Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Ancestor Mysteries, a guest post by Sarah Stewart Taylor

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING:  When reviewers talk about Sarah Stewart Taylor's Maggie D'arcy series, they use words like, "lyrical," "tender," "atmospheric," and "intricately plotted." And there have been a lot of reviewers - the first in the series, THE MOUNTAINS WILD, appeared on almost every Best Of list in 2020. They're calling the third in the series, THE DROWNING SEA, "rich and gothic," "gorgeous" and "heartfelt."

I'd describe the Maggie D'arcy books as novels with mysteries in them, which isn't to detract from the cunning twists and turns that unfold organically throughout the story! Rather, I read them as much for the characters, and for what the books say about love, family, difficult relationships, and coming to terms with the past.

Which brings us to today's topic! Sarah has been thinking and researching and digging into the past, and has discovered some of the most compelling questions arise from our own family histories. Who were you? Where did we come from? And how did we get from there to here?

 

 


 

In my new Maggie D’arcy mystery, The Drowning Sea, Maggie, an American homicide detective who is spending the summer in Ireland with her daughter and her Irish boyfriend and his son on a remote West Cork peninsula, goes to see the place where her grandmother once lived before emigrating to America. She thinks about ancestors and legacies and mysteries and wonders why it was so important to her to stand on the piece of ground where one branch of her family tree began to grow.

 

Maggie’s experience mirrors my own visit to the spot in West Cork where my great-great grandfather and his family lived before he emigrated to Boston. My own visit was the reward at the end of a lot of genealogical sleuthing. I knew that my mother’s maternal ancestors were named McCarthy, and that her great-grandfather Michael had emigrated from Ireland, as a young child at the height of the Great Famine, I’d been told. But most of the details of his early life had been lost to the years. 

 

I discovered through newspaper archive research that Michael served in the Union Army in the Civil War, trained as a doctor, and married a Boston woman whose family had also immigrated from Ireland. He died young, only a few months after his only child, my great-grandfather Charles, was born. (Charles would go on to attend Harvard College and Harvard Law School and become Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court. Another family mystery is how his widowed mother, a seamstress, marshaled the resources for his education.)

 

We didn’t know where in Ireland Michael came from or how he’d traveled to America. I spent almost a year following clues in documents on Ancestry.com, plugging in birth and death dates and one night, deep down a genealogy rabbit hole, I found a baptism record for Michael in the tiny townland of Shanacashel, Kilmichael Parish, West Cork. Eventually I was able to track down birth records for seven brothers and sisters. And I was able to find his naturalization records, which showed he actually arrived in Boston when he was twelve years old, in 1855, and not when he was four, as I’d been told.

 

I’ve tracked down threads of the family story on genealogical websites and in archives in Ireland and the U.S. But still hanging out there is the mystery of how he got to Boston and with whom. Ship records for the years he would have arrived are missing and the years between his arrival in Boston and his discharge from the Union Army after the Civil War are a complete mystery. I’m also fascinated by the idea of all of those brothers and sisters back in Ireland. Did any of them travel with Michael? Where are they now? While I’ve been able to locate some family members with whom I share DNA through the Ancestry.com and 23 and Me, I haven’t had any luck tracing McCarthy relatives in Ireland. But my visit to Shanacashel a couple of years ago was satisfaction of a sort. It was surprisingly meaningful to stand on the piece of Planet Earth where my great-great grandfather was born, but it also raised many new questions for me, as it does for Maggie in The Drowning Sea.

 

Speaking of DNA, chances are there are at least a couple of DNA mysteries lurking in my family tree, though I haven’t found them yet. With the sheer numbers of people contributing DNA to these databases, it makes sense that a growing number of crime novels center on genetic revelations. I’ve heard so many stories from friends about family mysteries uncovered through these sites, some with sad outcomes and some with happy ones. (I love SC Perkins’s genealogical mysteries and there are some other series that also take on secrets amongst the branches of family trees.)

 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found I’ve only become more and more interested in family history. I’ve also become more and more aware of my own privilege in being able to find and put together at least some of the pieces of the puzzle. For adoptees in closed adoptions, researching family trees can be difficult and can open up difficult family history or lead to joyful reunions. Many Americans can’t explore these family mysteries because their ancestors were brought here enslaved or came as refugees or seeking asylum. Records were left behind or have gone missing. So many stories have been lost to trauma. When we explore one half of my husband’s family tree, we run up against many lost threads representing his Lithuanian and German Jewish ancestors who came here fleeing discrimination, pogroms and the Holocaust.

