Friday, April 9, 2010

Family History Mystery

For years and years my dad knew only his grandfather's name, John Tobin Wall, and that he died in New York in 1922.  He searched and searched and could never find anything else about him.  I searched for him too, and even had people help me look through microfilms and stuff to try and find him, with no success.  And then... I've been watching the TV show "Who Do You Think You Are?" which is a show where celebrities work with experts to find out about their family history.  (It is an amazing show, I highly recommend it - channel 5 on Fridays at 7:00 pm.)  Anyway, the show is sponsored by this new website,, and they show the celebrities using it on the program.  It has worldwide records from censuses, military records, social security records... all kinds of stuff.  So, I went on there and typed in my great grandfather's name... and... I FOUND HIM!  He was born in Ireland in 1891, and his wife, Elizabeth Lange, was from Pennsylvania.  He immigrated to the US when he was 18 years old, and his parents, who stayed in Ireland, are William Wall and Ellen Tobin.  IN-CRED-IB-LE.  So... the cool thing of it all is, my dad and I now know that we are part Irish!  In fact, both of my dad's grandfathers, paternal and maternal immigrated... maternal from England.  So, my dad is only 2 generations away from immigrant heritage, and I am only 3.  On my mom's side, you have to go back 5 generations before reaching Switzerland on her father's side, and 5 generations to Germany and Scotland on her mother's side, where we are in the Wallace family line - remember William Wallace in Braveheart?  Cool, right!  Anyway, my mom and I were really excited because our ancestors lived in Scotland at the time of "Bonnie Prince Charlie" and the Culloden war against England... which is the topic of one of her and my favorite book series, "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon.  Furthermore, one of the characters in that book is named Ellen MacKenzie, and we have an Ellen May McKenzie in our family!!  Is that wild, or what.

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