Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Not Exactly Alex Haley

I’ve long been fascinated with pursuing my family history and this last fall I managed to awaken Bill’s interest. Whilst my roots are Irish, Swiss, German and Native American (really!), Bill always believed his were very local, in Northumberland, with some Welsh origins thrown in. There is a village near by with his slightly unusual surname and we occasionally drive past a pub with the same name; he -- we both -- believed they would in some way relate to his family’s history.

Every time we passed I would encourage him to go in, to see if we learned anything interesting, but he always shied away. Many people have set ideas about what a proper pub should be like. He was afraid he would be shocked and disappointed if ‘his’ pub wasn’t in good taste, at least that was the reason he always gave for not stopping. So we never investigated, though it is tucked in a corner of a quaint little village of stone buildings and looks, from the outside, as though it might be lovely inside.

When Bill began to dig into his family history, he learned that only a generation or two back, his forebears weren’t from Northumberland, but from Durham and, prior to that, Leeds. This was quite a surprise and he was enthralled by what his detective work uncovered.

We spent a couple of weekends hunting the more local ancestral homes to photograph, where they still existed. One day we passed the pub that bears his name and I mentioned that he could now fearlessly go in and not concern himself if it was too modern/noisy, etc. His reply, “Hmph, why should I? It’s nothing to do with me.”

No comments: