Welcome to Among My Branches, a website and blog that explores my Kernan, Lapham, Hamilton, and Sebok Ancestries. (Please Note: This website is a work in progress, and some sections of the site are still being added or updated.)

On this website, you will find a great deal of information pertaining to, among other things, the genealogies and histories of the Kernan, Lapham, Hamilton, and Sebok families, as well as related branches. The website has been divided into a number of sections. The first section is “Overview,” which provides information pertaining to all four branches, including regarding my research progress, brick walls I have run into, my ahnentafel, complete surname list, and special topics. Sections two through five, which are “Kernan,” “Lapham,” “Hamilton,” and “Sebok,” discuss what is presently known of my paternal and maternal grandparents’ ancestries, including family origins, surname, immigration history, known generations, and related branches, as well as presenting records and photographs of the Kernan, Lapham, Hamilton, and Sebok families. The sixth section is “Recent Research,” which features articles detailing recent research finds for any of the branches discussed on this website. The seventh section is “Blog,” which is where you can find my blog posts pertaining to a wide variety of genealogy and family history related topics. The eighth section is “Links,” which is a collection of genealogy and genealogy related websites I find useful. The ninth and final section is “Contact,” which provides information on how to get in contact with me, if you should want to. To view these sections, please use the navigation menu above.

The presentation of this information found on this website begs the question, “Why a history of my family?” The information found on this website has a specific origin. Although family history in a very general sense existed in some form at various points in my life, it was never really a major interest or project in my immediate family or in my own life (despite my interest in history). While growing up, I frequently heard bits and pieces about my family’s history, including stories about my family’s experiences during the Great Depression and stories about my great-great grandparents. Additionally, in the 1990s, when I and my siblings were still in high school, my parents compiled a brief family tree for a project my sister was assigned in one of her classes. I recall looking at the tree and all of the names on it, which amounted to about four generations. Although I remember thinking it was interesting, it was not until I was in college that I became involved and interested in genealogy. While at UCLA, I enrolled in a historical research course, during which time I was assigned to research my own family history. It is from the research I complied during this course that many of the details found on this site are taken. Additional details were compiled after I graduated, as more resources became available online and I wanted to fill in gaps in order to compile a more complete history.

Although I became involved and interested in genealogy for academic reasons, there are, perhaps, more meaningful and personal reasons for why a history of my family should been compiled. The personal importance of family history has been arguably best expressed by Alex Haley, the Pulitzer Prize winning American author of the novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, who once wrote: “In all of us there is a hunger marrow deep to know our heritage−to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge there is a hallow yearning. No matter what our attainment in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.” It is my hope that relatives that are reading this will discover some of what they are looking for about our shared family history, and perhaps find it, in some way, enriching; and that non-relatives might be inspired to look into their own family history.

Dedication: This family history is dedicated to, and in loving memory of, Margaret (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), Irene (Balla) Sebok (1913-2006), and Goldie (Worthington) Hamilton (1912-2006). It is also dedicated to the immigrant ancestors of the Kernan, Lapham, Hamilton, and Sebok families who had the personal strength and courage to leave their native countries to better their lives and the lives of their children: Felix and Martha Kiernan, John Lapham, John Adam Heldman, and Frank and Roza Sebok.

Acknowledgments: Successfully compiling and writing a family history rests upon not only facts that can be obtained through research, but also personal and compelling details that can only come from oral history. In compiling my family history I have been fortunate, as I have been provided much help by many. Their remembering and sharing what they know and/or what photographs they have has insured not only success in compiling this history, but also that those of whom this history is about are not forgotten. The following family members have provided a tremendous amount of help: Margaret (Lapham) Kernan, William G. Kernan, William C. Kernan, Carolyn (Hamilton) Kernan, Del (Kernan) Kreisman, Robert Kreisman, Vickie (Kernan) Bradford, Jacqueline (Lapham) Shindler, John Shindler, Irene (Balla) Sebok, Ima (Balla) Creech, Goldia (Worthington) Hamilton, Alberta (Sebok) Hamilton, E.J. Hamilton, Aline (Balla) Goetz, Mark Hamilton, Mark Goetz, Shirley (Balla) Loftin, Barbara (Balla) Murphy, Amy (Thompson) LeBlanc, and Forest Riggs. Extensive help has also been provided by several family historians and researchers, many of whom are distant relatives: Molly Kernan, a Kernan family historian; David Roddick, a Balla family historian; Ann Blake Hill, a Stearns and related families historian; Phyllis Kitson, a Lapham family historian and author of the newsletter, the Lapham Leader; Carol Freeman Davies, a Lapham family historian; Robert Leishman, a Leishman family historian; Ralph Turner, a Thornton family historian; Connie Barnum, an Agee family historian; Dolores (Graber) Shirts, a Graber family historian; and Mary Jane (Harding) Draeger, a Reynolds family historian. If you have information, oral history, documents, and/or photographs that you would like to share, please contact me.

About Me: Many times when relatives come across my genealogy sites or posts, the first thought in their mind is, “Who is this putting information about or photos of my family on the Internet?” So, here is a little bit about me. My name is William Kernan, I currently live in California, and I am in my late-30’s. I am the grandson of William G. Kernan (LIVING), Margaret (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), Harry L. Hamilton (LIVING), and Alberta (Sebok) Hamilton (LIVING), whose ancestries are the focus of this website. Although I have always had an interest in history, and found family oral history to be fascinating, I became interested and involved in genealogy through a historical research course I took while in college at UCLA. Since college, I have continued researching my family history when I’ve had the time in order to fill in gaps and compile a more complete history.

Disclaimer: Family histories and genealogies are always a work in progress and are based on available information. Nevertheless, every attempt has been made to be as accurate as possible, in both facts and oral accounts. If you have further information or any corrections, please contact me. Additionally, every effort has been made to exclude personal information of living persons.