If your roots go back to the early settlements in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania or the Middle Atlantic States you may have Walloons—people from the southern parts of Belgium—for ancestors. The fact that the Walloons sailed from Holland has caused many to believe, erroneously, that they were Dutch.
Blue-blooded Mrs. Drysdale of “The Beverly Hillbillies” was played by Harriet E. MacGibbon, who—not unlike the character she portrayed—sported a noted New England pedigree, lived in Beverly Hills, and her family was profiled in the “Blue Book.” The actress’s great-grandfather played a role in bringing freedom to the enslaved more than a decade before the Emancipation Proclamation.
Celebrity genealogies are not always easy to trace. Biographical data abounds, yet that’s no guarantee of accuracy. Like old family tales passed through generations, celebrity biographies often are a blend of fact and legend.
By the 1880s, Black Dutch was a term of contempt, at least in the North and Midwest.
Reviews of genealogy-related publications—including “how-to” guides, family histories, and historical record abstracts.
After more over one hundred years after Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the murder of her parents, the mention of her name still generates debate as to her guilt or innocence. Did she or didn’t she? Perhaps the biggest question is about the Borden family.
Knowing the Old World origins of your ancestors can help determine their religious preference. But remember that our ancestors frequently changed denominations in America. They often joined or attended the church nearest them.
The free women of 17th-century America found their position enviable. Regardless of looks, wit, or wealth, they had no trouble finding husbands.
Midwives assisting unwed mothers were often expected to testify in court and reveal the father’s name. Puritans believed that women endured so much anguish during childbirth that they would make a confession to the trusted midwife, thereby saving the community from the expense of raising a child.
Actress, screenwriter, and producer Stella Stevens is a descendant of Zachariah Flynn, an early-day Methodist minister in the Magnolia State.
Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Many sources are available to aid family historians in tracing descent from delegates of the Continental Congress.
The senior scientist and population geneticist at 23andMe, the California-based personal genomics and biotechnology company, talks to us about the first of its kind “genetic portrait,” ancestry composition reports, and surprises revealed by DNA testing.
Joan Van Ark descends from Gradus van Ark, a successful builder, who immigrated to America from the Netherlands in 1866.
Most Dutch came to America simply because they calculated that the future promised more prosperity for them and their children in America than in Holland.
What’s carved in stone is baffling: “Virtue lies beyond the grave, My glass is rum.” Was it a stonecutter’s error, or was the Tinney tombstone toasting spirits to make light of a grave matter?
Katherine Helmond’s paternal great-grandfather, James Helmond, was a sailor in the Confederate Army. However, her maternal great-grandfather—born to Union supporters—was named Ulysses Simpson Grant Walker.
Morgan Fairchild comes from a family of Texas educators. Her mother and both grandmothers were teachers, while her grandfather and a granduncle were school superintendents.
According to family members, Roseanne Barr’s paternal grandfather left Russia to flee the Czar’s army and came to America where he had family.
There’s a new term we’re hearing often: DNA cousins. They’re the relatives whose profiles (and sometimes pictures) pop up on our lists of genetic matches on FamilyTreeDNA.com, 23andMe.com, Ancestry.com, and MyHeritage.com. Meeting them in person can be a bonding experience; science proves we’re related.
A third-generation Texan, Jim Wright descended from a distinguished Australian family; his grandfather arrived in the Lone Star State to join another member of the family—the former Surveyor-General of New Zealand and Victoria Australia.
“It has been estimated by Gary Boyd Roberts, of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, that there are some 30 million descendants of the Mayflower families. So even if you don’t carry the surname of one of the 23 progenitors that survived that first winter, it is still possible that you descend from one of them.”
The roots of 20 presidents, some entwined, can be found in Colonial New England, Roberts noted. That is why it is not unusual to find a presidential connection if you have New England ancestry predating the Revolutionary War.
Eve G’Fellows was unable to prove that William Gann was the father of her child. She made the mistake of revealing to others that this was a false accusation.
