52 Ancestors: Family Legend

I have to say that our family is a bit light on legends – both in a figurative sense and a literal one. (Sadly I am not related to Marlene Dietrich, as per the cover image.)

One that I have mentioned before is one my mum spoke of only once or twice – that her biological father had Native ancestry of some unidentified description. (Apparently this isn’t an uncommon myth in America, as per these articles appearing on HuffPost and Slate. In fact, it has its own name: Cherokee Grandmother [or Princess] Syndrome. Elizabeth Warren wishes.)

However, Ancestry’s DNA ethnicity report soon told us otherwise:

As I can’t go back more than 2 generations on her father’s father’s side, it seems fairly conclusive that there is no Native link (or it’s so far back as to be inconsequential to her DNA admix). Cousins on the American Adams side also show zero Native American in their ethnicity results.

Another family legend was that somehow my great-grandfather, Joseph Holborow, was “done out of” an inheritance and share of the family farm.

This one I can’t even begin with. Neither his father nor his grandfather left a will, Neither did his brothers, and certainly none of them owned a farm. In 1939 John (one of my great-grandfather’s brothers) is recorded as a museum attendant in Oxford, and Frederick is a Heavy Carter on a farm near Didmarton. So, in all honesty, I give no credence to this story, even if you move back up the tree 2, 3 or 4 generations, even on the maternal lines there are no farm owners, only farm employees.

I’m afraid we’re a prosaic bunch, all told, so legends actually don’t become us all that much.

Cover image: Marlene Dietrich as part of the 1969 Blackglama advertisting campaign by the Great Lakes Mink Association (and whilst I in no way condone fur farming, these images – and the tagline itself – are a part of iconic American Advertising and cultural history).

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