Friday, October 5, 2012

The Simple Version

Tonight, I had several friends over who I know only through a new group blog. At one point, they wanted to get straight my family background, and it occurred to me it might be time to post a basic diagram for people who are finding out about me through the internet.

Here is a simple chart of my ancestry:

At the bottom, I have listed my original name. After various bureaucratic misunderstanding, I decided to simply and go with three names like most Americans, but still happily answer to Westwood when I'm with people who knew me when I still tried to go by all four names.

Above me are my parents. To my children, my Dad is "Grandpa Zorro" (well..."Zoyyo" still for my two-year-old, but close enough). I have included this name on my chart because I think his chosen patriarchal title is a good expression of who he is. My mom is Vilo 3 of 4 because she shares a first name with her daughter, her mother, and her grandmother, which was also the nickname of her great-grandmother's close friend.

My father's father was Jewish--both his parents were immigrants to the United States from Romania. My father's mother was from the Westwood/Holladay clan in California, which is a strange and wonderful tribe of Mormons with a ferocious wit and a taste for massive Fourth of July parties.

My mother's father was born in rural India while the British still ruled there. Six of his brothers followed him to the United States, and so our extended family is mostly Punjabi-American, but with some Punjabi-Canadians and even a few Punjabi-Punjabis! My mother's mother was born to a family of Mormon colonistas in northern Mexico, though when many people from the colonies went north, her family went south, so part of her childhood was in Hidalgo state near Mexico City.

The diagram leaves out the relatives who married in from other countries (including but not limited to Belgium, Japan, Fiji, the Navajo nation, England, and Ohio). And it leaves out any mention of the sort of awesomely overwhelming number of extended cousins I have. But it's maybe helpful in giving a basic overview of the family context that inspired the creation of this blog.


  1. Now the question is...what tribe, or tribes, does your family hail from? Ephraim surely can't be the lone runner in your veins.

    1. Brief explanation of Mormon reference: as a teen or adult, people of my faith can go to an older (grandfather or great-grandfather age) priest who's been called as a "Patriarch" to get a blessing. Among other things, the Patriarch will make reference to the ancient tribes of Israel and bless an individual as a member of a certain tribe.

      Brief answer to question: To my knowledge, my family has members from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Judah. But I've never gone through systematically and asked everyone.

  2. I found out tonight that George Sutherland, the Supreme Court Justice who wrote the decision in US v. Bhagat Singh Thind, was raised LDS and attended Brigham Young Academy. Strange, but true.

    He was also the last Supreme Court Justice with a full beard.


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