Who Do I Think I Am?
There is a television program titled, “Who Do You Think You Are,” that searches celebrities family trees and tells the story of their ancestors. It is produced by Ancestry.Com and the celebrity travels around the world tracing their family tree. Several years ago for Christmas, I decided that I wanted to join Ancestry.com and search out my family tree. I have limited information from my family, so I thought this would be something that could tell me more than what I already know. I know that I am Italian on my father’s side and my mother’s side was supposed to be Irish and Lithuanian.
It is rather addicting at first, especially when you keep getting the hints on the branches. I started with my father’s side and quickly hit a wall. I found the ship’s passenger list for my great-grandfather (maternal side). He came to the United States from Italy when he was 12 years old and he came by himself, landing in California. He left behind his entire family. My great-grandmother (paternal side) also came from Italy and was processed through Ellis Island in New York. And that is a far back as I can find. I have not been able to find anything else for my father’s family.
I was able to go farther with my mother’s side of the family. I learned that my great-grandparents (paternal side), who were Lithuanian, came to the US in the late 1880’s from the Kingdom of Prussia which is Lithuania today. But as with my father’s family, I couldn’t find anything else on them. But it was my mother’s side of the family that I was able to trace all the way back to the year 750. Some of the ancestors were historical in nature, and while I didn’t see a link to Ireland, there were definitely ancestors from England, France and Belgium, which we did not know.
So here are some of the things I learned about my family tree:
My first ancestor landed in the Colonies in 1650 and came from England.
One ancestor was involved in the Salem Witch Trials.
My five times great-grandfather came to the Colonies in 1772 from Midlothian, Scotland. His name was Andrew Balfour and I was surprised to learn that he was a Revolutionary War Hero for the Patriots. He was actually murdered at his home in North Carolina by David Fanning and his Band of Tory’s in 1782. As a history major, this was rather exiting to learn. I am also about 400 miles from where he died, so if we get to North Carolina, I will make plans to stop and visit the area.
One of my great (several times) grandmothers was married to the King of England. He died and she married my great (several times) grandfather. Her parents were the King and Queen of France. Her grandparents were the King and Queen of France.
And my two times great-grandmother, who was supposed to be a full-blooded Cherokee, may actually have been a free black woman from Virginia that passed herself off as Indian to be accepted.
With all of this information, I learned that I am 50% Italian and the rest is made up of English (apparently we have a family crest), French and Belgian. I have decided that I am going to start researching each person on the tree and see if what my family tree tells me is actually true. It is been fun so far. First up will be Colonel Andrew Balfour. I’ll let you know what interesting things I find.