Lucky Me!

Week 11: #52 Ancestors – Luck

By Eilene Lyon

I would never deny that I’ve had very good fortune in life. Living in America has been a real blessing, and is a circumstance of my birth for which I can claim no credit – I’m just lucky! I grew up in a solidly middle-class family, setting me on a path to a decent education and opportunity.

I live in a beautiful land with many freedoms and abundance, not found everywhere in this world. I have my immigrant ancestors to thank. It seems some people have developed a negative attitude about immigration, based on fear, not reality. We are all sons and daughters of immigrants in this country. Yes, even Native Americans – they just got here a long, long time before anyone else!

If your parents were the first generation in the United States, you have just two immigrant ancestors. My forebears began arriving so many generations ago that I have loads of immigrants in my tree. I can’t even identify them all at this point. My last foreign-born ancestor arrival occurred in 1881.

Following is a list of my known ancestors who made the bold move to leave the known behind and risk everything on a new life in a faraway land where they might not speak the language or know the customs. I’m humbled and grateful for their courage and adventurous spirit.

I’ve listed the earliest person or couple, and if their foreign-born child is also my ancestor, they are listed with their parents. Then their origin, if known, and their arrival date, if known.

  • Samuel and Elizabeth J (Sorby) Drake, Robert and Eliza Jane (Drake) Halse, Richard Halse. Killyleagh, County Down, North Ireland. May 22, 1850. (Robert Halse may have arrived at a different time than the rest of the family.)
  • Richard and Magdalena (Breckner) Delle, Margaret Mary Delle. Mainz-Kastel, Wiesbaden, Hesse, Germany. April 2, 1852.
  • Elder John Crandall. Westerleigh, Gloucestershire, England. 1635.
  • Richard and Rebecca (Marbury) Maxon. Manchester, Greater Manchester, England. 1634.
  • Mathias and Dorothea (Sandring) Nordt, Mary Frederica Nordt. Beyendorf, Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. November 5, 1881.
  • Robert Orme. England. 1673.
  • Richard Pell. England. 1737.
  • George Tobias Paul. Germany. 1753.
  • Eva Barbara Dockenwadel. Germany. 1754.
  • Johann Caspar and Susannah (Scheible) Hepler. Germany. 1748.
  • Hans Jacob Wagner. Germany.
  • Robert and Margaret (Hammond) Zane, Nathaniel Zane. Yorksham, Devonshire, England. 1670s. (Margaret may have died on the passage over.)
  • William and Grace (Wyron) Rakestraw, Grace Rakestraw. Cornwall, England.
  • Nathan Shenton (unknown spouse). Grosly, Leicestershire, England.
  • William and Elizabeth (Griffith) Jenkins, Stephen Jenkins. Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales. 1686.
  • Phineas and Phebe (Harrison) Pemberton, Abigail Pemberton. England. 1682.
  • Thomas Bedford. Old Sampford, Essex, England. 1786.
  • John Annable. Derbyshire, England. 1774.
  • Carl and Dorothea (Groth) Gaszow. Mecklenburg, Germany. 1856.
  • Sophia (Hauser) Springer (widow), Charles Springer. Heidelsheim, Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. March 31, 1854.
  • Johann Joseph and Anna (Wiskirchen) Tils, Adolph Dills. Germany. 1850s.
  • Johann Carl Brimmer (unknown spouse), Louisa Mary Brimmer. Mecklenburg, Germany. 1855.
  • Manus McElroy (unknown spouse), William  and Mary Jane (Redmond) McElroy. Ireland. ~1850.
  • Jean George and Magdaline Marguerite (Wagner) Arbogast, Louis Arbogast. Strasburg, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France. June 4, 1840.
  • Christian and Julie (Berthoud) Baumgartner, Roseanna Baumgartner. Bremergarten, Berne, Switzerland. 1840s.

