finding your roots

Pacifists, Early and Late Comers to America

Mary Bullock April 2, 2012

My mother’s people, Menonites, came from Germany to Pennsylvania at the invitation of William Penn about 1740. Being pacifists, after the American Revolution, they found themselves unwelcome and undertook a six-week wagon train to Ottowa Canada, becoming the first European settlers in their area. Later my great-grandfather moved south into Michigan.

My father’s father and his uncle fled Lithuania and conscription in the Russian Army, sailing into New York City about 1906. Their brother was publicly executed near the local cemetery in our ancestral village of Jotainiai. The story goes they sold a cow the next day and booked passage out of Hamburg.

We were raised near our father’s father with an immigrant identity. We only recently discovered how deep our mother’s family roots in this country are. Such a mix of long ago and recent, of groups who most likely would never have met, happened in the matrix of the American Dream. With globalization this glorious aspect of human mingling will become the norm.

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About the Series

The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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