I am busy since last year researching my familial roots through Ancestry.com. Admittedly, it is really a very tedious task and the research takes you into directions you never considered going. Since last Fall, I have focused on the genealogical links of my maternal side of the family and have been quite surprised with the results. My mother's 12th great grandfather according to the little green leaves at Ancestry is William Brewster. Frankly, I did not recognize the name, and even made many inquiries to my grandfather's last surviving sister (since deceased in June ) if the name held any significance. She had not heard of the fellow William Brewster either. I researched the name a bit more and found out that William Brewster was one of the Pilgrim Fathers, a signer of the Mayflower Compact and most interesting a Puritan. How could I have roots based in Puritan theology ? Well one never really knows where the roots were established. In the case of my maternal grandfather some of his roots, my roots and my family's roots extended from 17th century England and the Netherlands since that little discovery, my membership in the Mayflower Society has been pending and Thanksgiving will hold new significance this year.
Those little green leaves are addictive, genealogical crack-cocaine that keep you searching and searching for clues regarding your roots. Educators should take note and use this methodology when teaching math, history or any other subject that requires motivation. Leaves work. As a result, I am surrounded by birth and death certificates, records of family interrelationships, baptism and burial documents and any other scrap of paper that provides further identity to my maternal family members from Gray's Ferry.
Uniquely, some of the names I knew from our old neighborhood actually go back generations in Gray's Ferry and most of these families share relationships that transcend the Atlantic Ocean and co mingle with each other not only in Gray's Ferry but in Ireland, Scotland and England as well. Religion also factors into our roots, and since starting to explore this interconnected root mass of inter-familial connections it is starting to make sense. The demographics of Gray's Ferry are well rooted in the Protestant and Catholic issues based in Northern Ireland since the Protestant Reformation and the reign of Elizabeth I. Other factors that developed the history of Gray's Ferry mirror most of the significant events that contributed to the evolution of the United States, including the Great Migration period, the American Revolution and every stage of United States history that followed.
The tracing of ancestral roots is something that has become a personal obsession at times, however it has introduced me to a new variety of friends, other researchers and membership in new societies, such as the Sons of the American Revolution. As part of my research, I have discovered 23 relatives with an association with the American Revolution, 5 with roots in Jamestowne Settlement,10 at Plymouth Rock and multiple cases of family members that fought in the wars of 1812 and the Civil War. To date, I have joined the SAR, and the Society of the War of 1812 and will continue to expound the historical significance of all of the families and their ancestors that lived and experienced Gray's Ferry.
While I enjoy following the little green leaves on Ancestry.com, most of what they reveal needs to be researched more closely to make sure the facts are indeed correct. While I would like to believe all of the revealed green leaves, especially the ones that state that Charlemagne the Great was my 42nd great-grandfather...I have to put down my scepter and crown and thankfully realize that after all...Gray's Ferry was my home...not the hills of the Holy Roman Empire. Oh well...at least Ancestry telly everyone they are descendents of Charlemagne, it sells more subscriptions through those addictive little green leaves.