 

One of the most interesting mysteries in my family involves my ancestor Mary Perkins Bradbury, who was tried and convicted as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. She was sentenced to death but somehow escaped (this is where the mystery comes in, though there was likely an exchange of money for her freedom) and, according to some accounts, traveled to Maine with her husband, where she remained until the worst of the fervor had passed in Massachusetts. This summer I’m planning on traveling to Salisbury, Massachusetts, near Salem, to see the site of the Bradbury home.  

 

I’m looking forward to continuing to try to solve some of my family puzzles. What are the mysteries in your own family that you’ve been able to solve or are still exploring? 

JULIA:  I think Michael McCarthy's story would make a gripping historical novel, don't you, dear readers? Oh, and Sarah is giving away not one, not two, but THREE books - a signed copy of each of the Maggie D'arcy mysteries to three lucky commentors!

 

SARAH STEWART TAYLOR is the author of the Sweeney St. George series and the Maggie D'arcy series. Her most recent book, THE DROWNING SEA, will be out June 21st. Taylor grew up on Long Island in New York and was educated at Middlebury College in Vermont and Trinity College in Dublin. She lives with her family on a farm in Vermont where they raise sheep and grow blueberries. Visit her online at www.SarahStewartTaylor.com.

 

For the first time in her adult life, former Long Island homicide detective Maggie D’arcy is unemployed. No cases to focus on, no leads to investigate, just a whole summer on a remote West Cork peninsula with her teenage daughter Lilly and her boyfriend, Conor and his son. The plan is to prepare Lilly for a move to Ireland. But their calm vacation takes a dangerous turn when human remains wash up below the steep cliffs of Ross Head.

When construction worker Lukas Adamik disappeared months ago, everyone assumed he had gone home to Poland. Now that his body has been found, the guards, including Maggie's friends Roly Byrne and Katya Grzeskiewicz, seem to think he threw himself from the cliffs. But as Maggie gets to know the residents of the nearby village and learns about the history of the peninsula and its abandoned Anglo Irish manor house, once home to a famous Irish painter who died under mysterious circumstances, she starts to think there's something else going on. Something deadly. And when Lilly starts dating one of the dead man's friends, Maggie grows worried about her daughter being so close to another investigation and about what the investigation will uncover.

Old secrets, hidden relationships, crime, and village politics are woven throughout this small seaside community, and as the summer progresses, Maggie is pulled deeper into the web of lies, further from those she loves, and closer to the truth.

89 comments:

  1. This is so fascinating, Sarah . . . it seems to me that family history often presents researchers with a whole set of new questions with each of its revelations. I haven’t gotten too far in researching my own family geneological history, but the prospect of finding a new piece of information is always an intriguing possibility.

    Congratulations on your new book . . . it sounds as if Maggie has quite a mystery to unravel. I’m looking forward to reading her story . . . .

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  2. SARAH: I have enjoyed reading the first two Maggie D'Arcy mysteries so much. Congratulations on your third book. I am so looking forward to reading THE DROWNING SEA.

    No, I don't know much about my family's history. I'm an only child & my late parents & grandparents rarely spoke about their ancestors who all lived in Japan. My written Japanese is not good enough to try & search for more ancestral information online.

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    1. Thank you, Grace! I wonder if there are services that would translate records from Japanese. I bet there are. I've discovered that there are a lot of companies and apps catering to people tracing family history . . . At some point, I may hire a professional genealogist to help, though it can be be pretty pricey.

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    2. SARAH: Yes, there probably would be some service available. But any ancestral search of my Japanese ancestors would still be difficult. I have the barest of information of my grandparents: just their names, no birth dates/birthplace.

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  3. I loved reading the Sweeney series and have really enjoyed the new Maggie series. Your descriptions of Ireland have left me wanting to visit even though I have no Irish roots. Having worked on my genealogy for years, I'm really curious to see how you've woven what you've learned into The Drowning Sea.

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  4. I can't wait to read this new book, Sarah! Good for you for sticking with the research. We have yet to get back to our pandemic-canceled trip to Ireland, including County Galway, where my mother's Flaherty side was from. The Maxwells are well documented way back to Black Mary, a fierce Scot who fought off the British (we have a three-inch thick Maxwell Family History volume).

