Unknown Roots

A couple of years ago I optimistically created an account on Ancestry.com, thinking I’d answer some of my questions about my roots. My mom had tinkered with researching this stuff once and came back with a mysterious tale about a man who had changed his name coming from Germany. Being an amateur and having little to go on, I hit a dead end pretty quickly. There is so little I know for sure.

Some of the tales I’ve heard are fascinating. Aside from the mystery name change, my mom says I’m related to the man who invented the process to create steel, but he was swindled and sold the rights for nothing. On my dad’s side, I’ve been told we have Black Foot heritage.

I do know that my grandmother’s mom lived in a farmhouse in rural Kentucky. She slaughtered and fried a chicken to eat after church every Sunday, and had a piano in a parlor than no one played. Some of the family names from that side – Roseale and Tylene –are best said with a southern accent.

My mom recently unearthed a certificate showing that my grandfather lettered in baseball in 1935, something we’d never known before.


His family owned a cigar factory on the riverfront of Newburgh, Indiana. It’s now carved up into an apartment building, and bears a green plaque noting it’s historical past. I had a great aunt who owned land in Colorado, a place my family ventured out west for visits long before I was born. On the Dunning side, the fellows were all in the newspaper business, serving as writers and editors in Memphis, Cincinnati and Boston.

Writers, inventors, warriors, entrepreneurs and farmers – an interesting mix in the genes, if all of these tales are true. Every year I suggest to my family that we forgo traditional Christmas gifts and chip in on genealogy research. Maybe this is the year for finding my roots.

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox

Prompt: “Dig Into Your Roots. How far back can you trace your family? What was their life like? What else do you know? Tell a story, share an old family photo or draw your family tree. If you know nothing, ask a relative for some history to share.”

  • MaryLou Robinson

    I was unimpressed with Ancestry.com -it never gave me any new information. Granted, I only signed up for a free period. I think when I get serious, I’ll visit the Geneological Society Room at my local library–there are always people there and I’ve been told they are helpful.

    • I think part of my problem is needing to get more info from my family first! But I also need more patience to keep digging when I hit road blocks… The library is a great idea!