Claudia Vess

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My family lived in DC as long as anyone, including my great-great grandparents, could remember. My grandmother would drive us by houses in Georgetown saying “So and so lived in this house,” “I was born in one of these row houses. I think it’s this one but the numbers have been changed.” My mother would say, “ I remember seeing M’s Mary wrapped in a blanket, rocking on this front porch.” When my grandmother dug into genealogy, she discovered two churches with records had been burned. Although the names were English, DC remained our point of origin. In paternal family lore, my paternal grandmother said there was a rumor about two brothers who came from Scotland- from/near a castle, through Canada and down to Rockbridge County, Virginia. My grandfather’s mother’s family name was Entsminger. My paternal grandparents moved to Pittsburgh for work during the Depression and then to Washington, DC.
Inspired by the One House project, I went to the high seas of Internet genealogy to look for New World departures. Six generations back I found birthdates for one of the mythological Coutts brothers and his wife in Scotland. They died in Ontario. Their son and his wife, both born in Canada, went to Virginia. This wife’s parents, in the seventh generation back, were born in Ireland and England. Also in the seventh generation is a couple that died in Virginia but the wife was born in Germany and the husband in Switzerland. Eight generations back, there is a wife born in the Zweibrucken Palintinate, Germany and her husband was born in Alsace, France. Pennsylvania records show his father and German born mother (both born in 1705,) living in Pennsylvania when it was a British Colony. I was surprised-besides Virginians and Washingtonians, there are Canadian, German, Irish, English and Swiss ancestors. On my mother’s side, but for one recorded 1843 birth in England in the sixth generation and burned church records, our point of origin remains ab ovo Washington, D.C., where my parents met as teenagers, roller-skating and looking forward to every new day.