It’s not enough for me to research my ancestors from the comfort of my own home. I want to know them who they were and what life was like when they were alive. One way to connect with our ancestors is to visit the places they lived. Not only does it provide the opportunity to do some additional research, it also gives us the excitement of walking in their footsteps.
A few years ago, my husband and I had a wonderful opportunity to visit St Mary’s, Maryland where his ancestors first set foot on American soil. The early inhabitants of Maryland arrived around 1634 aboard two ships, The Ark and The Dove. The colony was established at the southern tip of Maryland, land surrounded by the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. St Mary’s City, the first city and first capital of Maryland, was named for the wife of King Charles I. Although Charles was an Anglican, his wife Henrietta Maria of France was a Roman Catholic. The charter for the settlement of Maryland was given as a refuge for Roman Catholics and a place of tolerance for all religions.
St. Mary’s city is one of the most historical cities in the country with claims to may other “firsts” in the new world:
First successful proprietary colony in English North America
First Freedom of Conscience policy in America
First effort to free religion from government in America
Today, St. Mary’s City is considered one of the best preserved archeological sites and is listed as a National Historical Landmark. When my husband and I visited there, we saw the remains of many of the original buildings and learned what life was like for the early settlers of St. Mary’s City. This was a rare opportunity because so many of our ancestors lived in cities and towns that have modernized over time, with very little semblance of what they once were.
If you are interested in learning more about St Mary’s City, visit their website Visit – HSMC. Whether you have family from that area or not, it is a great place to go to learn more about Colonial America.
Visiting St. Mary’s City and a few other family locales only makes me wish I could do this more often. I recently read a post Places to Visit | Wandering With Us that inspired me to give more thought and somehow make it happen. I don’t know if there is an RV in my future but the thought of traveling to the places my ancestors lived sure sounds like a great retirement plan.
No one knows why Earl Conway left his wife and children, changed his name, and headed to California. Some family members believe Grandma Thacker (as she was known by) must have been a difficult woman to get along with. Or maybe Earl inherited his father’s wayward behavior. The facts leading Earl to his decision may not be clear, but the story of how Uncle Earl ran off and changed his name so his wife Ella would not find him is still a family favorite.
Naming a blog can be as difficult as naming your first child. Our blog name is our brand in the blogging world. It’s what attracts readers to our posts. It’s what we hope will be inscribed on coffee mugs when we become famous. When I first conceived a genealogy-themed blog, I struggled with the name. It seemed all the good ones were taken. Then I came across an old Fox News report from 2006 claiming that “almost everyone on earth is descended from royalty.” This reminded me of a story I had heard regarding the Key family and their near claim to the British monarchy. Read more ›
I have two passions in life: genealogy and writing. A year ago, I created Descended from Royalty as a genealogical-themed blog so I could write about the thing I loved. For most of my life, family history research has been a solitary activity. Not to say I did not collaborate with newly found cousins, or that I did not share what I found with family members. Their passion for my discoveries, however, was either short-lived as they move on to their own ancestral interests, or feigned to make me feel better. I thought blogging would connect me with other people who love genealogy as much as I do. Mainly, I wanted to create a place where my passion could thrive.
Those who are not into genealogy do not understand what all the noise is about. Why, they ask, should I get excited about people who lived hundreds of years before me? They see no relevance in knowing about their ancestors. They definitely do not see the fun.
For me, genealogy research is like a weaving a tapestry. Throughout all of time, there are tiny threads of family history, scattered here and there, and meaningless as a single thread. The fact that my ancestor Martin Key lived in Albemarle County, Virginia in the late 1700’s means very little until I weave in other threads of information. Then a picture begins to appear: Read more ›
Christmas came early to my house this week. A long-awaited package containing my Grandmother Daisy’s file of the time she spent in the Barnardo’s Children Home during the early 1900s finally arrived. I ordered the file a little over a year ago and had almost forgotten about it. Imagine my surprise when I found a rather large envelope in my mailbox with a British return address, labeled “private and confidential.” At last, the story of my grandmother’s custody in one of the most well-known child welfare organizations was about to unfold. Read more ›
I’ve always loved the story of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The tale is full of adventure and sometimes utter nonsense. Much like family research. Like Alice, I sometimes chase white rabbits, never knowing where they will lead me. And like Alice’s adventures, our research presents us many locked doors. All we have to do is find the right key.
