I have a new love hobby.
You remember what we discovered about Carsten’s condition when we went to the Little People of America Conference, right? Well if you don’t then go back and read it. I’ll wait. Just hurry because I am a bit impatient lately.
Carsten’s condition is rare in the general population but it is a bit common in Finnish, Amish, and Cajun populations. This prompted me to do a bit of research. I got a little overwhelmed with all of the genealogy stuff and so my good friend Amy who operates Leaf by Leaf Genealogy stepped up and began uncovering my roots. She didn’t have to dig too far. I’m Cajun and they all just sort of “root” around in one area. Maybe because the soil is good?
All jokes aside this has had me on a roller coaster ride. I have learned things about my heritage that I never knew before. This is stuff our mamas didn’t know about. Our grandparents were some of the last French speaking Cajuns and a lot of the history is gone with them. There is so much I didn’t know.
Sure I knew that I came from two Cajuns (my mom’s parents), a French-Canadian/Irish, and a Scots-Irish (my dad’s parents). I already knew that I was a descendant of Houmas (native Louisiana tribe), Plains Ojibwa (Chippewa), and Canadian Mi’kmaq (Micmac) all thrown in for good measure. What I didn’t know was what it really meant to be Cajun. When Amy started sending me files and sharing the things she was learning about my French Cajun history I became obsessed. I had to know more about who they were and why they came here to Louisiana.
It kind of started when she told me that Carsten’s dad (my late, first husband) and I are fourth cousins, once removed.
We seriously didn’t have a clue.
Then on some genealogy forum she found a long lost cousin of mine that I didn’t even know was a long lost cousin. And yes he lives in the town I grew up in and still lived in until Ryan and I got married four years ago. This long lost cousin sent more information about our ancestors. Then I found him on Facebook.
Don’t you love Facebook?
Once I got to talking to him it turns out we are likely related – a couple of times. I also discovered that the last name of nearly every boy I ever dated, nearly every friend I have ever had, and about 1/4 of the people I went to school with is in my family tree somewhere so we very well could be related.
- my first love – check
- my first long term boyfriend – check
- my childhood best friend – check
- my best friend from my neighborhood – check
- my date to homecoming (2 of the 4 homecoming dates) – check
- my neighbor that I used to think was a bit crazy – check
I think am related to everyone I’ve ever known: Richard, Guillot, Landry, Bourgoyne, Tullier, Bourg, Bourgeois, Blanchard, Hebert, Boudreaux, Comeaux, Daigle, Granger, Himel, LeBlanc, and Melancon are the names that show up most often in my family tree. I’m so Cajun. I’m so related to everyone I know. I really did get nauseous. I emailed several people and ended up finding some comfort in the fact that over 70% of all married couples have at least one common ancestor within 8 generations back. That made me feel a little bit better.
Okay that is a little lie. It’s okay though because I’m southern. We call it manners here. It would be considered impolite to tell you I was still feeling obnoxiously sick over the fact that I am my kids mom and their like fifth cousin or something. I’m still trying to get over it even though I have seen the percentages and facts that state that most couples have common ancestors. And I know that we are all related anyway and that in biblical days people married their first cousins and it was okay BUT… it is still just very weird.
But I do understand why they did it. Beginning in 1755 my people (the Cajuns) were exiled from the only home they knew. They had made a home for themselves in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. They lived there for more than 100 years. They had homes, farms, shops, and they were prosperous. Then one day it was all taken away. They called it the Le Grand Derangement.
They were herded onto ships with little food or water and sent to places where no one wanted them. Why? Because they wanted to stay neutral in the war between the French and the British. Nearly 10,000 of them died during the voyage or within the first year after. Children were sent to one state while mothers were sent elsewhere. After the seven years war ended most of them finally ended up here in Louisiana but some never did reunite with their families. Children were raised by other families and husbands and wives married others because after years of searching they could not find each other and feared the worst: that their loved ones had been among the dead.
The way they were treated when they arrived is incomprehensible. They trusted no one after all they had been through. I no longer wonder why they married their 2nd and 3rd cousins. It was safe. Heck, they probably didn’t even know they were cousins since some of them were raised by other families.
There is so much more to this story that I am still piecing together. I checked out like 14 books from the library the other day. I feel a real connection to these people I read about on the pages. It is really doing a work on my heart and giving me a renewed compassion for the people here: my people. My attitude is changed. I no longer long for the day when I can leave Louisiana but now I long to learn more about her. This journey has just begun but gosh, what a journey it is.
And just so you know, I’m so glad that Ryan is German & English.
( this is where you leave a comment telling me about all the intermarriage and other crazy things you found in your family tree – hint, hint)