Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What does Ellis Island have to do with it?

I was helping my daughter do research for a school project. We had out all of our family records and genealogies. Her project was for history, and their teacher was trying to prove a point that the majority of people's ancestors came through Ellis Island. No way. Not this family. Never mind the fact that she has to have a family tree done by Friday, she was determined to prove her lineage predated Ellis Island. And she knew in at least two lines it did. As we worked on it, we discovered that without exception, every branch of my mother's family - the Varners, Keiths, Simmons, Wilfongs, Robinsons, Marshalls, Stumps, Stouts, Hughes, Piatts, McVaneys and Sniders were all US citizens prior to the Revolutionary War. In fact George Washington camped on Michael Stump's land and recorded that fact in his diary. And the coolest ancestor on this side of the family, to my kids, is Chief Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas. So she would be our however many great aunt. Yeah, I'd say the roots run deep on my maternal side. And to our surprise we also found a huge Pennsylvania Dutch clan on this side too. Hmmmm. German, Scottish and English.
So then we tried my paternal side. Well, the kids have always known we go back to Stephen Hopkins who came to America on the Mayflower. I grew up knowing that - and we always had documentation. It was a fun fact to share with people. So yeah good ole Steve came on the Mayflower and lo and behold my other side of the family ancestors were native American and already here....
I digress.
In all the research we can only find one - one lone soul that we believe may have gone through Ellis Island. She arrived on the Brighton at the Port of NY in 1821. We'll have to check that out. As for the rest of this side of the family, we learned that they were mostly Mennonite or Pennsylvania Dutch, a lot of them residing in Lancaster County Pa. (How much more Amish could my maiden name - "Lapp" be? ) And we found one immigrant from England who was Mormon. And at least one branch of the family was Quaker. English and German this side of the family.
So, yeah. My family has been here forever. Pretty cool to think that we have been here since before we were officially a country. Probably of no real import to me today, but fun to think about none-the-less.
And my husband's family - all German. All Amish/Mennonite. Most settled in Holmes County Ohio - which is the second largest Amish settlement in the US. Didn't come through Ellis Island either. Odd to think we could maybe have the same branch of a family tree somewhere.
Interesting to realize that our Pennsylvania Dutch heritage runs so deep and encompasses so much of both sides of our family. My kids have an awesome lineage.

5 comments:

Christine said...

Can you imagine how resilient those people had to be, to survive and multiply in a harsh land, hard winters, not much medicine, with the Europeans knowing very little about this country? It boggles the mind...


word- jexer: pixie dust mixed in milk.

gerbmom said...

"word- jexer: pixie dust mixed in milk."
You have such a creative mind.......
I just figure a dog or a monkey out there is typing random letters - at least that's how it looks everytime Cairo tried to join me as I'm wtiting e-mail.... here's his latest :l;`k,43GataR6666

Christine said...

If Cairo is a cat, I bow to YOUR creativity.
If it's a hamster, or a gerbil, you get even MORE bonus points, though.....

magic verification word-
fxsqug: that's all you can hear from the mechanic as he's under your car's hood.

gerbmom said...

*LOL*
No, Cairo is the puppy. And he literally comes up when I'm typing and bangs his paws on the keyboard.....
he must have been an author in his past life......:)

Kelly said...

Wow - how about the people pulled so violently from Africa? Those who sailed over from Cuba? Those who've come up from Mexico, or down from Canada? I wonder, really, if there are fewer Ellis Island ancestors than we've been led to believe. I can't think of any of mine who enter the U.S. via that route... Pah. History teachers. What do they know? (JUST kidding, history teachers! =o)