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15 April 2012


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Back in the late fifties my mother and one of her sisters went on a trip to find their ancestors up on both sides of the Canadian border. They found that most were, like yours, from New England and New France. Except for one, whose gravestone on the Canadian side read "Freeborn" for his (or her) given name, same family name and buried in a family plot. Mom always taunted my Virginia born father with her dark heritage. My sisters claim - without proof - that Freeborn was probably an indentured servant from Olde Englande. Maybe so or maybe not, but I like to drive my sisters crazy with it, calling them ultra-high-yellow when they give me a hard time. Black acquaintances are not impressed with my story. I understand why.


My paternal uncle did intense research on our family which is what led me to learn that the Figg's of County Clare and the Everetsen's of Stevanger, Norway made there way here in search of a better life. The Figg's had a father and son on the Confederate Side and a son on the Union side. A cousin on my mother's side has done equally extensive work and the most interesting thing I find from her side was that her grandfather was killed in the mines in DuQuoin, Illinois the day that Archeduke Ferdinand was assassinated.

Paul Deavereaux

Research on my family background has turned up some Langs... well, Laing anyway. Forbes Laing out of Glasgow, born 1822. Their daughter, Margaret, married and wound up in San Francisco in the late 1800's. More digging around turned up a Command Sgt Major Company C, 5th SF Group, 1st SF retired out in ...where else.. Fayetteville.

Small and endlessly surprising world.


Thanks for this Col. It's one of the finest things you've posted on this blog, outside your accustomed domain of foreign and military policy, and your own fiction.

"...and only Sam and Old Ben and the mongrel Lion were taintless and incorruptible ."

The Moar You Know

We're all pretty related; for most of the history of the human race there simply haven't been that many people to be different from.


An old story. Family found out that a relative in the wild old west was a horse thief, spent time in jail, bank robber, spent more time in jail, horse thief, was hung.

They cleaned all that up by describing him as a person who traded horses, spent some time working for the government, went into the banking business, then more time working for the government, then went back to horse trading. At a public celebration held in his honer, the reviewing stand collapsed and he was killed.

Laura Wilson

Dr. Gates really has done a great job...and a needed job with this show. My husband and I are completely hooked. What it seems to demonstrate, in fact, is what it really means to be an American. Last night's was about 3 faith traditions and family history...and how being in America and becoming American allowed each family to flourish within their own choice of faith. It was an absolutely resounding fanfare for our unique idea of the separation of Church and State. Thomas Jefferson would have LOVED IT!

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