Family Culture

My son is currently doing a project on family culture….  I think the class is cultural anthropology.  The real question is what is our families cultural history.  I also was struck recently seeing online a quiz a teacher gave for extra credit on race.  The real question comes from if your family immigrated to the US (aka great American Melting Pot) at the start of the country, what is your cultural background?

My grandmother Wakeland’s family immigrated to the US in the early 1900s after 3 of her sisters (my aunts) were already born.  I can link superstitions and our Catholic upbringing to them… but beyond that it becomes more of a question.  My husband’s family came to the US in the 1920’s, but didn’t really bring a lot of cultural heritage that we know of.  The family was also Catholic, but didn’t seem to have all the superstitions that my Italian family did.

For my family the McArdle on my mom’s side and all of my father’s side, were more the been here for ever, what would you consider culture.. but maybe that is a culture?

Culture is:

Family tradition, also called Family culture, is defined as aggregate of attitudes, ideas and ideals, and environment, which a person inherits from his/her parents and ancestors.

Both sides of the family have lots of family history to fall back on.  There were strong attitudes too, most were incorporated into the family for generations…  My ancestor Rev. John Corbley’s museum still has a family reunion every year at the church near his former farm.  Rev Corbley was originally part of the House of Delegates for the state of Virginia, but was voted out due to separation of Church and State in 1777.  Corbley was not an ordained minister but was thought to be enough of a minister to be ousted from the government.

Corbley later was part of the resistance during the Whiskey Rebellion when the settlers objected to the first tax imposed by the new country.  The government made a new federal tax on whiskey distilled in the area of Pennsylvania.  President Washington later released everyone and sent them back home.  Stories from Corbley’s life tell of him being allowed to go out during the day and return to the jailers at night until finally being told he could return home to his family.

Other stories from the family include tales of family that were some of the first Postmasters (McArdle), platted towns (Edward Corbley), Farmers (Richters), and even some of the first school board members of their area (Abraham Lincoln Richter)….  These ancestors all helped shape the country that we currently live in.  Many faced adversity and though some have faded into obscurity, they helped make the nation that exists today.

The question really is though how does this fit with our current family’s culture…  When I think of it, I see my mother who is now active in the Daughters of the American Revolution…  many of my cousins and aunts that have been active in politics.  I also see my cousins and my children doing what they can to help others and standing up for those in need.  We’ve tried to instill in our children to help people when they see injustice or need.  Though we sometimes slip, we try to focus on the positive.

Every one I know is a mix of something.  It may be race or religion….  or it could even be brain wiring.    Not everyone’s difference’s are visible, but they all matter.  To me it seems whatever your own difference, that’s the one that is the widest divide……

600 A.D.? Really? (You traced your line back that far)

I was just at my parents and ran into someone that traced their line WAY back…. And to admit it I have a tree that has that too.  I know what I need to do to my tree and what’s wrong with it….. It needs SOURCES! and in reality to go back that far the odds of finding sources are pretty near impossible.  Though how far really is that back, how many generations?  If you think that each generation probably got married younger as you go farther back – up to a point – my grandmother Richter got married at 14 I think…. But I would say an average of 20 to 25 years old.  So taking the year 2000 minus the year 600 and an average mother’s age of 25…. You get 56 generations back!  Looking at the chart below I suppose by the time you get that far back you pretty much have most of a country (or all of a country) in your family tree…..  My tree does go back and I know I need to work on my sources.  I have a few places that I need to shore up my documentation definitely.

What do you use for documentation once you get back a certain number of generations?  The census and other government records are great here in the US to document back to 1850, but going beyond that you run into what to use?  For one side of my family we have a family bible.  Family bibles can be a great source of information!  There are also newspapers that have some information, church records, and military records.  I’ve found probate records for wills that have also helped.

Going back beyond the 1800s though becomes tougher.  For some members of my family that are well known there are books that I can find where others have taken the time to trace the tree.  I’ve collected all I can find as these books get harder to find as time passes.  For regular family lines it gets almost impossible though.  Add to that the records being oversees and frequently not in English and the search gets tougher.  I’ve slowly been working through my records to add sources, but wondered about everyone else’s trees.  I’m also ordering the DNA kit. I thought I may as well give it a try.

