History of the Family

Essay One: Portrait of an Immigrant Ancestor


For many Americans, the idea of them being immigrants is foreign. “Immigrant” or not, each American has an ancestor (a first generation American) who left a home country and settled here in the United States. This ancestor must have had push/pull factors that conditioned his/her decision to leave his/her native country to brave the uncertainty of relocating to a foreign land.

The Assignment:

For this assignment, you are to trace your family tree to the ancestor(s) who settled in America. You are to focus on the following questions: What country is the person from originally? Why did the person leave for a new world? What realities did the person encounter upon arriving in America? What was daily life like for him or her in America? Were there hardships and successes? Where did the person settle and why? What other information about this person do you find interesting/intriguing? Be as detailed as possible.

In addition to the above guidelines, please be sure to trace your family tree from that first-generation American ancestor to yourself. Be sure to speak about yourself within the context of your family history. What similarities do you share with this person? How might you have coped if you had some of the same difficulties to which that ancestor was subjected? How might that ancestor fair in your own age?

In other words, you want to do all you can to explore possible and hypothetical connections you might have with that ancestor. For instance, would you have enjoyed riding with him/her in a horse-drawn carriage for hundreds of miles, say, across Pennsylvania? What might he/she say about the technological advances we now have? Do all you can to bring this narrative to life. Write and explore until you arrive at an angle of interest.

Last, you are to gather information about this first-generation American ancestor by interviewing friends and family members and by consulting family records.

Objectives: The objectives of this assignment include, but are not limited to, the following –

To develop the idea of inquiry as an approach to writing narratives

To develop greater proficiency in writing the personal narrative

To develop the conventions of writing for an academic audience

To broaden understanding of the immigrant experience

Writing Guidelines

Please pay close attention to clarity

You want to have an effective introduction

You want to have effective transitions

You want to have an effective conclusion

Be sure to have an overt thesis (where you state the subject and its effect/consequences)

Please ensure your essay is organized and has a clear progression of ideas

Also, please don’t forget to provide relevant examples

You want to keep a close watch on grammar & punctuation

Note also that equal attention and consideration should be given to each aspect of the essay

Work should possess a polish that shows it wasn’t done last minute

The Introduction for Essay One:

All introductions in this class will contain all three elements discussed above –

The lead

The established subject

The thesis

While the first and the last items are straightforward, you might be worried about establishing your subject.

Please don’t fret! Again, this is straightforward. In answering the 5Ws and 1H for essay one, please keep the following in mind:

Who – This is your immigrant ancestor

What – This is his/her migration

Why – Why he/she left the home country

When – The time period he/she left

Where – The name of the home country

How – How you hope to conduct your study (Where you hope to get your information)

My family history info: John Ledgerwood was close to the King of England. He fell out of his favor and Fled to Ireland on a whim. There, he was a farmer. He soon-after fled to America on a boat that my grandma knows the name of (I forgot it). In America, he also farmed and was a slave owner. At first, he seemed cool, but after that not so much. I’m sure he had a heavy accent that was very strong. He also had a book written about him that my grandma has. I won’t be able to read it, though. I thought there’d be something a little more crazy about my ancestors. I come from a long line of alcoholics and drug abusers, so I figured there’d be some insane history behind that. Then again, maybe he could be interesting. He was close with the king and fell out of favor with him. He had to have done something crazy.

My example intro paragraph: (1) The date was January third, fourteen hundred twenty-one. The Royal Forest of Dean that was usually calm suddenly was not. Racing feet trampled the soil. Heavy breathing filled the air. Horses neighed in the distance along with the voices of fifty determined men. The forest filled with a bone-chilling fear it had never seen before. He had to find a way out or he would soon bear unsurvivable wrath. What will he do? Where will he go? How will he do it?
(2) John Ledgerwood is an Englishman who immigrated to America. He had fallen deathly out of favor with King Henry V causing him to flee England for good. John left England in the early fourteen hundreds. He was from the principal area of Monmouthshire. Most of what I know about him comes from my grandmother Suzie Kemman. She’s the only person who knows anything about him.
(3) I embarked on a journey to discover anything and everything about him that I can. I needed to know the story of why exactly he left, how his first moments in America were, and what the outcome of his life was. My grandma helped me do exactly that. For more information on the History of the Family check on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_family

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