Friday Question of the Day – Where are your Ancestors/Family from Originally?

by Prince Of Petworth February 23, 2017 at 10:22 pm 196 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user DCbmyers

Got a fun one today that I can’t wait to read the responses! Simply when and where did your family come from and around what year did they immigrate to the States? For me both sides come from Russia and Poland. Some came in the 1880s and some came just before World War One, all settled in New York City. What about you guys? The more details/family lore the better!

  • Blithe

    I don’t really know. All four of my grandparents lived in DC prior to 1920. Two of them were from Alabama, and I believe that one was from Georgia and one was from Vermont. I’ve understood that some of my ancestors were Muscogee Creek, from Alabama. Beyond that, my best guess is that all of my forebears were in the US prior to 1807.

    • Blithe

      -Just to add a few more details: Also by 1920, 3 of my 4 grandparents had college degrees. They moved to DC — the Federal City and the home of Howard University– for the job, educational, and life style opportunities that Washington could offer, even during a time of oppressive and legal segregation. Their relocation from deep south states to DC, not many generations after the end of slavery, represent a significant part of my family’s migration experience.

      – On my mother’s side, the side that I know the most about, at least 2 of her uncles also lived in DC, as well as her grandmother, who lived with my mother’s family. My great-grandmother was raised by foster parents. It blows my mind to imagine the vision and courage that my great-grandmother must have had to envision and secure educational opportunities for her children, and even greater opportunities for her grandchildren. Their first house was on the unit block of N street. When my mother was around 8, they moved to a house on Girard St. near 13th. My mother took music lessons at Howard U. as a child, and she, along with her two brothers, attended DVNBAR (sic) — a high school with a highly educated staff and a college prep curriculum, that offered educational opportunities that were quite exceptional at the time.

  • Thor’skidz

    Dad’s grandad on his mom’s side sailed here from Denmark (merchant marine via Brazil with a monkey) in the late 1800s. Landed in NYC, but ended up in SE DC, at the Navy Yard. Neat old side story, grandma used to tell a story that her grandmother was lying in wake in the mid 1800s, and all of a sudden “awoke”, and went on to have many children and ran the General Store on the island. (whew) Grandma remembers leaving Denmark on a ship during WWI where the North Sea was already mined. Her dad in DC built battleship cannons.

    Down in Texas I can find my great great great great grandma’s grave at the family’s Polish cemetary, born in Poland 1820s. Can find all the ancestor’s headstones there through my grandparents. Apparently came to US through Galveston due to labor shortages in Texas during the civil war (or religious persecution back in Europe?). Bootleggers back in the day too. Awesome family recipe pecan-wood smoked kielbasa. Quite a nice polish community outside Houston, bluebonnet country.

    Wish I knew my dad’s dad’s side, name was Harmanis (neat name), perhaps a handsome cobbler in Philly. Somehow linked to the English monarchy, not sure, can’t trace that lineage……

  • saf

    Magdeburg, Germany on one side. Got here in the early 1900s.
    Other unidentified German places on another side, late 1800s.
    Hessians from a unknown part of Germany who stayed in PA, so 1700s on another side.
    Isle of Man and Ireland, via Canada on the final side. Not so many records, but probably some time in the late 1700s, early 1800s.

  • John in Brookland

    Mom was from Glenaugh Co. Mayo Ireland, Dad’s parents were from along the Mulroy Bay Co. Donegal, Ireland

  • Farragut

    My mom’s side of the family were pretty much German-speakers from the Alsace region of France. They came over around the 1840s or so, and pretty much stayed in Ohio until my mom’s generation. Most fun immigrant story is the 1860s/70s ancestor who apparently knocked a Prussian/German officer off his horse with a slingshot and then hightailed it to America.
    My dad’s side is more mixed (Scots Irish & French), but supposedly our last-name-bearers show up in records just after American independence in North Carolina, and they slowly migrated northward to Tennessee then Kentucky then Ohio. We have some side relatives who apparently were French Huguenot (Protestant) settlers in Virginia, but I’m pretty vague about them, since we haven’t done much research on the Virginian side.
    My dad has been on a huge genealogy kick lately, and supposedly Carrie Fisher is my 6th cousin, which is fucking awesome (though our nearest ancestor is basically 200 years ago). Looking at a DNA test, my mom has a big chunk of apparently Italian ancestry, which is shocking, but I’m choosing to believe that they are from Roman legionnaires who settled along the Rhine frontier and married the locals.

    • dcd

      I always thought the Force was strong in you.

  • Charlie

    Three of my grandparents came from Sicily; the other, from Poznan, Poland — all in the 1910’s.

    All settled in Buffalo, where they eventually met.

  • Eric


  • L.

    On one side, Mexico (Aguascalientes) around the 1920s. Mexico was not a great place to be at the time, in the middle of some post-Revolution upheaval. Supposedly grandmother’s sister was kidnapped, never heard from again, the family decided to get out of Dodge. Mexicans mid-century faced segregation in public facilities like having to use a separate entrance at movie theaters, not being allowed to swim in public pools, not getting picked up by the bus. Family worked in meat packing and day labor jobs until kids joined military (WW2-Korea era) which led to college, which led to social mobility.

    On the other side, Ireland (I can’t recall which county but it’s written down somewhere) during the famine (so like 1850s?) first to Canada and then down to the Midwest. A lot has been written about anti-Irish sentiment but family legend holds that the bigger problem was anti-Catholicism, which was very much demonized in the way Islam is now, and a great-great uncle was a bishop. The Irish really stuck together for socializing and marriages and such (I’m sure they had to), plus mass media as we know it didn’t exist, plus the family were generally farmers living isolated lives in a remote part of the Midwest. Thus, my granddad spoke with an Irish brogue despite the family having been in the US for 100+ years by the time I was born.

    • dcd

      As recently as 20 years ago (and maybe even today, I’m not sure) there were streets in Newark, NJ (the Ironbound District) where Portuguese was spoken almost exclusively. Not the image most people have of Newark, that’s for sure.

    • Nancy

      I love that mix – Mexico & Ireland. Old America & Old Europe come together here. Must be a fascinating family history to read.

    • anonymous

      Interesting tidbit about the brogue even 100 years later. My grandmother, who is 100% Irish and grew up in a small Midwestern area where Norwegians, Germans and Irish lived together, uses words like “lassie” or “lad.” Her family immigrated here in the mid-1800s!

      • L.

        LOL, yes, “lads and lassies,” “nineteen-tirty-two,” etc. It wasn’t cartoonish, but it was definitely there. When my mom showed me an heirloom suitcase one of our ancestors brought over from Ireland in late 19th century to be a mail-order bride (It was a “Sarah Plain and Tall” type situation) I was quite surprised as I’d just assumed granddad was born in Ireland.

    • CatieCat

      Mom is mexican and dad is Irish/German/Russian!

    • jsauri

      Wow, so similar to me! Except my father came up from the Yucatan when he was a kid. My mom is French/Scottish. Her family also first went to Canada, then down to the Midwest to farm. Except they kept the Canadian accent, not old world.

