May the nourishment of the earth be yours, may the clarity of light be yours, may the fluency of the ocean be yours, may the protection of the ancestors be yours. And so may a slow wind work these words of love around you, an invisible cloak to mind your life. ~ John O’Donohue
To search for an ancestor, check for his or her name on the Ancestor Table, which lists our ancestors by generation. The links navigate to a page for the family group of each ancestor. A family group is a couple and their children and sometimes other spouses and their children.
To find the family group for an ancestor’s parents, select the parents’ names mentioned, if known, in the first paragraphs of the biographical sketch.
To find the family group for an ancestor’s child (or sometimes more than one child) whose line continues down to one of us, scroll down to and then select the name of that child.
To see the surnames found on our tree and some of its branches, select any one of the surname tags found on the sidebar to the right. >
Very often while visiting my grandparents on Cape Cod as a small child, my beloved grandmother would tell me that the sea was in my blood. Grandmother told me so many warm and amusing stories about my ancestors that my curiosity about past generations became an obsession. A very small genealogist took root. She nurtured my interest by showing me one of her treasures, a hundred year old hand-written Freeman family history that she allowed me to explore one memorable afternoon.
Grandfather told me many times that when one finds an occupation that distracts him even from eating, one has found his life’s work. Like his 5th-great-grandfather, William the Surveyor of Plymouth, his life’s work was land surveying, and my interest in genealogy has never waned. Frequently I lose all track of time (and the need for a meal) while deeply engaged in research, and remember his observation. Only after his death do I fully realize that for 44 years he had been my primary source of unconditional love and support. I deeply miss turning to him for his comforting wisdom and quiet strength.
My father, the son of Ukrainian immigrants, was my most cooperative interviewee. His mother died before I was born, but I try to imagine what she was feeling when she was crossing the Atlantic alone in 1910 at age 22, with a nursing baby son, leaving her small daughter behind with her parents in the Ukraine, and coming here to look for her husband who had come a year earlier but had never written. A visit to Ellis Island helped me to thoughtfully retrace some of her steps with awe for her courage.
Dad and I have had some fun doing research and we even took a course in genealogy together. It has been my father who gave me a great love of music. When I was little he was always playing the guitar or piano or listening to music on his stereo. It turns out he has always been as enthusiastic a fan of Woody Guthrie as I have been of my favorite singer-songwriters.
My mother gave me a great love of books. I still remember when I was very small, looking up at her as she was silently reading something in a book laying on the kitchen counter. When I asked what she was doing she showed me the words on the page and explained how they represented words that are spoken. She promised me that someday soon I would learn how to read any book I wanted to read. I’ll never forget the thrilled feeling I got at that moment, suddenly imagining what pleasures lay ahead for me! The best memories I have of her are when she read me stories at bedtime, even long after I was able to read myself. I treasure the book, Roots by Alex Haley, that she gave me. Before she died she began tracing her ancestors and we were able to share a hobby and even a research trip to Boston. I miss sharing new discoveries with her.
When I met Tim, we discovered that we both had many happy memories visiting our respective grandparents on Cape Cod, his in Provincetown, mine in Woods Hole, and later, Dennis Port. We both had special great-granduncles: Tim’s was the Provincetown artist, early modernist painter, and co-founder of the Provincetown Art Association, E. Ambrose Webster at one end of the Cape; and at the other end, Barbara’s uncle Edward E. Swift, a well-known character in Woods Hole, who from 1956 until his death in 1964, age 102, was the oldest native resident of Falmouth. Neither of them had children and so their stories came to us through their nieces and nephews (our grandparents). We love the Cape, all of it, our timeless place of retreat and sanctuary.
Tim’s grandmother kept this picture of him in her wallet before she gave it to me shortly after we were married. Tim’s great-grandmother, Gertrude Mabel (Hubbard) Hamilton did a lot of genealogical research in her lifetime and I felt honored when his grandmother entrusted me with it. We’re still working on both families, a never-ending puzzle for sure. Tim has opened up to me the world of computers and the internet, by which means our research has sped up amazingly.
Indeed, the sea is in my blood. The family tree is full of sailors and fishermen, at least five sea-captains. One of them, Ingebrigt Martinus Hansen, was a sea-faring Norwegian immigrant born in Brevik, Telemark in 1818. He was 18 years old when he arrived in the port of Philadelphia on 10 June 1837, and used his middle name and his father’s patronymic, Hans Tønnesen, to create an American name for himself, Martin Thompson. There are also humble farmers, peasants and land-owners, homemakers, servants, artists, soldiers, magistrates and even a millionaire. History is full of ordinary people and their stories and struggles are worth remembering.
