Friday, September 11, 2009

Genetically Iowan

Growing up, I didn't think much about living in Iowa. I was just someone who was born in the state and whose ancestors came from the east like everyone else. Then I got bitten hard by the genealogy bug and started realizing something different. It didn't hit me at first but gradually I started noticing how many times I kept visiting Iowa State Census records archive looking for records of ancestors. After I started specifically looking at that Iowa connection, I realized that I am genetically Iowan.

I am the first generation and I was born, raised and have lived all but five year of my life in Iowa. When I graduated college I looked for jobs in all kinds of far off 'exotic' locations except in the state of Iowa and succeeded in finding a job in the frozen tundra state they call Minnesota. But with every succeeding job, I have only ended up in Iowa and closer to where I started out. Funny how that works.

The second generation, my parents, were born, grew up and lived their entire lives in SE Iowa where I did. The third generation, my grandparents, though were raised and lived their lives in Iowa, were not all born here. my paternal grandmother was actually born in Missouri but has lived here in Iowa all her life. My maternal grandfather was born just across the river in Illinois but since the age of two, has lived in Iowa, at least until recent years where at age 80, he now resides in Florida where he can golf all winter long. Their spouses however, were both born in Iowa.

The fourth generation, my great grandparents had four that were more nomadic but all eventually lived a significant amount of time and died in Iowa. Seven of my eight great grandparents were even born here. In set one, my great grandfather was born in the river town of Wapello in eastern Iowa before migrating to the Davis county area in SE Iowa, the next county over from where I grew up. There he met and married my great grandmother who was born there and they continued to live and die in Davis county. For set two, my great grandfather was born in central Iowa, eventually migrated west to Wyoming where he met and married my grandmother, then back east to Missouri where my paternal grandmother was born and back to Iowa where they lived out the rest of their lives. Sets three and four all were born, lived and for the most part died in NE Iowa in the Butler, Black Hawk and Floyd county areas, a place where many of my ancestors spent time.

Generation five, my great great granparents, who most lived between the mid 1800's to mid 1900's, again all had solid Iowa connections. Set one had one who was born in Pennsylvania but immigrated to Iowa as a young child with his parents and spent the rest of his life with his wife in Morning Sun, Iowa. Set two and half of set three grew up in SE Iowa in Davis county. Set two lived and died there. The wife of set three married her husband just across the line a couple miles from where she grew up in Iowa and spent the rest of her life with the only ancestor of this generation to never reside in Iowa. Set four both grew up in Iowa but were the ones that headed west to Wyoming where my great grandmother was born and lived before coming back to Iowa. Sets five through eight were all born, raised, lived and died in Iowa mostly in the before mentioned counties in NE Iowa or in eastern Iowa along the river.

Generation six, my great great great grandparents, all 32 of them, is large enough that I will refer to them in terms of general statistics than sets. Of the 32, only two were born in Iowa but to understand this, you need a bit of history. Generation six mostly lived between the years of 1820 to 1900. Until June 1, 1833, Iowa was mostly inhabited by Indians. However, on that date, it was thrown open to settlement and my ancestors came flocking in. After many failed votes of statehood, Iowa joined the Union on December 28, 1846 along with one fourth of my ancestors of this generation. The latest of them would be here by the 1860's, barely 20 years after statehood.

Of my 32 ancestors, all but two of them immigrated to Iowa shortly after getting married or in the case of the 2 born here, shortly before. The 2 of this group that never did live in Iowa were from the Missouri group that came from Wyoming. These individuals came from only six states and three countries. The six states were Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, New York and Virginia. Those that immigrated to Iowa directly from other countries were one from England, two from Germany and one from Switzerland. These four all immigrated in the 1840's & 50's either directly to Iowa or via Illinois. Finally of the 32, all but four of them are still in Iowa to this day, i.e. buried here. The other four are less than a mile away from Iowa just on the other side of the border that denotes them as residing in Missouri. To date, I've only been able to visit seven of their graves but it is my desire to visit all 32 of them before I join them.

So counting back six generations, I am 15/16 or almost 94% Iowan if you count the ancestors that spent most of their lives in Iowa. By most organizations interested in heredity, you are considered purebred if you are above 87.5%. So perhaps after so many years of not knowing, I now know why though I have tried to leave, I always end up back in Iowa. I have 180 years of background in this state that I now call home and due to Darwin's theory, I have been adapted to this spot on earth so that I live here in perfect harmony. I'm okay with that.