  • MPinDC

    Paternal grandparents came on ships from Poland via Ellis Island around 1880s, maternal grandparents were from Sweden, from a mixtopolous of UK/Brittany/Acadia. Coal miners and poultry farmers.
    My deep (maternal) ancestors (U5 haplogroup) followed the reindeer across Lapland, paternal ancestors roamed around eastern Europe.
    I did beta testing for NatGeo 2.0 test – the personal results were interesting (what % of my ancestors were neanderthal vs denisovan) but more interesting was a visual tracing of human history and conditions that lead to movement from mitochondrial Eve to my ancestral path.
    Way more realistic results than my doggie DNA test (Chinese shar pei – lab mix?? WRONG)

    • eggs

      I was told by a geneticist recently that the 23andme tests are the most accurate on the market right now (if you’re interested in doing it again sometime!)

  • Quotia Zelda

    Various parts of western Europe. Mostly British Isles (England, Scotland, Wales, N. Ireland, Jersey), plus France, Netherlands, and Germany.
    They arrived at different points between 1618 and 1845.

    Mr. Zelda’s family came from Vietnam in 1975.

  • Rowland

    Baden-Baden, Germany. Early 1800’s. Railroad and farmers. Protestants, stubborn, broken backs, tough as nails, didnt talk much.

  • Cam

    Latest arrivals were Catholics from Ireland, near Cork, in the late 1800s. They settled in Brooklyn. Some of them sold blocks of ice (how our fridges used to keep things cold). Many later became teachers. Earlier family members came from Donegal, Ireland (Protestants who settled in the Bronx); England; Wales; Sweden; the Netherlands; and Germany (those folks lived in and around Erie, PA, and Albany, NY). One great-grandparent ran a small grocery store (I guess they were all small long ago!) and another ran a streetcar. One relative was a veterinarian for the Union during the civil war (guess he took care of the horses?). I ended up raised in the American South (Tennessee).

  • Bonz Malone

    They were forced into America from Africa as slaves.

    • Gallery Place NW

      Exactly. Family history and identities erased.

    • Anon Spock

      Same boat, but we were able to get information back to about the mid-1700s. Fortunately/unfortunately my family basically owned the city, so there was a lot of info on them. If you’re at all interested, it may be worth some digging.

      • K

        This question arises out of white privilege. Maybe unbeknownst to POP and those commenting.

        The only way to track down the info is via ancestry.com, etc.

        • There were good intentions but definitely some white privilege in the questions. I appreciate all these responses (and the Bob Marley quote.) I’m still very much enjoying the conversation but certainly did not mean to cause pain or slight in any way those whose ancestors were forced here. But I’m glad I was reminded that what I take for granted isn’t the case for everyone.

          • K

            I think the question opens a dialogue where we can all understand each other. Many don’t realize ancestry is something that many take for granted. Without asking the question, we will never learn multiple point of views.

          • Blithe

            I think it’s an interesting question, and I’m enjoying reading through the varied responses. At the same time, when I scribbled off my answer last night, it came with a pang. I don’t know where my ancestors originally came from. It’s probably impossible for me to ever find out. A painful part of this is that the reasons I don’t know these things are because of very deliberate decisions on the part of many people. So, it’s an interesting question, but for me, and possibly for many, it’s not necessarily a “fun” one. I definitely agree with K. : Many people don’t realize what we/they take for granted — and possibly assume that others take for granted. One of the strengths of this site has been the opportunity that we have to share and learn and grow — in part because of PoPvillagers willing to share our stories.

          • When I started reading some of the responses, I immediately was like “Jesus I’m an idiot” but I’m happy to be an idiot in order to have the opportunity to learn. Thank you for sharing your stories. Sincerely.

          • textdoc

            I think the question and answers are a good reminder that 1) except for people with 100% Native American heritage, we’re all immigrants and 2) for some people, immigration was forcible.

          • dcd

            I don’t know – what would you have done differently? Not asked the question? That can’t be the right answer, can it? Worded it a different way? In retrospect, how would you have changed the question?

        • My African American neighbors were talking recently about wanting to do some family history work. I asked them if I could ask how they felt about the fact that at some point they would run into slavery in their history. She said she was really interested in getting as far as she could and getting some names – any of them – just to feel a connection to the generations that came before her. I thought it was a beautiful answer to a painful question.
          Also, when I was flying to Ghana in October I met a girl from DC who was going – it was her first international trip and she was going solo. She wanted to visit some of the places that were known as major ports in the slave trade because she wanted to feel that connection, even if it wasn’t the exact port her ancestors had come through. I really appreciated her saying it because I admit I don’t always think about it.
          There was a kid in my high school whose name was almost exactly like mine, first and last. He joked that we were probably related even though I was white and freckly and he was African American. Sadly, my family probably did have something to do with him having our last name. It’s hard to see old wills from my mom’s genealogy work that leave slaves to other family members. You like to think your family wasn’t like that, but they were.

    • Alan

      Same. Kinda funny/sad how people erase the experience of millions of Americans who were brought here against their will with the “nation of immigrants” narrative.

  • Jan

    The first on my mother’s side immigrated from Southwestern England to Jamestown in the 1600s as an indentured servant for 7 years. After working off his debt, established a family and farm of his own in VA. Their descendants did the same thing in Mississippi, and then made their way to Detroit in the mid 1900s.

  • Joshua

    One side arrived from England and Wales in the early 1700s. The other side from Germany in the late 1700s. They all settled in Virginia.

  • 16thSter

    France, arrived in Quebec mid to late 1600s. Later German and Irish. Pale.

  • HiItsnino

    Mio padre e di Napoli, Italy via 1958. My mom is your typical American mutt, part Scottish, german, some indian

  • Mother’s side…mostly from England to the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies in the 1620s and 1630s, along with some from the Danish West Indies in the 1820’s. Father’s side…some from England in the late 1700s and Ireland in the early 1800s.

  • Monika

    My parents are refugees from Hungary and arrived here in the wake of the revolution of 1956. I just celebrated my mother’s 60th anniversary of entering the US. She arrived on February 14, 1957. Her friends do like to tell that at this point the only thing Hungarian about her is her accent. When she was younger, people used to call her Zsa Zsa.

  • Mutty mutt

    LaJara, Spain and Cuzco, Peru. I’m first generation American and my nieces will answer this as Peruvian and Moroccan.
    Our diversity is a strength.

  • Anon in NW

    Dad’s side is Genoa and Sicily, Mom’s is Naples and Sicily (Messina area). All got here in the early 1900s-1910s, settling in Brooklyn and Queens, NY.

  • n3

    3/4 Romanian, Russian, Polish, Ukraine (all Jewish – Russia controlled Ukraine and Poland at the time, so it gets confusing)
    1/4 English (all the way back to the mayflower), Irish, and German.

  • anon

    Both of my parents emigrated from India…

    • dcgator

      Ditto. They came over in 1979. Moved into Jackson Heights, in Queens, which I believe has remained “Little India” in NYC. Then, after some years, they moved to Texas and had me. I think they still reminisce about those NYC times and think on them fondly. Not until very recently did any other family members join us here in the US, so, like many immigrant communities, other families became our “extended family.”

  • Mom: Half British Isles (late 1600s immigration), half Iroquois
    Dad: 100% German (via Ellis Island, early 1900s)

  • dcd

    Fun question. I’m a mutt.

