When we think about where we come from, the timeline is relatively short. My basic bio includes cities and towns like Chattanooga, Nashville, Oakdale, and New York. If you ask me where I come from, I’ll probably answer Oakdale, even though I’ve now lived a majority of my life in Nashville. I come from Oakdale because that’s where I spent weekends and summers while growing up, where I finished high school, and where my church membership still resides.
My mom used to track our genealogy and share the stories she found, but that had to stop when I was around twelve or thirteen. She was hired on as a nursing director, and most of her free time disappeared. I still remember some of the stories, though the details are fuzzy. My maiden name McBay, from my dad’s side of the family, obviously, developed because my ancestors ran a ferry on, around, or to the Hebrides Islands in Scotland. We were, literally, sons of the bay. The Langleys, her side of the family, trace back to England (a fact that irritates the piss out of my very Irish husband).
Her research gave me a slightly larger picture of where I come from. It’s not just the town I’ve lived most of my life in. It’s not where I had my first kiss or went to the prom. Where I come from is actually a sweeping epic—where everyone comes from is, really. Our ancestors MADE the history we study today.
Now that my mom has retired, she’s returned to her passion for genealogy—this time with the assistance of some amazing technology. Her gift for Christmas was a monthly membership to Ancestry.com, and with this powerful tool, she has traced some of our family back to the years Christ walked the Earth.
That is a staggering realization, isn’t it? We think of biblical times as remote, distant, and in no way connected to us except through faith. But these things did happen. And our ancestors were a part of that history. Maybe they weren’t present with Jesus, but they were in a world about to be changed by one man. Some day she’ll trace even further back, and I’ll have another surreal moment or ten.
The timeline that has now been added to the “where I come from” mystery is enormous, and still not even close to reaching the very beginning. The characters she’s uncovered in my ancestry are numerous and deserve to be remembered, just as your own ancestors do. For that reason, I’m planning to blog—probably sporadically—about the discoveries she’s made.
I’ll focus on one or two people at a time, mostly as a record of her discoveries that will live on outside of her website. Also, I think, as a gift to my niece and nephew, who may someday also want to know where they come from. Mostly, though, I’m sharing here because it’s cool. It’s history. It’s me.
Just to give you a little taste of the characters in my family history that I’ll cover, so far we’ve tracked down Richard Warren, a passenger on the first voyage of the Mayflower to America, and also a signer of the Mayflower Compact. That’s super cool, of course, but then she discovered we’re also descended from Óengus mac Nad Froích, believed to be the first Christian King of Munster in Ireland. Legend has it he was baptized by St. Patrick, himself. (Uh-oh, Liam. Who’s Irish now?) Even more amazing, another branch on our family tree just might lead to Charlemagne. Obviously, I have my work cut out for me if I really want to discover where I come from.
What about you? Where do you come from?