The title should really be “Help! I’m a prisoner!”
This is coming to you from the black hole of ancestor research! It’s a land of stagnant bladders (no time for potty runs) and cookie survival (you can eat that at the computer). Note to self: Buy a box of Depends and Pepperidge Farm cookies!
I’m in the early to mid-1800s now (great-great grandparents). Not easy. So many ways to spell the same name! Those old recording monks should have had spellcheck.
Many people from the old country (as my mom called it) settled in the same area in the US. The same surnames float around often. I recall them as classmates, neighbors and see them as cousins several generations back. Some of my classmates are gone. I found that too.
I’ve roughly pinpointed the origin of the immigrants. Food helps (no, not the cookies but the food of my childhood). Originally I thought we came from Germany but my mother never served traditional German food. Her parents came from Austria which has a Hungarian or Slovakian influence (along with some of the best pastries in the world!). I remember strudel and goulash as a child. Lots of cabbage dishes too. It was a blend of the entire area.
I feel a connection to something I didn’t know existed. During the Olympics I find myself rooting for Austrian athletes (woot woot!) and the US. (The beloved husband believes this is a little over the top but what can you expect of an ex-Brit!)
A DNA match has contacted me. Are we related? I looked at her tree. With the difference in spelling, it’s possible but I couldn’t find a confident connection. She is much farther along than I am. She’s in the late 1700s. I’m still trying to convert “nicknames” we used for my grandmother’s siblings into real names that may appear on documents. Who knew that Ham could be short for Emmerich which is spelled 87 different ways?
Speaking of names, I found some lovely ones. In this day of “made up baby names,” there is something elegant about the old ones. One great-grandfather was Matthias. His son was Sigmund (or Simon). Anna’s and Stephen’s were everywhere. All would be considered unusual today.
I owe Google a drink. I made some promises in the heat of the moment. (One gets desperate when you hit a wall.) Perhaps a toast in front of my screen will suffice. For now!
PS: Just this morning I heard back from my “ancestry friend.” She gave me a few tips and also my great-great grandparents names. I’m hanging on to my hat for the ride! (Better stock up with gifts for Google too!)