It’s All In The Family

Being a total history buff (even having majored in history in college before switching to English for grad school) I’ve always been fascinated with the past. Even more so when it comes to my own family history. Luckily, most of my family members are equally interested in our family’s past and have done a great deal of research into our ancestors.

Susannah Martin in Salem JailRecently, my sister showed me a feature on that lists anyone well-known to whom you might be related. There were several fascinating people on the list, including some that were very surprising. The most surprising…President Obama and I apparently share a several times great-grandfather and are eighth cousins on his mother’s side. There are also a few kings and queens in the mix which is not only fun and fascinating but also incredibly lucky because of all the people in history, royalty kept very careful lineage records – which allows my family to trace our history back quite a ways.

One of the ancestors that interested me the most, however, was one on very early American soil. My 10th great-grandmother was Susannah North Martin, who was found guilty of being a witch during the Salem trials and was hanged on July 19, 1692.

Photo from Roots of My Roots Blog
Photo from Roots of My Roots Blog

From the accounts I’ve read, she was an intelligent, feisty woman who refused to be intimidated and vigorously maintained her innocence right up until the last. What an amazing woman to have in my family tree. It’s amazing to me that I’ve read about these trials all my life and never knew that one of the women I’d heard so much about was actually my ancestor.

I’ve always been interested in Salem. The Crucible was one of the few assigned reading books for English that I enjoyed. And The Witch of Blackbird Pond was one of my favorite books growing up. Now that I spend most of my days swimming in the romance pool, I always swoop up whatever Salem-set romances I can find – including the series from our own former Embracing Romance author Sarah Ballance (they are excellent if you haven’t read them!)sarah books

In any case, I most certainly look forward to reading more about Susannah and finding out more about my history.

Have you looked into your own family history?

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Michelle McLean is a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl who is addicted to chocolate and Goldfish crackers and spent most of her formative years with her nose in a book. She has a B.S. in History, a M.A. in English, and a knack for explaining complicated things to uncomplicated people. Michelle's non-fiction works include guides on how to write essays, term papers, literary analysis essays, and poetry. She also writes romance with a good dose of mystery and humor, historicals, and a paranormal here and there. When Michelle's not editing, reading or chasing her kids around, she can usually be found in a quiet corner working on her next book. She resides in PA with her husband and two children, an insanely hyper dog, and three very spoiled cats.

10 Responses

    • Michelle McLean

      I’m kind of surprised I didn’t get into it earlier considering how much I love history. I’ve also started watching that Do You Know Who You Are show. I would LOVE to be able to travel around and discover information about my family 🙂 I’m not all that far from Salem actually…I might not be able to head overseas any time soon, but I’ll have to make a trip up there one of these days 🙂

  1. ki pha

    That’s so cool! I love knowing my family history. Of course it’s difficult for me to trace because we don’t have paper records and it’s all in the good memories of elders. I have set up a tree and stuff and my parents have told us about who’s who in our family so I’m glad I got that but, to go any further than my great-grandmother /father might be impossible.

    • Michelle McLean

      I remember listening to my grandfather telling us stories, and my mom has told me some about her parents. It’s funny because you see them as your family but it’s sometimes hard I think to see them as something other than your parents or grandparents – to see them as “real” people. If that makes sense lol It definitely makes me want to listen more to the family stories than I did when I was younger 🙂

  2. Barbara Monajem

    There are family trees going several generations back in my family, but I’ve never investigated further than what they show. I may just go to… Great post, Michelle.

  3. jessicajefferson

    This was great! I was fortunate that my grandmother did most of the tracing before she passed away. We were able to trace to the Mayflower on my grandmothers side and we found we were related to John Doane from Plymouth colony which has introduced us to scholarship opportunities and an entire association revolving around Doane descendants. All this was from manual searching in the early nineties, so I’m curious to see what the Internet could find!

    • kiraarcherbooks

      oh that’s amazing! I was reading about Susannah on the blog I found the headstone picture and the woman had done a lot of research on her. For some reason Susannah’s family never demanded an apology or retribution for her death, though most of the families of the other victims did. Makes me think less of the son of hers I’m descended from that’s for sure 🙂 So much interesting info though. I need to carve out some time to find out more info on Susannah and see who else is climbing around in my family tree 😀