(Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette) Before Christmas I was honored to receive the Ancestor Approved award from Susan at Nolichucky Roots, a blogger whose work I greatly admire. The Ancestor Approved award was started by Leslie Ann at Ancestors Live Here, and upon accepting the award Leslie requests that recipients "...list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened you and pass it along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud."
1. I was surprised to discover my great-grandfather Francois Chenette Sr. was a Civil War soldier. He was 50 years old at the time of his enlistment. He and his 18 year old son Francois Jr. enlisted on the same day. Francois Sr. was wounded at Cold Harbor, but survived the war. Francois Jr. died of disease at the age of 19 and is buried in Winchester National Cemetery in Winchester, VA.
2. I am surprised and fascinated that my great-grandfather Francois Chenette, Sr. was born in 1813, had four wives, and was the father of 24 children. My grandfather Francois Hormidas (Can you see a naming pattern emerging here?) was born in 1873. His mother, my great-grandmother was Lucie (Touchette) Chenette, my great-grandfather's fourth wife.
3. I am humbled by my immigrant ancestors who were willing to leave their old life and everything and everyone they knew behind in Poland, to make a new and better life for themselves in the United States. I am especially humbled by my great-grandmother, Ewa (Kowalewska) Bulak, who came to this country in 1897 with two toddlers in tow. My grandmother, Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko was one of them. As the mother of a small child, I can't imagine the courage it took to do what she did.
4. I was thrilled and enlightened to find the estate, Palac w Szczawinie where my great-grandparents, Antoni Bulak and Ewa (Kowalewska) Bulak met in Szczawin, Poland. I was also thrilled to discover the estate and the manor house still exists, has been restored, and serves as a bed and breakfast. My dream trip is to go to Poland and stay at the Palac w Szczawinie someday.
5. I was (again) thrilled and enlightened to reconnect with family from the Warsaw area. I knew my grandfather, Adolf Szerejko, had family in Warsaw, but I didn't know who or where. My cousin Marek, who is also interested in genealogy, contacted me back in January of 2010 and we have been friends since. I honestly never thought I'd "find" anyone from the family back in Poland after all these years. The Internet is wonderful and make all things possible.
6. I am humbled by what I have learned about my relatives who remained in Poland, survived two world wars, and life under Soviet occupation. Life was hard. Every time I read their letters I appreciate my life just a little bit more. I have a lot to be thankful for.
7. I was surprised to discover both of my father's parents were descended from Acadian settlers. Before I started doing genealogy I knew little to nothing about the settling of Acadia (Nova Scotia), the people who lived there, and the deportation of 1755.
8. I was surprised to discover Charlemagne is my 35th great-grandfather. Yeah, yeah, I know everyone says that, but he really is my 35th great-grandfather. One of my French-Canadian ancestors, Catherine de Baillon was one of the filles du roi or King's Daughters, sent by the king of France to marry settlers and help to populate Quebec. Catherine descended from minor nobility, and her family is linked to many of the royal houses of Europe. So is that way cool or what?
9. I am humbled by the circumstances that lead my great-grandmother Lucie Touchette to marry my great-grandfather Francois Chenette. Why would a young woman of 20 agree to become the fourth wife of a man 34 years her senior and already the father of 16 children? I don't know, but I want to find out. Was it a love match? I suspect not. Someone had to to take care of all those kids...
10. I was surprised to discover that an ancestor's older "sister" was actually her mother and gave birth to my ancestor when she was only 16 years old. Did my ancestor ever know who her real parents were?
Thank you again Susan. Thank you ancestors for being a all-around interesting group of people to research. Your lives had value and will be remembered.
As for passing the award on, I would like to offer the Ancestor Approved award to the following bloggers whose work I follow, admire, and enjoy. I know some of these folks are previous recipients of the Ancestor Approved award, but many of them have been so helpful to my blogging or my research that I just couldn't leave them off my list.
Barbara Proko at Basia's Polish Family: From Wilno to Worcester
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino at Acadian & French-Canadian Ancestral Home
Caroline Gurney at Caro's Family Chronicles
Greta Koehl at Greta's Genealogy BogJasia at Creative Gene
Carol at Reflections from the Fence
Jen at Climbing My Family Tree
Deb Ruth at Adventures in Genealogy
Jennifer at Rainy Day Genealogy Readings
Barbara Poole at Life From The Roots
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