Oma Sue's Blog
Hi – I’m Sue Reyzlik. I recently realized my life-long dream of building a writing hut in the backyard. The writing hut serves as a creative space and home office for Oma Publishing. This blog will be intermingled with family history, varied experiences and insights on being a Grandma (Oma), creating my special backyard space, as well as, my “retirement” career as a self-publisher of children’s stories. And perhaps a little bit on the 32 years I served as Executive Director for Keep Fremont Beautiful and the wonderful people who are sharing this adventure.
I don’t know how many times I’ve told this story… but here it goes again. I have been researching my ancestry for the past several months. Specifically, to find out if my great grandmother Jenny Hartford McDuffee Powers was really a Native American. She was not. She had people convinced she was a Blackfoot Native American – she played the part. Again – she was not. Not a Native American – big disappointment.
She was however, a possible descendent from some very interesting people. I say possible, because my research is not extensive! I am also basing the lineage on information contained within the Ancestry DNA website – and that has a tendency to take you off on erroneous trails. Some paths seem to be more realistic than others and also come with documents that further justify your belief that a particular ancestor really belongs to your tribe… just not a Native American Tribe.
The path leading back to the Pirate appears to be on solid footing – so that was a fun and yet a somewhat horrifying discovery. But that will be a story for another day.
All this traveling back in time – going from one set of grandparents back to another set of grandparents – left me wondering if I had a Mayflower connection. I kept checking the possibility that a family member may have traveled on that particular ship. But I found nothing that would suggest a link.
I’m pretty sure that I have a Jamestown founder in my lineage – and that was earlier than the Mayflower, but still no surnames had surfaced leading to the passenger list of the famous ship. So, I didn’t think about it much until my cousin posted a picture of her membership card that she had recently received from the “Mayflower Society”. Sandie’s lineage had finally been confirmed and she had been accepted into the exclusive organization. Her lineage was from her Mother's side of the family - she is a cousin of mine through her father's side of the family - so we don't share that particular lineage. Since we are both DAR members, she encouraged me to keep looking for a connection to the Mayflower. I encouraged her to keep looking for a witch.
I wasn’t really looking that hard for a connection and had gone back to tracing the lineage of the Non-Native American Jenny Hartford. That led me to the Coy surname and that led me to more “Coy” Great Grandfathers. Each of the Coy generations were documented with DNA connections so the thru lines helped to validate the path. My 5th Great Grandfather is Christopher Coy and that is when the thru lines end. There was more documentation that indicated his father was John Coy and his father was Jonathan Coy. Still nothing particularly interesting here… so I lost interest and starting researching other family lines.
A few days later – maybe a week – I received an email from another ancestry website, informing me that they had found a Mayflower connection in my family tree. Call me intrigued – they informed me that Matthew Coy was the father of Jonathan Coy in my family tree and that Matthew had married Ann Brewster. Ann Brewster is the descendant of Elder William Brewster and they suggested that William Brewster is my 11th Great Grandfather. And William Brewster was a passenger on the Mayflower. Well – isn’t that fun and it’s from Jenny Hartford – Pirates and Pilgrims – no Indians but very interesting.
Sooooo, back I go to the Ancestry DNA website and start punching in some names. Just so you understand… I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t received that email. Researching the lineage takes more patience and understanding than I seriously have to give. I want everything handed to me on a silver platter and I don’t want to have to work very hard to learn my roots. So, the extra assistance from the ancestry website was the needed incentive to follow that particular path.
From the surface, the lineage looks legit. But the in-depth study that it would take to verify the ancestry is a bit beyond me. Sooo, I filled out the Lineage Form from the Mayflower Society and paid my $75.00 to have them see if this particular lineage had been verified. If there are massive potholes in the trail leading back in time, they will be able to notify me of those discrepancies. If more information is needed to fill in those potholes, hopefully they will give me direction on how that may be completed.
Sooooo… maybe I have an ancestor who traveled to the New World on the Mayflower – maybe not. BUT – it’s still cool to think that I may, possibly, perhaps have an ancestor pilgrim and it’s almost Thanksgiving. That is so cool.
My daughter Ramie has an ancestor that has been verified and traced back to the Mayflower. A few years after we adopted Ramie, a birth relative gifted to Ramie a Family Ancestry Booklet pertaining to the lineage and confirming the connection. I thought to myself… wouldn’t that be crazy if her and I shared the same Mayflower Ancestor… I looked up the information… we didn’t. But it’s still cool that my maybe ancestor and her for sure ancestor made the journey together and survived… They came to the New World together for religious freedom and to start a new life.
Nearly four hundred years later, a woman descendent from a Mayflower passenger, selected our family to adopt her precious child. She made that decision based on a feeling – a feeling of connection. We met Deb while she was still pregnant with Ramie. She asked me to be her Lamaze coach. We attended classes and we got to know each other pretty well. Deb, and her older daughter, became a part of our family. Randy and I were with Deb when Ramie was born – Randy got the honor of cutting the cord. We cried.
During this time of Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the people in my family lineage who fearlessly sailed into the unknown, endured hardship and helped to create a country of democratic freedoms. I’m thankful for those who have done their part to preserve the Union – in times of peace and in times of war.
I’m thankful for the many kind souls who found their way into my life and the love, compassion and friendship they have offered me over the years. I’m thankful for a woman I didn’t know but who I feel shares a centuries old bond… (Maybe Mayflower – maybe not) A woman who acted on her faith and trusted me with her baby. I am thankful for my family – the ones who share my blood and the ones who share my heart. Happy Thanksgiving.