8 Facts About Ellis Island

Ellis Island has become a symbol of immigration in the U.S., a symbol of the foreign heritage most of us share as Americans. Ellis Island is also incredibly important to most genealogists in the U.S. because, chances are, their ancestors passed through the Ellis Island Immigration Center during its tenure as the U.S.’s primary portal. To give our readers an idea of just how much of a role Ellis Island played in American history, we created this infographic and included the documentary below. Hope you enjoy it!


Ellis Island then and now

Ellis Island Then and Now

Source: http://www.history.com/interactives/ellis-island

More Family History Coolness

I am fortunate to have parents who love family history. And even after over 30 years of hearing their stories about pilgrims and Civil War heroes, they still manage to bring up some that I’ve never heard before. I knew my great-grandfather was an outlaw and then an oil man in Southern CA (I guess the oil industry hasn’t changed much:). I knew my great-great-grandmother came as a pioneer from the Hawaiian islands to the desert of Northern Utah. I knew some of our forebears were among the passengers of the famous Mayflower. And still others of our ancestors were closely related to William Wallace of Braveheart fame. But this new goes farther back and may be cooler. 

According to some recent family history by my father, our family ties back to a line of Viking kings. Instantly, my head is swimming with images of men in horned helmets ransacking helpless villages and plundering all the food and loot they can find. At least they’re very manly- there is something undeniably manly about having the blood of Vikings flowing through your veins. And to be related to royalty is pretty good, too.

Then my dad dropped another one on us: we can trace our lineage back to Charlemagne- the Charlemagne. For those who snoozed through Ancient History 101, Charlemagne was the king of the Gauls who was known for his Solomon-like wisdom and his prowess in battle. Oh, and did I mention he was giant for his time, towering benevolently over his subjects. More manliness! 

So I was thrilled to find out just how much awesome manliness resides in my family lines and in my DNA. Kings, warriors,… oh, and pilgrims are cool, too, I guess.

Family History Road Trip in Summer 2010?

Thanks to last week’s family history blitz, in which we compiled literally hundreds of names from both my Hawaiian and Scottish sides and from my wife’s Scottish side, there is buzz going around about us taking a family history road trip next summer. Ideally, we would rent an RV and hit the road with my siblings and their families some time in July. We would drive straight through Arkansas, Tennessee, and then Virginia. Then we would probably head north into Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin before heading back west. Sounds ambitious, I know… and stressful and expensive and completely awesome.

Our longest road trip ever was moving from Utah to Virgina, pulling a small UHaul trailer full of our college stuff with our humble little minivan over the rolling plains of Wyoming, Nebraska, and Iowa and finally climbing through the Appalachians to end up in Alexandria, Virginia. The fan broke on our radiator so we had to stop every few hours to let the engine cool down. We got a flat tire in Cheyenne. Worst of all, we had to listen to our kids’ preschool CD about a billion times to keep them placated. It was a challenge, to say the least. But some thing tells me this would be different.

We ant our family history to be a reality for us and we want to get more names- that’s our main motivation for going. We think that actually going to the places where our ancestors lived, we might unearth some new lines. More importantly, I think it will help our kids connect with their roots.

What do you think? Have you ever done some thing like this?

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