Expat Magazine

An American English Heritage

By Expatmum @tonihargis
My Little Guy is just finishing up Third grade (Year 4). Typically, in many schools here, it's the year when they study the history of Chicago and delve into their own family histories. Years ago, when the teens did this, I managed to find a lot of my father's family tree dating back to the 1600's. (No royalty or infamous villains, unfortunately, and every single one of them came from England!)
This time, by dint of the Internet, I have found some amazing things about the kids' paternal ancestors. Both my father-in-law and mother-in-law grew up in Texas, and I knew their families had been here a long time. Not just a long time by American standards, but a long time. What I didn't realize was that we can trace at least a dozen branches straight back to boats coming over in the mid-1600's - all from England. My kids are more English than me it would appear.
For some reason I thought they'd be like many Americans - a smattering of this and that European ancestry. However, many Texan families moved across the country over the centuries, meaning that many of them have been here longer than anyone else. It's a fascinating history.
Apparently the first Hargis in the USA was one George Hargis, born in London in 1617 of French origin (grandparents, Louis and Louise Harguesse). He sailed over in about 1642. Another ancestor, William Benge/Byng, sailed over in 1619 on the "Marygold"; Samual Matthews, yet another great-grandfather, came over on the "Southampton" in 1622, and his wife Francis, was one of only four women in the Jamestown settlement. (She came over on the "Supply".)
The great thing about doing your family tree in the USA is that they kept records of a lot of people. We have names on passenger lists, names on land allocations, names on wills etc. Through sites like Ancestry dot com and others (this is not a paid post), it's quite easy to find people. You have to remember that the site content is from other people doing family history research, so there is room for error, but if you cross check enough times, and come up with the same tree, it's more than likely correct.
The best thing for the 8 year old however, has been the names that have come up. Shadrach Hargis, who fought against General Corwallis during the Revolutionary War. Obediah Benge, Ebenezer Titus, Thomas Americus Snell, and - (drum roll) from Iceland via Ireland, Valdimar Oddson and his wife Stefania Torfadottir (1600's).
I wish I'd had this list when we were trying to pick baby names!

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