It’s easy to trace your ancestry online these days, but if you have the means and the inkling, tracing your family tree from its roots is a great adventure for the whole family. Let me take you on an adventure through my own ancestry; tracing my Viking lineage, convict past and even a war-torn love story.
You may know a little or a lot about your where your ancestors originated, and for many of us, tracing our family tree becomes appealing as we age. It’s often not until our children have grown and we can find a spare moment in the chaos of daily life, that we even consider undertaking such a project. Most people think that ancestry is better suited for adults; however tracing your family tree can be hugely beneficial for our children, too, in the following ways:
- Finding Courage in Our Forefathers
Not all of us will have come from aristocracy, but there are unique stories to be found and shared. Do you have a great, great grandmother who was brave and adventurous? An equal rights activist before her time? A grandfather who fought for his country? When children find that they are made of Viking stock, that perhaps their forefathers were skilled blacksmiths or hard working washerwomen, it gives them a sense of wonder and pride.
- Finding a Common Thread
If your child happens to be a poetic, sensitive soul growing up in a family of footballers, finding that an ancestor was a published author may help your child to feel a sense of belonging where they otherwise would not. Similarly, if your daughter is the only redhead in the immediate family, coming across a kindred spirit with blazing red hair and an intriguing story can be a lifeline in a world of blondes. When my own family traced our tree, we all loved finding photos of relatives and trying to see a resemblance in facial features, personalities and careers.
- Answering the Why – The Story of How We Got Here
Wherever “here” may be for your family, all children want to know how and why they came to live here, in their hometown. My own family came to be in Australia, because of one young man called John Norman who stole ten chickens in Sheerness, England. Although a petty crime by today’s standards, as his third offence (John had previously been convicted of stealing eggs and firewood), it would cost him both his freedom and his country. Like many other poor folk of his day, John’s efforts to keep the hunger at bay landed him on a convict ship, The Emily, bound for Australia.
If it were not for those ten fat and highly tempting chickens, we might still be in England. My children love the story of the “chicken thief”, as he is affectionately named, and how my side of the family came to be living here, in sunny Queensland.
There is more depth to our ancestry than lineage alone. It is about understanding where we fit in this long line of ancestors; we are merely a piece of the puzzle. It is the story of our family’s journey, the women and men who fought for our freedom, who may have made great journeys across dangerous seas to start over in a foreign land. Our family tree, with its branching limbs, connects us to our identity. Tracing your tree can be a wild, crazy adventure abroad or close to home. As with any of life’s adventures, it is what you make it.