    My boyfriend's birth son, given up for adoption, found him via Ancestry five years ago. We now have a delightful relationship with him and his wife, plus three grandkids! A big win all around. Not many mysteries remain, I think, although lots of details I don't know.

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    1. Thank you, Edith! Great family history. Have you ever thought about writing about Mary? Sounds like there might be some good plots there . . .

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    2. EDITH: Have you read historical romances by Amanda Scott? I read a trilogy about the Maxwell family in Scotland. I think one Maxwell was a Sheriff. Very interesting. The books are fictional based on historical research.

      Diana

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    3. Ooh, I haven't Diana, but I'll go find them.

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  5. Congratulations on your new release! I'm reading the Maggie books right now. When I visited Ireland, the bartenders would look at me and smile. "You're going to tell me about your Irish ancestors." I only have one, a boy from the Isle of Man, sent to live in Ireland during the Cromwell years. He attended TCD and became a Church of Ireland minister in Waterford. After several generations, the family returned to the Isle of Man and then emigrated to America.

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    1. Thank you, Margaret. Yes, I have an Irish friend who has told me really funny stories about all the American tourists who would show up in his small town looking for relations. He and his friends may or may not have made up outlandish stories about these ancestors to entertain themselves!

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  6. I also look forward to your new book. My husband is the genealogist in the family. We hope to get to Halifax, Nova Scotia to dig around some more.

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  7. Welcome, Sarah! I once toyed with the idea of researching my father's family. But I hit a wall after my great-grandmother and didn't go farther. My aunt has done a lot with her mother's family. My maternal grandfather came from Croatia, and there isn't much to pursue.

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    1. Thanks, Liz! My husband and I went to Croatia on our honeymoon and absolutely loved it. Can't wait to get back some day.

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  8. The Drowning Sea sounds terrific, a perfect vacation read. Congratulations on its publication, Sarah!

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  9. We have so many more tools today to find our roots, don't we? My cousin Don has been looking into our shared family's history, as well as his father's side, and he has identified more than 2500 connections. He started this project more than 35 years ago, but in recent years he's been able quadruple the information he had before, but with so much more ease now.

    I spit into the tube for Ancestry.com, determined once and for all to find out if there was really Native American on my mother's side, as we had always been told. If there is, it's pretty infinitesimal, but the shocking bit was all the Celtic heritage, none of which I was aware of. I always knew about the German, French, and Hungarian background, but there must have been a rogue sailor in the mix someplace.

    However, it's one thing to know the nationalities, and even the names of ancestors, but to truly know their lives it's necessary to dig deeper, which it sounds as though you have, Sarah. Knowing actual life histories is such a treasure.

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    1. It is kind of amazing. And the technology is so recent. . .

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  10. Sarah, just let me say how much I enjoyed your latest Maggie book and I'm really eager to read the new one. Doing genealogy on my mother's side was rather easy - there is so much material available and lots of documents going back to the sixteenth century. My father's side, not so much, as I have only been able to go back a few generations. One mystery that has popped up gives me lots to wonder about. According to DNA results, the woman we thought was my grandmother's grandmother was really her aunt! Just the facts, but no other information. Sadly, I can't remember anything my grandmother ever said about either her aunt or grandmother, or if she ever mentioned them at all.

    That grandmother of mine had a rather colorful past. She ran off and got married at age 15 and a year later gave birth to my father. No one in the family has ever said much of anything about the man she married, other than he was a taxi driver. However, I could find no information that he ever remarried or had any other children. Recently though I was amused to find a newspaper clipping that announced that my grandparents had had their daughter's marriage annulled since she was underage. I'm guessing they were probably mortified but put the best face they could on the situation.

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    1. Thank you, Judi. These stories are so interesting. I think a lot about all of the women in my family tree who had to be brave in ways I can't even imagine now. Sounds like there were some brave women in your tree too . . .

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  11. Really interesting ideas! The book sounds amazing, Sarah! I guess we can never know all the details of our family histories, but we can certainly imagine them.