    Maternal grandmother – English and Irish (not sure of the exact mix or stories)
    Maternal grandfather – Swiss, Scottish, English and French – he most closely identified with Scottish (not sure of the exact mix or stories)
    Paternal grandfather – 100% German, his father came to the US in the early part of the 20th century, was a woodworker and cabinetmaker.
    Maternal Grandmother is a DAR, and before she got married was a Burr (not a direct descendent of the former VP, but we share a common ancestor). I really need to trace her lineage, if only because I have heard that the DAR provides college scholarships.

    • dcd

      Anyone who has taken a genetic test learn that they are among the 0.5% of men in the world who are direct descendants of Genghis Kahn?

  • kan

    Both parents born as refugees after my grandparents left White (takeover of aristocracy and ushering in of Communism) Russia during bolshevik revolution. Mom born in Persia (Iran) and father in Prague. Lived entire lives in various displaced persons camps (oh the stories!) and finally both ended up in Argentina where they met, had my sister and then moved to US after my papa got a job. Basically I’m first generation in this country.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Mom’s family is English, Irish, French, & German. Dad (who I’ve never met) was Irish.

  • EH

    One one side almost entirely Palatinate (SW) regions of Germany and Zurich, Switzerland between 1686 and 1710 – they were Mennonites escaping persecution and settled in Germantown, Philadelphia PA. On the other side mostly Prussia (1854) escaping a crackdown on liberal academics, and Sweden (between 1900 and 1909).

    • Nancy

      You Palatinate folks may have been next door neighbors to my mom’s family. Tell them hi :).

  • Anonymous


  • northeazy

    Paternal side is easy: grandmother’s parents from Naples. Grandfather’s parents from Sicily. Both sets left Italy before WWI for NYC. They never learned fluent English. Both grandparents were bi-lingual. My dad knows a few phrases. I don’t know any.

    Maternal side not so much-they’re Jews. My grandmother’s mother was born in the States. Her parents were from somewhere in Germany. My grandfather’s parents were born in a country that no longer exists: Bessarabia. It overlapped modern day Moldova and Ukraine.

  • Stacys

    On one side: Romania (my grandmother was an early 20th century anchor baby) and Germany.
    One the other side: As far as I can tell, they sprung out of the ground on the eastern shore of Maryland. I found land records from the early 1800’s that show they were living about a half of a mile from where the family still owns a restaurant…..

  • Cleo42

    My parents, my brother, and I came from Egypt in 1984. Some family came after, but most of my family is still there.

  • anonymous

    My mother is all German; my father is almost all Irish (with a tiny sliver of German from several generations back). I’ve heard German-Irish is one of the most common combos in the U.S.!

  • Nancy

    Father’s family from England, here in 1683. Mom’s family from France/Germany/Ireland and here in 1725. Father’s family started in Virginia & were slave owners. Mom’s family started in PA. By the 1850s dad’s folks were in Missouri & mom’s in Iowa. In 1870s a guy from the former slave owners/Confederate army folk met & married a gal from the Northerners/Union army folk. The families took a while to accept each other, but finally did.

    Both families had members who fought in the Revolutionary War as well as Civil later. Mom’s family had a member who was part of the Whiskey Rebellion. A story of American history I like to say is in my blood. I spent a decade doing genealogical research, once you get started it’s hard to stop, but I finally decided that once I got the families “across the Atlantic” I’d stop. So I’m not sure what they were up to in Europe.

  • BottleOfRed

    Portugal. 100%

  • Mostly Italian

    Most of my great-grandparents came to Philadelphia in the 1910s from central Italy. The other ones came to Philadelphia from the British Isles in the mid 1800s.

    • Anon

      My dad’s parents settled near Philly around the same time. They’re from Molise.

  • eggs

    People always look at me like I’m crazy but I don’t really know. My dad was adopted. My mom’s side claims they’re from Germany but all of the food my mom has recognized as being things her grandma cooked when I’ve taken her out to eat around here has been Russian and Polish. We don’t have any kind of records.

    • Farragut

      I wouldn’t be surprised if your mom’s side was descended from Poles in Germany after the partitions of the 1790s!

      • A lot of Baltic food is also a mix of German, Polish, and Russian cuisine. My Baltic family ended up in Germany for a while during the war. Another possibility!

      • textdoc

        Or maybe her family was German, but from a border region?
        I don’t know anything about the ethnography of the cuisine, but the region my German (Jewish) great-grandparents came from is now part of Poland. Maybe those border/mixed regions had some cultural interchange as far as their cuisines?

      • eggs

        All great points! I may do some research on her side of the family someday, but since there are virtually no records and everyone had the SAME names (with no middle names!) I’m not sure how easy it would be.

    • DCbyDay

      sounds like a 23&Me test could be interesting for you!

      • eggs

        I’d like to some day!

    • Nancy

      The woman who got me into genealogy came from a family with adoptions in two different generations. She worked really hard to track them down, but it is possible to do.

      • HaileUnlikely

        I wonder if there is a straightforward way to track down things like medical history of a blood relative who is basically a stranger and whose blood relationship to myself is in all likelihood not provable by means of any legal documentation. I am in my late 30’s. I did not even learn my father’s *name* until I was in my twenties. I have no interest in attempting to contact my father, but as I get older, leaving half of a medical history form blank at the doctor’s office becomes more and more uncomfortable.

        • textdoc

          That’s an interesting question. I don’t think you’d be able to get a medical history per se without your father’s permission… but I believe some of the commercial genetic tests can give you some health-related information

          • HaileUnlikely

            I was thinking along the same lines myself. Other means I can imagine would involve payment by me to a third party who would obtain it from him by means of polite request, pleading, purchase, or theft.

          • textdoc

            Haile, do you know of any relatives (aunts? uncles?) on your father’s side? Maybe they’d be willing to share a family medical history, even if your father wouldn’t be. (And making contact with them would be less emotionally loaded, on both ends.)

          • HaileUnlikely

            Negative. Parents were very young; families weren’t in touch; don’t even know whether they’d even met.

          • HaileUnlikely

            p.s. Dr. Google says the man is still alive, which at least tells me he didn’t die of Huntington’s or anything. Hell, it’s a start.

        • Blithe

          Have you considered consulting a lawyer or perhaps a social worker who specializes in adoption, foster care, or family law? A need for medical history information coupled with a possible wish for confidentiality on both sides must be an issue that comes up a lot. If there’s already a legal protocol for getting the information, it could be good to know. And it could be good to have a neutral go-between involved.
          . Fwiw, I’ve often been a professional go-between in family matters, and in my limited experience, people are often willing to help with family history issues, even when they don’t want to share specifics about their own lives. Also, you can get a lot of information using opt-out or carefully worded checklists and questions. Most people will answer questions like: ” Have you, or anyone in your family ever…..” and may even provide details– since they don’t have to reveal which details might only describe themselves.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Good suggestion, thank you. It had occurred to me that a lawyer might be able to help, and I might go that route in the future but am not there yet. The social worker idea did not occur to me and is really excellent. Thanks!

        • anonymouse_dianne

          If you sign up for the health part, 23 and me will tell you if you are a carrier of certain diseases, such as Tay-Saks or Cystic Fibrosis. (I was not a carrier of any of the 19 they test for). There is an option to see people who may be related to you. I got a slew of third and fifth cousins, from both sides of the family, with obvious Greek and Irish names.

      • eggs

        My father is extremely set on never tracking down his birth parents, so I respect that and haven’t done any digging at all. I’m so curious, and after he passes (way down the line from now hopefully!) I may look in to it then!

