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I really liked Elizabeth Warren since the first time I saw her interviewed, which I think might have been on the Daily Show. My first thought hearing her speak, and I've thought it every single time since then, is why is she about the only person that can explain complex financial topics (including how regulations would work or don't work) in a manner I can easily understand?

I mean I LOVE the lady. When I heard she was running for the Senate I couldn't have been happier. Heck I sent her money and I live more than a thousand miles away. I hope beyond all hope she wins, cause well if most of the folks in DC were not already bought and owned by Wall Street, I bet about 98% of them have no clue what even happens on Wall Street much less how the bills they vote for work.

Warren clearly does .... and can explain it to folks like myself.

So I have to admit I am kind of confused about this whole Native American thing. As Charles Pierce at Esquire said today (a former reporter for the Boston Herald and long time MA resident):

Coverage of the Senate race here in the Commonwealth (God save it!) between prospective Democratic nominee Elizabeth Warren and Republican incumbent Scott Brown has been dominated in recent weeks by an absurd "controversy" regarding whether or not Warren is 1/32nd Cherokee, as her family legend apparently had it, and as the various institutions at which she has been employed have touted.
I want to focus on the whole "family history" thing below the fold.

As I often mention here I like to tell personal stories. I think they help people understand my point-of-view. See I have a "family history" where I would have bet anything was true, but alas, it isn't.

Both of my grandfather's served in WWII. Neither of them would speak a word about it. One of them, well I knew a lot about what he did, cause the local paper wrote about it more than once or twice. But my other grandfather, my mom's dad, I only knew the little my parents told me (which wasn't much).

When I would ask my mother about it, she would always say the same thing, something close to:

He enlisted when the war was almost over. He was just paid to walk around Europe.
Here and in my personal life I don't know how many times I've said this. Heck I think I might have even mentioned it in an essay I wrote in 1985 for my college admission.

Well surprise, surprise it isn't true.

He passed away last year at 93. While going through his belongs my parents found a ton of photos. My dad scanned them and sent me like 10 DVDs. Yesterday I went through them in detail. Imagine my shock when I saw this one (my grandfather is on the left).


There were no notes on any of the pics and this was the only one with any info that could help me track down where it was taken. I went to Google and typed in "Kanagawa Perfecture." Well it wasn't in Europe. Not even close. He was stationed here:


Japan and Europe, not really the same thing.

I have no idea how this "history" got twisted, but my family are kind of anal about getting facts correct. Heck my father has a PhD in History, military freaking history. So it happens.

Just to reinforce my point, as I was going through these DVD I found this picture of my mother in her wedding dress:


Here is my mother getting married to my father:


You might be saying to yourself, "wait, those are not the same dresses!"

It was at the funeral of my mom's father last year that I learned, not from a family member, somebody I didn't even know that in the early 60's my mother had been married before she married my father. I am FUCKING 41 and NEVER KNEW THIS!

So is it hard to think that Warren had been told she was 1/32nd Cherokee and that maybe wasn't true. Not really, I never even knew my mother had been married before. Oh and my father before moving to the DoD was a college professor. His Vita runs like 14 pages. A lot of stuff in there you would never put on a resume. So that a university where Warren was teaching first picked this up, again nothing surprising.

That is all I have to say on this topic .... other than GO GIRL YOU GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Originally posted to webranding on Thu May 24, 2012 at 12:44 PM PDT.

Also republished by Genealogy and Family History Community.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Oh Just One More Pic Of My Grandfather (11+ / 0-)


    He is the one getting the piggyback ride. Gosh how I treasure these photos. Many dating back to like the 1930s. I am something of a shutterbug. I guess it runs in the family case we seemed to have taken a ton of pics of just about everything in our lives.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Thu May 24, 2012 at 12:45:34 PM PDT

  •  You Got Any Family Histories You Thought (5+ / 0-)

    were true for years or decades only later you found out it was wrong?

