52 Ancestors Week 30: The Old Country

+14 votes

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The Old Country

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in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (2.6m points)

My great-great grandfather William F. Hahn is my most recent immigrant ancestor. I wrote about what what I know of the Old Country he came from.


36 Answers

+18 votes
Best answer

I think eating habits from different countries are very interesting. We in the US likely have developed our love of meat and potatoes from our Irish ancestors. This is a photo I took while I was in The Old Country of our dinner with mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, fried potatoes and even the mixed vegetables have boiled potatoes. 

by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (872k points)
selected by Sherry Scroggins
This has given me new respect for the potato famine. Take away the potatoes, and there's not much left.
Yes Joyce, you are right. Our tour guide explained that the Irish people became very dependent on living on potatoes, and when the blight came it was devastating. She said that with all their coastal area they could have developed a large fishing industry, but the Irish people are not crazy about fish. I usually ordered fish on the trip, but I noticed it was not popular, and this is a photo of my girlfriend’s dinner.
I was at a wedding in Clonakilty, Cork a few years ago -- 5 types of potatoes were served! (and most of my friends had at least 3 types with their meal).

Frances, an English born, naturalised Canadian now living in Ireland.
Frances, thank you for your nice comment about the wedding dinner and potatoes.
+13 votes
My ancestry is basically 1/2 Scottish, 3/8 English and 1/8 Irish - based on where my 8 great grandparents were born or where their parents were from.

To me, Ireland is currently the Old Country because I know so little about it.
by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
+11 votes
Holy smokes!.....whatever that means?.....just looking over the topic and it's started right up......think I'll hitch my horse to that wagon......and ride it back to the "Old Country''.
by John Thompson G2G6 Pilot (372k points)
+14 votes
The "Old Country" is a difficult one ... there is not one country that stands out in my ancestry.  My ancestors came from all over ... but mostly European countries.

Some came on the Mayflower ... or followed not long after ... so the old country could be considered the "Good Ole USA".

Anyway my ancestors can be traced back to ... England ... Ireland ... Netherlands ... Germany ... France ... Scotland ... Prussia ... Poland ... Russia ... Switzerland ... Holland ... and most likely more will be discovered as the search for truth continues??

So guess I am what some refer to as a "Heinz 57"!!
by Bill Sims G2G6 Pilot (127k points)
My father said his ancestors were Irish......now, I know where a lot of them came to Ireland from......so I asked my maternal grandmother, and she thought and replied, Scotland and England.....now, I know she was correct.
+12 votes
I just couldn't resist posting after Alexis served up that plate of food.....made me hungry......then I remembered my father explaining "potato and point".......who would like to explain?
by John Thompson G2G6 Pilot (372k points)
John you are so fun; I read where it was about having potatoes, and if you were fortunate enough to have meat--one could point their forks toward the meat.
As I remember it, my dad's version was..... hang a herring from the ceiling.......point and lick your finger while eating potatoes.

When you first joined WikiTree I thought you'd be a HIT on G2G!    And so I'm right!     Don't forget to check out the WeekEnd Chat....... it's free form posts by WikiTree members....  it's usually posted Fridays about 10:00am EDT and goes throught the weekend.   Humor is greatly appreciated  and you have just the right stuff.
I had never heard "potato and point" so looked it up. The general idea is "point at the desirable food, which you cannot have, and then eat your potato." This is akin to "wish sandwich" which is " two slices of bread and wish you had something to put in between them."
Thanks Peggy......It takes team work......even when I drove my own car, a huge thump on floor, from my wife Kathy. told me when to apply the brakes. Jack
And Joyce......You are honouring my father's memory by telling the rest of the story.   Jack
+13 votes

Ah, but which "Old Country" to choose?  England, Ireland, or Scotland?

Let's pick Scotland and G Grandmother Elizabeth (McIntosh) Purdy who was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland in October of 1877 and who emigrated to the United States with her parents and three siblings in 1885 when she was about 7 years old.  In 1899, she married G Grandfather Charles Wallace Purdy in Quincy, MA where they lived until her death in 1944.  She's buried in the Purdy family plot in Blue Hill Cemetery in Braintree, MA.

by Dorothy O'Hare G2G6 Mach 8 (89.6k points)
+18 votes

52 I made it!!!!!! My grandfather, Stanislav Hakl was born in Krupsk, Putil, Govemorate, Russia to Bohemian parents while his father was managing the construction of a beet sugar refinery. Here he is in Krupsk with his grandma. Wish we knew what grandma! Love his hat!

by Lyn Gulbransen G2G6 Mach 5 (50.7k points)
+13 votes

I have many "Old Country" ancestors to choose from.....but this time I think I'll go with one of my paternal 4th Great Grandfathers. Carl Kannenberg and his family immigrated to the US (Kirchhayn, Wisconsin) in 1843 from Pomerania, Prussia. From what I've found it sounds like they were most likely a family of "Old Lutherans".

