Before my obsession into genealogy, I assumed most Americans searched for discoveries of immigrant ancestors in order to feel ownership to a distinct culture; the same ethnic traditions that the French, Scots and Germans experience.
But with years of research, I have come to realize that the cultures of Great Britain and Europe are not as "pure" as we Americans believe. They too, have had immigrants. Cultures that progressively migrate from one country to the next, melding their own traditions into a melting pot, just like in America.
I have taken you on this winded trail in order to explain my next revelation: even my French ancestors were Irish!
My family tree flourishes with Irish ancestors on several branches. And though I love the rich cultural history of my Irish ancestry, I am a lover of all things French. So, you can imagine the tingly feeling that washed over me when I found French surnames attached to my tree.
Staring at the beautiful names, I released a long sigh, glowing with the realization that I do have French blood. "I knew it!" I exclaimed. "I knew I felt French!" But as I peered at the tree, I followed my ancestor's trail of immigration from France, leading right back to where I started: Ireland.
My French ancestors were Huguenots; members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. The French Protestants were followers of John Calvin but with years embroiled in religious wars with the French Catholics, the Huguenots eventually emigrated from France to countries such as South Africa, Germany and Scandinavia.
And yes, Ireland.
The Huguenots were a part of the plantation of Ulster; an act by Parliament to populate Ireland with protestants. And with the immigration to English speaking countries, the surnames of the French, over time, evolved into their English versions, such as in my ancestor's case: Jacques to Jack.
Feeling dismayed as I discovered my Huguenots settled in Ireland before the lineage immigrated to America, I felt my French bubble had been burst: A fleeting but lovely moment of my connection to the French culture.
But then I realized, there is still a little French in my lineage, though many generations ago and though they settled in Ireland, they most certainly passed on their French customs to their descendants. Spicing up my Irish ancestors with a taste for good art, wine and yes, snails.
So, I accept that my French ancestors immigrated to Ireland before making their way to America, adding a Frenchy savour faire to my boring fair-skinned, Anglo ancestors.
And I hold onto my dream that a touch of French culture is buried deep within my genetic core.
Au revoir et a beintot!
*To search your Huguenot ancestors, I recommend the following websites:
National Huguenot Society Bible Records.
The National Huguenot Society
Keep searching for answers,
(Source: The National Huguenot Society)