What would you give up and how far would you go to make a better life for yourself? Would you pack up what little you had and leave your loved ones and your rural homeland to seek your fortune in the big city? Would you walk 250 miles over mountains and moors while driving a herd of cattle to forge a new destiny? Just what would you do?
Posts Tagged With: research
A WOMAN OF MYSTERY
Years ago, when I first began documenting my maternal family, I reached out to our matriarch at the time, my Great-Aunt Doris. She spoke for hours, naming the ancestors she knew then sharing stories of their lives.
Although she knew a lot about her mother’s family, my great-aunt was less certain about her father’s family, especially his mother, Alice (Manley) Cole.
What little Aunt Doris knew about her grandma was her name and the fact that she disappeared from her father’s life when he was a child.
Alice was an enigma, a woman of mystery. As a family historian/genealogist, I LOVE following clues and solving puzzles, so off to the records I raced.
Family Bibles, photo albums, love letters, birth records, marriage licenses, muster papers, land deeds… Our families’ histories have left a long, long paper trail.
Through the decades, I have diligently followed this trail, picking through crumbling parchment and thumbing through old tomes with relish. I believe that I have reveled in the process as much as in the discoveries. Perhaps, it is because this type of research has allowed me a hands-on connection to our past. For these brief moments, when I hold the very documents and photographs that those whom have preceded us have held, the boundaries of time dissipate. The veil is lifted.
When I was in second grade, I was quite certain that the actress Elizabeth Taylor was my great-aunt. At the time, family dynamics somewhat eluded me. Although I had quite a few great-aunts, I thought this was just a description of what wonderful relations they were. As Elizabeth Taylor shared one of my family’s surnames and was indeed a “great” person, I just assumed she had to be related to me. Alas, she was not.