Maybe it's all those commercials I've seen about tracing your ancestry through DNA. Or perhaps it's the fact that several of my family members and friends are and have been busy at this task. For most of us I think it's a natural part of life to be curious about who and where we came from. In fact in this world full of technology... genealogy is a hobby being taken up by a lot of people... not just old ones, either.
Me? I have a lot of information about my family for two reasons. The first is that I was married to Doug Babcock whose Senior Thesis at Oregon State University was genealogy. This meant that his final project included his own and his wife's family histories. I thank him to this day for giving each of his daughters a complete copy of his work and for sharing a copy about my family with me.
The other reason I have a record of my family history is that one of my grandmother's sisters was a member of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Of this historical fact, I'm not sure of how I feel. While this groups motto is God, Home, and Country, their country didn't include all of its citizens. They were founded in 1890 to honor the memory of those who fought in the Revolutionary War... primarily because the Sons of the American Revolution wouldn't allow women.
In the year 1896, they were incorporated by an Act of Congress, despite complaints from their husbands, fathers and sons (I'm just guessing here). No doubt their organization did good things but you had to be white to join and I'm talking REALLY WHITE. That's why members had to prove through their genealogy that they were related to someone who was part of the Revolutionary War and earlier history of the United States. Of course there were people of color in that war but they were discounted.
Through this rigorous search, my great-aunt traced our family to the year 1605, two years before my guy was born. The name I had was Evardus Bogardus. Stop laughing and I mean it. I've spent my life being fascinated by this man's name. If your last name was Bogardus... why would you choose the name Evardus? Imagine the pain he went through at school. Today, this would be like Olive Green, Chanda Leer or Charmin... which are also real names but what were the parents thinking? Stormy Beech? Really? Oh sure, there are a whole lot more of these wacky names but I only cared about Evardus.
After years of pondering this mystery I decided to Google Evardus Bogardus. Friends, to my joy and great embarrassment, I found him. Turns out he was born Everart Bogaert in Woerden, Holland in 1607. HE HIMSELF changed his name to the more Latininized Everardus Bogardus when he was at Leyden University in 1627.
There's a picture and story about Everardus in Wikipedia. Reading this, I realized that he was a pretty interesting guy who liked beer, disliked taxes and didn't get along with politicians. He emigrated to New Netherlands in 1633 and was the second Dominie of the New Amsterdam Dutch Reformed Church. It is suggested that he collected money to rebuild a church damaged by war through passing out pledges at the wedding of a popular and wealthy young couple. A lot of cheerful drunk people signed up to give and when they sobered up, our hero was there with his hand out. What a guy.
Now that I've found him, I'll correct the spelling of his name on my family tree and move on to someone else with a peculiar name. I'm thinking Obediah Higbee might just be my next target. This time though, I'll Google first instead of waiting 50 years to figure it out.
Mr. S and I recently took DNA tests and the information we got back was pretty interesting. Turns out he's got a bit of Micronesia in him and I've got some Ashkenazi Jew. We've decided to build our own family trees because it beats crossword puzzles and playing two-handed Uno. Of course I'll do all the computer work and research. His job will be to act like he really cares when I make a fascinating discovery.
If I can't drum up enough interest from him, I'll start making up stories. After all these years together... I can still get his attention. I have my ways.