The Water Cooler – Ancestry

August 5, 2014 12:00 pm · 42 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it!

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon!

Today’s question:

Have you, or do you plan to research your ancestry? If you have, how far have you gone back, and where does most of your family come from?

Talk about it….

1 SKS August 5, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Sometimes it is better left unknown .. I’m leery of seeing a family tree that didn’t fork.

2 EdiBirsan August 5, 2014 at 12:27 PM

On my biological father side, it goes two generation to a set of orphan twins in Northern Italy. On my mother’s side it goes back thousands of years on the Island of Lesbos. On my step Dad’s side it is Jewish- from the area around Poland-Lithuania-White Russia and don’t know anything else, though the name Birsan is an Ellis Island special, it is common in Rumania oddly enough a little northwest of Bucharest.

3 Tom August 5, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Western and central European, back to the 1600’s. A little bit of royalty too.

4 Noj August 5, 2014 at 12:37 PM

We’re from the Scottish Borders. Castle builders. Our bones are scattered on Flodden Field. “Ready? aye ready.”

5 Cowellian August 5, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Mostly European. has a DNA test for about $100 that will break it down foe you. My wife and I have each found new cousins based on our DNA tests.

If you go far enough back, you’ll probably find royalty in your line. What you won’t find is a whole bunch of people whose names weren’t ever recorded because they weren’t in a royal line.

6 Silva August 5, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Ohio Valley farmers, preachers, & school teachers. Upstate NY farmers, preachers, & school teachers. Came over long ago from the British Isles. I don’t need to know anything I don’t already. It’s not important.

7 Dorothy August 5, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Several family members had researched this or that branch. I help when asked and always ask for a copy if they ever finish. Only one had finished over the years and sent me a copy.

Also have a friend who did it for her husband and herself, spent several years getting all the data and checking it for accuracy.

8 anonanonagain August 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

I have gone as far back as the late 1700’s. I researched my ancestry through I still would like to go further and research more on my father’s side. I’m British born with Irish great grandparents on my father’s side. British, German and Italian on my mum’s side……

9 That's All Folks! August 5, 2014 at 1:02 PM

My great grandmother (on my dad’s side) lived to be 102, she was a little girl during the Civil War and remembers the Yankees setting her house on fire in Mississippi. She also told great stories about the San Francisco 1906 earthquake.
She was an amazing woman, I learned a lot of history from her.
My mother’s family came from Sicily to escape the rule of La Cosa Nostra.

10 Shelly August 5, 2014 at 1:23 PM


11 RunDogRun August 5, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Both sides of the family
have been working on it
since sometime in the 70s.
My fathers side has traced it
back to the third century
Scotland or some such early
century. My mothers not
quite so far. I think I was
supposed to do that, but
it doesn’t interest me. When
I think about all my relatives,
I start to worry that they are
all going to show up for
dinner at the same time.
Nightmare-type stuff.

12 Earthling August 5, 2014 at 1:28 PM

We ALL come from Africa if you REALLY go back……

13 Gargoyle Socks August 5, 2014 at 1:43 PM

I’ve gone back to 16th century England and Scotland. Son of the Mayflower. Son of the American Revolution. Son of the American Civil War (Union). A regular Yankee Doodle Dandy.

14 PhilthyPHRESH August 5, 2014 at 1:58 PM

I was medicated one day and had a theory that most people alive today have some sort of noble background, most of the serfs died off……

15 CrayZ August 5, 2014 at 2:11 PM

I would love to look back and see but I hate that it costs so much to do so! Not fair in my opinion!

16 J.L.G. August 5, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Look’s like a lot of Aliens. Just kidding as we are all rooted from other continents. Even Native Americans migrated. My Dad his sister and mother were Cossacks who came from the Russian far east which is now in China.
Landed in Hawaii which had a large Russian colony of revolutionaries deserters and various scoundrels and just poor people wanting to survive.
Worked as cheap labor on the plantations and then eventually made it to San Francisco. I don’t think much has changed with people trying to flee terrible situations.

17 rich August 5, 2014 at 2:53 PM

The National Geographic Society has a trace your DNA project. Here’s the link:
You might be surprised what famous & infamous people share your DNA…

18 Monkey August 5, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Boring. Look forward not backward

19 The Mamba August 5, 2014 at 3:00 PM

I know my grandfather spent a lot of time on this, and my parents have looked at it lately. Beyond my grandparents, we’re a bunch of Irish, Scottish, German mutts.

20 aj buttacavoli August 5, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Research my family? You’re kidding, right? Let’s start with my brothers. My younger brother tried to sleep with my wife and my older brother tried to sleep with me! Italians! They’re all nutz!

21 Teacher Wannabe August 5, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Father’s side – Germany into Pennsylvania and Iowa. Back to 1780’s. Mother’s side – Welsh & Swedish. Mid 1780’s.

22 Momboz August 5, 2014 at 4:15 PM

I have been researching for more than 30 years. My side is all Irish with very common names. It’s the stories of our ancestors’ lives that makes the research worthwhile.

23 Janelle August 5, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Sure! I have English, Danish, Scottish and German ancestry. But for the most part my ancestors have been in the US for a while. If anyone is interested in finding out their ancestry for free there is a family history center open to the public in Oakland at the Visitors’ Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) temple on Lincoln. And I also believe there is a family history center at the Mormon church on Concord Blvd in Concord. I’d have to research the days and times they’re open, but the people are helpful and the information is fascinating.

24 The past is not nearly as important August 5, 2014 at 4:26 PM

as tomorrow.

25 Janelle August 5, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Okay I did find some info on the Concord Family History Center.

The address is 3700 Concord Blvd, Concord CA 94518 and the center is located in the rear of the building so park in the back parking lot. And the hours of operation are:


I think going to the center gives you access to, and other genealogical sites. Could make for an interesting experience.

26 anon August 5, 2014 at 5:02 PM

If we had a fence none of you would be here.

27 Atticus Thraxx August 5, 2014 at 5:44 PM

War criminal and possible slave owners. Like Monkey said, forward not back.

28 Concord Res August 5, 2014 at 8:41 PM

White, white, white. Like most of the readers and commentators and editors of this blog. White.

29 Amazing August 5, 2014 at 9:06 PM

Two of my Mom’s relatives came here on the Mayflower! YES! I AM a Pilgrim!

30 Jesse August 5, 2014 at 10:46 PM

I haven’t done any research into my ancestry, but some of my relatives have. My great-aunt traced our ancestry far enough back that she and my grandmother could prove they were eligible to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. My ancestors were mostly English, with some Germans and Irish mixed in. They emigrated when times got tough at home due to war, famine, or loss of farm land. They headed for the land of opportunity. They became farmers, factory workers, and shopkeepers in America. Typical immigrant stories. Probably similar to immigrant stories today.

31 MDHS80 August 6, 2014 at 5:04 AM

Dad’s side I’ve searched back to 1400s (Started in England to France to Italy to America)
Mom’s side I’ve searched back to 1700s (Ireland to Italy back to Ireland to America)

Interesting fact is that on my dad’s side, I had two relatives that both were in the military during the Civil War and both were part of freeing the slaves on the Underground Railroad. My 8th great grandfather, Eber M. Pettit, wrote a book about the Underground Railroad and dedicated it to Frederick Douglas.

32 Sinn Feiner August 6, 2014 at 5:56 AM

Both sides of my family are Irish. I still have family over in Ireland on both my dad and moms side in County Cork and County Monaghan (Contae Muineachan). My father’s cousin did a lot of research and traced our family back to the 1800’s. In 1993, my aunt and a cousin went to Ireland on vac. for their first time looked up our family in County Monaghan and sure enough they were still there in the same town as our ancestors back in the 1840’s. They got to meet them. Very nice people and still in the farming business like back in the day. My wife and I made our first trip to Ireland back in 1999 and got to meet them. Haven’t met my moms side yet though over there.

33 John Locker August 6, 2014 at 6:56 AM

You can get full access to for around $300/yr. There’s lots of good stuff in there, especially records to track you family backwards in the U.S.. They have some foreign records also. is free and has records from all over the world. I have had tremendous luck by writing to the Hessian Archives in Germany, receiving records of my family going back to ~1680. I’ll be visiting my ancestral family’s home town in Germany next year. Looking forward to drinking the same beer as my ancestors!

34 Silva August 6, 2014 at 7:29 AM

Atticus Thraxx nailed it. I’m pretty sure none of my relations were slaveholders, and I’d like to keep it that way.

35 Cowellian August 6, 2014 at 8:34 AM

If you go back far enough in time, there is a very good chance that you’ll find both slaves and slaveholders in your family tree. Slavery still exists, and humans have been doing that to each other since the beginning of time.

36 Silva August 6, 2014 at 8:53 AM

Cowellian, you are very wise. Good point.

37 macawlady August 6, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Lots of interesting ancestors, possibly royalty, and two Mayflower persons, among others. I stopped being excited about this when I found out that every third person in this country probably has royal ancestry. It’s very common, especially if your ancestors came here in the 16th or 17th centuries.

Try finding Ancestry Library Edition. Some libraries allow you to use it remotely from home. You don’t have to belong to the library or even live in that state! It’s completely free. There are a few databases that Ancestry Library doesn’t contain, such as ship passenger lists. But otherwise, it’s the same.

38 VikingPrincess August 6, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Northern Europe. Predominantly Scandinavia – more so Danish, Finnish and possibly a dash if Norse.

39 Malik August 6, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Farther’s side: American-African slave, Filipino and a great grandparent Chinese, a Great great great Spanish,
Mother’s side: French, Canadian, Irish, Italian, Greek and Mid-east Jew

40 KateC August 6, 2014 at 12:34 PM

I am curently searching this (also using website). So far I’ve gone back as far as the early 1700’s. All relatives in Sweden – and thanks to Facebook we are now in contact with cousins in Sweden. My paternal grandparents came from Sweden and never really talked much about the family so it is fun getting to know relatives we knew existed but just didn’t know how to contact. On my mother’s side I am Irish/Scottish.

41 Domestic CEO August 6, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Our lineage goes way back. Our family name and ancestry is registered in Washington DC, we have these people in our family tree:

The Wright Brothers (our cousins)
George Washington
Queen Elizabeth

Our Great Aunt made it her life’s work for about 20 years travelling to England, Germany, and other European countries to get our family information. We are mostly German and English. Pretty cool stuff!

42 AH August 6, 2014 at 10:36 PM

15/16 Iranian
1/16 Russian

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