The quickest way to discover cool things about ancestors

My great-great-grandpa Arthur Berry—one of my favorite photos

Genealogy is a hot topic right now and has been for years. I think more people, myself included, are realizing that not only is it interesting, but sometimes it’s crucial to know more about ancestors.

About six months ago, we found out my husband’s family is predisposed towards kidney failure; five out of six of the kids in his family have either experienced kidney failure or have symptoms of impending kidney disease. He falls into the latter category, and he’s the oldest at age 36.

This grandfather (about eight generations back) served in the Revolutionary War with his father

So family history is usually bopping around somewhere in the back of my mind, and when I ran across a link to this website, I clicked right away. The site is part of ancestry.com, but you don’t need a membership to try it out. All you do is enter your last name to find out its meaning and origin.

You’ll find out other interesting things too, like where your family lived in the United States and United Kingdom, average life expectancy, and common occupations.

My grandpa Cliff Long, who ran a service station in the early 1950s

For instance, my maiden name (that I still use in conjunction with “Pyper” when I do professional work) is Long. I learned the name “Long” probably resulted from our ancestors’ stature—they were likely long and tall (not much has changed for several members of our family). In 1840, 718 Long families lived in Pennsylvania, and the highest number of Long families were found in the USA in 1880s. Most of our people (43% in the U.S.) were farmers.

Of course, then I fell down the rabbit hole and had to look up my mom’s maiden name, both my grandmothers’ maiden names, and my husband’s family names. It takes about five seconds to get the results, and it’s fun to share with your kids. If you try it out, let me know what you think. •

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