My family tree on Ancestry.com is named: King-Timmons-Blake-Shedd Family Tree 11-7-10
My Journey to Discovering My Roots
As a child I remember asking my mother, "What country does our family come from?" I never received much of an answer except, "Wales, I think."
Later on in life when our daughters were grown and I had time to look into our family history, I decided to sign up with Ancestry. I was amazed at the information I found! Fortunately, I had asked my mother to write down some of her family's names, places of birth, etc. as she was beginning to suffer from dementia. I'm so glad I did before this information was lost forever. Because her family's name was Smith, it took me a while to find the right Smith family, but eventually I did. Every discovery was like a piece of a puzzle falling into place. I quickly became addicted- it was like a treasure hunt!
My father's side of the family was much easier to unearth thanks to our family historian. Her hand-written family genealogy led me back to the 15th century in Norfolk, England. I couldn't believe how accurate her information was. Jasper Blake of Wimbotsham is my direct ancestor.
Once the family learned I was gathering information on our Blake beginnings, I became the recipient of pages of genealogy material, photographs, memories, etc. Through my wanderings online I heard from cousins I had never known. It was all very exciting and rewarding!
The Timmons Saga
My next task was to begin learning about my husband's family. At my request, his aunt wrote down all she knew about the Timmons family from Chester, England. Her father (my husband's grandfather) had arrived in New York around the turn of the century and was a horse policeman in Central Park. Through English census forms and immigration records we found the street in Chester where the family lived and discovered the grandparents had left Ireland around 1850 and settled in Doncaster before moving to Chester. We also discovered my husband's mother's King family sailed to America from Ireland in 1770. Just in time to fight in the Revolution!
The Trip to Our Roots
Our dream was to actually see the places where our families began. This meant a trip to England and Ireland. We were finally able to do this in 2011. What a moving experience to visit the church where my ancestor Jasper was a churchwarden in Wimbotsham and to see the book he signed as a witness to baptisms in 1612. We visited Chester and walked down the street where the Timmons family once lived and died.
I've heard that the British don't understand Americans' fascination and study of their family trees. The only way I can explain it is the longing to feel connected. We feel isolated on our bit of the world surrounded by water on two sides. Our history is not that old and It's comforting to have roots and to know where those roots are. I found mine are a little bit more complicated than, "Wales, I think."
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