Uncategorized

Ancestors

Because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I’m going to copy my friend Mary Blayney‘s idea and talk about interesting ancestors. Mary’s family has a very interesting fellow in the the family tree, Major General Lord Blayney, whom she wrote about on History Hoydens (part 1 and part 2) and who lived during the Regency, fought against Napoleon’s army, and became a prisoner of war. He even wrote a book about it, available on Google Books.

My ancestors are not so impressive, but there is one who has a good story. In 1836, My great great grandfather, Joseph Batt, brought his wife and eight of his nine children from Alscace Loraine to America. On the voyage over, there was a terrible storm and it looked as if the ship was certain to perish. My grandfather, a devout Catholic, prayed to the Virgin Mary, promising her he would build a shrine in her honor if she spared his family from the storm. The storm subsided and the family arrived safely in their new country.

Batt made good on his promise. He settled near Buffalo, New York, where his oldest son had already settled. Soon he prospered. He built a chapel on his land, just as he’d promised. The chapel still stands today: Our Lady Help of Christians in Cheektowaga, NY.

The Chapel has been rebuilt a few times, but a painting of Our Lady looking down on the ship still hangs above the altar.

I wish I could say I visited this chapel, but I haven’t. I did not even know about it until I was well into adulthood. Although when I was growing up my family often visited our Buffalo relatives, I’ve been there rarely as an adult and my unsentimental family just never talked about or visited this wonderful place.

How about you? Do you have any interesting stories of ancestors?

Only a little more than two weeks before the release of The Unlacing of Miss Leigh. Also on April 1, you can get The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor from eharlequin. Check my website that day for the links.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

24 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Maggie Robinson
13 years ago

I’m related to John Trumbull (painter—his Signing of the Declaration of Independence is on the back of a $2 bill), Jonathan Trumbull (CT rev. war governor) and Samuel Huntington (Declaration signer). Someone in our family did research and traced us back to Lady Godiva, too, LOL.

Lois
13 years ago

I only have two stories, and they aren’t actual relatives of the family, but people the family knew.

1 – my grandfather and my aunt (his sis) would take a trip to this person’s house, where all they could think of is getting to the apples in the apple tree. The person who lived there would show their parents the stuff we was up to. That person was Thomas Edison.

2 – Another brother of said grandfather wrote music, and at some point he let another musician he knew see something he wrote. . . who promptly used it and didn’t give him credit for it. That person was Irving Berlin, and unfortunately, I can never remember what the darn song was! LOL

While they aren’t ancestors, they are the only stories I actually know of anything interesting in the family. 🙂

Lois

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Maggie, what sterling credentials! Jonathan Trumbull and Lady Godiva!! (wouldn’t you know your relative was on a TWO DOLLAR bill!)

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Hey, Lois, brushes with the famous work for me.

Love the Thomas Edison story. A friend of mine has a story like that. Her father who was Dutch got it into his head to visit a nearby artist and he took his daughter, my friend, with him. They had a lovely visit and before leaving, the artist gave them one of his prints.
The artist was Escher and my friend still has the print!

But the Irving Berlin story is a bummer. I’m dying to know which song it was!

Keira Soleore
13 years ago

Diane and Maggie, you guys have such famous relatives. And Diane, you even have a monument you can point to that was built by one and has survived 150+ years.

Alas, I have no such famous relatives, nor buildings I can point to that were built by them. I must come from peasant stock. 🙂

Susan Wilbanks
13 years ago

I have to stretch a bit for famous relatives:

1) In the Swedish half of my mom’s family, one of the cousins who emigrated with my grandfather’s parents had been a maid in the royal palace, and the family story was that her first child looked a LOT like the king…which would make me some sort of shirttail relative of the House of Bernadotte, kind of.

2) The most distant ancestor anyone has been able to trace for my family was a 16th-century Lightfoot whose descendants were early immigrants to Virginia. That probably makes me some kind of cousin to the Lees and the rest of the Tidewater aristocracy…only I’m mostly Scots-Irish and no kind of aristocrat, so my working theory is a Miss Lightfoot eloped with one of the indentured servants!

3) My paternal grandmother was a Fancher, and the genealogy geek on that side of the family has proved we’re related to the victims of the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857.

Moving away from anyone who’s made a mark on history, my great-great-grandfather in the direct paternal line seems to have been quite a character. Or maybe a piece of work–hard to tell! He lived from 1824-1900, fathered seventeen children by three wives in succession, and volunteered to fight in the Civil War even though he was almost 40 and had, oh, a dozen kids or so on the farm at that point. I’m descended from, I think, the second wife’s first son, and between all the people those 17 kids married, I’m kin to practically everyone who’s native to my part of my home county. I used to tell people I moved far away from home just to avoid marrying a cousin!

janegeorge
13 years ago

On my mother’s side I’m a descendant of Cotton Mather. I think I may have mentioned that here before. If I have any fun ancestors I’m not aware of it. They certainly aren’t apparent in any of the early family photographs. Omigoodness what a dour lot.

Janet Mullany
13 years ago

I have ancestors but none of them were particularly interesting. Shelley’s first wife, Harriet Westbrook, may have been a family member altho the family geneaologist hasn’t been able to make a connection.
Basically all my ancestors did was to inbreed in Bromley, Kent for many centuries.

Megan Frampton
13 years ago

How fun!

For me, a great-great-etc. grandfather bought Abe Lincoln’s cabin, disassembled it, and brought it to NY, I think, reassembled it and charged admission.

