Why research your family history as a busy mom

When I was nine years old, my class did a play about the U.S. Constitution. As is common with low-key school plays, the teacher went around the room and asked us which character we wanted to play. This was alphabetically---I knew my first choice might be picked before it was my turn.

So I had two choices ready. My first choice did get picked before my turn. I ended up playing William Paterson, New Jersey's signer. How did I settle on him? My last name was Patterson. It's as good a reason as any for a fourth-grader to pick a part!

Not surprisingly, this led to questions of whether our "Patterson" family was related to this "Paterson." So I went home and asked my dad.

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