Philadelphia Musings

Tonight I sit in my great-grandfather’s adopted hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The lights below me glimmer from city center out into New Jersey. From my window I can see the part of the world my great-grandfather lived most of his adult life

Paul von Meurers

This photo of my great-grandfather was taken before 1915 and was used in his autobiography. At the time of the picture, he had adopted the name Paul de Meurers.


Earlier this week I walked down the streets my great-grandfather named in his autobiography. I was cognizant of occupying the same space over 100 years later. I watched young homeless men preparing to sleep on the sidewalks. Many were the age of my great-grandfather when he, too, was homeless, trying his best to survive on the very same streets. Continue reading

Climbing My Family Tree, Part 24

Immigrants Francis Cooke, Hester le Mahieu Cooke, Jane Cooke, and Experience Mitchell

Francis Cooke (my ten times great-grandfather) was a Mayflower passenger. I stumbled across his lineage while investigating the Packards in Part 22. Francis was born in England in 1583. Curiously, we find him living in Leiden, Holland, about eight years before John Robinson and the rest of the Pilgrims arrived. This period was before the time of Protestant persecution in England under King James, so the original motivation to move to Holland is unknown. His occupation was that of wool comber. Continue reading