As with any great tale, a family history has to start someplace. For this great story, it starts with a little girl.
Albina Angel was born in Lida, Belarus, about three years ago. (She will be three on March 3.) Her father, Ben Angel, was an American civil engineer awaiting word on a new job posting in Kazakhstan, while her mother was an English teacher from Ostrovets, who was brave enough to spend a summer with him in Azerbaijan in 2006, and willing enough to brave extreme conditions to travel with him on the Trans-Siberian railroad to Irkutsk in the middle of the following winter. They married in a civil ceremony in 2008 in Sha Tin, a municipality within the New Territories of Hong Kong, a year and a day before Albina was born. (And yes, today is our fourth wedding anniversary – Happy Anniversary, Love!) They also wedded in a church ceremony six months later in Gudogai, Belarus.
Albina’s story is still being written, of course, but within her parents are several fairly long stories. This is intended to be an introduction to them.
Mama: Born Marina Shadura, her ancestry is a mix of Polish and Belarusian. She carries the classic Polish good looks along with the blue eyes and blond hair that seems to prevail among the Belarusians. It’s from her that Albina has her eyes.
Marina’s ancestry is still in the early stages of exploration. At present, there are two main branches to explore on her side of the family: the Shadura-Kupranovich (Belarusian) branch from the village of Deduki (near Lida), and the Biernatowicz (Polish) branch, mostly from Lida. As with most families from this World War-flattened area of Europe, there are great dramas on survival and heroism, many that are yet to be fully unearthed.
Papa: Ben M. Angel’s family has been the subject of a year and a half of intensive study. As a result, there are many more branches to detail at present. This will be introduced through his parents, Albina’s American grandparents.
Grandpapa: Ben E. Angel learned welding early, went to work for Boeing for awhile, then developed a career as a construction sheet metal worker, particularly involved with nuclear power plants. His ancestry is hispanic, from northern New Mexico. However, he descends from an unusual Angel – a black cowboy. Supposedly, he took his last name from the plantation from which he and his mother were emancipated. They ended up in Las Vegas, New Mexico in the 1870s, just as the railroad brought in the rough times to this former sleepy little town.
Grandpapa’s ancestry can be divided along four significant branches at present: the Angel branch (includes an infusion from a Professor Montoya, likely a former Secretary of Education for the State of New Mexico), the Valdez-Chavez branch (extends back significantly before Annexation in 1848), the Roybal branch (Tewa, from the same village as Popeh, the Pueblo leader who evicted the Spaniards for a whole generation in the 17th century), and the Salazar branch (probably the most Spaniard of the branches, producing Maria Josefa, the woman who Felipe, the black cowboy, married and settled down with).
Grammy Ro: Shortly after giving birth to her only child, she too went to work for Boeing, working first as a secretary, then advancing into production planning. By the time she left Boeing, she was one of the few workers who had traveled on the job across Europe, being assigned even to Paris, the home of Boeing’s biggest rival, Airbus. Her ancestry is best described as northern European. Except for one or two possible Cherokee ancestors, just about everyone in her tree emerged from Europe at some point.
Her ancestry can be divided into seven major branches: (1) the Jackson-Calvert branch leading toward Leonard Calvert, the first colonial governor of Maryland; (2) the Thomas-Mead-Richmond branch, leading most significantly to Thomas Rogers, Mayflower passenger; (3) the Barker branch, leading to a large number of English Quakers; (4) the Finley branch (probably the most interesting one to explore), leading in two significant directions – one possibly toward Findláech of Moray, the father of the man that inspired Shakespeare’s MacBeth, and the other more definitely toward the grandfather of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell (Grammy Ro is actually Oliver Cromwell’s first cousin, 12 generations removed); (5) the Perue branch, leading to one of two major Huguenot ancestries; (6) the Ellis branch, mostly made up early on of Welsh Quakers (supposedly connecting in to the Hudson family of Henry Hudson somewhere); and (7) the Miller-Badger-Malott branch, leading to Gedeon “La Plante” Merlet of Roucy in Champagne (our family’s first discovered Atlantic crosser) and the De La Chaumette family of the Limousin Province of France (both Huguenot families combining into one major Huguenot ancestry).
The Calverts, Barkers, Finleys, and possibly the Ellises, all descend from European royal houses (Calverts, through the Brent family – Leonard Calvert’s wife, connect into the families of England, France, and Spain, the Barkers into England and France, the Finleys most clearly into Scotland, and the Ellises possibly into Wales, or so the rumor goes).
So, though this story started with only a little girl, it indeed has a great many chapters yet to tell.