Spanning the Globe and the Centuries
I can’t remember exactly when I first became interested in genealogy, but I’ve been a history fanatic for my entire life. As far back as I can remember, actually. The first book report that I ever wrote, back in Mrs. Ference’s third grade class, was about George Washington. I became obsessed with him, until I moved on to Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. My friends actually made fun of me, it was really that bad. Not much has changed since then. I still read military history for fun and stress relief, and I can almost quote the entire movie “Gettysburg”, verbatim.
I think it was sometime around 2003 or so that I caught the genealogy bug, and it wasn’t even my own family that I started researching, it was my husband Glenn’s. The “Fee” branch of his family had resided on the same part of that hill in southern Pennsylvania for over 200 years, and so I assumed that there would be a lot of low hanging fruit there, genealogically speaking. And I was right. Before I knew it I was knee-deep in census forms and court records, researching land holdings and marriage licenses. But eventually I reached the dreaded “wall” with his family, and so my thoughts turned to my own roots…
I had very little to go on. My mother’s family hailed from Sicily, and as I don’t speak any Italian, I didn’t have a lot of hope of gaining any insight to that side of the tree.
So I looked to my father’s side of the family, which was problematic for me. My biological father and my mother divorced when I was two, and although I had kept in contact with my paternal grandmother, I hadn’t ever really quizzed her on the family history. I kicked myself for not paying better attention to her. But still…I had snippets of conversations with her in my memory, and I kept replaying those over and over again in my mind as I thought about my family story. I remembered asking her once about her parents, and she’d told me that her mother was German, and her father was Dutch. Hmmm…Dutch…Suddenly my mind was racing with the possibilities, considering the fact that Nana Willie was born and raised in Brooklyn, and Manhattan was once known as New Amsterdam. The rest of the story took me five years to piece together, and culminated with my membership in the DAR, via one Captain Marcus Moseman, Jr., my grandmother Willie’s 4th great-grandfather.
Since then I’ve visited places on the timeline, via family history, that I can hardly believe myself. I can’t prove all of it, only a fraction of it. But still, I find it fascinating.
And have I forgotten my Sicilian roots? Never. (Ignore “The Family” at your own peril.) My heart still skips a beat when I hear Dean Martin crooning “That’s Amore”, and my visit to Little Italy in 2005 was one of the highlights of my adult travels.
I respect each and every branch on the tree, and the circumstances of each and every family represented.
And always, I will keep searching out the stories. For me, that’s what it’s all about.
The Stories. Stories about endurance, courage, resistance, and perseverance. Even stories about betrayal, and cowardice and futility.
But through The Stories, one way or another, we humans are all connected.