Ancestry Can Cause an Interest in History

by blackspanielgallery

Looking at one's ancestry can be an excellent way to develop an appreciation of history.

When one studies one's ancestry, it makes history more personal. When history becomes more personal, it makes retention of what is learned easier. In fact, when it comes to looking at the past through one's own ancestors, history becomes interesting at a higher level. The desire to connect more to the past is intensified. And, if there is the good fortune to have ancestors who have played significant roles in the past, it is even more engrossing.

I started looking to see how far back I could go. At first I had just some names and places, along with the time these people lived. Perhaps the names were incidental, but the places and times were points of curiosity. But, then there were names of people who were major influences on the history of the places. When these emerged things became more interesting, and details become important to me.

The German Line


On my mother's side of the family, my grandmother was a descendant of Germans.  I can trace the family back to Bavaria.  The family settled in Louisiana, some wen north to Indiana, then returned.  I can get back a couple of hundred years in this branch, much more than I had hoped.


The family, at least this branch, can be traced to Bavaria, a specific area of Germany.


To claim these people came from Germany might be true in the sense of what is present day Germany.  I have often wondered if it is proper to refer to a present day country, even though the area was Prussia at the time they came over.


The names Vaoo and Faust are present, as well as Ulmer and Schmidt.  


In this branch I actually knew my great grandparents.

The First British Line


Also on my mother's side of the family I can trace but one of her paternal grandparents.  The Tizzards came from Sussex.  My great grandfather also died in Sussex, so he must have gone back to England after spending some time in the United States.  Names such as Suter and Collins appear in the family tree, but no connection to any notable people can be found.  I can get to the 1400s in a narrow line, with many branches ending much later.


He married in the United States.  My great grandmother can be traced to an orphanage, and her marriage certificate gives no name for her mother, and only the family name of Gaudasch for her father.  It does indicate her father was from France.



England Flag


The Italian Line

The line of Giuseppe Vincente Carlini is well documented, since there were land grants involved.  No, I do not get rich from the land grants, the family only retains the mineral rights, and my share is about $10 every three years or so.


This is an interesting line.  The family owned plantations, and apparently had some wealth.  The family came from Italy, where the patriarch was born.  He married a French woman, and moved to France.  The name was changed to Carlin, also spelled Carline.  He never came to the United States, but his son came over with a Spanish land grant. 

The Second British Line


My father's grandfather on the Smith side came from the northern states.  He was a logger.  Tracing his ancestry gets back to England, and the name Smith emerged from Smyth.


One interesting person was William Smith, son of John Smyth.  William was a godfather of William Shakespeare, and it is suggested he might have given his name to Shakespeare.


John Smyth was a high Sheriff.  This line can be traced back to Manchester, in particular the Smyth-Carington castle.  Some titles such as Sir and Lady first appeared, then Lord.  It is following the people who married into this line that is most of interest.  I will discuss them in the Holy Roman Empire section of this article.


Perhaps Cromwell is the best known name of those who are associated with this line.

The Holy Roman Empire

First Connection

As people descended from the ruling families, the titles were diminished.  So, some barons married into the Smyth line.  Tracing back I found titles more impressive, and finally came upon princess.  Next came Emperor of the Western Holy roman Empire with Louis II.  From there the line was easily traced, through Charlemagne, Charles Martel, and eventually back to Clovis.


One interesting person in this line was Saint Arnulf, Bishop of Metz.  He was the first canonized saint I found in my line.  I have now found many, about a dozen or so.


Other significant people in this line were Otto I, the Capets, and even a branch back to England with Edward Longshanks.  


Also of significance is the connection with the Saxons, including Henry the Fowler.

The French Line

Via Nova Scotia and Quebec

Many French from Louisiana married into my father's line.  Some can be traced to Canada, although it was not yet Canada at the time they left.  They came from Quebec and from Nova Scotia.  Although they lived in harmony with the British settlers for about a century, they were expelled from Canada several years before the American Revolution.  They never adopted English as a language, but the real reason was religious persecution of the Catholics.  They settled in Spanish owned Louisiana, welcomed by the Catholic governor.


Some of my ancestors came earlier from France, and included Bienville's personal physician.

The Canary Islands Line


One interesting thing was the occurrence of Spanish names of people marrying my French ancestors.  They were easy to trace back, and often led back to ships from the Canary Islands. 


The history here is that at the time of the American Revolution there were British garrisons near New Orleans in the Baton Rouge area.  Louisiana belonged to Spain, which was not on good terms with the British.  A fear that the British would attack New Orleans either through the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico or from the garrisoned troops in the area led Spain to recruit and send troops from the Canary Islands, its southernmost province off North Africa.  There was a second purpose, the intent to build the Spanish colony of Louisiana, so entire families were sent.  A total of seven hundred troops plus their families left on seven ships.  One of the seven ships encountered a British fleet, and diverted to Cuba.  The other six brought troops to Louisiana.  They were scattered along the coast as coast watchers, and stationed on the Mississippi River to defend New Orleans.


Governor Galvez, also a general, marched against the British in Baton Rouge, a feat allowed by the arrival of these Canary Islanders.  Here the French branch of my line also gets involved.  Those French speaking people evicted from what is now Canada had arrived about a decade earlier, and remembered their harsh treatment.  They volunteered to join the fight with about six hundred taking part.  Galvez easily prevailed, and later took other British forts, including Vicksburg.  Had the British taken control of the Mississippi River the outcome of the war could have easily been changed,  And had the French speaking Catholics not been forced from Canada, perhaps the British could have prevailed against Galvez.  


