Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"To sail across dark seas to a strange land..."

"Little is more extraordinary than the decision to migrate, little more extraordinary than the accumulation of emotions and thoughts which finally leads a family to say farewell to a community where it has lived for centuries, to abandon old ties and familiar landmarks, and to sail across dark seas to a strange land... centuries ago, migration was a leap into the unknown. It was an enormous intellectual and emotional commitment. The forces that moved our forbears to their great decision - the decision to leave their homes and begin an adventure filled with incalculable uncertainty, risk and hardship - must have been of overpowering proportions."
John F. Kennedy
A Nation of Immigrants

Reading this tonight, made me think again of all my ancestors who have made that enormous commitment and extraordinary decision to immigrate to America. Without that decision on the part of each and every one of them, I wouldn't be here today! If they had stayed in their homelands, they never would've come here, met each other, married each other, and created the line of descendants which led to me... and my children:

In studying the family tree again recently, I realized a stark difference between my mother's side and my father's side. On my dad's side, the immigrations are very recent - all within the last 100 years or so. Though he was born in America, it is easy to see that dad was 100% pure-blooded Scandinavian. On my mom's side, the line just keeps going and going, several of the branches reaching through the history of our country, back to 1700s Colonial America! It is much harder to trace the immigrant ancestors on her side, since the records become scarcer the farther you go back.

But here are the names of all the immigrants on my dad's side:

Great Grandparents
Carl Waldamer Petersen born 1883, Copenhagen, Denmark
(became an American citzen in 1917)
Ellen Susanna Svensson born 1885, Sweden


Great Great Grandparents 
Charles Cornell born 1853, Sweden
Annie Skarlund born 1864, Sweden

And these people, whom I only know by their names, but have never seen their faces
3 Greats Grandparents
Anders Erikson Holm born 1829, Sweden
Inga Stina Jean Persdotter born 1821, Sweden

Great Great Grandpa John Noyed born 1866 Sweden

Thank you, grandparents for making that extraordinary decision!

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