Carl Kannenberg

by Chandra Garrow G2G6 Mach 7 (71.8k points)
+14 votes
My DNA confirms that the majority of my ancestral origins are from what is now the United Kingdom, Wales, England, Ireland and Scotland, with some clear connection to the Scandinavian countries, and a bit from central Europe.  All of this gibes with the written record I have for the majority of 12 generations. But what does the Old Country mean to someone whose ancestors have mostly been here (USA) since the early 1600s?  

My Mayflower ancestors may have come here because their kids were becoming Dutch, while they identified more with England as their old country.   

My most recent immigrants came from Ireland, with my grandmother telling us of her grandmother, from County Antrim.  Many years of research found that ancestor married a man from Roscommon.  But they settled for a few generations in Quebec, in English speaking areas.  Does that make Canada the Old Country?  

My dad's mitochondrial DNA is showing people with the same mtDNA with names that suggest Scandinavian, Central Europe,  and even Slavic origin.  This goes back many generations before we lose that paper trail.  Could the Old Country be Norway, Russia, or Germany, France, or Poland?

I don't know, but when you've been in one country for 400 years, I am suggesting this is our old country.  And appreciate all the others, too.
by Carolyn Adams G2G6 Mach 9 (94.4k points)
edited by Carolyn Adams
Since most scottish would have some viking ancestry, and the english were invaded by the anglo-jutes from Germany, then I would agree with your theory!!
Carolyn, The first sentence of your description perfectly matches what I would say about my European ancestors. We should compare DNA. GEDmatch seems to be down today.

Look at my post for a laugh.

Yours is much funnier than mine.  The Old Country may be Siberia for all of us.  That or Africa.  But for you and me, it could be Sussex, Wessex, or King Arthur's Court.   What is 20 generations or so? Nothing!
My MtDNA points to Scandinavia. Like you, my nearest ancestors come from Ireland, Scotland, England, Scandinavia and Central Europe. Maybe we have a Denisovan cousin too.
+16 votes
I was born in Schleswig-Holstein - my wife as well - and I lived there until I was 24 years old. Then I was sent to Lower-Saxony by my goverment where I live now since 1982 (my wife since 1985). Our parents are still living in Schleswig-Holstein and my son as well. He visited his grandparents, fall in love with a young girl their and moved back to our roots.

So my old country is definitely Schleswig-Holstein.
by Dieter Lewerenz G2G Astronaut (3.2m points)
+9 votes

Does a free page count?  Due to a lot of  intermarriage I’m related to nearly everyone from Kintrye, Scotland. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Argyll_Scotland

by Joelle Colville-Hanson G2G6 Pilot (155k points)
Nice work Joelle, what a page!
+14 votes


In first and second grade, I attended Balance Rock School in Lanesborough, Massachusetts. This school was definitely old--it appears on a 1904 map. And it was definitely country--we all walked to school.

There were two classrooms: Miss Simmons taught grades one through four, while Mrs. Weirum taught grades five through eight. There was also a cloakroom where the milkman left our lunch milk, in glass bottles. By the back door was a large water dispenser, filled every morning by the biggest boys, who brought the water up the hill from a nearby farmhouse. In the basement was a coal-burning furnace, which on the coldest days did not give enough heat. Sometimes the milk in the cloakroom froze. Sometimes we had to wear our coats and hats, maybe even our mittens, in class.

In Miss Simmons' class, the day began with opening exercises. Not having a real flag, we pledge allegianced to the picture of a flag. Then we said the Lord's Prayer, which was confusing because not everyone said it quite the same way. Then Miss Simmons read us a story. My favorite was Doctor Doolittle, who had a duck named Dab Dab and a Pushmepullyou with a head at each end.

Then the lessons began. Each grade had its own lessons, so while the first grade was learning "left" and  "right", the second graders might be doing arithmetic while the third graders studied geography.

When it was recess time, we ran out the back door, first to the outhouse (one side for boys and one side for girls, though it was rumored that the boys could peek through a crack to watch the girls). We could swing on the swings or play Farmer in the Dell or Red Rover.

When Miss Simmons came to the top of the steps and rang her bell, recess was over and we headed reluctantly back to the classroom. We were puzzled by our reading books. In many ways, Dick and Jane were like us--in fact, Dick looked much like my next-door neighbor Larry Palmer. But Dick and Jane did some strange things. They rode on a school bus!  They had a sidewalk in front of their house! Their father wore a suit to work! And even a hat!

