Tuesday, November 02, 2010

What Did We Do Without Computers/The Interweb?

Growing up, I was always told that the only people in the US with our last name were the ones in The Father's immediate family:  Him, his brothers, and their sons.  About 30 years ago, I accidentally found one more person with the same name.  He was adopted from Scandinavia, his parent were deceased, and he had one much older sister.  As of today, I can't find anyone other than him and his children--and my uncles, cousins, etc--with my maiden name here in the States.  That is freaking awesome!

Now, in Europe/Scandinavia, the story is much different--the last name seems to be more prevalent.  On Facebook, there are a number of people with the name--and there is a 'page' dedicated to everyone with the name.  When I search on FB, I'm able to find well over 100 people who have the name, whether they were born to it or married into it.  Still, it doesn't seem as if it is one of the most common names ANYWHERE in the world.  This is much, much different than having 'Johnson' or Smith' as a last name.  ;)

One thing that I have learned in my interweb travels is that there are several well-known and beloved people who have had the name through the years.  During the Finnish Revolution, there was a man who became famous because of certain battles and one city has a swimming pool and statue dedicated to a man who did much charity work.  Right now, there is a photographer who travels the world taking world-class pictures (actually, there might be two photogs) and there is a Grand Prix race car driver with the name.  Both Sweden and Finland have an abundance--relatively speaking--of people with the name.

Another very awesome thing that I found out is that there is a lake, river, mountain pass, river valley, and some mountains in the Russian Kona  peninsula with the same name.  Who would have thought?  Unfortunately, there is little to no info on WHY this area is named what it is--and I don't know how I could possibly find out.  Russia STILL isn't a fountain of info and I don't speak/read the language, so I am pretty much out of luck.

I know there are a lot of people who don't understand the fascination that genealogy holds on me.  They feel as if you should concentrate more on the here and now.  But, it gives me a connection that I never felt while growing up.  When my family came here to the States, there was a sense of putting away the past and the 'old country' wasn't talked about.  I was too young to ask questions of my great-grandparents and I never 'had' grandparents, so any sources of information were missing in my life.  (I only had one grandparent while growing up and we were never close.)  And even though I had three great-grandparents during my early years, they only spoke Finn, so I couldn't have communicated with them even if I would have thought of it.  So, with the help of the interweb, I am able to add a few more pieces to the puzzle that is my family.  And that gives me a happy.  ;) 


Anonymous said...

It's too bad that so many immigrants were so gung-ho to "become American" that they didn't teach their children their native tongue, as if they were ashamed of it or something. I think being bilingual is fantastic.

I like that you're tracing your roots, and I understand the pull of genealogy-I've done some of my own-and have found relatives on Facebook that I wasn't aware I had.

cmk said...

While my father started school speaking Finn, my mother was 'forced' to speak English all of the time. Even though my g-grandparents didn't converse in English, she was to speak to them as much as possible in the language. (She was raised by her grandparents.) I regret not learning the language when I was younger--and now it just seems to be too much work. Although, I have vowed to buy the Finnish program if Rosetta Stone ever begins selling it.

I sometimes think a psychiatrist would have a field day trying to figure out the reasons for why I do some things, and the 'finding my roots' would make for a good session. I'm sure part of the reason I find this so fascinating and compelling is the fact that I wasn't close to my extended family--and I want that connection even in my old age. :D