Anonymous said...

Nice reading your ancestral history.. I never thought I will be in Iowa. Back in the Phil., when I imagined the USA, it was always big cities such as NY, LA or Chicago. But I ended up here in IA. Initially, I tried to find way to get away and move to bigger states. We had the opportunity and moved away for 18 mos and that's it. We came back, realizing that Iowa is home (esp. for my husband)and we feel more comfortable living here. Loraine

The Real Mother Hen said...

So not even the gorgeous west coast can get you away from your state? :) Dude we have oceans, beaches, cascade mountain range, sand dunes, rain forests, pine forests, old growth forests, ski resorts, canyons, high desert... um all wonderful, you still are not tempted? ;)

Ed said...

Loraine - My wife is the same way. She has come to think of SE Iowa as home.

Mother Hen - Evidently not. Those DNA adaptations that have allowed me to adapt to wide open spaces, lack of people and monochromatic vegetation in such a way that prohibits me from leaving. :)

Beau said...

I'm just amazed at how well you know your geneological history. It must feel good to really know your roots.

Edelweiss Transplanted said...

This is quite amazing -- as a fellow genealogy lover, I have to take my hat off to you. Iowa is a great place -- okay, maybe not as flashy as California, but great people. And how can you say monochromatic vegetation? Not in a month or so.

Anonymous said...

I'm of a certain age, J. Robespierre O'Reilly, Radar to his friends, has carried Iowa and M*A*S*H to my mind.
I can find nothing on about history in the State. Do you know of one with that focus.


sage said...

Over the years, I have known many people from Iowa, but thanks to blogging I now know someone who lives there! That's quite a history--I suppose I could do the statistics on my brother's research on our family and if I did, I'd find that I'd be that much of a Tar Heel--now I feel bad that my daughter was born in Utah--the grandparent's only grandchild to be born out of state.

TC said...

Wow. I suddenly feel better about my inability to leave Wisconsin.

R. Sherman said...

My computer was acting up, so I couldn't comment yesterday.

I wonder whether that loss of connection to a place is one of the many things which ails us as a country. We are so mobile, so transient, that we forget not only where we came from, but the people which brought us here. There is something special about being tied to a piece of ground, and I say that sitting not ten miles from where my original ancestors to this country decided to stop heading west.


Ed said...

Beau - I have focused mostly on furthering my tree up to date but have reached a barrier of where records are scarce to non-existent and what few exist, aren't digitized and can only be read by traveling. So until I get more time for vacationing, I am starting to focus more on the blanks of what my ancestors did and it is starting that that I thought about the subject of this post.

Edelweiss - Genealogy is certainly addictive. Yes you are correct, my favorite season of fall will shortly be here and during that season, there are a few more colors around.

Vincent - Although not the actor that Radar was, Tom Arnold grew up just 20 miles away from where I live now and was in the process of building a big house before fame hit him and his wife. That fame prevented them from finishing it. I don't know of any good sites online. In fact, I have read very little on the history of Iowa and now that you bring it up, I should correct that problem. What little I have read is an old out of print book on Iowa legends and stories of its past. The facts for this post I scarfed off of the Wikipedia entry.

Sage - You might be surprised. I certainly was. Listening to my grandparents talk of my past was much different than it actually happened. It wasn't that they were wrong, it was just that there was a more lot to it. They often talked of just one of their grandparents when in fact there were three others plus four more on the other side.

TC - By the time you get to my age, it will just be home, no matter where you are.

R. Sherman - It was that fact that made this exercise so surprising. I figured that since the advent of the automobile, my ancestors would have been from all over. But it seems like it has only kept us tighter. Perhaps with all the choice of where we can live our lives, we subconsciously choose the comfort food of living, where we grew up.

PhilippinesPhilip said...

I have two direct descendents that arrived on the Mayflower. Its cool knowing that and knowing who they are. I suppose my homestate is Michigan, but I have no desire to settle there even though my forebears settled there about the time many of yours ended up in Iowa. Actually, I shudder at the idea of settling anywhere. The world is my oyster Baby!