revolutionary War.

Some came over later and I’ve even seen their names on the passenger’s lists for the boats on which they arrived. Some seemed like nice people and others maybe not so much. You can’t pick your family.

Some of the coolest things I’ve discovered are the people way back in the past. 2108

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What this particular discovery had led to has been really fun and interesting. Our history lessons this year (we use Ambleside online) have been all about Medieval British history. It’s been neat to read and learn about these great grandfathers. The children have been far more excited to learn about British history because it’s related to them now.

If you’ve ever considered doing your Ancestry, I would highly recommend it. It’s been an amazing experience.