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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Family Ties

Family. We all have one.  Some are huge, some small. And to some degree at one time or another, you love them or strongly dislike them. I love my immediate family. We can disagree, fight and not speak for a time, but we invariably come back together and it's like we were never apart. I have an older brother and a younger sister and fortunately we all have pretty good relationships with each other that has strengthened as we have gotten older. Over the years we have lived very far apart, but the minute we are in the same room, we are HOME. At the same time we have other family members that they don't really rank in our consciousness as family. There are some that have been completely cut out of our lives. They were so toxic that as we began our own family we knew we did not want those type people in the life of our son. A blood connection doesn't over ride the safety and sanity of my child. Some recent events have made me ponder family and think about where we come from. How much does it affect us?

I have always been fascinated by history and ancestry. I can just lose myself looking at old pictures!  A few weeks ago when I went to visit my Grandmother and my Grandpa pulls out this manilla envelope and starts showing me all these pages.... unbeknownst to me my Grandmother's half brother, Jimmy, had been conducting interviews and taking notes about Grandma's side of the family since the mid to late 60's!  Using the names and dates gleaned from my grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents, he has spent years and years tracing her branch of the family tree. I was so excited as I looked over these pages..... he has gotten it all the way back to Medieval times! I discovered that I literally descend from Knights and Kings! There was mention of an ancestral home that existed in England and several member of the family had lived in it. That got me to thinking so I did a search on the internet... I was able to find some references to the home described so I switch over to an image search.  I was so surprised when images started coming up on my screen! I finally found what I believe to be an ancestral home of my people from my maternal side. I found a site or two that contained some info and some history on the place. Sadly it burned in 2003. But to be able to see what it looked like was just a fabulous moment!

This was a postcard featuring The Holme from 1904

This one is an engraving or a sketch of The Holme.  

I was stoked! One of the first people I wanted to try to find more information about was my Grandma's Aunt, Lena. She was murdered back in 1948. I didn't know until ready Jimmy's papers that she had been married 4 times! I had been told about her many years ago, but no one in the family talked about her that much. I only knew she had been found naked, on the side of a road in Texas and that her murder has never been solved. I found her headstone on the Find-A-Grave website. I had not even thought to try to look up any of my family and I'm a member and contributor to that site! Of course there were holes in the info I knew so it would have been much harder to look things up before receiving Jimmy's research. And I have been so busy with life I haven't been all that active on Find-A-Grave lately. In searching I found even more family members buried in the same cemetery and even found one for my Grandma's sister that had died as a toddler. My grandma marveled at it when I was able to pull it up and show her because she was not aware her sister had ever gotten a headstone. She had died at not quite 1 1/2 years old after a visit by the doctor (back doctors traveled around making house calls!). He had been around someone that had an infection and either forgot to take of his tie or didn't wash his hands good, but in any case the baby got sick after his visit and she died. I have been told of his utter grief over the situation.  My online hunt will continue and I hope to unearth even more. 
Lena in 1945 or '46. She would be murdered in Texas in  1948 at  just 30 years old.
      The next thing that occurred out of Jimmy giving Grandma the family tree research he had done was that she asked my sister and I to go back out to her house and go through the old photos! YEA!! She has always been a notorious hoarder when it came to photos. Perhaps receiving the packet of family history from her half brother got her thinking... perhaps her recently health decline played a part.... I am choosing not to question it and to just enjoy the change of attitude and go with it! We sat and went through 1 1/2 totes full of photos with her able to tell us who was in the old black and whites...In those we found a photo of Lena... I had never seen an image of her and Grandma did not even remember that there were any photos of her beloved Aunt! She let us keep the ones that had us or our kids in them and I was able to bring a pile of very old photos home to scan so that eventually everyone can have them on disc. We had to leave to get kids out of school so we left with about half a tote left to go through. Hopefully soon!
    Another thing that came out of all this discovery of roots was that I remembered the commercials for ancestry.com. I went to that site and found that at some point I had already created a log in but had not done anything on the site. I figured I'd see how much it would let me do before it asked for payment.... I entered my name... entered my Mom and Dad.... my siblings... my grandparents... poof.. a little leaf popped up! As I added more names, more leafs popped up. Some of them allowed me to see and print old census records. Other hints popped up, but I won't be able to access those until I become a paying member of the site. Right now I am building my tree with information as I get it or remember it.
     All of this has made for an exciting, emotional few weeks. In a good way, but emotional all the same. 


Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I'm so glad you've been able to gather up some of this most wonderful history!

Lisa said...

It has been exciting and overwhelming all at the same time! I hope to get more photos this week... there is so many more! Grandmother informed me the other day that in addition to the 1/2 tote we still need to finish, there are several albums "somewhere" in the house!! HOLY MACKEREL!!! :)