The United States is unraveling right now: riots, fires, violence, police brutality and unemployment levels unequaled since the Great Depression, along with an out-of-control pandemic. And on top of that, a president who relishes the violence and disruption. Reading the news about my country takes nerves of steel these days. At the same time, I worry about the safety and well-being of my two sisters and brother, and about their children and grandchildren, all living in the Midwest. I worry about our two sons and their girlfriends in San Francisco and worry about my friends scattered around the country. Can they all keep safe from harm?
I try to keep the Serenity Prayer in mind during such troubled times: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” I cannot turn things around in the United States. But I can give financial support to Democratic senatorial candidates running against the Republican senators I cannot stand, like Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Collins, McConnell and Graham have enabled Trump to get away with his criminal conduct and his desecration of our once great nation. Trump recently put a provocative tweet on his own site and on the one for the White House that was inciting violence and had to be labelled as such by Twitter. Can you imagine?
That any decent American citizen still supports Trump defies explanation and deeply sickens me. So to keep sane I try to find comfort in other things, such as listening to music, talking walks and reading novels. Yoga is also very relaxing. I used to sing in two choirs for pleasure but they have been stopped here in Spain as choir practice is a place where covid-19 spreads quite easily.
One of the things that brings me comfort is building out my family tree. I have been working on it for over ten years and it has about 9,000 people on it. The tree is called Blodgetts and Delands through the Ages. Here is the link to the tree. Hopefully you can access it without too much trouble. https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/16391805/family?cfpid=372122416.
The Blodgett name is my father’s while the Deland name is my mother’s maiden name. The first Blodgett that emigrated to the British colonies came from Stowmarket, England and he was a glover there. His name was Thomas and he sailed to Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts in 1635 on the ship Increase. He came with his wife Suzanna and his two young sons, Daniel and Samuel. We are descended from Samuel, who was three-years-old at the time of their crossing across the Atlantic Ocean. It’s amazing that this little boy didn’t die from the difficult passage. In my tree, I can trace Blodgetts back to 1420 in England. The first one I found was John Blowgate, who was born in Stowmarket, in Suffolk County, England around 1420. Later on, the name morphed into Blodgett.
On the Deland side, things get even more interesting. The first Deland to emigrate to what would later become the United States was Phillip De Lannoy, whose family comes from an area near Lille, France. His family was being religiously persecuted because they weren’t Catholic but rather Hugenots so they moved to Leiden, in Holland, which was more religiously tolerant. He sailed to Plymouth Colony, Mass., on a ship called the Fortune and arrived there in November, 1621. His uncle was Francis Cooke, one of the first well-known settlers of Massachusetts. De Lannoy’s name changed to Delano once he arrived to the colonies. US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is related to Phillip De Lannoy and is my 6th cousin, four generations removed. Then the surname Delano was later changed into Deland in some family branches.
One of the interested things I learned while building my family tree was that if you follow the De Lannoy line back before my immigrant grandparent Phillip, you will find that my grandfather 15 generations back was Philip the Good. Apparently, he was quite the womanizer and had children with lots of different women. One of his illegitimate children was Baldwin of Burgundy, France, who was born in 1445, and is my grandfather 14th generations removed. But going back past Philip the (not-so) Good, you start to come across lots of royalty. For example, if you trace back five generations from there, you arrive at King Philippe VI Valois of France. He is my grandfather 19th generations back. And since kings and queens seem to marry other royalty, the further back you go, the more kings and queens you find in the Deland tree branch. For example, Louis IX, King of France, is my grandfather 21 generations removed. And my ancestors aren’t just French, they are British, Spanish and German too since many of these kings and queens married royalty from other European countries to help consolidate power. For example, British King Henry II Plantagenet and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine are my grandparents 23 generations back.
So whenever I read European history covering the time from the Middle Ages forward, I look to my tree to see how the person I am reading about is related to me. Because that person’s history is my history too…So have I got your mind off of upsetting things for a short time with this story about my hobby? Hopefully, you have your own hobby that brings you comfort during this time of social upheaval. Sometimes you just have to take a break from the news and explore different aspects of life that can lead you to interesting discoveries and to a better understand of yourself.