Apparently, then Illinois decided they wanted it back and passed some sort of law, so he had to bring it back.

My grandfather was one of the main players in the building of the first covered shopping mall (Minnesota). Not really famous ancestry, but helpful for retail, I guess.

Cara King
13 years ago

Keira, I’ll stand with you in the nobody famous corner! 🙂 Actually, there aren’t a lot of records on my ancestors, beyond the fact that the German ones mostly farmed, and the Irish ones were poor.

However, once upon a time my one grandmother (whose maiden name was Stevenson) told us we were related to Robert Louis Stevenson. She also told us we were related to Adlai Stevenson.

When, eventually, someone got around to asking her how we were related to either of them, and how she knew of it, the answer was “well, all Stevensons are related.” 😉

Cara

Ladyhawk
13 years ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

Keira Soleore
13 years ago

See now, Cara, I like how your grandmother thought. There are some people in the world (for example, from southern India) where the first name’s your last name, the second name’s the name of your village, and the last name’s your given name. By that reasoning and Cara’s grandother’s, I’m related to Keira Knightley.

Cara King
13 years ago

related to Keira Knightley.

And I to Irene Cara! 🙂

Or maybe to King Kong.

Cara

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

I love these stories! Even the made up ones, Cara and Keira.

I often wonder how I might be related to the Gastons of Gastonia, NC. My Gaston side came from Beaver Falls, PA. I also wonder how I might be related to the Gastons of Birmingham AL. O Doggie One, you might know of them-an African American branch.

Susan, you win the prize for the most numerous interesting ancestors. Janet, for the most numerous, given she’s related to EVERYBODY in Bromley, Kent.

janegeorge, you might win the prize for the witchiest! (or is that anti-witchiest).

Megan, any connection with Abe Lincoln is a good one, even if it was for profit!

Amanda McCabe
13 years ago

I’ve often wished I had an ancestor worthy of being in a novel! Alas, none that I know about. Mostly Irish merchants and farmers, and a few Frenchies who seemed to specialize in getting into trouble. No one with a cool chapel. 🙂

Santa
13 years ago

I just had to laugh at Megan’s dissembling relative. Just brilliant.

I don’t think anyone in my family has ever traced their ancestry.

One of my husband’s ancestors had a hand in the creation of their family crest. It is said that the O’Byrne clan (us) ran a race against our rival the O’Neals (or was it the O’Ryans?) for some land. The first one to arrive at the finish line would be granted the land. So, O’Byrne cut of his hand at the wrist and threw it across the finish line; thereby, winning the land for the clan.

Their crest: Three hands on a shield.

I kid you not.

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

ROFL, Santa!
Top that, somebody!!

Keira Soleore
13 years ago

Santa, I give up. No way, could I even make up a story like that one. WIN!

Greta
Greta
13 years ago

Megan,

***
My grandfather was one of the main players in the building of the first covered shopping mall (Minnesota). Not really famous ancestry, but helpful for retail, I guess.
***

Have you ever braved a Minnesota winter? Enclosed shopping malls are more significant than you realize! I will think of you with gratitude, next time I’m at Southdale Center.

No famous relatives in my family. Two of my grandparents were born in North America but grew up speaking their family language (German in one case, Scottish Gaelic in the other), and I’ve always found that interesting.

These were great stories, everyone! Thanks for sharing them.

Caffey
13 years ago

Diana, a small world!! I’m from Buffalo and I went to that church!! The smaller one was the one that they had the interpreted services for the deaf! I think it was the only Catholic church that did. I think now the Priest had moved on to a bigger church in Depew, but a beautiful small church there. So fascinated with learning about Ancestors! My sister is doing some of that information on my mom’s side of the family. I didn’t know that her grandparents were married on an Indian Reservation! I too wondered about the disabilities our family has since I’m the only one fully deaf, but my 4 other sisters were born hard of hearing as well. Then both my brothers had a child born with severe autism. So we did some checking and so far they had two family members way up in the family tree that had children that were similar (they didn’t have the diagnosis name for it then). My other sister is looking into my father’s side because his parents immigrated from Poland, so I’d love to learn alot from there too!

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

OMIGOSH, Caffey! You are the only person I’ve ever known who even heard of the church!

Genetics are fascinating, aren’t they? My dentist says I have something about my teeth that only Native Americans have. Gotta wonder if one of those tribes up there mixed with my folks. Not that they’d ever say, huh?

It does sound like your family has more than its share of difficulties to surmount.

Debora
13 years ago

My maiden name is Bragg, and am related to Gen. Braxton Bragg, a Confederate general whose reputation is being rehabilitated these days, thank goodness. According to my father, we’re directly descended from Braxton’s brother. Other than that, no one else famous in our family that I know of!

Debora

Megan Frampton
13 years ago

Greta, I have not braved a MN winter–my mom did, many of them, and she is still griping about it. The only thing I ever did was go there for Thanksgiving, and it was flukily warm that holiday. My husband still insists my grandmother pulled weather strings to try and convince us to move out there.

My grandad helped build Ridgedale, worked for the Daytons for almost all his working life.

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

My maiden name is Bragg, and am related to Gen. Braxton Bragg, a Confederate general whose reputation is being rehabilitated these days, thank goodness.

Oh Debora, I’ve heard of Fort Bragg my whole life, my father having been in the army…

This is cool!!

Follow
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com
24
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x