Posted: March 18th, 2023
Fictional Family History
As the United States was expanding, so were the prospects for my family. My ancestors arrived in the United States with the hope of bettering themselves and taking advantage of the opportunities that the United States was said to hold. This made my family excited about coming to a new land, one where their future generations, with me included, would be able to progress and prosper. Upon arriving to the United States, my uncle Ben made the journey to the lands in the Far West. They were rumored to hold a great opportunity, and my uncle could not miss out on this chance to gain prosperity (Unruh, 1993). My cousin Michael arrived from Europe as an immigrant to Ellis Island, and was also able to establish his life and those of his family members in New York City (Behdad, 2005). In addition to the two family members mentioned, it was my aunt Carol that joined the Reform Movement of the United States and became a part of a turning point in American political history (Buechler, 1990). With such a rich historical background, I was able to compel together a historical representation of my family’s growth and involvement from the beginning with America.
My uncle Ben was the first to tackle the great frontier. After the lands west of the Mississippi River were obtained from the Native Americans, great opportunities arose for American citizens who were looking for a fresh start (Beard, 2013). The lands were rumored to be quite dangerous. Only a few men were able to gather enough strength to pack their families together to head to a completely new environment. However, it had to be done. Jobs were dwindling and economically, my ancestors could no longer afford their daily necessities (Unruh, 1993). My uncle Ben decided to purchase a wagon and one horse with their life savings and took the remainder of the money with them in order to start their new lives.
As trading posts were systematically set up around the lands in the far west, my uncle Ben got word that the west was expanding. The mail carrier system that was also implemented allowed for records to be kept of the letters that my uncle sent back to the east (Beard, 2013). This also provided family members with information about the progress of the development in the West. My uncle turned to farming as a way of maintaining his family. He was able to make enough money to have his own property, send his children to the local school house, and to maintain his own farm, animals, and home. However, soon after settling down, there was word of the California Gold Rush and it gave my uncle the idea of going on his own to explore this new prospect (Beard, 2013). This proved to be fruitful as he was one of the first men to actually obtain some gold — enough to provide his family with great comfort and with financial security.
Just as my uncle Ben was able to successfully adapt to life in the far west, my cousin Michael arrived on Ellis Island from Europe, with the hopes of also establishing a financially stable lifestyle for himself. When he first arrived from Italy, he was in complete shock upon entering New York City. Going through the immigration process on Ellis Island proved to be extraneous. He was interviewed over and over again in order to establish his true reasoning for wanting to come to the United States in the first place. He was also then forced to change his last name as it was impossible for the Americans to pronounce (Behdad, 2005). He contracted a slight cold on the ship ride to the United States, so he was forced to stay at an isolation center until he was well enough to leave (Beard, 2013). After going through the arduous process, he was more determined than ever to make something of himself in his new country.
My cousin Michael was not prepared for the discrimination he experienced once he settled in to his residence. He found an area in New York City named Little Italy, and called it home. Being around those individuals from his same culture and who possessed his same background, allowed him to more quickly adapt to the new American lifestyle. However, once he left the sanctity of his neighborhood, he was mocked for being Italian and was insulted on numerous occasions for not being able to speak English perfectly (Behdad, 2005). He shared a room with five other young men and they all were able to bond over this unfortunate experience. It was then that he and his roommates decided that it would be intelligent to raise enough money to purchase a small business. My cousin was a great cook, while his friends made up for the other skills needed to run a successful restaurant. The business was a success in Little Italy and my cousin was able to have and comfortably support a family. His determination, stamina, and drive allowed him to prosper despite the odds that were against him.
As the United States was going through political and social upheaval, my aunt Carol was coming of age and was able to be an avid participant in the reform movement that had come to define the future of America. This social movement fought to create and essentially maintain an equal status among all individuals in the United States (Beard, 2013). At the time of the reform movement, women and Black Americans were treated as second class citizens. Although both groups contributed greatly to the development of the United States, they were considered as being of the same value as livestock; they were just like property. This meant that they could not own their own land, they could not vote on any political or social issue that would also affect them, and they were not allowed to enter certain areas or use particular items; they were not deemed as being worthy enough (Beard, 2013). My aunt however, did not stand for this.
Aunt Carol fought alongside thousands of other women and women right’s supporters. She picketed governmental buildings in order to allow women the right to vote and stood up for the early emerging civil rights movement (Buechler, 1990). She was a young determined woman at the time and her stamina allowed her and other women to win the suffrage movement and to gain more liberties for Black Americans. The reform movement was a turning point for women like my aunt. It demonstrated to White male Americans that women were no longer just quiet creatures staying in their homes and watching over their children. They were people with opinions and with the drive to get their fair share of the resources (Buechler, 1990). Overall, my aunt Carol wanted to get her voice heard. At the time she was just being a part of what she thought was the right thing to do. However, she became much more than that. She became a role model for generations of women to come.
In all, my family members were a part of American history. Their lives are embedded in what America considers to be its roots. By enduring all of the hardships that they had to experience, my uncle Ben, my cousin Michael, and my aunt Carol made their presence known. They were able to establish a life for themselves and for their families through hard work and dedication. My uncle Ben had to drive to move his family to the far west and take on risks that not many were willing to take. My cousin Ben was a European immigrant who arrived in New York City without any resources, but was able to pick himself up and establish a successful business. And finally, my aunt Carol fought for her right to be heard and to be considered as an equal in social and political decisions. These family members of mine are representative of the early Americans that built such a strong nation.
Beard, C.A. (2013). History of the United States. U.S.A.: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Behdad, A. (2005). A forgetful nation: On immigration and cultural identity in the United States. North Carolina: Duke University Press.
Buechler, S.M. (1990). Women’s movements in the United States, woman suffrage, equal rights, and beyond. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Printing.
Unruh, J.D. (1993). The plains across: The overland emigrants and the trans-Mississippi west, 1840-60. Illinois: University of Illinois Press.
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