How far back in your family tree can you go?

Throughout the month of January, WordPress is sending participating bloggers a writing prompt each day. It’s a way to find some creative inspiration and perhaps make connections with other bloggers. My entries in this blogging challenge will appear here under the tag #bloganuary.

I haven’t personally researched my family tree very much at all. I was fortunate enough to know both my maternal and paternal grandparents, plus three of my great aunts, but that’s about as far as I can construct my own family tree. My father, however, has looked extensively at our family history, and has traveled twice to England, where he was able to take a bit of time to search for information about our family in county records and such.

I don’t believe that any of my immediate family members has done one of those DNA tests that you hear so much about these days, but from the information my father has collected, I would be surprised if my genetic roots were not very close to 100% in England. Our family name, Heacock, which several generations ago was spelled Heacocke or Haycocke, is apparently derived from the old English word, haycock, which means “haystack.”

I don’t know whether our ancestors in England were wealthy or poor, but my dad found that shortly before the first Heacocks came to America, they experienced a mass relocation from one village to another. (I don’t know the names of these places, but if I find them, I’ll update this post.) The reason for their move is not known, but my father suspected there may have been some kind of sickness that decimated the village where they lived, and in order to escape it, they simply moved out and found a new place to live. Whatever made them relocate within England might ultimately have motivated them to head to America.

At some point, a delegation of Heacocks (or Heacockes) came to America. My father’s research in England led him to a passenger ship called “The Three Sisters”–he believes that this ship may have carried members of our family to the American colonies, perhaps in the mid- to late-1500s, but he was never able to find a passenger manifest for that vessel. There are apparently records of Heacockes living in the colonies not long after that time.

There are lots of Heacocks in the U.S. and Canada these days. Google searches turn up many people who share our family name, which I’ve always thought of as an extremely uncommon one. There is a Heacock Avenue in Parsons, Kansas, too, about two hours from where I live–I stumbled on this street when I happened to be in Parsons for a work-related meeting some years ago. And a few years after that, when I tried to register the domain, heacock.com, I found that it was (and still is) owned by an insurance company in Florida.

I was quite surprised in 1990, while watching an episode of the popular TV series, The Wonder Years called “The Glee Club,” to hear that one of the characters, a new teacher who led the 8th grade boys’ glee club, was named Miss Haycock. At first I assumed I had heard it wrong, but I think watched the credits to make sure I had heard the character’s name correctly–in any case, the IMDB.com database contains a brief synopsis of the episode that mentions the character’s name. (The episode aired on February 27, 1990.)

While I probably won’t be appearing on the PBS series, Finding Your Roots, hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., any time soon, I would sure love to have one of those big family tree posters he gives to his guests at the end of each show. A project for my retirement, perhaps.

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