Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: 20 More Questions About Your Ancestry and Maybe a Few About You

This week’s challenge for SNGF with Randy Seaver is to answer Ellen Thompson-Jennings’ 20 More Questions About Your Ancestry and Maybe a Few About You.

Be sure to share your answers with Ellen (and Randy) so they know you took part. 🙂

  1. Why do you love doing genealogy/family history? A good hunt that helps me fitting all the puzzle pieces together. I also want to know who my ancestors were and what their lives were like.
  2. How far have you traveled to research an ancestor? I’ve gone to Copenhagen, Denmark, England and hope to visit Slovakia.
  3. What do you think your favorite ancestor would think of our lives today? It’s difficult picking one favorite ancestor, but I guess since it took me 37 years to find someone on the Mayflower, I’ll go with George Soule. I think he would be astounded and overwhelmed at today’s world.
  4. What do you think that your ancestor would like/dislike? I tend to think George wouldn’t like much and would dislike the freedoms that everyone has today, especially women, who had few rights in 1620.
  5. What was the most unusual cause of death that you’ve found? My grandfather died of Creutzfeld-Jakob disease in 1969. At the time, he was only the third diagnosed case in the 20th century. Navy doctors came to interview my grandmother about his symptoms, illness and death. It is related to Mad Cow Disease.
  6. Which ancestor had the most unusual occupation? Johannes Jensen was the drummer and fiddler for his army regiment and was stationed at Rosenborg Castle, where the Danish crown jewels are kept. He would have played each time there was a changing of the guard.
  7. Have you ever gone to where your ancestor lived and it felt like home even if you’ve never been there before? Yes, I felt exactly that way when I visited Calais, Maine and the nearby towns of Charlotte and Meddybemps.
  8. Do you have a distant ancestor  (several generations back) that looks like someone in the family? No. It’s weird, but I don’t think any of the family members for whom I have photos even resemble siblings.
  9. What is the oldest ancestral photo that you have? Thomas Adams (1783-1859) and Sarah Brawn (1786-1851+), children of Loyalists. The photo was likely taken in the late 1840s or perhaps c1850.
  10. Did you have an ancestor that had an arranged marriage? Not that I know of.
  11. If you could live in the time period of one of your ancestors what year would it be? Where would it be? I’d like to live in Massachusetts during the time of the American Revolution, as I have 6 Patriots and 6 Loyalists who left for Canada in 1783.
  12. Which ancestor was married the most times? I’d have to dig for names, as I have several who married three times.
  13. If you’ve tested your DNA what was the biggest ethnicity surprise? ftDNA came up with 98% Eastern European when only my father had Slovak ancestry. My mother was colonial New England – English, Scottish, one Dutch line and one Danish-Swedish line. Multiple DNA matches proved the connection to her family.
  14. Did you have a female ancestor that was different or unusual from other females from that time period? Elizabeth Knapp was born in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1655. Before the Salem witchcraft trials, in 1761 in Groton, Massachusetts, she was said to have been possessed by the devil. Cotton Mather wrote about her and the outcome was that she was suffering from hysteria.
  15. Did your ancestor go through a hardship that you don’t know how they managed? My Slovak ancestors were all peasant farmers. Reading the church registers through the 1800s and noting all the cholera and typhoid deaths, along with deaths of young people in general, makes me wonder how they kept going with all that death. It was something they apparently expected and their church beliefs carried them through all the loss.
  16. How often do you research? Are you a genealogy addict? I research just about every day and I am a BIG TIME total, complete genealogy addict.
  17. Do you have someone in your family that will take over the family history? My son has a mild interest in family history, but my cousin’s son is becoming quite interested. I think he will be the next caretaker of the family history.
  18. Have you had a genealogy surprise? What was it? Learning that my ancestral line actually went back to a valid Mayflower passenger pedigree and that George Soule was on my maternal grandmother’s line, not maternal grandfather’s line, where I expected to find it if there was one.
  19. Are you a storyteller? What’s your favorite family story? I am not a big story teller. I prefer compiling factual information. However, I do have a favorite family story. Grandmother told me that Grandfather (the one who died of Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease) went to Harvard, but never graduated. I dutifully wrote off to the Harvard registrar, who reported that no one by the name of Vernon Tarbox Adams had ever been enrolled there. I was surprised because Grandmother’s stories were quite on target. Years later, the World War I draft registration cards were digitized and I found the one for my grandfather, who was born in 1899. After he enlisted in the Navy, he was sent to boot camp – in Massachusetts. At Harvard! Yep, he “went” to Harvard and, nope, he didn’t graduate. Grandmother was right, after all!
  20. What was your greatest genealogy discovery? Identifying Johannes Jensen on Danish military lists and then backtracking to find his birth in the unwed mothers’ hospital in Copenhagen. His birth record unexpectedly gave me the name of his mother, said she still lived close by and was living with the father. From there, I was able to identify Johannes’s parents.

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