At lunch time, Miss Simmons handed out the bottles of milk. We opened our lunch boxes (Howdy Doody and Roy Rogers were popular ones), took out our sandwiches, and ate at our desks.

When Miss Simmons consulted her clock and determined that it was 3 o'clock, class was over and we all walked home.

This was my school for first and second grades. At the end of the second year, there came exciting news. There was going to be a new school! We were going to ride on a school bus! You could get your lunch from a "cafeteria"! (This was probably like a "restaurant," but since I had never been in a restaurant either, I still could not imagine it.) The bathrooms would be inside! And most improbable at all, the blackboards would be green!

So I left the old country school for the new in-town one. The old building stood vacant for a few years, and then was converted to a residence, which is still a home.

by Joyce Vander Bogart G2G6 Pilot (202k points)
edited by Joyce Vander Bogart
I loved reading this.  I had ancestors from that part of Berkshire Co, but way before your time.  Most were from Adams MA, but in what is now North Adams.  My mom went to a one room elementary (make that graded) school just north of Williamstown in the 1930s, even older in type than yours.  It was grades one through 8, Pownal Center School (VT). My mom got a good education there, and when she went to high school in Bennington, her principal asked her, why were all the students from Pownal such good students? Because only the good students get to high school, was her truthful answer.   Loved the story from Lanesboro.
I loved this story.   I'm 66 and also went to a two room schoolhouse in west central Wisconsin.   When I was in first grade we had grades 1-4 in the "lower grades" room and 5-8 in the "upper grades" room.  Miss Wold taught the lower grades the entire time I attended and Mrs. Jacobson the upper grades.   We rode a carry-all to school but later the 5 yr olds went to Kindergarten at the "big school" on a regular school bus.   When I was going into 4th grade grades 7 and 8 were sent to Whitehall where the "big school" was so we were down to only 6 grades in our little school in Pleasantville WI.   At noon we would take turns in front of the room leading the dinner prayer.  Nearly all of the children were Norwegian Lutherans but we had a couple of Polish Catholic families which we thought was strange when they made the sign of the cross after praying.  We had to race downstairs to get into our tiny bathrooms to wash our hands and then to get into line for our lunch.  We had a cafeteria in which we got hot meals and little cartons of milk which cost 1 cent and in the afternoon we got chocolate milk at break for 2 cents each.  If there was bread left over from lunch our cook, Mrs. Dahl, would put sugar on the buttered bread and it was first come, first serve-whoever made it out of the classroom and down the stairs fastest.  We played together outside at the morning break-softball, kickball, dodge ball, hopscotch, or jump rope, and in the winter we either made snow forts or the girls stayed inside playing jacks, pick up sticks, or even square dancing.   For Christmas we had a school wide program for the parents, grandparents, and whoever wanted to attend.  We were so nervous about our program.  The lower grade children sang songs and performed small, easy skits while the upper grade children participated in Christimas plays.  The end would include all the children together for the final Christmas songs.  Finally we received the much waited for bag of candy and nuts and an apple.   It was a wonderful experience as we were a lot closer than students in larger schools and never forgot all the fun we had in our little country school.
Thanks for the memory, Jane!

yes, I remember  Christmas programs at school. Maybe one week the topic will be "Christmas" and we can reminisce.
Though I started school in 1956 and the building was probably much closer to your new "in-town" school, the rest of your story sounded very familiar to what I experienced in my early years at school. Thank you for sharing your story; it brought back fond memories.
Sounds so much like my school in Middle LaHave although we had all the grades. I don't remember what the day was like although the "left" and "right" was always a bit of a problem for me. It took me quite a few years to be able instinctively react to those words. I would always take a second or two to mentally picture the classroom at school where the teacher had a sign that said "RIGHT" on the right side of the blackboard and one that said "LEFT" on the other side. Our school had a coal stove in the middle of each room and the older boys would carry the coal from the shed outside (I still have one of the coal buckets), and water from the neighbour's well across the road. Lunch wasn't an issue since I lived next door and would go home. And yes, there was the "outhouse" out back - ours was self flushing - it sat on beams out over the edge of the river! You wouldn't get away with that today.
+12 votes
My maternal great grampa came to america from slovakia before world war one and was not reunited with his wife until after the war. My ancestery is basicly 50% England and 50% German with abt 10% Sweden, Ireland and Eastern Europe thrown into the mix
by Jennifer Robins G2G6 Pilot (271k points)
+11 votes
The Old Country to my maternal grandfather was Bohemia where it was traditional to have a Christmas goose.  He did get back there in 1959 and his son Frank went there later and did some genelogical research on the families.

