Saturday, April 17, 2010
Time travel.. what an interesting thing to do. We do it all the time when looking into the mirror.. seeing our reflection. But what about further into the past? Would you take that ride?
I've been busy with a project I've started about 4 weeks ago. Curiosity grabbed me once more and shackled me to my computer. I need to know more about my real father. I have nothing to go by but his name and a guess as to where he was born. I know where he died and where he lived most of his life. So I research various sites that promise to help with finding ones ancestors.. finding the story of YOU. After a while I made up my mind that ancestry.com would be the best way to go for me. So I sign up, pay the asked fees for their world-access and I enter the first name and little data I had. Nothing !! No results where found. More Information is needed. While I try to remember bits and pieces, I start entering more names. My maternal grandparents and great-grandparents, my sister, who is only my half-sister and before I knew it, I was done with my blood line as I knew it. Seven people in all. Doesn't sound much like a German Family from back in the day now, does it? As I still scramble for info in my head on my real dad, I figure, I enter my husband and his family, starting with his maternal side. And with this, I entered into a new world. I am time traveling all the way back to 1325, Wales, England.
I have now entered 252 people; my very own blood line remains to be of seven people, while Lewis' side is growing and growing and growing. Not only in people, but in stories as well. Lewis has a very diverse Family. His father is Mexican and somewhere in time, Lewis' dad's father was adopted. As the story goes, his family can be traced back to Spain. I have only touched the surface on that one as I am still traveling the roads of Willimantic, Connecticut. In my little reading room (or my library, as i call it), I have two boxes full of black and white photographs of people I have never met. People who have lead a life so unfamiliar to me. People who had to go through things that will remain foreign to me. Those pictures are of Lewis' maternal grandmother, great grand father, family members that where born in the early 1800's. Some of the pictures have names on them, others include a small story told by the sender to the recipient. I have a box with documents of birth, of death, of illness. Some document the move from Rhode Island to Connecticut to Yuma to Los Angeles, California. And even though it seems to be a treasure trove of information, it leaves oh so many gaps and even more questions to be answered. And so I travel...
They have come to America from Wales, England.. but why? I am not sure. they have lived in Rhode Island for a long time before moving to Connecticut. A brother of who would be Lewis' great great grandfather died in a railroad accident in Boston, while his family was in Willimantic. So I set out to investigate. The census I found show that Lewis' great great great grandfather worked in a Cotton Mill with his wife and several children. I come to find out that at the time there was a railroad project from Boston all the way through Willimantic. Why is Willimantic so significant? I find out it had the largest Cotton Mill in the world at the time and Willimantic had a thriving economy. (Today, the old Cotton Mill is a museum) So now I knew why they left Rhode Island. But why did they move to Yuma? It was Lewis' great great grandfather who packed the bags and moved the family to Yuma, Arizona in 1906. By 1908, he owned a store, a hotel and numerous pieces of real-estate. They started three orchards with Grapefruit, Oranges, and Cantaloupes. But why Yuma? It was Lewis' grandma's mom who moved the family now to Los Angeles, after her husband died and she remarried. Why Yuma? What was it about Yuma? It isn't exactly around the corner from Connecticut.
This question puts things into perspective for me. This travel down an old path I have never been on, might be a travel of one of my great great great grandchildren. It will show that I was born and raised in Berlin, Germany and at some point moved to Tucson, Arizona. It will show that I have lived numerous places in numerous States. Perhaps their story isn't all that different from my story after all. Who knows what else it will show of what is yet to come for me, but I think I want that this information is not a secret. I look at those old black and white faces in front of me and wonder how they actually felt at the time. What was it that most occupied them. What gave them reason to do whatever they did. What made them be who they were. And why did they move to Yuma? And so I will keep traveling into an unknown past and the unknown future.
Posted by Liane at 3:18 PM