Our two weeks abroad has ended. We’re on a plane bound for Minneapolis and then it’s back home to Tulsa. We had a brief transfer in Amsterdam that was a bit annoying especially after only a couple hours sleep.
We got put in the “problem” line with no explanation why. I had a moment of panic when they were asking about our luggage, “You checked 3 bags? Did you pack them yourselves?”
There were more questions I can’t remember in my sleep deprived fear and irritation. Fortunately, it was only about 10 minutes before they decided we weren’t a threat.
It makes me wonder what it was like for our ancestors. My great mother Elizabeth Rees was 21 years when she came through Ellis Island, a notorious sorting house for immigrants. She wasn’t on a short holiday like we were. She was starting a new life and she did it alone. As far as I know, she never saw her family or her home again.
When they asked about her luggage (2 bags) and her occupation (artiste), and her reason for travel, (transient), was she nervous they might turn her back? Was she sleep deprived, hungry? Did anyone meet her when she arrived? Just thinking of her experience puts mine in perspective.
Having visited the England she grew up in, and the Wales, she was born in, it is hard to imagine leaving such beautiful places. It was a risky voyage for her in 1893.
Brian’s ancestor Thomas Walker, and his brother Peter took a similar risk. They grew up in Yorkshire, England not far from where my great grandmother lived but they left a generation earlier because they couldn’t find work in their native land.
Thomas and Peter tried life in London for a short time, but as it did for my great grandmother, and our earlier Scottish ancestors, America offered promise. It may not have lived up to all their expectations. They each had difficult times at first, money problems, family squabbles, sick children who died too soon, but they stayed and made a life for themselves and the generations who followed.
Seeing where they came from, walking the streets and paths they walked, and in some cases visiting their graves, was a bit like time travel. A “wee bit” as the Scots say. Overall, my favorite places were in the countryside. The cities, especially Edinburgh, were noisy and gritty. The pace was slower in the country, the people were friendlier. Getting lost in Staffordshire turned out to be a blessing. Walking the hills in Yorkshire among the sheep and the chickens was exhilarating.
Meeting our cousins was so much fun. My 4th cousins Alan and all the Salisburys and related clan were wonderful. I’m proud to call them family and am so glad Alan contacted me through ancestry.com last year. My Rees family research would never have gone as far without his help.
Brian’s 5th cousin Terry and his wife, Jill, were such gracious hosts and served the best tea and scones of the whole trip. Plus, we left with a folder full of letters and new information on the Walkers. We also discovered that some of those Walker gene traits run pretty strong because Terry definitely resembles Brian and the photo we saw of another Walker 5th cousin could be Brian’s twin.
The best part of doing genealogy of our ancestors, might just be finding the living relatives.
It’s good to be home but I’d go back in a minute. Well….maybe not a minute…