Will The Real Slim Augusta Please Stand Up

Genealogy has been a passion of mine for years, and I’ve worked on it heavy-duty for the last 2-3 years.  Now I’m proving my lineage for the Mayflower Society.  That sounds really easy on paper.  This person was born from these parents on such-and-such a date, married this person whose parents are so-and-so and died on such-and-such a date and whose parents are still so-and-so.

It’s one thing to know that, but another thing to prove that.  And now that school is over, I’ve been working on this with a vengeance.

For the Mayflower Society, everything has to be proven and double proven (did I just make up that expression?).  So here’s my story…..

Everyone in my family has lied.  Almost everyone.  Virtually no one was born or married where they said they were.  And I mean on DOCUMENTS they lied.  It is not exaggerating to say that there are 4 Town Clerks in a string of towns along the Hudson River who recognize me and know me by name.

I’m fortunate to live near where a bunch of my ancestors lived.  Even though they didn’t say they lived there.

So as not to blow up my family business too much, I’m going to refer to the 4 annoying  important towns by numbers.

  1.  My grandmother said she was born in Town #1.  All documents I have for her say she was born in Town #1.  So I went there, armed with request forms and check but WRONG.  They never heard of her
  2. Then I went up the Hudson to Town #2.   I remember my father’s frustration when he needed my mother’s birth certificate for something (it is now missing) and she wasn’t born where she always said she was, but in Town #2 instead.  I had Town #2’s form completed and their money.  No mom.  On a whim, I asked them to look for my grandmother and voilà!  There was my grandmother.
  3. I proceeded up to Town #3 where I knew that it was 100% guaranteed that my great-grandparents had died there.  WRONG. Oh and I checked for my mother, too.  No mom.
  4. And on yet another day, I continued up to Town #4 because perhaps everyone ever related to me was born, married or died there, because the names of the towns are all similar and maybe I’ll hit pay dirt.  AND I DID!.  My 2nd great-grandparents had both died there, even though all of their documents said New York City.  I was so excited.

Until I went outside and my car had been hit.

I won’t go on and on, but eventually I found almost everything I needed for 3 generations, when only 2 people actually were “supposed” to live there.

Which brings us to names.  If you ever think that someone in your future will be doing genealogy, name your kids bizarre names.

My family has basically 2 names, going back to 1500.  It’s crazy.  And I did it too. Augusta and Stephen.

One of my middle names is Augusta.  My aunt’s name is Augusta.  My grandmother’s name is Augusta.  As is her mother’s.  And her mother’s.  And the men are Augustus.  Or Stephen.  As is my son.  And uncle, and great-grandfathers.  And on and on with those two names.  For over 500 years.

Does my family have no imagination?


About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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23 Responses to Will The Real Slim Augusta Please Stand Up

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Now I’m wondering if your family has long noses like Pinocchio. 😉

    Actually, I imagine this happens quite a bit. You’ve got me wondering who’s been fibbing in my family tree!

    Sorry your car got hit. Hope it was mild. And I hope you’re still healing up okay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      Why didn’t I think of Pinocchio! Good one! My car will be fine….that’s the next blog post. Part of the problem, I think are the old census. When people say they were born in New York, and they are currently living outside of the city, everyone assumes they mean NYC. So that could account for the confusion. But in one instance my great-grandfather said place of birth Brooklyn (which is obviously NYC) but he was really born in Suffield, CT. Although he was living in Brooklyn at the time of the census. Very interesting, very cool, very frustrating 🙂


  2. Almost Iowa says:

    I worked with a man whose surname was “Shirley”. After a little investigation into ancestry, he learned that the family name was “Chorley”. The clerk at Ellis Island must have been hard of hearing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. hehehe that title is hilarious Barb. And I don’t know if I could have endured the round-around tied with tracking down my ancestry. I have a hard enough time figuring out who I am, let alone who my family was 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. simonjkyte says:

    Augusta / Augustyna – my mum’s name. And my great grandma Augustyna Bagard / Baumgard

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Patty Dann says:

    This is delightful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Paul says:

    5. And then I went to Canada to look for my sons. No sons.

    What a mission you’re on! Here’s hoping the real slim Augusta eventually stands up but not literally.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      O.M.G. You did it again….I can’t remember when I laughed that loudly. 6. Because my sons LIED.
      I , too, hope the real Augusta is signed, sealed and delivered. But definitely doesn’t stand up. Unless you are referring to me. Barbara Elizabeth Augusta Harvey Knowles. And I was born in August, of course.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ann Coleman says:

    I wonder why so many of them lied on documents? Did they know someday a relative would be looking this stuff up, and thought they’d make it more of a challenge, like a really hard treasure hunt? Hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      Well, I know my one grandmother didn’t want her husband to know she was 5 years older than he (took forever to figure that one out, but my cousin did). And I think perhaps they told the census where they lived at the time, not birth. Plus there are villages and towns within counties, and perhaps that was different in the 1800s. PLUS I think that because everyone has heard of NYC it was easier to say that. And I’ve written here about the fact that my grandfather told all of us including his own children that his family was from the Netherlands, but that was a lie. They were from Germany and came here in the late 1800s. Up to the 1930 census he said his father was born in Germany. He changed it on the 1930 to Holland. I’m assuming because Germany was our enemy. And one group of great-grandparents came here illegally from Canada. Ireland to Canada to sneak across the Vermont border. So they all changed all of their info. They were born in Ireland and not Quebec *sigh* Has your family traced their roots? Good luck. Sorry for the comment that is longer than my post. lol

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ann Coleman says:

        Never apologize, I love your comments! And yes, I think that our ancestors had legitimate reasons for the deceptions, at least some of the time. I know I had a great-grandfather whose name was Johannson, but when he was discharged from the war, his papers said Johnson. He wanted the discharge, so he signed them, and that’s how Johnson became my family name on my grandmother’s side! I think it was a tougher world back then, and people did what they had to do. And during the wars, being of German heritage was something that needed to be hidden in the states.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        You’re right. After I commented to you I looked at the census again and my grandfather changed from Holland to Germany on the 1920 census, which makes complete sense. And records were just more iffy than they are now. Frustrating yet interesting at the same time. Like knots to unravel and at the end and they are unraveled, we say Phew! And feel a sense of accomplishment.


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