AJC file photo

When did your ancestors arrive in the USA? Answers not always simple

We all know that, other than the Native Americans, our ancestors arrived on these shores from somewhere else at some point. Recently, due to a school project, a younger cousin asked, “When did our family arrive and from where?” We all come from many ancestors arriving in different eras of American history. We assume that he meant the paternal line, which many people focus on. I had to tell him of our family’s name change in 1902 on the paternal line, from Humphries, and that the earliest place I had linked them to, via DNA, was near Fredericksburg, Virginia, in the late 1690s. DNA shows the family is from western England near Wales. When a specific ancestor arrived is still unknown. But on other lines it is clearer. My DuBose ancestors came as French Huguenot to South Carolina around 1700. My Germanna Colony ancestors’ arrival in Virginia in 1717 is well-documented by the Germanna Foundation.

African Americans may not know exactly when their ancestors arrived in many cases, but some can, like the residents of Hog Hammock on Sapelo Island. They can trace the arrival of certain ancestors via the Bahamas to Georgia close to 1800.

While I often state that I am a “9th Generation Georgian,” I am not saying that is through my paternal line (which is from North Carolina) but through my maternal side, linking me back to Hall Hudson. He arrived in what is now Burke and Jefferson counties, Ga., by 1767, when he applied for land. So when you ask when your ancestors arrived in this country, you need to be specific and open it up to any ancestors.

What do you call a deceased grandparent?

In reconnecting with a second cousin, we realized our mutual cousins called our great-grandmother, whom we knew because she lived to be 92, either “Mama Russell” or “Othermama.” When shown a photograph of her husband, who died about 40 years before her and whom none of us knew, we didn’t know how to refer to him. What is the parallel name? Do we create a name like “Papa Russell,” since it seems odd to call him by his full name when discussing family connections? How have others handled such situations?

Irish records

The Church of Ireland’s archives now has a website at ireland.anglican.org/about/rcb-library that has a downloadable directory to their parish records, including congregations in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr., P.O.Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or gagensociety.org.

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