Past Articles

What Did People Eat In The 1800s?

Posted on April 29, 2015 in Family History

The War of 1812 concluded in 1815, and in the decades to come, the United States developed a vast transportation system, a national bank, and interstate trade. The economy blossomed, and canals, roads, cities, and industrialization expanded. England’s defeat in the War of 1812 also removed barriers to westward expansion and, tragically, accelerated Native American… Read more

Double the Fun: Why You Might Have Multiple Middle Names

Posted on April 28, 2015 in Surnames

Two middle names make a statement, one that usually reminds us of country manors, polo games, royalty, and presidents. It’s never been a common practice in the U.S. to give two middle names. With today’s digitized records, it’s become a bit of a bureaucratic mess for those who have four (or more) initials to deal… Read more

How German Are You? What Your DNA Can Tell You.

Posted on April 27, 2015 in AncestryDNA

Many boots have marched across Britain, but which invading army bequeathed the most durable legacy? The Romans left their roads. The Normans left their language. But the Germans left their DNA. Of all the armies that have invaded Britain in recorded history, only Anglo-Saxons managed to substantially alter its genetic and ethnic composition. As a… Read more

6 Unusual Last Names You Won’t Believe Exist — But Do!

Posted on April 23, 2015 in Surnames

Thanks to “Sherlock”, “The Imitation Game,” and many other movies and television shows, the name Benedict Cumberbatch found its way into our modern pop culture lexicon. Had the rising star been named Benedict Smith or Benedict Miller, would there be as many memes and GIFs? An unusual last name can set you apart from the… Read more

Switched At Birth: 7 Stories of Triumph Over This Unbelievable Phenomenon

Posted on April 20, 2015 in AncestryDNA

If you or someone you know has had a baby recently, you might have seen nurses carefully check the newborn’s tiny bracelet against his mother’s own cuff, making sure multiple times that the names and codes match up — particularly before it’s time to leave for home. This is not just hospital paranoia. Babies, perhaps… Read more

The Girl With the Tattooed Face

Posted on April 17, 2015 in Family History

The girl with the tattooed face became something of a legend, but she started out as an ordinary girl. Olive Oatman and her younger sister, Mary Ann, were kidnapped by Indians in 1851. They eventually ended up living with a tribe of the Mojave, where they were both tattooed with distinctive blue markings on their… Read more

What Your Grandmother Was Like as a Teenager

Posted on April 17, 2015 in Family History

The concept of “teenager” being a distinct part of life complete with its own lifestyle — let alone one with time to sit around texting on their phones — is a 20th-century one that didn’t really exist until about the 1940s. Prior to the 1900s, many young people left school and worked, either on the… Read more

A History of Irish Surnames: Is Yours Here?

Posted on April 17, 2015 in Surnames

  The earliest known Irish surname is O’Clery (O Cleirigh); it’s the earliest known because it was written that the lord of Aidhne, Tigherneach Ua Cleirigh, died in County Galway back in the year 916 A.D. In fact, that Irish name may actually be the earliest surname recorded in all of Europe. Until about the… Read more

Did Your Ancestors End Up in the Poorhouse?

Posted on April 13, 2015 in Family History

Did your parents used to warn: “We’ll end up in the poorhouse!” Nowadays, it’s just an expression. For earlier generations, though, it was a real fear. But what was the poorhouse? And who ended up there? There really were poorhouses, though sometimes they were called by different names. In some areas it was the almshouse,… Read more

The Surprising Roles Women Played in the Civil War

Posted on April 13, 2015 in Military Records

The Civil War tore the nation in two, pitted state against state and brother against brother, and led to the death of over 625,000 soldiers. But the Civil War didn’t just change the lives of men who fought in it — it transformed the lives of women, too. Women served on the battlefield in various… Read more