What I’ve Learned About Myself by Jessica Jimenez

     From my first paper, I was given by my parents and my maternal aunt a substantial amount of information about our genetic history and where our family came from in Europe. Although, I do have many unanswered questions regarding my maternal genealogy, most of my questions are directed to my paternal side because they do not have much information to go back on. My paternal side lives in Mexico, but I rarely get the chance to speak with them nor see most of them in person. 

With the help of knowing first and last names, years of birth and death, origins of where my ancestors lived has given me the opportunity to do extensive research on my maternal side. During spring break I took advantage of Ancestry and made a profile and began to build a family tree. I have learned that my great-grandfather, Jasper St. John was stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii in Pearl Harbor in 1935 when he was 26 years old as part of the Air Force. He was also based in Yokohama, Japan where his wife Louise gave birth to their son Timothy in 1949. Later he returned to Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu at the age of 45. In 1957, St. John moved to Agana, Guam and served at a lieutenant on the Air Force Base.  I am sure my family is unaware of how many times my great-grandfather moved around Air Forces bases across the Pacific. This was interesting to learn about because I had no idea. I still could not find much information on my great-grandmother Louise Spisak who married Jasper. I know she had lived here in San Francisco while she met him, I do not know how they met. I found out that she worked as a servant for a private family in 1929 in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley.

On the St. John side, I’ve gone back about 8 generations where my first ancestors that I could find, named Lewis and Jane Evans born in 1727 and 1745. Jane was born in Llanfachreth, Merionethshire, Wales. Lewis was born in Llanymawdwy, Merionethshire, Wales. Not familiar with how both of these towns are properly spoken, but I had no idea I was Welsh. I assumed I had some English ancestry but I did not know I would find the exact town and county where my ancestors came from. The Evans had a daughter named Barbara Mahala was born in Carnaerfon, Wales in 1764, where she met her husband John Robert John, both my great5-grandparents. They moved to the U.S. and married in Eagle, Pennsylvania, right outside Philadelphia in 1782. They had a daughter named Sarah Mondon John, born in Ulster county, New York in 1790, my great4-grandmother. She married Stephen St. John, born in 1795 also in Ulster county. Stephen served as a corporal in the War of 1812, which is fascinating to find out. I have a photo I found that is the Payroll Abstracts for New York State Militia, 1812-1814. Stephen had a son named Richard Mondon St. John in 1822 in Albany, New York, my great3-grandfather. Richard moved to Barry, Pike county, Illinois in 1824 where he was a respected Blacksmith for over 35 years. He was the first Mason in Pike County. Below is a photo I found of Richard along with his obituary. Richard married Maryanne Lippencott in 1845. They had several children including James Alva St. John, who is my great2- grandfather, born in 1858 in Pittsfield, Illinois. James married Charlotte and had nine children including my great-grandfather Jasper St. John.

As for my mother’s father side, I was able to also go back many generations, at least 11. My great9-grandfather Robert Malcom McFarland was born in Arrochar, Dunbartonshire, Scotland in 1660. He wed his wife Mary McAdam, from Argyll, Bute, Scotland in 1676 when they were both 16 years old. They married in Buchanan, Sterling, Scotland and passed away in 1716 and 1718. They had several children including Robert McFarland, my great8-grandfather born in Arrochar in 1680. I’ve found documentation that leads me to believe that these particular McFarland’s were associated to McFarland clan in the highlands of Scotland, but their name was spelled McFarlane before. They re-arranged their surname to McFarland when they came to America. Robert and his wife Jennett Genot was born in  Belgium in1688 also had several sons and daughters including my great7-grandfather John McFarland, born in Loch Lomond, Scotland in 1708. John McFarland married Mary Montgomery in 1728 in in Lancaster, PA. I am uncertain what year John came to America with both of his parents Robert and Jennett, but they were the first of my ancestors to make it to America. Genot is of Belgian and French ancestry. John bought land in Bedford county, Virginia where he owned land with other Scottish-Irish settlers in 1767. Mary gave birth to Robert McFarland in 1730 in Lancaster, PA. Robert married a woman named Margaret Harris in 1755 in Caswell county, North Carolina where Margaret is from. Having numerous children in North Carolina, my great6-grandfather William McFarland Sr. was born in 1760. William’s two eldest brothers that I know of, James fought in the Revolutionary War as a captain in the Caswell County Regiment. Soon after the war James was killed by Native-Americans. William’s wife Lucy Womack gave birth to a son William McFarland Jr. who is my great5-grandfather in 1805 in Person County, North Carolina. When William Jr. was born the cotton crop reigned as the lifeblood to the state’s economy.

William Jr.’s father William Sr. had a farm, not sure if cotton had grown near him. William Jr. married Ilsa “Flay” McFarland and moved to Ralls County, Missouri in the mid 1800s. I found a photo of William Jr., but I am unfamiliar with his title he had in Missouri. Ilsa and William had many children including Parson George McFarland in 1837 in Georgia before he and Ilsa moved to Missouri. Parson married Mary Angeline Smith in 1859 in Canton, Cherokee county, Georgia. Parson and Mary built a cemetery in Canton for themselves and their family to be buried there over future generations (it is still there). There are only a few McFarland’s buried in the cemetery including Parson who died in 1912 and his wife who died in 1917 and a few of their other children. They had a son named Franklin “Frank” McFarland born in Cherokee county, Georgia in 1866. Frank married Margaret M. Price whose father named Jesse Price, my great4-grandfather served as a Corporal in the Confederate Army during the Civil War in the 28th regiment, Georgia Infantry. I’ve found a photo of his pension application. Frank and his wife Margaret had 11 children, one of them being my great3-grandmother Elizabeth “Lizzie” McFarland born in 1891 in Clayton, Cherokee county, Georgia. Lizzie was widowed in the 1940 census and briefly lived in Rural, Hillsborough, Florida in 1935. This could possibly mean she moved there with her then husband (name unknown) and their child James Christopher McFarland, my great-grandfather born in 1919.

I have not found out much of anything on my father’s side besides what I’ve written in the previous paper. My father does not know too much information when it comes to names, birthday’s or regions of Mexico where my ancestors lived. Without this information there is nothing I can really do in searching without the help of a professional genealogist. What I’ve also learned when I got back my DNA results was that I am 69% European which is completely shocking when I thought this whole time I was half Latin because my father has told me he is 100% Mexican, which I believe now isn’t the case because our DNA is half of each parent. This doesn’t add up, so my dad must have unknown European DNA. I’ve found out that I am 12% Scandinavian, and 9% both Portuguese and Spanish (I’m assuming are from my father’s side). The other percentages of my DNA when it comes to regions and countries I already knew about or assumed.

These insights can help me as a journalist immerse myself in different communities because I’ve been exposed to numerous cultures and ones different from mine my whole life. I believe that by living in a diverse community helps me understand people different from me when it comes to views and beliefs about the world. The media can gain different perspectives on how each individual and community has different ideas and coming together can help gather possible statistics of comparing views of one another, seeing that there are a lot of similarities than possible differences. The media knows that this is a diverse world and should treat it as such in accepting different views from different cultures without stigmatizing anyone.

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