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Murtagon

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Reply with quote  #1 
What are some interesting details about your family tree that you would like to share?

I'll start with a still unproven rumour that the paternal grandfather of my mother's maternal grandmother (phew!) was the first cousin of Hadzhi Dimitar (1840 - 1868), a famous Bulgarian revolutionary. It's not impossible for it to be true, as Dimitar was from Svilen, a city in present-day Bulgaria, in which I do indeed have relatives. I've never met them though.

What is more certain, however, is my Gagauz ancestry on both sides of the family tree. My father's paternal grandmother and my mother's maternal grandfather both come from such families. Personally, I do not believe in the theory that the Gagauz people are like reverse Pomaks (Bulgarians who, at least theoretically, became Muslim, but kept their names and culture). It just doesn't make sense to me that the Ottoman Empire, a state in which it was more important and maybe even profitable to be Muslim rather than a "Turk", an ethnicity which was not codified until about the 1920s, would allow any of its subjects to keep their language and switch their religion (the Gagauzi are Orthodox Christians). I think the theory according to which the Gagauzi were something like remnants of the Proto-Bulgarians is much more logical. Oh, and they don't speak Turkish.

Anyway, enough about me! What about you?
Peter

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Reply with quote  #2 
I actually know quite a lot about my ancestry, due not to my own efforts but to those of relatives. My cousin Stephen, my father's brother's son, traced our paternal family male line back to Elizabethan days, finding that we originate from a long line of washerwomen and agricultural labourers in the middle of rural Dorset, at various locations in the valley of the River Piddle. No, I did not make that name up, it really exists and I have stood beside it, though 'ditch' rather than 'river' would be the topographical term that would spring (ahem) more readily to my mind. I have also been to the ancestral village, and let me tell you that rural Dorset is as rural as England ever gets, it is pretty much unpeopled over a very large area. I don't suppose it was very much different when my ancestors were plying their trades there, under whichever surname; they had two, of which they used one or the other at different times, a not-uncommon phenomenon when surnames for the lower orders were a new-fangled idea. Eventually of course one had to be picked and stuck to, and was, though I have occasionally used the other for pseudonymous writing, a tip of the hat to the long-ago folk from whom I sprung.

While cousin Stephen adhered to a strictly Salic approach, my maternal aunt by marriage Phyllis was more generous when investigating her husband's ancestry, and thus that of their children, my cousins. She tried for a complete ancestry, and got impressive results on the maternal side, not so much on the paternal though, coming to a screeching halt after only two generations. My maternal grandfather's own paternal grandfather just appeared in London with absolutely no clue as to where from, precluding further enquiry. Obviously an immigrant from somewhere, family speculation is the Continent, though there's no particular reason to think so that I can see. Anyway, on the maternal side she had more success, tracing ancestors a fair way back in a range of counties, exclusively southern though. In fact, though I have quite a large number of identified ancestors none of them come from as far north as the Midlands. So I'm pretty boring, not only all English but all southern English. A most unsatisfactory diversity quotient, but there it is, with nothing at all I can do about it.
Murtagon

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thank you for sharing, Peter! I sure didn't find it boring! [smile]

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Originally Posted by Peter
...a strictly Salic approach...


You know, despite Bulgaria always having had a patriarchal society, few people seem to give more preference to their paternal ancestry. Then again, few people I know actually care about their ancestries at all. Now, my mother (for instance) would consider her descent from her maternal grandmother more important than that from her own father or even from her maternal grandfather. I'd assume there are personal reasons for that (bad blood, one could say) and, as a result, some aspects of my family tree are better represented than others. She just has a better kinship and relationship with some people and not others. This also has the effect that I have to rely on the brief information provided by aging gravestones. [wink]

Hmm, you also mention family names. My paternal grandfather's paternal grandfather was called Slavi Bonev Valkov, which implies that he was the son of Bonyo and the grandson of Valko, whoever they were. He had several children (from two marriages; his first wife died and he remarried, as his sons weren't old enough to cope with the loss, I suppose), of which the relevant one is Ivan Slavov Bonev, my father's grandfather, a veteran of the Balkan Wars, as well as of the First World War (he had always referred to it as the "European" War). Suffice to say, that my own family name (which is extremely common) is neither of the above two, but at least it's the same as that of my father. 