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Thu May 24, 2012 at 12:48:23 PM PDT

    •  Sure. There are a couple on my father's side. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      webranding, klompendanser, Jim H, raster44

      The information was changed so it wouldn't upset the younger kids, who grew up believing what they had been told and telling it to their kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. It was only when I started looking at census records and old newspaper clippings (that my Dad looked into to find the truth for himself) that the real scoop on his grandfather and his grandfather's brother came out. It turns out that this is good information for explaining the depression that runs in the family. But in the time when my dad and his sibs were young, the family didn't want them to know what had really happened.

      I think this kind of stuff happens a lot in order to keep the family secrets.

      "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." Henry Adams.

      by glendaw271 on Thu May 24, 2012 at 01:19:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You Might Enjoy This (6+ / 0-)

        I had pics of my parents getting married before I got these DVDs. My mom was in that power blue dress. When I asked my dad if my mother was married before she married him, he said yes. I asked why he never mentioned it to me.

        He said:

        Well you had pictures of my mother and me getting married and she wasn't wearing white, I figured you knew.
        I was like really, really you are going with that. I explained I had looked at those pictures hundreds if not thousands of times and that thought, why she was wearing a blue and not a white dress, had never entered my mind once.

        BTW: Not sure what happened in that first marriage, but my brother and myself are not allowed to even bring it up with her. She doesn't even know we know .........

        When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

        by webranding on Thu May 24, 2012 at 01:26:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Absolutely (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      webranding, Jim H, chimene, raster44

      For one thing, I was told all through my childhood that my maternal grandfather had abandoned his family during the depression, and nobody knew where he was, or even if he was alive. Turns out he was alive, and my mother was in fairly regular contact with him until his death in the 60's; when I was a teen. And I didn't know any of that until my dad told me after my mother's death in the early 90's.

      from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

      by Catte Nappe on Thu May 24, 2012 at 01:27:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow, was my husband surprised! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim H, LeftOfYou

      My mother-in-law divorced my husband's father when my husband was 2.  She remarried when my husband was 9. When my husband was in his early twenties, she came to visit. Over dinner she said that she had something to tell him (his aunt threatened to do so if she didn't). It seems that she had been married to my husband's step-father before she was married to his father. When my husband was in his thirties, she had another surprise for him - she had been married to another man before she married to either his step-father or his father.

  •  Why do you assume your grandfather was never in (8+ / 0-)

    Europe? Isn't it possible he served in both Japan and in Europe? My cousin & her husband served (Air Force) in seven countries on three continents - including stints in Germany and Okinawa.

  •  There was a story many years back (5+ / 0-)

    in a local paper about my Grandfather. It was about the fact that he was related to Lincoln. Descended from Lincoln's first cousin. It was a great source of pride for him. Of course the lineage has diluted somewhat for me, but I can also claim to be related to Honest Abe. And I'm proud of that fact. And screw anyone who wants to mock me for it. I'm sure Warren's Native American ancestry has a similar history to in within her family.

    Romney - 2012 - If You Want Honesty, Vote For The Other Guy!

    by kitebro on Thu May 24, 2012 at 01:17:27 PM PDT

    •  Apocryphal ancestors (6+ / 0-)

      Family lore always had it we were descendants of Francis Bacon. In due course some very diligent genealogists in our family (and I mean diligent!) proved that, and a number of other suppositions of various kinds, wasn't true. On the other hand we do have connections to Douglas Fairbanks. And the true stories are in their way more fascinating than any imagined links to famous people.

      from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

      by Catte Nappe on Thu May 24, 2012 at 01:41:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Growing up in the South I remember just about (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding, klompendanser, Jim H, RLF, raster44

    everyone proudly claimed to either be related to Robert E. Lee or "part Indian".  According to my great-grandmother her grandmother was a Native American.  It was a story that everyone in the family knew, accepted as gospel and though no one seemed to know her name or tribal affiliation repeated to anyone who would listen.  Last year I finally got a chance to look for my 3rd great-grandmother, Sarah, a woman from the Cherokee Nation who died in childbirth.  That child was my great-grandmother's mother.

    Everyone can benefit from researching their family tree.  It's much easier today and quite informative.  If you are really curious about your grandfather's time in WWII, you can request a copy of his record from the National Archives in St. Louis.

