One branch of our maternal line originates in Normandy. The Normans were descendants of the Vikings who settled in northern France in an area they called Neustria, one of the old Frankish Kingdoms. Many of their kinsmen were settling Ireland at this time as well. The Normans adopted the Christian religion and French language, laws and customs and became an integral part of the French nation.
In 1066, William Duke of Normandy sailed across the English Channel and invaded England at the Battle of Hastings, where he defeated King Harold, the Anglo-Saxon king. The armies of Henry II, a descendent of William, eventually invaded Ireland and settled there.
Our maternal ancestors from this line came from France and Ireland.
Another branch of our maternal line originates in Belgium. After years of conflict in the old country, our Belgium ancestors came to North America from Ghent, Belgium to find a better life. Belgium had been at war since the early 1800's. William of Orange tried to rule the Belgiums which led to revolution in 1830. In 1831 after centuries of external rule, Belgium was recognized as an independent nation and chose as their king Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, a German. His son, Leopold II, acquired the Congo, which remained a part of Belgium until its independence in 1960. Conditions for the peasantry and farmers were poor and income low. For those wanting a better life for their children, emigration was a solution.