My maternal grandmother's ancestors were from Ontario, Canada.
by David Hughey G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
+9 votes

The Old Country to me is not a location in a distant land separated by distance or overseas. It is the Old order or Lore of the Country I still am lucky enough to live in. It is the Country of my Aboriginal ancestors, my Old People my knowledge holders and protectors.

The last to be recorded in our line as a Cleverman and Lore Keeper by those writing the history of Country at the time he was living it's transition to a shared space was  Jack Cook.

The Hooke family shared stories of him concealing the 'King Stone' in the most sacred ground available to save it falling into the hands of those who did not have the knowledge to be in its presence.


by Rosalie Neve G2G6 Pilot (177k points)
edited by Rosalie Neve
+13 votes

When I think of the 'old country' I think of Sweden because one grandparent comes from there and her family migrated in the late 19th century.  The other 3/4 of my family migrated much much earlier.

We have one photo and we don't know who the people are.  Through a process of elimination I think I have figured out which set of Swedish great-great-grandparents they are but we don't know if this photo is from America or the old country.

by SJ Baty G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
SJ, what a great photo. They look so sweet together feeding the chickens. The glass reflection looks like it is curved. Thanks for sharing such a treasure.
Hi SJ! I love this photo. It's been years since I've seen anyone feed chickens (and years since I fed chickens)! Hope you and the family are doing well!
+9 votes

I was born in the U.S. and 'the old country' for most of my recent ancestors was somewhere in the British Isles. But what does 'recent' mean? 

Going way back, 'the old country' was in present-day Siberia, according to a DNA chart which I oogled at GEDmatch, showing a little bit of Neanderthal and a tiny touch of Denisova, probably too small to be significant. 

Near-human Denisovans from Siberia walked the earth 50,000 years ago and mated with Neanderthals. Other Denisovan remains were discovered in a Tibetan cave named Baishiya, and are dated 160,000 years old ! 

Today, traces of Denisovan DNA are found almost exclusively among people from Asia. Who knows how that tiny trace of Denisovan DNA ended up in my genome?  I wonder if I could make a case for my ancestors' 'old country' being Tibet?

Near the Baishiya cave in Tibet

by C Ryder G2G6 Mach 9 (90.5k points)
Too bad we can't get a 50 to 100 generation chart for the Denisovans.
Wow! You have out-ancestered me. My DNA only takes me back to Saint Luke.
THE Saint Luke? You out-ancestor me, because my Denisovan doesn't have a name and for now is not considered to be Homo Sapiens.
I just asked my son the geneticist about this. He says that one definition of "species" involves the ability to interbreed. Your Denisovan ancestor did obviously did just that, or you would not be here.

I also found that the Denisovans did have names, though not as catchy as "Lucy." They were all named Denisova followed by a number.
Well, your son, Joyce, is spot on. He'll probably also say that it's not so easy to differentiate species. A male donkey and a female horse produce a mule. A Denisovan father and a Neanderthal mother produced a girl, but what was she exactly? All of these beings were genetically close to us, and they intermingled with us. Isn't it amazing?
+6 votes

I have two ancestral towns in Italy to go to. Which one do I pick? Find out here: https://allroadhaverhill.blogspot.com/2020/07/52-ancestors-week-30-old-country.html

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (794k points)
+7 votes
I am very fortunate because I can say "Old Countries." My dad's paternal line came from Ireland during the famine and England (with the Puritan Great Migration--primarily settling in Boston and Connecticut). His maternal line came from Germany. My mother's paternal line came from Cornwall, and Italy. Her maternal line came from Poland.

Honestly, if I was a suitcase from the 1950's, I would have travel stickers plastered all over me!
by Carol Baldwin G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+7 votes

I will cite two ancestors James Wood and James Watson who will be forever connected within my family Tree and in history as well. Both men were supporters of the Prince of Wales James Edward Stuart, "The Old Pretender", during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 in England. They were captured at Preston and transported to the Americas for their treason against the Crown. They arrived in Yorktown Virginia on 14 Jan 1716 with 110 other "Rebel Prisoners" on the Ship Elizabeth & Ann, of Liverpool, Edward Trafford, Master.

I suspect that they may have been fast friends or even cousins before their capture and deportation to the colonies, but they were certainly close after their arrival in Virginia. This is indicated by the marriage of their respective children David Wood and Mary Watson, who became my 6th-great grandparents. 

These men were unwilling emigrants from the Old Country, but they were both prolific and successful in their new home in Virginia. I owe my very existence to those two Scottish men who fought for an unsuccessful cause in Merry Olde England.

by Bill Vincent G2G6 Pilot (176k points)
edited by Bill Vincent
How did you get James Edward Stuart to link up to a Wikipedia article? Maybe one of my relatives will rate a Wikipedia page, so I'd like to know.

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