When I began in earnest to research my family history, I mainly worked on my father’s line, closer to home as they were in North Carolina, and I had an elderly Aunt and some cousins who helped me. My father had been told all kinds of stories growing up. And I was consumed with learning more about my 5th Great Grandfather, Gov Richard Caswell. I was (and still am) very interested in our revolutionary history.
My mother’s family was much different. My great grandmother raised my mother and I had heard stories about her parents and her late husbands family who were from Scotland, as much as she knew, and so I had a sketch of what that line looked like and was able to work on it.
I remember when I was young, maybe in high school, my mother told me that we were somehow related to John Alden & Priscilla Mullins of the Mayflower, but she was unsure just how. It was through her Grandmother McMeekin. Thinking this was pretty cool, I filed it away and did not think about it again for many, many years.
When you are not raised close, either in proximity or with bonds of family, there are no histories to hear, no heritage to learn, no story to tell. My grandfather, Howard Grant McMeekin Jr, was not a nice man. He was not evil, just not a stand-up kind of person. He did not raise his children, left that to the mothers he abandoned or their families. His own mother was by all accounts, not a friendly or warm woman. Not at least to her children or her grandchildren. Edna Leighton Blaisdell was born in 1883 in Illinois. Her father, James M Blaisdell and mother Helen Amanda Sampson were from New Hampshire, having moved to IL after the Civil War. I know very little personal information on these families, sad to say, other than what records can tell me. There is no family to tell me more about the people themselves.
Helen can be seen on the far left, in dark clothing. Edna is the tall girl in the middle.
Through James & Helen, I have connections to the Blaisdell, Hanson, Sampson/Samson, Leighton, Emerson, Baker, Wentworth & Noyes families of New England. It is through these lines that I am the great-granddaughter of John Alden, Priscilla Mullins, Myles Standish, William Bradford and William Brewster (and probably one or two more passengers).
In the mid 1990’s I found an address for the Blaisdell Family Association after I discovered a book my mother had that had belonged to Edna. It is a hardback book with Edna’s name imprinted on the cover. The Blaisdell Family Papers Volume 1 1935-1941. This had my my grandmother, Janet Ellen Frew’s, marriage to Howard Grant McMeekin Jr and then listed was my Uncle and mother’s births. Along with some other family members notes. Through ancestry.com I was able to find more information on my line going back from Edna. I still had no personal stories though, and that has saddened me.
Then Google happens, and as my daughter will tell you, “the Google knows everything”. Google search had just started to be known and I used it to find more information on these families and came across a recent contact information for the Blaisdell Family Association. Their contact was very glad to hear from me, and to get the update on this line for her files. She in turn sent me a a file about 2″ thick of printouts for my family going back to, yes the Mayflower and beyond to England. There were sources and notes galore!
I was in heaven reading this package. I found that I am the 9th great granddaughter of Susanna North Martin, an elderly woman tried, convicted and hung as a witch (see previous post on her), that I am also the 9th great granddaughter of Myles Standish, John Alden & Priscilla Mullins, William Bradford & William Brewster. I also found a connection to Nathaniel Currier of the Currier & Ives publishing firm that is beloved even today.
Reading this stack of family history made me finally feel a connection to my mother’s family, for me to know that I am here in part because these courageous souls dared to follow their hearts, their dreams, their desires and needs and not to follow what others would tell them to do or believe. They came to an unknown place with very little and yet were able to carve out a space to live, socialize, grow and assimilated into a new world. They did not all get along, they had different opinions and even ideas of what the new world should or could be, but maybe it is their tenacity, resourcefulness and endurance that is the real legacy worthy of story telling for my future generations.