    Also take a look at the series finale of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Paula Deen.  I thought it was the best episode for a lot of reasons namely: 1) Paula Deen always said her family had nothing to do with slavery.  Apparently her family's oral history did include anything to the contrary; and  2) You got a firsthand look of the devastation Paula's family endured during and following the Civil War.  Making a clear case that a civil war isn't worth the price.

    I felt Paula's joy and sorrow as she learned about her family history.

    •  related fashion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The twice or thrice removed uncle who does family genealogy claims I was related to Charlemagne, which makes rather little sense considering that (a) everybody who could write claimed to be related to Charlemagne at some point over here, and (b) the earliest recorded family member with my surname lived in the 11XXs or so and was a bishop to boot, who certainly did not have offspring with the same name.
      Congratulations to your family lore being veryfied.

      Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

      by intruder from Old Europe on Thu May 24, 2012 at 08:57:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Likely to be true (0+ / 0-)

        From what I've read, most Western Europeans are likely to be descended from Charlemagne, and a large proportion of English people from Edward I ( of the Edwards). Royals left a lot of descendants (Genghis Khan being the extreme case).

  •  excellent stories ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim H, raster44

    Republished to Genealogy & Family History ... where we discuss these what the heck type moments alot.

    In researching my family stories, I'm always having to weed out where some has done some speculation which another person has intrepreted as absolute fact -- there is always a grain of truth in the stories, but the speculative stuff takes on a life of its own if you are not careful!

    My g-grandfather and his four wives are an interesting case. No. 2 and 3 share the same first name ... real fogginess sets in when I realized that the oldest child of No. 3 was born before the marriage to No. 2 took place...just a few months before No. 2's child was born. Marriage to No. 3 may or may not have been common law, but it appears g-grandpa was a "busy" man. Also, descendants from marriages 2 & 3 claim Native American descent, but I simply don't see evidence of it. However, No. 4 wife--my ancestor--had a previous marriage to a man who was 1/2 Ojibwe. Her children from that marriage would have been 1/4 Native American, but no one ever mentioned that to me. As I said, there were elements of the story that were right, the details were misattributed. I even have difficulty explaining to some of my cousins that even though our half-great-uncles were 1/4 NA, we do not share that particular DNA.

    That said, I don't doubt Elizabeth Warren's family history. Genealogy can be a tricky hobby!

    "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

    by klompendanser on Thu May 24, 2012 at 02:27:24 PM PDT

    •  about the odd dating of wives & births... unless (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      klompendanser, raster44, Jim H

      YOU have seen original records yourself, don't believe any of it.

      I mean, we've been working on ours for several years now and there are reports all over the place of, for instance:

      people who got married years after they died,

      we have a couple of streams of cousins who meander (and marry) back and forth for generations (well two families who marry repeatedly in different generations, definitely cousins of some degree after a couple of generations!).

      There are at least a couple of places where we're pretty sure people changed their names and ran from family or trouble.

      There's one female ancestor who is listed in another branch's records as "died young, no issue" -- erm, I guess that happened before she moved west, married and had about 12 kids? and never contacted the family she left behind?

      we've definitely found a sticking place with one of the infamous 19thC genealogy fakers, where our line apparently goes to an individual who apparently, conveniently for the faker, had multiple hundreds of descendants...

      and then there's our Biblical generation! one old fellow who had about 4 wives & 20 children... and the last wife was in her teens when he was in his 70's, so her kids were contemporaries of his great grandkids! we happen to go through one of the late ones, so there's a generation somewhere that's about 85 years rather than the usual 30-35!

      ah, genealogy! have fun!

      "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

      by chimene on Thu May 24, 2012 at 09:24:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  trust me, I have seen the original (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jim H

        records ... family Bible, census records, marriage/death records, and my g-grandfather's will (he grouped his heirs by each of his marriages by each wife's name)  ... collected over many years of research. When I only had the Bible records, I was "sure" there was a screw-up, but each additional document confirmed the details. And, as in your family, the marriages made for some long generations. My grandfather was the youngest, born in 1892 ... his oldest half sister from marriage No. 1 was born in 1851, and her daughter (grandpa's niece) was born in 1869.

