Much To Learn About Our Ancestors

I’ve really been getting into genealogy and history. While looking into my own ancestors, I’ve also been watching a few shows regarding genealogy, history, and travel. I’m addicted to House Hunters International. To me, it’s fascinating to hear why people decide to move to another country, whether alone, with a significant other, or as a family. Reasons range from taking a work opportunity for relocation to wanting more adventure and a calmer lifestyle. Some couples even met on vacation, not knowing each other’s language, hooked up, and then decided to settle down in another country.

My recent obsession is the show, Who do you think you are? It takes celebrities on a journey through the U.S. and/or other countries in search of their roots. Along the way, I’ve learned about historical events I never knew about. I’m unsure of whether I fell asleep in history class or if it was ever part of the curriculum.

During an episode of Who do you think you are? with Jon Cryer, he finds out about one of his many great-grandfathers from Scotland. The Battle of Dunbar was one of the major battles of the Third English Civil Wars. After Charles I’s execution and the ongoing civil unrest, 11,000 British troops commanded by Oliver Cromwell drove toward Scotland’s 23,000 troops commanded by David Leslie. At one point, Cromwell retreated to Dunbar, the sea on the other side.

Leslie thought Cromwell’s army was defeated, but during the night, the British surrounded the Scots, and in the morning, fought and defeated the Scots. The Brits lost a little less than a 100 men, while the Scots lost 3,000. The British marched 10,000 Scottish prisoners to the Durham Cathedral. Many of the 10,000 died along the way or in the cathedral. Those who survived posed a problem to the Brits. What were they going to do with so many? So they were sent them to the American colonies and sold as indentured servants.

This just shocked me. First, I didn’t know anything about the Battle of Dunbar, and second, I had no idea some Scots were brought to the states as indentured servants. I wonder how many other nationalities were sent there.

Of course, I’m not of British or Scottish heritage, but I learned something new.

As for my family tree, it’s slowly unfolding. I received results from Family Tree DNA showing: 96% East Europe, 4% Jewish Diaspora, and less than 1% trace results for North and Central America. The Jewish percentage was a surprise to me—I wasn’t expecting it. What all this means is my family hasn’t been in the U.S. very long. Most of my genes come from Eastern Europe. As Family Tree DNA states, “The East Europe cluster consists of an area encompassing present day Latvia, south to Ukraine, Romania, and the northern part of Bulgaria, west along the eastern edge of the Balkan states to Poland and the eastern half of Germany.”

Germany’s Road to Unification

I’ve taken another test through to see if I can get a better breakdown for Eastern Europe.

What I found interesting in the tree so far is regarding location. I have gotten the farthest on my dad’s side, which shows my 3rd great-grandfather, Heinrich Friedrich Hasselbring, was born and raised in Hanover, Prussia, Lower Saxony, Germany. Germany became a nation state in 1871. Prussia was a prominent German state that originated in 1525, spreading its way much through today’s Germany, into the Baltic States.

German Empire (Kaiserreich)

Heinrich lived in Hanover, which was not a part of Prussia. I live in a part of Germany that was Prussian. Friedrich Hasselbring moved from Hanover, Prussia, Germany to Hanover, Lake County, Indiana, and is buried in Brunswick Cemetery.

My dad moved to Lake County, Indiana, so he lives 17 minutes away from his 3rd-great grandfather’s grave site. I’ll be heading to the states this year to spend some time with my dad, and we plan to go to the cemetery.

I’m really enjoying my ancestral journey. It’s handed me a few surprises, and teaching me a little bit of history.


Ancestral and History,