My mother was from a close-knit family of German immigrants who came to the U.S. before 1900 from various German villages in what was then called South Russia but is now Ukraine. Catherine the Great, Czarina of Russia, who was German, invited her fellow country(wo)men to establish villages in Russia's outlying territories. My family heeded the call, with mixed results, I might add. For the most part, I know all the players in my mother’s family, because she and my grandmother passed down stories and a German Bible inscribed with all the births, deaths and marriages.
|Kate the Great|
Recently, I was cleaning out a closet and came across a box of letters, replying to my dad’s long-ago inquiries. During my prior genealogy search, I had become frustrated by several family names that simply stopped. As diligently as I’d searched, I could not trace them back to the previous generation. One was my great grandmother, Emeline/Emaline/Emiline McCoy. I found her father and her grandfather, who was born in 1796, but nobody prior to that. I wanted to know their country of origin.
|Flag of Ireland|
I love a good mystery, so I began sorting through the letters. What I found inspired me to resume the search my dad and I had started so many years before. After overcoming some skepticism, I subscribed to Ancestry-dot-com, and found the information available is somewhat overwhelming.
All the names in my dad’s family tree are WASPy, although there may have been a Catholic or two thrown into the mix. Based on the history of the name Smiley, I suspected the family had come from the lowlands of Scotland or Northern Ireland.
|Sailing to Plymouth|
In the United State Revolutionary War service records, I found another member of that family who served as a seaman in the Navy during the Revolutionary War on a ship called Liberty. I'm a sailor, so I felt a definite kinship with him.
|Me in my foulies|
I realize some people don’t give a rip where their ancestors came from, but I find it not only fascinating, but also poignant to know that my people tilled the soil of a garden in Plymouth or sailed on a warship called Liberty. And now, thanks to fellow genealogy travelers, I have FINALLY located the next generation in the Emaline McCoy saga and look forward to following it wherever it leads me.