Friday, July 29, 2016

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?




After getting off the boat from Norway, my grandmother's dad walked from New York to Minnesota. I can't image walking that distance. I have a hard time walking from Danville to Alamo and back (about 5 miles). He, like my dad's father and brother, came to the U.S. in hopes of a better future for themselves. They left relatives behind in Norway, found a place in the Northern Midwest similar to the country they left, with people who sounded and looked like themselves, just like many immigrants do.

My other side of the family fled France during the French Revolution, again leaving a life (and possibly a castle according to my grandfather) behind them, to pursue a new and different life in upper New York State. My grandmother's family arrived in the New World from England before the United States was formed, with one relative who furthered the American Revolution by signing the Declaration of Independence. They too sought a better life in a new place.

My mother's parents, one Baptist, one Catholic, married over the objections of their families. They moved west from New York to California, living along the way in places such as Cincinnati and Ogden, Utah. They too were looking for a better life, and found it in the developing western part of the United States.

None of these people were Irish or Italian, African American or Latino. They never saw the signs, "No Irish Need Apply," that appeared on storefront windows back East during the great migration from Europe at the end of the nineteenth century, or the more recent manifestations of the same sentiment. They were not persecuted because of their race, religion, or ethnicity. By accident of birth, they fit in with the general population of the United States at the time.

All of these people were honorable, humble, not boastful of their accomplishments. They helped to form communities. They valued hard work, and the freedoms that our country offered them. By luck and place of birth, they were acceptable as citizens. Yet they too were immigrants and migrants. They brought with them reminders of their former cultures. They introduced new foods and new celebrations. They are part of what makes the United States still a great country.

Where do you come from?

7 comments:

  1. Fascinating - English, Norwegian, French, some from before the Revolution! I imagine your ancestors knew persecution in their native lands, if not this side of the Atlantic. It's unfortunate it exists, that so much fear and self-righteousness still abide around the world, and in us, too, at our worst.

    Norwegian, English and Northern Irish, in my blood, too. Hey! Maybe we're related. LOL
    I am amazed your great grandfather WALKED 1,200 or so miles before settling in. Wow! My Norwegian ancestors settled in Wisconsin amongst their Lutheran countrymen. The maternal great grandparents were the Ekhern's. My own surname dates back to English immigrants in the 17th century. One Moses Rood (Rudde in England) fought in the Revolutionary War and collected a soldier's pension. It's so cool that one of yours actually signed the Declaration of Independence. Which one was that?

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    2. Hi Flo,
      Thanks for your comments. Your family's history is fascinating too. I think we need to remind ourselves once in awhile why our ancestors came to the U.S.

      And on the Norwegian side, we probably are related! My cousin visited there and found every person he talked was related somehow to our family.

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  2. Thanks for the recipe...I hate missing that group. I need yoga.

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    1. That's Nancy's recipe and is it good. Amandine, yum. And yes, yoga is important too.

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  3. It’s funny that you’re sharing genealogy this week. When my sister was out she asked about some tapes that i made with my mom and dad back in the 90’s. I was trying to get genealogy information and stories from them so I asked questions and recorded their answers. I couldn’t find the tapes. I was a bit panicked but I knew that we wouldn’t have thrown them away. They were still missing when I went back for Sisters Week. Last week I found them, much to my relief. Now I’m in the process of transferring the voice data to my computer and it’s bringing back so many memories. The boys were about 2 and 6 and I hear them in the background as Greg is corralling them. Dad isn’t comfortable with the recorder and keeps telling me to turn it off. I can hear the frustration in my voice as I try to be patient with his discomfort. Now I’m trying to work through learning the software so I can bring their voices on to my computer and share the files with my family. It’s really quite remarkable what we can do to preserve who we are. I wonder what my boys will think many years from now as they listen to Grandma and Grandpa share about who they are and how they grew up.

    As always, thanks for sharing,

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    1. Mary, you comments are always welcome. Preserving voices and handwriting really bring long-gone relatives close again. Thanks for sharing your stories too!

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Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from readers, and I answer each one.