This history answered a question that came up in my ancestry search.  Several people had done a search to proof an association with the American Revolution, but Louisiana was under the control of Spain.  I did not realize the Spanish and their new French citizens were so important in the war.

The Spanish and French Royal Lines

The Carlin line apparently had wealth.  It is fair to say that a person with some standing might have married into that line.  One person who did can be traced to Quebec, and the family back to the Queen of Portugal who was the granddaughter of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain.  It is in getting back through the Spanish lines of Argonne, Castile, Leon, and Seville, that I encountered at father-in-law of King Henry VIII of England.


This line joins the French royal line which is easily traced.  I get into the French line just after King Louis XI.  This takes me back to Clovis via a distinct path.  Many ancestors are in common with my other branch.  


The one person of great interest here is King Louis IX, a canonized saint.  He let one of the crusades in northern Africa.  In the book Saints Who Left Descendants I find a claim that Louis IX descended from Mohammed, which is quite possible with mixing of the French and Spanish lines.  


Charles II married a descendant of Rollo, the Viking chieftain who was given Normandy to settle.


Of significance here is tracing my line through Normandy I come upon William the Conqueror. and so get back to England for the third time..  


Because of the amount known of the people in this part of the tree I have yet to finish adding all of the names.  I take branches back one at a time, and since so many generations are well known I have not finished.

The British Connection

Part Three

Two branches converge with the British royal line.  One comes in at the time of Edward I, the other comes via William the Conqueror.  I have not found a connection with all of the Plantagenets, my line goes around them via the empress Matilda. 


I get to King Alfred the Great, and King Cnut.   King Alfred the Great is via his granddaughter who married Charles the Simple of France.  Royal lines intertwine from country to country.


Also in the British lines are Saint Margaret, Queen of Scots, and her son King David.


If one accepts tradition as fact I can get to AElla, Note the AE is a single letter.  And, the Vikings who intermarried with the English.  

The Holy Roman Empire

Second Connection

As the leaders of the Holy Roman Empire died, the Empire split, according to the laws of inheritance.  Many of the rulers of small parcels of land married with the families of other parcels.  So, after Charlemagne, I can find quite a few people with documented lives known to historians.  Following the branches is tedious, and many converge to Louis the Pious. 


It is interesting that, as a historian once told me, so many kings of France were named Louis to disguise it from the name Clovis.  They dropped the C and, in those days, U and V were often the same. So, to pay tribute to Clovis, and not rile the people, the name Louis evolved.

The Vikings

The Vikings appeared several times in my ancestry, but so far back they could not account for the thirty-eight percent Scandinavian DNA result.  I believe much of my French heritage is from Normandy, and the Vikings also mixed with my English and German ancestors.


So, I am interested in learning more about the Vikings, Britain, France, Spain and the Canary Islands. 


If you have any idea of researching your past, remember you can find surprising connections to the history you have studied.  


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Updated: 05/24/2019, blackspanielgallery
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blackspanielgallery on 08/18/2018

I have not explored that aspect, although I sometimes do try to see something. I am not very good with such things, since I rarely see my own image, unless obscured by a razor when I am partially awake.

DerdriuMarriner on 08/18/2018

blackspanielgallery, Thank you for the genealogical backstory and the product line. Do you find any physical resemblances between you (or your children, parents, relatives, siblings) and your famous ancestors whose likenesses are perpetuated in coins, paintings or sculptures?

blackspanielgallery on 08/04/2018

I looked back to the point where the spelling changed, and both father and son were from the same region, and the ages were appropriate. It appears to be a morphing of spelling. Of course, few people in the 1400-16600 time frame could write, so names were inscribed on records by those who went from spoken words, which is how spelling abnormalities often occurred.

frankbeswick on 08/04/2018

Quite correct on spelling inconsistency. Even recently in our family there were variant spellings. My mother spelled her maiden name Stevenson, whereas her brother used Stephenson.

frankbeswick on 08/04/2018

It is more than an assumption, it is an inference based on the fact that some of our father's ancestors came from Limerick, an area settled by Norwegians. Norwegians also settled in the north of Scotland and the Isles,but we have no ancestors from there, and in Cumbria and North Lancashire, areas from which we have no recorded ancestors.

Veronica on 08/04/2018

Other than knowing that our Scandinavian DNA is Norwegian, we do not know where our Scandinavian DNA is from . It could be settlers in England or Ireland. The comment that our Scandinavian DNA is Limerick based is an assumption and only a possibility.

blackspanielgallery on 08/03/2018

I accept you as an authority, but spelling consistency over centuries is always a possibility.

blackspanielgallery on 08/03/2018

The name starts out as Smythe, and changed to Smith in the 1500s. John Smythe used the spelling SMYTHE, and his son Willian used Smith. .

frankbeswick on 08/03/2018

Many people think that Smythe is a variant of Smith, but it might derive from the Saxon Smitan,which means to smite [hit] a warrior name.

blackspanielgallery on 08/03/2018

Thanks, Frank. I take much from others who have ancestry trees and common ancestors, and some are title happy. Titles are meaningless, except it is easier to trace a king than a surf. The only significant title I really appreciate is saint, since saints in the family can intercede for me. I feel they might be more inclined towards a descendant.
You are correct in that my knowledge of titles is not that great.

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