    My twin and I submitted DNA samples to Ancestry last year because we wanted to know if we are identical. We are! (The doctor told my mom we were fraternal twins when we were born) I haven't paid for access to the records yet, but hope to in the future. I would love to know more about my Northern Irish grandmother. She was born in the city she called Londonderry, was a nurse who went to Leeds during WWI, where she met my grandpa. My dad remembered going back to NI in the summer so his dad and grandpa could march together in the Orange Day parade. Although I'm told my great-grandfather was respected by Catholic and Protestant alike, I shake my head when I think how hurtful this display was to the neighbors. Family history can be a bit shameful, as well as a source of pride. On my mom's side, one of my Oregon Trail ancestors had nothing good to say about Native Americans in his written tale of the journey.

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    1. Yes, such a good point. There are things in my family history that I feel that way about too. It's so important to consider them fully and honestly and transparently, in order to make sure they aren't repeated.

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    2. Gillian, a friend's twin daughters were given DNA tests for their 39th birthdays last week. They have always thought they were identical, but are anxious to find out whether or not that's true. When they were born the placenta was too torn for the doctors to determine.

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    3. Hi Karen... my mom was told we were fraternal twins because there were 2 placentas (placenti?) Anyway, identical twins can have separate placentas; it just depends on when the egg splits. Fascinating stuff. It was crazy to get the Ancestry results. Ancestry told me that Margaret was either "myself" or a "twin".

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  12. About fine details of family histories, I was shocked to read in the Maxwell family history book that my g-g-g-grandfather's father gave him an enslaved woman named Sal as a wedding gift (Kentucky 1809). The couple later emancipated her, and when David Hervey Maxwell was an Indiana state representative, he drafted the clause in the new constitution to forbid slavery in the state.

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  13. This sounds fascinating. My dad’s dad disappeared in 1933. He was low-level Jewish mob. No one ever talked about him, and it haunted me growing up. Was he murdered by his gangster associates? Did he start a second family somewhere? I joined Ancestry and 23andme to see if relatives popped up indicating the latter. No one has, although I have found some long-lost cousins that have nothing to do with him. And yes, I have written a book inspired by his disappearance! How could I not?

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  14. Hi Sarah! Thanks for stopping by JRW. I know a lot about my maternal Grandmother’s family from listening to her many stories about them. They emigrated from Wales (Aberdare and Merthyl Tydfil) by ship via Ireland. Her great grandmother brought over many pieces of Gaudy Welsh china that my grandmother gave to me and which I love. My maternal Grandfather’s family has been harder to trace, possibly because they changed their name when they arrived in the U.S. - that is a bit of a mystery. I would love to go to Wales and connect with my family there, it may be difficult because their names are the U.S. equivalent of Smith and Jones: Walters and Jones. I need to look into Ancestry.Com.

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    1. Thanks, Celia. I've discovered that having birthdates for the people you're researching is incredibly helpful, even with common names.

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    2. Celia: I've just looked up Gaudy Welsh china online -- it's lovely! Lucky you for having some. I have a few pieces from my grand-mother in the Indian Tree pattern, which is less lively than yours. https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/indian-tree-pattern-cup-saucer-jg-meakin-1912--209206345162178346/

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    3. Both patterns are pretty, Celia and Amanda. How elegant, Amanda.

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    4. I just looked it up too! Beautiful and unique!

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    5. KAREN: The china is fragile but I use the plates and one platter regardless. Better lost during active use than covered in dust in a back corner cabinet!

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    6. I’ve read that the Gaudy Welsh pattern was based on the Imari china pattern as a more affordable china. I love all the different variations of the pattern~

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    7. CELIA: Oh wow, that's interesting -- and explains why your Guady pattern seemed familiar to me. What a lovely rabbit hole to wander down this morning! Thank you.

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  15. Oh, how delightful. Family mysteries have always fascinated me. I have so far resisted the siren call of Ancestry.com, but I know for certain I'll be diving in. There is so much to learn!

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  16. Ooh a new author to me! I love family history mysteries as I work on my own family history. Your books sound fascinating!

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    1. Sorry I didn’t put my name up - my email is Pamela.fry.priest@gmail.com. Thanks for a chance to win!

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  17. Sarah: i really enjoy your Maggie D'Arcy series and am keen to get the new one into my hands. Family history and stories are so valuable; recently, my brother had all our father's slides and home movies digitized. It's great fun to see family members through the ages. I feel fortunate to have family history in this photographic form.

