I love everything about genealogy – the twists and turns that our family trees take, the ups and downs of dead ends, the excitement of finding something unexpected and sharing in someone elses excitement at their finds. All of these things keep me absolutely hooked.
I’m also aware how lucky I am to be living in this age of computers and online access, because many of these surprises arrive that way. I’m also lucky because I have a very easy life compared to many of my ancestors. Technology and machines have made my life a very easy one, from doing laundry to cooking and more. However I’m not convinced that they save me time…….especially the one I’m using to write this post!!
I did get a surprise last week though and I’d like to share it with you. A gentleman sent me a photograph of a gravestone from a remote area in South Africa. He wanted it to be available in case anyone might be searching for the person listed on the grave. I was very moved by his thoughtfulness, the fact that he sent it to me via Ancestral Wales because “you never know who might be looking for family” was one of the coolest things that has happened since I launched the website, and so thanks for sending it!
It reads: In Loving Memory of Ann Ellen beloved wife of Ellis Owen born in Carnarvon, Wales who departed this life at Pilgrim’s Rest Nov 1st 1897 aged 36 years. (Also their infant daughter).
If you have a connection to this family please feel free to contact me. I haven’t posted the photo because it’s tagged with a different name than the person who sent it.
The photograph intrigued me and so I did a little bit of research, and found that the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941, shows that Ann Ellen Owen, wife of Ellis Owen had a will that was probated in 1898 and that Ellis Owen was a miner.
Pelgrimsrus (Pilgrim’s Rest) where Ann and Ellis lived is in Mpumalanga, South Africa and was a gold rush town. The cemetery where Ann is buried started during that time. I can’t begin to imagine what kind of life people like Ann and others had, moving to remote areas of the world in search of a dream. These days if we want to move around the world, we can look up just about any where we want to go on the internet, but I think it took much more courage to follow a dream as Ann and Ellis did.
When my husband and I travel, we inevitably end up having crazy conversations about what we’d do if we won the lottery. These usually happen when we’re on our way home and not looking forward to being back at work. As I was working around the house this morning, I started to think about my top ten list genealogy-wise, if there were no restrictions on time, travel or finances – a genealogical heaven, so to speak. The list is purely for fun and is a very different wish list from my genealogy ‘want to find’ list.
Here’s the list, which of course begins with me quitting my job!
- Book a ticket to Europe. I’m going to Wales (Aberystwyth area), England (Manchester area), then Poland & Ukraine (this may take a long time, I’ve got lots of ancestral places to see in these areas, so I’ll include number 2 as part of this process).
- Buy a house in Wales, which will be our summer home and close to the National Library of Wales (It will have an ocean view).
- I’m going to take my Mum & daughter along for the UK parts of the trip as we’ve all dreamed of a research trip there for so long.
- Meet two new relatives in the UK that I’ve made contact with in the past couple of years, and visit uncles, aunts and cousins to ‘interview’ them in person.
- Take a trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. (A long time dream of mine)
- In my new house will be a library housing as many history/genealogy books as I can fit!
- In my new house is a room just for my genealogy – with a brand new computer, two monitors and many filing cabinets. The walls will be covered in maps and photos. (If the lottery win is large enough, it will be climate controlled!)
- While I’m in Wales, I want to become fluent in Welsh, so I’ll take a Welsh immersion course.
- A good camera of course, for all the photographs I’ll be taking.
- I will complete my genealogical certification.
A bonus for me is that my husband has offered to travel with me to any of these places that have a golf course. So now we’re all set, just one thing left to do………
What does your list look like?
Reading an arcticle today on Ancestry.com, was a great reminder about details contained in photographs and prompted today’s thoughts.
As I’ve posted before, my daughter has recently started researching one of her family lines and we’ve been talking in great depth about what I remember (not much) about this line. However, she does have a large number of family photographs. Taking one of them out of its frame was like discovering the family bible. Someone wrote the details of all the family members in the photograph, on the back of it -including names, dates and where they were buried!
So dig out those family photographs, take a good look at the details on the photograph, but also peek inside the frame. You never know what you’ll find.