In the beginning....
I remember a junior high social studies assignment that required we draft a family tree and learn something regarding our ethnic heritage. So home I went with a list of questions and my mom was helpful in answering what she could. I was 1/4 Norwegian, some English, some German, and probably some Irish and Scots-Irish.
Two memories of this project stick out in my mind. The first was learning that one relative was was a bit on the "premature" side as in her parents married about six months before she was born at a very healthy full-term birth weight. I remember being shocked and realized why I'd never really been told this story before. As an adult I can now understand the stigma the child felt as she grew up in a small Midwestern town and that she passed along to her future generations.
The second memory compelled me to start my research in earnest about 10 years ago. My parents are divorced and I didn't have much of a relationship with my father, but very much did with my paternal grandmother. She had been doing research on her late husband's family (my paternal grandfather) and his somewhat mysterious past. She had determined he was from western North Carolina. She thought we might be related to Daniel Boone which made good fodder for my school presentation. But the most important fact was that he'd had a falling out with his parents and just left. He changed his surname from McNeill and started a new life on the West Coast without apparently ever looking back.
So with few facts and an old family tree, I began the journey to determine The Pieces of My Past.