Finally, I do have what we call a "white" envy for your ancestry which you (your cousin, rather) have traced back to the 16th century. Me, I've only reached something like the mid-19th century, when the above mentioned Slavi Valkov was most likely born in Beidaud, a village in Northern Dobrudzha, which was given to Romania following the Berlin Congress of 1878. I doubt that I have any relatives there, as all Bulgarians were forced to leave in late 1940.
Windemere

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Originally Posted by Windemere
Thanks, Murtagon and Peter, for the very interesting previous posts. It's nice to know the family background of the other members of this genealogically-oriented forum.

My father (now deceased) was born in 1913 and raised in the little village of Ballyhea, outside the town of Dingle, on the Dingle Peninsula of County Kerry, in the province of Munster, in southwestern Ireland. Not sure, but I don't believe Ballyhea exists on any maps, there were only 7 families (including his own) residing in Ballyhea. I believe it was his O'Connor grandfather who originally acquired the farm, which must have been sometime in the 1800s. His grandfather married a Dowd girl, and they raised 3 daughters. All 3 daughters emigrated to America. In Ireland at that time, farms were traditionally passed on to the oldest son in the family. However, being that there was no son in the family, one of the daughters (my grandmother) moved back to the farm in Ballyhea. She married a man from a nearby village called Knocknahough. Ironically, her husband (my grandfather) had the same surname (O'Connor) as she did. He also came from a farm family, but being a younger son, had no  inheritance prospects. (Apparently the opportunity to marry a girl who was heiress to a farm was considered an astounding  stroke of good fortune at that time). They raised 3 sons and 3 daughters. The oldest son inherited the farm. The second son became a tradesman. The 2 oldest daughters emigrated to America. The oldest became a nun, and the second daughter got married and raised a family in the town of Melrose outside of Boston. The youngest daughter remained in Ireland, married, and raised a family. The original farm in Ballyhea is still owned by my first-cousin (my father's older brother's son), whom I only met once, in 1999, when I, my father, and my brother, made a 2 week trip back there, to see it.

My father (the youngest son) emigrated to Springfield, Massachusetts sometime around the time of World War II. (I'm not sure if it was before, during, or after the war). People in Dingle, Ireland were quite familiar with Springfield, Massachusetts, as there'd been quite a bit of emigration taking place for many years. People in Dingle in those days were much more familiar with Springfield, Mass. in America than they were with Dublin, which was quite distant, and people seldom travelled much in those days, except for emigration. My father worked as a laborer for the local electric company in Springfield.

My mother (maiden-surname Doolan) (now also deceased) was born in 1920 in Springfield. Her Doolan father had emigrated to Springfield, I think around age 20 or so, from the town of Minard on the Dingle Peninsula, probably sometime around the turn of the century. I think his mother's maiden surname may have been Kennedy. Many of his siblings also emigrated to America. Country people seldom wrote or signed their names in those days, and when entering America, their names were recorded by the immigration officer. His siblings, who all immigrated to America separately, had their surname recorded as Doolan, Dolan, or Dowling, and so they all ended up with slightly different surnames. My grandfather was employed as a janitor by the local bus company. My mother's  O'Neil mother (my grandmother) immigrated to Springfield as a young girl also sometime around the turn of the century, I think from the town of Glengarriff, in County Cork She worked as a maid, waitress, and factory-assembler.Not sure, but  I believe my maternal grandmother's mother (my great-grandmother) came to Ireland originally from Wales, and may have had the surname of Farr.

My maternal grandparents met and married in Springfield, Mass. Their 1st child, a boy, died aged only a few months, in 1919. That was the year of the worldwide flu pandemic. My mother, born the following year, was their only other child.

I cannot trace my ancestry any further back than my great-grandparents, and even some of that is rather hazy. RoyalCello, in his introduction to this forum, actually traces some branches of his family back many generations.



