Monday, 20 May 2013

A Generation of Detectives

The internet is a marvellous creation. 

When my Dad started tracing our family even microfiche or microfilmed records were scarce. This meant you had to GO to libraries or other repositories and read pages and pages often not finding anything you were looking for. For us, all the way over here in New Zealand, trying to learn more about our forebears and reconnect with family in the United Kingdom was a very long, often hit and miss experience. Dad spent his lunch break at the British Embassy studying electoral rolls and phone books. Eventually, he wrote to a selection of people with our surname in the area of Somerset from whence we came. Luckily, some of the people he wrote to were also researching the family and had a lost branch they didn't know how to reconnect. US !!!

When I started researching my daughter's father's family there was still no internet, but microfiche and microfilmed records were becoming more accessible. Distance was still a barrier though. I was researching Australian families while living in New Zealand. The microfiche Pioneer and Federation birth, death and marriage indexes for New South Wales were well used as I strove to piece together families - and then order certificates to hopefully confirm my guesses. So much easier when we moved back there for a bit.

Over the last twelve or so years, thanks to the internet I have been able to "meet" a number of cousins and other relatives all researching different parts of what is fast becoming a world family tree. 

A chance find on a message board (when I should have been working) lead to reconnecting two branches of my Nana's family. The connection had only been lost in the late 1960's and although we had looked into leads several times we just weren't sure how to take the next step. At least we had an idea who we were looking for though - they had no idea about us, so it was a big surprise for them. Between us we have grown the information on this branch massively. Along the way we have connected with others who share the same 3 x great grandparents, each with a wealth of research to share.

The biggest surprise for my Mum and myself, was the discovery that there were other members of my Nana's family living in New Zealand. Nana had emigrated here in 1929 to join her elder sister who had emigrated shortly after she married. She didn't seem to know much about earlier generations of her family - or at least if she did, she didn't share a lot. All of her grandparents had died before she was born - actually before her parents were married, and most of her mother's immediate family emigrated to the USA. I'm sure if she knew that her grandfather's elder sister had emigrated to New Zealand in the 1880's and that she had had cousins here, that she would have tried to contact them. Their names were completely unheard of by us until the last few years. But the revelation that some of them had lived in the same city as Nana and at the same time was a bit mind blowing.

None of us were aware of this at all - but there was obviously contact between them and the families still living in England because discovered in a photo album (last year) that made the journey from England to the USA in 1905 there is a photo of one of the "cousins' in New Zealand. There also seems to have been quite an admiration for one of those kiwi cousins, as there are seven other girls (six in one branch) in one branch who were bestowed her name, and slight variations of it - two even having her surname added as one of their christian names. Initially we thought perhaps it was the number one name of the time - but the added surname as a christian name kinda blew that out of the water.

It has been great growing the story of our family with this little bunch of detectives from all over the world. The discovering is still going on with families uncovered and reconnected in Scotland, England, New Zealand, USA, Australia so far. Our 3 x great grandparent agricultural labourers from a tiny village in Shropshire could never have imagined how their family would grow and travel across the globe.

1 comment:

  1. Cool post! I wonder if I'll ever catch the detective bug.