    • A friend’s grandfather was adopted. I don’t know how in the world she figured this out – but she tracked down his family in England. His mother had 7 children prior to him and died while giving birth to him because of the 1918 flu epidemic. Her husband couldn’t handle one more mouth to feed while dealing with his grief and adopted him out. When my friend found the family in England, they said they had been trying to figure out what had happened to their brother/her grandfather for forever. It was really pretty cool.

  • The Kilbasa Kid

    Slovenia 1899 town of Laze

    • Farragut

      Wow, what a tiny town… the 2002 population was 299!

      • The Kilbasa Kid

        I would not even call it a town as opposed to a collection of huts. But your spot on…Hill People

  • Llama

    1880’s – Italy, came through Ellis Island and most settled in New York while others moved to Colorado.

  • skj84

    So we can date back to slavery, but not to Country of origin. My mother is the genealogist in the family and has done some great digging. Her paternal side of the family is rooted in Atlanta, which she can date to late 19th century, and maternal is from Richmond. My dads mom started in Richmond then moved to DC when she was young. Both sets of my grandparents met and got married in Washington DC, though they didn’t know each other. I feel like I was meant to be here because of that.

    • Farragut

      Welcome to the District of SKJ84. :)

  • jerdlngr

    On the maternal side, one set of great grandparents was from Lyon, France. My grandmother’s family came from Newfoundland (they’re of English descent) in the early 1900s (my grandmother was born in Massachusetts in 1914 but some of her older siblings were born in Newfoundland – so around that time). On the paternal side, my great grandmother was from somewhere in southern Sweden and emigrated from Karlskrona in 1905; my great grandfather was from Bornholm (a Danish island, but he was Swedish) but don’t know when he came to the US. Probably around the same time. My other great grandparents were from Germany but don’t know where or when they left.

    • Farragut

      Fun fact about Bornholm–that is probably the ancestral home of the Germanic Burgundian people, who eventually moved into the lands of the Western Roman Empire as it fell (i.e., the founders of Burgundy).

  • NH Ave Hiker

    My father’s grandfather came over to NH from Italy in the early-1900’s, while his mother’s side came to Massachusetts Bay colony in the 1600’s, so I New England roots that go all the way back. One source of pride for me is my relatives who fought in the Civil War in both NH and Mass regiments.

    My mother’s side is mostly French-Canadian I think.

  • LittleBluePenguin

    Big ol’ pale mutt here. Paternal grandfather’s side we’ve been able to trace to French Huguenots fleeing persecution, they moved through France (and parts of Germany) and to Lancaster County somehow (with a possible stopover in England) and settled there in the 1720s or 1730s, I think. Paternal grandmother – Jews fleeing the Russian Empire in the 1880s. Came through New York and Philadelphia, settled in Nebraska for a while and then came back out east. We haven’t been able to trace our Jewish ancestors much further than the vague “Russian Empire” since that’s all that is specified in the ship’s manifest. Mother’s side is a mix of German and Irish (maternal grandma) and Irish, Scottish and Swedish (maternal grandpa). Oldest ancestor we can trace on that side is a young Irish soldier who was impressed into the War of 1812, but we’re not sure how he ended up staying in America.

  • Ward One Resident

    I’m a DAR on my mom’s side with her family coming from Ireland/England/Wales and settling in Pa. and Md. and I’m a first generation American on my Dad’s side (Italy) with his family settling in Md.

    • DCLadyinWaiting

      We could be related (except I don’t think we are)! My mom is also DAR Irish/English with a touch of German, and my dad’s mom came over from Italy as a little girl and married another Italian in Philly.

      • Ward One Resident

        It’s weird because on my mom’s side, obviously there is so much documentation about the family tree, but because my dad’s family left Italy at a certain time in history and rather quickly, there is literally nothing till they hit Ellis Island. And then because my grandparents were adamant about assimilating, it’s almost as if Italy didn’t exist which makes me sad.

  • logandude

    Maternal grandmother’s first ancestors were English and French Huguenot in Virginia in the 1620s and ’30s, later reinforced by Germans who emigrated to Richmond in the 1830s and ’50s to become iron workers and furriers.
    Maternal grandfather’s first ancestors were English and French Huguenots who arrived in Virginia from the 1630s to the 1680s, later reinforced by German, Welsh, and Scots-Irish immigrants to the Virginia back-country. By the 1790s they had arrived in upland South Carolina, where a bunch of ’em would die for the Confederacy (ugh).
    Paternal grandmother’s family were Germans and possibly Polish living in East Prussia, on both sides of what was then the German-Russian border in the early 19th century. Around 1890 my great-grandfather came off the land to work in the steel mills of western Germany.
    Paternal grandfather’s ancestors had been fine upstanding artisans (bakers, butchers, weavers) in a small city in northern Hesse since the 1650s. My father would eventually come from Hesse to the U.S. in the early 1950s.

  • Pixie

    Mostly Irish. Dad’s side is from County Sligo and we have a copy of their arrival records from Ellis Island. My mom’s side is more mysterious. My great grandmother immigrated to NYC from County Limerick alone when she was 14 years old and cut off all ties with her family. My maternal grandfather died very young and I don’t much about his family, but I think they were German

  • DCgal101

    I am not sure about my dad’s side of the family, but my grandmother on my mom’s side did a ton of ancestry research and created a huge chart going back to the 1500s in Scotland. One of my great great … great.. a few more greats… grandfathers first came to York, PA from Switzerland before the revolutionary war ~ 1740. One of my ancestors fought in the revolutionary war and my grandfather still has his cuff links with his initials and the year 1782 inscribed on them.

  • cachito

    Both parents are Venezuelan, but my paternal grandfather was part Scottish. Parents came here about 30 years ago.

    • Hill Denizen

      Oh man, this half-Venezuelan is now craving a cachito.

  • Anonamom

    My dad’s side of the family is mostly German and English on both sides with a little bit of this and that thrown in. I heard somewhere along the way that the first to immigrate came as indentured servants. On my mom’s side, my maternal grandfather’s family was Irish, though there is enough Native American lineage that my mom could have qualified for scholarships based on her heritage. My maternal grandmother was Scotts-Irish,all the way back. This line of the family was actually traced back to their arrival in America – three brothers who came before the Revolutionary War and made their way to the Tennessee frontier. My entire family hails from the Midwest. We came to the DC area when I was 6 and never left.
    My kids are third generation Americans on their dad’s side; three of their great-grandparents were fresh off the boat from Ireland and one from Germany. My ex’s family live in Philly.
    My SO’s family history is far more interesting than mine, largely because they have been in Baltimore since they came from Poland not even a hundred years ago. There’s a very good historical record available on his line. I could write a book off their family stories.

    • Anon

      The book White Trash is really interesting and tells the history of the indentured servants and other Europeans that were brought here against their will. Their countries needed people to settle in pre-America and work the land, but few were willing to volunteer, so they rounded up the poorest and sent them on ships with few resources. Many of them died right away, from disease or starvation, and the ones that were able to start families suffered generations of poverty which still exists today. It’s very sad and you don’t hear about it often.

      • Anonamom

        I will say that my dad’s side of the family remains impoverished to this day. They were the type of family line that never owned property, married or had children very young, and died very young. There’s a great deal of addiction and mental illness, even in my generation. I am the only college graduate out of 25 cousins, and I honestly believe I was only afforded the opportunities I have had by my parents choice to GTFO of their tiny town. I’ll have to check this book out!

