Monday, January 16, 2017

Why do this now?

According to professional genealogist Heather Wilkinson Rojo, there are two main Wilkinson lines in New England: the line from which she came and the line from which I came. Hers is much longer and much more New England-based; she can trace her ancestors back to the Pilgrims. On the other hand, my ancestors came to the United States in the wave of European immigrants in the early 20th Century.

  • The four family names in my Wilkinson family tree are: Wilkinson, from my father and his father; Burke, from my mother and her father; Batty, from my paternal grandmother; and Thompson, from my maternal grandmother. My paternal line came straight to the United States from England and my maternal line came here through Canada. Tracing those lines has been exciting and really changed what I thought I knew about my grandparents; learning the true story, of course, is part of the excitement.
  • After the death of my paternal grandmother, my grandfather remarried a woman he knew from Wilton, Alyce. Because she is not a "blood" relative, I have chosen not to consider Alyce in my own family tree...for now. 

So why am I doing this? Why now? The answer is simple and complex.

I am a 68-year old unmarried federal retiree. When I retired on December 31, 2011, I thought of ways to spend the rest of my life "not working" but doing what I wanted to do. I am not much of a television or movie fan and I read a lot, so I created a "bucket list" of skills I wanted to develop plus tasks and 'stuff' I wanted to do.

Learning to drive a truck was on the list and was the first new skill I learned. I grew up the son of a US diplomat in the Middle East, so traveling was really in my blood. It seemed like the traveling over-the-road in an 18-wheeler just fit and for four years, it worked...until the day I decided I had 'checked the block' and stopped. My last day driving a truck was October 17, 2016

After retirement, while I was "cleaning, clearing, and culling the herd, I found a shoebox (a real old-timey shoebox!) filled with pictures and mementos sent to me years ago after my only aunt, my mother's only sibling, passed away. My sister was the executrix of her estate and the box was addressed to me. The pictures were of people I did not recognize. Some of them had notations on the back with names I had heard growing up and I wanted to know who these people were to me.

  • As an aside, my family and I left my parents' hometown, Wilton, New Hampshire, in 1959 when he was posted to Amman, Jordan. We only returned once or twice for 3-month home leave periods. During those times, I was put in school with other students I did not know. Even though Wilton was then and is now a very small town, I always felt like an outsider. As I got older, learning about my past became more important to me.
  • When we returned after my Dad resigned from Foreign Service, we relocated as a family to Lexington, Massachusetts, not Wilton.

About the same time that I found those pictures, Ancestry.com began to ramp up its advertising budget as it branched out. I have been told that their executives saw a market in the Baby Boomer Generation - I was born in 1949, so I am an early Boomer. Somehow, I came across either one of their advertisements or a link to their site online. I clicked, typed in my grandfather's name, and my journey up my family tree began.

Next time, I will name names! Until then, thank you for reading and following along. If you have any suggestions of criticisms, please comment. As I said, I love reading. I read everything!

4 comments:

  1. Welcome to the genealogy blogging community. Looking forward to future posts about your family's background and naming names!

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  2. Thanks! This is going to be fun for me. I hope reading will be as fun for others.

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  3. My grandmother was from Yorkshire! We can trade ideas on researching this area from "across the pond". I've been a little successful, but still looking for ways to do this online instead of jumping on an airplane. She married a WILKINSON.

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  4. Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. Thanks for sharing you knowledge :)
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