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    1. Amanda, when my sister and I cleared Dad's house out for sale, there were a lot of family photos, etc. She took most of the pictures, being someone who already keeps well-managed photo albums, and I took the ephemera and slides. I want to digitize the latter, but what to do with the former? Letters and cards feel like they need to stay in the original form.

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    2. I've seen people digitize them but then also save the originals in plastic sleeves in binders . . .

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    3. I have a "memory box" (good quality plastic box with good lid) in which I store ephemera. One of these days, I might actually get around to sorting through all the letters my grand-mothers sent me!

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  18. Sarah: Yours is a new series for me but I am excited to get started on it. I like novels where the places are important to the story.

    My Dad's father's family is well documented by an "Annals" which my grandfather paid to have researched in the 1960s. It is probably accurate back to the 1760s when brothers immigrated to the New World. I have a sampler, sewn in 1821. that refers to an ancestor born in 1761. The Annals are less reliable prior to the immigration, but with increasing numbers of "likely" and "probable" traces the name back to the Norman invasion and the town of "Molten" in Devon. My grandfather was quiet enamored of all that and had a family crest devised. (Really.) The more realistic artifact are the graves at Manassas and in New Hampshire.

    The other 3/4 of my family history is not at all well known and I'm sorry about that. I know nothing of the ancestors on my father's maternal side except that they have always been ranchers and cowboys. While My Mother's family is a combination of Welsh miner stock and tough women. This line of inquiry has "rabbit hole" written all over it......

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    1. Yes, it can be a very time consuming rabbit hole, I've discovered . . . But it sounds like there are some good stories there.

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    2. My 2x great grandmother was Edith MOULTON, daughter of Robert Eugene Moulton (1795-1850). Edith was born in 1832 ? in Clay Township, Indiana. Interesting to read about the Moulton name.

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  19. I haven't read the Maggie D'Arcy series yet, but now I'm eager to start! I'm frustrated in my ancestral search on two fronts: one grandfather left Russia in the midst of the Russian revolution, and we know almost nothing of where he came from or what happened to his family, and my grandmother on the other side was left in an orphanage and changed her name. But I continue to search!

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  20. The Maggie D'Arcy series sounds captivating and memorable. Several years ago my son gave me the ancestry.com for my birthday. I did know most everything about my family and background ever since I was young so no surprises at all. I find it fascinating and enjoy exploring and learning about relatives and continue to find it worthwhile.

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    1. Yes, I find it really interesting, even when there's no mystery . . . The DNA part of the sight is interesting, though I'm still learning how to read and interpret those results.

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  21. Eagerly awaiting Maggie #3--congratulations, Sarah! When the internet first made genealogical research easier, I was amazed to find a Church family tree that went all the way back to the 1300s. Wow! Wow was right. That particular genealogy was compiled by Gustav Anjou--who creatively enhanced family trees for his clients and made a pile of money while he was at it. In fact, if he couldn't find a document to prove a connection, he took it upon himself to create the missing reference. I'm hoping DNA will unravel the connection between my Church family from the 1700s in Virginia to the Church family of Connecticut or Massachusetts.

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    1. Thank you, Flora. That is so interesting and reminds us to take what we find online with a grain of salt.

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  22. Sarah, I am practically jumping up and down with excitement about the release of a new Maggie D'Arcy book! I have really enjoyed these. Thanks for a new one!

    I've not been much into researching my ancestry, but I do know that other relatives have unearthed at least several generations of my maternal line. Her family came over to Louisiana from France mainly, as well as Spain and Ireland. But my father's side is very much a mystery to me. He was born in rural West Virginia and once his mother was able to escape with him and his brother from the poverty and abuse they knew there, he never wanted to look back or talk about it. So I really don't even have names to research, if I was so inclined. He used to say he had been told his heritage was English, Swedish, and Cherokee, but I have no idea if this was accurate. His coloring seemed to support the Swedish theory.

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  23. Sarah, it's wonderful to see you here today. I was just looking at your website to see when the next Maggie D'Arcy book was coming out. I loved the first two and am pretty sure that I learned about The Mountains Wild right here on the JRW blog!

    Ancestry can be consuming. (I am also a fan of S. C. Perkins's books.) I know something about my grandparents' lives but not really all that much. Some cousins have really delved deep, but I have not submitted DNA nor tried to pursue it. I do know that my mother's father's family lived in NY for several generations because she was very proud of that. It is unusual for Jewish families to go back that far ( early 1800's) in the US. My dad told me that he thought they were Dutch because of the names in the cemetery they visited where my grandfather was buried. He died when my mother was young. One interesting thing about him is that he was a Kohane, a descendent of Moses. Now that is fascinating to think about.

