* Read Megan Smolenyak's article 120 Years of Smolenyaks in America: A Note of Gratitude from a Great-Granddaughter
* Do you have an ancestor like Megan's great-grandfather that was the first one to come to America (or your present country of residence) that you would like to thank?
* If so, tell us about that ancestor - and why you are thankful for their effort.
* Write your own blog post, or leave a comment on this post, or on the Facebook entry for this post.
I could thank every ancestor I've ever had for something so this is a very hard challenge to try and whittle my gratitude down to one person. Indeed, I'm just not able to. While all my immigrant ancestors have my especial gratitude (from the Mayflower passengers to my Italian great-grandparents over three hundred years later), the ones who answered the call to "Go West, young man, and grow up with the country" get my gratitude this time because if they hadn't I wouldn't be here today. I'm not going to pretend that they all came here with noble reasons, most wanted to make a fast buck in the Gold Rush, others came to escape something back home and a few just wanted to make a fresh start due to ruin either in a war or through speculation. But there were also those who just dreamed of a better life, something they couldn't get at the time in the industrial towns back east, their small villages in Europe, or the rural outposts they farmed in the Midwest.
One thing I find most interesting is that they all (with the exception of my father who came in the 1980s) came before 1900. They came before California grew and boomed in the early to mid 20th Century and they were here to see and help it prosper, gain statehood, develop and take both giant leaps forward and missteps backward.
In no particular order (listed next to them is their year of arrival here), my gratitude goes out to:
- John R. Shinn (1850; permanently in 1854)
- John W. Berger and Susanna vonAllmen Berger family (circa 1888)
- George W. Wellons and Mary Anna Webb family (circa 1892)
- Andrew Webb (circa 1892)
- Heman Doyle (1850)
- Alzina Jackman Doyle, Mariah Adelaide Doyle Shinn, Heman Doyle Shinn (1854)
- James Tock and his daughters (including Emma Sophia Tock) (1872)
- Ebenezer Haley and Mary Lee Scott Haley family (1850, Ebenezer alone. Returned to Nova Scotia 1855, came back with his whole family later that year)
- Isaac Thomas Mott and Mary Johanna Rose Mott family (came throughout the 1840s, settled permanently in 1851)
- Niels Christian Nielsen and Engeline Christine Petersen Nielsen (1874/1875)