Immigrants and Ancestry

“Remember, remember always, that all of us you and I especially are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”   Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Our nation is built upon a history of immigration, dating back to our first pioneers, the Pilgrims.  For more than three centuries, we have welcomed generations of immigrants to our melting pot of hyphenated America: British-Americans; Italian-Americans; Irish-Americans; German-Americans, Jewish-Americans; Mexican-Americans; Chinese-Americans; Indian-Americans.”   Ami Bera

 Immigrants 2Immigrants






The issue of immigration seems hypocritical, funny, sad, and frustrating.  Before you ruffle your feathers, I would like to ask… have you ever done your family genealogy?  Pulling out my dictionary, I flipped the pages to “Genealogy: an account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or from older forms.” “Ancestry: honorable, noble, or aristocratic descent.” “Emigrate: to leave one’s place of abode or country for life or residence elsewhere.” “Immigrate: to come into a country of which one is not a native for permanent residence.”

immigrants 5

Why do I provide these definitions, because my mother’s German paternal ancestors emigrated to America from Duederode, Germany in 1753 landing in Philadelphia via the ship Leathley along with other passengers from Switzerland, The Netherlands, France, and Germany.  My ancestor’s first wife bore him eight children and unfortunately she died in route to America.  Later after arriving in American, my ancestor remarried and his new wife bore him an additional seven children.  This means that I have fifteen lines of family relatives living here in the United States.  Over the years, my family worked hard at building homes, settling, farming, and a variety of other occupations with the desire to prosper and to help develop this country.

Immigrants 4

During the 1700s Philadelphia was worried about being overrun by Germans as in one month five ships arrived with over 300 German immigrants.  Even Benjamin Franklin was concerned about the number of German speaking people in Philadelphia.  Would our official language become German?  Consequently, all German men over the age of 16 had to sign a statement agreeing to the laws and the language of Philadelphia.

Over these many years, my extended family includes Herbert Hoover, the former President of the United States, and Bill Bixby, the actor best known for the role of the Incredible Hulk. Additionally, my great grandfather joined the army and fought in Indian wars and in the Civil War.  Eventually, he moved to California, married, had four children, and became a Superior Court Judge for the State of California while helping to establish the city of San Francisco. Recently, a Facebook page was created for my extended family members.  We have teachers, policeman, housewives, realtors, newspaper owners, farmers, and many more professions in our family.  See immigrants can benefit our country.Immigrants 3

I am proud to be the product of an immigrant.

But, there is more history.  My dad’s grandparents emigrated from Conwy, Wales in the 1800s.  Sadly, I don’t know much about dad’s side of the family other than they helped develop Bellingham and Sumas, Washington. So both sides of my family came from other countries with the desire to leave persecution with the hope to build a better life.

My in-laws came from Norway, Denmark, and Ireland.  My friends’ families emigrated from Portugal, Scotland, Germany, Russia, England, and Israel.  I see America as a melting pot, formed by peoples from many countries.  Our families all brought some form of expertise to share in helping to build our country, America…home of the brave and the free.

This country benefitted from various ways of life.  We worked together to learn one language.  We worshipped various religions and managed to work side-by-side.  Yes, our laws required immigrants take an oath and sign their name.  We even had bells that rang as ships from other countries entered Philadelphia. This is how we somewhat controlled immigration.

I’m proud of what our families built but I’m sad to hear the theory that allowing immigrants into our country is bad.  Heck, look at our history.  George Washington and others of our leaders’ families were of British heritage. Even the Spanish explorers settled in California and helped develop the missions there.  Sadly, the various explorers did not understand the Native American cultures and vice versa so we have generated hatred too.

Now we have new problems with immigration.  I truly hope we can work these issues out, as I believe that eventually the new families will work to the benefit of our country too.          Immigrantion

Learn about your family.  What country of origin did your family originally come from in the days of old?  What problems did they face in leaving their country and arriving here? What part did your family play in the development of America?

About Gwynn Rogers

After 20 years of sales and marketing experience in the fields of real estate, high tech, and corporate travel, Gwynn has moved on to the career of “Grandma.” When not teaching her granddaughters an extensive vocabulary of “alley-oop-boop, ups-a-daisy, cowabunga or bummer”, Gwynn can be found hunting for mentors for the Kitsap Youth Mentoring Consortium, or chasing her fantasies on her treadmill. Gwynn currently freelances for magazines.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Immigrants and Ancestry

  1. Susan Scott says:

    Morning Gwynn and thank you for this thought provoking piece. I’m glad it ended with President Obama’s quote. It is ironic, sad, troubling that there is a move afoot to ban immigrants. Especially when e.g. the Native Americans were forced off their land in the history of the US. Your first photo at the beginning of your post addresses this –

    And if we remember, the Romans invaded England in the 11th C, the Dutch and others ‘invaded’ South Africa, India lived under British Rule for a long time – on and on it goes.