    We were recently in Salem, MA staying at a B&B. The owners were telling us that many "witch" accusations were from people who wanted to get their hands on certain pieces of land, especially if a woman was living alone. That sounds about right to me. Perhaps your ancestor traded her land for her life. Land records might complete that story.

    Congratulations on your new book. It is high on my summer reading list!

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  24. Congratulations on your new Maggie D'Arcy book. This series interests me very much. Ancestry is intriguing and fascinating. I could delve into the background and history for hours if not days and weeks. It gives me great pleasure to explore. I do know about my ancestors but I am still interested in knowing the details and hope to discover this.

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  25. I was totally absorbed by the first book in this series, and I don't haven't said that too often the last few years. I am thrilled to see I have some catching up to do! Always someone who loved family stories, and a fan of ancestry shows on PBS, I still haven't jumped into genealogy. I know it is a leap down a rabbit hole and I can do that or write fiction, but not both. Plus...we are all eastern European Jewish ancestry. The records are mostly destroyed. And now I have questions about old stories and the generation with some (not necessarily reliable) answers are all gone.

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  26. SARAH: Welcome to JRW and congratulations on your new release. Isn't family history fascinating? A relative by marriage said "The WASP ancestors have names and genealogical records while Jewish ancestors have the stories".

    You mentioned your husband. Is it ok to ask if your Irish relatives thought your husband was "Black Irish"? I remember a Jewish friend asking a classmate if he was Jewish (as far as he knew, his family were Irish).

    Yes, I have many family mysteries, including some DNA questions. A Jewish relative was surprised to discover 2 percent Irish DNA. Original DNA said 5 percent Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese), 2 percent Irish, 1 percent Finnish/Russian and the rest of the DNA said Jewish Europe. They knew from family stories about ancestors leaving Spain because of the Spanish Inquisition.

    Diana

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    1. Hi Diana -- I think that is really true in some cases. My husband's mother's family was Lithuanian Jewish and his father's Irish and Scottish . . .

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  27. We have an adopted, adult friend who originally wanted nothing to do with searching for her birth family. She figured the family she had was strange enough. Recently she's found one branch of her birth family and is delighted with what she's found.

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  28. I am fortunate that my paternal grandmother had her family genealogy traced in the 1980s. She was able to get as far back as 11th century England where we have at least two knights. Her family came to New England in the 1600s and I've discovered two interesting facts - my 8th great grandfather, Samuel Farnum, was listed as a witness in a witch trial (although I've been unable to find any information about the actual trial) and my ancestors were more than likely Tories (my dad says this explains why his grandfather was embarrassed and wouldn't speak about his own grandparents and great grandparents).
    My current genealogy mystery that fascinates me is on my mother's side. We have always been told that her father's family was of all German descent, something that appeared supported by their name of Holtz. However, I found a copy of my great-grandfather's WW1 draft card and his race is listed as "White, Negro, and Indian - Citizen". The only box not checked is "Oriental". Interestingly, his WW2 draft card lists his race as "White" and nothing else is checked. So it makes me wonder - what was his real ethnicity and who are his ancestors? Did he use race as a way to dodge the draft in WW1, or did he hide his race because of all the issues surrounding race with WW2? I am finding it extremely difficult to trace his ancestors, but hope to one day find out exactly who they were!

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  29. This is fascinating, Sarah. I love the premise of the new book - can't wait to read it.

    My mom is the family historian and she has found some very interesting tidbits in the family lore!

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  30. I want to know more about Mary. How did she escape? She didn't use witchcraft to simply disappear, did she? :)

    (No need to enter me in the giveaway.)

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    1. Ha! Maybe . . . one of the men who accused her said she turned into a blue boar and disappeared!

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  31. Have you checked famous kin dot org? Ray Bradbury, the science fiction author, is a descendant of Mary Perkins Bradbury.

    Diana

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    1. Yes, I saw that! Also, Alan Shepard and Christopher Reeve!

