07 July 2009

Ancestry.com or How I Descended from a Bear-Loving Monk

I recently discovered ancestry.com. The site enables you to build family trees and research your genealogy. Sounds fun. I decided to see what I can find out.

My initial entry was Havlik. This lead me to:
Czech (HavlĂ­k): from a pet form of Havel.
So far, so good. I know it's Czech. But Havel? Tell me more.

Havel Name Meaning and History:
1. Czech: from the personal name Havel (see Gall).
2. French: metonymic occupational name from Old French haf ‘hook’, ‘pickaxe’.

3. Dutch: metonymic occupational name from Middle Dutch houweel, hauweel ‘hoe’, ‘mattock’, ‘pick’, diminutive of Old Dutch hauwa.

I wish I was French. Amanda Pickaxe? Awesome. However, the first entry applies to me. Gall?

Czech, etc.: from a personal name (Gallus in Latin) which was widespread in Europe during the Middle Ages, due to the cult of a 7th-century Irish monk and missionary, St. Gall. He established a Christian settlement to the south of Lake Constance, which became the monastery later known as St. Gallen. His name was taken into Czech as Havel and into Polish as Gawel.

I looked up St. Gall on wikipedia. Sounds like standard Saint stuff, but one bit was interesting. "At the command of the saint, a bear brought wood to feed the fire which Gall and his companions had kindled in the forest." He commanded bears?

To be honest, I don't feel like I've learned a thing about my family history. It was a goose chase of links that left me confused. I am disappointed ancestry.com. It could have been great.

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