  • 1301

    Mom’s side is mostly English/French. Not sure when they came over, but I qualify for Daughters of the American Revolution on her side, so somebody was here by the 1700s. And then Daughters of the Confederacy as they settled in Louisiana and Georgia, but that one’s a hard pass.

    Dad’s side were French huguenots who stopped briefly in Germany on their way to Denmark where they hopped a ship to New Amsterdam in the 1670s. Flash forward a century, somebody there fought with the Westchester County militia. They pretty much stayed in the tri-state area after that.

    My parents separately moved to and met in Texas. I grew up there and moved up here. I generally just tell people I’m American. Boyfriend immigrated from Turkey fifteen years ago, so we’re on opposite ends of that spectrum.

    • Quotia Zelda

      I once asked my mother if my grandmother was a member of the UDC. Her answer: Do you really want to know?
      Yeah, not so much.

      • 1301

        Oof. Yeah, I don’t think anyone in my family has been in a rush to claim that particular heritage.

  • TinkerTaylor

    Mostly German and Swiss, with a little English and Irish thrown in for good measure. Pretty much everyone arrived in the US in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Genuine American mutt.

    Only interesting story we’ve actually substantiated is that the Swiss ancestors were sent over by their church because they were too poor and a burden on the church. Better to ship them over to the US.

  • mtpresident

    Polish and Russian on one side (the Jewish side–no surprise there), I think also in the late 1800s. They also went to NYC. English and Irish on the other side–no idea when, but my grandparents on that side were born in the US, so at least that long ago.

  • NeverForget

    My paternal grandfather was Polish. He was a Holocaust survivor – lived in several work camps as a teenager before he escaped and hid until the War ended. He was sponsored to take a ship to Canada where he met my grandmother (also of Polish descent), started a business, and had 4 kids. My maternal grandmother is French Canadian and maternal grandfather was Scottish.

  • uppermostnorthwest

    Both parents are from Fiji and moved here in the 60s.

  • “typical” long islander

    My dad is Italian, from the Dolomite Mountains, moved to Long Island in the early 1960s. My mom’s grandparents are from County Tipperary and moved to the Bronx in the early 1900s.

  • Laura

    My ancestors on both sides (with the exception of my great-grandmother from St. Petersburg) all lived within what is now a short drive from each other in Poland, Belarus and Lithuania. The earliest immigrants were my paternal great-great grandparents from the Galicia region of Poland in around 1890. This was after some bad pogroms and the U.S. opened up its borders to Jews. Unlike most Jews, however, they immediately made their way from NYC to Denver. The family story goes that they had a friend or relative who was there who told them it was nice and promised to help get them started. The last person in my family to immigrate was my maternal grandfather, who came to the U.S. from Lithuania shortly after the end of World War I. He never knew exactly how old he was.

  • caroline

    MAternal side: italy and ireland in the early 1900’s settled in New England

    Paternal side- late 1700’s from England and Netherlands

  • jim_ed

    Mom: English all the way on down from the puritans, but adopted and raised by Ashkenazi Jews
    Dad: Half German – late 1800s immigration to Tennessee, Half black – forced immigration at an undetermined date.

  • littlen

    Both of my parents are from England, and as far as we know we’re almost entirely English with some Welsh likely in there. My mom is from up north, near Manchester, and my dad is from coastal southwest England, nearish to Bath and Bristol.

    • littlen

      Oh and my mom moved here when she was 16 – my grandad came here for work. She met my dad 5 weeks before she moved and they kept doing long distance, just writing letters because they couldn’t afford to call each other, and visiting on the holidays for 5 years until they got married and dad moved over. It’s very romantic.

      • DCbyDay

        that is a really cool story. Do they (you?) still have any of the letters?

        • littlen

          They do! They have them in a chest – my sister and I have never read them though, my parents preferred to keep them private.

          • Quotia Zelda

            I’m glad they still have them! When my grandfather returned from WWII, he and my grandmother destroyed all the letters they’d written. We also have very few of the letters written to/from my great-grandparents when they were living in China in the early 20th century (storage facility fire).

      • Hill Denizen

        Wow. I’m going on two years long distance with my bf, seeing him every 2-4 months, and it sucks, but I get to text with him all day long. This gives me hope <3

  • Tall E

    Maternal side is Romanian and
    Paternal is Hungarian, though that side has been traced back to an rabbi born in Austria in the 1700s who lived in Poland. My parents emigrated here in the late 60s after a few years in Israel. It was thrilling to find my stepfathers grandparents in the Ellis island records when they arrived from Romania in the late 1800s.

  • bruno

    Dad’s came to the colonies in 1632, from England. Nearly 400 years ago.

  • 100% Italian

    I’m 100% Italian. My great-grandparents on one side and great-great grandparents on the other side were the first to come to America. One side came from Calabria, and the other side is 50% Calabrian and the other 50% is either from Naples or Siciliy (making me 75% Calabrian, and 25% Sicilian or Neapolitan).

    • Man, I’d love to be invited to eat at your family reunion!

      • textdoc


  • alkebulan

    “Stolen from Africa, brought to America. Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival.”
    Bob Marley


    • Anon


  • My mom’s family, who I am closest with, is from Lithuania. Both of my grandparents came here with their families to escape Stalin after WWII, and they met in Boston (which has a huge Lithuanian community). My mom actually only spoke Lithuanian until she was 5, so the culture and traditions of the old country are still very present in our family. I plan to keep passing the traditions down even though subsequent generations have less of the Lithuanian heritage (I’m half, my kid is a quarter, etc).
    We don’t really know where my dad’s family ancestrally, but my grandparents on that side both grew up in Petworth before they moved to Maryland in the 50s. Since we live there now (only a few blocks away from where my grandfather grew up), we get cool stories about the history of the neighborhood whenever we see them.

  • DCbyDay

    what a FUN Friday question.
    My dad’s side is mostly Irish (County Cork) came here during the famine to work for DuPont in Wilmington… much of his family is still there (some still working for DuPont!) today.
    My mom’s mom is a mystery, probably some PA Dutch in there, so German?… but her father is half Cuban. His family was from a town in Cuba where sugar cane was grown to be used in Hershey’s chocolate (aptly, named Hershey, Cuba) and members of the family came to work for Hershey or live in America, so his father ended up in Hershey, PA and married an American (most likely similar mix as my maternal grandma). The town and story of Hershey, Cuba is really interesting Milton Hershey set it up to essentially mirror Hershey, PA same grand Hotel Hershey similar home layout, just sugar cane instead of cows.

  • DC_Transplant

    The side I know about – both great grandparents came from a small farming town in County Cork, Ireland, in the early 1900s. They met in Boston, after my great grandfather’s first wife died in childbirth.

  • MadMax

    Mother’s side from Ireland in the 1820’s, father’s side from England unsure on dates exactly, but records found going back to mid-1700’s.

  • Idontgetit

    My father’s side were French Huguenots who first arrived in Virginia in the late 1600s.* Previously they had lived in Holland and then England. After a few years in Virginia they moved to eastern Kentucky where they spent several generations marrying each other and I have the forehead to prove it.

    My mother’s side were basic Scotch Irish, not sure when they arrived but they spent several generations in Tennessee and Kentucky.