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Murtagon

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Reply with quote  #5 
Thank you, Windemere, for sharing your story with us!

You say that you think that the mother of your maternal grandfather (Mr. Doolan) may have been from the Kennedy family. If I'm not mistaken, former President of the United States John Kennedy was also of Irish descent. Is there any chance that there may be some sort of relation? Of course, it doesn't have to be third cousins, but you get the idea.

O'Connor means something like "Son of Connor", right? Have you been able to find this possible progenitor in your ancestry?


Peter

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Reply with quote  #6 
As I understand it, 'Mac' means 'son of'. 'O'' means 'grandson of', or more generally 'descendant of'. The O'Connors, or O'Conors, were I believe the royal family of Connaught, but of course clansmen would adopt the surname of their chiefs, so just bearing the name does not necessarily indicate direct royal ancestry. Kennedy is a not uncommon surname in Ireland and among people of Irish descent,  springing originally from a nephew of Brian Boru, though again actual kinship is not necessarily implied. It is also not unknown in Scotland, though with a different origin. Actually Irish genealogy and surnames are like two extremely hazardous minefields set side by side, so I will make no further blundering attempts to navigate them. Fun fact from Irish genealogy though; Princess Grace of Monaco was, due to her Irish peasant ancestry, actually more inbred than her royal husband Prince Rainier III.
Windemere

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Reply with quote  #7 
Peter is correct. The prefixes 'Mac' or 'Mc' mean 'son of'. The prefix 'O'  means 'of', and refers to the clan or locality. There were several different O'Connor clans in Ireland, with no discernible connections to each other. The best-known one was the O'Connors who were the kings of Connacht in northwestern Ireland. But I suspect that my own ancestors were a minor O'Connor clan with origins in the province of Munster, in the southwest. I don't actually have any idea of whom the progenitor of that clan might be.

I think that my maternal grandfather's mother's surname indeed was Kennedy. But that is actually an exceedingly common surname throughout Ireland. It's also a common surname in Massachusetts. The late President John Kennedy indeed did have ancestral roots in Ireland. I'm not certain, but it may have been his great-grandparents who emigrated to Boston from Ireland, and that would probably have been in the mid-1800s (but I'm not sure of that). His maternal family were Fitzgeralds, and I believe his maternal grandfather was a mayor of Boston.  I don't know what part of Ireland they came from.  But I doubt there's any familial connection, at least none that I know of.

Incidentally, that Kennedy family remains prominent in Massachusetts politics. Joseph Kennedy III, a grandson of Robert Kennedy (younger brother of President John Kennedy) is currently a Congressman from an electoral district outside of Boston, and is currently running for senator from Massachusetts.

It's interesting that Princess Grace was more 'inbred' than her husband, although it's not altogether a surprise, as there was probably little geographic mobility among the peasantry in those days, and villagers  likely frequently married cousins.

I wouldn't be surprised if my family has some sort of descent from Brian Boru, as he originated in the little subkingdom of Thomond, which is close to the area that my family originated from. But it is surely an untraceable descent, and I imagine that all the natives of the province of Munster probably share some sort of descent from him, as he lived over a thousand years ago, and by now his descendants must be innumerable.

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Murtagon

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Reply with quote  #8 
Thank you, Peter and Windemere, for your illuminating posts!

In that case, I stand corrected. 😊

To be honest, I wonder how our ancestors managed to steer clear of inbreeding. I mean, so far I've been unable to find any actual cousin marriages on my family tree. I think my aunt once said about this that people used to research the bride's ancestry as well as they could. Who knows.
Having said that, I visited a cemetery near Varna yesterday (quite a lot of my maternal relatives are buried there) and I noticed a certain grave, due to the man of the couple's family name being quite unusual but not unknown to me. My mother then said that the woman had been a cousin of her (my mother's) grandmother. She then said that we were also related to her husband as well. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that husband and wife were close relatives, but it does show that with enough digging (hmm) you will find that you're related to everyone and anyone, whether you like it or not.
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