I think family ancestry is a really beautiful, complicated, frustrating yet very satisfying hobby. I have just recently began researching my family history and it is going quite well. I am looking at both sides of my family and have found out that I have an incredibly large family.
Now that I have a little bit more time on my hands because of my masters, I have been able to research even more in to where my family has come from. As of right now I have found ancestors from Finland, Sweden, England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany. I think one of the best things is finding old photographs and seeing who else you like in your family or how strong a family’s genes are from one generation to the next. But also finding links throughout the family and hearing of old family stories and what all your ancestors did for a living is really interesting. I have definitely found traits that have been passed on from hundreds of years ago.
So, I was actually quite lucky because a member on my dad’s side of the family has actually written two books about our family history. However, she focused only on my father’s mother’s side (Smeltzer) and completely filled out a family tree dating back to the 1800s. The two books: The Smeltzers of Kilcooly (1981) by Marjorie R. Smeltzter and Irish-Palatine Smeltzers: Around the World (1987) by Marjorie R. Smelter. They have been incredibly helpful. Not only do they have family trees that I have been able to build up, but there has been stories from when the Smeltzers were forced to move from Germany to Ireland.
Here is some of the family history: the Smeltzers are from an area called the Palatinate. It was a German state in the region of the Rhine, one of the seven Electorates for the Holy Roman Empire. The Palatinate went through religious tensions when the monarch wanted to root out Protestantism. As my ancestors were Protestant, they felt the wrath of religious tension and were forced to move from the German Palatinate. In 1709 five hundred families, part of the mass migration of Palatines, were transplanted by the British Board of Trade to Catholic southern Ireland. The German Smeltzers moved from the Palatinate to England, where Queen Anne then moved the hundreds of families to Southern Ireland. The Smeltzer family were placed in Kilcooly, Tipperary, Ireland where they rented land and became farmers.
After 125 years, the Smeltzers emigrated to Canada and the United States for a better life and larger plots of lands. Several ancestors moved mostly to Southern Ontario, but my direct ancestor, Phillip Smeltzer, arrived on Manitoulin Island around 1880.
On my father’s father’s side there is not much, although I have noticed that the family was mostly farmers. Family members have been able to go back to the 1600s on the Tustian side of the family. I have found that the Tustian family comes from Oxfordshire, mainly two villages called Swalcliffe and Shutford. I’ve also found, through my aunt’s meticulous family hoarding and researching, that the Tustian’s still living in England have a family cricket game where a group of Tustians all get together and enjoy a day of food, drinking, cricket and family time. Quite similar to the Tustians here in Canada where we descend upon Manitoulin Island for a week to pretty much do the same thing (minus the cricket).
Unfortunately, on my mother’s side of the family the family tree is quite small. However, my mother’s father I know is from Bathurst, New Brunswick and am looking in to some records as to who his family ancestors were. On my mother’s mother’s side I know my Nana’s father is from Finland and came to Canada. Nana’s mother was born in Canada. Nana’s father’s side is difficult to connect as I don’t speak or read Finnish and most of the records are either lost, as of right now, or not in English. So, right now I am focusing all of my effort on my mother’s side of the family to see what I can dig up.
If anyone has any questions or pointers or anything like that I would be more than happy to hear from you! Cheers!