    *Do we need a PoPville French Huguenot Happy Hour?

    • LittleBluePenguin

      hahahah! “where they spent several generations marrying each other and I have the forehead to prove it.” wow! And yes, i think we should have a French Huguenot Happy Hour! (as well as a “Refugees from the Russian Empire’s Pogroms” Happy Hour)!

    • textdoc

      I too got a kick out of “where they spent several generations marrying each other and I have the forehead to prove it.” :)

      • DCbyDay


    • Quotia Zelda

      We also had Huguenots who were in Virginia (Manakin) and moved to KY. And a branch of Huguenots to went to South Carolina.

      • Idontgetit

        Yes they were also in Manakin so they probably knew each other. ;-)

  • Girl on a Hill

    Maternal grandfather’s family: German/Czech (Bohemia). Legend has it there is a street in Prague with my grandfather’s last name -which was subsequently changed. It sounded too German and they didn’t want to be associated with Germany after WWI.
    Maternal grandmother’s family: A direct relative came over on the Mayflower, settled in Boston and never left. My favorite fun fact about this part of my family though is we are related to William de Tracy, one of the guys who assassinated Thomas Becket in 1170.
    Paternal grandfather’s family: British or Irish. We are actually not 100% sure, but they grew up in the farmlands of Arlington before it was a city.
    Paternal grandmother’s family: She grew up in the Dakota territories, but before that was from Germany we think.

  • Katie

    My mother’s side of the family is mostly of German descent with a little bit of Irish and settled in western/central Pennsylvania in the mid 1700s. My grandfather use to claim that one of our relatives was in one of the boats with Washington when he crossed the Deleware river. Completely unconfirmed, btw. :)

    My father’s side of the family is from the former Yugoslavia (now Croatia). My grandmother emigrated from Croatia in 1927 at the age of 8 with her mother and sister. Her father had moved to the States earlier (settling in Pittsburgh and working in the steel industry) for a few years until he could sponsor their transfer. In her early 20s she met my grandfather, who was also Croatian and the rest is history.

  • Hill Denizen

    Spain by way of Venezuela and Cuba (I’m first generation US born). Most recent to come to the Americas was my great grandfather around 1910, then I think some of my great great grandparents. On my mom’s side, our family’s been here for several generations. On my dad’s mom’s side, they go back to the colonists/conquistadors. My parents both got Ancestry DNA tests for Christmas. My dad got his results and he’s about 63 percent from the Iberian peninsula (84% European total), but his family was from the north which was more isolated. Waiting on my mom’s. She has a lot of family from the Canary Islands, so there’s probably a more interesting mix there. I actually got to go back to the village in Spain my great grandfather was from last year, and it was super cool thinking about walking the same streets, seeing the house where he was born, and even just thinking about the lamppost next to his house that was installed while he was still there. We even got to see his original birth record in the town clerk’s office. Since it was a pretty agrarian region, I imagine that before he left, our family had probably been in the same area, if not the same town, for centuries.

  • mkdgman

    my 10th Great Grandfather immigrated born in England in 1600 and died in Virginia in 1633. The rest of the family is a lot more complicated.

  • MPLady

    Dad’s family = before 1750 from Scotland to Maryland; mothers family ~1730 from Switzerland, part of the German Palantine immigration of Mennonites to Pennsylvania.

    • LittleBluePenguin

      I wonder if this “German Palantine” migration is the background of my great-grandmother. All I know about her is that she was a Mennonite living on a farm in Lancaster County, married my great-grandfather (descendant of Huguenots), but wanted to be a concert pianist and to go out and see the world. She visited Japan 3 times and frequently hosted Japanese exchange students. Never heard of this particular migration but I will now look into it!

    • DCgal101

      My mom’s family came over around 1730 from Switzerland as well and settled in York, PA. Very cool!

  • asdf

    Jews that fled eastern Europe to escape Christian values in the early 20th century/polish economic immigrants in the late 19th century/post WWII war brides out of western europe.

    Proudly raising all american children totally disconnected from all this vestigial old world ethnic nonsense.

  • Any other east asians out there?

    I believe I’m 100% Korean, but I just took a 23 and me test, so maybe not! Still waiting for my results.

    • all alone

      really no one?

      • textdoc

        I think there are a few East Asians (or part East Asians) on PoPville — I can think of at least two who used to be fairly regular posters — but maybe they’re off on Fridays.

  • Nona

    Getting your DNA analyzed by 23&Me or Ancestry.com is revealing in that it shows that most of us are from a lot more places than we think. Not surprising, really, when you consider that going back to birth year ~1620, we have 2048 9th Great Grandparents… and back to 1560 — 13 generations — each of us has a total 16,383 direct ancestors.

    That being said, the lines I’m most aware of came from England to Jamestown in 1619, England to VA ~1625, England to Mass in 1630, Amsterdam to NY (New Netherlands) in 1650, England to New York in 1670, Scotland to Boston in 1673, France to NJ in 1676, Scotland to NY in 1823. Plus, allegedly, one line that goes back american indians in NY.

    23&me discounts the native american part, but says I’m 66% British & Irish, 11% French & German, 2.7% Scandinavian(!), and the rest “broadly northwestern european”.

  • CatieCat

    Mom: Both of her parents were born in Mexico at the turn of the 20th century, and immigrated to California.
    Dad: his mom born in Russia (which is now Ukraine). Rest of her family that stayed were killed in Holocaust (because of Jewish and/or Socialist leanings). his dad born in the US to Irish parents with a German last name.

    I’m impressed by the number of people on popville who’s families have been here over 100 or 200 years. I’ve from California, so maybe we have more recent immigrant types, but I can only of one friend who’s family has been in the US pre-1900.

  • alkebulan

    “Stolen from Africa, brought to America. Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival…”
    Bob Marley

    • Brooklyn Brawler


  • bll

    Maternal side: my nana was second generation American, her grandparents having come from Germany and Italy, with some kids in tow, settling in NYC. My poppy was technically first generation American, and the only member of his family born in the US, but they moved back to Czech Republic when he was an infant. His family stayed in the Czech Republic, but he came back to the US in his early 20s on the first Pan-Am transatlantic flight, and met my nana in NYC.
    Paternal side: Scottish/English descent, here for hundreds of years. Originally settled in the (I think) mid-west, eventually the NYC/CT suburbs.
    Step-father’s side: his father came from Ireland in the early 40s to work as a professor at Columbia in NYC, his mother was of Polish descent.

  • textdoc

    Three of my grandparents were born in the U.S. The fourth — my paternal grandfather — was born in Guatemala to German Jewish parents who met and married in Boston. They were in Guatemala for only a few years before moving to New York City.
    My German great-grandparents were both from the Silesia region. I think my great-grandfather was born before German unification, when Silesia was part of Prussia. Most of historical Silesia is now part of Poland. (My grandfather was born in a town named Guttentag, which today is Dobrodzień (pop. 4,000); both names mean “good day.”)
    Of my remaining grandparents, two had pretty deep U.S. roots (Virginia in the 1700s) and one had more recent immigrants in her background. Her father’s father was a German-born doctor, and her mother was Canadian-born, a couple of generations removed from an English female ancestor who had “married below her station” and gone off to Canada with her husband. I like the idea of hotheaded romantics in my background.

