There are a number of the photochallenge topics that I would like to put together for this weeks blog. #3 community/family, #4 communications, #5 storytelling #6 social media #7 friendship #8 technology.
This is the story of my quest to trace my family tree and one of the surprises it had in store.
I am sure I am not the only person who was inspired to start tracing their family history by the BBC series Who do you think you are? As a librarian I was fortunate enough not only to have a good idea of the research skills required, but my local library was a subscriber to one of the main Family History research websites, which I was able to use to kick start my research.
Armed with notebook and pen I spoke to my parents and other relatives and built the foundations of my family tree: names, dates and of course a plethera of stories, family mysteries and the odd skeleton or two!
By sharing research with my cousin who was also on the research trail, I managed to trace my paternal line back to the early 1700’s in Gloucestershire. My great great great great great grandpa George and his wife Hannah. (8 generations back) Many of my family were miners working in the coal mines of the Black Country, and various census returns revealed that several generations lived in the same street or nearby streets in West Bromwich over the years.
On several occasions I lost track of family members and it was quite frustrating not knowing what had happened to them, one such person was my great great granddad William (which appears to be a common family name as every generation had a William) who we assumed to have died, as the family were untraceable in the 1891 census and reappeared in 1901 minus William but with the children all living with their mother and a new husband.
Then out of the blue and thanks to the wonders of the internet, a few months ago we were contacted by another family historian who’s research had led them to us in the belief we were related.
The greatest surprise was yet to come, as we discovered that the reason the family had disappeared is because they had upped sticks and moved to America! William had not died, he was very much alive having remarried twice more and we discovered a whole new branch of our family living in Ohio. My great great grandma did not like America and returned home with 4 of the children, (including my great granddad) whilst the eldest daughter Eliza remained in America with her father.
Thanks to the wonders of social media, particularly Facebook and Skype I am now in touch with Bev, the grandaughter of my great grandpa’s sister Eliza, and learning all about the American relatives I did not know until recently existed.
Yesterday Bev sent me photos of the grave markers of Williams grandparents, another William and his wife Sarah who also went to Ohio, and I look forward to sharing our photos with my American family via our newly created Facebook family page.
Thanks to technology, social media, and communication I now have my own story of family, community, storytelling and friendship.