52 Ancestors

– First –

Week 1 features John Nation of Rowan County, North Carolina, my first Nation ancestor to settle in America. Follow John’s journey from indentured service to the Beakes family to land ownership in the colonies.

– Challenge –


Week 2 is a call to all genealogists and family historians to share a lost family photo. The only clue? One of the Peterson sisters wrote, on the back of the photo, Mother Lodie Don. This week’s post was featured on Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors favorites list!

– Unusual Name –

Week 3 is the story of my great-great-grandmother, Celestia Melvina (Merrill) Peterson. Celestia means “heavenly,” and she definitely lived up to the name.

– I’d Like to Meet –

…my great-great-grandmother’s mystery brother! Week 4 features a letter written to Mary (Witkowski) Marczynski by a brother I didn’t know she had. He signed off with Your Brother, and I’m still searching for clues about his identity.

– At the Library –

Week 5 is a detour to showcase my own story. I reflect on my visit to the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland two summers ago, and I walk you through each part of the exhibit.

– Surprise –

Week 6 is all about DNA! Right before the holidays, I uploaded my raw DNA data from AncestryDNA to MyHeritage, and this post details the surprises and discrepancies in my results.

– Love –

For Week 7, I researched a potential connection between my Younglove ancestors and Jane Austen. It was the perfect topic for Valentine’s Day!

– Family Photo –

Week 8 features the first photo I’ve found of my Applegate ancestors; I’ve finally found my ancestor look-alikes in my family tree.

– At the Courthouse –

Week 9 tells the harrowing story of John Hawkins’ arrest during the War of 1812 for refusing to bear arms. He was a Quaker–and was committed to peace–and his friends and neighbors fought his arrest in court.

– Bachelor Uncle –

Week 10 features the only bachelor uncle in my family tree: Serafin Zielinski. According to my grandmother, he was quite the catch, but circumstances outside of his control kept him from marrying.

– Large Family –

My great-grandmother, Hattie (Marczynski) Zielinski, had seven full siblings: Viola, Agnes, Eddie, Vicky, Tessie, Blanche and Pat. Week 11 tells the story of these eight close-knit sisters and brothers who grew up in the Fourth Ward of Dunkirk, New York.

– 12 –

For Week 12, I traced back twelve generations to Tristram Hull, a member of Myles Standish’s militia in Plymouth Colony and, later, a captain of The Catch and Hopewell.

– In the Paper –

Week 13 is all about Peter Tofil: his political campaigns in the city of Dunkirk generated a lot of news coverage, and his every move–from running for the Board of Water Commissioners to spraining his ankle before work–made the Dunkirk Evening Observer.

– 52 Ancestors in 2018 –

Want more 52 Ancestors stories? Check out last year’s list, featuring teacups, Tolstoy and five bearded Bonds.