Yellacat Ranch Under a Western Sky

CategoryGenealogy

Catoneras, An Indian Princess

One of my ancestors on my dad’s side was an Indian princess. Well, sort of. If you know me I know that I’m a rigorist in these matters. There are no Indian princesses because the “Indians” didn’t have royal families. And, the vast majority of these claims are hokum anyway. But Catoneras is one of those rare exceptions. Jan Cornelissen Van Tassel and his sons attested...

Garden Church of Eden

I always loved the Episcopalian church in Eden, Wyoming but I always thought it was called Garden Church of Eden. Guess not. I did a Google search and quickly found it’s really called Oregon Trail Memorial Church. I wonder if the name might have changed. My grandparents Harry Swanstrom and Vivian (Luce) Swanstrom didn’t belong to any of the local churches, although they contributed to...

Harke Luce

Recapping: Harke Luse was named on a list of men able to bear arms at Scituate, Massachusetts in 1643 (Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, ed., Records of the Colony of New Plymouth, in New England (1857), 191). Beyond this nothing is known. Everything else stated in various sources in speculative. Charles Banks’ Theory Banks speculated the name “Harke” might have been a copyist’s...

More Gunns

I’ve written about the Gunns before: Recovering the Gunn Lineage (Jan. 31, 2019), so we already know I’m an admirer of Alastair Gunn and his work putting the Gunn lineage on a firmer footing. I still haven’t done the work of cleaning up my own notes. Some day. Soon. I promise. I saw recently on the Facebook page for Clan Gunn that Alastair Gunn has published The real history of...

Eliade on Oral History

One more piece on oral history. I think this is probably the first place I encountered the basic idea that oral tradition tends to “improve the story”. Sometimes, though very rarely, an investigator chances to come upon the actual transformation of an event into myth. Just before the last war, the Romanian folklorist Constantin Brailoiu had occasion to record an admirable ballad in a...

More Oral History

Here’s another story to illustrate the malleability of oral history. We should not trust our family stories, but always look behind them for ways they might have been elaborated over time. This story comes from Mircea Eliade, a Romanian historian. “Sometimes, though very rarely, an investigator chances to come upon the actual transformation of an event into myth. Just before the last...

Naming Conventions

One of the canards of genealogy is that professional genealogists always prefer the earliest recorded name. The idea is that name is the most authentic. More or less true, but not quite, not always. William Shakespeare, for example. You think you know his name? His baptismal record, the earliest in a scant collection, calls him Gulielmus — Latin for William. Wait! Do I have to change...

Almost Métis

I used to think my dad’s ancestors were Métis. They’re not, but I ended up with a seemingly permanent interest. The Métis are a Canadian group, a mixture of Anglos and Indians from the area between the Great Lakes and the Rocky Mountains. Not all mixed-race people in Canada are Métis, just the ones where the men in the founding group were employees of the Hudson Bay Company. One of...

Anglo-Saxon Genealogies

“Germanic pre-Christian ideas of ancestry wouldn’t necessarily be totally intuitive to a modern person looking back.“ This is a favorite topic of mine. I rarely pass up a chance to point out others who agree with me. Here, Simon Roper. The old, poetic genealogies handed down by our remote ancestors “were probably not completely reflective of genetic relationships in the...

LARPing tribalism

I don’t understand the reason so many modern heathens and neo-pagans are drawn to fantasies of re-creating antique tribalism. I don’t think they understand the idea of tribes. That’s why I see it as LARPing. Our ancestors used tribe as a synonym for ethnicity and nationality. The Saxons were a tribe; the Franks were a tribe. In Latin, gens (plural gentes). Many modern heathens...

Yellacat Ranch Under a Western Sky
Justin Swanstrom

Justin Swanstrom

Made in America. Retired attorney. Bookseller at Shining Lotus. No Nazis in Valhalla. He/him.

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