Sometimes we choose the wrong door and head down a rabbit hole. This happened to me when I was researching my mother’s family.
It has been a little over six months since my last post to Descended to Royalty. My humble apologies. I never meant to be away so long but as they say, life sometimes gets in the way of our dreams. A lot has happened during that time. I connected with lost brothers and sisters, and distant cousins. I discovered family secrets I never imagined. I honed my skills as a family historian and genealogist through conferences, collaboration, and a lot of time in front of the computer. And during all this, I kept telling myself that I needed to write about it. But I never seemed to have the time.
If you are new to genealogy, or have limited experience, I want to help you. Each week I will create a post where you can ask your genealogy questions. Just post your question as a comment and I will do my best to help you.
One of the pressing questions family historians try to answer is “where did my family come from?”
My grandmother told me that her family came from County Cork Ireland and that there use be a “Mac” on the front of her maiden name. I was excited by the prospect that I had Irish blood in me. This was during the time when the popular soap opera Ryan’s Hope was on television and being Irish was both adventurous and romantic. Of course we were from Ireland! Why would she tell me this if it is not true? Read more ›
The following was an assignment from a writing class I took. It is a short fiction loosely based on my Grandmother Daisy and her brother George. I welcome all feedback .
Daisy peeled potatoes and daydreamed about hats, or at least one in particular; a stylish black hat with a large feather plume that she saw in the window at Eaton’s Department Store on her day off. Daisy pictured herself wearing the hat as she strolled down King Street, dressed to the nines, with her head held high and her dainty nose in the air. Gentlemen would tip their Homburgs and say Good Morning, Miss Webb,while women draped in pearl would huff with jealousy.
Just as she was about to stick her tongue out at Mrs. Jenkins, a loud knock at the front door yanked Daisy back to the kitchen. Wiping her hands on her dirty white apron, Daisy hurried to the front of the stately house where she worked as a domestic servant. A cool morning breeze off Lake Ontario chilled Daisy as she opened the door. Should have grabbed my shawl,she thought.
A young boy, no more than 15 years old, stood on the front steps. In his dark wool uniform with brass buttons down the front, the boy could easily pass as a young soldier. Only the red bicycle at the foot of the stairs and the small pouch attached to his belt said otherwise. The telegram messenger, an omen of bad news, was an all-to-frequent visitor in the upscale Ontario neighborhood.
“Telegram for Miss Daisy Webb,” he said. His outstretched hand held a pale envelope, imprinted with a small red cross.
Uncertainty echoed in her voice. “I’m Daisy.” As she reached for the envelop she noticed a heaviness in the boy’s eyes. Although the Great War was less than a year old, Daisy suspected this boy had delivered many such messages.
The envelope felt heavy in Daisy’s hand. Instinctively she already knew what it said. After 10 long years, Daisy had received another unexpected message late last summer from her brother George. In it, he told of his long search for her. The home in Peterborough had given him her current address, he wrote. He had wanted her to know he would soon go to France to fight in the war. Would she write to him, he asked? Once settled, he promised to send her his address.
George’s letter never mentioned their last day together. Daisy had been 10 years old, George 12, when authorities had abducted them from their grandmother’s London home. Grandmother could not care for them anymore, they said. The authorities had placed her in a school where she learned domestic skills. At 16, they sent her to Canada as an indentured servant until she was of age. Until the letter arrived, Daisy thought George was dead. Daisy understood. They were Home Children. Some things were best tucked away and forgotten.
She never received George’s address and Daisy thought it just as well. Daisy lost her brother 10 years ago. The George who went to war was a stranger.
Daisy gently folded the unopened envelope and placed it in the pocket of the dirty apron and went back to peeling potatoes.