I think the biggest mess in family trees on ancestry comes from the family tree merge…. I know when I first started out and saw it…. I made that rookie mistake and am still trying to clean it up.  Ancestry allows you to merge other peoples trees to your tree.  I also started tracking my family tree when I was about 14… Commodore 64 and paper time, and was just questioning relatives.  I didn’t document anything and relied on my memory for some.  I do have the paper copies of what I wrote, but my wonderful relatives from the time are all gone.  Between family member sources that aren’t documented and merged trees with unreliable sources, I am now using my tree as a source of hints that need researched.  I don’t have my tree set to public knowing there is information out there  that shouldn’t be relied on.  I do have a lot of great information and I have documented almost all of my direct line as well as a lot of other great pictures and documentation, but ughhh!  cleaning up a tree with thousands of people is a mess.  I never merge family trees now. I will turn on that feature and look when I want new hints, but I won’t link the information…..

What do you use for hints?  Sources?  How far back does your tree go?


And It’s a Girl!

Yes we have added one more member to our family!  A girl this time.  Actually she’s an exchange student, but for this year we are a mixed family.  3 boys and a girl!

We are learning a lot this year, besides the experience of spending about 3 hours a day driving the kids one place or another in the car each day.  As crazy as this year has been and will be – I wouldn’t trade it.  I do have to wonder what Konnor thinks of the situation – one day we just suddenly added another teenager. I’m not sure what he will think also when she goes home.

Having an extra family member has definitely inspired us to do more fun things as a family this year.  Last weekend we ventured out to Jackson’s Orchard to try out the pumpkin patch and corn maze!  It brought back memories of my cousin Don’s pumpkins (though these were super small in comparison!) and his apples.  Konnor is hoping to ask dad to make him a corn maze.  I don’t think it will happen anytime soon (dad’s not really up to it anymore), but it does make me think I should talk to mom about if they have a patch of unused field that might work for next year.  Apparently Kentucky has a law protecting farms from being sued if they are engaged in agritourism – I really need to check if that’s true in Illinois too!  They are just now combining by the house at home so the timing could be perfect.

While at the orchard we got to take a hay wagon out to the patch.  I think my last hayride was in grade school with the cub scouts and the Flessners.  At least that’s the last one I really remember.  I DO remember though helping drive the tractor by the house while dad and company through hay onto the wagon.  I also remember being banned from participating after accidentally running over dad’s foot with the wagon and stopping the wagon ON his foot when he hollered at me to stop.  – My allergies were so bad that I was always delegated a task that involved me being in air conditioning (yep, they make International Harvester Tractors with cabs that are air conditioned and my dad had a big one!)

I really wish my kids would get a chance to know a little more about farming.

Kevin's First Pumpkin

Kevin’s First Pumpkin

Konnor at the Pumpkin Patch - Jackson's Orchard

Konnor at the Pumpkin Patch – Jackson’s Orchard










At the Pumpkin Patch

At the Pumpkin Patch





Growing up on a farm for Halloween is completely different though.  There isn’t trick or treating quite the way there is in a neighborhood.   Normally parents drive kids around to friends and family to show off costumes and collect some candy.  My parents probably won’t even bother to buy candy this year.   When we were kids I do remember my mother driving us in to trick or treat with the Peak family in Oakwood once or twice.  I don’t remember the trick or treating itself as much as just that we did it at least once.

Living in a neighborhood the kids will probably get enough candy this year to go into a sugar coma if they eat it all.  Would I change it?  No, not really – all in all I’m glad my kids get the chance to have both worlds. It would be nice if they were a little more ‘farm savvy’ but it’s great that they have a chance to experience some of both parts of life.

Andrew Family

We just got back from visiting the other side of the family.  I was glad to get updated pictures of my in laws.  The nieces and nephews are getting so big! I’ve got a separate family tree for my husband’s side of the family. My husband is only the second generation born in the US so that makes it a lot easier. So far I have found city directories, census, and ship manifests. As I find information we all find out more about the family. The city directories include occupation and address.

One of the City Directories:

Some of the pictures from our trip: