The ad captures my attention~ discover your past, your family’s story.  I begin a quest to discover the history of my family, to know their stories. Regrettably, it never occurred to me to enquire about family when I had the chance.  The relatives I knew kept silences and secret whisperings locked away.

An ancestry membership started me on a journey to discover my past, to discover the men and women whose spirit, hard work, and resilience contributed to my DNA.  Like Alice, I fall down the rabbit hole to emerge in England.  Perhaps this partly explains the allure of floral and chintz.  I cannot pass a vintage thrift shop; I must enter and wander the aisles, linger with the china tea cups and saucers.

Cabbage roses capture my attention. Closing my eyes, woodland hares and rose bushes come into focus.  A calico cat peeks out from behind a stone shed, its stealthy body poised, yellow eyes set upon a morning robin, watching as the bird alights atop the country garden’s netting.  Sweet peas inch up the strings, their perfumed fragrance intoxicating, carried on a gentle breeze.

A paper bag princess, royalty eludes me! Instead, I discover a fascinating world, its simplicity steeped within the doctrines of the Church of England and the land.  I am descended from working class people; tenacious spirits, the farmers and carters beckon me to pause and pay respect.  The great, great, great-granddaughter of hardworking men and women who tilled the beautiful pastoral lands around Shropshire, England.  I wonder if an everlasting thread connects us still. At times, their presence fleeting, their faces mirrored back. Perhaps these old souls smile when they view my humble garden, the sunflower seeds and tightly rounded sweet peas unfurling from seed coat jackets.  Maybe they tenderly gaze back from the faces of those I hold dear.

I stop to study the women’s photographs.  I note beauty and grace, the comforting resemblances to those now here. Standing tall, their proud high foreheads face the camera.  Beautiful dark eyes share the untold stories, the stories of strength and courage.  These courageous women, many sent to work as domestics while still children, some missionaries in China, others interned. Many grieved babies lost to consumption and disease.  Many lost husbands.  All had mouths to feed.  These tireless women, their beautiful, haunted eyes beholden to the emotions, sorrow and joy. Beholden to the land and the seasons.

When in doubt, I imagine these women sending forth heart beats fueled by a fierce strength and unrelenting resilience. Loyal to family, sheltering one another throughout life’s storms, imagining the opportunities, if only wealth or education had happened along their paths.  They forge on, some daring to dream of a future with opportunities and choices for those waiting in line.

Discovering a family’s past, uncovering the mysteries and facts, I set my compass down.  It is an honour to gently sift through the stories, unveil the lives of ones so true.  I take away their gems and stones to polish and shine.  I gather strength from their life stories.  I cherish who I am.




Published by

Anna Watson

~ write like a painter

11 thoughts on “Ancestry”

  1. I love this! I am also a traveler through Ancestry territory. I owe you a message . . . .

    1. Thank you, Luanne! Isn’t it interesting to travel down ancestry’s lanes? I hoped to find a related Queen or vacant castle in the mix…! Oh well!

      1. I actually never thought of that, figuring my family was pretty boring. But I found out they weren’t as boring as I thought! No queens, but a superwoman and some mysteries solved. I write a blog about what I’ve been finding. The coolest part of it is the people who have found my blog and have information for me!

      2. That is so cool- re: the replies and the information gathered on your ancestry blog. I find the history of lives so interesting and captivating.

    1. Thank you, anneli. I realized that I could have written more~ the plight of the women, their lack of freedom, options. I’m not even certain they were allowed to actually own land. I realized how much I still need to learn and discover. Mostly, I was drawn to a few of the women’s stories as they were remarkable, actually, considering the culture of the times. Life was tough; they were strong and protective of family. It may read a bit dream like as I have to “fill in” some of the gaps~ the art and craft of story telling, I guess. As well, I tend to write in a bit of a dream state- lol!

      Thanks for stopping by and reading the post. I may add another post re: the women after a bit more research. It’s the women’s lives I am curious to explore.

  2. A beautiful exploration of your family history – I’ve also been down the Ancestry route, my family were miners, ship workers, labourers, but very little on the women, who are usually listed without an occupation – I’ve always been fascinated by women’s history and was lucky enough to discover that in time to be able to ask my mother and relatives a lot of questions about their lives.

    1. I enjoy searching for answers and information on ancestry. Some of the women on my father’s side of the family were listed as domestics, most have a slash beside their name under the heading Occupation. I wish that I had, had more time with my grandfather to ask of family.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Andrea.

  3. What a great header image – elegant and appropriate.
    Geneology and family histories are fascinating – and such mysteries discovered as well as solved. Enjoy the journey
    (And loved that Paper Bag Princess storybook)

    1. Thank you for the header compliment and the encouragement, elegantphilosophermouseofthehedge! I don’t find mice that “nice” however an “elegant” and “philosophical” mouse is welcome! Agreed~ Robert Munsch’s children’s story, the Paper Bag Princess, is a “favourite.”

      Thanks for stopping by the blog, reading a post, and leaving a comment.

  4. Beautiful..Many of us wander our lives regretting what we have and where we are wanting more and yet there are others, who have lost so much and deserve so much more.
    I don’t know if I should say this, but I will.. You have a gift of finding beauty in many things, your work speaks through that gift 🙂

    WIsh you best of luck:)

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