Lucky for my cousins, brothers and me, our great-aunt Rosemary Ames prepared for us an extensive family tree. In many cases she traced our Ames ancestors to the first New England settlers in the early 1600s when the name was spelled Eames. She diligently made carbon copies of her work and mailed them to us, or at least to some of us. I was perhaps fourteen when Rosemary started this practice. Having no interest in my genealogy at the time, I tucked the yellow envelopes into a box I kept under my bed.
Rosemary’s Family Tree. Her father Knowlton Lyman Ames’ ancestors (left side) were New Englanders, originally immigrating from England, Scotland and Ireland during the Great Migration (1620-1640). Her ancestors on the right, her mother Adelaide Schroeder’s side, immigrated from Prussia in 1848.
The box of charts and carpon copies moved with me from home to home. Then in 1991, when I was forty, my twelve-year-old son's history teacher assigned him the task of creating a family tree. Jonathan and I dug out Rosemary's box and started sorting. In his computer class, he had just learned how to create documents with html links, so he built his tree in html. Being a graphic designer, I created my own version in Adobe Illustrator.
At about the same time, my father died and I inherited another box of genealogical papers. These were from his mother's father's branch of the family (Thomas Winter back to William Douglas (b.1600). The handwritten documents about our Scottish ancestors are very old, one written in 1673. Another envelope contained original letters written by Dad's mother's mother's father (Charles Gordon Ames) in 1864. It has taken me years of research and a lot more charting to figure out how all these people were connected, or not. (The two Ames branches were not connected.)
Our family has always known that some of our ancestors made a significant difference to American history — their descendants were named after them. My grandfather, his father, and my uncle were given the unusual name Knowlton in honor of Thomas Knowlton who died leading his rangers to victory at the Battle of Harlem Heights. There is a statue of Lt. Colonel Knowlton outside the State House in Hartford, Connecticutt. He is dressed in ranger gear and sports a really cool sword. My uncle was named Robert Dawes Ames after William Dawes who rode with Paul Revere. We were told that some of our ancestors had sailed on the Mayflower, but neither my father or mother were interested in that more ancient history, so that's as far as it went. It turns out that at least 17 of the 102 passengers were relatives and 10 of them direct ancestors.
My addiction evolved from my desire to solve mysteries and fill in empty blanks, not a mission to prove I had important relatives. What fueled my passion were the interesting stories I learned about how these ancestors lived, why they migrated where and when. What fun it was to read, first hand, what a great-great-great-great-grandmother was doing and thinking 150 years ago!
So what do I do with all this information and these ancient documents? My Ames-Hopkins Family Tree has grown into a 218 page printable and searchable volume that constantly needs updating. Two shelves of three-ring-binders containing family records (in expensive archival envelopes) take space in my closet, leaving no room for clothes. With the California fires in close memory, my biggest fear is that my house will burn down before I can share the information I have with the rest of my family, hence this section of my website.
My intention is to upload all the written stories and family trees to this website. In addition, I will upload individual photos and vital records to FamilySearch. org so that they are available to everybody. This will take a long time. If there is something in particular you would like, please email me.
Mary Ames Mitchell
March 25, 2018
Rosemary Ames with Lyle Talbot in 1934 on the set of “Our Little Girl” during Rosemary’s acting days. She began building the Ames Family Tree while she was in high school. Thanks, Great Aunt Rosemary.