• Rebecca Cafiero

Digging into my family roots!

For the past few weeks, since Pivot with Purpose came out, I’ve been reflecting on the power of our personal stories. We often underestimate the impact that our own struggles, experiences, and triumphs can have on others. I had no clue that I was about to be massively impacted by the untold stories of my own family.

After finding out some interesting genetic facts from 23 + Me, I started getting curious about my family’s health history, realizing there was so much I didn’t know! While heart attacks have taken many of the men on my dad’s side, and Alzheimer's has devastated my maternal grandmother and her siblings, I didn’t look back much further.

After a friend suggested I check out Ancestry.com, I set up an account a week ago and FELL DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE. I had no idea that information (and the questions!!) would arise from looking at centuries of birth certificates, marriage + divorce licenses, census records, and death notices.

Some of the highlights…..

  • I was able to track one branch of my family back to the 13th Century - and directly from the Prince of Wales at that time!!! The castle they lived in is definitely the stuff of Disney movies!

  • My great x12 or so grandfather was the brother of Sir Francis Drake and traveled the world with him!!

  • My great, great, great grandmother wrote America’s first bestselling book, about her time in captivity as an early settler in Virginia.

  • Old letters back and forth, written in beautiful penmanship, catching up on a year at a time.


In addition to some pretty incredible proud moments, there were also some family skeletons that my research brought to light. Marriages and divorces of my grandparents I wasn’t even aware of, losing children young to unknown causes, documented, unjust treatment my bi-racial great-great-grandparents were subjected to.

Going through all of this the past week gave me some emotional whiplash. It’s made American + World History feel so much closer than a textbook in high school. It made me grateful to live in today’s time with all of our resources and ability to communicate instantly, as odd as the past year has been.

I’ve only scratched the surface (I’ve not even made it to my mom’s side of the family yet!!) and there are still so many holes to fill and questions to be answered, yet I’ve picked up the phone multiple times to talk to my parents, to share my findings, and to learn more about them, the generation that is still alive and has stories to tell.

Do you ever think about what’s made you “you”? About the physical characteristics that you bear, or the personality quirks that neither of your parents has? It might be time to dive into who you are by diving into where you’ve come from.