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8 Feb 2012

Jumping the gap

To me, one of the excitements about family history is finding a person in one record and then spotting that person in another record.  This may seem pretty prosaic!  For a long time I believed I needed to find that person in another country, but actually, that proved to be excitement mixed with disappointment.  I can never do as much justice to a family tree overseas as when the family ends up in England: should the line go off to America or Australia it gets a little dull after a couple of generations, being further removed from 'the jump-off'.

Probably the exceptions to 'boring Aust-america' are when we are following the female line, following a story, where there is a strong family connection or where they lived in an evocative place, such as early 1870s Utah or the Wisconsin big woods.  Should the family come BACK to England that can make for a good tale, particularly as British records may be even better than corresponding ones overseas.  (For example Mullins Symes and siblings were born in Ohio according to the British censuses, but there isn't a single American record confirming this.)

In contrast, if someone migrates to Lincolnshire or Brecknockshire I'm transported with delight: a whole new county and area to explore; new settlements to see through the eyes of my relatives.
I particularly find it wonderful where an ancestor has you weaving through a sea of records like a Turkish bazaar chase , only to have them quietly sipping tea at home by the time you do finally catch up with them.  A case in point is Ann Hooper who marries twice in quick succession, on one occasion in Bristol, and then is away abroad in the next census, before finally, in 1881 letting us in to her Wiltshire farmhouse, twenty years after we'd last seen her with her parents.  Unfortunately she leaves no family now, but it was still important to resolve her, and to have the enjoyable hunt.

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