When you get into genealogy it’s always fun to be able to visit where your ancestors lived and effectively walk in their footsteps. So one good way to do this is to go to where your ancestors lived.
This is something my Grandpa did in the 1990’s when he went to the time of Thorpe St Andrew in Norfolk and I recreated in 2010. Thorpe is a town just 3 miles from Norwich on the banks of the river Yare. Today the town has a population of just over 11,000 and the most notable event in the town was in 1874 when a train crashed killing 25 people and injuring 75.
Thorpe is the centre of one branch of my family, the Weeds family. Now not all member of this branch came from Thorpe but from my 6 times great Grandfather when his son John Weeds was born in the then village in 1755. The last member of my family with a connection to the town was my Grandpa when he was christened in St Andrew’s church in December 1914 just days before his father went to war.
So what do you need to consider before you make a trip.
Well make sure your research is correct. You don’t want to make a trip and be disappointed not to find what you’re looking for and then discover you were in the wrong place. It’s not uncommon for several places to have the same name so it pays to check.
Make sure you have the research you want with you and have made a list of anything you want to discover while you’re there. This means you’re not flapping while trying to find some information you need only to find it’s a home on your desk.
Set out your goals before you go. Don’t just go and make it up as you go along. This could lead to you not achieving everything you want to and finding your trip disappointing.
Make sure you know everything you need before you go. Look into what graveyards there are so you know where to go. It’s not uncommon for the church to have a grave yard as well as a cemetery. Make sure you’ve noted which place your ancestors are buried in. If you have time once you have finished what you set out to achieve then look in other places as you may find things you weren’t expecting to.
Expect to find things out that you weren’t expecting. You may discover the information you have is contradicted by what you have previously found. You may have found a death record which you assumed was you ancestor only to find a gravestone who’s information proves you were wrong.
Do make sure you have a camera and a note book and pen. In fact take several pens in case you lose one. You can photograph all the things you find and the places you ancestors went and lived and make notes as you go along so when you get home you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything.
Expect your trip to take longer than you though. If you’ve only planned to stay for a few hours, you’ll probably end up spending the day. Before you know it you’re trudging through the undergrowth of a church yard and have lost 3 hours, but you might find some new information.
Use the trip to answer all your questions and don’t forget to visit everywhere you can. Don’t skip things such as war memorials as you don’t think there relevant. Do if your ancestors lived a long time before the wars but if they lived at a similar time then you may find distant relatives on it. For example I found my Great Grandpa’s brother and 2 cousins on the one in Thorpe St Andrew.
Most of all enjoy the trip. It’s your chance to truly connect with your past and walk in their footsteps.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!