Alexander Andrew Gow – My Most Challenging Ancestor

Alexander Andrew Gow – My Most Challenging Ancestor

Alexander and children

For the past 15 years, I have attempted to piece together the story of my mother’s family and her ancestry. I started with very little information, but one clue lead to another and I succeeded in identifying her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Although both sides presented significant challenges, the most perplexing relative is my maternal grandfather. Starting with an all too common name, the man eluded census takers, doctored his own age, mistook his stepmother as his mother, and claimed to have been born in a country that records say otherwise. Most confusing of all, he changed his surname. My grandfather, Alexander Andrew Gow, is by far, my most challenging ancestor. Read more

Visit to St. Mary’s City

Visit to St. Mary’s City

St Mary's County Maryland map

It’s not enough for me to research my ancestors from the comfort of my own home. I want to know them who they were and what life was like when they were alive. One way to connect with our ancestors is to visit the places they lived. Not only does it provide the opportunity to do some additional research, it also gives us the excitement of walking in their footsteps.

A few years ago, my husband and I had a wonderful opportunity to visit St Mary’s, Maryland where his ancestors first set foot on American soil. The early inhabitants of Maryland arrived around 1634 aboard two ships, The Ark and The Dove. The colony was established at the southern tip of Maryland, land surrounded by the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. St Mary’s City, the first city and first capital of Maryland, was named for the wife of King Charles I. Although Charles was an Anglican, his wife Henrietta Maria of France was a Roman Catholic. The charter for the settlement of Maryland was given as a refuge for Roman Catholics and a place of tolerance for all religions.

St. Mary’s city is one of the most historical cities in the country with claims to may other “firsts” in the new world:

  • First successful proprietary colony in English North America
  • First Freedom of Conscience policy in America
  • First effort to free religion from government in America
  • First Catholic chapel in English America
  • First woman to petition for the right to vote in English America (Margaret Brent, 1648)
  • First legislator of African descent in North America (Mathias de Sousa, 1642)
  • First evidence of baroque town planning in America
  • First public inn in Maryland
  • First government building in Maryland (the Secretaries Office 1664)
  • First Protestant (Anglican) church in Maryland
  • First official city in Maryland
  • First state house in Maryland, The Country’s House
  • First monumental public architecture in Maryland, the 1667 Brick Chapel
  • First printer in the southern colonies of America

Today, St. Mary’s City is considered one of the best preserved archeological sites and is listed as a National Historical Landmark. When my husband and I visited there, we saw the remains of many of the original buildings and learned what life was like for the early settlers of St. Mary’s City. This was a rare opportunity because so many of our ancestors lived in cities and towns that have modernized over time, with very little semblance of what they once were.

If you are interested in learning more about St Mary’s City, visit their website Visit – HSMC. Whether you have family from that area or not, it is a great place to go to learn more about Colonial America.

Visiting St. Mary’s City and a few other family locales only makes me wish I could do this more often. I recently read a post Places to Visit | Wandering With Us that inspired me to give more thought and somehow make it happen.  I don’t know if there is an RV in my future but the thought of traveling to the places my ancestors lived sure sounds like a great retirement plan.

The Mysterious Elmer Condon

The Mysterious Elmer Condon

No one knows why Earl Conway left his wife and children, changed his name, and headed to California. Some family members believe Grandma Thacker (as she was known by) must have been a difficult woman to get along with. Or maybe Earl inherited his father’s wayward behavior. The facts leading Earl to his decision may not be clear, but the story of how Uncle Earl ran off and changed his name so his wife Ella would not find him is still a family favorite.

Read more

My Almost Claim to Being Royal

My Almost Claim to Being Royal

Lady Mary Grey (Wikipedia)
Lady Mary Grey (Wikipedia)

Naming a blog can be as difficult as naming your first child. Our blog name is our brand in the blogging world. It’s what attracts readers to our posts. It’s what we hope will be inscribed on coffee mugs when we become famous. When I first conceived a genealogy-themed blog, I struggled with the name. It seemed all the good ones were taken. Then I came across an old Fox News report from 2006 claiming that “almost everyone on earth is descended from royalty.” This reminded me of a story I had heard regarding the Key family and their near claim to the British monarchy. Read more

Why I Blog

Why I Blog

I have two passions in life: genealogy and writing. A year ago, I created Descended from Royalty as a genealogical-themed blog so I could write about the thing I loved. For most of my life, family history research has been a solitary activity. Not to say I did not collaborate with newly found cousins, or that I did not share what I found with family members. Their passion for my discoveries, however, was either short-lived as they move on to their own ancestral interests, or feigned to make me feel better. I thought blogging would connect me with other people who love genealogy as much as I do. Mainly, I wanted to create a place where my passion could thrive.

Those who are not into genealogy do not understand what all the noise is about. Why, they ask, should I get excited about people who lived hundreds of years before me? They see no relevance in knowing about their ancestors. They definitely do not see the fun.

For me, genealogy research is like a weaving a tapestry. Throughout all of time, there are tiny threads of family history, scattered here and there, and meaningless as a single thread. The fact that my ancestor Martin Key lived in Albemarle County, Virginia in the late 1700’s means very little until I weave in other threads of information. Then a picture begins to appear: Read more

My Grandmother was a Barnardo Child

My Grandmother was a Barnardo Child

Christmas came early to my house this week. A long-awaited package containing my Grandmother Daisy’s file of the time she spent in the Barnardo’s Children Home during the early 1900s finally arrived. I ordered the file a little over a year ago and had almost forgotten about it. Imagine my surprise when I found a rather large envelope in my mailbox with a British return address, labeled “private and confidential.” At last, the story of my grandmother’s custody in one of the most well-known child welfare organizations was about to unfold. Read more