Posted by: angelnorman | November 19, 2008

Ancestry is fun.

According to my research using my free trial account on, I have an ancestor named John Taylor who, in 1616 was born in Derbyshire, England. Apparently, sometime later, he came to America, and in 1687, he died in Isle (perhaps Isle of Wight?) Virginia. He was my Granny’s great (x8) grandfather. He wasn’t with the original pilgrims, nor were his parents, according to this list of the first pilgrims. And he wasn’t on the ships that came within the next couple of years either, apparently. But he was one of the first few hundred, maybe thousand, of immigrants to come to this country.

It’s ironic to me that I was able to trace all the way back to the pilgrims since Thanksgiving is on the horizon and all. I’ve been reading all day about them on and off, and their journey here. According to this .pdf I came across of The Boston Transcript, written on December 26, 1895 (and found online thanks to the NY Times), there were 102 people on the boat and they sailed for 66 days. On November 21, 1620, they landed at Plymouth Rock. I don’t think I ever knew– or if I did, then I’d forgotten– that nearly half of the original pilgrims didn’t even make it through the first year. Many of them died in the winter shortly after they arrived.

This changes the way I view the first Thanksgiving a little bit, honestly. I guess I’d never really thought about it as their last great meal. I sort of always thought of it as their first– they’re best. Their celebratory meal of goodness and thanksgiving, hence the clever title. Its importance was completely lost on me, and then today, reading these things and thinking about how many lives were lost in the months after landing…  suddenly, it seems way more somber. Way more important to uphold. No one ever thinks about this anymore on Thanksgiving Day. It makes me kinda sad that the point was lost along the way.

I did enjoy thinking, though, about how my great (x10? x11?) grandfather might have been there, how he might have set out from England to join family or friends or maybe he’d hoped to find a job, to make his own way… suddenly the journey seems way more personal to me. Regarding my great(x whatever) grandpappy, though… well, who knows if it’s all accurate? Being a skeptic, I can’t trust that anything is claiming to be accurate before 1800 or so, because I don’t have physical records to prove it to me. At least the US Census records are all over the place in the 1800s. I love physical evidence! But still, it’s neat to know where my family’s come from.

I called my mom to tell her that my Granny’s side of the family– and more specifically her mother Effie’s family– comes from England. Mostly I find this incredibly humorous because when I think England, I don’t think of people saying things like “Sea-grets” (ciggarettes) or “Comin’ up a cloud” (It’s going to rain.) I don’t know why but I think “proper” and “uppity.” You know, the opposite of southern and country,  really. Totally stereotypical of me, yes. And I apologize. Now that I’m British, I must watch myself. J/K. I was always of English descent, or at least I think, anyways… I’ve heard that the Copelands (my dad’s side of the family) were from England, too. I’ll soon know the truth though; I haven’t even skimmed the surface on that side of my family yet!

My mom was blown away by the fruits of my research though, and after she and I hung up, she called my aunt and said, “Hey we came from England!” basically. My aunt said she already knew that, that she had heard from my great uncle. This uncle, my Granny’s brother, apparently has a ton of info but won’t share it with anyone. I’m not sure what that’s about, but hey. At least now we have the info. At least now I can tell Nicholas where I come from with certainty… mostly.

And at least I’ll have a basis for teaching Nicholas all about the first Thanksgiving. He won’t appreciate it till he’s older, but that’s okay. Because sometimes, it takes awhile for things to sink in.

To my friend Joyce– if you’re reading this, I’d like to say thank you for the tip about I have easily spent 85% of my day on the site, and I am so glad that I finally signed up! Good luck on your research!



  1. I have read a bunch about everyone doing this lately. I’m trying to ignore m urge to do it myself. and I’m not doing a very good job.

  2. I did my ancestry and it led me to this. True story

  3. I love reading about my ancestry. There is a rich history and books written about the Brawner side of my family. It’s exciting!

  4. mike is funny. sometimes.

  5. Interesting! my great great great great great great great grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War!

  6. Mike you know what, I can see a resemblence….muhahahaha

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