Local resident's interest in family history leads to Mayflower

By: 
Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Debbie Goldenberg, of Bellaire, is shown with two books written about her Pilgrim ancestor William Brewster.

 

Courtesy photo

Pilgrim leader and elder, William Brewster.

 

BELLAIRE – Debbie Goldenberg, a retired teacher and resident of the Bellaire area since 2000, loved, as a child, learning about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower and the first Thanksgiving.

But she never thought her interest in history would lead to discovering that she is a descendent of William Brewster, a Pilgrim leader and a passenger on the Mayflower.

"I never in a million years thought it was possible," Goldenberg said last week. "I've since learned that there's probably thousands of us out there who are also descended from one of the Pilgrims – but you're never going to know unless you look."

Always interested in her family roots, the passing of both of her parents coinciding with her 2013 retirement compelled Goldenberg and her husband Fred to buy DNA test kits from Ancestry, the popular genealogy website.

"I'd always been told that I was English, Irish and Scotch with a little German, and the test confirmed that," Goldenberg said. "But the test showed I had a lot of German DNA – 59 percent – and I wanted to know more."

Signing up for an Ancestry subscription, Goldenberg's research led her to German ancestors who lived in Nova Scotia and on Prince Edward Island, which she and her husband traveled to during a two-week trip, discovering more ancestors as well as two living distant cousins also interested in family history.

One of those ancestors was an Irish sea captain whose wife was the fourth great-granddaughter of Elder William Brewster, a name prominently mentioned in the history of the Pilgrims, who sailed to the New World in 1620 to escape religious persecution in England. They became the founding fathers of New England in the country that would later become the independent United States of America.

"I just sat back in my chair and said, ‘Wow,’" Goldenberg recalled.

The discovery of her forefathers led to more research about the Pilgrims, and before too long, to England itself.

In the little English village of Scrooby, in Nottinghamshire, the legendary home of Robin Hood, Goldenberg was able to visit the old church where William Brewster had once worshiped, walk on the same floor he walked on and sit in the same pews as did many of the people who eventually made the treacherous trip across the Atlantic Ocean with him.

Thanksgiving has been special for Goldenberg and her family ever since then.

Read the full story in our regular edition of The Review. To subscribe to the paper for just $34 a year, which includes access to our full online e-edition, please go to the subscription page on this website at: http://www.antrimreview.net/subscribe/

 

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