        You are right, you have to be careful of the bad info out there ... see Gustav Anjou, for example ... but sometimes the truth is more interesting than anything that could be invented. It is one fun hobby!

        "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

        by klompendanser on Thu May 24, 2012 at 09:52:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  she's an Okie (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLF, Jim H

    I'm an Indian from Oklahoma and I can't tell you how many people I've met who claim to be part Indian. In fact everyone who has deep roots here, say at least three or four generations, claims native blood. And since the Cherokee are the largest and most well known tribe a big percentage claim Cherokee.

    I personally believe Ms Warren. She claims it was 'family lore" and I have no doubt that's true. A couple of years ago I met with a firefighter union rep and his capitol hill lobbyist on behalf of my tribe. During our meeting he mentioned he was Indian and his lobbyist said he was too. Then they both pulled out Cherokee Nation tribal membership cards. I checked them out and both were something like 1/128th degree Cherokee. And since the tribe only requires that one must have a relative whose name appears on a past government roll both were legitimate tribal members.

    Being Indian here in Indian Territory is as common as being Irish in Boston.

    America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

    by cacamp on Thu May 24, 2012 at 07:13:29 PM PDT

  •  It's about authenticity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, Jim H

    And a class issue in Mass.  Professor Warren works at Harvard which makes her subject to being a "limosine liberal," which is not a good thing.  In short, her opponents want to call her a poseur ( in my native tongue "a po-zah".)

    This assault works for those who have already chosen up teams and aren't going to vote for her anyway. They see her as a "blow-in" or someone who is passing through MA for as long as is good for her. This is a bad charge and I don't know if it will stick or not. I hope not.

    Claims of Indian heritage are not uncommon in the Bay State. A lot of people can clain Native heritage, mainly  through French Canadien roots. My dad thought he might have Indian roots through family tales about "Six Nations" background but I cannot find this. I found an insular group who would not have married outside of their own kind.  (Six Nations might have existed as a neighborhood designation in an MA town though. Funny how some family tales evolve.)

    •  This isn't a case of a 'Bay Stater' claiming (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RLF, Jim H

      Native American heritage. Her family is from Oklahoma and she grew up with family stories of being part Cherokee. It was her great(x3) grandmother, apparently. She listed it, proudly, on documents all her life.

      Lets face it, all we really know about our ancestors is what our parents tell us. Her parents told her she was part Native American. End of story, IMO.

      •  it is not an issue, per se (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jim H

        It is a character test.  No one really cares what her background is, least of all Warren's political detractors.  

        MA elections, probably like elections elsewhere, are done in layers.  What you see on the surface is not what is there another layer or two down.  This issue is about class, authenticity, race and gender.  Prof. Warren is being given a test in which there are no good answers and no way in which to satisfy her critics.

        Truth is not a defense. Truth, in this instance, is always seen through a glass darkly.  Why do Dems have so much trouble with that concept? In mythology, it is said that the way to distract a malevolent fae or fairy is drop salt in front of them. The Fae are bound to count each crystal. That is what this is like., Repubs forcing Dems to count irrelevant crystals in a rigged game.

        Again, truth doesn't matter.  It's a character test.

  •  Baroness' child? (0+ / 0-)

    The family legend was that my 4x great-grandfather was a foundling, and was given the surname "Wander" (which he changed to Wanderer) because he would walk back and forth along the river bank. His birth certificate lists him as the first illegitimate child of Marie Wustoff, the miller's daughter, but the family legend is that he was actually the son of the baroness and a journeyman miller, but was passed off as the child of the miller's daughter.

    I doubt this story is true. I've seen an old letter from my grandmother's aunt about this issue. She married into a family that could trace its ancestry back to the 1300s, so she was searching hard for some noble ancestors of her own. In the letter she mentions that a Wustoff uncle had told her than a part of that family had been raised to the aristocracy and carried the name 'von Wustoff". This was obviously before the dug up the story of the journeyman miller and the baroness.

    What fascinates me is the story of her hunting for these stories, of her knowing a "Wustoff uncle"...the 'foundling', after all, her great-grandfather, was born in the latter part of the 18th century. I have no concept of when this was - some time in the first half of the twentieth century is all I know.

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