    • Kelly

      My German great-grandfather and his family were also from German Silesia! Their town was originally called Freiburg im Schlesien and today it is known as Świebodzice. I just discovered this recently – we thought we were from another Freiburg in Germany proper until I did some Ancestry digging and found the passenger manifest from when they immigrated to NYC in the late 1880s. I do know that their families continued to write to one another solely in German even after the borders changed, we have some great postcards and newspaper clippings from that era.

      • textdoc

        Interesting! Were they Jewish, too?

  • MaryMay

    Slaves via the Middle Passage. Father’s side ended up in the Deep South (near a river, several plantations). Half of the family moved north during the Great Migration- they still come home once a year. Mother’s side is from Texas. I don’t know much about them; unsure if they were free and moved West or were slaves.

  • SaraEP

    Mom: Ireland/UK/Germany
    Dad: UK/Italy/North Africa/Arabian Peninsula

  • anonymouse_dianne

    Grandpa Valentine came from Ireland in 1916 after the failed Easter rebellion, with a price on his head. Mom’s grandparents came from a small village in Greece around the same time period. Just got my results from 23 and me which confirms I am 50% Northern European (Celtic) and 50% Southern European (Balkan)

    • DCbyDay

      that’s impressive that your 23& me results were so close to what you envisioned! Many people have a lot more in there than they originally imagined. Really cool.

      • anonymouse_dianne

        I was actually hoping to be more of a mutt. Oh, and I forgot that 4% of my alleles go back to Neanderthal type H, more than 99% of those taking 23andme.

  • M

    Both parents emigrated to US as refugees from Communist Poland. Ended up in Buffalo, then Chicago (no surprise there), and now here in DC. Dad went back to Poland eventually (after 30 years in US) – he never really, fully settled here. Watched Chicago sports in Poland until he died, though. Go figure.

  • Spanish, English, German and French on my dad’s side and Irish and Polish (we think) on my Mom’s. My Grandmother was born in Spain but every one else had been in America for some time (Philadelphia and Upstate NY). When my Dad had his DNA tested a few years ago we found out that he has a higher than normal percentage of Neanderthal DNA as well as Denisovan (it explains so much). They also charted some Middle Eastern DNA which we are assuming is from the Spanish side of our family – the rumor was that we were Sephardic Jews who converted during the inquisition.

  • AMDCer

    Almost all English/Irish/German:

    Maternal Grandfather: Born near Belfast and traveled back and forth to the US a number of times (he already had relatives here) before settling in the US for good around 1915 or so.
    Maternal Grandmother: English, can trace family back to late 1600’s in the US. Her grandfather grew up at Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria. He was part of one of two Quaker families who bought the plantation in the mid-1800’s to prove that it could be run without enslaved labor. They failed miserably…
    Paternal Great-Grandfather: German, came to DC as a teenager with his family. He was a streetcar driver based out of the Georgetown Car Barn and built a house on MacArthur Blvd which still stands. My father lived there for the first few years of his life and we got to go back and visit the house a few years ago (my thanks to the current owner, who was nice enough to let us!) Had three sons.
    Paternal Grandmother: English/Irish – Moved to DC from Arkansas at 18 right after high school to be a secretary for the Naval Department. Rented a room in a house on MacArthur Blvd from a couple who had three sons… Her family can be traced back to the 1600’s in the US.

  • Francis Begbie

    I love this question. I was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. But both my parents were US citizens. I’ve always been proudly a US citizen. My sister who lives in Edinburgh is a dual national. My Mother who also lives in Edinburgh is dual Irish/USA. My dad passed away but had no interest in being a U.K. Citizen, he just got his visa renewed every ten years.. My brother who lives in Aberdeeen is a US citizen.

    So my Mum (who owns maybe $2million in property in the U.K. Alone) might be fucked out of there under brexit. And my brother needs to apply for U.K. Citizenship based on birth.

    Ethnically I’m Irish/Lithuanian. But when my Grandmother moved here it was East Prussia. So do I have German or Lithuanian heritage.

    All that to say, I have no Scottish blood in me but I’m very Scottish. Born and raised. Yer Da sells Avon, ya bas.

    It’s not where you are from it’s where you’re at.

  • Jay

    great grandparents on one side came over from Sicily in the late 1800’s… my uncle recently tracked down some relatives who are still living over there and paid them a visit…

    other side of the family came over from the british isles (scotland/ireland, I think) a way long time ago and fought in the american revolution…

  • Anon

    My mom came over from Denmark in ’57 when she married my dad, so I am first generation on one side. Dad’s side of the family all came from Ireland. One side moved from County Tipperary to Ottawa in the 1820s, and then to Clinton County, Iowa in the 1850s. The other branches came from Counties Louth, Monahan, Tyrone, Derry, and Galway during or right after the famine (roughly 1849-55).

  • YJ

    I guess my original post didn’t go through

    Maternal: my mom is from the Gambia, grandmother (Gambian), grandfather (Gambian), great grandmother (Gambian), great grandfather (Nigerian).

    Paternal: (Gambian), grandmother (Sierra Leonean), grandfather (Gambian)

    My brothers and I were born here.

    • YJ

      Dad (Gambian)*

  • John Grunwell

    Mom’s side: Scotland and Finland. Scotland a long time ago, from the Campbells, and Finland around the turn of the 20th century, courtesy of my great-grandfather Axel Kivisto.

    Dad’s side: Ireland, and England to Canada to this area and throughout the East Coast. I found just the other day this information about a man who is my great-great-great-grandfather, Gilbert Vanderwerken, so perhaps also some Dutch ancestry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_Vanderwerken. His daughter married my great-great-grandfather, and they built a house on North Glebe Road on land that was owned by the Vanderwerken family. The wood for the house was evidently from the decommissioned Fort Dupont, given to the family as partial payment for the renting of their land, upon which Fort Dupont and another fort of the era sat. The house is still there, and I know that my grandfather was born in its attic, which his parents were renting from the “richer” side of the family, who lived in the main part of the house.

    • AMDCer

      Wow – interesting! Have you been able to tour the house?

  • PettyShabazz

    On my mother’s mother’s side – mostly English/Scottish and African, although I sadly do not know where the black ancestors were from. The white ancestors go all the way back to James Wilson signing the Declaration of Independence. Fun fact, my white great grandfather who married my clearly not white great grandmother, divorced her after “realizing” she was not in fact white, though they were already 4 kids deep.
    Mother’s father’s side – Scottish/English/Danish, my great great grandfather came over from Denmark with his brothers, settling in what was then the Danish West Indies (now US Virgin Islands), he was a man of color although very light skinned. He married a dark skinned woman and this side of my family has every color on the black people spectrum.
    Father’s side- English/Scottish/African, although they were all extremely light skinned, we can trace one ancestor, Henry Hunter, to slavery in South Carolina where he was freed by his master and later had to buy his daughters freedom but actually hold her as property until SC changed the law. On the white side, we can trace ancestry all the way back to the brother of Robert Mills (architect for famous buildings including the Washington Monument). Apparently his brother (whose name is escaping me) had children with a woman of color and hence how we ended up here. My grandfather and his siblings were all very light skinned, some being very proud of their heritage, continued to live as people of color and some cut off the family and “passed” as whites elsewhere, at least one of those ended up in a mental institution from what i suspect was the stress of living such a secret life.

