So it was back to the genealogy project for a few minutes, to look up the bio
for a many-greats grandfather, Eochaid IV, “The Venomous” King of
Scotland. What do you suppose someone living in an incredibly violent,
brutal and inhumane time such as the Middle Ages would have to do to earn
the sobriquet “The Venomous” ? He sounds kinda daunting. But he was married to a Pictish princess, supposedly, before the Picts got so intermarried/interbred with the Scots that their tribe eventually disappeared.
However, his grandfather had my all time favorite adjectival appendage to
his name–”Fire White”. That would be Aodh Hugh Finn, “Fire White”
King of Scotland, King of Dalriata. (His grandfather had a less imposing nickname; ‘”crooked nose”.)
But such dilatory/dilettante-ish dabblings were not the extent of the project.
More goal-oriented research had a more worthwhile end.
An old friend of mine was really depressed at the prospect of her daughter
and grandchildren moving from the east coast to Hawaii. She’s a
bibliophile with probably 4,000 books scattered throughout her home.
She’s also a history and genealogy buff whose IT whiz husband has so
fouled her computer with anti-malware/anti-virus software that she can
barely use the darn thing to communicate, let alone do genealogy research.
So I traced some of her family for her–and discovered that one of her
ancestors was with Washington’s force (as a member of the Delaware
Militia I think) at the Battle of Trenton. He also fought in the rearguard
covering Washington’s retreat from Princeton, although I’m under the
impression that there were two engagements between Washington and the
Brits at Trenton. Not sure which one her ancestor was in.
My friend, a retired Army vet, many of whose family fought with the rebels
in the Civil War, is an avid military history buff, so this bit of information
thrilled her. It also sent her scouring through her library to see if she could
flesh out the ancestor’s life story.
This led her to discover a book written by one of the newly discovered
Then I discovered that her family and mine had lived within 13 miles of one
another in the early 17th century, near Amsterdam. In fact, her many greats
grandfather there owned a bookstore near the university. It’s possible that
my ancestor bought books from her ancestor.
From that occurrence in the 17th century, until now, there were several
points at which our families converged abroad and in America, and would
surely have known one another since they were in lightly populated areas.
And, in our childhoods, although we did not know each other, our paths
must have crossed many times. We used the same small, two room library.
We shopped in the same small downtown, we watched the same Christmas
From the 1620’s until today our two histories have intersected again and
again. We’d never have known this if I hadn’t searched for her ancestors to
try and give her some new information which would engage her fascination
with history and her family’s genealogy. Because, of course, I wanted to get
her mind off the sailed-far-away family.
Now she’s passed the new genealogy info on to other members of her
extended family and they have an additional 16 – 19 generations to pore
over. She’s still working on getting her husband to free up her computer
though, so she can use the internet to search for ancestral information.
So, all in all, my extended genealogy project has not only resulted in a ton
of history information about Europe in the Middle Ages, and my own family
history, it also provided my friend with some useful self-therapy to combat
the blues from missing her child and grandkids.
That’s probably a better ROI than, say, playing video games on the internet.