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V.18 No.34 | 8/20/2009
Grandpa?
Grandpa?

Who Am I? How Did I Get Here?

By Erin Adair-Hodges [ Fri Aug 14 2009 2:06 PM ]

Last night, I spent about four hours playing with Geni, an online genealogy tool that my hubby forwarded to me. I’ve always loved family trees and made several on posterboards when I was a kid. I also love posterboards. But this Geni thing is almost sweet enought to make me put down my construction paper and rounded edge scissors forever.

In constructing my tree and doing online research to supplement what I already knew, I came across a branch of my tree on an ancestry website, done most likely by a fellow descendant of my maternal grandfather’s paternal grandmother. Or something. Some of what I found was no surprise: that I’m mostly of English descent, with a lot of Scottish, some Irish and German. But, if this person’s research is right, I can trace part of my lineage to the Drakes of England, all the way back to the 1300s. Whoa.

It’s interesting because as far as we knew before, we’d come from poor people in Illinois, Oklahoma and New Mexico. But those people had to come from somewhere (like I said, I’m probably of 99% European descent). And this strain came from New Jersey and Massachusetts and England, and were Drakes, wealthy enough to be recorded.

It could all be wrong. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. We’re accidents, living and then dying. But we’re also, paradoxically, the result of choices made by thousands of people we’ll never know. For me, just this one branch includes the Mylwayes, Gawtons, Walkers, Philbricks, Trotters, Batmasons, Marches, Byerleys, Wrens, Heighingtons, Gibbses, FitzRandolphs, Duvals and more. And don’t even get me started on the Deatherages.

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