Hello! My name is Tyler’s Lineage and it has been over a year since my last blog post for the Hidden Branch. I’m so glad to be back! To celebrate, I want to write about what originally sparked my interest in genealogy – when I met my great-great-grandmother (or my grandma’s grandma)! It comes as a surprise to most people and they wonder how that was possible. Well, I’ll explain and share my memories of this amazing woman.
Mam during high school (circa. 1930).
My great-great-grandmother, or as my family called her “Mam,” was born in 1914, three months and five days before the outbreak of World War I. She managed to live up until I was born because my family line always had the oldest child and each one started having children at a young age. Mam had my great grandmother at 21, my great grandmother had my grandma at 20, my grandma also had my mom at 21, and finally, my mom had me at 26. By the time I was born, Mam was 90 years old and still in great health.
Photo of me, my grandma, and Mam.
Mam would live to the impressive age of 101, passing away of natural causes when I was in 4th grade. She left behind a large family; she had 7 daughters, 18 grandchildren, 44 great-grandchildren, and 26 great-great-grandchildren. I thought of the factors that contributed to her long life span. Her lifestyle choices definitely helped a lot; she never smoked or drank alcohol and much of her diet was fresh foods from the farm. Genetics also played a large role; according to my genealogical research, Mam’s father lived to be 99, her great-grandfather lived to be 99, her great-grandmother lived to be 88, and her great-great-grandfather lived to be 105.
I was very fortunate to have memories of her, although my family only saw her a few times a year – like on Christmas or Mother’s Day. As a kid, I knew her as the really old lady who lived in the country. Shortly after I was born, she started losing her memory and talking less; so I can only recall a few basic conservations with her, like “Hi Mam, how are you?” and small talk like that. I also remember her house which was located in the small town of Kane, Illinois. My great-great-grandfather built it during the Great Depression. The house contained many old antiques and furniture, and porcelain dolls that would always creep me out! The basement stored many jars of fermented pickles, other vegetables, and herbs. The house was next to the train tracks and in the backyard there was an old decaying barn. My cousins and I would play there when we were little. Back in the day, the backyard was used for farming, and my family owned a lot of animals too.
Looking back, I think it’s crazy that I met someone from so long ago. When Mam was born, conflict was on the rise in Europe, and the world was run by imperial monarchies and empires. Mam also lived through so much change that occurred technologically and in scientific knowledge. It’s that personal connection to the past that inspired me to learn more about the history and eventually…genealogy. I would wonder about everything that Mam and her generation experienced through the decades. And I grew curious about Mam’s early life and where her family came from.