This is the Message Centre for paulh, vaccinated against the Omigod Variant

Genealogy spread heavy and thick

Post 1

paulh, vaccinated against the Omigod Variant

My family met via Zoom today, and they seemed to think that I should take charge of writing a history of the family. That would be easier said than done, given the vast reaches of family history. If your ancestors procreated at a rate of about four generations per century (give or take), that means a multiplier factor of sixteen for every century that you go back. Let's disregard the guys who lost their wives in their 40s or 50s or 60s and started afresh. After all, plenty of brides began pumping out children at a younger age than they might nowadays.

Anyway, I've put together all my personal recollections of what various relatives have told me, together with whatever misinformation there is in websites. I emailed it to my sister, who will hopefully forward it to the other family members.

My surname is Harvey, which is roughly the 240th most common surname in the U.S., and the 98th most common in the U.K. My sister married into the Wilkins family, which descends from Ethan Allen's grandfather (Allen led the successful Americans in the battle of Ticonderoga in the American Revolution.).

There are other surnames here and there across the generations -- Peters, Rossman, Bemis, Holt, Bates, Steele, Griesemer. You can detect some Pennsylvania Dutch and Northern Irish in these surnames.

I don't feel like tackling much more than the Harvey lines. it might be good for other family members to divvy up the Peterses and Holts, etc.

My niece-in-law advocated hiring a professional genealogist. We will need to choose our battles, though. Go back three centuries, and you have 16 to the 3rd power, or 4096, give or take. Go back to the Battle of Hastings, and it's 16 to the 8th power (4294967296) or 9th power (68719476736).

How many of our forebears were horse thieves or other ne'er-do-wells? Maybe I don't want to know. One ancestor was a first cousin of President Benjamin Harrison (who was himself the grandson of a president). Probably no royalty, but who knows? 68 billion ancestors was a lot more than the world population in 1066.

Genealogy spread heavy and thick

Post 2

Pierre de la Mer ~ sometimes slightly worried but never panicking ~

My long-deceased father and after him my older brother have been trying to map out our origins. On my mothers' side, they could follow it so far back that they lost interest. Blue blood appeared at some point and why risk ruining such a beautiful image by further research? smiley - winkeye

On my fathers side, they could only follow the story back to my great-great-great-grandfather who seems to have suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Legend has it that he was the youngest son of a Polish nobleman who collaborated with Russian oppressors and was duly killed along with his eldest son during a peasant uprising at about the same time as the French Revolution. But nothing has been confirmed. Other branches of the family believe we are descended from fleeing French aristocrats. I doubt it. There are never any of us who have behaved particularly aristocratic smiley - winkeye

Genealogy spread heavy and thick

Post 3

paulh, vaccinated against the Omigod Variant

I think there's a relevant line in "Pirates of Penzance":
"They are all noblemen who have gone wrong."

Until recently you were Pierce the Pirate.

Here's a Swedish nobleman who became a pirate:,the%20years%201657%20to%201662.

Erlend Eindridesson was a Norwegian nobleman, plundered German ships in the Sognefjord.

Eric of Pomerania, The first king of the Nordic Kalmar Union, ended his days living on Gothland Island, and "sent forth piratical expeditions against friend and foe alike".

[the last two from

Okay, so being a Pirate was just as much a fantasy as being descended from noblemen. Fantasies keep us going sometimes.smiley - smiley

Genealogy spread heavy and thick

Post 4

Pierre de la Mer ~ sometimes slightly worried but never panicking ~

Those were the days smiley - erm

Genealogy spread heavy and thick

Post 5


Jeez I'm just descended from a long line of farmers and , more recently, poor urban whites. First van der Merwe came into South Africa in about 1675; the original Dutch surname was actually 'van de Merwede', 'from the Merwede (river)'. I reckon most of us have been here for a long time. My mother's family was Claassen, also Dutch. Anyways van der Merwe is South Africa's fourth-commonest Afrikaans surname after Jacobs (which is also the surname for many Coloured people), Botha and van Wyk.

Here's a list of my country's commonest surnames.

Genealogy spread heavy and thick

Post 6

SashaQ - happysad

My parents did quite a bit of work on our family history a few years ago - most of my ancestors were farmers as well. It was interesting to visit records offices, though, and see the different resources they contain, so I enjoyed helping out.

One or two lines went back 300-400 years, but we got nowhere near finding 4096 people in the family tree. For example my great-great grandmother’s surname was Smith, the most common UK surname. We had no way of knowing which one she was out of the 5 people with her name in her town, so we couldn’t tell who her parents were.

Genealogy spread heavy and thick

Post 7

paulh, vaccinated against the Omigod Variant

I had two great-great grandmothers named Mary Wheeler. They were not the same Mary Wheeler. Wheeler is the 208th most common surname in the of the 1990 census.

Harvey is the 225th.

Peters is in 197th place

Holt is in 291st place

Bemis, Griesemer, and Rossman are not among the 1,000 most common surnames.

Bates is 295th

Wilkins is in 485th place

Steele is in 312th place.

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