When I first started being curious about my heritage I was in my early teens and my curiosity was about my paternal side of my family history. I know marginally more now than I knew then, more than thirty years on. I recall asking a few questions, getting nowhere. According to my journal this is what I thought
"12th October It appears there is a mystery here, although I do not understand why. Mum and Gran are saying nothing and neither are the Aunts. Curious and one day I will find out. Whatever it is, it surely can not be that bad. Frustrated. Signed for the hockey team and managed to break my glasses."
That curiosity never went away. It bubbled under the surface until I was in my late teens when I began visiting my Great Aunts (referred to as the Aunts above) on my own. Back then though I wrote up the notes after the visits, so it was as I recalled the details. In the mid 1980's I started being more obvious about my note taking and the Aunts loved it.You can read more about that at my Where it all started post. I would arrive with notebook, a few pens, a treat for us to consume and a treat or request from the Aunt I was visiting.
|Rose Marshall (nee Butcher) 1900 - 1994|
It was a magical afternoon and we all had a great time. Now, none of them are here. They are missed daily and are often in my thoughts as they spent many hours with me telling me information and listening to my hypothesis and my discoveries. Nothing was more frustrating when I told the eldest of the sisters, Rose a major discovery to me, for her to respond, " yes that is right." When I asked why she had never said, she responded with the wise retort of "you would have not discovered it for yourself and that is the point of your journey is it not?"
Do you ever wish you could have bottled the wise, support and knowledge of your relatives? I do. Yesterday I sat with my Mum in hospital. She is fairly poorly but on the long, windy and uphill path to recovery. I looked at her hands. Aged with the trace of arthritis and commented that she had Aunt Rose's hands. Mum looked down and said yes and then we started thinking about the family members, those we knew and know and who looks like and has the traits of others. It was a fascinating conversation and one that exhausted Mum.
I came home and wrote eight pages in my journal, the comments I could recall and the comparisons we made. So many of the family genes are repeated because I have a rather large amount of safe intermarrying. On researching, my Grandparents were sixth cousins although they did not know that in their lifetimes.
I then reflected on the travelling my early ancestors did. How did they feel when a member of the family decided to move on? It is no doubt that I have that traveling bug, (I am acutely aware that I should be in warmer climes right now.) What was the catalyst for that move? Was it curiosity? Were they brave? Necessity even or perhaps a bit of all three.
I firmly believe we need to understand the social, political and economic standing of the Country and community that our ancestors lived in.
A branch of my Ellis family migrated from Elstead Surrey to Geelong Victoria Australia in 1854. I have, over the years traced various descendants. We have corresponded, stayed with each other and bridged those gaps that separated our ages and locations in order to share the facts of our common ancestors. That is such a marvellous feeling. I wonder what John Ellis who migrated in 1854 would have thought of that? The reality is that the actual concept of returning home was financially out of the grasp of the family. The fact that over time we have invented planes to enable us to reach those destinations in about a day rather than the months it took them by boat in cramped conditions is a testament to the curiosity of mankind.
|Wall of John Ellis' farm building|
Copyright J Goucher October 2012
To me and the Ellis family descendants it is the last remaining evidence of the farm and house that was lived in by my ancestor John Ellis and his family.
The wall represents John's desire to provide for his family. His bravery, curiosity and a lifetime of hard work.
Until next time.