A few things strike me about the list. First is that half came from Germanic parts of Europe and were all Lutheran/Evangelisch, not Catholic. Another is that many of the early-day immigrants from England and Wales were Quakers. And the McElroy line is probably my only truly Irish family so far, because the Halses and Drakes were of English origin.

Feature image: Mary Frederica Nordt (right), my great-great-grandmother, and the last of my immigrant ancestors. She is with her mother (my 3rd great-grandmother) Dorothe (Sandring) Nordt and sister, Agatha. Mary Frederica was born in Beyendorf, Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, on September 18, 1866. She arrived in Baltimore with her family on November 5, 1881, aboard the ship Hermann which departed from Bremen. The photo was probably taken either shortly before they left Germany or soon after their arrival in the U.S.

28 thoughts on “Lucky Me!

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  1. I like what you said about being blessed to be an American. I’m always annoyed by people who say they’re proud to be American. They had nothing to do with it! I’m with you–I’m only here because my ancestors chose to come. Lucky indeed!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. If I am in a room and the conversation turns negatively toward immigrants, I will speak up and say I am an immigrant. Invariably the person will start to stammer, “but that’s different…” I just don’t look like an immigrant to them. I will tell them that immigrants want for their families exactly as you stated in your post, a life of freedom and abundance, regardless of where they came from. There is plenty of that to go around in North America.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a simple list, but the amount of time and research it must have taken you to compile it boggles my mind. I especially like that you have a “William and Mary Jane” in your lineage. I have a theory that every family has at least one William and Mary Jane [translated into any language, not necessarily in English] in their family tree. 🤓

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it’s something we all have, should we choose to delve into it. I won’t necessarily encourage it, unless you have lots of time for it!!!

      Sometimes I wonder if I spend too much of mine delving into all this family history, but then I meet some new cousins and it’s all worthwhile. It isn’t just about dead people after all.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved reading your list of immigrant ancestors. I agree with you about immigration and I do find it comforting that, no matter our differences (especially these days and in this political climate where they seem to be amplified), we as Americans have that one thing in common. I do hope the hate will stop and we can all just look at each other as equals in that way.

    Also, those puffed sleeves are amazing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. In the eye of the universe, we’re all the same, anywhere and everywhere. Irrelevant specks, perhaps, but no speck is more important than the others.

      Yes, quite the outfits. I would not like having to dress that way.🙃

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love your stance on immigration. We have been cruel to select immigrant groups for as long as we’ve been a country but it just feels cruel and out of hand today. Most people have no idea where they come from so it’s refreshing to read your view through that historic lens.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Your last foreign-born ancestor arrived right about the time my first one did!

    What gets me is when people complain about immigrants coming here for financial reasons. That’s the reason MOST people immigrated. Even those who were escaping religious persecution also had financial reasons. Very few of our European ancestors would have qualified as refugees.

    Those dresses — I think the collars would give me a panic attack!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think maybe the Irish immigration during the famine years was a real setback, because British landowners sent impoverished, uneducated, unhealthy boat loads of people over and essentially dumped them on Canada and the US. That is a bit of an exception to most immigrants.

      Dorothe’s collar does look exceptionally confining!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. None of my family even set foot in America until the early 1900s, but then they all came over within a twenty year period, making it through before all the restrictive immigration acts of the 1920s were passed, except for my grandfather, who presumably was able to come over because his mother was already living there (she left him and his older sister behind as young children in what was then Yugoslavia so she could come to America to remarry – I feel like there’s probably an interesting story there, but my grandfather died when I was 11, and we weren’t particularly close, so I’ll never know it). But of course you’ve got so many interesting stories, and so many relatives that you’re able to research!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you have some interesting family stories to research as well. Don’t assume you can’t learn something because the people are gone. They may have left some clues anyway. I think that maybe the period when your family immigrated we saw more of what we call chain migration. That’s just me guessing, though, not a fact.

      Liked by 1 person

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