Thursday, 25 June 2009
Where are you from?
I had rarely given thought to this question while growing up or busy bringing up my children. It wasn't until my girls were grown up, that I started to think about how little I had to pass down to them, about who they were, where they were from. Sure I could talk about their grandparents, but further back from that was a mystery to me. My mother had told me stories that led me to believe that the path to our ancestors was so broken as to be impossible to follow.
It occured to me, that now, with the internet, it would be easier than it had ever been to start to get an idea about my ancestry. I knew that somehow back in my paternal line, there had been a change of name, apparently involving a German who came to live in England during the years of war. So I was fairly sure that side of the family would lead to a dead end (sorry, couldn't resist).
I joined all the sites I could, found out about ordering certificates etc., and set off on a journey of discovery that even now entralls and fascinates me.
First of all, I have been surprised by the amount of family that have got in touch. Cousins and second cousins that I never knew, or knew when I was tiny and then lost touch with. Complete strangers have turned out to be somehow connected and as the tree grew, I began to realise just how far and wide a family can spread. Australia, America and Europe all came into the picture, discovery that the unknown German not only took a mistress when he came to England, he also gave her four children, all of which started out with his name (Horwitz) but only one kept it, the other three assuming her name, which came down the line to me.
I also found that the first name Louis was very prevalent on the maternal side and that my mother had been less than honest, and in fact had come from an extremely large family which spread out over Southern England. My German ancestors mistress however was the biggest surprise, her ancestry moving to the North of England, quite near where I have settled, and the picture above is of Hoghton Tower, near Preston which apparently is an ancestral home!
Now although I can't leave them anything so grand as an ancestral home, I can leave them the knowledge that they stand on ground that their ancestors have walked for hundreds of years. I have given them roots, an identity. As I continue the journey, ever completing the picture for them then it also gives me a certain amount of peace that I am surrounded by my own history, my own roots and family, a connection to the land I walk about on and eventually will be scattered on.