Finding Identity Through Genealogy

Lee & Sue Anne Growing up, I always felt a bit like a mutt. You know, those loveable dogs at the animal shelter with no identifying characteristics — they aren’t Boxers, Poodles or Labradors.

I’ve never had much of a cultural identify. It was obvious that I was some mix of Western European … between my light complexion and the surnames of Phillips, Berryman and Gibson sprinkled through my family, there was not a whole lot of mystery as far as the general geographic region.

Growing up within the Mormon community, this was tough. No one had done my family group sheet. I didn’t come from pioneer stock. I wasn’t descended from Hyrum Smith like a few of my friends were.

The lack of relationship to my father also didn’t help sort out my identity. I didn’t know much more about him than his name. Did he come from a large or small family? Were they immigrants or had the family been here in the U.S. for generations?

Because my siblings and I all had different fathers (four children & three fathers), we also looked different. You could tell just by looking at my sister that she inherited my step-father’s Italian genes, but the rest of us could really have been from any Anglo-Saxon country.

It wasn’t until I started digging into my genealogy that I started to really find out all those details I had been missing. No longer was I this strange Anglo-Saxon Western European mix, but I could tell you that I had strong German roots with several of my grandfather Berryman’s family coming from Germany. I can tell you that my great, great grandmother Lizzie Puckett was born in Wales. (I’m a bit stuck on her right now.)

On my father’s side of the family, while I haven’t found any Mormon pioneers, I have found men who fought in the Civil War. And, a great grandfather (too many greats to list here) that was part of George Washington’s Revolutionary Guard.

My sister finds it humorous about how excited I get with each new little discovery, but for this mutt they mean a lot.

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One comment

  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog today. Keep on digging into your family. After all us mutts have a far more interesting genealogy than most people.

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