I've met some of the nicest people in the world through family history, some have turned out to be distant cousins & others have turned out to be the best friends I could ever wish to have. I sometimes find it hard to remember what life was like before computers helped make the world a smaller place :o)
As a child, I always knew my Mum was from Birmingham & my Dad was from Ramsgate, but as I gradually climbed my tree, I found that my Mum's family had Kent, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset & Gloucestershire links & my Dad's had Surrey, Somerset, Channel Islands, Oxfordshire & Middlesex links. In fact, in one census in Surrey, a family with my maiden name is living next door to a family with my paternal Nan's maiden name, which made me wonder if there was a connection, but so far, I've not found it :o(
For people who don't do family history, it's hard to explain the thrill of getting a birth, marriage or death certificate, of coming across someone you didn't know existed or someone who's been *missing* for a long time . My husband just nods & smiles knowlingly when I get so excited that I jump up & down & squeal :o) He knows that I'll be walking around with a stupid grin on my face when I've made a discovery, even if it's something so small that most people would just say *oh, is that it ?* & walk away.
But, for me, one of the best things is knowing that I'm walking along the same streets or looking at the same view that my ancestors did. Some of the houses they lived in are still standing, I take my grandsons to the park where my great grandad was a corporation gardener, I walk along the front where, when I was a kid, I used to see my grandad working - he was also a gardener. Everywhere I turn, there are things to remind me of growing up & although, like many, we weren't rich in money, my brothers, sister & I did have a very happy childhood. Looking back now, I wonder what on earth I found to whinge about & my school friends would tell you that I DID whinge at times :o))
Old photos are one of the best things I could ever receive & thanks to my parents & other family members, I have copies of so many.
These are my Dad's side of the family - my great grandad Charlie & great grandma Edith with my grandad & great aunt. The photo was probably taken about 1916, just before great grandad Charlie went to India.
This is my great grandad Charlie (on the right) with his lawn mower !! :o) He was the corporation gardener, mentioned above.
My Mum's side - my great grandma Miranda & her youngest child, Margaret. Miranda was my Mum's paternal grandmother.
Emma Jane, my great gran, my Mum's maternal grandmother, with my Nan & great uncle. This was probably taken about 1917/1918. My Nan was born in 1915 & she looks about 3 here :o)
Some people seem to be afraid of researching their family history, for fear of uncovering something horrible, but I say if you do, it just makes the list of names you've gathered more real. It makes you realise that the people who came before you were once flesh & blood, they had feelings & emotions, they had good times & bad times, in fact, everything we go through as we wander through life, they also went through. It's because of them that we are who & what we are today. A piece of all our ancestors, no matter how small, lives on in us.