This unique project documents my ancestors who came by sea to America.  It follows their ancestors and descendants lives from the 13th to 21st centuries. It spans the history of medieval England and Scotland, New Amsterdam, New Netherland, American Revolution, the Irish Famine, Civil War, Industrial America, and more.


I am fortunate to have an extensive family tree to explore.  Even as a child, I was curious about my ancestors but had little way to know more. It was not until many years later, with the innovation of digital records, that I was able to learn more.

In the past few years, I became curious about psychological connectedness across time and space.  I wanted to understand liminality — those in-between transitional experiences leading to a new sense of identity.  They include immigration, birth, death, inheritance, illness, war, freedom, significant change of financial status, creativity, and of course love.

This project focuses on my four grandparents living during the mid 1800 to mid 1900, to my eight great-grandparents during the mid 1700 to mid 1800, to sixteen great-great grandparents, and on…

Trained as a psychologist, I use my research skills to explore existing historical and genealogical documentation.  Once I have several points of data convergence, I begin to have confidence in what is stated.  From there, I think about each life in terms of historical context, relationships, and life experiences to develop preliminary ideas about psychological dynamics.  Yes, it is speculation but it is the best that can be accomplished on lives long gone.

This is not an exercise in looking  backward.  It is striking that through these stories, you may identify with your own liminal experiences, new sense of identity, and hopefully psychological legacy.

Categories on the right side are organized according to four lines of DESCENT: Clemens, Sullivan, Roff, and Norton. From each line, branch other ANCESTRIES: Bordley, Bryden, Cotter, Ogle, Hammond, Collins, Van Woert, etc.

In an attempt to understand my psychological legacy, I focus on direct blood ancestors (grandparents), with a few noteworthy exceptions Timothy Cotter and James Bryden.


Preserving something about each of these ancestors’ lives through their stories is my way to honor them — for better or worse!  Old records burn or are lost and with them critical pieces of data to reconstruct the stories of their lives.

In 2011 by serendipity, I found a website that inspired me — Miner Descent.  It became a model for this one.   I even discovered that we had at least two ancestors in common — King Edward I and Martin Buck.

The photo on the banner is a memorial on the Hudson River in Manhattan (New York City) with a beautiful Swedish quote:

“I can sail without wind, I can row without oars, but I cannot part from my friend without tears.”

The ancestor of every action is thought. ~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I like to say: Thought about every ancestor is action. That’s why I launched Descent by Sea! 

6 Responses to About

  1. Wonderful! I am personally touched by the name and quote from this Swedish folk song.

  2. Scott Mesick says:

    Great site. What if that child under 10 coming over with Veit was maybe a brother?. I was always told there was a Mesick Book out there with all of our history. Looks like now by research that John had it and it is true. Was also told that 2 brothers came over settled in New york one stayed there and one went to Michigan and settle Mesick Mi? that was back in the early 80’s with no internet.

  3. Amy Loucks Gallen says:

    Hi Suzanne,
    I am in awe of your research, way of expression, and point of view.
    I, too, am a Best decendent and was recently motivated to do genealogical
    research to understand the inherited behavioral traits of my family. Thank
    you so much for putting this online. I feel renewed and inspired in my research!

  4. Linda (Van Deusen) says:

    So very,very enlightened by all that you have done..
    Amazing how so many share so few ancestors..

    Thank you for all of your work and for sharing your labors.


  5. Bill Kinnersley says:

    On page listing children of Augustus Clemens Jr, you have them in reverse order. Lennox should come first, followed by Henrietta.

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