I was recently ask how far can I trace my family tree back. The answer is to the birth of my 13th great grandfather Robert Reynere in about 1525 in Wickham Market, England.
What does that really me to me?
Well, it says I descend from some white people who lit out from their homeland for a new start in a new world because of religious persecution; because they believed in something else. It means that my 10th great grandfather, Edward Raynor, obtained some notoriety on this continent such that someone thought it important to write down the name of his great grandfather. Really, it's interesting but what does it mean to me?
Edward Raynor was orphaned when he was about 8 years old. His parents Samuel and Mary died in about 1632. His paternal uncle, Thurston Raynor, brought Edward with him to the New World when he migrated across the ocean with his own family in 1634.
Edward was an orphan. His paternal uncle took him in. For a long time it was assumed by later generations of historians that Thurston was Edward's father until some wills were uncovered.
His uncle took him in.
Now that has meaning to me there. That act of caring for family members is something I see as a common thread through my family history.
My parents divorced when I was about 10. My mother's niece ran away from home in her late teens. When she came to New York, my father, her former uncle by marriage, took her in. He was under no obligation to do this but this is what we do. Her uncle took her in.
I have heard stories about when my father was younger how his parents took in cousins for short, and sometimes long, stints of time while they could get on their feet.
In fact, after my parents divorced, my father went back home to his parents' house because...he could. That is what they do. You can just come home.
I struggled to find my Earle great grandparents in the 1930 census. In correctly transcribed as Carle, I eventually found them and when I did, great grandpa had his brother-in-law living with them because, well, again, that is what we do. Whether it's your brother or her brother or a niece of nephew of some ilk, you take them in.
When great grandpa Earle left New Foundland after the death of his mother, he and his older sister went to Boston. It took me a long time to find them then but when I found his eldest sister Susan I was not surprised to see she was living with her maternal aunt because... that is what we do. Her uncle (by marriage) took her in.
I have at least a dozen more example but when asked what it means to me to be able to trace my family history back to a birth in 1525 it means I can point to nearly 400 years of real family. Real family being relatives, sometimes distant, who take in those struggling members of the gene pool to give them support to get up on their own two feet. They do this not because they have to but simply because that is what we do.