My wife and I descend exclusively from Europeans (that we know of). Usually, I explain my ethnic roots with with one phrase: Anglo-Dutch Colonial, German, Scot-Irish, Italian. My wife’s heritage is half Scandinavian (Norwegian, Swedish and Danish) and Polish, and half Irish.
Tagg-Seymour Family Lines:
- LeRoy Westervelt Tagg: Predominantly of English and Dutch Colonial roots. His great-grandfather, William Tagg, was the progenitor of our Tagg name in America. William was a brushmaker who arrived at New York in 1829 with his new wife, 19 years his junior. His mother’s family were ancient settlers of Long Island and Massachusetts.
- Edythe Augusta Peck: Purely Colonial stock. She was a mix of Massachusetts Puritans, Dutch settlers of New Netherland colony and some of the oldest immigrants to Jamestown. She descends from the Winthrop family and De La Warr nobility. At this point, her 8-greats-grandfather, Francis Mason of Jamestown, is our earliest immigrant to America, arriving in 1613. Her family tree is by far the most extensive and well researched.
- William Elmer “El” Langdon: This Malverne police sergeant was a descendant of mostly English Quakers and other Puritans who were expelled from the New England colonies to Long Island. He also has some New Amsterdam ancestors. This branch of the Langdon family settled mostly in the Rockaways and Valley Stream on Long Island. El’s father was known as the tallest man on Long Island in his day. I am also El’s namesake.
- Minnie Miltenberger: El’s wife was 100 percent German. Minnie’s grandparents were all born in Germany prior to unification and arrived here in the 1850s. Her paternal grandparents were Bavarian while her mother’s parents were born in the Rhineland, near the French border. Her grandfather, Anton Miltenberger, ran the Germania Hotel in Hempstead, New York before his untimely death. Her mother’s side were corn and wheat farmers in Elmont, NY.
- Robert John Seymour II*: Immigrated to the United States in 1911. Born in Crossnenagh, Armagh, Ireland (now Northern Ireland) in 1886, his father and siblings signed the Ulster Covenant (Protestant objection to Irish Home Rule) the following year. He and his son, also Robert John (my grandfather), both died at age 44.
- Elizabeth Annie ” Nancy” Gray*: My mom fondly remembers her grandmother’s Scottish brogue. Known as Nancy, she came to America in 1913 from Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland. Her father was a blacksmith and many other ancestors were iron miners. She had an affinity for Earl Gray tea, just like me. She is the last immigrant to America on my family tree, arriving exactly 300 years after the aforementioned Francis Mason of Jamestown. For my descendants, that distinction falls on my mother-in-law who was born in Ireland.
- Tomaso “Thomas” Venturini*: A silk dyer from Poggio Rusco, Italy. At 14, Tomaso left Italy in 1907 with his siblings to reunite with his mother and elder brother already in Brooklyn. The whereabouts of his father are family legend. Some say he went to Argentina but records say he remained in Italy. Thomas, his brothers and his brother-in-law, Emmanuel DeGiorgio (later DeGeorge) started a cloth dyeing business and named it Vanter & George, an anglicized version of their names to hide their Italian roots. An unfortunate necessity for most immigrants of the time.
- Carolina Benedetta Maria Bighinatti*: Known only to her children as Maria until recently, she came to America from Castelnovo Bariano, Italy in 1909. Maria, her mother Mabel and her three younger sisters (a fifth daughter would be born in New York a few years later) left on a wintry night along the Po River and reunited with father Arturo in Brooklyn. Arturo had left for Argentina a few years earlier but was unenthusiastic about his prospects in South America so he returned to Italy and then set sail for America. Unfortunately, both Tomaso and Maria died in the 1930s, orphaning their six children, including my grandmother.
Hoiem-Reilly Family Lines (rough outlines):
- Ole Johansen Høiem**: Born in 1876 at Buvik, Norway. He emigrated from Norway at 25 years of age and settled at the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. He, like so many other Scandinavian immigrants living in that area, were iron ore miners. Ole was actually born Ole Johansen Hammer as Hammer was the farm land that his mother was living on at that time. It was typical in Norway that when one changed locations, your last name would change accordingly. That obviously makes searching for ancestor more challenging but Norway’s record-keeping is excellent and freely available.
- Esther Elvira Paulson: Daughter to a Danish-born father and Swedish-American mother. Nels Paulson, Esther’s father, was a miner in National Mine, MI and arrived in America in the 1870s. Esther’s Swedish maternal side arrived around the same period. I am still actively researching her line and will hope to find more about her Scandinavian roots soon.
- John Michael Miszkowiec*: Born in Kojszówka, Poland, near Krakow. John is the only of this side of the tree who arrived through Ellis Island. To this date, however, I have been unable to verify his parents. Much more information on John to come.
- Rosalia “Rosie” Agnes Knoll: Rosie was born in Milwaukee, WI in 1889 to Polish parents. I am still researching her parents origins although some sources say Poznan for her mother’s side. Nevertheless, Rose and her husband John married in 1909 and eventually settled in Fresno, CA.
- Patrick Reilly: Family legend has it that Patrick was born into the landed gentry class in County Meath, Ireland in the 1870s. According to both the 1901 and 1911 Census, he was born in Westmeath. The Reilly family has connections to a local castle in Navan called Rathaldron Castle. Based upon the stories, Patrick, or an ancestor, was disinherited for marrying below his class. I surmise that it was, in fact, Patrick, that was disinherited based on the information I possess about his wife, a servant to upper classes. To this day, I’m attempting to discover whether these stories are fact or fiction.
- Jane Cowley: Born in Gravelstown, Meath, Ireland in 1883, I located Jane in the 1901 Irish Census as a servant to a wealthy family. She would marry Patrick Reilly the following year and have ten children. I am still wanting of information from cousins in Ireland about this particular marriage but hoping to find out more. Jane passed away at a very advanced age.
- John Joseph O’Toole: Born on the western side of Ireland on the Galway-Mayo county border in a town called Conagher. John also had ten children. Many of John’s siblings traveled to America and I am continuous discovering their histories. Some of his children would venture to America, including my wife’s grandmother and mother, who would arrive to the East Coast in 1959.
- Ellen McHugh: Also born in Conagher. I am still waiting for more information on her and John and will eventually post some information regarding the O’Tooles and McHughs.
* – Ellis Island Immigrant; ** – immigrated through Boston