Yesterday, I attended a family reunion for my father’s family. These are always fun. (And not just because my mother makes dozens of individual-sized pies and brings them along. Yes, I already had my share.) We also have various old family artifacts, letters, photos, etc. there to thumb through, which is always fun. While I was doing this with my cousin, she made a comment about when our ancestors came to America, which got me thinking. My family, like any other family, can overlay our family history over world history and see where the two intersect.
For example, because I was curious about this, I did some research earlier today about exactly when did my father’s family and my mother’s family arrived in America. I spent quite a bit of time looking at printed genealogies I am fortunate to own for both families. My great-great-great-great-grandparents on my father’s side emigrated from the canton of Basel, Switzerland in 1738. As it happens, there was a revolt in the canton from 1726 – 1739. Is this why they chose to come to America, to get away from the revolt? Or was it simply for a chance for greater opportunity? I’ll probably never know.
On my mother’s side, the surname is common enough that it is a little hard to pin down when they arrived. I’ve been told an early ancestor was a cousin of William Penn, so did my ancestor arrive with William Penn in 1682? Or was the first American ancestor a man who arrived in 1720? I’ll probably never know this, either.
Regardless of when my ancestors arrived in America, they lived through many interesting times. If I name a major event in this country in the last 300 years, it probably affected my family somehow. For example, even without knowing exactly when they arrived, I know my ancestors witnessed the early turmoil and fomentation which became the American Revolution. They were also here to participate in the French and Indian War prior to that. In fact, if the hero of the story I am starting now were a real person then, he could well have met some of my ancestors.
When I look at it this way, historical events take on a whole new meaning and importance to me. Thinking about history this way makes it come alive in my mind. I guess, when all is said and done, documented history is really a compilation of the personal histories of many, many families. And I hope, in some small way, every historical romance I write represents history at a very personal level, from the hero and heroine’s point of view.
I write historical romances, and I invite you to share the journey to published author with me.