Family Lore

It’s true; I come from a long line of storytellers. Throughout the generations, family legends have been told and retold to the newest members of each family. In turn, once they have families of their own, they, too, share those tales. And like with any narrative, some stories become larger than life, and sometimes we questioned the genuineness of these accounts.

William Strassburg
driving the wagon

One such creative chronicle came from our great-great-grandfather Strassburg; he loved to tell my mom about his adventures. One story that she often repeated was how he came from Germany to America as a small boy, traveling by himself. His elaborate description defied all odds as he explained how he snuck aboard a ship and remained a stowaway. Once I discovered his tall tale, I had to chuckle. While part of the story was genuine, for he did come to this country as a child, he did not stow away on the ship. On the contrary, our narrator traveled with his parents and his numerous siblings. But in all fairness to this grandfather, he did live a rather adventurous life once he made America his home.

When writing about my family history, I must admit that I have always checked and doubled my sources to make sure my accounts were accurate to the best of my knowledge. Even when I wrote short stories, historical fiction, based on some of the ancestors woven into my family tree, I tried to keep the background information as truthful as possible.

Wood, Norman B. The Lives of Famous Indian Chiefs. Aurora: American Indian Historical Publishing Company, 1906.

This week, I accidentally stumbled onto a rather fascinating tale that caught my imagination. Could this legend actually be true? The family historian had her doubts, but the family storyteller could not quite let this one go. Relying on my amateur gumshoe skills, I started following the trail while relying on the given facts. At the same time, I was still feeling giddy about the possibility of finding a connection to possible indigenous roots. My astonishment mounted once I discovered these ties could actually be linked to an infamous Native American, a man that made history in the early years, alongside the European settlers that sailed to this country.

This latest crazy mission tugged at my adventurous side, so I decided to write about this newest mystery, no matter what I discovered. First, I started with the DNA. Did I have native DNA in my Ancestry results? Nope, I did not, but when I uploaded the results on another site, some trace amounts were found. Small amounts would make since this 8x great grandmother was born about 1655 in the territory of the New England Colonies, near Mount Hope. The DNA results also showed that I was linked to her descendants. Historical accounts and records helped guide the way to bridging the generations in my family tree.

Lucinda Starkweather

This tale started with the Starkweather name, and the last direct family member that held this surname was my second great grandmother, Lucinda Starkweather (1831-1885). From this grandmother, I just continued to link to each corresponding grandfather until I arrived at John Starkweather, the man that married the mysterious grandmother.

This lady was named Ann Philip, and she married my grandfather, John Starkweather, in the year 1680. And this begins the controversial story of a mysterious woman that families whispered about for many generations. Stayed tuned for part two.

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