My husband hasn’t seen me for days. Well, he sees me, but I have hardly been communicating with him, such is my fixation with the ancestors search online. Background sounds don’t even touch me, although I do suddenly regain hearing when I hear the words ‘Want a cup of tea, love?’ Yes. Babe. Keep ’em coming.
So today I had a major breakthrough. I have been hot on the trail of Joseph Green (birth 1827) and have not had much luck finding information about him in England. He did seem to get around a bit. I think. I keep tracking down Joseph Greens all over the place and it is really quite a bother that his name was so common back then. As was his wife’s. And children’s names at that. Was he born in Darlaston? Or Dudley or Bilston? I have concluded that he is not the Bilston Joseph Green as that one was still living in the UK, whilst mine had hopped on a ship in 1868 and set sail for the states.
So, just as the trail for Joseph was not giving me any clues, his wife was a treasure trove of information. Born to a papermaker, her family resided in Ivybridge, Devonshire. Her father worked at the Stowford Paper Mill, which is still standing today. Unfortunately, her father died rather young, leaving the children to scatter to the four winds, or so it appears. Her mother, Ann, does show up on the occasional census, but there again, am I ever sure it is her? Ann Kingwell: A very common name of the 1800s, methinks.
It is really the occupation of that elusive Joseph Green that I want to find out about. His young family’s passage to the USA, riding in the Sallon, make me think that Joseph was a good little earner. Or perhap it was his wife’s money that gave them the luxury? Would she even be allowed to marry him if he did not have means? I do think that her father was dead by the time Joseph came knocking at her door. Perhaps money was not such a great issue. Perhaps her mother desperately needed her many children married off.
So many questions.
I held the photocopied paper in my hand. The writing was so familiar to me, yet I hadn’t seen it for over two years now. It was my grandfather’s handwriting, photocopied, name listed, dates, cities, marriages, deaths. There was a minute or two when I had to set it all down and try to ‘gather’ myself. Gather is such a strange word when emotions are in play.
Our last conversation was civil. He was in the ‘Old Folks Home’ thinking that he was only there for a few days. He couldn’t wait to get out…it was like some kind of imprisonment for him, I’m sure. He just wanted to go home. And although his beloved wife would not be there to greet him, as she had died just a couple of months previously, he still wanted to be around his things, in his house, with his books, using his phone, being a man in control.
As he got older, he started to become a bit more like himself. Stubborn. Always telling me to come back home to the states so that he could put me through university so that I too could become like my cousin Melanie. The Doctor. Well, she is a nurse now. And she loves her job. But that’s beside the point.
I didn’t know that that conversation was our last. I never did go back to his funeral such was the distance and my hardened feelings towards him. The hardness began to develop a couple of years before when I began to dislike the person he was becoming.
So, back to now. Today. His writing. And yes, I did feel bad for having harboured all the bad thoughts.
I leafed through photographs, read through the dates, found the Dudley connection with a birth in 1864. That is where I will begin.
I am the daughter of a cover band drummer, who was the son of a member of the FBI, who was the son of honest farming folk, who were related to a member of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, who was a relative of a family from Dudley in England, which was part of the group that had upped sticks and set out to see what they could see on the other side of that great big pond.