My grandmother’s side, however, has uncovered a wealth of information I had never even dreamed of. Starting her tree, all I had was her name, her parent’s names, and the place she was born because she wasn’t one to talk about her family. After just a few days of searching through records, her family history opened up to me like a flower.
Just last week I found a branch which is (very) tentatively linked to the royal monarchies of England and France. Because of name changes and poor record-keeping I can’t prove the connection, but it seems likely that I am a direct descendent of the Plantagenets starting with Anne of Gloucester and going all the way back to Geoffry V. If this link is true, then I’m a many time great-granddaughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, a woman I have been fascinated with for many years.
However, that isn’t the most exciting part of my tree. What makes me smile the most are the stories closer to home. My relation to Lieutenant Samuel Smith who was one of the founders of both Hadley, MA and Wethersfield, CT and his son Lieutenant Phillip Smith who, according to Cotton Mather, was “murdered with a hideous witchcraft”. There’s also William Osgood who was one of the first three Osgoods to emigrate to America in the 1630’s. His home on Congress St. in Salisbury, MA is still lived in by his descendents. And Edward Melcher who was a member of a rescue party sent to retrieve the bodies of a family killed in a landslide – he was the only one to make it back and he wrote a book about his experience titled “A sketch of the destruction of the Willey family by the White Mountain slide on the night of August 28, 1826“.
And then, there’s the period in the late 1700’s – early 1800’s where the tree starts to look a bit like a pretzel because two families in New Hampshire inter-married so often. And the photocopies of my great-grandfathers’ WWI and WWII draft registrations. And the story of how my 3X great-grandfather was a POW during the Civil War and died in a Confederate prison.
There’s really nothing like combing through hundreds of records looking for the just the right one that will lead to another and another and another.
Do any of you have any famous relatives? Or even just relatives who led interesting lives?