A mystery I would like to solve
Stalled in the 1830s
A couple of weeks ago I had to attend a meeting in the eastern part of New Brunswick, more than 300 KM from where I live. It was a lot of driving for a Saturday since I planned to return home the same day but I wanted to cover off another goal for the trip: to visit the grave of my second great-grandfather (aka my grandfather’s grandfather). While I can trace my family tree back a fair distance on both my mother’s and my father’s sides, the (amateur) genealogists of my family keep hitting a dead end with David R. Dykeman, born in 1830 in Upper Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia (it’s amusing to me that my ancestors came from Nova Scotia, or at least one of them did). We’ve been unable to find any records of his parent’s names, the years of their births, nothing. I know it’s been almost 200 years but still.
I had to travel to the village of Rexton, New Brunswick to find David R.’s (this is how I think of him, mainly to distinguish him from my great-grandfather, his son David H.) grave stone. He and his wife Mary raised their family in that community and he lived there for many years until his death in 1910. I’m not sure how or why he left Nova Scotia to go to Rexton but his life was spent farming.
It took a bit of searching but I did find David R.’s grave. It wasn’t a very fancy grave but not bad for 1910. It looks like three of his children were buried beside him. No mention of his wife on the grave stone but that’s a mystery for another day.
For many years I have assumed that I have Dutch heritage, mainly because the name Dykeman is commonly derived from the Dutch name Dijkman or Dyckman (or variations thereof). Apparently we had a family legend that David R. (or perhaps his father) had travelled to Canada from the Netherlands and jumped ship. Plausible enough, right?
But lately I’ve discovered a few theories that suggest my heritage is something different. I’ve been able to see some of the paper records from the 1800s listing David R. and some of his family members and I noticed something surprising: they listed their heritage as Scottish!
So something about my heritage: although many of my ancestors were Canadian by birth, most of them have roots in the United Kingdom. One of my grandmothers was born in England, the other in Wales. My mother’s father’s family were Kennedys and we’re quite sure we can trace them back to Northern Ireland. But I always thought there was a Dutch component to my ancestry and I’ve always longed for a tie back to Scotland. It would be like completing the full set of United Kingdom countries with my genes.
Which leads me back to a theory about David R. that one of my US relatives came up with a few years ago. Based on some DNA test results, my second cousin came up with a theory that our ancestors were actually named Dechman, apparently with roots back to Scotland. But some unanswered questions remain if this theory is true. Why the apparent name change? Why were there no records of David R.’s parents? Was David R. even his birth name?
These are small things but they’re interesting to me. I’ve never felt any particular affinity to the Dutch or the Netherlands and while I can’t rule out any ties back to them I’m OK with possibly having some Scottish heritage instead. What I really want is more knowledge about the history of my family name and my ancestors of that line, especially since there aren’t many male descendants left with the Dykeman last name. I’d like to have more knowledge of how far back the line goes.
Anyway, this has nothing to do with notebooks but it’s something that’s been occupying my thoughts a lot these days.
How about you? Any mysteries in your family tree that you’d like to solve?
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