Giddy Ancestry Finds

30 August 2012

Have you looked into your family tree?  Do you love to hear stories about generations past like I do?

If someone would be my patron, I could spend my entire life researching every branch and twig of our family tree. 

I have had a small tree on for a while containing a small fraction of the information that I have in a plastic box at our home desk.  Just as the commercial says, leaves popped up next to the names, but not having the time to devote to it, I didn't subscribe just yet.

That being said, when on a call with my father the other day, we were wondering if my grandfather ever lived in San Antonio as a boy.  There were rumors, but not evidence.  So I logged onto the tree, and figured that I would sign up for the two week trial that Ancestry offers to have access to the Census records pertaining to my grandfather. 

Low and behold, in 1930, the year of the census, Grandpa did live with his family in San Antonio.  Well that was a neat trick.

In the following days, I decided to take advantage of the two week trial period and click on as many leaves as I could while I had access.  In the beginning, I was completing records and verification for every person I came across; meaning that I cross referenced family members with census and vital records where available.  But there was so much more to see.

One of the most interesting parts of Ancestry is the ability to access other member trees.  If you have a family member that matches with someone else's tree, you can see who else they have traced back in the family...names you may not have.  So I started focusing on only the member trees, in an effort to get as far back as I could on all branches.  I would focus on verifying the information at a later time.  At that moment, I was on a mission for names. 

Out of our eight combined grandparents, Jonny and I really only knew seven of them well.  I went ahead and searched back on all seven of those lines, before coming to Louise, Jonny's paternal grandmother, who died when he was a bit younger. We knew very little about her line in the family, so everything I tracked was new information.  What a story to find!  There were deaths too early in life (explaining some of life's difficulties), cousins that married a little too close back in Tennessee in the 1700's (oh the scandal!), and let's see...what else....oh yeah, that little thing of being ENGLISH ROYALTY!!!!

House of Plantagenet

One night, Jonny was visiting with the neighbors, and I was clicking away at the leaves after CT was in bed.  I meant to go to bed early, and I was only going to finish one more generation.  I was already back in the 1400's on this line (Wow, right?).  But then one of the names came up "Sir."  Knighthood?  Interesting.  So I kept clicking back. 

Elizabeth - pretty, eh?
Since the only people keeping really good family records back in the middle ages were nobility and royalty, of course the records were very complete, meaning that there was much more to click through.  The tree actually got more complete the further back I traced.  And then I hit on an "Elizabeth England." 

To my knowledge, people in the middle ages were not named after countries.  Their surnames were usually derived from personal traits or most often from the family business.  The "Potter" line in the family, for example, can safely be assumed to have been actual potters.  So what would the family business be of someone named after a country?  That's right, her family was in the business of owning that country!!!

Mind you, I am making this discovery in the middle of the night, with the baby sleeping, and our link to royalty next door (and without his royal bodygaurds!).  I want to scream out loud and shout, but I am muzzled and furiously texting Jonny the news.  As I look further and further back, I see names like Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Henry II, and I want to leap into the air!  This is the discovery of all discoveries for this anglophile genealogy enthusiast...sitting the night...getting ready to dig out the college histroy books and learn about the fam.

Edward I of England
"Edward Longshanks"
It turns out that Elizabeth England's father was none other than Edward I of England.  That's right, for all you Braveheart fans...Longshanks!!!  Braveheart is one of Jonny's favorite movies, and it turns out that he is related to the bad guy.  Although the reality of Edward I, Hammer of the Scots, is that he was hated by the Scots, yes, but respected and possibly even loved by the English (a good place to be for a king). 

Since we have a direct line back to the English monarchy, and so does Queen Elizabeth, through a different branch, I wanted to see just how closely we are related to the Queen.  It turns out that Jonny is the Queen of England's 24th Cousin. 

I guess that explains why we didn't get an invitation to the wedding last year...I mean if you invite 24th cousins, you might as well invite everybody. 

Who knew that all of this was going to come from the line of the least known grandparent.  Makes ya think.  It also put me in my place, since I thought that my Texas settler ancesters in the early 1800's was a big deal (well, it still is a big deal, but less of one now).

In relating this story to family, we discivered that there is even more to come from another family member.  There is Scandanavian royalty too!  Oh my!  We are all so connected. 

My free trial is over now, but I still have access to the tree that jumped from 199 people to over 3,000 in a matter of a couple days.  I do need to verify all of the links for accuracy. Since everyone wants to be royal, we want to make sure that we aren't using incorrect information that someone put out there.  But for now...oh the stories!  This momma with a history degree has a lot to teach her little girl about the family line!!!

What neat things have you uncovered in your family tree?  I would love to hear your family history stories!

I am in no way paid for any of my comments about  My mention of the service is only because that is what I was actually using as this story unfolded.  I do love the materials that they have made available for amatuer genealogists, and love them for it.  Beyond that, there is no relationship.
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