All of my ancestors immigrated to America sometime around 1905 to find work in the cotton–textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts. In this series of articles, I’ll share what I have uncovered about my Scottish, Irish, and Polish lineages and how they all connect.
My Ancestry Wall
What you see in the image above are photographs, obituaries, citizenship papers, and maps from each one of my ancestral lineages.
To the right are pictures of my father’s family, which is my Polish lineage. Both his parents were born in SE Poland, although they met and were married in Lowell.
Straight up the middle are photos of my mother’s Irish lineage. Her paternal grandparents were both born in Ireland. From what I’ve put together, her grandmother and grandfather came to Lowell in an arranged marriage. I was told that her grandmother brought a dowry with her.
The pictures to the left are my mother’s Scottish lineages. My mother’s maternal grandparents were born in Canada. However, I can trace her grandmother to Scottish Highlanders and her grandfather to Scottish Lowlanders. They met and were married in Lowell.
Like a puzzle, I started putting this picture mosaic together back in 2014 when I acquired all my mother’s papers and photographs. At the time I only had a vague idea about my ancestors and my heritage. It wasn’t until I started to build this picture wall, and with the help of a close friend, did I realize I came from at least four distinct lineages. As I mentioned above, I currently can trace my ancestry to Ireland, Scottish Highlanders, Scottish Lowlanders and Poland.
Before coming into Expansions body of work, I never thought much about my genetics. I had spent many-many years and a great deal of time/financial resources attempting to figure out why my life was so challenging. Why wasn’t my life easier? Why wasn’t living in general easier? Looking for reasons or answers into one’s genetics never crossed my mind or path. That changed in 2014. I now have answers to some of my early questions and now my questions are much deeper and richer than before.
Lowell is 26 miles northwest of Boston was formally a farming community known as East Chelmsford. In the early 19th century, this then farming community became America’s first planned industrial town and was renamed to Lowell, after Francis Cabot Lowell, a textile industrialist. It became a major center of cotton—textile manufacturing. That’s precisely why all my ancestors immigrated to America to find work in the mills. However, the first wave of workers were young females from surrounding farming communities called Lowell mill girls.
An exciting piece of history from this area is the city of Concord. Concord and Lowell are 17 miles apart and in the county of Middlesex.
- The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military conflicts of the American Revolution in 1775.
- The story of ‘Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott took place in Concord and was published in 1868.
My birth and story began in Lowell. My mother was the second generation born, and my father was the first generation born in America. I still have cousins in Lowell, and I spent many summers there living with my maternal grandparents. A couple of years after I was born, my father moved us to Michigan, where he went to work in the rapidly growing auto-manufacturing industry due to the textile manufacturing industry in Lowell and all of New England shifting to the southern states.
An area I’ve found fascinating has been identifying my ancestors’ behavior patterns. I’ve come to learn that we carry our ancestors in our DNA—our genetics.
As I’ve sifted through my ancestral photographs and papers, I’ve found a few of their signatures. When I see their handwriting, I wonder about their experiences, their thoughts, and feelings, and how that affected them? I wonder how that affects me today.
Here are three patterns that my ancestors have experienced.
- Economic Immigration & Relocation
- Manufacturing Employment & Labor Disputes
- New Beginnings & New Experiences
Have you ever thought about what your ancestors experienced and how that connects or expresses within you?
I would be interested in your thoughts and comments.