A beautiful thing, to inquire into the stories of one’s ancestors. I highly recommend it to all.
I have so far traced mine not much further than my mother’s and father’s patrilineal ancestor who crossed the Atlantic to settle in the New World in the mid 1600’s and early 1700’s respectively. I am including their stories, with artistic license, in my autobiographical book series, The Ronin Diaries.
My mother’s patrilineal ancestor, John Higley, jumped on a ship in England around 1665 as a teenager one day to escape a punishment that was coming to him at his job, knowing he’d have to work as an indentured servant for years to an unknown boss upon arriving. Later, wanting to take the boss’ daughter’s hand in marriage, he re-crossed the Atlantic to tell his family and to make amends and pay his debt with his former boss. Then he crossed the Atlantic again, married, became a wealthy land owner in Connecticut and fathered about eighteen children. I like to think my propensity to GTFO and venture to new lands and new lives, rather than be at the mercy of whimsical authorities, to such ancestors. “Its in my blood.” Whether true or not, I own it. I do think the New World attracted a certain type of person to leave one’s entire family and culture at home, indeed the “Known World”, and set sail with significant chances of death and indentured servitude awaiting.
My father’s and my patrilineal ancestor, Hartman Hunsaker, escaped religious persecution and likely dungeons in Prussia with his family to Amsterdam, and boarded a boat to the new world around 1730, settling in William Penn’s territory of religious freedom, Pennsylvania. Their religious sect refused to participate in the government, the military and the many wars the government was involving itself in. I like to credit my affinity for anti-authoritarianism and peacemaking to my ancestors. It’s in my blood. My great, great, great grandfather on this side of the family, Abraham Hunsaker, was a Wild West pioneer who was present in The Golden Spike photo above.
I trace about a quarter of my ancestors to Prussia (the part that is now Switzerland), about a third to England, about a third to Sweden (such as both of my grandmother’s patrilineal ancestors, both Johnsons), and a smaller percent to Ireland. I like to introduce myself with my red beard in South America as a “vikingo,” which they will often refer to me as even if I don’t introduce myself this way.