Every so often my husband decides to do some genealogy stuff. It usually winds up with him finding some new corner of my tree. This is odd. My parents are English, but I was born and grew up in America (west coast and New Mexico). I now live in Australia. I grew up thinking of my parents families as poor and mostly from England- my paternal grandmother was American - she followed my grandfather to England after the war (and that is a fascinating story all by itself) but I always had the impression they were poor farmers, maybe a couple of generations in the USA. Ha

My mum’s family really were quite poor and rural- they had had some land in the 19th century but the opium smoking granny gambled it away. And that family tree bounces around a few villages in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

My paternal grandmothers family on the other hand- the first time my husband tried to do it, he kept complaining how this one family all kept having the same odd place as their place of birth. It was the family estate for the Calhouns. My husband is Australian, so no context for him, but I fell off the couch. I was a bit of a history nerd, I knew the name. It turns out that John C Calhoun was my distant cousin, many times removed. And bits of my family were in the Americas in the 1600s. This time around the site he is using has newspapers and other bits of information- so my husband has been reading funeral notices of Calhoun as well. The plus side of a well known family (with money and land) is that the family trees tend to be well documented. The down side- not sure I want to be related to this family 🙁

My whole view on the world when I was growing up was that I wasn’t quite American, I was always not quite inside enough. It’s weird to realise that was not entirely true.

I like watching the who do you think you are programs, and it’s fascinating how everyone has an interesting story- or meaningful for them.


The weird thing for me- when I was younger my family got a call from someone who had moved to the area from the Carolinas. We had the same surname, so she thought we might be related (note my surname comes from the English side), as that surname is mostly one group in that area. So we weren’t, but maybe we really were? The Calhouns were prolific.