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 Tracing Immigrant Origins

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Hunting Forbears

Okay you guys! Who got here first?

It's surprising, but most families don't really know who the first member of their family was who came to the United States. There is often a tradition about the country that the family originated from, but today's family members may not know exactly who it was that arrived here from the old country. Families often think that "great-grandpa" came from, say Ireland, but in reality it was his father, or even grandfather, who made that perilous voyage.

Your assignment, if you choose to do it.

This, then, is the first order of business, learn exactly who was the immigrant, and what his complete, foreign name was. Of course, in many families more than one person immigrated. Often a father would bring his wife and children to America. More children may be born over here as well, but in such cases you may have two direct ancestral generations that immigrated. On occasion, three generations came over, sometimes all together, or in other cases over a period of years through a process we call "chain migration." Of course, whenever more than one ancestor in a family came to America, the process of finding the family origins is much easier, and usually more successful.

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