Family History

Somehow or another, I was wasting time on the internet and decided to look for a better answer to the question that many people ask when they hear my last name: am I related to Pittsburgh quarterback Ben? I usually make a dumb joke or point out the slight difference in the spelling of the name. Depending on how captive my audience is, I might then continue with a discussion about the transliteration of dipthongs.

After just a few minutes of searching I discovered several articles about a trip that Big Ben took to Switzerland in 2006, and in one of them I found the name of his ancestral hometown, as well as the approximate year that his ancestors emigrated to America.

My next step was to log into my account at FamilySearch and check my own ancestry. Thanks to hard working people who have done the research and entered all the information, I found my ancestral hometown and the names of my ancestors who emigrated to the States. Then I took a trip over to swissroots and entered my last name into their lookup tool.

I discovered that Ben and I come from different towns. My ancestors lived in Langnau im Emmental and the records I checked show that they were there as far back as the early 1500s. He comes from Lauperswil, which is only a few miles away, so there might have been some connection. But the waters are muddied by this fact: the two families had different coats of arms, so they might have been entirely unrelated. I’ll need to do more research to figure out the rest of the story.

I know you might accuse me of burying the lede in that last paragraph, so let me just repeat it here: as part of my investigation, I found my family’s official coat of arms. I remember going through a heraldry-geek phase in middle school, and I must not have grow nout of it, because I think that this is unbelievably cool. Whether you agree or not, here it is:

My new goal is to find some way to use this for real. Custom stationery, perhaps?



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5 responses to “Family History

  1. Leisa

    that’s really cool!!!
    what does ben’s coat of arms look like?

    sam and i have been talking about bookplates (you know, stickers to put on the inside of books that say this is from my library) for a while. that might be a good place for the “real” coat of arms.

    p.s. i “passed” one part of my comps today.

  2. rothlmar


    Congratulations on your comps!

    As for your question, I leave that as an exercise for you to figure out. It isn’t too hard–you can find all the necessary information in the post.

  3. Fernando

    Hello, I am Spanish and am heraldist, my blog is http: //
    your heraldic investigation Is very interesting, if you want I realize your shield, free, certainly.
    If you want put in contact with me.

    i´m sorry for my English

    A greeting

  4. Fernando

    This is the url where I placed the image of your coat of arms, and visit her guards. I love the heraldry, so I make this gift.
    I hope it’s to your taste and you can use it for anything.

    A greeting from Spain.

  5. rothlmar


    It’s amazing. Thank you very much, I really appreciate it. Best wishes to you, and thanks again for using your talent to enrich the lives of others.

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