Among our children’s American ancestors are Mayflower passengers arriving in Plymouth in 1620, and immigrants arriving at Ellis Island as recently as 1909. Our family’s story has many threads weaving down the generations to our children, whose very unique personalities reflect the diversity of their ancestors. The ancestry discovered so far, culturally and linguistically, is of Celtic, Germanic, Nordic, Semitic and Slavic origins, but according to Atwood family tradition there is a, as yet undiscovered, Native American (Wampanoag) ancestor, and according to Chomiak family tradition there is Tatar (Turkic) blood in the line. Perhaps these ancestral lines account for the Mongolian blue spots my sister and I had when we were born. We’re fond of referring to the Rodgers heel, the Hamblin eyebrows, and the Freeman frown. DNA testing in genealogy will be taking us who knows where else?
Loyalist and Patriot ancestors fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War, and their politics and religions covered the spectrum of ideals. Also found are many mavericks and free spirits who resisted the social conventions of their times. I remember listening in astonishment to my grandmother when she told me of a maternal ancestor (I wish now that I could remember which one…) who caused a stir in the neighborhood when she sent her daughters outside to play in trousers! Tim’s grandmother told us how she was never allowed as a child to go barefoot outside. It was the first thing she did when she became an adult and she must have ruffled her mother’s feathers when she allowed her own children out of the house without shoes!
The first of our ancestors to attend college was Tim’s great-grandfather Charles Amos Hamilton. The son of a farmer, he worked odd jobs and paid his own tuition at the University of Rochester in upstate New York. He graduated on 19 June 1889, and went on to earn a Master of Arts in 1892. And as far as we know, my father was the first to earn a Doctor of Philosophy, in Animal Diseases from the University of Connecticut on 3 June 1968.
Native American wisdom teaches us that our identities are found in the middle of a seven-generation line, the three preceding and the three following. Keeping this in mind will help us to thoughtfully return to our roots every now and then.
Please feel free leave a message in the GUEST BOOK or in the reply box at the end of any of our ancestor posts. It may take us some time to get back to you, but we will try to respond to your comment as soon as possible.
↑ All of Barbara’s ancestors still living in 1958.
Martin E. Thompson House, Dennis Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Back row, left to right:
Grandmother ~ Emma Freeman (Thompson) White (1906-1996)
Pop ~ my seafaring great-grandfather, Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson (1875-1965)
Mum ~ my great-grandmother, Amanda Eliza (Hamblin) Thompson (1879-1966)
Mom ~ who is holding my sister Beverly, Elisabeth Joan (White) Chomiak (1931-1991)
Pop ~ my Ukrainian immigrant grandfather, William Chomiak (1882-1965)
Front row, left to right:
Grandfather ~ John Everett White (1905-2001)
Dad ~ who is holding me, Dr. Theodore William Chomiak (still living)
Uncle Dave ~ my mother’s brother (still living)
Genealogy becomes a mania, an obsessive struggle to penetrate the past and snatch meaning from an infinity of names. At some point the search becomes futile – there is nothing left to find, no meaning to be dredged out of old receipts, newspaper articles, letters, accounts of events that seemed so important fifty or seventy years ago. All that remains is the insane urge to keep looking, insane because the searcher has no idea what he seeks. What will it be? A photograph? A will? A fragment of a letter? The only way to find out is to look at everything, because it is often when the searcher has gone far beyond the border of futility that he finds the object he never knew he was looking for.
~ Henry Wiencek
We live in a world of color. All nature is color: white, black, and grey do not exist except in theory; they are never seen by the eye – they could only exist in a world that was colorless. Such a universe is beyond imagination: a world without color would be a world without light, for light and color are inseparable.
~ E. Ambrose Webster, Provincetown Art Association
“I used to sail a lot,” Mr. Swift recalled, citing trophies in Class B, for skill and speed with the 13-foot spritsail boats. The antique wooden sign over the shop entrance reads Edward E. Swift, Dealer in Hardware, Cordage, Paints, Oil, Glass & Galvanized Nails & Specialty. The shop is rarely opened any more. Like the Swifts themselves, it is a survivor from another age.
~ Robert G. Elphick, Cape Cod Standard Times
Moreover, my ancestors’ souls are sustained by the atmosphere of the house, since I answer for them the questions that their lives once left behind. I carve out rough answers as best I can. I have even drawn them on the walls. It is as if a silent, greater family, stretching down the centuries, were peopling the house.
~ Carl Jung
Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.
~ Linda Hogan