Thursday, March 15, 2012

Finding Immigrant Ancestors

April's Tree
When I began investigating our family's roots in 1989, my first ambition was to find the immigrant ancestor. I wanted to find out who had crossed the ocean to come to America, and when.

For my mother's ancestors, that was relatively easy. Her parents were both born in Finland, and eventually I found their immigration records at Ellis Island.

Earlier ancestors were more of a challenge, but some of them are listed in The Great Immigration Begins, at, (just one of the many reasons I think my subscription is worth it).

Now I have discovered a whole new challenge: find the immigrant ancestor of the the immigrant ancestor!  Rev. Thomas James, Jr., (my 8x-great-grandfather) was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1626, and died on Long Island, New York, in 1696.

So, end of story, found the immigrant ancestor who crossed the ocean.  Whoa, not so fast.  Who was his immigrant ancestor? Was he of native Saxon roots? Or did someone cross an ocean to become his immigrant ancestor?

Today, I found the answer. Eighteen generations up Thomas James' branch of my family tree is Monsieur de St. Pierre (a younger brother of the house of St. Pierre), who was born in Normandy, France. I haven't found a date, but calculating the generations puts him at about the time of William the Conqueror. So we may speculate that St. Pierre, a younger son looking for opportunities to make his fortune, might have joined the thousands of warriors who invaded England with William the Conqueror.

This puts a whole new light on the phrase "immigrant ancestor"!

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