These illustrated manuscripts, which are drawn with pen and ink and embellished with vivid colors, are not just nice to look at—they can provide a wealth of genealogical information to researchers. Important historical details often documented in frakturs include family names, relationships, dates, and locations.
Long before it became a famous song, “I’m My Own Grandpa” had popularity as an oft-repeated story. For more than a hundred years, newspapers across the U.S. published stories about men who claimed to be their own grandfather.
In an exclusive interview, the executive producer of the popular TV series reveals some of his favorite moments of the show, and what made him “fall in love” with Who Do You Think You Are?
In an exclusive interview, the TV show co-host tells GenealogyMagazine.com what sparked her obsession with family history, how she reluctantly auditioned for the show she loves, and the episode that made her cry.
Best-known as Fred Mertz of I Love Lucy, William Frawley came from an Irish-American family. All four of the actor’s grandparents emigrated from the Emerald Isle.
Errors abound in genealogies usually because we don’t recognize them, and like the flu, we keep passing the germs along. The internet has aided and abetted the spread of family trees—but many of them must be put in the fiction section. A number belong in the fantasy area and others in Sci-Fi.
Actress Tori Spelling’s grandfather, a Polish-Jewish immigrant, changed last name from Spurling to Spelling after coming to America.
Circumstantial evidence indicates a high probability that Henry VIII fathered two children by Mary Boleyn, meaning that he has many descendants in both England and America.
The Chicago-born actor descended from a Civil War veteran in Central Missouri.
In an exclusive interview, Playboy Playmate, activist and author Stephanie Adams—who is also an astrologer, CEO, and self-made millionaire—tells GenealogyMagazine.com what she’s learned about her family history and how it’s impacted her life.
“I sometimes wonder what my Mayflower ancestors would have made of my situation,” wrote Sydney Biddle Barrows in her bestseller, Mayflower Madam. However, the Pilgrims were not always pious.
“It has radically changed my life,” says Joe Greer about his appearance on Relative Race.
The original miniseries changed the names of some of the characters in Alex Haley’s Roots, but the 2016 version sticks to the real names—at least in some cases.
Quakers seeking religious liberty in the Massachusetts Bay Colony were punished by the Puritans. Absence from local parish services resulted in a summons, the consequences of which included heavy fines, whippings, or banishment. Lydia Wardwell protested in response to her summons by appearing naked.
Along with shires, parishes, and villages, last names developed from manors and estates as well. Medieval owners of manors and estates frequently adopted the name of their dwelling.
“A duel was lately fought in Texas by Alexander Shott and John S. Nott,” the news item began. “Nott was shot, and Shott was not.” It was a newspaper story our 19th century ancestors enjoyed reading—but was it true?
“Millions of Americans relate via either New England or Southern ancestors to probably dozens of notable historical figures,” according to Gary Boyd Roberts. Some family trees have wildly entangled branches. For example, Elvis Presley was related to former President Jimmy Carter.
Retaining an original spelling and its “foreign” sounding pronunciation was difficult for most immigrants. To Americanize a surname, one of two things might happen. The pronunciation might be changed to match the spelling, or the reverse might be true. An entirely new spelling was sometimes adopted to keep from losing the preferred pronunciation. In some instances, both spelling and pronunciation were Americanized.
Research into the background of Swedish emigrant revealed his real name.
Joan Crawford, whose face graced countless magazine covers, was born Lucille Fay Le Sueur. She descended from London-born David Le Sueur, who immigrated to Virginia in the 1720s.
According to English laws of heraldry, armorial bearings are the property of an individual, not everyone with the same last name.
Detective magazines that first came into print more than 80 years ago are a unique, untapped goldmine for family history.
Many ancient, illustrious family trees are in need of pruning, if not chopping down. Fraudulent genealogies make their way into books which sit on library shelves, waiting to deceive a new, unsuspecting generation of genealogists.
A conceited look or a spiteful glance sometimes led to an ancestor’s being saddled with an unflattering last name.
It has been estimated that about nine-tenths of the Welsh population answer to a total of a hundred names and that sometimes only a half-dozen names will be shared by 20 or 30 families.