As a boy I never had much interest in my family history, partly (mostly) because my parents didn't express any interest in it, and partly because I just assumed there wasn't anything interesting to be found. But it turns out I was wrong.
It seems that my earliest knowable direct ancestor dates from the time of Henry VIII, from Suffolk, England, where he was a member of the minor gentry and where his house still stands. His grandson, a contemporary of Shakespeare, Marlowe, et al., and a citizen (if not a resident) of London, was one of 205 investors in the third voyage of the East India Company. My first direct ancestor in America came over in 1669 and founded a church that I think is still standing. To my knowledge, none of my family fought in the Revolution, but several of them took part in the Civil War and, according to an excruciatingly vague anecdote, one was poisoned by his slaves. Yikes. A mixed bag, to be sure, but hardly boring. It amazes me to think that I'm one of these people.
And I know without a doubt that they're a part of me. See, sometime before 1665 members of my family began using a Coat of Arms: two greyhounds, standing on their hind legs and fighting, in various forms. The thing is, the family had never been granted a Right to Arms and therefore they weren't entitled to use a Coat of Arms. They just decided they wanted one and made one up without permission. My people, cutting around and generally ignoring the gatekeepers. I'm thinking very seriously about using that family emblem as the publishing icon for my future books.