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  32. Hi Sarah!! I've had The Drowning Sea pre-ordered for ages! I can't wait for it to hit my doorstep next Tuesday! Both sides of my family are pretty much genealogical blanks. I did 23 and Me and discovered that I have a lot of Scots/Irish and some Norman French, neither surprising. One of these days I'm going to dive down the Ancestry.com rabbit hole!

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  33. Sarah, I've been itching to read your books and now may be the time! It would certainly be interesting to trace various limbs of the family tree but frankly I find it too confusing. Dad's father came to the U.S. from Sweden as a teenager. I think half of his siblings stayed in Sweden and the other half came here. Yet I never heard about or met any of them. Dad had one aunt in Sweden who wrote and tried to keep in touch with everyone. I think most were born in the 1860s and 1870s and were deceased by the time I came along so that might explain it.

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    1. I discovered through Ancestry DNA that I likely have some Swedish ancestry, though no one has ever talked about it. Thanks, Pat!

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  34. Sarah, I can't wait to read your books! Your description of your efforts to locate family history is very motivating. I was just thinking this week that I have to find time to use my Ancestry account to learn more about the maternal side of my family... it's true that as you get older making those connections and understanding those who came before seems more important. Wishing you all the best!

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    1. I will warn you that it's easy to go down Ancestry rabbitholes . . .

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  35. My husband was a big one for family research, though it didn't drive him to want tovisit Belarus which is where both his and my ancesters were from. The new book sounds wonderful, Sarah - I've been a huge fan of your writing ever since mourning jewelry...

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  36. Kristi Hummel-RosenJune 15, 2022 at 3:26 PM

    Sarah, I cannot wait for the new book! I was a huge fan of your first series as well and spent years hoping that you would return with more books.
    My retired history teacher mother has spent years researching our family and it has reshaped so much of what we thought we knew. Originally we thought our roots were only a few generations deep in this country. Now we know that we go all the way back to the Mayflower (and indeed also have a Salem witch ancestor) and have strong ties to the area of Massachusetts where I went to college.
    When I arrived from South Dakota I felt weirdly at home in the town and connected to the nearby river especially. Fast forward a few decades and I now know that my family lived there from before the revolution, running the ferry across the river for generations. The dorm I lived in all 4 years is named after a cousin of my 4 times great grandmother, who traveled west as a bride to Iowa, He was one of the original trustees of the college. A hundred and twenty odd years later there I was as a scholarship student wondering if I really belonged at such a fancy, prestigious school! Little did I know…

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    1. Thank you, Kristi! Oooh, I love the idea of feeling oddly at home somewhere you have ties.

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  37. I am eager to read The Drowning Sea, after having been glued to the first two in the series. My Mom was a genealogist who worked on both her family and my Dad''s. So many mysteries turned up from her research! I too have been on ancestor discovery missions. Most recently to Nebraska to Red Cloud, where my paternal gr-grandmother taught school before statehood. She must have arrived by wagon--there were no nearby railroads then. I found out why she was there--her older brother, a Civil War veteran, had joined the circus and traveled throughout the country before settling down in a village outside of Red Cloud. My Irish ancestor was like yours--left Larne, NI, in the 1840s with a brother, enlisted in the Union Army after work digging a canal in the Hudson Valley, and was later joined by other members of his immediate family. His wife, my gr-grandmother, married him when he was well along in years, and he died when Grandpa was a small boy, leaving Gr-grandma with three young children to raise on her own. Found his Civil War pension records and naturalization papers that filled in many details. Oddly enough (because he was from a different branch of Dad's family) I found one of his brothers had settled just outside of Red Cloud, NE. Your imagination runs away with you when you try to fill in the blanks. Gr-Grandpa adopted a son who took his surname. I am in touch with the man's descendants who are after me to do a DNA test, because they believe that he was Gr-grandpa's biological son.

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    1. This is fascinating! Thank you so much for sharing this story.

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  38. I loved the Sweeney series! This new series sounds wonderful, too.

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  39. There is an organization for descendants of people accused of witchcraft in America. It's called (naturally) The Society of Early American Witches. The male side of this organization is called Sons of Witches...no, I'm not kidding.

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    1. Thank you, Liane! I didn't know about this organization and I am so happy that I do now!

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  40. Congrats on your new book! I have begun looking into family history and find it so interesting.. Have spent some time trying to find relatives I actually knew in the 1950 census.

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  41. Congratulations on your new book! This is such a fascinating post, I love all the history.

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