    Yes, there is the problem of not enough work, not enough land, insufficient resources etc to go round when waves and waves of immigrants reach shores other than their own …

    We can only pray that we wake up and dig deep into what it means to be human.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Thanks Susan for your wonderful comment. Here in the U.S. there are numerous issues about illegal immigrants and people crossing our various borders without the proper paper work. The people here now feel that we are paying for people who are not working to help support themselves. It seems to be a Catch 22, as if the immigrants do report in, they may get sent back to the country they escaped from. There must be an equitable way of helping people help themselves. Often immigrants here do the work that our own citizens won’t do: maids, manual labor, fast-food service, etc.

      Then regarding jobs, corporations are sending our jobs overseas, creating call-centers for customer service. Additionally, some of the large technical companies are providing work Visas for technical people to come to the states to work extremely long hours for very little pay, but the pay is more than they would earn in their own country.

      There are so many sad things taking place in this country. Sadly, our country is run by the large corporations… the executives get the most money and the employees aren’t paid enough especially as costs continue to rise. Seniors like me feel the pinch too. It is getting scary out there. The mind-set needs to change… but will it?

      • Susan Scott says:

        Pretty much the same happening here Gwynn … and probably world wide … there is no feeling by the corporations for the common wo/man. or nature… Will the mindset change? Change takes forever it seems ..

        • Gwynn Rogers says:

          But… will we destroy ourselves first, before change happens or the powers-to-be finally realize that change is necessary? Sadly, you are correct… change does not happen overnight. I suppose that is both good and bad. I do worry for my grandkids and the future generations. What will the world be like then?

  2. Susan Scott says:

    P.s. when I hit the share button for FB nothing comes up – will look into this later.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Thanks Susan. I “think” I posted this on Facebook last night. At least it shows up on my page. Only a picture from one of the older posts shows up, but my current post is there… just the wrong picture.

  3. First, let me just say that I was in Conwy last fall…a lovely place! I’ve had a longtime online friendship with a fellow author who lives not far from there and got to meet her in person.

    Anyway, I’m a real mutt, with ancestors from England, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Bohemia, and more. Many of my ancestors immigrated before 1650, and it appears I do have one Native American ancestor from way back.

    I sincerely hope we elect some sane leaders in the upcoming election. I understand the need to manage immigration, but we need pragmatic solutions, not Trump-style hysteria.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Nadine, I was in Conwy about 25 years ago. I really enjoyed visiting Wales. Unfortunately, when I was there I didn’t know how to find the relatives that are still there. My great grandfather’s sister and family stayed in Wales, but the two brothers emigrated to the states. But I do have some Irish and Scottish blood in me, but I don’t know all of the facts about who came when, etc.

      Yes, I agree, we need some sharp leaders. But as important, we need SHARP workers employed by the government to make the laws easier to understand. Then I suppose the next question is… will the U.S. become overrun by immigrants? How do we create a win/win situation?

      Talk about hysteria… Trump definitely scares me! Thanks for your comment!

  4. Wonderful post, Gwynn. And wow, your family’s background includes quite the names. 🙂
    As a first generation immigrant, all I can say is thank you. I do want to make the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants, as I came to the U.S. legally and know it can be done, but I understand that it’s harder for others to come here legally, and the circumstances force them to try something, anything in order to survive.
    I touch upon this very point in my book, even though it’s a mystery, but a literary one at that — the idea of the dislike toward immigrants, the insistence that there is no more room here for newcomers. And for those who argue against immigrants, it was okay when their ancestors came to make a better life, but it’s no longer okay for others. How dishonest is that.
    Thank you for writing such a great post and sharing your family’s history with us.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Yes, Silvia, the topic of immigration is a can-of-worms. Is America the only safe spot for immigrants? Why do so many immigrants choose America? Long ago, it was a safe spot for people to develop new lives, but is it still?

      Is it difficult to come into the U.S. as a legal immigrant now? Sadly, I suppose the newspapers report so many ills about the world, that we now don’t trust anyone new coming into the country. I assume that people assume that all people from Mexico these days are drug-runners or are into sex-trafficking. Again, we assume the worst before we find out the facts.

      As I mentioned earlier, often times immigrants are willing to do the work that Americans won’t do. When I was a kid, teenagers earned money by working the fields. They no longer do that, mostly immigrants do that back-breaking work now. We USED to work labor jobs to earn money to go to school to receive an education. Now laborers are considered dumb and uneducated, but that isn’t the case. We truly need to change our mind-set about so many issues! Thanks for commenting Silvia!

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Before I forget. Open up your phone book. See any Waymires in there? They are ALL related to me. Heck, and since my mother was an only child, there are a whole lot of names out there that are related without the name Waymire… like me. 😉

  5. Via Silvia’s comment, “I’m here, now you leave” — it is the blending of cultures and ethnic groups that enriches society and strengthens our human species, homo sapiens, not greed. And our “American Indians” were not the first to arrive here in what is not the United States. Let us remember, too, that we took part of Mexico, that part that is now California, Arizona and New Mexico, for ourselves in the Mexican War (1846-48) — all those Mexicans, grabbed the California gold, and now we want to send them back?

