We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies. ~Shirley Abbott
This is something that I dabble in from time to time, I'm definitely no expert. But I find it interesting finding out where your ancestors came from. America is definitely a melting pot from the get-go. I mean, after Britain sailed over, stuck a flag in the shores of Virginia, and claimed it from the Native Americans who just happened to be here first. The Americas were a place for other countries to send their criminals so that someone else could deal with them. It was a place for new beginnings for so many people, a place where streets were paved in gold and opportunity knocked everywhere.
Years ago I found my family history somewhere in the house, I can't remember where my mom had it. But someone had done an awful lot of work, and traced part of the family back to the 1600's, to the first person to come over from Britain - his name was Stephen Streeter, and he was born in Goudherst, Kent, England. He married a woman named Ursula Adams, whose brother was the great-grandfather of John Adams, the second president of the United States, and subsequently, the great-great-grandfather to John Quincy Adams (the son of John Adams), another president.
That would be from my mom's side. From my dad's side . . . I get the Vaudeville folks. But I also get people who settled a town in Northern California.
According to family history given to me by my dad's parents, Samuel Day crossed the plains with his family in 1861 with ox teams. They eventually settled in Little Hot Springs Valley, which was later named "Day", which is my last name. Samuel married Annie Godfrey. Her family came from Monmouth Shire in England, near Wales. Her father got into the circus when his parents died young and he had to fend for himself. Once in America, he formed the group, The Godfrey Family Show, with his family.
My Granddad (my dad's dad), lost both his parents by the time he was 10 years old. My Granny suspects his mother died from appendicitis, as she became ill quickly and died a few days later. About three years later, my great-grandfather died after being ill for several weeks. My Granddad was then raised by his older sisters. He, himself, was in a plane crash in 1949 that broke nearly every bone in his body. The doctors said he'd never walk again, but he not only walked, he chased after three kids, and ran a milk delivery business for Foremost.
Some people just search to find famous people in their family trees. Well, if you go back far enough, almost everyone will have a connection so someone famous. Seriously. In my random searching, I have found connections to Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Isaac Newton, several US Presidents (or their wives), a few signers of the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Morse (inventor of the Morse Code), Frank Lloyd Wright, and Humphry Bogart.
While it's very cool to find valid connections to famous people, some of those names I mentioned above are something like 9th cousin, 2 times removed. Now I've always been a wee bit confused with the whole "removed" bit, but I'm thinking that it basically means there's no real blood relation. Or there was a separation or divorce. Or they just said "We don't like you anymore". The only famous person I found that I'm connected with that was not "removed" at all, was W.G. Grace, who would be an 11th cousin and was a famous Cricketer - he apparently made it a "spectator sport". Being that I'm American and don't understand Cricket at all, I wasn't overly impressed (sorry for my British followers!), but I do still think it's cool.
More than likely, you'd be like me - start finding some really weird names in your tree. I mean, Trelma, Zelma, Zebulum, Napthley, Meletus, and more. I swear, I really don't know where people found some of these names.
Anyway, I think it's cool to know where you come from, where your ancestors came from. Every generation has a story.
P.S. I wanted to put some of my own old photos in this post, but the ones that are on a computer are at my parents house, and the ones here I could scan aren't the best quality. So I stole images of my famous relatives. Maybe another time.