Monday, 6 February 2017

An International Family - 4 Years of Family History Research

Over four years of family history research has re-enforced to me how we are all one global, single community.

It's incredible when you scratch under the surface just a small amount, to find so many long-lost, far-flung connections around the world all with roots back to the same place.

A Pembrokeshire Base
I've been very lucky in my research in that I am based in Pembrokeshire where I can trace both my immediate paternal and maternal lines all the way back to the late 1700s at the very least.

Mine is a very 'Pembrokeshire' family on all sides with all 4 grandparents, all 8 great-grandparents and 14 of 16 great-great-grandparents buried in the county. The only missing pair are Thomas and Jane Davies who are buried in Treorchy Cemetery - I'm fortunate that their daughter Elizabeth decided to move back from the rush to coal in the valleys back to her homeland where she married David Cole. Had she not, I wouldn't be here today telling their story!

Going back another generation and again, all of those 32 ggg-grandparents that I have found are buried in Pembrokeshire apart from 1 ggg-grandfather who is buried in Glyncorrwg high up above Maesteg.

A handful of lines can be taken back centuries earlier on the back of old research carried out over many years by others and which is well documented. The Pictons of Pembrokeshire is a classic example. The current crop of researchers in many ways are standing upon the shoulders of the giants who went before and have given us so much information to work with. Our job is to add to that store of information for future generations.

An International Family
So I am very fortunate in having very firm foundations from which to explore more widely those lines off my direct branch that moved away from the county of their birth to start a new life abroad,

There is a significant family presence in Australia from various lines going back generations and links also to South Africa. There is still the much vaunted but unsubstantiated links to Patagonia in the middle of the 19th century. That is one 'lost-line' of my gg-grandfather's siblings from Brynberian that I would dearly like to discover.

Or did these 'black sheep' of the family not go to Patagonia after all but to North America?

I don't know, but if they did, they were in a long line of family lines that crossed the pond looking for a better life.

Many emigrated to find better employment in the burgeoning American coalmines after the coal industry in Pembrokeshire began to grind to a halt at the same time as the boom in the south Wales valleys.

But whether it was the coal of other issues that brought movement, move they did and over 4 years I have found a wealth of lines living throughout that great nation. With my global membership of I've been able to track down a lot information on these various lines and having vaguely made an effort at keeping all of this information in order, decided to put together a map to visualise that movement. It was greatly revealing.

Descendants in America
This map shows that from my research to date, I am confident that I have tracked down blood relatives who lived and died in at least 23 of the 50 states.

The biggest concentration focus on Kansas in the heart of America where at least 3 distinctly separate lines in my heritage converged. The same could be said for New York and Pennsylvania states. Though of all of my lines, it is the very well researched Picton line of my gggg-grandmother Elizabeth mentioned earlier in this post which has spread across great swathes of that enormous land mass.

But of course it's easy for it to have done so because we know so much about this particular family. What if as much was known about all the other lines in my family story? If only! No doubt that map would almost be full!

But then that's the frustration and in equal measure, great joy of family research - it never ends! As one door closes, so many more open. It is a never ending story.

So I shall continue to uncover that story. There is so much more to be told.