Tuesday, June 26, 2012
After all of the research I've been doing, there's one person that I have yet to figure out and that is my great-grandmother Lillian Dunn Robinson (she's the one in the middle, and this is the only picture that there is of her). According to a story that has been told was that she died suddenly when my grandfather was only about 2 years old of Tuberculosis (about 1923), which makes it difficult because I have no exact date or really the actual year, if that. I have been able to find her in a New York Passenger list and was able to find out that she was from Seacombe, England and that her mother's name was Ann Jane. I have also found her in the 1920 U.S. Census, but then after that, nothing. Now the family was poor (story goes that they couldn't bury her in a cemetery) and once Lillian died, the family was separated (all 9 children were taken to St. Joseph's Home for the Children and Mount St. Hope). Now, I've recently been told by my uncle that my grandfather wanted to buy a tombstone for her once he was able to afford it and have it read "To the mother I never knew". So, at this point I don't know what to believe or how to even begin to find her. Some say she's buried in Potter's Field in Manhattan, and now with what my uncle shared with me, she's in some cemetery but probably in the poor section. Now I must say that someone has been able to find a Lillian Robinson that died in 1924, and it's on a microfilm. I am probably going to go through that process and purchase the access to look at the microfilm, but I just have this feeling it may not be her (and in the world of genealogy, it's a risk I'm willing to take). In any case, I have made it a goal to find her. If anyone has ANY suggestions, PLEASE leave a comment on here.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
For today's post, I started to think about everything that I wish I'd known when I began this journey in genealogy, and then all of these who, what, when, where, and why questions started to pop up. Throughout the whole process, I'd have to say that I wish I knew how easy it is to discover one thing and have it open up a can of worms. I can honestly say that I haven't opened up any cans on both sides of the family yet (knock on wood), but when I met my boyfriend 3 years ago, I should've seen it coming. He's always been interested in his family heritage but never knew how to take the next step. So we went to the cemetery to visit his grandfather (since I was able to find out where he was located), and we noticed that he "wasn't there", and by this I mean he didn't have a tombstone. My boyfriend called his father and told him the situation, and the next thing we know, he's got all of his siblings on the phone and they're in an argument as to what happened to their father's tombstone that should've been there 20 years ago. I was standing there speechless, all I did was find my boyfriend's grandfather, and now I got the whole family wondering what the heck is going on. I felt so horrible, but it actually turned out that the family wanted to know more information, and asked me to do more research for them. So in the end, opening up a can of worms turned out to be a good thing. I think that through this whole genealogy experience, I've learned to not be afraid and to expect the unexpected. I've grown to be more open-minded and accepting of my family's past, and I believe this is a good tip for people out there who are just getting started. Many people are interested in discovering more about their ancestors but fear the unknown. But what's key to ancestry, I think, is you have to be open to the many possibilities of how the results tell your family's story, regardless of if they may open a can of worms or not. It is because of these results that you are here today and that is definitely a good reminder.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Do you have a favorite story that has been passed down (or is still being told) whenever your family gets together?
I think it's hard to choose one story from my family that I love to hear over and over again. But I think one of my all-time favorite stories that I've been told is about my great-grandfather Michael Robinson (pictured right) and how he came here to America. Now, from the research I've found, I understand that in order for people to come to America, they most likely knew someone who they could stay with. So with that said, Michael had to leave his wife and two children in England, and go to America so they could come afterwards. Makes sense right? Well, here's were it gets interesting. According to some of the family members, Michael secretly hid on a cargo ship that was going to New York. As the cargo ship was pulling into the New York Harbor by the Statue of Liberty, Michael freaked out and jumped ship, swimming away to shore so that no one knew he came into the country illegally. Now, with the findings on Ancestry.com, it seems my great-grandfather was either lying about how he came here (which probably isn't common) or he fooled everyone so his family could have a chance in America. So, of course I did some research and this is what I've found so far: In 1911, Lillian Robinson (my great-grandmother) along with her two children came to America to live with a John Robinson (her husband, and their father). Now, this didn't make sense to me; why would his name be John and not Michael? So I dug a bit deeper and it turns out that Michael's middle name was John, so if the story's true, he would've had to use a different name to avoid being in America illegally. I then found a 1920 census and his name was still John, and supposedly he came to America in 1906...? I was beyond confused at this point. How would this be possible since he had to have gone back to England and have the two children in 1908 and 1910 (in order to make the story of him sneaking into America true)? Well anything, as I've come to understand, is possible in the world of genealogy, and when I showed my father this he told me a story that could possibly verify the story of Michael. According to my dad, Michael was being robbed by someone, and Michael began to defend himself and beat this guy up. Well it caused a big commotion in the streets of Manhattan, and the police had to come in and arrest the men. My grandfather (Michael's son and my dad's father) was one of these cops, and went to talk to the judge who was in charge of the case. He knew the judge and so he asked him if he could just drop the case since his father is an immigrant, and the judge surprisingly dropped the case! So, if my grandfather was protecting my great-grandfather from the courts, he was really protecting him from the whole government (if he truly was illegally here)!!!
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
For only being 22 years old, I'd have to say that genealogy has become an amazing hobby for me. What drove me to this ever-growing hobby was when I was in 8th grade and I was assigned to write a report on my family tree for a contest. I really didn't think much of it except for thinking that this is just a project and I really don't have an interest. Little did I know that was about to change. I began to ask my parents what they knew about their sides of the family, and then went to my grandparents for some more information. Well, let's just say that I got the basics from my mother's parents, with more blanks to count. As for my dad's parents, I never was able to listen and hear their stories due to them both passing on. So it was up to my dad to fill in the pieces for me, which to my surprise knew more than I thought. I then went a little bit farther and looked at some photos my parents had collected over the years and that have been passed down. Although there were some photos we didn't know who was in them or what was its significance, I was able to put the names with the faces in my story. I completed my paper, and I was left with not only an A paper but questions. Why did my great-grandparents come here to America? What was life like in NY for both sides of the family? Were these family stories myths or real?
So why is it I do genealogy you may ask? Well, aside from gaining a great interest over the years and making it a passion of mine, I do it because I believe that it’s important to know where we come from in order for us to have a better understanding of who we are today. It’s a great way to get an inside view of your ancestor’s past, it can help you discover new vital information about your ancestors especially the medical aspects, and it can also help you redefine your roots. Although it may seem tedious and too time consuming, it’s worth learning about your ancestor’s past, gaining new knowledge about them, and redefining your family's unique story. I have learned that you’re the product of your ancestor’s genes, so it’s your turn to define those genes. I am in the storyteller's seat, telling a great story that is continuing to be written. That’s what doing genealogy is all about, and it's why I do it.