Saturday, February 26, 2011

Who Do I Think I Am?

I am sure that my readers have heard about the show "Who Do You Think You Are?" aired on NBC on Friday evenings. I am a huge fan of the show myself and quite literally schedule my Friday nights around it. I enjoy watching the celebrities follow the clues to discovering who their ancestors were, the lives they lived, and where their families came from.

It seems quite natural, then, for me to begin this blog with who I think I am.

I am of Portuguese, German, Greek, English and Irish descent. My father is half-German (his father) and half-Portuguese (his mother). My mother is 1/4 Portuguese (her father's mother), 1/4 Greek (her father's father), 1/4 Irish (her mother's father), 1/8 German and 1/8 English (her mother's mother). All of my great-grandparents were full-blooded except for my maternal great-grandmother, who was 1/2 English and 1/2 German.

I am also a descendant from the Hawaiian Kingdom and Canada. I have a great-grandfather on my father's side and a great-grandmother on my mother's side who were both born in the Kingdom of Hawaii. (It's interesting to note that Hawaii was sovereign until 1893. The King was overthrown and Hawaii was an independent republic until 1898 when the United States annexed it as a territory. Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959.) My maternal grandmother, maternal great-grandmother, and my maternal 2nd great grandmother as well as my maternal grandfather were all born in Canada.

I know that I am a descendant of relatively recent immigrants. Three out of four great-grandparents on my father's side immigrated to America in the late 1800s or early 1900s, as did three of my great-grandparents on my mother's side. My mother's mother (Grandma) and her mother (Great Gram) didn't arrive until 1927.

Another thing I know is that almost my entire immediate family were all born in Oakland, California. My two younger sisters, my father, my mother, my paternal grandmother and her mother, and my maternal grandfather. My paternal grandfather (Grandaddy) was born in San Francisco and while it isn't Oakland, his birth place still qualifies as Bay Area. Except for me -- I was born on an Air Force base in Germany.

Who I know I am is this: a descendant daughter of men and women who came to America to achieve their dreams and to live their own lives. They believed in working hard, doing your best, being honest and maintaining their integrity. They loved God and family, lived their faith, and treated everyone with respect. I am proud to be the descendant daughter and to honor my ancestors by carrying on their traditions and teaching them to my children. This is who I know I am.
~ Niecey

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Story Tellers

We are the chosen. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called as it were by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us: "Tell our story!" So we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.

In each family there is one member who seems to hear the calling to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story, and to feel that somehow they know and approve. To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but instead breathing life into all who have gone before. In my family, I am the chosen one.

How many graves have I stood before and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told my ancestors, "You have a wonderful family and you would be proud of us"? How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love for me? I cannot say. It goes beyond documenting facts. It goes to who I am and why do I do the things I do? It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying to myself, "I can't let this happen..."

The bones here are bones of my bones and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up.... their resolve to go ahead and build a life for their family, and for all the generations to follow.

(Copied from "Jackson Spurlock of the Eastern Kentucky Spurlock's" at