    I like to think of myself as American as apple pie :)

    • PettyShabazz

      Oh, forgot to mention that Ancestry DNA testing has most of my African heritage coming out of Nigeria with a little Togo/Benin thrown in for seasoning.

    • KPS

      Fascinating! And I believe a person who is “American as apple pie” is one of multiple mixed ancestries, because that’s the whole reason America exists.

    • textdoc

      I love the description “this side of my family has every color on the black people spectrum.”

  • Stacie

    Great grandparents came over from Greece in the early 1900s!

  • Philippe

    My father is from Haiti and my mother is Jamaican. They came to the US (NYC specifically) in the 60s and met in later on in college. I was the first one in my immediate family born in America.

  • Ivan

    Russia. Came here with my family in 1991.

  • crin

    Alsace, Germany, Netherlands, England

  • dcmau5

    Croatia and Italy!

    — first gen American here!

  • KPS

    I’m a proud Scotch-Irish whose people settled in the foothills of Appalachia well before the War for Independence.

  • Jay

    Mom always said her parents were Irish and Scottish, and a had a German grandmother.
    And I know my father was direct from the Philippines, with his father having Chinese ancestry.
    But I just did a 23andme, and got some surprises along with my validation.

    I’m only 6% Chinese, and only 4% German. I also have some South Asian, and one Native American Indian ancestor. And one tiny drop of sub-Saharan African within measurable distinction.

    It’s so cool to find out how closely I matched to the stories. I’m not really one to latch onto identity or look for a group to fit into, but I’ll be honest and say that — real or imagined — it did give me a sense that I am linked to my families history.

    I recommend it if you’re curious, and especially if you have a mixed or questionable heritage — http://refer.23andme.com/v2/share/6390744896681566327

  • England 1630s-1640s
    Ireland 1740s and again 1860s
    Germany 1750s
    Scandinavia 1870s-1890s

  • Mr. Magoo

    Mom’s side migrated from England in the 1680s, 7x great-grandfather owned a tavern in Leonardtown, MD.
    5x great-grandfather fought with the Delaware Regiment in the Revolutionary War. 3x great-grandfather migrated to Indiana from West Virginia and worked on the original buildings at Notre Dame.

    Dad’s side came from Ireland in the 1890s and lived near Perth Amboy, NJ. I don’t know much about them, but my step great-grandfather was a French-Canadian circus acrobat.

    • Anonamom

      My step-dad’s family is old St Mary’s County, not far from
      Leonardtown :)

  • soulshadow55

    As a descendent of enslaved Africans I have no idea what location on the continent my ancestors are from. I’ve only been able to trace my family back two generations to Virginia. On my father’s side my grand-father and father were from Gainesville, VA. My grand-mother on my father’s side was from Richmond, VA. On my mother’s side I don’t know where my grand-father was from but I think he was born in Gainesville as well. But my grand-mother and my mother were both born in Washington, D.C. My grand-mother lived back and forth between Gainesville and D.C. working as a domestic and cook until finally retiring to Gainesville. After WWII and marriage my parents moved to Washington and spent the rest of their adult lives here. My siblings and I were born and raised in D.C.

  • Sapphie

    I’m originally from the Tri-Cities area of Eastern TN. My ancestors moved to Western North Carolina(Boone, Grandfather Mountain, Dark Holler) from Ireland and Scotland in the 1700s.

  • DC_Chica

    I know the most about my paternal grandfather’s side because my family has done some geneology research and traced us back to a male ancestor who came to America from England in 1675 (there is a street named after us in New Jersey!) My paternal grandmother was half-Irish and half-German, I think that both of her parents were immigrants but I don’t know when they arrived in America.
    The history of my mother’s side of the family is murkier because they have a Spanish surname, but like many people from Latin America it is unclear how much Spanish versus indigenous (Quechua) ancestry we have, and my relatives know very little about the generation that proceeded my great-grandparents. (We have one rich, second- or third-cousin with the same last name who is running for president of Bolivia, which is kind of fun!)

  • Petworth dude

    I’m three-quarters Ukrainian and one-quarter Italian. All of my great-grandparents immigrated to the US at the turn of the last century and settled in central and southeastern Pennsylvania.

  • Mom’s side came to Virginia in 1620s. They said it was for religious freedom but really they weren’t the oldest son so they weren’t going to inherit anything. They were all titled back in the day – and a great-something grandfather participated in translating the Gospels for the King James version of the Bible (and tutored his children in Greek). And then I guess we can be traced back to Charlemagne. Great lot of good that did since the family eventually became poor, uneducated farmers.

    Dad’s side is a mystery. His father’s birth certificate was changed to keep him out of WWI, and when I attempted to do some research I found records of him being born in NC, Tennessee and Georgia. I’m pretty sure they were the shady side of the family.

  • MK

    Slaves: Ghana, Mali and somewhere in Southeastern Africa. All have been in the US since the 1700’s.
    Slave Owners: Tours, France (Huguenots) Arrived in South Carolina in the late 1600’s. Irish, unknown when they got here.
    Mother’s side was in Maryland territory until DC was formed in the 1790’s. Father was in SC until he went to college in DC and married my mother.

  • LP

    My grandfather (mom’s side) was born in Russia and came to the US when he was 1. He never told us he was a naturalized citizen – we only found out after he passed when we found his original birth certificate. My grandmother (mom’s side) was adopted and she did not know her heritage, but she thought she was German/Czech/Polish. My grandfather (dad’s side) was born in Southern Spain. My grandmother (dad’s side) was born in the US but her parents were both from Syria. That makes me a quarter Russian, quarter German/Czech/Polish, quarter Spanish, and quarter Arab. Lots of crazy. :)

  • Joan Eisenstodt

    What is now Russia, Germany & Poland. Some late 1800s, others remarkably before the Holocaust. One fled the Pogroms. And I’d prefer not being sent back tho the hate here is what I thought they escaped and now is all over Europe too.

  • Victoria

    Great Grandfather served as a naval radio operator between the wars, and it’s been recorded that he saw my great-grandmother in a ballet production in London and pushed his way backstage to tell her she would someday be his wife. He returned back to Maine, and wrote letters to her for 2 years, until he sent her passage on the QE2. They were married in Quebec City and then moved to Baltimore. She chose wisely, as he later became the FCC Commissioner under three administrations and they enjoyed a lovely life together in DC. His mother came over from Scotland while pregnant, and he was born in a one room farm house in Portland, Maine.

  • MollieLou

    Father’s side came to Tidewater Virginia from
    England (Catholic) and France (Protestant) in late 1600s. Mother’s side came to Southwest Virginia from Scotland and Northern Ireland in the early 1700s. My entire extended family still lives in southern Virginia; and yet, here I am in DC.

  • JB

    I came to the states with my parents in 91 to escape the war in Yugoslavia.

  • zvuv

    I came here from Belarus (former USSR) as a child, all my family were considered ethnically Jewish. My grandmother was born in Poland, the rest of the family was local, supposedly on one side we descended from serfs, but I have no way of confirming that. Anyone knows if there were Jewish serfs in the Pale of Settlement? Coincidentally, that branch of the family is the only one with a very Russian last name.

  • jsauri

    Mexican on my father’s side. He is originally from Merida, Yucatan, then lived in Mexico City briefly before moving to the states.

    French/Scottish on my mother’s side. They were long time residents up the Upper Midwest, having moved down from Canada after originating in France.


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