    Depleting the land, stressing our global resources due to overpopulation — causing some civilizations to disappear — that opens another box for argument.

    Well thought and well written, Gwynn. Thanks.

    • “…what is ‘now’ the United States” I meant, obviously.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Carol, as I mentioned to Silvia, we make sooooo many assumptions about immigrants that are not true. When my family emigrated to America, the Germans were frowned upon. The government was concerned that this would become a second Germany. However, these people brought skills that others here did not have. They worked hard to build homes and farm. Immigrants now do what teenagers, when I was a kid, did in order to earn money for school. But now teenagers won’t go near those jobs.

      We need to see the benefit of working together and blending skills to make this a better place to live. Thanks for your compliment Carol.

  6. Tina Peterson says:

    Thanks for reminding us that we’re ALL immigrants to some degree. It’s certainly important to realize that everyone should be tolerant of new ideas. You’ve made some important points!

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Thanks Tina for commenting. Yes, it was a LONG time ago that our families came to this country, but they did, and they stayed. Plus, they did things to benefit this country. Yes, I don’t want our country over-populated, but there must be a reason why all the immigrants are coming here and not going elsewhere. Plus, they do jobs that we won’t do… so they are a help! There must be a win/win solution to all of this.

  7. pat garcia says:

    Very interesting article, Gwynn, but I’ll pass on leaving an answer to your questions because I didn’t see African-American listed anywhere. But maybe that is okay since we were never legally brought into the country as immigrants but as slaves, and I don’t consider slavery as voluntarily immigrating to a country. Or maybe I could say forced immigration.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Sadly, Patricia you are correct in that the original African-Americans were brought over as slaves. It is pathetic that one group of people would do that to another group. Native Americans were used as slaves. Even people landing in this country who could not pay for their trip aboard the board were indentured into slavery. Now, many, many years later we are finding Africans willingly coming to the states to emigrate from the violence in their home country. There are success stories of Africans being helped here.

      What happened to some peoples in the past was horrific. The subject of immigration is not necessarily happy for any group of people… but yes, the Africans brought here and sold into slavery had an awful life. Look at the groups of Chinese who were brought to this country to work on building the railroads. Treating any group of people badly is extremely sad. You definitely have a right to be angry at the way your family’s ancestors and friends were treated.

      • Gwynn Rogers says:

        Ooops… a typo. “people who could not pay for their trip aboard the BOAT” is what I meant to say.

      • pat garcia says:

        My Dear Friend,
        I am not angry. It is just that when people talk about their heritage some (and I don’t mean you) tend to forget that the African-Americans were forcefully brought into the United States and were not allowed to get out and work for themselves or even live out their dreams of becoming outstanding citizens. Of course, times have changed, and I am happy to say that I was one of the people among many who helped bring about the change, but I think it is time that is reflected in the history books in the USA. Those questions that you asked are relevant questions and they should be applied to all races and not just the European people that immigrated from the different countries of the European Continent.
        Love you, Lady.

        • Gwynn Rogers says:

          Patricia, sadly, you are totally correct that I did forget to think of the African Americans in my post. I can’t even come up with a good answer as to why I forgot about this huge subject. The subject of what happened to the African Americans DOES need to be recognized and discussed. Why did we treat one set of peoples SO BADLY and DISRESPECTFULLY? My other question is were Africans treated as slaves in other countries too? What about from the Roman and Viking eras?

          There are some mindsets that still have not changed toward the African American in the way some are still treated here in the states. Susan and I were just talking about the fact that there are STILL a lot of mindsets that need to change… even today. How people treat one another is very important… no matter what color, religion, or sex they are.

          I do care about you too, Patricia. You are an intelligent, capable, and talented woman! Love and hugs, Gwynn

  8. What timing. Last night at my in-laws, my MIL started to rattle off her side of the family. I made her stop and restart once I pulled a piece of paper and pencil. After some poking and prodding she remembered a great deal of family members.

    I, on the other hand, can really only name two generations of family members before it runs out. My parents are famously tight-lipped about past generations, whether that’s by design or what is beyond me.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Boy, I can totally relate as my mom was an only child and her parents died shortly after I was born. Mom gave my kids some information about her family and when I started to search on line I found a 550 page book about my mom’s relatives that I knew NOTHING about. It is amazing what we find or learn!! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. It’s not really the legal immigrants that are a problem, it’s the illegal ones. If they aren’t even here legally, why would they care about any of the other laws of the land. Yet they are given free everything. Citizens and even war veterans can’t have free health care, yet illegal immigrants can, along with housing, food, schooling for their children. What happens to people sneaking into their countries? Imprisonment, deportation, even death? Its pretty much like if you found someone living in your basement and instead having them arrested decided that since they were there you might as well give them whatever they need….oh wait, this country does protect squatters rather than honoring the rights of the property owner.

I love to hear your thoughts...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.