During the summer in 2011 I decided that I would try and trace my family history. With almost no information on my mother’s side (mainly due to the fact that my grandfather discovered at a young age that the couple who had brought him up weren’t his biological parents) it seemed a daunting task, but after obtaining his birth certificate I managed to trace his birth mother with http://www.ancestry.com and from there was able to build an entire family tree and even speak to living relatives in the same area that my mother still resides in. It was a fascinating journey – especially when I contacted my great-grandmother’s family with information about my grandfather who they knew nothing about, but accepted immediately once they had seen the striking physical resemblance in photographs that I sent.
On Sunday I saw that Ancestry’s military records were open for free, and so I set out to trace my grandmother’s side, particularly her father – Edward. With only a name and a single black and white photograph of him wearing a WW1 army uniform, there was very little information about him during my initial search 8 years ago. However, this time there were a number of hints that led me to census records and I discovered that parts of his uniform meant that he would most likely have ridden a horse while in the army. I even managed to find out where he and his family were living years later, and in 1939 he was working as a coal miner.
Unexpectedly, I then received a hint that led me back to my grandfather’s side and a man named Samuel, who I discovered was killed during the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, part of the Battle of the Somme. He is buried at Thiepval, France with his comrades and there is a huge monument at his resting place. This was mind-blowing, mainly because this was the first time that my family had any knowledge of a military history in our ancestry, and rather poignant as I had discovered all of this on Remembrance Sunday.
When I first started my search years ago, I was able to trace some very very distant relatives to Australia, even to the point where I found some who were sent over there as convicts hundreds of years ago. This time, I discovered that a possum is named after a distant ancestor, although this is only dependent of who we believe my Great-Grandfather is, even though there isn’t proof as his name isn’t on the birth certificate.
Meet the Fairy Possum, or Leadbeater’s Possum. It’s a rather handsome (although unfortunately endangered) possum.
Not the sentence I expected to be writing a week ago!
What about you guys? Have you traced your family history?
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