Not every family will have a Mayflower passenger, Georg e Washington or Florence Nightingale as a member; however, everyone has family members that have touched a part of history in some way. My historical fiction book, “The Memory Quilt,” was based loosely on my paternal grandmother’s family’s experiences during the Cloquet-Moose Lake Fire of 1918. Her family survived the fire, which consumed the towns of Cloquet, Moose Lake and parts of Duluth, by covering themselves with wet blankets and rugs and lying in the bottom of a shallow gravel pit they had dug when building the foundation for their new barn.
My maternal great-great-great-grandparents came to the U.S. from Germany on a clipper ship. They left Germany on Oct. 2, 1865, and arrived in NY on Nov. 15. A similar trip taken by so many other immigrants, and yet imagine that voyage: six weeks on the ocean in a ship with no motor, just sails; mom, dad and five kids – the youngest an infant less than a year old.
In following a client’s paternal grandmother’s line, we discovered that she had several ancestors that fought in the Revolutionary War, and one that fought in the War of 1812. She also had two ancestors that lived in New England in the 1640s, long before the Declaration of Independence was signed, long before the U.S. was a country. And yet, no one had ever talked about it.
Learning how and where your family has been a part of history, such as surviving a catastrophic event, being part of a wave of immigration from a particular country or having a role in establishing a new, independent nation, is very exciting. Discovering your roots can help you touch a part of history through your ancestors’ lives.
Discover your roots and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.
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